Middle Names Q & A

Middle Names Q & A

I’m looking for a short and simple middle name for my daughter, but certainly don’t want to go back to the tired old standbys of my childhood like Lynn and Lee and Sue and Ann. Any fresh ideas?

There are loads of more modern and imaginative one-syllable options these days. Many parents are choosing Rose-which is in danger of becoming the Ann of our day-others are going retro with Mae, Rae, Fay, Pearl or Belle, or ethnic with choices like Maeve or Paz. Nature lovers might consider Bay, Snow, Teal, Lark, or Plum.

I’m considering using my maiden name as my child’s middle. Is this a good idea?

Absolutely. In fact, increasing numbers of parents are choosing this option rather than the bulkier hyphenated names used during the early days of feminism. Some are taking this practice a step further and considering the surnames of maternal or paternal grandmothers, which otherwise might be lost to history.

I kind of like the new trend of giving girls traditionally male names but wouldn’t want to go quite that far myself. Could I use one as a middle name instead?

Yes, this can make for a strong statement and an interesting combination of names – think Jennifer Jason Leigh, for example. Several celebs have done this with good effect for their own little starbabies, fitting their daughters with such boyish middle names as George, Max, Charles, Ira, Allyn, Eliot, Francis, Glenn, Jude and Cole. The possibilities are endless.

Are there any guidelines in terms of sound?

One thing to think about is the balance of syllables. Kyle Jefferson Reed makes a more pleasing statement, than Kyle Blake Reed, just as Savannah True Kennedy is more rhythmic than a mouthful like Savannah Trinity Kennedy. On the other hand, a sequence of two two-syllable names, or names with similar endings, can sound quite static, as in Ethan Aidan.

Some people think some balance of one, two, and three syllables is the best combination, so that if your last name has two syllables, say, you should aim for three-one-two or one-three-two….you get the picture.

How creative can I get with a middle name?

The middle spot is a place where you can be more creative and daring than you might want to be with the first name. Here you can use one of the new word or place names that has particular meaning for you, or honor a special hero or heroine of yours in the arts, history, politics or spiritual life, or whose values you would like your child to emulate. And remember – if you give your son the middle name of Elvis or Euripides, he can always abbreviate it to the initial E on his job application.

About the Author

Elisabeth Wilborn

Elisabeth Wilborn

Elisabeth Wilborn can be found at her online homes You Can't Call It "It" and The Itsy Factor, and she has part-time residency at Nameberry and Apartment Therapy. In the real world she also enjoys painting, cooking, and raising her two little girls on their farm in Texas. \n