Category: middle names
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:
With middle names, one way — the more popular way — to go is to choose slim, sleek, minimal middle names. Meaningful or simply connective, these middle names provide a short euphonic bridge between the more important first and last names.
But middle names can go another way, toward the big, important, statement name in the middle.
We’re talking multisyllabic, exotic, literary, artistic, mind-blowing, message-carrying middle names.
Names you love, but don’t want to stick your child with in first place. Names that are too daring, too difficult, too attention-grabbing to foist upon someone you love.
It might be embarrassing.
Or kind of a snooze.
Maybe it tells a story about you or your family.
Maybe you’ve changed it.
Today we’re going to reprise that fifth grade playground conversation and answer that revealing question: What’s your middle name? Do you love it or hate it? And what’s the story behind it?
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: