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Category: Middle Names

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Bestselling novelist JACQUELYN MITCHARD, whose new book No Time To Wave Goodbye, a sequel to her Deep End of the Ocean, will be published this month, meditates on the middle name as payback, placeholder…..and downright embarrassment.

Middle names often are payback – a best friend, a deceased auntie, a family crest. My son Will‘s name is William Gordon Pendragon Brent, because of contributions from his brothers and godparents. Many, many people hate their middle names, especially if they’re names such as Miriam, Ursula or Von. Others adore them: Novelist Harper Lee‘s real first name was Nelle (pronounced “Nell“), Carson McCullers’ first name was Lula, and, in the modern era, the great Lorrie Moore‘s given first name is … well, Marie.

Some people don’t have middle names. My agent does not. Her name is Jane. Plain Jane, while her sister has a first and middle name. My husband doesn’t have a middle name. When he fills out documents, his middle name is “NMI,” or “No Middle Initial.” So the kids say his name is Christopher Nimmie.

Recently, I took a desktop poll. It was based on my old pal Tim Cuprisin’s contention that everyone we grew up with in Chicago had the middle name Marie.

Indeed, Marie was a favorite among our 50s or 60s-born contemporaries. Horsing around between fitful bouts of writing the news, Tim and I gave even our male co-workers the middle name Marie (James Marie, Tommy Marie). Years later, my 13-year-old and I play this same game, asking around to discover the hidden middle Maries. Kazart! Many young girls’ middle names are either Marie or that other ’50s-60s favorite, Ann, even if the person’s first name is Keihley or Phyllis, Maya or Serena.

What is it about Ann or Marie that makes those names such a great afterthought?

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Middle Names: Thinking Outside the Box

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There’s no doubt that middle names have been taking on increasing  importance in the hearts and minds of  baby namers.  They’ve stepped up from the inconsequential connectives –especially for girls–of a generation or two ago to full co-starring roles on the birth certificate.  For many, it’s a welcome opportunity to honor a family member, preserve a maiden name, or use as a solid alternative for their child to possibly choose to use later on.

But for others, it’s place to be whimsical, to salute a creative hero, to use a favorite word or nature name they wouldn’t dare to put in first place.  For examples of how this works, we need only to look to the stars, those beacons of extreme–if not bizarre– baby naming.  So here are some nature, namesake, word and lovey-dovey endearment middle names they have used, followed by the name of the celebrity parent who chose it and their child’s first name:

NATURE NAMES

BEAR (Anthony Kiedis’s Everly)

CRICKET (Amy Locane’s Paige)

HUCKLEBERRY (Kimberly Williams & Brad Paisley‘s William)

PINE (Simon Le Bon’s Tallulah)

PLUM (Moon Unit Zappa’s Matilda)

RAIN (Brooke Burke & David Charvet’s Heaven)

RAINBOW (Jamie Oliver‘s Petal Blossom)

TULIP (Rebecca Romijn & Jerry O’Connell‘s Charlie Tamara)

NAMESAKES–real and fictional

COLTRANE (Natascha McElhone’s Rex)

HENDRIX (Donnie Wahlberg’s Elijah)

ICARUS (Lucy Sykes’ Titus Jasper)

KAFKA (Tommy Lee JonesVictoria)

KIPLING  (Kim Raver’s Leo)

MADONNA (Geri Halliwell’s Bluebell)

MARS (Sofia Coppola’s Romy)

MOWGLI (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz’s Bronx)

ZHIVAGO (Nia Long‘s Massai)

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We all know, thanks to Princess Diana’s infamous wedding blunder, that British people like to use lots of middle names.  But it’s not just about quantity: The multiple British names feel inventive and surprising, chosen less for any conventional notion of flow and more for individual considerations of style and family.

Thalia Violetta Carlisle?  I would bet the nameberry farm that not a single child in America was given that combination of names last year….or maybe any year.  It’s quintessentially British, and it works.

In the examples of recent British baby names below, you’ll notice that lovely antique first names are combined with surnames are mixed up with nicknames, and that once in a while a word name – Rabbit, Reckless – is stuck in, just in case things weren’t eccentric enough already.

Name aficionados will want to check out the Birth Announcements in the London Telegraph for hundreds more such goodies. WARNING: This makes highly addictive reading.  Do not undertake too close to bedtime.

In fact, there were so many amazing three-name examples that we had to offload some pretty wonderful two-name choices, such as Hector Foxx and Acacia Lola and Jemima Fleur.  Another time.

Girls

Bay Mary Mason

Beatrice Isabella Catherine

Cecilia Katherine Ottilie (a sister for Romilly and Penleigh)

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Middle Name Rose: Is The Bloom Off?

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Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it: There are now officially enough little girls with the middle name Rose.

I can hear the screams of protest and wails of anguish already.  But Rose is my grandmother’s name! Rose goes perfectly with my favorite first name!  I’ve been planning to use the middle name Rose forever!

Well, go ahead, then.  It’s a perfectly lovely name, warm and feminine yet not overly assertive, making the ideal bridge between first name and last.

But so many thousands of parents have used it over the past decade that it’s become the Ann, the Marie, the Sue of the new millennium.  Consider the celebrity babies alone with the middle name Rose:

AIDAN ROSE – Faith Daniels

ALABAMA GYPSY ROSEDrea de Matteo & Shooter Jennings

BRIGHTON ROSE – Jon Favreau

CATHERINE ROSE – Cheryl Hines

DOLLY REBECCA ROSERebecca Romijn & Jerry O’Connell

EMERSON ROSE – Teri Hatcher

ESTHER ROSE – Ewan McGregor

JOHNNIE ROSE – Melissa Etheridge

LAEL ROSE – Tamia & Grant Hill

LUCKY ROSE – Cedric the Entertainer

MAGGIE ROSE – Jon Stewart

SERAPHINA ROSE – Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck

Sylvester Stallone gave all THREE of his young daughters Rose as a middle name.

What we’re saying: Enough Roses already, at least in the middle.  In fact, Rose and Rosa and Rosamund and Rosemary and Rosalia are far from over-exposed as first names, so a fresher move might be to use one of them in first place and choose something with more individual character as a middle name.

Do you agree?  Tell us what you think:


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