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Long Baby Names: When More Is More

March 29, 2010 Pamela Redmond

We got an email the other day from a mom with a very short, simple last name — let’s call it Cole — who wanted advice on a first name for her daughter.

All we could think was: Are you lucky! While it’s theoretically possible to give a child with such a last name an equally short and sweet first — Jane Cole may not feel inspired, but it’s acceptable — the field is open to get as elaborate as you want. In fact, with a surname that straightforward, it may be desirable to choose a first name that’s got lots of syllables.

How many? Well, three, at a minimum. Three-two-one — Barnaby Joseph Cole — is an excellent syllabic rhythm for names.

Even pushing it to four gives you thousands and thousands of wonderful options, especially for girls. Celestia Cole? Magdalena Cole? Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

So if four is good, why not five? Why not indeed. There may be fewer choices, but here are some intriguing long names for girls:

ABYSSINIA
ALEXANDRIA
ANAMARIA
ANASTASIA
APOLLONIA
CASSIOPIA
ELEONORA
ELISABETTA
EVANGELICA
FELICIANA
ILLUMINATA
IMOGENIA
IPHIGENIA
JANUARIA
LOUISIANA
OCTAVIANA
PHILADELPHIA
SERENDIPITY
TIODORIA
VALERIANA
VICTORIANA
VIRIDIANA

For boys, there are simply not enough good names with five syllables and a fairly trim selection even at four. We left off a lot of the Latinate names ending with O because using them felt like cheating, though we did include a few of our favorites. Some of the best very long names for boys are:

ALEXANDER
ANTONIO
AURELIAN
AZARIUS
BARTHOLOMEW
BONAVENTURE
CORNELIUS
EBENEZER
EMANUEL
FEDERICO
HEZEKIAH
HORATIO
IGNATIUS
JEBEDIAH
JEDIDIAH
JEREMIAH
MAXIMILIAN
MONTGOMERY
NATHANIEL
OBADIAH
OTTAVIO
ZACHARIAH
ZEBEDIAH
ZEDEKIAH

So do the longest names work only with short surnames? Absolutely not! There’s something delightfully florid about a name like Marietta McKenzie or Maximilian Mountbatten. But there is a limit: Just be conscious of your poor little child in kindergarten learning to spell out all 22 letters of his name.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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