I have loved reading your blog over the years and continually refer back to your archives. I am writing because we are expecting our 3rd and final child in October and we are having a harder time deciding on a name this time around.
Our last name is Pollack, spelled differently. We have two children, Charles (Charlie) Joseph and Hazel Lillian. Since we already have a boy and a girl, we are keeping this third child’s gender a surprise. However, that means we have to come up with TWO names, not just one. Yikes! Charlie is named after a grandfather on each side and the middle name Lillian is a family name as well. Ideally, we’d like the name to have 2 syllables so it fits in with Charlie and Hazel and our “name family.” We tend to like more traditional names that are not super popular.
If the child is a boy, we’d like to use the middle name Israel (my maiden name). As far as boy contenders, this is where we are having the hardest time and are feeling somewhat stuck. I have always loved the name Simon and think it fits so well with our other two, but my husband is not a fan of it. (He can’t exactly pinpoint why, but I think it might be because he does a lot of business in the UK and has run across his fair share of Simons, since the name seems to be more popular there). Other names we have considered include:
Nolan–This is a decent contender that we both like but I’m not sure it’s the one yet. Maybe it’s that it begins and ends with the letter “N” but I don’t find it as inviting a name as Charlie and Hazel, if that makes sense. It sounds a little harder to me.
Grayson–Again, another one we are both okay with but not quite sure it’s right. It sounds a little trendier than we’re used to.
We like the Henry/Theodore/James/Noah type names, but they are all too popular where we are from.
As far as girls, if this baby is a girl, her middle name will be Bernice (after BOTH of my grandmothers)! There are a few names we both really like but we keep running into questions about pronunciation.
Isla–This is our front runner and my favorite. However, my husband’s family is all Spanish-speaking and he worries the pronunciation will be so confusing since Isla would literally be pronounced “Ees-la in Spanish.
Laurel–Another name we really love although I hesitate that it sounds too close to Hazel with the -el ending.
Jolie–We love the idea of this name, but again it comes down to pronunciation. Is it JO-lee like Josie or Jo-LEE like the actress? Will we forever be correcting people? If I think about it too much it makes my head spin!
Would love to hear your expert advice or any thoughts that you have. We love both of our kids’ names so much, I feel like the pressure is on for this third baby! Thanks again!
Simon seems great to me. Grayson seems like the wrong style with Charlie and Hazel. I’m about to suggest a bunch of names that may very well fall into the Henry/Theodore/James category, but that’s seems like the very category we should be looking at: vintage revival and/or timeless. I’m ignoring the preference for two syllables for now: especially for girl names, I think it unnecessarily rules out too many good candidates. And I don’t know anything about Spanish pronunciation, so I’m leaving that aside as well. You may start to wonder why I am even answering the question if I’m not able/willing to follow the guidelines, and to that I say la la la I do what I want.
Elliot/Emmett/Everett. I think of these names as their own little group, and I think all of them would be great in this sibling group. Charlie, Hazel, and Elliot. Charlie, Hazel, and Emmett. Charlie, Hazel, and Everett. My favorite is Emmett: I think it has the friendly sound of Charlie.
Miles. Charles and Hazel both have a Z-sound; adding another might appeal, or might seem like too much, especially since it repeats the ending of Charles. Milo might be better, and it has a friendlier sound. Charlie, Hazel, and Milo.
Ian. Charlie, Hazel, and Ian. This would make a cute monogram of the surname-in-the-middle variety: IPI.
Malcolm. I like how this name has a formal/friendly sound: dressed up like Charles, but approachable like Charlie. Charlie, Hazel, and Malcolm. I find it a little difficult to say with the surname, but not too difficult.
Jasper. Charlie, Hazel, and Jasper. I was wondering why that name sounded like it clicked together with the surname in a familiar way, and I think it’s because of the artist Jackson Pollock.
Nicholas. This name is familiar enough that I find my eyes sometimes skim right past it in the name book. But I met a little baby Nicholas recently and was charmed by the name all over again. Charlie, Hazel, and Nicholas. I don’t like the initials NIP, though.
Sam. I would probably use the long form Samuel. Sam feels to me like an absolutely natural brother name for Charlie. Charlie, Hazel, and Sam. Again, I’m not crazy about the initials, but SIP is better than NIP.
George. I love this name so much. Charlie, Hazel, and George. I think that’s darling. It makes me want to squeeze all of them.
Wesley. Charles, Hazel, and Wesley; Charlie, Hazel, and Wes. This is one of my favorite combinations.
Leo. Perfect with Charlie, but maybe too informal with Charles. Charlie, Hazel, and Leo. Initials spell LIP.
Louis. One of my own favorites. Charlie, Hazel, and Louis. LIP initials again.
Oliver. This seems like such a good fit. Charles, Hazel, and Oliver.
You wouldn’t want to use Albert, would you? I’m ready to hear it again, and am trying to talk others into making that happen. It helps that when I was a child there was an extremely kind and gentle college-aged swimming teacher named Albert/Al. He was such a contrast to the other college-aged male swimming teachers, who were loud and show-offy and flirty; Al was warm and patient and nice, and a good teacher. Charles, Hazel, and Albert; Charlie, Hazel, and Al (or Bertie).
Edmund. Charles, Hazel, and Edmund; Charlie, Hazel, and Eddie/Teddy.
Now, for the girl names. You two know your husband’s family: are they good with learning English pronunciations of things? Will they be able/willing to learn it, even though it is different than what they’d expect it to be? If so, then I think you should use Isla if you want to, despite the pronunciation issue. If instead they would never really be able/willing to learn it, or if they would give you a hard time about it, that might be too much hassle and I might suggest going with something else.
Would Iris be any easier? It’s botanical like Hazel, which might make it too matchy for your tastes, but I think it’s a better style fit with Hazel. Charles, Hazel, and Iris.
Laurel feels very matched with Hazel—not only both botanical, but also the matched endings. I also have a little trouble saying Laurel Pollack.
Part of the package deal of the name Jolie is going to be correcting pronunciation. Would that drive you crazy, or would you be fine with that? I pronounce it jo-LEE, like Angelina Jolie and like the French word. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find a JO-lee, like Joely Fisher. Well, I’d be a little surprised. But in any case, the style of Jolie seems so different from the style of Charlie and Hazel, and it bothers me a little that there’d be too -lie endings, and I don’t quite like it with the surname: the repeating -ol- sound, I think.
I would probably head more in the direction of vintage revival and/or timeless again. When I looked for boy names, I was looking for something to match the friendliness of Charlie; for girl names, I’m looking for something to match the substance and sass of Hazel.
Eloise. This gives you Z-sounds in all three names. Charles, Hazel, and Eloise.
Eliza. This too gives you Z-sounds in all three names. Charles, Hazel, and Eliza.
Louise. This too gives you Z-sounds in all three names, while also meeting the 2-syllable preference. Charles, Hazel, and Louise.
Georgia. Charlie, Hazel, and Georgia.
Alice. Charlie, Hazel, and Alice.
Lydia. Charles, Hazel, and Lydia.
Matilda. Charlie, Hazel, and Matilda.
Minerva. Charlie, Hazel, and Minerva.
Ruby. Charlie, Hazel, and Ruby.
Winifred. Charles, Hazel, and Winifred.
I’m excited to be writing to you after reading for years! My husband (Joe) and I (Louisa) are expecting our first child (a boy) in early November. The baby will have my husband’s last name, pronounced MOOSE-oh.
When we started to talk about names, we agreed on a girl’s name right away that we’re going to save for a future daughter – Philippa Grace, nicknamed Pip or Pippa. Other girls’ names we like include Lydia and Eloise. Finding the right boy’s name for THIS baby is much harder! We’ll likely stop at two, max three children.
My favorite for this baby is Jonathan. I think that it feels serious and somewhat classic while still giving plenty of options from childhood to adulthood – Jonathan, Jack, Jonny, Jon. My husband doesn’t like the spelling of Jonathan (he’d be more open to Johnathan, which I think looks strange and would prompt a lot of correcting over the course of our son’s life!). I also like Kenneth (Ken or Kenny), Charles (Charlie), and Nathaniel (Nate) – these are all vetoed by my husband.
My husband’s favorite is Jack as a standalone first name. He likes the sound, that it feels masculine, and that there are some family connections on his side. To me, Jack feels like a nickname, not a full name. His other favorites included Declan, Aidan and Cormac (all vetoed by me).
Other names we’re considering are Dominic (nn Nico), John (nn Jack), Connor, and Dean. We’re stuck disagreeing on John because we both feel so strongly about Jack/Jonathan and neither Dean, Connor, or Dominic feels quite right so far.
Middle names we are considering are Louis (we like that this echoes my first name, and combined with John or Jonathan would be an homage to John Lewis, who is one of our heroes), Douglass, and Xavier. We don’t like any of these for first names.
Other names we’ve ruled out as first names are Kent, Patrick, George, Cameron, Maxwell, Quinn, Scott, Seamus, Caleb, Lee, and Adam
We’re not down with names that are super trendy and we’ve also love to stay out of the top 20 if we can.
Thanks for your help!
I am of two minds. First mind: I think the two of you are going to have to abandon the entire Jonathan/Johnathan/Jack/John branch. The Johnathan spelling seems problematic to me, too; it would certainly be manageable if you both agreed on it and were willing to take on the hassle, but not if one of you doesn’t like it. And I don’t think of Jack as a nickname for either spelling. And your feelings about Jack seeming like a nickname rather than a given name need to be taken into account. Plus, while it is too old and familiar a name to be called trendy, its recent usage has felt trendy to me: it joined Max and Sam in a late-1990s resurgence of short-boy-names-that-used-to-seem-like-old-man-names. Fashionable, that’s the word I’m looking for: it’s not trendy, but it’s recently been very fashionable.
But this is my second mind: Wait, why isn’t John-nicknamed-Jack the perfect solution here? It removes the Jonathan/Johnathan spelling issue. It offers a beautiful compromise for the “he wants Jack but it seems like a nickname to you” issue. It takes care of Swistle’s possibly overly-strict objection to Jack as a nickname for Jonathan/Johnathan. It reminds you of John Lewis, and both of you like that connection. It’s not trendy; it’s not in the top 20. It’s great with your surname; it’s great with all your possible future daughter names. It goes well with Louis, and I love the reasons for using Louis. I mean, it seems like we’re done here. Aren’t we done here?
If we are not done here, then I’d note that I see a lot of hard-C and K sounds in the names on your lists: Kenneth, Declan, Cormac, Dominic, Nico, Connor. I wonder if you’d like:
Or instead of Jonathan, would you like Benjamin? The two names seem very similar to me: same syllables, same rhythm, same nickname potential; both have prominent J-sounds and N-sounds; both end in N. Ben is one of my favorite nicknames for boys: it sounds friendly and reliable.
Help! I’m due in 2 weeks and cannot settle on a girls name for this baby. If it’s a boy, we’ve picked the name James Patrick (James is a name we like and Patrick is my husband’s name). We have a 2 year old named Rose Evelyn (we liked the name Rose and Evelyn was my husbands paternal grandmothers name).
To me, Rose Evelyn is the perfect name for us. Sounds great with our last name (Doherty; we pronounce it door-tee), easily recognizable but not overly common as a first time, and you cannot tell the age of the person just by seeing their name.
We had picked the name Claire Eloise out if we had another daughter, but my brother-in-law just used Claire for his daughter, so that’s off the table now.
Our two finalists are:
May Emmeline (not after any family members) or
Eloise Margaret (Eloise after my mom who’s middle name is Louise and Margaret after my mother-in-law).
My main criteria are a classic, non-trendy name that is timeless. Other names I like that have been vetoed by my husband are: Fiona, Lucy, Florence, Alice and Margot.
Any other suggestions?! Which name do you like best and why? Thank you!
The name I like best is May. Here is why:
1. It’s a name that, like Rose, is more familiar as a middle name, and a fresh surprise as a first name.
2. It’s one syllable, like Rose and the possible future brother James.
3. Like the name Rose, it’s a name that gives me a feeling of sweet simplicity.
4. It has completely different sounds than the name Rose, while matching beautifully in style.
But I also love the name Eloise. Here’s why:
1. If you later have a James, you’d have three names in which an S is pronounced like a Z. I wouldn’t put that as a huge selling point (and in fact it could be seen as a downside), but it could be fun.
2. It won’t make you feel trapped into using only one-syllable names for possible future siblings.
3. Like the name Rose, it’s a name that has some sass to it.
4. You’ve paired it with Margaret, and I like that each girl gets a family name.
My favorite of all would be to take May and pair it with a family middle name. I don’t always like alliteration, but I feel drawn to May Margaret. I like to say it. I am picturing the baby, and I would call her May Margaret.
Or I also love May Louise. My mom and I feel that Louise is the winner for Most Fun to Say middle names. Rose Evelyn and May Louise is spectacular.
I am emailing you after being an avid fan of your blog for years. You’ve taught me how to look at names differently (how they go together, how to choose a name), yet on this go-around I can’t seem to get it right.
We are having our last child due on August 16. Our last name is German and sounds like “mailmen” with some extra letters thrown in there. Our current children are Nathan (Nate) Carter, Clara Eleanor, and Ivy Caroline. I desperately want the names to “go together,” so that is how I began approaching the task of naming our fourth (a boy). I ended up on the name Peter Everett as a top choice, but my husband and I just didn’t feel like it was “the one.” This is pretty common for me. I changed both of our girls’ names very near the end of each of their pregnancies.
The hard part is the constraints of our last name. I feel like I can’t name him with a “B” name (for the initials), can’t end in an “N,” “M,” or “S” (don’t go well with last name), can’t start with an “M” (too many M sounds), can’t be a verb or adjective like “Reid” or “Gray” (sound silly with the last name). Also, the last name is super hard to spell, so I don’t want the first name to be. I don’t like unisex names at all. We like Biblical, timeless, or antique charm names and want our boy names to sound good together. I especially want the baby’s name and Ivy’s name to sound good together, since they are the closest in age (7 year gap between 2nd and 3rd), and I feel like I will be saying “Ivy ‘n’ ___” so much.
Current contenders are:
Jed (husband’s choice)
Middle names are not as hard for me. I like Everett and Theodore and will probably use one of those if they work.
I wanted Ivy to be named Everett if she was a boy, and that is still my favorite name. I put it into the middle name spot for Peter because I really do love it. I just don’t know if Ivy and Everett go well together as first names. Are they too similar? Should we just go with the “safer” choice of Peter even though we don’t love it?
Any advice would be so helpful. His room (and crib) is still occupied by his 3-year-old sister, so we just have nothing done for this little surprise and I’m starting to be so stressed!
I think Ivy and Everett sound great together. They repeat only the V-sound: all their other sounds are different, and they have a different number of syllables. I think it achieves the goal of having the final two names sound particularly compatible. And Everett is your favorite boy name. And it meets all the other requirements. Everett seems like the winner to me.
But Peter is also terrific. Really, I love either Everett or Peter in this group. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, Everett. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, Peter. They’re both charming options. I would THINK I’d prefer the name Everett, but when I look at the two groupings I have trouble letting go of the name Peter.
I don’t see any reason to go with the name Peter if you prefer the name Everett. It doesn’t seem safer to me; they both seem like good solid choices with their own pluses and minuses. Peter has more of a timeless/biblical/traditional feel; Everett is more of a current vintage revival / antique charm.
I wonder if you’d like the name John. It’s timeless/biblical, and it’s a name I think parents’ eyes tend to skip right over in the baby name book: it feels common because it’s been so consistently used over the years, but it’s fairly unusual among current children. Many of the boys named John are going by Jack, or else they’re John IV so they’re going by something else. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and John.
Or Henry? Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and Henry.
Or Elliot: it’s similar to Everett, but doesn’t repeat the V-sound of Ivy. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and Elliot. One downside is the spelling: one or two L’s, one or two T’s.
Or maybe David? Definitely timeless/biblical, and easy to spell. I’m trying to think if there are ANY Davids among the kids’ classmates, and I can only think of one. It repeats the V-sound in Ivy, tying it in; but the strong consonants keep it from seeming too similar. And the long-A ties it to his brother’s name. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and David.
I’ve been reading your blog all the way from Australia for a couple of years and now I need your help! My husband and I are expecting our first child – a boy – on August 29. We’ve had a solid list of names picked out that we both like for months. My husband has vetoed a lot of names that I love, including Harrison. But just the other day, he said he’s changed his mind and now he really likes Harrison and wants it on the list! Only problem is, I can’t think of a middle name to go with it. Ideally, we’d like a family name from my side. The options include:
Ian – my favourite as it’s my dad’s name. I’m worried about how it flows with Harrison though as they both end in the letter N. Am I overthinking this?!
Patrick – this is on our list of first names too, and could be an honour name for my grandmother, Patricia.
Our last name is pronounced Killarney but spelt differently.
Other first names on our list include:
Names we’ve considered but have decided not to use:
If this baby were a girl, she would have been called Eliza, Nina, Layla or Tessa.
We are planning to have one more child after this one.
Any reassurance or feedback would be greatly appreciated!
I promise to send an update with a photo once he’s born.
This makes for a shortish post, but I vote for Ian. It doesn’t bother me at all that Harrison and Ian both end in N. And it’s your top choice too. And it honors your dad. Winning all around.
John also ends in N and is also a nice choice.
In fact, ALL the names on your list are nice choices. For me it depends a lot on who’s being honored, and how much you want to honor that person. I think that’s how I’d narrow it down, if I were you: since all the names are good choices, rank them in order of how much it makes your heart pound with happiness to think of honoring the people the names represent. Who would you rather honor, your dad or your grandmother?—and so on.
We are expecting our third boy in less than two months and we are not even close to choosing a name.
Our last name is pronounced like Globe without the G and our first two boys are Elijah Edward (nickname Eli) and William Louis (nickname Will). The name Elijah came to us kind of randomly but we liked that it was Hebrew in origin since we are Jewish and Edward was one of my grandpas’ names. William (not Hebrew in origin, I realize) fell into our lap because our tradition is to name after the most recently deceased relative and my grandpa Bill passed away a few weeks before William was born.
With that tradition in mind, we are likely going with Andrew as the baby’s middle name to honor my MIL’s mom (Ann), but we’re nowhere on the first name (we would also prefer a name that is Hebrew in origin this time, and that is why we’re not just going with Andrew and being done). The only real requirements are that the name works well with our other boys’ names and that it’s reasonably easy to spell and say. We are clearly okay with popular names since both our boys are in the top ten, but it doesn’t have to be overly common either.
Off the table family names include: Asher, Alexander, Ari, Zachary, Evan, Isaac, Jacob and Joshua.
When I was naming my own babies, I found I got very excited about girl names, but boy names were more of this kind of choosing process:
1. Make a list of names we’re fine with.
2. Pick one; it doesn’t really matter.
I mean, not REALLY: I did still fret and have fun and so forth. But I remember it felt like the pressure was off because all we really had to do was pick one of the perfectly fine names from our perfectly fine list. I thought of it as an upside AND a downside of naming a boy: less fun but also less stress.
I wonder if you’d like the name Benjamin. I think of that as such a warm, friendly name. Elijah, William, and Benjamin; Eli, Will, and Ben. I like that everyone gets a long form and a nickname. I like that the name Benjamin splits the difference between the biblical Elijah and the traditional William.
I have Jonathan in the same mental category as Benjamin. Elijah, William, and Jonathan; Eli, Will, and Jon.
Or Judah: it’s biblical, but it’s in current popular usage so it’s familiar. And it has the great nickname Jude. Elijah, William, and Judah; Eli, Will, and Jude.
One from my own list is Simon. Elijah, William, and Simon. I like that it’s biblical but not TOO biblical, so it doesn’t leave William out.
Another from my list is Daniel: I particularly like the nickname Dan. Elijah, William, and Daniel; Eli, Will, and Dan. I like that everyone gets an L, not that it matters at all; it just appeals to me.
If you used a name starting with A, would that count as naming the baby for your mother-in-law? Aaron and Adam are both good Old Testament A-names, and my guess is that if this WOULD satisfy the honor-name issue then you have already thoroughly considered them, but sometimes having someone else suggest something can freshen things up. Elijah, William, and Aaron. Elijah, William, and Adam.
I’m hoping commenters can help me with more Hebrew name suggestions: I was sort of floundering around in the Old Testament without knowing what I was doing.
My sister introduced me to your blog when I was pregnant for the first time about 2.5 years ago and I’ve been following ever since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reconsidered my approval for a name after hearing you suggest it. You have a way of making me think twice about names I would have otherwise bypassed – which is why I’m writing to you now.
My husband and I are due with our second in October. We already have a sweet and funny toddler named Jacob (usually call him Jake or Jakey) and we found out we’re having a girl this time!
We have two front-runner names that we love: Clara and Alana. Clara is a loose nod to my maiden name, Sincl@ir. We like both names because they aren’t overly popular right now – unlike Jacob – and they are names that have existed for years. We also clearly have an affinity for names that end in “A”.
Here is where our issues begin. We are struggling to choose between the two, and we are really struggling with a middle name for Clara. If we pick Alana she will be Alana Claire. If we pick Clara we have considered Clara Rose (both of our paternal grandmothers are Rose) but that feels like I’m leaving out my maternal grandmother (Ruth) who passed just a few years ago. I would love to honor my sister Stephanie who does not have children, but I’m not loving the flow of “Clara Stephanie.” My other sister, Courtney, honored my mother, Gayl, by giving her daughter the middle name “Abigail”. I’ll save you the pain of listing all of my extended family members.
I’m less focused on my husband’s side only because Jacob’s middle name is a family name on his side so I’d love to honor my side this time. If I were having another boy, we’d have probably used Stephen (my dad) as the middle.
Do you have any tips for finding a honor/meaningful middle-name when there isn’t an obvious choice? And how do we choose between two names we love!!? Do you support coin-flipping? Should we let our elderly social security volunteer at the hospital choose? ;) Help!
Clara Rose seems perfect to me: both of you having paternal grandmothers named Rose is such a fun coincidence and makes it nearly irresistible to me, as well as qualifying it for the title of The Obvious Choice. Not including your other grandmother doesn’t seem like an argument against the name, since it applies to every name except Ruth—and if you went with Clara Ruth, you’d be leaving out your grandmother Rose. Unless you’re open to using Clara Stephanie Rose Courtney Ruth, you’re not going to pack everyone in there and that’s perfectly normal and okay.
I do also like Clara Ruth, very much.
And I like the sound of Clara Stephanie, too. I find the more I say it, the more I like to say it. I also like that it is more clearly an honor name: Rose is a common middle name right now, so I wouldn’t necessarily guess that it was in honor of anyone; but if I heard a Clara Stephanie, I’d think, “I’ll bet she’s named for an aunt!,” and I’d find a casual way to ask if you had any sisters. You could count it as a double honor name if your sister was named for your dad (or even if she wasn’t).
Are you planning to have more children? I am asking not only to be nosy, but also to wonder if using Alana Claire would rule out using Clara for a possible future daughter. It is very hard to make this kind of decision: I agonized over whether we should give Henry our two favorite boy names—we were pretty sure he was our last baby, but what if we had another boy later and were sorry to have used both names up? It’s especially tricky because if we DID have another boy at this point, I’m not sure we’d still want to use that name we were worried about “wasting.” (To be fair to Past Swistle, it’s ten years later now: at the two-year point I still would have wanted the name.)
If you’re not planning any more children, though, Clara Alana is another option. I don’t always like an -a/A- combination, but I do in this case—and I rarely mind it with a first/middle anyway.
If you’re not planning more children and you decide on Alana as the first name, I like Alana Sincl@ir. I am heart-eyed over mothers being able to use their maiden names in their children’s names, and yours is such a pretty one.
I also support coin-flipping, or putting a poll on Facebook for your family/friends to take, or asking strangers at the grocery store (or on a name blog!) what they think, or any other fun games you might think of. If nothing else, this sort of thing can help you see where your actual preferences lie: are you rooting for one name over the other in a poll, or are you saying “…how about best two out of three” when the coin falls? These things can provide such useful information. Or, if you find you really don’t have a preference, then you know you can use either one; perhaps you’ll want to take both names to the hospital and decide once you see her.