Middle Name Challenge: Keller ________ Kirpatrick

We are about 3 weeks out from having our 3rd child, a boy! We think we’ve settled on a first name but we’re really debating on a middle name. I would love to hear the vote of you and your readers. Our last name is is Kirpatrick with another K in there. We are pretty positive this baby’s first name will be Keller. As for middle names, we have 2 front contenders and cannot decide.

Option 1: Jonah. Keller Jonah.
My oldest son just turned 3 and since he found out he was having a little brother has been insistent on naming him Jonah. We have no idea where it came from, we don’t know any Jonahs, we don’t think he’s been exposed to the name Jonah at all. We think it would be pretty cool to honor that request by giving the baby the middle name Jonah.

Pros: It seems cute that the baby was partially named by his older brother.

Cons: Keller Jonah would not have any family significance, which our other two kids do (Our other two kids are named after my husband’s father who passed away and my mother who passed away)

Option 2: Barnett. Keller Barnett
Barnett was my mother’s maiden name and is my brother’s middle name, so there is family significance. I don’t love it, but I like it. My mom was already honored in my daughter’s name, but I guess there can’t be too many honor names? My brother would probably be happy, but he wouldn’t really care in the long run. I can’t decide if I like the look of the double letters in both names.

Pros: Family name like his siblings
Cons: The family name is from my side, which I kind of feel bad about. My daughter is named after my mother and sister. I feel like if we do another family name it should be from my husband’s mom’s side, but I don’t really like any of the names (I’ll list below)

Other options:
Richard (Husband’s middle name, MIL’s father’s name) -Keller Richard Kirpatrick sounds like a mouthful of Rs.
Powell (MIL’s father’s middle name) Keller Powell Kirpatrick doesn’t flow

Any boy names you can derive from Nancy or Anne? I can’t think of any.

So what do you think? Family name or name arbitrarily created by a 3 year old?

Any and all advice is appreciated!

Thanks so much in advance if you choose to address this question!



Two of my many name-related soft spots are “names chosen by siblings” and “maiden names,” so this is a pretty happy question.

I don’t think it’s crucial that a whole name flows together nicely, but I do prefer a nice flow when all else is equal, so I tried saying both Keller Jonah Kirpatrick and Keller Barnett Kirpatrick aloud. I had a harder time saying the latter, but not a deal-breakingly hard time.

I have a slight preference too for the way the name Jonah keeps the name from being three surname names in a row. But again: slight. Not enough to make the decision.

I have a preference for giving everyone an honor name. But after breaking this preference with my own kids’ names and finding I cared less in the long run than I expected to, I have modified this preference to “everyone gets a similarly-good naming story.” That is, I think if two kids get honor-name stories and one kid has a sibling-chose-the-name story, those are equivalent. Especially when the parents are running out of honor names they want to use.

I also do like Keller Richard Kirpatrick, but I get the impression from the letter that it’s not a strong contender.

I can’t think of a good Nancy/Anne namesake, either. Some people like to match meanings, so that’s a possibility if it appeals. But it feels like less of a pleasing story to me than the other options.

I keep wanting to start a paragraph with “I find myself leaning toward…”—but then I change my mind as soon as I pick one! First I thought I felt more warmly about using Jonah, and then I thought I felt more warmly about using Barnett, and then back to Jonah, and then back to Barnett. If we were in the maternity ward with the new baby and you MADE me choose, RIGHT now…I think I would choose Jonah. But then all the way home I would be thinking, “Wait, was that right? Should I have said Barnett? Maybe I should call her back.”

Well. I had a similar conundrum with Henry’s middle name: three excellent choices and none of them had an extra edge over any of the others. What finally settled my mind was thinking that this meant there probably really WASN’T a “best choice”: we just had to pick one, and we were very unlikely to be sorry about ANY of the three excellent choices.

But what I think we should do here is a POLL! Polls are fun, and also it may sway your feelings—especially if you find you’re hoping the results will come out one way or the other. I had trouble deciding if Richard should go in there or not; I eventually came down on the side of no, but I think commenters should go ahead and say in the comments if they WOULD have voted for that if it had been an option.

Choose your favorite:
  • 83.27% - ( 652 votes )
  • 13.79% - ( 108 votes )
  • 2.94% - ( 23 votes )




Name update:

Hi Swistle!

I had my baby and wanted to give an update! We wrote to you regarding his middle name. Keller Barnett, Keller Jonah, or something different?

After one commenter pointed out that Keller Barnett sounded like a law form, and another said she still feels sour that her older sister got to name her, we fell out of love with both. Neither felt right.

He went a couple days without a middle name but we ultimately decided on Lee. Keller Lee. Lee was my mother’s middle name, my maternal grandfather’s middle name, and my paternal grandmother’s first name. I initially didn’t like it because it felt like an overused name and because I was afraid it would make Keller sound like an adjective (kellerly?) But anyways, it actually felt perfect once he was here.

Thanks for all your help!

52 thoughts on “Middle Name Challenge: Keller ________ Kirpatrick

  1. Shannon

    I voted for Barnett, but wanted to point out that Keller Powell Kirkpatrick flows really well, at least to my ear. Unless you’re drawing Powell out to 1.5 or 2 syllables, I think it actually flows best of all the options–I’m a big fan of syllabic diversity! The 2-1-3 rhythm works better for me than 2-2-3. Keller Powell Kirkpatrick is my favorite.

    However, I think Keller Barnett Kirpatrick is really stately and interesting too, with lots of great sounds in the name. But for sure, an argument could be made that Jonah, the name chosen by the baby’s 3-year-old brother, is in its own way a “family name.” :)

    Sad that you can’t use Nance as a male namesake for Nancy. Hopefully there will come a day when all offensive slang like this becomes meaningless!

  2. Ashley

    The statement was made that Keller Jonah would not have any family significance. Although I understand where you are coming from, I think the fact that older brother picked it is enough “family significance”. If you do use it, I think it is a wonderful and sweet story to tell Keller someday of how you came to use Jonah. It is also the most pleasing to my ear.

  3. KD

    I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with Swistle!! But I do today! Yikes. I just have a very strong preference against sibling chosen names. Personally, I’m glad my middle name is a family name and not a name my older brother liked when he was three! It’s a cute story, I guess, but only if the siblings end up being quite close AND the child likes the name. Otherwise, I see a situation potentially rife with resentment. It sort of feels like favoritism toward the older child, and that’s a bad thing to embed in a person’s name (ie, sorry, we didn’t choose the name we thought best, we wanted your brother to get what he wanted). I believe that each child should get a name carefully chosen by the grown-ups in the room. So, I’d go with Barnett or Powell, which sounds good to me. Good luck!

    1. Dwd

      I agree with this 100%. I love my sister but if I had a random middle name with no significance because she liked it… I would resent that. I have a family middle name that means a lot to me. I think you should go with Richard or Powell to represent another side of the family. Or another family name from that side. Andrew, Anders, Anderson , etc for Anne?

  4. laura

    For Nancy- could you imagine Nathan? Nathaniel, Noah also seem like they could work
    For Anne- possibly Andrew?

    I liked Jonah better than Barnett because the name sounded a little to last name heavy to me, but all your options seem fine.

    1. Ira Sass

      Keller Nathan Kirpatrick flows well. Keller Andrew sounds good too, but KAK are kind of awkward initials.

      For Nancy you could also do…Clancy? I’d put that in the category of old man names though and it also doesn’t flow well with Keller K. Maybe another -ncy name. Quincy? Or Francis? I think Keller Francis K sounds really good actually. Daniel also has the same sound.

  5. Beckye

    I had to look up what Nance meant as slang. I think the fact it’s a namesake name outweights the slang aspect. For me, I immediately thought of John Nance Garner, FDR’s first VP. Depending on your leanings, this might be an example to use if anyone else knows the reference. For Anne, what about Zane? It’s only one letter off and having a Z in your monogram would be pretty cool.

  6. Tee

    My idea to honour a Nancy is Ronan. Keller Ronan.

    Also, Anne means ‘grace’…Grayson? Keller Grayson.

    Or maybe someone you would like to honour was born in August? Keller August.

  7. TheFirstA

    I voted for Keller Jonah. I really like it, and I do think that letting a sibling pick the name is an honor, even if it is a different type of honor than the other names you’ve used. FWIW, I was allowed to pick my younger sister’s first name (I was 12 when she was born) and I felt and still feel like it was a huge honor.

    I can’t really think of much for Nancy or Anne. Anson or Anton seem closest to Anne since they do at least incorporate all the sounds of Anne. Nash & Nathaniel/Nathan could also work, but the link there seems weaker than Anne/Anson/Anton.

    Nancy is traditionally a nickname for Anne (you may know this already, but a lot of people seem not to). And Anne is derived from the Biblical Channah (Hannah) which means something along the lines of “favor” or “grace.” I looked on Behind the Name (the only online source for name meanings I trust) thinking perhaps I could find boy names that share a similar meaning. There weren’t a lot of options, but Hannibal did come up. Maybe you could find other names with a shared meaning?

    1. Sarah

      The name John is derived from Yochanan, which shares the root with Channah/Hannah. I’ve always considered John/Johan/Ian to be a brother name to Hannah/Anne/Nancy and all their derivations. (Not Jonathan, though–different root.)There’s also the modern Hebrew Chanan/Hanan, which I don’t think would be the best fit.

  8. Marissa

    I feel like it would be helpful to know the two older siblings’ names. And now that I’ve read a few comments, I’m not sold on either option. Have you considered dad’s first or middle name?

    1. Kae

      My son is Arlo Randy and my daughter is Thia Patrice. Randy was my husband’s dad’s name, and my mom’s name was Cynthia, Thia comes from her name- Patrice is my sisters name!

      My husband’s name is Kevin so it is out, for obvious reasons!

      1. Deborah

        what about using Kevin as the middle name? It sounds like your husband wants to honor himself with a K name and you prefer not to give baby a K first name, so that would satisfy both of those desires, along with the family name desire. You could also use Keller, or pretty much any K name to honor the both of you. If you go that route, it opens up a whole new discussion around first names, but Jonah Kevin Kirpatrick is lovely option. Or Nolan K Kirpatrick, which gives a nod to Nancy Anne in sound and fits nicely with Arlo and Thia.

        A few other possible Nancy Anne honor options – Noam, Neil, Norman, Channing, Tanner, Danny, Cyan, Yancy, Chance… and another vote for Hannibal as a mn

  9. Lisa Flewellen

    I voted for Barnett, although I do like Powell and Richard. I think this little guy should have a middle name from someone in the family. If I was going to choose I think I would go with Richard. It is a great strong name and flows great.

  10. onelittletwolittle

    I’m leaning toward Barnett as well. My 11 yo wanted to name our new baby Edward. I was kind of on board (it was also my grandfather’s name, which he didn’t know, which was a little extra push in its favor.) We ended up with a baby girl, so Edward was a moot point.

    Three year olds can be so fickle. My 11 yo would have remembered suggesting the name (if we had had a little Eddie), but a 3 yo would not remember, I don’t think. And I think it would be more special if the kid suggesting the name was older and had a real connection to the name they were advocating for.

    I do understand that 11 yo kids are fickle in their own way.

  11. Sarah Johnson

    I voted for Jonah and I like Powell. Jonah, as someone else already alluded to, could be considered an honor name for his brother :). Powell is great, and KP or Kip makes a sweet nickname should you enjoy those sorts of name games. I do.

  12. Juniperjones

    I like Richard best and think it sounds great. I worry that it will feel sort of random as years pass with Jonah. Barnett works too just prefer Richard so it doesn’t have the 3 surname lawyer feel.

  13. Kae

    Thank you all for these great comments and opinions! Jonah is clearly a favorite in the polls, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like that by the comments. I’m pleased that you guys are suggesting Keller Richard. I thought it had too many rs but I like the differing opinions.

  14. Kay W.

    I voted Barnett, but would have voted Richard. Definitely my favorite!

    I also agree with what a couple of people above have mentioned about names chosen by siblings. I don’t think 3 is old enough for the story to have weight; it reads more “cute”/”gimmick” than meaningful, because in all likelihood your 3-year-old won’t remember even suggesting Jonah (unless the name is used & story is maintained in family lore). To me, it’d feel less random and more meaningful coming from an older sibling, like over age 8 or 9. Just my two cents!

  15. Jd

    Or Anderson? With Keller as a first I prefer a name middle over surname, I prefer honor name to sib selected. I voted Jonah because I like it better than Barnett, but think Richard is a better choice.

  16. kerri

    I was leaning toward Jonah because I think it’s a nice name and a cute story, but the comment against it swayed me away from it. I do think he deserves a “proper” family name. It’s impossible to predict how he’d feel, but if you have another option, I’d probably go with it
    You say you want to consider something from your husband’s side, but do you all use his last name? If so, then that’s already a name from his side, and I would be more inclined to use one from your side. Not a vote against his side, necessarily, just a tie-breaker. If you do try to honor his mom, I’d try to use her first name (is that Nancy? That’s a little harder). If Anne is her middle name, it would be easier to find a name, but I feel like the honor is a bit more removed. I’m not sure how honored I’d feel if somebody named their son Ben, which is close to my middle name Beth, and my name is Kerri.
    I think Barnett, Richard, and Powell are all about the same level of difficulty to pronounce, so I’d choose whoever you want to honor the most, and don’t worry about flow.

    1. Becky

      Nancy is a traditional nickname for Anne. Although I don’t know if that’s widely known these days, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see someone named Nancy Anne. And I have family members named Nancy as the given name, rather than Anne nn Nancy.

      1. Kae

        Her name is Nancy Anne. Her mother apparently didn’t know about the nn. I did haha! She doesn’t like her name, and had we had a girl she was very specific about not including Anne.

  17. Christi

    Given your last comment I would leave the idea of using a Nancy or Anne kind of name. I voted for Jonah and I think the fact that brother just knew you would be Jonah makes it an honor name. And it flows pretty well. My best friend picked her sisters middle name when she was 3 and it doesn’t flow at all. On the Richard front, I don’t think it is too many R’s and since I have a Richard nn Rick(y) I do love the name. Oddly enough he tends to be the only Rick/Richard in pretty much everything he does so even though it is a well established name and we know several adult Ricks and Richards it’s not commonly used for little ones. He has a cousin with an ‘aden name who is about the same age and I don’t think he has had a school class where there wasn’t at least one other boy with the same name.

  18. Juniperjones

    I know you are feeling set on the first name, so just dismiss this if you want, but I was thinking it would be neat if the 3rd also had 4 letters/2 syllables after reading the other kid’s fantastic names. My ideas are Otis, Hugo or Rudy to go with the sibs. I think the middle name options flow really well too.

  19. Naomi

    Maybe this is just me, but those initials give me a little pause. You’ve got KK and when you add the little K at the end of Kirpatrick, you end up with KKk. Anyway, maybe I’m the only one who noticed/would notice, but thought it was at least worth pointing out so it could be considered and discarded.

    1. Kae

      Our last name is actually Kirkpatrick- so there are 3 in the last name itself. My husband and I are Kaeleen and Kevin, so monograms are out for us! I was really resistant to another K, but my husband really wants it- he feels like it will be like naming it after him. He has an uncle that is KK too. So we embrace Ks around here, I guess.

  20. liz

    If the first initial K is after your husband, then I’m all for doing something from your side, or for Jonah.

    Lots of folks have suggested Andrew, Anderson, Anson. What about just Andy?

  21. Juli

    Of the two options on the poll, I chose Jonah, because it’s not a surname-name. Keller Barnett Kirkpatrick totally sounds like a law firm. My suggestion is John: it has most of the letters of Jonah, and it’s related to Anne/Nancy by etymology. (Hebrew, ‘God’s grace’ and ‘grace’, respectively.) If straight-up John is too boring for you, there are a lot of variations available, such as Ian, Sean, Eoin, or Johannes, although of course you’d mostly lose the connection to big brother’s choice.

  22. Natalie

    My own middle name is Anne, after my father Anthony. I don’t think Anthony fits your style at all, though. I think Andrew is lovely on its own, although it’s a bit of a stretch as an honor name (I find it hard to reconcile honor names that are cross-gender/not identical, but that’s probably a personal problem). I like the sound of Jonah the best and found the sibling story cute, and was only slightly swayed by the opposing opinion.


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