Category: Middle Names
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.
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.
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:
NAMESAKES–real and fictional
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.
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.
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: