Baby Boy Chelsea, Brother to Eleanor (Ellie)

Hi Swistle,

We are (unexpectedly) expecting our second child, a boy. Our last name sounds like Chelsea. In the past, we’ve held to some (ahem) convoluted naming requirements, but we picked our daughter’s name easily—Eleanor (nn Ellie) Jane Lee Chelsea. We are leaning heavily towards naming the baby after Husband’s deceased father, David.

So, here is the dilemma. I have four names (first, second, and two last names that are not hyphenated). Husband has four names (First, two middle names, last name). Daughter has four names, as shown above. If we name the baby after his father (David), and we honor my beloved grandfather by using his middle name (Leo), then the baby’s name is David Leo Chelsea, which is almost exactly his father’s name (David Lee Chelsea). I like the name! I like it quite a bit! It honors people both very special to us that we miss terribly! I find it really pleasing and it makes me happy!

But it bugs me that we would all have four names, and this baby would only have three. But Husband is insistent that If the first name is David, then the second name is Leo, and that’s where we stop. It also bugs Husband that David is a perpetually popular name. I have a name that was in the top 20 the year I was born and I cannot move without tripping over people my age with my name. It can be a bit annoying at times, or at least, it was in school.

The other thing that slightly bothers me about David Leo is that we gave our daughter her first name precisely because it was her own name. No one in our family has the name Eleanor; it’s all hers. The middle names are family names. Plus, we picked Eleanor because of a historical reference (Eleanor of Aquitaine) and a sci-fi reference (Dr. Ellie Arroway, Contact). But David is obviously a special name, so this baby would not get his “own” first name. It all just feels very much like we are changing the rules, and if there’s anything I like, it’s a rule.

Oh, the last thing that bothers me a bit about David is that my family are habitual nickname givers, and no, it’s not a battle I am interested in fighting. It’s a family quirk and leave it at that. They will tack an –e sound on to a name for a nickname, every time, so David becomes Davey, which I do not like.

As much as we like the name, David Leo is not set in stone, hence us fretting to you. We are considering using my grandfather’s first name, Bernard (nn Ben), and then David would be a middle name. BUT, that still gets at my problem of not having his “own” name for a first name. Added to that, then I feel guilty for not just using David as the first name, because if we’re going to have an honor name as a first name, then I really feel like it should be Husband’s father. On the other hand, if the first name is Bernard, then I probably get my wish of four names, and it would be Bernard David ??? Chelsea, which pleases my pattern loving soul.

THEN, my husband threw out the other day that he loves the name Harrison, in honor of the clockmaker, John Harrison, who solved the problem of calculating longitude at sea. So, it would be Harrison David ??? Chelsea. I really like Harrison, because it has the historical reference and a nod to a sci-fi reference. But does that make everyone think of Harrison Ford? Plus, I still feel guilty for not using David as a first name in this scenario; that’s how close Husband and his father were.

Bonus: our daughter is insisting on the names Edgar or Isaac. So: Is David Leo okay when that means this kid has three names and the rest of us have four? Is it weird that David Leo is SO CLOSE to my deceased but beloved father in law’s name? Is David way too popular? Is this kid going to feel left out that he didn’t get his own name and got an honor name instead? Is there another name that’s just a better fit?

This is needlessly complicated. Help us, Swistle, you’re our only hope.


This is the kind of situation where I KNOW it doesn’t really matter, and I want to TELL you it doesn’t really matter—but I CAN’T, because it would matter to me TOO.

I generally don’t even care what the parents’ names are doing, when considering their kids’ names. But in this case…well, I find I want you to give him four names. I just do. I don’t think you NEED to. I don’t think you should feel as if you HAVE to. But I want you to, and I think you want to too, so I say let’s see what we can figure out.

Here’s where I figure we can start chipping away at the problem: “But Husband is insistent that If the first name is David, then the second name is Leo, and that’s where we stop.” Solution: first name will not be David. That releases us immediately from that difficult if/then. Alternate solution: he stops insisting on the if/then. It’s an unnecessary rule, and it’s causing problems. But since it bothers both you and your husband that the name David is so steadily popular, I think it makes more sense to go with the first solution. If instead he is firm on David being the first name, then I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t give a little on the issue of two middles.

Also, it bothers you that you deliberately decided against family names for your daughter’s first name, but this time would be reversing yourselves. I don’t think you NEED to be consistent with this, but since you seem to WANT to, I’d go with that flow: I’d make David and Leo the middle names and pick something else for the first name.

Also, the nicknames for David bother you. And you are not sure you like the name being so close to your late father-in-law’s name. Really the only argument I’m seeing here in favor of using three names is that your husband was very close to his late father. I release you from feeling that this must be symbolically represented in your son’s first name. It isn’t necessary: the closeness abides, regardless of your son’s name.

Harrison David Leo Chelsea is the perfect name to go with Eleanor Jane Lee Chelsea. I declare it so. Or, if you prefer, you can think of something you like better than Harrison. Isaac is nice, with the science (Isaac Newton) and science fiction (Isaac Asimov).

Baby Boy Luh-MAY, Brother to Matilda and Wilder

We’re expecting our third child, a boy, in early September. Big siblings are Matilda and Wilder, and the surname is French and sounds like luh-MAY. We live in a hipster area of a big city, where it’s normal to hear parents call out: “Otto! Laszlo! Dashiell! Jasper!” Perhaps due to this, I’m really struggling to find anything I like. It’s the common problem of wanting something that feels fresh and different without being too unusual, except those names have all already been taken by my kids’ friends and schoolmates. Add in the fact that I’ve worked at a preschool for the past 5 years, and suddenly all my old favorites feel overused and tired.

My husband doesn’t seem to be afflicted by this problem. Some of the names he likes best are: Atticus, Alden, Barnaby, Emerson, Hawthorn, Nero, and Orion. I would consider Atticus, but don’t love it, am so-so on Hawthorn, and dislike the others.

Names I like (but don’t love) that my husband would be willing to consider:
Cassian (a bit frilly feelng)
Cormac (pronunciation discrepancies, not great flow with surname)
Cyrus, Everett, Theo, Tristan (so popular here)
Leander (same ending as Wilder)

Names I like (but don’t love) that my husband has rejected: Anders, Atlas, Boaz, Bram, Caspian, Dario, Emrys, Etienne, Ivo, Jonas, Lucian, Lysander, Orlando, Roman, Roscoe

The one name we both like but would never use due to spelling: Tadhg

Names we would have considered had this baby been a girl: Adeline, Beatrix, Coraline, Cordelia, Elodie, Lucia, Lyra, Rose, Thisbe, Zora.

Ideally the name would flow well with the surname, not end in -er, and sound distinct from yet compatible with Matilda and Wilder. This will most likely be our last baby, so I’m hopeful there’s something out there we’ll (re)discover and both love, rather than something we can merely compromise on.

I would be very grateful for any suggestions you might have. Many thanks!



Just for fun, I started by seeing what the possibilities were for a third name containing “ild”:


So, hm. How about only the “ld”:

Alden (also seen on your husband’s list)
Walden (probably too many sounds in common with Wilder)

I particularly like Fielding. Fielding Luhmay; Matilda, Wilder, and Fielding.

Because it’s common for parents to have different naming styles for boys and for girls, I’d lean more toward matching the brother names here. Wilder is a surname name; for some it will have a pleasing connection to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. It’s also a word name, with connotations of wildness and wilderness—a little bit of a cowboy/ranger feel. In spite of those two old-fashioned/throwback associations, it’s also a cool and modern name: I wouldn’t want to pair it with Harold, for example, even though Harold has an “ld” in it. And although sometimes the way to surprise a hip area is to bring back names such as Douglas and Roger, I don’t think I’d combine those with Wilder either. I think surname names and nature names would go particularly well, but also hip biblical and other names with that old-fashioned/modern mix:

Quill (we just re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy)

Baby Boy Mavis-with-a-D, Brother to Edward, Fiona, and Harriet

Hi Swistle!!

Well our beautiful baby boy was born last week and we have yet to find a name for him. I never understand people who could leave the hospital without naming their baby, but alas, that is us. Our last name is Mavis with a D.

Our three eldest children were fairly easy to name: Edward Joseph (grandfathers name), Fiona Potter (Potter is a family surname), Harriet Pauline (Pauline is my grandmothers name).

For this little guy, we just haven’t had one “click” yet.

My husband is fully against my favorite which is George, so that is out. He likes the name but just can’t get over how I have a living uncle George.

His favorite is Ashford, claiming he loves it because of the different nicknames available to him – Ash and Ford, as well as how it is somewhat gender neutral. We would name him Ashford Lee, so he would have the same initials and same middle name as me (though mine is spelled with the “igh”). My husband loves that idea and how with him being our last baby, and how he was a successful much desired VBA2C, as a tribute to me. I think it’s sweet.

The other 2 names that we are still considering are Felix (my grandfathers middle name) and Crosby which is my maiden name.

I look at this baby and keep seeing Felix, but wonder if having a Fiona and a Felix is too much “Fi”/”Fe” sound? We call our daughter Fi or Fifi, and are unlikely to call our son those nicknames, so I’m just not sure if it’s a concern.

Crosby is probably in 3rd place now, but still a contender. We love how unique it is and yet it’s still a family name.

What do you and your readers think? We could really use some insight from people who haven’t been thinking of these names over and over for so long.

Thank you!!!





Name update:

Hi Swistle!

I am so happy to announce that we came to an agreement on baby’s name! Everyone’s comments were so very helpful in our conversations at home as we got to know our little man. When it came down to it, my dear husband told me that he liked the name George (his only issue with the name was that I have a living Uncle George) and that since he had named Edward, I could name our last baby. I broke down in tears with relief and asked him to pick his middle name. I’ve attached a photo of our fourth and last child, George Crosby! We couldn’t be happier and am so glad that we took our time in making the decision. Thank you so much for all of your help!!


Baby Boy Fox, Sibling to Atlas and Gwendolyn

Dear Swistle,
I need serious help on finding a name for baby #3, a boy due in April. Boy names are especially difficult to decide on for us and we aren’t in love with any of our options. Our first child is named Atlas which is an old (old) family name that my husband was adamant on using. Our second child is a little girl named Gwendolyn which was my great-grandmother’s name that I had always loved. But now with with baby #3 coming just around the corner I feel like we’ve used the names we felt the most strongly about and have no clue on what to name this new little boy! One of the hardest things is what goes with Atlas??? Admittedly I was very hesitant to name him Atlas in the beginning and wanted him to go by Gregory, his middle name. But now the name has grown on me and I can’t call him anything else.
For this new baby we would like a strong name that’s not very popular and I’d prefer something a little longer because our last name is Fox. Here are some names we’ve considered:

Edison: both of us feel ok about this but not great. Eddie is a cute nickname but I dislike Ed.

Frederick: a strong contender for me, but is the alliteration too much especially with the nickname Freddie? Freddie Fox? Would he hate me forever?

Declan: I really like Declan but my husband thinks it is too trendy and harsh sounding

Henry: I really like Henry, but my husband likes Henrick better. I am also worried on how popular Henry is.

Theodore: a strong contender and I like Theo a lot, but we have a niece named Thea and feel like it’s too close.

Please help!

Thank you so much,


I am very keen on the name Frederick anyway, but I particularly like it in this case. None of the names on your list are as distinctive as Atlas, but the alliteration of Frederick Fox brings up the distinctiveness considerably.

My other top choice from your list is Edison: I think it’s the closest to the style of Atlas. I hesitate a little because you dislike the nickname Ed; that’s my only reason for putting it second. Well, and also that I am charmed by the idea of Frederick Fox.

Because Atlas is a family name, I don’t think you have to try as hard to match the style of it: “It’s a family name” goes a long way to explain. Yet I feel reluctant to add a Henry or a Theodore here: in another sibling group it would be different, but after an Atlas and a Gwendolyn they seem like they lack a certain SNAP. I am turning to the Exotic Traditionals section of The Baby Name Wizard to find some snap:

Aidric Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Aidric
Alistair Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Alistair
Augustus Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Augustus
Barnaby Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Barnaby
Dashiell Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Dashiell
Jasper Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Jasper
Justice Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Justice
Malachi Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Malachi
Phineas Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Phineas

I’m not sure about Augustus: it repeats the first and last letters of Atlas. Alistair, too, involves some repetition of sounds. But I still liked them both, so I left them on. More suggestions:

Broderick Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Broderick
Desmond Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Desmond
Hugo Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Hugo
Judah Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Judah
Lachlan Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Lachlan
Merritt Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Merritt
Sebastian Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Sebastian
Solomon Fox; Atlas, Gwendolyn, and Solomon

Or I wonder if you might find something else way back in the family tree? It would be fun if all the names were family names.

Baby Naming Issue: Are Madilyn and Madisyn Too Similar to Use as Sister Names for Madalee?

Dear Swistle,
We just found out a few months ago that we are expecting another baby. We already have a boy name picked out from the first pregnancy that we decided to use in the instance that baby number 2 is a boy. We named our first born “Madalee” but are now having trouble picking another girl name for our possible future daughter. We LOVE the names “Madilyn” and “Madisyn” but I fear that it may be too close “Madalee”.

We call our first born “Maddie” so I figured if we call baby number 2 by their whole name it wouldn’t be too big of a mix up. I’ve searched for other names but I can’t bring myself to commit to another name because I love Madilyn and Madisyn so much. What is your opinion?



My opinion is that yes, Madilyn and Madisyn are too close to Madalee. I also think there could be disputes over the nickname Maddie, even if you decide to assign the nickname to only one of them.

This would still be too similar for me, but one option is to use Adelyn or Addisyn: even dropping the M helps, and then they’d both have the option of using their nicknames. The nicknames would rhyme, but they wouldn’t be the same. But again: still too similar for me, and I think I’d get mixed up and say Madisyn and Adalee by mistake.

If I were you I would look further afield. It’s common for parents to love groups of very similar names: it makes sense that if parents love the name Ellery they might also love Ellison and Ella and Everly. But I think in general that using one name from a group of very similar names rules out the others in that group: parents who use the name Evan have probably ruled out the names Ivan, Evanie, and Devan from future consideration.

Here are some names that strike me as similar to Madalee/Madilyn/Madisyn while allowing for more distinctive sounds:

Avelyn; Madalee and Avelyn
Averie; Madalee and Averie
Braelyn; Madalee and Braelyn
Briella; Madalee and Briella
Brinley; Madalee and Brinley (not sure about the repeated endings)
Ellery; Madalee and Ellery (tongue gets a little tangled)
Ellisyn; Madalee and Ellisyn
Emelyn; Madalee and Emelyn
Emersyn; Madalee and Emersyn
Gracyn; Madalee and Gracyn
Harlowe; Madalee and Harlowe
Keelyn; Madalee and Keelyn
Kinsley; Madalee and Kinsley (not sure about the repeated endings)
Shelby; Madalee and Shelby

I went back and forth on rhyming and semi-rhyming endings. Some seemed to work, especially if the names had a different number of syllables and if the rhyming included only the -ie/-ee/-y sound and not the full -ley/-lee sound. Others seemed too sing-song.