Name Sage: A Name as Distinctive as Dougray

When your first child's name is a standout, what do you name his brother or sister?

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Cate writes:

My husband and I are currently expecting our second child, due on January 1st. We have decided not to find out the sex, which, although special, is making deciding on a name twice as difficult.

Our son’s name is Dougray Dawson, but he goes by Gray primarily. I absolutely adore his name. It’s unique and meaningful – Dougray is after my father, Douglas, and Dawson is after my father-in-law, David – but also familiar because of his nickname.

Finding another name we love as much as Gray‘s is proving to be difficult. We like Miriam Jude for a girl and Thaddeus Boston for a boy, but aren’t 100% sold and stumped for other options.

Some family names include: Donald, Matthew, Edward, Dorothy, Marjorie, Anne, and Judith.

We’re both runners, so I liked the idea of connecting that to the name: Miles, Dashiell (Dash), Jethro (Jett), and Boston.

I want to find a name that has the same “feel” as Dougray, and I’m not sure if we’ve discovered the perfect name. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

Thank you so much! 

The Name Sage replies:

I think Miriam Jude and Thaddeus Boston are great names! I especially love the way you’ve chosen meaningful middles that tie to your family, as well as things that you value as a couple.

But if you’re not absolutely sold on your top names, I do think working through more ideas is a great approach. Either you’ll have a eureka moment and find a name you love more – or you’ll realize, like Dorothy in Oz, that you had the answer all along!

Dougray is an interesting name to match. It’s originally a surname, made more familiar by actor Dougray Scott. (It was his grandmother’s last name.) It’s also very, very rare. Nearly any name that you give to a second child will be more common!

And yet, you’re quite right that nickname Gray makes the name feel accessible and more familiar.

Based on the names that you like, I think we’re look for something that feels unexpected but vintage, has ties to a family name or to running – or both, and possibly shortens to a nickname for everyday use.

I’ll start with my suggestions, and I know our readers will have some great ideas, too!

Donovan Dashiell, called VanDonovan is one of my favorite ways to update Donald, and I think Dougray and Donovan, Gray and Van, make great brother names. One hesitation? They’d share the same initials, which could feel like a pattern if you’re hoping for more children. Donovan Miles is another combination that sidesteps that problem. Donovan is more common than Dougray – over 1,200 boys were given the name in 2014 – but it still hits the right note.

Dashiell Warden, called DashDashiell seems like a great name in the first spot, too, especially with easy nickname Dash. Warden is a spin on Edward, though it’s pretty rare. Other Edward-inspired names include Edison or maybe Edmond.

Matteo Boston, called Teo – There are plenty of forms of Matthew to consider. Matteo is one of my favorites, but I’m never sure how to pronounce Teo. It could rhyme with Leo or with mayo – and chances are that you would hear both.

Matthias Donal, called Ty – Let’s try another spin on Matthew. Matthias reminds me of Thaddeus. Donal is an Irish form of Donald that seems fresh and surprising as a middle name.

Judah Anthony, called Jude – We name boys after men, and girls after men, but it’s much less common to name our sons after our aunts and grandmothers. But it can work beautifully. Judith could inspire a boy named Jude, and while it’s a stretch, Anthony incorporate the sound of Anne. Jude and Judah are more popular than Gray and Dougray, but I think it’s a style match – especially brothers called Gray and Jude.

Moving on to the girls:

Thora Jude Dorothy can be re-arranged to become Theodora. Drop a few letters from Theodora, and you’ll have Thora. Thora shares the ‘th’ of Thaddeus. It’s another unusual name, and a strong one, too, just like Miriam. One possible drawback: no easy nicknames. Of course, you could also name a daughter Theodora and call her Thora – or Thea!

Annika Dashiell – There are countless elaborations of Anne, so if this is a family name, it’s worth considering which ones might appeal. Dashiell is originally a French surname – just like Dougray. And while it is almost exclusively used for boys, it could make a great running-related middle name for a daughter, too.

Marjorie Jude, called Rory – If you like Miriam, I wonder if family name Marjorie appeals? It’s recently re-entered the girls’ Top 1000 in the US, but remains pretty unusual. Fewer than 400 girls were given the name in all of 2014. Like Dougray, Marjorie offers a modern, accessible nickname possibility – Rory.

Davina Jett or Jette – Would you considering using another David-inspired name, or is that too much after giving your firstborn the middle name Dawson? I mention it because I think Davina is exactly the kind of name that might appeal to you. It feels vintage, but very wearable. I wouldn’t use the middle name Jethro for a girl, but Jett and Jette have potential. Jette – pronounced Jetta – is a Dutch nickname for girls’ names ending in –ette.

Edith, Edie, or Eden Pearl – I think Eden might be a little too popular for you, but Edith and Edie are far more rare. Any name starting with Ed– might be a good way to reinvent family name Edward. As for Pearl, Marjorie is the medieval English form of Margaret – which comes from the Greek word for pearl, margarites.

My favorite from the girls’ list is still your original suggestion of Miriam Jude, with nicknames Mimi or Miri, but I’d list Edith Pearl as a close second. For boys, I’m a little more divided, but I think Dashiell is too good to pass up! Donovan Dashiell is one of my favorites, though I do think that Dashiell makes a great first name, too.

Readers, what would you suggest to Cate and her husband? Or should they stick with Miriam Jude and Thaddeus Boston?

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About the author


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
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15 Responses to “Name Sage: A Name as Distinctive as Dougray”

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jtucker Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 5:56 am

Of the names suggested by the Name Sage, I would say that I think that Dashiell Warden is a great choice for a boy. Dash and Gray sound nice together. For the girls, I like Thora Jude or Annika Jude.

Other suggestions

tori101 Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 2:18 pm

I love Miriam Jude & Matteo Boston but prefer the nickname Matty rather than Teo.

leighmiller Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 2:28 pm

My favorite boy name from the options is definitely Thaddeus. It’s my husband’s name and he gets so many compliments on it. I think it’s also quite rare (he’s the only one I’ve ever met!). Gray and Thad go well together as brothers, as do the more formal Dougray and Thaddeus. For middles, I do not like Boston at all (sorry!). Thaddeus Miles is really great though. That would be my pick.

For girls, I’m not a big fan of Miriam, though it does sound more modern when paired with Jude. I would pick Thora Jude or Thea Jude or even Althea Jude. All sound lovely with Dougray/Gray and have a similar style to Miriam, IMO.

Good luck!

ashbee Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 6:11 pm

I think Miriam Jude is stunning! Thaddeus is cool, too. I love all of Abby’s suggestions: Edith is a great tribute to Edward, Annika for Anne, Thea for Dorothy, Marjory/Pearl, and Donal for Donald.

I was also going to suggest Louisa.
Louisa Margot
Louisa Jude

Other possibilities:
Margot Delphine
Thea Miriam
Milo Donovan
Milo Donal
Harriet/Henrietta (Hattie)

Rhii Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 10:05 pm

I love Theodora or Theodosia to honor a Dorothy.

I’d pronounce Teo to rhyme with Mayo and I like it very much.

EmmyBlue Says:

December 9th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Eddard Miles or Dashiell Eddard
Margery Jude or Theda Marjorie

lesliemarion Says:

December 10th, 2015 at 1:35 am

Dougray is a wonderful name, and I love Thaddeus Boston too. I like Miriam, though I do prefer Jude on males.

Some twists on your male family names for middles could be McDonald for Donald, Matthias for Matthew, or Edmund, Edwin, or Edgar for the more familiar Edward.

For girls’ middles, I love Dorothy, Marjorie, Anne, and Judith — actually as firsts or seconds. Marjorie seems powerful to me: Dougray and Marjorie.

But since you say you are not 100% sold on your current name fancies, here are some names that I think sound good with Dougray:

Kenelm (Elm)
Tarquin (Tark)
Reginald (Reg)
Barnaby (Barn)
Cordovan (Cord or Van)
Taliesin (Tally)
Concord (Cord)
Marlowe (Lowe)
Alaric (Rico)
Fenton (Fen)
Winston (Win)
Davenport (Port)
Galen (Len)
Dresden (Den)
Quincy (Quince)
Zebulon (Zeb)
November (Ember or Emory)
December (Emory or Desi)
Grover (Grove)

Good Luck!

Haids1987 Says:

December 10th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I think that Edie Pearl is very sweet for a baby girl. It’s unique and it honors your family. I’m sorry, but I really don’t like Thora–all I can think about is the actress Thora Birch.

lesliemarion Says:

December 10th, 2015 at 8:45 pm

I thought of a handful more boys’ names that I like with the distinctive Dougray.

Dougray and Eames
Dougray and Valerian (Val)
Dougray and Calendar (Cal, Len, Lundy, Dario)
Dougray and Rutherford/Bedford/Whitford (Ford)
Dougray and Rockwell/Bramwell/Maxwell (Rock/Bram/Wells/Welby)

mulme944 Says:

December 10th, 2015 at 10:44 pm

I love Theodora (Thora or Theda) and Dashiell (Dash.) They go so well with Dougray.

mulme944 Says:

December 10th, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Here are some new suggestions :


MaryKathryn Says:

December 11th, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I have no officially fallen in love with using the full name Matthias and using Ty and the nickname. Thank you Name Sage.

MaryKathryn Says:

December 11th, 2015 at 4:45 pm


lizway Says:

December 14th, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I personally don’t like Theodora as much as I like Theodosia, and that could easilygo back to Thora. (Thoria sounds kind of weird though.)

ATM814 Says:

August 1st, 2016 at 10:24 pm

My sister is a Miriam and she loves her name. We have always lovingly called her MiMi, but she goes by Miriam.

When I read Dougray, I immediately thought Everett would be a good brother name. Cornelius is also distinctive.

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