Category: Middle Names
Savvy parents looking for a name consider how well the first, middle, and last name get along (or how well the names flow).
But before we talk more about name flow, some discussion about where flow stands in the pecking order would be helpful. My motto when it comes to names, clothes, home decor, etc. is:
“Style without function causes unnecessary grief.”
But no. After a long day of working on Nameberry, what do I do for relaxation but turn to the hallowed pages of The London Telegraph, where I peruse the birth announcements in search of….more baby names.
This time, what caught my eye were all the three-named babies. Maybe the oh-so-British three-name arrangement struck me because of the young prince George Alexander Louis, whose own three names are a departure from the usual royal four. Was that Will and Kate‘s way of signaling that they were just like us…or at least like other young upper class British parents?
A few things we noticed about the three names of the babies noted here:
— More surnames such as Kynaston and Constable in the middle which are not mothers’ maiden names but may well be family names
In case you’re interested in finding three great names for your own baby, you might find some inspiration in these wonderful recent British choices.
If you took a middle name poll of your female friends chances are the top middle name would be Marie. For years Anne and Marie were the go-to middle names for U.S. women. And then something happened. Grace and Rose became the next Anne.
Anne is still a popular middle name, but in recent decades Anne has been easy to replace. This is because one syllable middle names are easy middle names. Almost any first name works with a single syllable middle name.
But what middle names have become the next Marie? Louise was popular for a while. Michelle and Nicole began to show up in the middle a few decades ago. But there are many unexplored names that could work in place of Louise, Marie, Michelle, and Nicole.
Some names are common in the middle but rarely used as first names. Others are common first names but hardly used in the middle. And then there are a lucky few that are popular first and middle names, such as Grace and James. But the ultimate double-threat is Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s status as a popular first name has endured over a century. Elizabeth is the only girl name that has remained in the top 30 since 1880, the earliest year baby name rankings are available from Social Security Administration. This places Elizabeth among the baby name elite.
While Elizabeth’s many nicknames has kept it a popular first name, Elizabeth’s distinctive rhythm has kept it a popular middle name. This distinctive pattern is four syllables with the stress is on the second syllable.
Four syllable names with the stress on the third syllable don’t flow as well with most first names. For example, compare the following name combinations with Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s Spanish counterpart, Isabella, which has the stress on the third syllable:
If there’s one British baby names trend that Berries all over the world have embraced full-heartedly, it’s the old upper class practice of giving children two (or even more, ala Uma Thurman) middle names.
Rooted in royalty as a way to honor a raft of vaulted relatives, the multiple-middle-name practice was pegged by one visitor to our pages as being “very posh and a bit snobby.”
But it’s also a way for name lovers to indulge their enthusiasm by using more of their favorites on fewer children. Americans who give their babies two middle names are often simply packing more name power into one extended appellation. They may also (as my husband and I were, when we named our daughter Rory Elizabeth Margaret) be adding extra middle names to honor both sides of the family at the same time.
Judging from the birth announcements in the London Telegraph, the three-barreled British baby name is distinct in a couple of important ways: