Menu

Is Any Name Better than Theodore?

April 26, 2016 Abby Sandel

They’ve always wanted to name a son Theodore, but now a friend has used it first. Should they forge ahead or search for a replacement boys’ name? The Name Sage ponders.

Kate writes:

My husband and I are having our first child, a little boy. We are over the moon! Before we were even married, we spoke about possible baby names. For girls, we love Adeline and Cecelia, but for little boys it’s always just been Theodore Thomas.

We love Theodore for several reasons. It’s an older name, Teddy and Theo are great nicknames, and it goes well with our very common last name – one that at least a dozen famous people or historical figures have! (That rules out a lot of names for us.)

Thomas is a family name. Other family names we might use are James and Patrick.

Here’s the problem: a year ago a friend within our circle had a son and named him Theodore. Although they currently live out of state and we see them once or twice a year, it still is bothersome to me.

My husband and I keep trying to come up with names we love as much but so far nothing compares.

We have discussed Arlo (my husband really likes named that end with o), Everett, Xavier, Harrison, and Truman. (Except our last name is common and a presidential surname already, so this might be too much.)

We both agree that if we cannot come up with something we love as strongly as Theodore, we will go with it. But with that said, do you have any additional suggestions?

The Name Sage replies:

First, let me say thank you for not being indignant that your friend used Theodore. As you know, it’s a great choice, and there’s no rule that says two boys whose parents know each other can’t have the same name. The approach you’re taking – testing out another names to see if anything can bump Theodore from the top spot on your shortlist – is exactly right.

And I do feel like Theodore is likely the name for you. It checks all of the boxes. It’s a traditional, established name that also gives you the upbeat o-ending Theo and sweet Teddy as nicknames.

Harrison almost works. If you’re not wild about Harry, you might use Hank or Hal. And Arlo is every bit as energetic as Theo, but lacks an obvious formal name.

Let’s take a look at some options that combine formal, traditional boys’ names with fun, current nickname possibilities, and see if any of these can replace Theodore Thomas.

Charles, nickname Charlie – There’s no easy o-ending nickname for Charles, but Charlie has the same friendly, accessible vibe as Theo. Now, the bad news: I counted at least three dozen distinguished men with a similar first-last combination, including Charles Addams, the creator of The Addams Family. So that’s a strike against Charlie, but I still think it’s worth consideration.

Alexander, nickname Alex, Xander, or Xan – Here’s a surprise. Despite Alexander being much more popular than Charles at the moment, there are many fewer famous Alexanders with your surname. I found a college basketball coach from the 1970s and a character on a British medical drama, both called Alex. Xander and Xan make the first-last combination even more rare.

Jonathan, nickname Jono, Jon, Jack, Nat, or Nate Jonathan is a longer name rich with potential nicknames. Jon is the default, but far from the only option.

Nicholas, called Nico Nicholas was a very popular name in the 1990s, but most of those boys are just Nick. Nico is on the rise now, a cool and edgy possibility that is sometimes heard for girls, too.

August, nickname Gus August feels like a modern word name, but it traces its history all the way back to the Roman Empire. I think you might like the alliteration of August and your surname, and the nickname Gus has the same approachable feel as Teddy.

Donovan, nickname Van – While the names on your shortlist all have some history, Xavier and Everett are currently at their most popular – ever! That makes me wonder if you would consider other names that feel more modern. Irish surname Donovan feels like a great possibility, and it comes with built-in nickname Van.

Dashiell, nickname Dash Dashiell is a literary name that remains rare in 2016, but it is definitely catching on. Dash Parr – the lightning fast superhero from The Incredibles family – is one famous Dashiell/Dash. Because the name has never been common, it works well with a more popular surname.

Dexter Everett and Xavier make me think of Dexter. There’s no o-ending nickname option, but Dex has plenty of style. Like Dashiell and Donovan, it has history without being so common that it fades into your familiar surname.

I could go on! There are dozens of names that have history and come with great nicknames, but are relatively underused. And yet, I’m still struggling to like any of these as much as Theodore.

Because of that, let’s have a poll at the bottom of the post. Is Theodore Thomas still the best name, or is it better to move on?

Readers, what ideas do you have for Kate and her husband? And please vote!

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

Comments

24 Responses to “Is Any Name Better than Theodore?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.