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Baby Naming Battles: They Don’t Agree on Anything

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

They’re the baby battlers – the couple thrilled to be expecting, but struggling to find any one single name that they can agree on. Let’s help them find a great name for their son that they can both like.

Annie writes:

We are expecting a son in November, and my husband and I are in a naming battle to the death. We have completely different styles and cannot agree on even a list of maybes. I’ve also researched names for years and have always been completely stuck with boy names. I feel like I’ve seen everything out there.

For boys, I like surname names and older classic names. I love Davis, Edward, and William. But I refuse to use a name that is anywhere close to being popular. I also want the name to be meaningful.

My husband likes more modern names. He has suggested Maverick, Hudson, Weston, and Roman. I strongly vetoed.

Most likely, the middle name will either be Winston (for Churchill) or Franklin (hopefully not). Another naming battle we’re in.

Please help!

The Name Sage replies:

Naming babies is such fun … when it’s a maybe-someday, sure-I’ll-name-my-kids-Moxie-and-Pilot kind of exercise.

Many of us feel stuck when it comes to choosing a name for an actual human being, especially because it means compromising with another, well, actual human being.

Here’s my suggestion: instead of listening for the differences, look for the similarities.

It’s true that Maverick and Edward seem like opposites. But I can imagine brothers named Davis and Hudson.

Even though it seems impossible, I hear plenty of overlap. Your tastes lean traditional, while your husband prefers something more modern and daring. But you both agree on surnames. And it seems like you’re both eager to find something familiar, but not popular. There’s plenty of common ground in that list.

Archer Archibald feels traditional, maybe even a little stodgy. But there’s something quite modern about surname Archer. I think it’s just edgy enough for your husband, but still in the same broad category as William and Davis. Current rank in the US: Number 239.

Beckett – A surname name with literary overtones, Beckett falls midway between classic and cool. Current rank in the US: Number 227.

Cole Cole reminds me of the modern favorite Colton, but also brings to mind traditional Nicholas. Style-wise, it falls somewhere in between. Current rank in the US: Number 118.

Harrison – We were wild about Harry way back in the nineteenth century. Now Henry is everybody’s favorite classic boy name. Harrison puts a surname spin on the long-used names, making it both very current and tied to the classics. Current rank in the US: Number 115.

Hayes – It sounds like haze, which makes this surname name a little edgier than it might sound otherwise. With boy names like Miles and Brooks very much in favor, Hayes fits right in, and yet it doesn’t seem trendy or fleeting. Current US popularity rank: #343.

Royce – Lots of short R names for boys might work – Rhys/Reese, maybe, or Reid/Reed? But Royce is the rarest of them all. Current US popularity rank: #436.

Wilder Wilder might be a hell-raising brother for Maverick. But I see it more as a brother for Forrest, an outdoorsy name with a polished vibe. Current US popularity rank: #523.

Now the hard part: I’m guessing that none of these names is perfect. But is there one that you and your husband look at and think maybe

Compromising on baby names is a little like taking a vacation to your third-choice destination because it was the only one you agreed on. Sure, it’s Paris and who could be sad about that? But you’d been thinking Caribbean get-away, while your husband was planning a hike in the Pacific Northwest. The choice you make together is best of all – even if it’s not what you originally imagined. Naming can be like that sometimes.

Based on your lists, my favorite is Hayes. It’s cool enough to fit with Weston and Roman, but comes a little closer to Davis from your list. It also sounds great with Winston, so if choosing that middle name is a priority, then Hayes Winston would be my vote.

Readers, what would you suggest to Annie and her husband? And tell me – did you have to compromise on your kiddos’ names? 

How much did you and your partner agree on names?

  1. AAlmost completely - we just had to narrow down our list
  2. BEnough to find a choice we both liked
  3. CNot at all! We were the baby battlers, too
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About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.
View all of Abby's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers

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12 Responses to “Baby Naming Battles: They Don’t Agree on Anything”

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Kipperbo1 Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 7:36 am

Some other names I think bridge old man and modern…
Everett, Abel, Ansel, Asa, August, Bennett, Ellis, Emmett, Jonas, Julius, Lennox, Malachi, Silas

Aunt_ning1 Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 8:09 am

We fought long and hard to come up with a first name to go with James in the middle. He liked names like MIles and Levi and Issac. and I liked classic names like Timothy and Walter. We finally realized that the name we both agreed on was James so we just moved that to the middle spot and since James is my fathers middle name, we used his fathers middle name as well and ended up with our James Louis. So, have you considered moving Winston to the first name spot? It is a name you both agree on to a point, it is a surname and yet a modern name too.

Erin Beth Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 1:59 pm

I really like the suggestions of Everett, Cole and Hayes, although Hayes with Franklin might be a bit presidential. Other ideas:
Dashiell nn Dash
Blaine
Blake
Graham

Erin Beth Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Chase and Forrest just occurred to me as well.

jpruitt76 Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Love Abby’s suggestion of Hayes Winston! Hayes def seems like it could bridge both styles. From your lists, I like both Weston (prefer just West) and Davis.

My argument for Winston over Franklin is that the middle name should be one of your choosing, esp if a family name, because baby presumably will carry your husband’s family surname.

Additional names I like for you:

Burke
Tobin
Boden
Barrett
Garrett
Grady
Finnegan
Sullivan, nn Sully or Van
Jude
Milo
Tate
Beau
Brooks
Deacon
Dalton
Dean
Crosby
Emmett
Zachary

oftenoverseas Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 9:36 pm

What about Edison?

Kbee Says:

July 3rd, 2019 at 10:53 pm

My husband and I would be in the same struggle if it were a boy (but just found out it’s a girl!) – I like more modern/trendy and my husband likes traditional. We found surnames as a good middle ground too – although most we liked ended in ‘son’ which was a non-starter since our last name ends in ‘man’! Also a lot of “on” endings in your husbands list so maybe some good potential for common ground there!
Might we suggest…
Benson – classic like Benjamin but just a little unexpected!
Edison/Edison – fresher than Edward but with classic nn Eddie or Ed
Gibson
Emerson
Anderson – nn Anders

and some non-“son” sur names…
Thatcher
Montgomery – nn Monty
Greer
Ford
Crosby – old time classic like Bing but sounds like he’d fit in with today’s Masons and Westons

Beau Jean Says:

July 4th, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Okay Annie, battle, death, refuse, and vetoed are pretty intense words. If you like Winston and he likes Weston I think that you two should be able to figure it out. Ta-MAY-toe Ta-MAH-toe
From the examples you gave, even though the two of you have different naming styles, those styles do not clash with each other. There are so many ways to compromise. One of you picks the first name, one of you picks the middle name. One of you names this baby, one of you names the next baby. Do the two of you agree on girl names? Strike a bargain somewhere, even if it means one of you don’t get your way this time. And guess what, EVERY name is meaningful, especially if you go on a emotional journey to find it. Also, what you would choose now is very likely to be different than what you would choose in ten years because people change. I think your son might grow up and really wish you had named him Maverick. But it doesn’t really matter what I think, anyway here are some of my ideas.

Maverick+Edward+Franklin= Frederick (classic and not common)
Edward+Hudson= Edmund
William+Weston= Wilson/Willis/Wesley/Westley
Davis+Hudson= Davidson (as in Harley; kinda edgy but not weird)
Hudson makes me think of Gordon or Roger and Hudson means Hugh’s son. I wouldn’t call Hugh a classic, but definitely classy.

KirstGee Says:

July 4th, 2019 at 3:17 pm

My husband and had the exact same situation, I liked traditional and he wanted trendy, out middle ground ended up being we both likes names with a little bit of western feel and now have two boys Emmett and Harvey. Others names we agreed on were Wyatt, Quentin and Brooks. Best of luck and You’ll get there!

Lilea Says:

July 5th, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I think Holden might work well for you both! Good luck!

TiffanyS Says:

July 5th, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Here are some ideas with the same feel I think you guys are after: uncommon, but recognized; cool, but not weird; classic in the sense of having a history of use.

Bennett (from Benedict – blessed)
Bryson
Emory
Pierce
Rafferty (flood tide, abundance, prosperity)
Stellar / Stellan
Wade
Merritt (boundary gate)
Ariston
Bravery (middle)
Lachlan
Carrick (rock)
Merrick (fame, power) / Merrill
Mariner
Calloway (pebbly place)
Jasper
Larkin
Landry
Gentry
Langley
Linden
Livingston
Bridger
Adler (eagle)
Lucian (light)
Caspian
Carrigan
Maris
Collier
Corbett
Prescott
Beau

Corbett Gentry
Linden Wade
Archer Beau (like an archer’s bow: a beginning point, potential)
Stellan Pierce

kalanigirl Says:

July 6th, 2019 at 6:17 pm

With my first kid (a boy), I felt so strongly about the name that i made the infamous deal with my husband: I’ll name this one and you can name the next one (provided he choose from my list, which he was fine with). No argument with the first, I got to choose Basil Quince. When the second kid, we agreed perfectly on the boy name, so OF COURSE we had a girl…we have pretty different tastes in girls names, so I had to scour Nameberry for a name we could both agree on (because even though we had a weird deal where it was his turn, we were both more comfortable picking a name we both love). We were going to go with Penelope Plum (which I still LOVE), but then we saw how insanely popular Penelope is, so I found one that both of us could enjoy that is WAY less popular: Cecily Plum! I love both our fruity, unique choices soooooo much! Don’t know how we’re going to stick with the fruit theme with the 3rd (is there is a 3rd…)…

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