Name Sage: A Brother for Ivan Lawrence
I hope that you might be able to put some fresh eyes on a debate my husband and I are having about the name of our second child!
Our first is named Ivan Lawrence. I liked that Ivan is different, but not too different. I also liked the nicknames Ives and Van. My husband studied Russian Literature in college. Lawrence is from our family tree.
We cannot seem to think of a name for our second if it’s a boy.
My husband loves the popular classics: William and Alexander, maybe James or Benjamin. I like traditional names, but prefer mine a little less common: Abram, Abraham, Abel, Malachi, Arthur, Theodore, Leo, Alistair, and Louis. He’s willing to consider Lewis.
We’d love to find an older name that feels contemporary, but not trendy. We like names with nicknames and don’t like last names as first names. Our middle name is already set: Richard, another family name.
I am starting to feel like the name we need doesn’t exist!
The Name Sage replies:
Finding another name that hits the sweet spot is a challenge.
But it’s very doable. First, there are more traditional names than you might imagine. (We had fun coming with up with a list for this post – the suggestions in the comments are great!)
There are two approaches you can take:
- You can automatically rule out any name in the current US Top 25. Yes, that means forgoing some great names, like William and Alexander. But if finding a less common name is a concern for you, that’s not an unreasonable approach.
- Or maybe you would consider a very popular name only if it comes with an unusual nickname. Alexander called Dex or Xan? Benjamin called Jamie? James Richard called J.R.?
If the unconventional nickname approach doesn’t work for you, let’s see if we can find some possibilities outside of the US Top 25 that would make a great brother name for Ivan.
Leo – My first thought was going back to Russian literature for another traditional-with-a-twist name: Maxim, Sergei, Viktor, Nikolai, or Anton, maybe? Or Leo – as in Tolstoy – which seems like a perfect brother name for Ivan. Ivan Lawrence and Leo Richard. You’ve mentioned that your husband has already rejected Leo, but I wonder if pointing out the literary connection between the two boys’ names would change his mind. There are plenty of longer names for Leo, too: Leopold, Leon, Leonardo, Leonidas.
Wallace – Wallace strikes me as an impeccable classic, and far less common than William. (Wallace isn’t in the current US Top 1000 – crazy, right?) I suspect Wallace doesn’t make the cut because parents worry about Wally as a nickname. There’s also Ace, which is a sporty short form, or maybe even Walt. I’m not sure it’s the best match for Ivan, but it’s undeniably an under-the-radar classic.
Gregory – Along the same lines, there’s Gregory. Most Gregorys I know are 40-something or older, but I do know one school-aged Gregory, and it wears well. It also shortens to Rory or Grey – very unexpected possibilities, and far more contemporary than Greg. Over 1,000 boys were given the name last year – a big drop from its peak in the 1960s, but still familiar.
Omar – I can easily imagine brothers called Ivan and Omar. They’re both names that are portable, international, surprising. Of course, unless your husband also studied the poetry of Omar Khayyam or maybe World War II history and General Omar Bradley, there might not be a logical reason to choose this name.
Axel – When I think about traditional names that feel very contemporary, Axel almost always tops the list. It’s the Scandinavian form of Biblical name Absalom. In terms of popularity, it’s about as common as Ivan and Leo. It shares sounds with your husband’s favorite, Alexander. Nicknames are few, though I can imagine myself shortening this name to Zel. Another traditional, x-ending boy name is Felix – though I think Felix might be truly nickname-proof.
Miles – Because you’re both interested in Louis/Lewis, I wonder if other ‘s’ ending names might appeal? Lewis is traditionally the surname spelling of the name, though it has a long history as a given name, too. Miles shares the ‘s’ ending with Lewis, and a little bit of the name’s classic, but not too common style. Milo might make a fun nickname.
Julian – It doesn’t get much more classic than Julian, a name with roots in ancient Rome. And yet, Julian feels completely contemporary, too. The name is currently at its most popular – Number 47. Julian seems like the logical halfway mark between William and Malachi, and it’s got nicknames galore. Ivan Lawrence and Julian Richard sound like brothers.
August – Let’s take a look at another name in the key of Julian: the ancient August. At Number 242, it’s less common than Julian, Miles, or Axel, and fits right in with modern nature names and word names. But August feels traditional, too, with a long history of use.
If your husband isn’t willing to reconsider Leo, I think Miles and Julian would be my top recommendations. They’re traditional, but have plenty of current appeal, too. And neither of them is in the Top 25!
We have an update from Jacqui! She writes, “It turns out all our planning for a little boy was for naught! We welcomed a beautiful little girl earlier this month. I was leaning strongly towards Josephine, but when I met her she was an Ingrid Leona … so far we’ve been calling her Ila (EE lah), which is a combination of her first and middle names. Thank you for your suggestions, and the suggestions of your readers!
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on December 30th, 2015 at 1:13 am
I don’t want to derail the comments, but my name lists are still gone. It may seem silly to dwell on this, but I spent years compiling those lists. If they’re gone, they’re gone, but TELL us they’re gone so we can start new lists! It’s difficult for me to understand why Nameberry didn’t address the disappearing lists until someone (me, I think) brought them up in the comments section. We were repeatedly reassured that our lists would be back soon, but…nothing. And crickets from Nameberry. I love this community, but the way the staff handled the site’s technical issues combined with the fact that Nameberry is almost impossible to access on my phone due to the bombardment of ads and popups, makes me feel like this site has become less a community and more a revenue generator. It’s really disappointing.
on December 30th, 2015 at 7:09 am
Oh no ! I am a mobile NB user, and I have problems writing in the comments area ( like moving my cursed around and highlighting words, trying to keep my comments and browse thru names, ect)..
So I bring up a different app, a Notepad (Microsoft OneNote), and will make all my comments, lists and such on the notepad, copy and paste it to NB..
(Maybe find an app or check your phone?) And try and rebuild your list, while your waiting, and having it saved to a backup place will help :'(
(if you use tour phone, maybe check your pictures see if you have any screenshots from nameberry??)
on December 30th, 2015 at 9:27 am
My favourite suggestions are Leo and Miles. I also really like Arthur and Theodore from your picks, and they don’t seem like they would be a million miles out of your husband’s comfort zone. Perhaps with more exposure he could be convinced? Both are actually pretty popular right now.
How about a more unusual classic name with a very familiar nickname?
Willem or Wilhelm “Will”
Alexis or Alexey “Alex”
Zachary or Zachariah “Zack”
Nathaniel or Nathan “Nate”
Jonathan or Jonah or Jonas “Jon”
Henry or Henrik “Harry”
Matthias or Matteo “Matt”
Jameson “James” or “Jack”
on December 30th, 2015 at 2:21 pm
My favorites are :
Abram Richard, from mom’s list
Julian Richard, from Abby’s list
Troy Richard or Cyrus Richard (nn: Cy or Russ), my picks
The only thing about Troy is the limited nn possibilities. The only nn I can think of are T.R. and Roy….
on December 30th, 2015 at 3:23 pm
I think that Julian Richard or August Richard go incredibly well with Ivan Lawrence.
on December 30th, 2015 at 3:39 pm
I also really Like Julian (or Julius) and August with big brother Ivan, and Matthias is a great suggestion. Other possibilities could be: Leander, Elias, Reuben, Vincent, and Hugo.
on December 30th, 2015 at 8:37 pm
My first thought is Ivan and Lev. Both are beautiful Russian names.
on December 30th, 2015 at 8:47 pm
The first name I thought of was Vincent!
on December 30th, 2015 at 9:07 pm
Ivan Laurence is a great name. I love Ives and Van as nn’s and Laurence is just beautiful (strong yet soft).
Thinking about your husband’s list, I wonder about William if he were called Wilkie. Flipping it the other way, I wonder about Ebenezer with Ben or Benji or Eben as nn’s.
Going from your current list, I combine Arthur and Theodore and come up with Theodoric, Theobald, Theomund (the latter reminiscent of Edmund which EW poster had suggested). Theomund is especially nice as it is classic, but can easily be converted into Theo, Teo, Ted, Teddy, Edmund, etc.
I can imagine brothers named Ivan Laurence and Theomund Richard easily. Plus I’d really love someone to use Theomund! 🙂
As you like Abram, Abraham, Abel, how do you feel about Bramwell, nn’s Bram, Wells, Welby?
In addition to your Alistair, maybe Alaric or Roderic or Frederic?
I’m glad your husband is willing to consider Lewis. It is a lovely name and Lewis Richard sounds good with Ivan Laurence.
Finally, I really like Abby’s suggestions of Wallace, Gregory, and Julian.
Good luck with this fun conundrum!
on December 31st, 2015 at 3:03 pm
Note for lee_augusta – Sorry but I don’t see a link to private message you. Regarding your lists, this works for me because I can’t access them the same way as I used to. You have to go back each time you want to see your lists and click on “Home” on the top bar. From there, click on My Stuff and Lists, and you should be in.
on January 1st, 2016 at 2:24 am
KATARINA! This name is a perfect mix of vintage and modern. Kat or Katy for short is adorable.For middle names, try Riley or Sydney for something cool
on January 1st, 2016 at 7:47 pm
Before even finishing your post I was going to say Arthur. I am biased to the namr becausr my sons name is Arthur Lawrence. At first people gave me the look when I told them what I was naming hi. And a lot of that has to do with what our last name is. We have very strong Boston accents so Arthur plus last name which is common but when said with our accent people don’t understand people thought sounded funny. But now everyone loves it and now people I meet love it because its a strong, traditional, uncommon but not strange name. My # 2 suggestion would be Henry but you already have one. So my vote is for Arthur. There needs to be more Arthurs on the world
on January 1st, 2016 at 10:36 pm
I like Abby’s suggestions of Nikolai and Anton.
Ivan Lawrence and…
Nikolai Richard … or
I fear nn for a kid named Julian or even Miles.
Too likely to be called Julie or Miley.
on January 3rd, 2016 at 9:34 pm
Ivan Lawrence is lovely. How about Stanley? Stanley Richard sounds perfectly respectable – yet distinctive.
Oscar would be a great choice, too.
on January 4th, 2016 at 10:26 am
Leo seems way to popular to fit with Ivan, imho. I’d go with Anton, Nikolai, Maxim, Matvey, Pasha, Alexei, Augustin, Viktor, Lev, Roman, Savin, etc. as a Russian option. Other suggestions would be Raphael, Gregor, Raffi, Artin, Soren, Bastien, Andrei, Jericho, Caspar, Anders, Leander, Leif, Lars, Cedric, Cecil, Tristam, Thaddeus, Ozias, Boaz, Harvey, Heath, Hiram, Gawain, Abram, Bram, Roland, Edwin, Rupert, Bruno, Felix, Piers, Philip…
Name Sage: Baby Names for a Fourth Daughter – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on April 5th, 2016 at 10:40 pm
[…] latest updates? We have birth announcements for three of our past Ask the Name Sage posts! Visit A Brother for Ivan Lawrence, A Sister for Ellie, Tessa, and Drew, and A Brother for Charles Alasdair to learn the names the […]
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