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Middle Names: The Ultimate Guide

April 14, 2020 Sophie Kihm
middle names 2019

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.

One-Syllable Middle Names

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.

Beck

Crew

Dot

French

Lane

Nash

Pax

Quay

Tess

Wynn

Family Names

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.

Baird

Calvert

Crosby

Davenport

Faraday

Freeman

Kaiser

Kane

Magee

Redmond

Occupational Names

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.

Booker

Dancer

Doctor

Drummer

Judge

Painter

Pilot

Racer

Ranger

Sailor

Bold Middle Names

 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.

Alaska

Canyon

Everest

Explorer

Horizon

Isle

Journey

Nairobi

Quest

Safari

Hero Names

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.

Angelou

Bowie

Bronte

Chaplin

Hemingway

Huckleberry

Lincoln

Sojourner

Solo

Thelonious

Virtue 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.

Bliss

Ethereal

Justice

Loyalty

Reason

Reverie

True

Whimsy

Wit

Wisdom

Unique Middle Names

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.

Arabesque

Art

Cello

Matisse

Ode

Opera

Poet

Rembrandt

Rhythm

Symphony

Animal Names

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.

Bee

Butterfly

Cub

Dove

Fox

Lark

Lynx

Pike

Sparrow

Trout

Inspirational Names

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.

Amen

Bodhi

Cross

Dharma

Halo

Kismet

Sabbath

Saint

Tao

Zen

Mythological Names

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.

Atlantis

Calypso

Fable

Freya

Halcyon

Hero

Jupiter

Mercury

Muse

Odysseus

Need even more choices? Check out our master list of more than 900 amazing middle names for 2020 and beyond.

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

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