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Middle Names, Nine Different Ways

Freddie Reign and York Banks demonstrate two ways to solve the riddle of the middle

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?

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12 Responses to “Middle Names, Nine Different Ways”

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nativoyoung Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 12:42 am

This was a fun post. We went with honor middles, which I do not regret for a moment. My kids love hearing about the ancestors they are named for and it really connects us to each other. However, I think someone should start a new middle name trend: add on a middle once you get to know your child and pick something that really reflects them. I love thinking about this with my kiddos. For example, Miriam Nicole, my oldest, would become Miriam Nicole Pain-In-The-Neck. Just kidding. Mostly. If I could do it, it would look like this right now:

Miriam Nicole Muse (because she’s so amazingly creative)
Cowen Timothy Moroni (after a religious leader who was an incredible military leader–Cowen is a defender of the right)
Emeline Beckie Sunshine (happiest child I know)
Harriet Franceszka Independence (the girl is self-sufficient)

It is too hard with the younger kids because they are too little to have such obvious talents/personality traits. You could always choose an aspirational middle. My husband would have picked Silence for all their middle names. Ha.

nomen Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 4:26 am

Hey! The poster right above me also seems to be LDS! Awesome!
My son Henry Hiram was named after a very important religious leader in our faith.
Joseph Magnus was named after my husband’s grandfather.
We tend to go with honor middles that add a little spunk to the tradition first names.

SunKissedChild Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 4:47 am

Haha, the only celebrity in that list I have actually heard of is Michael Buble! Have no idea who the others are!

Maple10 Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 7:09 am

I tend to think of middle names in terms of flow. It should enhance the first name: make it sound more modern, traditional, feminine, whatever you are going for. Cecelia Sushine does just that, making traditional Cecelia sound flows and carefree. It’s pretty amazing!

AriaL Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 7:32 am

I was just about to say that, @SunKissedChild! Cool to see fellow LDS on the board like you and @nativoyoung!

I truly love the idea of a more uncommon middle name. I think middle names are such a great opportunity to tell a story!

AriaL Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 7:33 am

Whoops! ^^Comment above was supposed to be directed at @nomen! Got my replies mixed up. 🙂

Haids1987 Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 12:32 pm

This was a great post! I love the options presented in this format. My favorites are the bold middle names and, oddly enough, the traditional middle names. I adore the idea of giving a child a big, bold middle le name that schocks everyone at graduation. 🙂

In the same yet different vein, honoring a loved one is such a beautiful idea. My father’s name is Timothy and I love that for a middle name. My own middle name is Ann, and I would love to incorporate that into a girl’s first name, like Annalisa.

Jbulk21 Says:

February 1st, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I myself have an honor middle which I share with my dad and grandfather; it’s actually Joseph, the Anchor Middle described in this post. I really liked this post! It was informative and gave a lot of good naming strategies!

ottertails Says:

February 2nd, 2016 at 4:37 am

It’s hard when you have a middle that would honor, but is also a go-to middle (filler). Maybe May/Mae won’t catch on too much!

Care Says:

February 2nd, 2016 at 11:57 pm

My thought with middles is what will the initials be. I have a friend who was very unhappy because her initials were W.A.R. One of her pleasures in getting married was having a new initial.

My husband had the same initial for first & middle. It was important to him that his kids had the same doubling.

I have an aunt who gave her son a middle name, but refused to give them to her daughters. She insisted that they use their maiden name as middle after marriage and made sure they had no choice.

I know 2 girls, both youngest in families of 4-5 kids. All sibblings had middle names but they didn’t. There is no connection between them but they both expressed the same feeling to me… that the parents had run out of ideas & couldn’t be bothered, and both felt sad.

Care Says:

February 3rd, 2016 at 12:34 am

One other note about the importance of middles. I worked in a small place with30-40 employees. We had two named Barbara Ann H@rri$. What a pain to ask for one & then have to describe WHICH one you wanted! Finally the younger changed all references to herself to Barbara Z H@rri$.

Then it happened to me, not at work but in the same town. Our names were not common, but similar to the above in type. Once I became aware that we even had the same middle initial, I went to the bank & added my full middle name telling them why. Two weeks later at the bank I was told she had come in & done the SAME THING. Oh, no… what’s her middle name? I was told it was different. But guess what… it was the same middle name as my year younger sister! I was very happy my mom saved that mn for my sister because I would not have wanted to use my maiden name as middle.

handsallover Says:

February 4th, 2016 at 5:58 am

I have no middle name and I don’t feel bad about it. I think it’s doesn’t always mean that parents couldn’t find one, just a way of naming.

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