Baby Boy R., Brother to John/Jack and Edward/Ned

Hi Swistle,

You know how sometimes you read something and you say I would never do that? Well, I’m having one of those moments.

I have two little boys that go by their nicknames, Jack and Ned. Their given names are John and Edward, respectively. Having two boys were traditional names with short spunky nicknames, I now have the feeling that I *must* find a third name that fits that trend. It is also making finding a name challenging because a name that goes with Jack and Ned doesn’t necessarily go with John and Edward or vice versa.

The only true requirement is I would really prefer not to repeat an initial. Because Ned has two depending on your point of view, I am willing to bend for an E or an N, but if I can find a distinct initial that would be preferred.

Names hubby and I have talked about:

Christopher nn Kit-not too fond of Kit. Ned and Jack sound like they could be childhood to old man nn, but Kit sounds very juvenile. I pointed out Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones, to which he responded so now it’ll be popular. Neither one of us is feeling Toph as a nn.

Winston nn Wynn-I am really liking Wynn but not sure how I feel about Winston. Are there any other names that Wynn could be a nickname for?

Donovan nn Van or Don-meh

Nicholas nn Cole-Does it seem like we’re reaching?

Gage-I just discovered this name last night and I’ve latched onto it for some reason. I don’t like it with the given names for the boys though. Plus my husband has a negative memory associated with it, and it’s now on the un-usable list.


I like the names Rhett and Reed, but our last name begins with R so that seems like a lot of R.

Names that we cannot use for one reason or another:

Jack was such as obvious choice for me that I never considered any other name (he was named after my grandfather). Ned took a little while longer, because I find choosing boys names very challenging!

I’m not too worried about naming style matching any girls that we hopefully have.



Because I generally think it’s less important for nicknames to coordinate, I would start with the given names. With John and Edward, I wouldn’t have gone to any of the names on your list except for maybe Peter—which may mean I’m barking up the wrong tree, but let’s go with it for the moment. I would be looking at names more like Thomas, James, and Robert from your Can’t Use list, and also:

Charles; John, Edward, and Charles; Jack, Ned, and Charlie
George; John, Edward, and George; Jack, Ned, and Georgie
Henry; John, Edward, and Henry; Jack, Ned, and Hank
Louis; John, Edward, and Louis; Jack, Ned, and Lou
William; John, Edward, and William; Jack, Ned, and Will

And maybe Andrew/Andy/Drew and Daniel/Dan and Philip/Phil and David/Dave, I’m not sure. I had Frederick on the list, but then realized Fred rhymes with Ned.

The nickname for George is not really what you’re looking for, but I think the beauty of George is that it goes both with the given names and the nicknames: John, Edward, and George; Jack, Ned, and George. Henry could serve the same purpose: John, Edward, and Henry; Jack, Ned, and Henry. If you’re planning more children, you may find yourself grateful for a name that gracefully breaks the pattern like that, leaving you open to a much wider list next time.

And in fact, unless you have a couple of name/nickname combinations you love enough to use, I would advise deliberately breaking the pattern at this point, while it’s still relatively easy. Two names with something in common is not a pattern, but three names in a row is, and the pressure increases exponentially with each additional name. My first two boys have names with the same number of letters and syllables and same country of origin, followed by middle names after matching relatives on the two sides of the family; I’m so extremely grateful to my past self for giving up on that (after a considerable struggle) for the third boy. At this point, no one would notice that the first two “match.” It felt during the pregnancy as if it mattered tremendously, but now it feels as if it doesn’t matter at all—and it meant I chose names I really wanted for the third and fourth boys.

What would you choose if you weren’t looking for a coordinated name/nickname to add to the sibling set? I suggest looking through the name book again, but this time make a list with no thought for how the names go with the brothers’ names, just to see what kind of names you come up with.

76 thoughts on “Baby Boy R., Brother to John/Jack and Edward/Ned

  1. Ash

    Swistle is on it!

    I was coming to suggest Charles/Charlie and Henry/Hank as Swistle has already provided.


    The options are endless!

  2. Christi with an I

    I immediately though of Theodore. John, Edward and Theodore, Jack, Ned and Theo. or my personal fav (also the name of my 13 year old son) Richard nn Rick(y). John, Edward and Richard, Jack, Ned and Rick. Or Michael- John, Edward and Michael/ Jack, Ned and Mick or Mike either one.

  3. Margaret

    I could not agree more with Swistle. I feel like John and Edward are such classic names, I was waiting to see William and Charles on your “can’t use” list. Since they aren’t, I must say, use William or Charles! I also like PPs suggestions or Theodore and Matthew. What about Graham or Alexander? Max?

  4. Annie

    LOVE the Henry/Hank suggestion, especially since this family doesn’t shy away from “old man”/traditional/non-intuitive nicknames. Hank is adorable.

    Francis nn Frank?
    Joseph nn Joey?
    Philip nn Pip?
    Matthew nn Mat with one t is doing it for me more than Matt with two t’s
    A formal name with the nickname Gus, maybe? But somehow August/Augustine don’t seem their style

  5. Renee

    I’ve heard of two different Nicholas nn Coles lately, so I want to encourage you that way if you’re inclined!

    It is certainly hard to keep up with your trend, so I’d love to hear what you just love, pattern aside (as Swistle asked.)

    But if keeping the pattern is a fun game, then love the suggestions of Henry Hank (or Hal!) and Louis Lou (love that!) If Wynn is the sound you love, how about any -win name? Irwin or Darwin would go well enough with John and Edward.

    I know you’re shying away from nicknames that are too juvenile but I think these can stand the test of time:
    Patrick nn Pax (might be too close to Jack)
    Alexander nn Alec (on your list already!) or Dex
    William nn Welles
    Walter nn Whit
    Clarence nn Clark or Ari
    Alfred nn Fritz
    Anthony nn Tony
    Isaac nn Ike

    My view on your style is unexpected/vintage nicknames for classics. So maybe that’s why some of the other classics aren’t grabbing you? Stretch it a bit to find something you love? Or… speaking of stretches – if you are grasping at straws, how about choosing a full name that you love that goes with your boys and call him Tripp or Trey (third boy!? I know it’s commonly used for the third generation of a name but I think it could work here well)

    Good luck! Can’t wait to see your update.

  6. Cece

    I love Henry/Hal for you, and the suggestion above of Walter/Whit – but other options that could work:

    Nathaniel (Nat or Nate)
    Alexander (Alex, Xander)
    Alastair (Al)
    Francis or Franklin (Frank)

  7. Emily

    I like William/Will (or even Bill/Billy, because I’m feeling the retro vibe with your names) and Charles/Charlie a LOT.
    Nathaniel/ Nate?

  8. Amanda

    I too think that Charles/Charlie and Henry/Hank seem to be the best fits with your sibset (also I have a Charles/Charlie so I’m definitely rooting for that!). Since those aren’t in your list, though, it makes me wonder if some names that are still classic but a little more outside the box might fit the bill.

    How about:

  9. onelittletwolittle

    First of all, I love Wyn/Wynn. How about Winslow?

    For nicknames, I’m thinking Gus, Frank, Hank, Archie, Al, Hal, Cal all go well with Jack and Ned. For Gus, you could go with August, Angus, Fergus, etc.

    I also agree that George might work well in the sib-set.

    I have six kids, and we did the formal name/fun nickname for all but one of them. I thought it would bother me, but it doesn’t. It was increasingly difficult to find formal names AND nicknames that we liked, and we took some liberties with the nicknames, using ones that aren’t traditionally nicknames for particular formal names.

  10. Erin

    Suggestions from above that are awesome –
    Calvin or Caleb nn Cal
    Isaac nn Ike
    William nn Will

    Several people suggested Charles, who you could also call Chuck or Chaz if you want to go even more retro.

    Samuel nn Sam
    Joseph nn Joe, Joey, Jos

  11. Sargjo

    I definitely adore the British royal route-ie William, Charles, George and Henry along with John and Edward. Of those Henry nn Hal is definitely my favorite. Other British royal names: Arthur nn Art or Bear or Thor (!), Stephen nn Steve or Stef, Richard nn Rich or Rick. From the non royal suggestions I love Wiley nn Wes. For unusual nicknames from more common names I like Oliver nn Lio or Laurence nn Lars

  12. Steph Lovelady

    I don’t think Cole for Nicholas is a stretch at all. It’s a traditional nickname for Nicholas, I think.

    I was thinking something similar to what Swistle said for George for Grant, assuming you don’t need a nickname. It seems to go well enough with the older brothers’ given names but also with their nicknames (maybe because it’s one syllable). John, Edward, & Grant. Jack, Ned, & Grant. Does that work for you?
    So that would be my choice from your list, tied with Mitchell (nn Mitch). John, Edward, & Mitchell. Jack, Ned, & Mitch.

    Or how about Oliver (nn Ollie)? John, Edward, & Oliver. Jack, Ned, and Ollie.

  13. Percy

    Alexander nn Alec or Lex (a fave of mine)
    William nn Liam or Lee or even Wynn? *
    Frederick nn Freddie or Fritz
    Joseph nn Zef
    Lawrence nn Law or Laurie
    Arthur nn Ari
    Sebastian nn Bash
    Michael nn Micah
    Andrew nn Drew
    Gabriel nn Gale
    Francis nn Finn

  14. SarahBee

    Ooh! What about Richard nicknamed Hardy ? Or Philip nicknames to Flip (this is an old fashioned nickname for Philip and somewhat unexpected like your two boys). Other then that Louis nicknamed Louie is charming to me.

  15. beeejet

    I haven’t read all the comments yet , but I IMMEDIATELY thought of Isaac/Ike!!
    I also like using Henry. It coordinates so well with both full names and nicknames.

    Woodrow/Woody (or Row)
    Sebastian/Seb, Baz

    I grew up with a guy, Wem. It wasn’t until graduation that we found out the name on his birth certificate was William. That combo could work for you.

    A note about Wynn. Spelled this way, I think Girl. Wynn is a standalone female name. Not that you shouldn’t use it, but I wanted to point it out in case you weren’t aware. If it were me, I’d spell it with an I.
    For full names what about

    1. Rayne of Terror

      Woodrow was on my personal list with both sons but my husband nixed it and now I am glad. I did not know how racist Woodrow Wilson was until the last several years. There are so few famous Woodrows, that I wouldn’t risk the naming connection.

      My niece’s boyfriend’s nn is Whit and I love it.

  16. Kate

    Seconding and/or suggesting:
    Henry/nn Hank
    Alexander nn/ Alex
    Theodore nn/ Theo
    William nn/ Wills ** This is a personal favorite. I love the idea of Wills (with the s) as a nickname as opposed to Will alone
    Samuel nn/ Sam or Sams (I like the extra “s” again I suppose)

  17. Kay W.

    I cannot improve on Swistle’s advice, only echo it, and add that (though it makes me wistful to think this way), your boys will each be independent men with lives outside the family for far longer than they are children considered as a set together. So, pick a name you love, that’s harmonious with your surname, that will serve him well all his life, and don’t worry as much about matching. Best of luck!

  18. Rayne of Terror

    I have a Henry occasionally called Hank (mostly by his sportsball teammates and coaches). When he was an infant I hated Hank as a nn but it has grown on me now that he’s a teenager and all the athletes have nn for each other.

    One of my unused boy names is Lawrence nn Larz.

    1. FE

      Another name that fits both your formal and nickname styles, without locking you into a pattern, is Hugh.

      Love John, Edward & Hugh
      and Jack, Ned & Hugh.

  19. Kerry

    Use Reed! It fits well with your other sons formal and nicknames, and R is a perfectly fine letter to repeat as an initial. (Robert Redford, Rebecca Romeijn, Ray Ramano, Ryan Reynolds and Rachel Ray are all making it work). Also, Reed is a great name.

  20. The Mrs.

    Like many others, I thought “Charles” when I read your letter.

    Chuck, Chip, Chaz, Chet, Cap, etc. (I think there’s a post over at Appellation Mountain for lots of Charles nicknames).

    Best wishes as you welcome your third!

    1. AlexiswithaG

      Omg- yes! Chet!!!
      Many other awesome choices here- Henry/Hank,
      Isaac/Ike, Michael/Mick, Francis/Finn, Philip/Flip are favorites.
      Also- Patrick/Patch? Robert/Bud? James/Jem?
      But have to say Charles/Chet is just perfect.

  21. JMV

    I think of this as a Stylish Gumshoe category. Classic, Manly, Slightly British flavor but without being fussy.

    John/Jack, Edward/Ned and baby
    Philip – Pip, Flip
    Albert – Bertie
    Alfred – Freddy, Alfie
    Robert – Bo, Bert, Bear
    Gilbert – Gil, Bert, Bertie
    Randall – Rand or Wolf (based on name meaning)
    Gregory – Rory,
    Stephen – Finn (not a vintage nn, but a modern one)
    Russell – Sully
    Ruben – Ben, Benji
    Frederick – Freddy
    Walter – Walt
    Vincent – Vince
    A name that can get you to Rudy – Rupert or first name with a RU sound combined with a middle name Starting with D.

    Rhett. Long forms could be Everett or Garrett.

    If you want to change the trend, I think these nickname proof names work with either pairing:
    Rufus – John, Edward, Rufus/ Jack, Ned, Rufus
    Wade – John, Edward, Wade / Jack, Ned, Wade
    Saul – John, Edward, Saul / Jack, Ned, Saul
    Harvey – John, Edward, Harvey / Jack, Ned, Harvey
    Virgil – John, Edward, Virgil / Jack, Ned, Virgil

    Some that seem a bit on the fussy side of your style, but I wonder if they may be just right-
    Perceval – Percy
    Peregrine- Perry
    Gideon – Dion

    1. Amanda

      I also thought Harvey fit perfectly but didn’t suggest it thanks to the hurricane and the sexual abuse scandal, though I still think it could make a comeback soon.

  22. Anna

    What about George nn Geordie?
    Or Henry nn Hal?
    Or Alfred nn Freddie/Alfie

    John, Edward, George (Jack, Ned, Geordie)
    John, Edward, Henry (Jack, Ned, Hal)
    John, Edward, Alfred (Jack, Ned, Freddie/Alfie)

  23. JMV

    Linden seems like it could make the list, too. Lin-Manuel Miranda seems to have name Lin more accessible to baby boys. Linden could also be nicknamed Denny.

  24. Nicki

    Everything Swistle said was right on. I also really really love nicholas with the nickname cole. Its one i considered for my kiddos. I also want to add sullivan/sully and timothy.

  25. Jillio

    I’m all for:

    Phillip nn Flip (Jack, Ned, Flip)
    Henry nn Hank (Jack, Ned, Hank)
    August/Augustus/Guthrie nn Gus (Jack, Ned, Gus)
    Calvin/Callum nn Cal (Jack, Ned, Cal)
    Fitzgerald nn Fitz (Jack, Ned, Fitz)

  26. Heidi J

    I agree that this would be a good point to break the pattern. However, if you do decide to stick with the pattern, names that I would add to Swistle’s list are:
    Alfred (Alfie)
    Howard (Hugh)
    Malcolm (Mal)
    Walter (Walt)

  27. FE

    Hugh is a great name that fits both your formal and nickname styles, if you’re ready to break the pattern.

    John, Edward & Hugh
    Jack, Ned & Hugh

    I love them both – and then you can use whatever you like next time ;)

  28. Maree

    These are the names I think of when I say classic. The nameberry site has a list of names that have never left the top 1000. Looking at any of the top tens between 1880-1940 would also do it :). I love these names and my sons all have names from this category. My thought was:
    Sam (Samuel)
    Pat (Patrick)
    Dave (David)
    Frank (Francis)
    Tom (Thomas)
    Reggie (Reginald)
    Pete (Peter)

    I know a little girl with the middle name Wynn and I thought Wyn was the male version but I’m not certain. Glynn is a male name I have heard on an older man. Glen has a similar feel.

    FWIW my kids have a less then ideal sibling set of names – there are repeating initials and two of them have similar sounding nicknames. They were popular in different eras as well. I am fine with it, sadly I think I will only have them all together at home for a short time and they will go off and lead independent lives where people will not view them as a unit in the way that I do. So my advice would be to go with a name that makes you happy, that fits your personal criteria of what makes a ‘good name’ and it will work out just fine.

    Also, I think Jack, Ned and Win is cool: John, Edward and Godwin!

  29. Beep

    I like William/Will and Francis/Frank. Look at how many options have been introduced here! I don’t think continuing your pattern will box you in.

  30. Colleen

    My first thought for you was Alexander/Al. I also like Franklin/Frank and Calvin/Cal. There are so many options out there!

  31. Lashley

    So many good suggestions! I like George and Henry without nicknames, if you think you’re ready to give up your pattern.

    Other ideas –
    Charles -> Chase would be another alternative to Charlie/Chuck/Chas
    Thomas -> Tom etc
    Joseph -> Joe, Jos etc

  32. Angela

    Lots of great suggestions in this thread! I can’t help but add a few:

    Leonard (Leo)
    Gerard (Gerry)
    Alfred (Al)
    David (Dave/Davey)

  33. RL

    What about:

    Morris/Maurice nn Mo? John, Edward, Morris / Jack, Ned, Mo
    John, Edward, Maurice / Jack, Ned, Mo

    I am loving the above suggestions of Alfred/Alfie, Albert/Bertie and Philip/Flip.

  34. Kristen

    Henry (Hank)

    From the comments above, this my personal favorite.. it seems like it checks all items on your list.. a classic name that pairs well with John + Edward… with a not-super-common but still classic and works throughout all generations of life nickname, that also pairs well with Jack + Ned… And bonus, no repeating initials!!!

    Other top contenders from the replies above are:
    Theodore (Theo)
    Charles (Chuck, Chip)

  35. Jean C.

    My vote is for Winfield nn Win, Wyn, Wynn (I don’t think it’s that common of a name that you couldn’t spell it any way you want to).
    What kind of girl names are you attracted to? That would help me personally decide if I need to keep it in that classic tradition or deviate from it.
    Looking forward to an update! Good luck!

  36. Kim C

    William nn Will and Thomas nn Tom are my favorites from all the suggestions. They just sound so great with your other boys’ names.

    Jack, Ned and Will
    Jack, Ned and Tom (especially like this).

    What about Henry nn Harry like Prince Harry!

    Jack, Ned and Harry. Classic!

    Good luck!

  37. Laura

    I was thinking about this again, and also came up with Morris/ Mo (or Marsh)
    But what really wanted to add was Eugene/ Gene

  38. Beckye

    I love all the Walters.My dad’s the fourth in my family and wears it well. And ironically I love my mom’s ex-husband’s name Thaddeus who went by Ted. I’m obsessed w/ this name. It means courageous heart. Thaddeus Stevens was a badass who fought against slavery. We need more Thaddeus, (Tad, Thad, Ted) in the world.

  39. Jenine

    Just checking in to make sure that ‘Gus’ was brought up. I see it above (never thought of it being used as a nn for Graham before, wow). August is a great name!

  40. Kate

    I like Henry nn Hank. It seems to fit the style very well

    Don’t know if there have been said:

    Charles nn Chaz
    Phillip nn Pip

  41. Valerie

    I really like your boys names :)

    My suggestions would be…

    William nn Liam (Jack, Ned, and Liam)

    Augustus nn Gus (Jack, Ned, and Gus)

    Charles nn Chick (Jack, Ned, and Chick)

    Charles nn Chick AND Augustus nn Gus were my grandfathers names- fairly unique and both fit your theme!

    Good luck!


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