Baby Boy Sp@d@for@

Hi Swistle,

I’ve been a fan of your blog for years, particularly for the Naming Update satisfaction, and thought that, due to my research, baby naming would be no problem but that was before I realized my husband and I have COMPLETELY different naming styles.

Our first baby, a boy, is due in 3 weeks, and we need help. I finally was able to sit my husband down to talk names this past week by reading through the Baby Name Wizard and I now feel even more stressed than before. Our last name is Sp@d@for@ pronounced Sp@d@-for@h. My husband’s name is Mark and mine is Joyce (or Joyce-Marie for my family). As you can see, one of us has Italian heritage but the other does not. With such a distinctive Italian last name, I would prefer an ethnically neutral first name or one that errs towards Irish/Danish/German to represent my heritage.

For family honoring purposes, my husband wants the baby’s middle name to be Anthony. It is not my favorite name but I value family history (both my names are family names) and am willing to use this name.

The biggest issue is not that we disagree on individual names but instead on styles. I favor classic names that don’t give away the year someone was born (like the Ashleys and Emilys and Jennifers of the 1980s), that work well for a boy and a man, has some meaning, and is not out in left field (if it can be found on a personalized keychain kiosk, unlike Joyce, that would be a plus). My husband, who has coached men’s sports for 15 years, wants a unique name. He has bad connotations of many “normal” names because of past players and wants to reject any name that shows up on a top 10 or 20 list or feels generic (e.g., Christopher, Paul, Noah, Aidan, Liam, Thomas). I explained that the quantity of people with these names is low, but he is unconvinced.

I think I am also part of the problem because I am set on a name: Jack. It was my uncle’s name, so has a good family tie, it is steady, usual, works well for a boy or a man, balances a complex last name, and has the same ending as Mark and his father, Frank. Jack Anthony even works and honors both families. However, my husband currently has 2 Jacks on his team and while he hasn’t come out and said no way (mostly due to my saying how much I love the name), he keeps trying other options.

Some of his suggestions that I have rejected for various reasons have been:
Dominic (he got the name from the Fast and the Furious, I think it’s too Italian/Mafia with our last name)
Vincent (ditto)
Maximus (from Gladiator – I like the name Max but I don’t like this longer form and he doesn’t like Maxwell and we both don’t like Maximillian)
Clark (as in Clark Kent)
Mason (I don’t love that it’s a Kardashian name and I also don’t really love the name)
Calvin (Calvin and Hobbs)

Some of my suggestions that he doesn’t like have been:
Jameson (James is a family name, this naming convention is Scandinavian)
Nathan/Nate (he doesn’t think it goes with Anthony)
Luke (I like the Star Wars reference, he thinks it is too popular and we have friends with a Lucas)
Finn (again, Star Wars but he thinks that will cause the popularity to rise)
Caleb (he hates the name for some reason)
Christian (rejected by him because of past associations with players)

Some of our compromise names – as in neither of us love it but we don’t hate it and we have overlap are:
Jackson (he’s open to this because of the character in Sons of Anarchy but doesn’t like its popularity, it would get me Jack but it feels like settling off of a perfect name)

It also doesn’t help that both families are convinced we have a name and are lying to them when we say we don’t. In short, there is a lot to be stressed about at the end of the pregnancy and I would like one or two names to choose from after the baby is born. I know I’m being stubborn with Jack when Jackson seems like a compromise and I feel like I am shutting down his ideas when I should be grateful that he is participating but I don’t want to name my son Jett/Steele!

Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Help us Obi-Wan Swistle, you’re our only hope

Thank you for your time!

PS I should mention that girls names do not seem to be a problem for us – I have a ton of ones I love and he overlaps with a great deal of them (I like Lucy and Grace and Alice and Rosemarie). Fingers crossed the next kid (and maybe the last) will be a girl for marital harmony!


So your husband likes mostly superhero / action hero / comic book / xtreme tuff names. Luckily, there are a number of those names that don’t seem that way when they’re not on a list with the others. Here are the ones I’d pick from his list:

Clark. My top choice for you guys. I think it accomplishes everything you’re looking for with the name Jack (except the family honor), but with an option that satisfies your husband’s wish for something less common and/or something that has superpowers. If you were both on board with Jack, I’d be all for it: it’s a nice classic familiar friendly versatile name, and I love family names. But I’m siding with your husband on the popularity of it: popularity will vary by location, of course, but in our area (and on your husband’s teams, apparently) it feels like it’s everywhere. Clark has a very similar classic versatile feeling, but also feels much fresher. Clark Anthony Sp@d@for@. Top choice.

Calvin. A great name, and doesn’t hint at a wish for hyper-masculinity.

Samson. Hints at hyper-masculinity, but is mainstream enough to just seem like a way to get the friendly nickname Sam.



From your list, I think Nathan is a great option, and I don’t think an incompatibility with the middle name should be enough to completely rule it out. Could Anthony wait and be the middle name for a future child? Are there other honor names the two of you would like to use? How about Jack in the middle slot this time? Nathan Jack Sp@d@for@.

I’d also rescue Finn from your list. I wouldn’t let fear of future popularity rule out a name: predicting such things is so difficult.

I don’t think you’re being stubborn about Jackson. It doesn’t feel like a satisfying compromise to me, either: it reduces the honor name for no real gain, and I don’t like it as much with the surname.


I feel disinclined to search for more options when Clark is shining out at me like that. But maybe Teague, Ian, Alec, Grant, Blake, Keane, Leo, Milo, Nolan, Reid, Jude, Flynn, Keegan, Abe, Gage, Dane?




Name update:

Hi Swistle,

Thank you for posting my naming dilemma and for all the helpful comments! It seems as if the old school hero names like Clark are on an upswing. However, one of the commenters pointed out that Clark rhymes with Mark, my husband’s name, and so that eliminated that name from contention in my mind. After about 20 hours of labor while we were waiting to begin pushing, my husband looked at me and said “so, Jack, huh?” and that was that! Jack Anthony Sp@d@for@ was born on his due date and we couldn’t be happier. I also love that he has a piece of my family’s history along with my husband’s in his name. And, interestingly enough, he looks like a dead ringer for my uncle Jack! Thank you again for everything!


35 thoughts on “Baby Boy Sp@d@for@

  1. Suzanne

    I love the name Clark. It is definitely my favorite from your husband’s list.

    But I also felt like LEAPING to the comments section to recommend John! I think it fits all your requirements, and your husband’s (hasn’t been in the Top 20 since 2008; several action heroes named John). PLUS a well-established nickname for John is Jack. Perhaps it could be your personal pet name for your son? Everybody wins!

    John Anthony. John Sp@d@for@. LOVE.

    Congratulations and happy baby!

  2. liz

    I too love the name Clark. LOVE.

    And I, like the above commenter, came LEAPING to the comments to ask, why not James? Family name! James Anthony sounds great! You could reasonably get Jack as a nn!

    But John’s great, too.

  3. Nathalia

    Is there any room for compromise between his Tobin and your Tobias/Toby? All of those names work well, given your parameters, and they seem pretty close to each other. The flow with Anthony may not be perfect, but at this point I think that should be the least of your problems. I almost always think a great first name paired with a good honor name is a winning combination, even if the flow between the two isn’t fabulous.

  4. Ann

    I also agree that Clark would be a great name choice and pairs extremely well with Anthony!

    The names Tristan and Ethan came to mind when reading through the names you listed.

  5. Jd

    If Jack and Vincent had a baby it would be Victor! Cool Jack like nickname Vic, masculine but not desperately so, not super Italian but goes with your last name, timeless.

    I also like John nicknamed Jack.
    Clark is also awesome.

  6. Andrea

    I really dislike Clark. It is totally a personal thing and I know Clark is hitting its stride–my BIL is using it for his baby due in September and I’ve started to see it cropping up more and more often on baby name blogs and such. There was also a birth announcement recently with Clark in the middle spot. So. It definitely sounds like it should work, but Jack is such a FUN, masculine, mischievous boy with freckles name, whereas Clark sounds like a stuffy old man. (Again–just how I hear it, and I’m sure that will change as I get to know my nephew.) If you love it, great, but I don’t see it as being in the same category of name as Jack just because it has a “k” sound at the end.

    That being said, I really think you do have some great options. I love Jack (obviously) because it feels super masculine to me but also playful and not mafia. I love Calvin (or Hobbes–which is less used but still awesome). I like Bridger for you as it has the mountain man vibe, which is super masculine, but not the mafia vibe. I also like Wyatt for you as it also has a super masculine/non-mafia feel. Bear is another solid choice for different, masculine, but not mafia. You might also consider some less popular biblical names as they would also read super masculine (although, sadly, not James anymore)–like Ephraim.


    Good luck!!!!

    1. Andrea

      I was going to mention that there are a ton of boys named Bridger here in the west, but if you live back east, then it will definitely read as unique. Boone is also fantastic for the same mountain man vibe, but is one syllable, which you like.

    2. Holly

      Agree with your assessment re Jack and Clark. I loved Jack enough to use it for my second son and really dislike Clark. Names more like Jack to me include Luke, Isaac/Ike, Beau, Wyatt, Henry/Hank, Jude, Blaise (most of which have already been mentioned). I also love John Anthony called Jack.

  7. A

    Clark jumped out at me while reading your letter. It’s similar in style to Jack, but more sophisticated IMO. I guess you don’t like it because your husband has associated it with Clark Kent. It really seems like a good fit for your and I’m not surprised Swistle and the other commenters feel the same way.

  8. Christina Fonseca

    What about “just” Max?

    I suspect that if you go with Jackson, you won’t be the only one calling him Jack. Perfectly okay IMO if each parent calls him something different.

    I like previous poster’s suggestion of John nicknamed Jack.

  9. Emarie

    What about Dashiell? NN Dash? I love this name and I think it might appeal to both of you.

    I have a Jack, and it is popular. Accepting that is part of using the name, for sure. But I am still glad we used it!

    Other ideas:

    1. Andrea

      I know an Axel that goes by Ace. That might be a perfect choice!!! It gives you the Scandi name with the super cool nickname. Love it!!! If Axel doesn’t work for you, then Wallace also gets you the nn Ace and has the William Wallace creds.

  10. Reagan

    I think you have to decide if you are going on insist on Jack no matter what or if you are really open to considering something else. If you want to put your foot down regarding Jack look for other options for compromise (for example, he could have the deciding voice in choosing from names you both like for the next child).

    To find out how open you are to using a name other than Jack, try to engage in this thought exercise. Pretend someone really close to you, say a sister or best friend, just used the name Jack last week. Would you still want to use? Also, let’s say they asked you not to use it and you wanted to honor that request. That leaves you with three lists … yours, his, and the compromise list.

    The compromise lists feels like it is unsatisfying to both of you so hopefully you avoid relying on that. There might be some room to work with a few names from each of your lists. Have you considered Max without a longer form? Max Anthony? What about Peter instead of Clark? (As in Peter Parker.) What about Flynn instead of Finn? Or Milo instead of Miles?

    And coming out of left field, here are some other names, I really like with Anthony and your last name.

    Jay Anthony Sp@d@for@
    Arlo Anthony Sp@d@for@
    Grant Anthony Sp@d@for@
    Drew Anthony Sp@d@for@
    Eli Anthony Sp@d@for@

  11. juniperjones

    Tobin is Irish and he could go by Toby which you like – seems like a perfect compromise. I also love Clark but guessing you don’t. I know a Jackson who was a compromise for Jack between parents and he’s fully Jackson not Jack now 10 months later – so I agree it might end up not working out that he’s called Jack and it could just bug you…

    1. StephLove

      I was struck by how similar Tobin and Tobias are, too, and they even share a nickname. If he likes Tobin and she likes Toby, why not Tobin, nickname Toby?

  12. Ash

    I’m coming to share my like for Clark but do believe it is a name that’s on the rise! What don’t YOU like about it? From your list, I like Tobias/Toby!!

    Other suggestions:

  13. KD

    Just chiming in to say I LOVE Calvin, nn “Cal”! To me, it’s perfection. I agree with you that with a last name like yours, a simple first name is a nice idea. I also like Clark, John, and (just) Max. Good luck!!

  14. Nicki

    I think someone else already suggested it, but i think Aksel/Axel is a nice option. Its a name with long historical roots, is Danish/German and has the same sounds as Jack and Max. It also has a bit of tough-guy appeal, but not too much.
    It sounds like you both like Max and Tobin/Toby which are both awesome choices.
    I bet you could narrow down your lists to just a few that you both like, and take those to the delivery room with you.

  15. Sargjo

    I love Clark too! Clark makes me think of Carl, which must have some dashing comic hero cred somewhere but be rare enough that husband hasn’t encountered one on his teams. Carl makes me think of Eric, which has the ending sound you like, athletic cred, and Danish use. Any love for Malcolm nicknamed Mack? I would swoon if I met a little Malcolm Anthony Sp@n@ford@

  16. Christine

    I came running down here to suggest John, and I see I’m not alone. John Anthony Sp@d@for@, nn Jack.

    I also like Clark, and other one syllable names for you (and in general, but especially with a long last name – I feel your pain.) Grant and Graham are nice. Also, if he’s okay with Clark (for Superman) why not Luke for Star Wars?

  17. TheFirstA

    Hmm, baby will have husband’s last name. Baby will have a family honor middle name from his side (and one you aren’t really crazy about). You like Jack, it has some connection/similarity to a names on his side, and husband hasn’t actually said no. Jack is also a family name from your side, which I think provides a nice balance to the rest of the name, which pretty heavily honors his side. I don’t think you are really part of the problem being so set on Jack. I really do think it sounds like the best way to compromise-you’ll both get a little of what you want. If he really doesn’t like just Jack, and you don’t like Jackson, then I’ll suggest John. I’ve also heard of Jack being used as a nickname for Jacob and James, but I do like John better.

    Similar to Jack is Jake, which has always struck me as a bit more macho-so perhaps similar in feel to your husband’s list.

  18. Andrea

    Fergus is a great straight-up Irish name, with the awesome nn Gus. Also, Oskar–spelled the German way, is another very masculine but fun choice. I keep wanting to pair names with the girl names you like.

    Jack and Rosie
    Fergus and Lucy
    Oskar and Rosie

  19. Jean C.

    Am I the only one that thinks it’ll be problematic to have a husband and son with rhyming names? Mark and Clark? I would have a problem with that.
    I think Jack is nice. I also wonder if maybe Silas would work? Maybe Kyle instead of Clark?

    1. Jaime

      I came to the comments just to make sure someone had pointed this out! I def wouldn’t go with Clark if Dad is Mark.

  20. Kim C

    Calvin Anthony nn Cal is awesome!!!

    Samson and Tobin nn Sam and Toby are my other favorites from your list.

    Milo, Arlo and Eli are all great suggestions to, especially Eli. Really like Reid with your surname and middle name choice too.

    Although I really like Clark, the rhyming with Mark would rule it out for me.

    What about Clayton nn Clay or Jensen nn Jens or Jay?

    Good luck!

  21. Lashley

    It does feel like there’s a lot of dad-influence on the name so far, so you could definitely mention that in your conversation for a wee bit of leverage. But I think it will help move the conversation forward if you leave Jack aside for temporarily and consider what you’d want to name your babe if Jack were off the table. I’d get it narrowed down to a short list of names you both find acceptable and see what you think once babe arrives. Sometimes parents just get a feeling once they meet their little one!

    Until then, imght you consider going the “Sam” route? If you don’t like Samson, you could do a more traditional name like Samuel and dad could always use Samson as a nickname!

    What about Cyrus, nn Cy? Theodore/Theo?

    Maybe there’s a bridge to be made between his Simon and your Colin? Collins for a more distinctive surname-y feel? Coleman? Colin and Calvin share so many sounds, maybe one of you will warm to the other’s suggestion.

    I also like Calvin/Cal, John/Jack, Tobias/Tobin/Toby, Peter, James, Luke.

  22. Jenn

    I love Clark, but I understand if you don’t. I think Jack is great, and it is popular. I second the suggestions of John/Jack, Henry, Peter, and James. What about Malcolm nn Mal or Mac? It definitely has a British Isles feel like you talked about in your letter.

  23. Courtney

    Would love to know what your reasons for not using Tobin are, especially since Tobias/Toby is on your list (and vice versa for your husband). We actually named our now 10 month old Tobin and the older he gets the more I like it.

    I did think through other names that are classic and some Irish and not super popular right now:

  24. Trudee

    I read all the comments but can’t remember if anyone recommended this one: Magnus. It has that German/Scandinavian background and has a similar feel to Maximus. It feels superhero-ish and like something the hubby might like. Magnus Anthony Sp@d@f0r@.


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