Boy Baby Names: A time for compromise
We’ve got a bit of a dilemma on our hands, and I’m hoping you can help.
We love old-fashioned yet less common first names (literary or Biblical) paired with family names for the middle name.
Please help! I’m so sick of searching endlessly through literary, old-fashioned, and Biblical name lists!
The Name Sage replies:
The good news about finding baby names in 2016 is that there’s no shortage of resources. The bad news? You can get lost in all of the possibilities!
I think that’s what you’re up against here: whittling down a list to just a few top choices is tough, especially when there’s not a lot of overlap between your favorites and your husband’s list.
Since there doesn’t seem to be any overlap between your top choices, let’s start fresh.
It seems like your husband tends to like more popular names – but could be convinced to choose something a little less common if it still feels like an established, familiar name. After all, Gideon currently ranks Number 328, much less popular than Aaron, Noah, or Silas.
Let’s look at a few Biblical picks, and then move on to names that are more ancient or literary.
Abel – Aaron and Asher make me think of another A name: Asher, currently Number 125. Besides the Biblical ties, Abel sounds like able, implying that your child is capable and can-do. I think that’s a subtle, but powerfully appealing, reason to love this name.
Asa – Another A option is Asa. It shares Noah’s ending ‘a’ sound, but is much less common. At Number 531, Asa is definitely different, but fits right in with so many similar boy names. The Old Testament king makes a worthy namesake.
Ezra – If you were born in the 1980s, chances are good that you never met an Ezra. The Old Testament prophet’s name has a long history of sparing use. It’s also nicely literally, thanks to children’s author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and Ezra Pound. The only drawback? At Number 92 last year, this name is no longer a secret.
Simon – Simon just sounds smart. The New Testament name currently ranks Number 234, which is a good stands-out/fits-in mark. It feels slightly British, impeccably Biblical, and a little bit unexpected without being too out-there.
Adrian – Adrian mirrors Gideon’s rhythm and sound, which makes it a logical possibility. It splits the difference between traditional Charles and the less common Daphne. The problem is that Adrian ranks Number 58 – though maybe it’s not too popular since it’s around the same spot as Charles.
Duncan – You mentioned Shakespeare, which always brings to mind one of my favorite names. Sure, the late King Duncan only appears as a ghost in Macbeth, but it’s a great name. Simple, straightforward, and, at Number 793, nicely underused.
Marcus – I think I’ve saved the best for last. Marcus comes immediately to mind. First, your husband might be is channeling Mark Antony with his shortlist – but Mark Antony was born Marcus Antonius. Marcus ranks Number 168, far behind Noah or even Julian. There’s also philosopher Marcus Aurelius and plenty of other notables in the ancient world.
Overall, I do think Marcus has real potential, but if you’re not in love, I might suggest Simon. It’s the kind of name that everyone instantly recognizes, and can say and spell – but remains nicely underused.
Readers, what would you suggest to Anna if her next baby is a boy?
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on August 31st, 2016 at 12:00 am
Daphne and Charles are wonderful names and too bad about Gideon because it is both a great name and great with the first two names.
I like Abby’s suggestion of Marcus, though Simon is too persnickety sounding to my ear.
I don’t suppose Julius itself would work, as you already like Julian?
I also love March (as a middle probably) which sounds like Mark and the Ides of March.
Nathaniel and Timothy are (to me) lovely names which sound good with Daphne and Charles.
I also like Martin, though it is not Shakespearean or biblical (at least I don’t think it is).
And Linus I adore which has the feel of Silas to me.
on August 31st, 2016 at 4:10 am
I think Simon and Adrian are excellent suggestions.
I would add:
Biblical names that are distinctive, familiar, and not ubiquitous:
Classical/historical/literary names with a similar appeal:
Hugh (old-fashioned, currently a rare choice, but has deep roots, a familiar sound and a great meaning; personally I think it hits the sweet spot befitting a modern revival a la Henry)
And just in case you don’t mind names that are considerably popular, Nathan, Joshua, Elijah, David and Benjamin are all well deserving of their current rankings and seem to otherwise fit what you’re going for.
on August 31st, 2016 at 4:32 am
I like the name Gideon too, so I’ll offer up suggestions that I also like that have about the same popularity and a similar style in my opinion.
– I second the suggestion of Oscar
– Linus, also seconded
on August 31st, 2016 at 8:09 am
I agree that Marcus or Simon would fit perfectly with Daphne and Charles
on August 31st, 2016 at 9:38 am
Some names that came to mind as having the same *density* as Charles–all have biblical/literary associations–that would work well with your children’s names:
Fun nicknames, and two end in “s” as Charles does. They’re all quite a bit further out of the top 100 most popular in the US, but figured that’d be okay, because some of your other choices are too. I played with these names and your middle name options, and there several appealing possibilities. Best of luck!
on August 31st, 2016 at 10:33 am
What about Titus? It is Biblical and Shakespearean.
I also like @babynamemaven’s suggestion of Phineas!
on August 31st, 2016 at 12:06 pm
Maybe Peter? It ranks at number 206, so not very popular but a very recognized and established name. It’s Biblical and also literary (think Peter Rabbit, Peter Parker from Spider-Man).
on August 31st, 2016 at 2:01 pm
Personally, I love Gideon Cole! You might like Gideon’s Russian cousin, Hedeon. If not that, and you want to stick to the biblical route, try Samuel, Isaac, or Gabriel. If you want something really different, maybe Fabian or Linus (thirded!)
on August 31st, 2016 at 3:47 pm
I love the name Bennet, my son has the cutest friend who is named Bennet
I would also reccomend Ezra, Beckham, and Preston
on August 31st, 2016 at 5:05 pm
I love the suggestions of Marcus or Julius. Jolyon (an old English name famous from the Forsyte Saga) could be a good option too. I’m not a fan of Simon, but Simeon is not unlike Gideon.
on August 31st, 2016 at 6:04 pm
I love the suggestions of Asa, Simon, and Peter. Of the three I would go with Peter, because Daphne, Charles, and Peter roll off the tongue nicely. I also recommend Reuben, Rufus, and maybe Jasper.
on August 31st, 2016 at 7:46 pm
Have to second (third) Peter, it’s a solid choice, and for all its familiarity and history, in the current generation it’s uncommon enough to be distinctive. And it makes a lovely set.
on August 31st, 2016 at 9:21 pm
Gideon is such a great name, I can see why your friends chose it!
I love the names Julian, Asher, and Bennet, like you and your husband were thinking of using.
Of the names Abby suggested, I’d say Simon is probably the best. It reminds me a lot of Gideon.
I also second the names of Reuben (so cute!), Linus, Phineas, Theodore and Tobias.
on August 31st, 2016 at 11:14 pm
I really like Simon w/Daphne & Charles…while I like Marcus very much, it doesn’t seem to go as well w/the other two names as does Simon. I also prefer Peter over Marcus for the same reason.
I second the recommendation of Jasper…it’s more unusual but still flows well w/Daphne & Charles. Same w/the previous recommendations of Joel & Edmond/Edmund. I’d also toss the name Jonah into the ring for consideration.
What about Louis/Lewis, Henry/Harry/Harrison, or Evan/Ian?
Good luck! 🙂
on September 1st, 2016 at 1:52 pm
I would second Roman for you, and throw in either Lucian or Lucius or Lucas, which straddle the line of Roman and biblical.
Of Abby’s suggestions, I love August and Marcus.
on September 2nd, 2016 at 1:13 pm
I want to mention Colin, he flies under every radar, could be nicknamed Cole which is an honour name, and maybe that frees up the middle spot to pick something you just like, or maybe even one name each since you can’t seem to agree. Colin Gideon could be one idea?
Colin always makes me think of The Secret Garden, for a literary link.
on September 4th, 2016 at 9:36 am
Names that I like that I think fit (could be repeats) are:
on September 6th, 2016 at 9:51 pm
I’d like to offer up Malcolm. Of the middle choices you listed I would do Malcolm Woods. Malcolm is a name used in Shakespeare, the noble king to restore order at the end of Macbeth. Also the name of several Scottish Kings. Another plus of Malcolm is that it has the nn Cam or Mal or Mel.
I quite like the suggestion of Marcus, or Peter. Also Gideon is a great name, I don’t think that it’s strange to have close friends have children share names. I would say don’t give up on Gideon if it feels like the right name!
on September 8th, 2016 at 4:36 pm
“We love old-fashioned yet less common first names”
No offense but Charles is super common and has been for decades. Its currently #50. How is that not popular?
on September 10th, 2016 at 1:19 pm
Thanks for all the suggestions! After throwing around a lot of these names, and various combinations…
We FINALLY agreed on the name Micah Woods!
Thanks for the input!
on September 10th, 2016 at 1:28 pm
“No offense but Charles is super common and has been for decades. Its currently #50. How is that not popular?”
Hi Caetano, I wasn’t exactly asking for commentary on the names I’ve already chosen for my children, so that wasn’t a super helpful comment when I’m looking for name suggestions for my NEW baby on the way!
I know the name is #50 or so, and is a pretty popular choice in English-speaking countries. Surprisingly, though, it’s not a common name for young boys/babies in the area where we live, especially since we don’t use the nickname Charlie. Sorry that wasn’t clear in my original post. ??
on September 10th, 2016 at 9:44 pm
I don’t have much advice since we’re also trying to find a boy name that me and my husband both like and it seems impossible. With our daughter it was so easy, her name is Juliet Victoria.
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