Category: four-syllable names
Maybe it has something to do with Harry Potter attuning our ears to long Latinate names like Bartemius and Xenophilius—after that, suddenly the four syllables of Tiberius and Cornelius or Persephone no longer seem too weighty for a modern little babe.
After all, Isabella is the Number 2 girl’s name– and other four-syllable names like Penelope, Amelia, Cecilia, Seraphina and Valentina are standing right in line to join her. So clearly, many parents today are looking for just such substantial names, just as others are seeking them out to balance a short, brisk surname.
Here are our Nameberry Picks of the 20 + freshest four-syllable choices on the table. (But do note that variations in pronunciation and/or speedy speech can sometimes elide four syllables into three.)
We got an email the other day from a mom with a very short, simple last name — let’s call it Cole — who wanted advice on a first name for her daughter.
All we could think was: Are you lucky! While it’s theoretically possible to give a child with such a last name an equally short and sweet first — Jane Cole may not feel inspired, but it’s acceptable — the field is open to get as elaborate as you want. In fact, with a surname that straightforward, it may be desirable to choose a first name that’s got lots of syllables.
Sitting around with another baby name aficionada the other day, discussing what she might name her next child, I suggested Henrietta, one of my long-time favorites. Yes, the aficionada said, she loved Henrietta too, and yet….
“It’s a lotta name,” I offered.
She nodded. “It’s a whole lotta name.”
I’d never thought of names in quite this way before, but the more i considered the concept of names that were too elaborate, too exotic, too quirky, too too, the more accurate I thought it was. There were a lotta names, I realized, that I thought were wonderful, but nevertheless would never actually choose for a child because they were, well, a lotta name.
Like what, beyond Henrietta? Well, like Leopold, for instance, which is in fact my second child’s middle name. In the middle, it’s great: cool, distinctive, old-fashioned but not frumpy. But in first place, Leopold would be a heavy moniker to pull off for a child or a teenager or basically anybody not as good-looking and self-confident as George Clooney.
Extra syllables can sometimes push a name into the lotta category. Olde World heaviness. An especially evocative image.
Billy Bob might be considered a lotta name, just as might Wilhelmina. Prudence or Percy, along with Petronella. I guess a name might be too much if you can imagine it preceding your child into every room, being the thing people notice and comment on earlier and more often than they notice your child’s dancing green eyes or shy smile or talent at math.
Here, some names that might qualify as being a whole lotta and maybe too much name.