Long Baby Names: When More Is More

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:


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:


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.

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22 Responses to “Long Baby Names: When More Is More”

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tillyxengineer Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 2:51 am

I like Emmanuelle 😀

Dearest Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 4:34 am

Trevelyan, Obadiah, Octavian, Immanuel and Amadeus have four syllables on my boys list 🙂

For girls I have Cassiopeia and Emiliana on my list, but your mention of Apollonia reminds me I’ve been thinking of adding her… Anastasia as well I think 🙂

Long names are fun 🙂

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 9:46 am

With four syllables in my own first and second names, and 10 letters in my second middle name, long names have always made me feel at home. There’s so much to chew on and often so many nickname possibilities, that the name may wind up being more adaptable to the individual.

More: Artemisia, Alexandrina, Theodosia, Giovanni

Elea Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 11:05 am

I love long names! Especially the elegance and flexibility of having so many nicknames to choose from.

My fave 5 syllables:

Christiania — on my family tree

And I do have a soft spot for Michaelangelo for boys 🙂

Erin Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I LOVE long names, but everyone in my family has a short name. My husband is Chad, and our boys are Cody and Logan. With a 2-syllable last name we could have gone either way. Part of me wishes I’d been more apt to lean toward longer names. Some recent favorites of mine have been Arabella, Gabriella and Penelope for girls, and Nathaniel Sebastien for boys.

Ami Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I’ve always loved the name Artemisia, like the artist.

Bella Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I love long names! Very interesting choices, I love Azarius and I think Azurius is just as cool!

CanaLyn Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Aurélienne is a beautiful four-syllable name for a girl, and a good nickname is Riley (or Rélie).

Emmy Jo Says:

March 30th, 2010 at 9:56 pm

We have a one syllable last name. I love some of these longer names, but my husband insists that anything over three syllables is “too complicated” or “too princessy.” So he knocked Anastasia off our list — I would have loved to use it.

We ended up having a boy, and his name follows the 3-2-1 rule. He’s Julius Arthur Grey.

Sachiko Says:

March 31st, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I vote for Leocadia Cole.

We have a 2-syllable last name; our children’s first names all have 3 syllables. I compensate with 1 or 2 syllable planned nicknames (yes, I plan nicknames, I’m that kind of control freak)

Smismar Says:

April 1st, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I tried to convince DH to let me use Sylvianna, but he deemed it too much, so we just went with Sylvia. I love long names!

Josie Says:

April 3rd, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Haha, I have 21 letters in my name but it never seemed that long to me 🙂

cjdt Says:

April 4th, 2010 at 9:51 am

I have 29 letters in my name.
Jereann (pronounced Jerry-ann)
Donnelly(the Irish surname)
and my last name is 4 letters.

cjdt Says:

April 4th, 2010 at 9:54 am

Oops, I meant 28 letters, and accidentally hit the 9.

Somhair Says:

April 4th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

The name I had origionaly for my baby girl when I was 19 in Uni was Apphia Treasa Amorina Bibbiana Ciana Guinevere Alicia but according to my husband (bf at the time) you could only pronouce that if you were from Fermanagh and spoke a great spanish accent. So that left only me and my spanish lecturer so we took off the last five and still they can’t say it or spell it propperly

Sunshinetina Says:

May 24th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

One of my best friends has twins named Alexandria (they call her Ria) and Evangelica (they call her Eva). She loves that she chose long names for the girls, since they opted to not give them a middle name.

willaisie Says:

June 21st, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I love a nice long poem of a name, with a short, sweet nick name! My kids have long first names, double middle names, and a three syllable last name! The way I see it, the full name is so seldom used all together, you may as well embrace the opportunity to have fun with it!

Magdalena Says:

August 13th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

aha, my name is Magdalena Cole 🙂

Mishada17 Says:

October 12th, 2010 at 12:19 am

I have 23 letters in my name (my last name is a whopping 10 letters by itself) and I’ve NEVER felt it was too long. I only have one middle name. Thankfully, my chances of marrying someone with a shorter last name seems fairly high. My boyfriend has 24 letters in his name, and he has 2 middle names. His last name is only 6 letters long.

JuliaDrucilla Says:

April 23rd, 2011 at 12:11 am

I really love long names so I am like freaking out with happiness right now. These I really adore:
AbyssinIa- I really think that this is a hidden gem worth looking at. If your daughter decides she hates her extotic, complicated name, there’s always Abby.
Cassiopia- Love this! So beautiful, and, again, has a simple nickname option (Cassie). Which is why I’m REALLY mad that in Greek mythology she was an evil queen who thought she was prettier than the Nereids and gave up her daughter Andromeda (another beautiful name) to a sea monster. Darn it!
Feliciana- Bubbly, frilly, and just plain HAPPY!
Iphigenia- Well, it’s a whole lotta name, but it’s so preeeeeeettyyyyy! I think it’s weird in a very good way.
Januaria- Not as cool as January, but prettier and, of course, more feminine.
Philadelphia- Gorgeous. Love it love it love it!!
Tiodora- Just as pretty as Theodora, but a little more cute and fun.
Aurelian- Very handsome! Antique yet radiant.
Azarius- I’m a total sucker for names ending in “us”. This is quirky, cool, and intrigueing (I probably spelled that wrong. Oh, well.)
Ottavio- Oh my goodness this is adorable!

Rory Says:

August 8th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

My name is 20 letters and (I know everyone is saying this but….) I never thought it was too long.
My first name has 4 letters (my real name is simply Rory not Aurora or Roriana), my middle name has 7 letters, my second middle name has 4, and my last name has 5 letters.

As for names I like……..these are some of the long names for girls that are absolutely GORGEOUS!
-Marietta- Mari for a nickname but I like Marietta SO much better.
-Julianna- Julie for a nickname.
-Aurelia- I guess there’s Relie for a nickname and Aurie too……but those are kinda weird…..
-Andromeda- there’s Andy for a shorter nickname.
-Theodora- There’s Thea which I love sooooooooooo much
-Christiana- Christi or Anna for nicknames and my aunt’s name is Christine so this one is pretty good.

Hope this helps people who want to name their children something loooooooooooong!

MollyKat78 Says:

January 23rd, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Maya Isabel Tuapeua Ndjarakana is my daughter’s name
Tuapeua means god has given us a gift in Herero..a tribe from namibia…

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