Middle Names: The Ultimate Guide
It’s a new decade in baby naming, and we find that modern millennial parents are transforming middle names for 2020 and beyond. It’s almost imperative today that a baby’s middle name be meaningful — whether it honors a relative, relates to a parent’s passion, or reflects an important family value.
But middle names today should also be fun. Parents are taking advantage of the fact that middle names are seldom used in everyday life, and giving their children quirky, unexpected middles that may be deemed a bit too bold to be first names.
Within these two criteria, some middle name trends have emerged. Here are the top new trends for middle names 2020.
Short and sweet names such as Grace and Lee have always been popular middle names, but today’s single-syllable middles come from many different cultures and can work with every different style. The freshest mini middles tend to be punchy and packed full of meaning.
In many families, a child’s middle name is used to honor a loved one. But today’s middle names move beyond first names to family surnames. Also a popular trend among first names, surnames are a great way to pay homage to beloved family members and keep family names alive through the generations. As a bonus, since most surnames aren’t tied to a particular gender, these can be used for a son or daughter. Of course, you’ll want to use surnames from your own family tree, but here are some we’ve heard that we think are appealing.
Occupational names have great potential as honor names, providing a subtle way to pay tribute to Grandpa the pilot or Grandma the doctor. Occupational names can also be thought of as inspirational middle names, indicating your wish for your child’s future.
Parents with an adventurous spirit are apt to seek out a brave, wayfaring middle name for their son or daughter. This could be the name of an exotic locale or favorite destination, or a more literal word name associated with travel and adventure.
Contemporary parents are opting for the uncommon first names and sometimes-clunky surnames of authors, activists, modern celebrities and fictional heroes for their children’s middle names.
Virtue names are back — with a contemporary twist. Modern virtue names reflect current values and have a charmingly positive bent (Obedience and Modesty, not so much). We want our children to grow up to be happy, honest, and kind adults, and so now we’re giving them middle names like Reverie, True, and Loyalty in hopes of imparting these coveted qualities.
Creative parents looking to reflect their passion in their child’s name are likely to opt for an artistic middle name for their child. Names related to music, dance, poetry, theater, and visual arts are all en vogue. Some parents are choosing to honor a favorite artist by using their surname in the middle, while others favor more overt word names related to the arts.
This trend was started by celebrities, with high-profile recent examples including Zooey Deschanel’s Elsie Otter and Macklemore’s Colette Koala. Bird names in particular are white-hot, with names like Lark, Hawk, and Wren soaring in popularity.
When choosing a middle name to reflect spirituality, modern parents are expanding beyond saints’ names and Biblical names. Religious word names like Sabbath and Cross are becoming more popular as middle names for babies, but it’s not just Judeo-Christian religions represented in this trend. Names related to Eastern spirituality have superseded those connected to Western religions in popularity. Bodhi and Zen are particularly notable, having been used by a number of celebrities in recent years.
Ancient myths are one of the latest sources of inspiration for middle names. Mythical names have an air of valor and triumph behind them, as well as a sense of curiosity and expedition. These names could be culled from a particular myth that inspires a parent or be more generally linked to mythology. Some of our favorite mythic names include these.
Need even more choices? Check out our master list of more than 900 amazing middle names for 2020 and beyond.
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on January 7th, 2019 at 9:39 pm
I love your articles, so I hate to be a sourpuss here, but just a word of feedback on your Virtue middles explanation:
The more ‘current’ virtue names are great, but please don’t label virtues such as Obedience and Modesty as without a positive bend. While I’d never name my child Obedience or Modesty, those are incredibly positive virtues that are often underappreciated.
Please be careful in labeling modesty as a negative trait. It goes along with refinement, poise, class and dignity.
on April 14th, 2020 at 9:54 am
Nope, I’m with Nameberry on this one–the concept of modesty is thoroughly misogynistic. No one ever tells boys or men to be modest, either in dress or otherwise. It’s only women that are expected to hide and downplay themselves, and it needs to stop.
on April 14th, 2020 at 11:10 am
Who ever said that modesty is only for women?? I guess it depends on who’s definition and application of modesty one subscribes to.
on April 15th, 2020 at 4:14 am
Bottom line don’t use the name modesty and obedience on your kid. Would u name it slavery? It’s in poor taste.
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