Boy Name: How to honor Grandma Jacqueline?

June 19, 2018 Abby Sandel

They’d love to honor grandma Jacqueline … but a cousin has already used their first choice! Time to ask the Name Sage for some fresh alternatives.

Sandra writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first child and we just found out it’s a boy!

Baby is due September 28th so I’m just starting to seriously consider names. We know for sure that we would like to name him after my husband’s mother who passed away four years ago. Her name was Jacqueline.

We love Jackson but my cousin already used that name for her son. Jonathon (nickname Jack) was vetoed and just Jack doesn’t feel quite finished to us. Jackie and Clair (after her middle name) are too feminine for my husband’s preference.

We’re open to creative ways to honor my mother-in-law to sidestep the name stealing possibility, but it seems like options are limited. The guilt I’m feeling from both sides is making this challenging, too.

I’d appreciate any advice you may have, or creative name suggestions that we may have bypassed! I just read the article on “9 creative ways to honor loved ones with your child’s name” which has me seeking alternative solutions, too.

The Name Sage replies:

When your favorite choice is off the table, it can feel like options are slim. But I think you’ve still got some great options to consider.

Jack might seem like the obvious choice to honor a grandmother Jacqueline, but here’s a twist:

Jacqueline isn’t the feminine form of John and Jack.

It’s the feminine form of Jacob and James. Jacob started out as Ya’aqov, became Iacobus in Latin, and then morphed into Iacomus. The former gives us Jacob in English; the latter, James. Iacobus became Jacques in French, and thus, Jacqueline is the feminine form of James … I know. It doesn’t sound right, but it’s very much true!

Is there any chance that Jacob or Jake would work? Not only is the name directly related to Jacqueline, but it’s also different enough from Jackson that I can’t imagine there would be a conflict.

If not Jacob or Jake, would you consider:

Cal – I’ve heard Jacqueline pronounced different ways, but in many cases, there’s a Cal sound in the middle. Formal names for Cal abound, like Calvin, Callum, and Calder. That last one strikes me as a similar in style to Jackson, but maybe it’s too far removed from Jacqueline to feel like an honor name?

James – Since Jacqueline is, strictly speaking, the feminine form of James, this one seems like an obvious choice. It’s traditional and enduring, and directly related to your late mother-in-law’s name.

Jameson, Jamie, Jay – If James feels too traditional, would you consider Jameson? Like Jackson, it’s a surname spin on a long-time favorite. And since James has been around forever, other forms abound, from nicknames Jamie and Jay to international variations, like Diego, Seamus, and Jago.

Jace, Jason Jacqueline Clair means her initials were JC. How about Jason or Jace? Because Jason was wildly popular in the 1970s and 80s, we tend to think of it as trendy. But Jason’s ancient roots lend it a certain timeless appeal. Short form Jace has been in the US Top 100 since 2012. In our age of Chase, it feels like a full, formal name.

Kellan – Drop the ‘Jac’ sound from Jacqueline and we’re left with ‘queline’ – not exactly a name. Or is it? It reminds me of Kellan, a name with Irish roots and a modern vibe.

Zach, Zachary – In several Slavic languages, Jacqueline takes a Z to become Zakelina. Is Zachary close enough to satisfy? Or would it still be confusing to have cousins called Jackson and Zach?

My top suggestion is Jacob. Not only does it come directly from the same roots as Jacqueline, it shares the same first few letters, linking the names visually. But you’ve got options galore. A little more information about your husband’s mother could yield even more options: family surnames, nicknames, maybe even a hometown or a favorite place name.

Let’s have a poll, because it might help narrow down your decision. But when it comes to honor names, there are so many ways to celebrate a loved one, and I know our readers will have some great suggestions, too.



About the author


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

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