The Middle Name Conundrum

by You Can't Call It "It"! on June 25, 2008

^ click on me ^

What do Ann, Elizabeth, Marie, Grace, and Rose have in common?  They’re all extremely popular in the middle name spot.  Often termed “throw away”, these middles sound comfortable to American moms and dads– neatly tucked away and unobjectionable, they are unlikely to clash with the first and last name and don’t draw too much attention to themselves.

Here at YCCII, we’re big advocates of attributing meaning in the middle name spot.   My own daughter has three middle names.  While our choice was right for us, I realize most people would consider it over the top. For a more conventional scenario of one middle name, why not consider the following:

  • Mother’s maiden name
  • First or middle name of a relative or very dear friend
  • A cognate or another version of the name of the person you wish to honor
  • The birthstone  or flower of the month the child was born in, or that of someone you’d like to honor
  • For Catholics and others who may be interested, the child’s saint’s name day, or that of a relative
  • A name from a country of origin you’d like to remember
  • A place that has meaning to you, provided it makes a nice name (see Geography Names)
For those who favor a more no nonsense, one syllable approach to the center slot, try:
*
GIRLS
Aude
Belle
Blanche
Blythe
Claire, Clare
Day
Dove
Elle
Eve
Faith
Fay
Fey
Fleur
Gail, Gale
Hope
Jane
Jean, Jeanne
Joan
June
Lark
Laure
Liv
Loire
Lux, Luz
Pax, Paz
Pearl
Mae, May
Maeve
Maud, Maude
Nell, Nelle
Niamh
Noor
Ruth
Sage
Skye
Snow
Sol
Wren
Wynne
*
BOYS:
Blaise
Blake
Bond
Bryce
Clark
Claude
Clive
Clyde
Cole
Cruz
Dash
Dex
Eames
Finn
George
Graeme, Graham (depending on pronunciation)
Grant
Gray
Heath
Hugh
Jacques
Joost (pronounced “yost” to rhyme with post)
Judd
Jude
Jules
Kai
Keir
Knox
Lance
Lars
Lief
Luke
Mac
Max
North
Paul
Pierce, Piers
Poe
Quinn
Reese, Rhys
Reid
Rex
Ross
Saul
Sven
Teague
Thor
Trent
Vaughn
Ward
West
*
…and please won’t someone use the ever lovely Rose as a first name?
___________________________________________________
For more on one-syllable names, visit Lola and Verity and Mummie (click comments).  ETA to add a few of Mummie’s suggestions to original post.  Many Thanks!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mummie June 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

More for girls: Bee, Bird, Blanche, Bliss, Claire/Clare, Claude, Dawn, Fawn, Fern, Fleur, Flore, Glad, Gwen/Gwenn/Gwenne/Gwyn/Gwynne, Glen/Glenn, Jill, Joie/Joy, Joyce, Lise, Love, Mare, Maure, Paule, Rae, and Star for girls.

For boys: Blair, Boyd, Brant, Bret/Brett, Bruce, Burke, Carl, Clay, Curt, Dale, Dane, Dean, Dirk, Duke, Earl, Guy, Floyd, Frank, Glen/Glenn, Jack*, Jay, Jed, Job, John, Jules, Karl, Deane/Keene, Keir, Keith, Kent, Kim, Kirk, Hale, Hans, Hew, Howel, Lang, Leal, Lee/Leigh, Lev, Lew, Lloyd, Lot, Lyle, Lynn, Marc/Mark, Miles, Powell, Rolf, Ralph, Roy, Scot/Scott, Serge, Seth, Seward, Sewell, Sol, Stewart/Stuart, Swain, Tait, Teague, Trent, Wade, Walt, Ware, York, Yves.

Some of these have a retro vibe for sure. I don’t love all these names but I like many of them. Note the * ! I’m sure you know why (of course it’s a wink to your post about Jack, Kate, etc.).

Reply

2 Lola June 25, 2008 at 2:41 pm

As you know Elisabeth, my chicks all have two each. It’s what works for us and while I advocate mutiple middles due to the growing population of the world, I’m not going to jump on anyone for not using even one (which makes me sad… so many names, why not use at least one extra for a middle?). The closest I got to “throwaway” status is Josephine’s Anne, which honors three different Aunts with similar names (Ann, Anne & Anna).

I have long been a proponent for “mixing it up a bit” and using Grandma Ann’s name as a first instead of the expected middle. Actually, while I’ve always loved Anne (for the Green Gables link), Simple Ann is starting to appeal again. Clean, trim & spare, Ann feels refreshing these days. Maybe I’m Annabella/Isabella’d out and that’s why. But that’s neither here nor there, I think.

Nora Burch (or is it Norah? I forget) over at namenerds has a survey up, with preliminary results: http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/midsurvey.html

Called “The Great Middle Name Survey, for girls or guys (she shows the results for both) has fairly expected results but is still interesting to peruse. 9203 respondents so far and only one of mine, both of my other half’s and one of my daughters chart at all. Nice to see. She also gives the general ages of the respondents, based on their middle names, so you can easily see the progression of “filler” or “throwaway” middles! She doesn’t have enough male respondents to do a similar graph for them. Won’t anyone send their brothers, spouses, cousins etc. over there for it? Consider it research on naming habits!

Alright now that I’ve babbled.. I’ll go be !quiet!

Reply

3 Mummie June 25, 2008 at 9:46 pm

A few more.

Girls: Bai, Babe, Bjork, Bleu/Blue, Gay, France, Jade, Kat, Kit, Jan, Lis, Mai, Maj, Paige, Rain.

Boys: Alf, Arne, Beau, Bo, Bram, Bjorn, Cade, Cale, Clem, Cy, Claus, Dag, Dolf, Dune, Duff, Dwight, Elf, Fitz*, Freyr, Gage, Gus, Hal, Hank/Henk, Harp, Hart, Heinz, Hoyt, Ing, Jan, Josh, Kell, Kit, Klaus, Lane, Neal/Neil, Nels/Niels/Nils, Per, Red, Reed/Reid, Rolf, Rune, Sean, Shane, Ty, Tyr, Vlad, Wolf, Ulf.

* If Mac, then why not Fitz?

Reply

4 youcantcallitit June 25, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Mummie,

Ooh, Hoyt’s a good one! And Bram, Bjorn, Rolf, Nils… all gorgeous. Can’t believe I left off Fleur from the initial list, given I’ve considered it as a middle myself. I never meant for the post to be an exhaustive list as that would be impossible, but I do love so many of your suggestions and really appreciate them.

Not really feeling Boyd, Floyd, Stewart and Seward as one syllable names. Is there another pronunciation I am not getting?

Thanks so much for these great lists! Not a fan of some of the nickname names and some of the word names, but if a reader here is, then take it and run with it, please!

Reply

5 Mummie June 26, 2008 at 10:57 am

More here. Taking liberties!

Girls: Bea, Bay, Bess, Beth, Britt, Bryn/Brynn, Cal, Cat, Dee, Kim, Lil, Lin/Lyn/Lynn, Lou/Lu, Moon, Neve, Pes, Queen, Quin/Quinn, Raine, Reine, Rhea, Shay/Shea, Val, Tess.

Boys: Ace, Beck, Ben, Ber, Buck, Brad, Cab, Cal, Chad, Chance, Chase, Chaz/Chazz, Chet, Claes, Dak, Dell, Dov, Dude (it gets worse, I promise), Duane/Dwain/Dwayne, Dell, Ferd, Fred. Gide, Gil, Giles, Green, Guide, Haim, Hale, Ham, Id, Ja/Jah, Ka, Kurt, Kyle, Lach, Lex, Link, Loch, Luc, Luck, Lyle, Lin/Lyn/Lynn, Mars, Moe, Mork, Mose, Ned, Nick, Om, Paz, Puck, Ra, Rad, Rafe, Raj, Rav, Ray, Rhett, Roan, Sam, Seb, Sun, Taye, Teal, Edch, Teck, Thoth, Troy, Val, Van, Vance, Vaj, Wayne, Xan, Zane.

Reply

6 Mummie June 27, 2008 at 9:03 am

Adding for boys: Rand and Zak.

Reply

7 Mummie June 28, 2008 at 5:15 pm

For boys: Dolph (I wrote Dolf), Garth, and Tzvi/Zvi (a good one, I think, thought not easy for many to pronounce).

Reply

8 Mummie June 28, 2008 at 5:20 pm

How dare I omit Don, as in Joe Don Baker, and Ron, as in L. Ron Hubbard?

Reply

9 Mummie June 28, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Someone might possibly kill me if I omit Craig. Please forgive me for monopolizing your blog!

Reply

10 Mummie June 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm

I think I’ve hurt Jim Bob Walton’s feelings.

Reply

11 Mummie June 30, 2008 at 8:39 am

Please tell me to stop if you find all these little posts tiresome, but I keep thinking of new ones, especially for boys:

Prince, Count, King, Kong (well why not), and especially James. And I have no earthly idea what I meant by “Edch”. Off now to practice my typing.

Reply

12 Mummie June 30, 2008 at 8:40 am

But one more that just popped in my mind. Bam, as in Bam Margera.

Reply

13 Bellah July 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm

I found it more common to see boys named with multiple middle names than girls. It’s a tradition in my family for the boys to receive three names, however I’m still working on convincing my husband it’s something we should continue. I’d love to do the same with girls but I might be pressing my luck. :)

I have to say I’m curious what multiple names you have chosen for your own children!

Reply

14 youcantcallitit July 13, 2008 at 9:04 am

Adding KNOX and Joost, which is Dutch and pronounced “Yost”, to rhyme with post.

Reply

15 youcantcallitit July 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the middle name survey link, Lola. I did participate.

Reply

16 youcantcallitit July 14, 2008 at 9:54 am

Bellah, for now I remain mum on DD’s name, sorry! I will say that she has three given names, I have three, and my MIL has five. I will continue to give multiple names should I have any more children, though I must say it was a bit of a predicament at the passport office…

Reply

17 Mummie July 14, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I was just reminded of Brooke Shields’ daughter’s name: Greer, as in Greer Garson. I just wanted to update the list.

Reply

18 Mummie July 15, 2008 at 10:26 am

Having read the splendid Times/Telegraph lists in “Across The Pond”, I had to add Bop (in honor of Master Guy Bop) to the list. I wonder how many little Bops will be bopping around in the future? Now I simply must pay homage to Iggy — so, Pop.

Reply

19 Mummie August 9, 2008 at 11:54 am

Here’s another one for a boy: Slade. As in Slade and Jo from “Date My Ex” and, before that, the California version of the Housewives show on Bravo. Of course I’m assuming that Slade is his given name. I’m also pretty positive that most of these names might not meet YCCII’s impeccable Standards of Naming!

Reply

20 Mummie September 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

In the interest of staying current with one-syllable names, I give you two more for the boys: Track and Trig.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: