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Middle Names, Nine Different Ways

January 31, 2016 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

It was a big week for celebrity birth announcements, and the names of the new arrivals are noteworthy. Welcome, York and Freddie, Talon and Florence.

Bold and daring baby names like Rainbow and Saint dominate headlines. But sometimes the most interesting names are tucked in the middle, like this week’s batch.

Middle names haven’t always been standard issue in English. The aristocracy used them first, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that it became the norm for almost every child born in the US to receive two names – or sometimes more.

This week’s baby names in the news illustrate nine approaches to choosing your child’s middle name. If you’re stumped, this list might help you brainstorm possibilities for your little superstar.

Middle Names

Reign, or The Big Middle Name – In recent years, we’ve met starbabies called Royal, Reign, and Kingston. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, those bold, braggadocio names continue to catch on. Tuck one in the middle spot, though, and it doesn’t seem quite so outlandish. A great example is Louis Tomlinson’s new son, Freddie Reign. Freddie is a popular choice in the UK. Reign is an edgy, interesting middle to pair with friendly, accessible Freddie.

Banks, or The Mother’s Surname – Congratulations to Tyra Banks and Erik Asla on the birth of their son, York Banks Asla. Choosing the mother’s surname as the child’s middle has long been popular, a way to preserve and emphasize family connections. That’s as true in 2016 as it ever was. It’s also a simple way to incorporate both parents’ last names. Former soccer star Landon Donovan and wife Hannah Bartell took this approach, too. Their new son is Talon Bartell Donovan.

Tony, or The Honor Middle – British reality star Sam Faeirs, of The Only Way is Essex and Celebrity Big Brother went the traditional route when naming her firstborn. She and fiancé Paul Knightley named their son Paul Tony. Paul is for dad, and Tony for a favorite uncle. It’s a traditional choice, and an easy way to honor a loved one.

Sunshine, or The Unexpected Middle – It isn’t just celebrities choosing innovative middles. Surprising choices are everywhere, like this birth announcement for Cecilia Sunshine. If you’ve chosen a conventional given name, an unexpected middle can be a great option. One of my all-time favorites is actress Paula Patton’s son, Julian Fuego.

Joseph, or The Anchor Middle – Of course, the opposite is equally true. If your child’s given name is on the daring side, a more conservative middle might be a good choice. English footballer Wayne Rooney and wife Coleen recently welcomed third son, Kit Joseph. Kit joins brothers Kai Wayne and Klay Anthony. With first names that are short and modern, a conservative pick like Joseph in the middle can anchor the name.

Cooper, or The Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too Middle – One of the best parts about middle names is that you can always use your runner-up name. Love Mia and Isabella? Mia Isabella it is! It seems like country music duo Shawna and Keifer Thompson went this route when they named son Rigney Cooper. Rigney is a find from Shawn’s family tree, but Cooper seems to be a name they love every bit as much.

Ione Delores, or The Double Middle – Speaking of having it all, there’s no rule saying that you have to stop at one middle. Names for Real posts lists of birth announcements featuring double middles, like Mattalina Ione Delores or Jaxson Charles Maverick. Of course, double the choices means a chance to use more than one type of middle – an honor name and something unexpected, or your runner-up choice and the other parent’s surname.

May, or The New Go-To Middles – Ann and Marie were replaced by Grace and Rose. Lately the go-to middle for girls seems to be May. Or is that Mae? Joe King and Candice Accola recently welcomed daughter Florence May. That’s just a few weeks after reality television’s Kody and Robin Brown named their newest arrival Ariella May.

The No Middle Name Middle – There’s nothing that says you have to choose a middle name at all. Michael Bublé and Luisana Lopilato named their first son Noah in 2013, and went with Elias for their latest addition. If either boy has a middle name, the couple hasn’t shared. It’s very possible they simply decided to skip the middle name – an option that’s always open to parents who prefer to keep it simple.

What are your children’s middle names? Did you use honor names, anchor names, or names you just plain loved?

About the author

Abby

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 namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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