Ask the Name Sage: Is Peter a Problem?

Ask the Name Sage: Is Peter a Problem?

Welcome to Nameberry’s newest column, The Name Sage. Every week, I’ll answer one reader’s questions about naming a baby-on-the-way, or general baby name angst. And here’s the best part: we’d love it if you would add your thoughtful suggestions and comments to help expectant parents decide. The world needs more nicely named children, berries! Want to see your question featured? Please email

Kathleen and her husband are expecting their first child, a boy. She writes:

Here’s our dilemma: my husband is in love with the name Peter.

While I don’t love it, it has started to grow on me.  My main concern is the dirty joke associated with it.  Do you think that’s still an issue these days?  Also, can you suggest any some middle names to go with Peter?

There’s no question that Peter is a classic, worn by kings and saints and figures throughout history. From a child’s perspective, there’s the rabbit, as well as Pan and Parker – all appealing associations.

Into the 1990s, Peter was one of the 100 most popular names for boys born in the US. There are plenty of Petes out there, and yet Peter came in at just Number 208 in 2013. It’s the best of both worlds: an enduring choice that everyone will recognize, but one that isn’t too common, either.

Now, let’s talk about the teasing potential.

Yes, it’s there. Plenty of traditional boys’ names carry some less-than-ideal associations, including long-time favorite John. I do think it’s kind of an old school reference, and not one that kids today are likely to dredge up. We live in an age of tremendous diversity in given names. If a child can answer to Messiah without fear of mockery, odds are that Peter won’t have a problem, either.

In fact, I think Peter might be due for revival. There’s a new installment in the Peter Pan universe coming to theaters this summer – a sort of prequel called Pan. In 2016, Disney will release a live action version of Pete’s Dragon. Parents are about to be reminded of Peter’s potential.

There’s also the name’s stylish ‘r’ ending, shared by popular choices like Carter, Asher, and Jasper.

As for middle names, I like the idea of Peter Maxwell or Peter Harrison. Traditional choices like Peter Joseph, Peter Anthony, Peter Alexander, or Peter Henry would work as well, and you could always go for something really bold: Peter Atticus, Peter Matteo, Peter Orion.

I do think Peter would be a great choice for a son in 2015. It’s an underused classic, and the kind of name that wears well from the nursery into adulthood.

Now let’s hear from you, berries! What do you think of Peter, and can you suggest some great middle names?