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Name Sage: Finding a Dutch English Compromise for a Son

Name Sage: Finding a Dutch English Compromise for a Son
Westen’s little brother is here – and nameless! Should he be Silas or Willas? And if not one of those names, what works in Dutch as well as English – and goes with big brother Wes?
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Marli writes:

 We welcomed our delightful, feisty little guy three weeks ago - but he’s still nameless!

My husband and I both like the name Silas. It seems to suit our little man and also goes well with his brother’s name Westen (Wes/Westie). And it works in Dutch & English - a prerequisite!

However, my husband, whose name is Simon, attaches a lot more value to shortened versions of names than I do. He can’t get past the idea his little guy would also be Si. I like the (coincidental) connection to their names, and find it endearing: Big Si, Little Si.

And little guy’s short name does not have to be Si. It could form over time.

Second runner up is Willas, which I came up with myself after I thought Silas was out. Willas has a wink to Simon’s adopted grandad Wilfred, who turns 100 this year. But as much as I try, I can’t seem to fall in love with it, especially not with the shortened version - Will. But now Simon has.

We’re stuck!

What should we do? Forget about both names, or try and overcome our doubts about one of the names? Draw from a hat?

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The Name Sage responds:

Westen and Silas do sound perfect together, and the same is true for Wes and Si. I’d vote for Simon/Silas’s shared nickname to be a sweet coincidence. But it’s not clear your husband will agree!

Willas-called-Will benefits from the connection to your beloved Wilfred. But it’s still your second-choice name, which makes it hard to swap Silas for Willas.

Let’s move forward as if both Silas and Willas are off the table. Because maybe there is another name out there that works in Dutch and English and pleases you both.

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DUTCH/ENGLISH NAMES FOR WESTEN’S BROTHER

BRAM

It’s been big in the Netherlands for years, but remains rare in the English-speaking world. While it’s short for Abram or Abraham, I think just Bram feels like a better fit with Westen.

BOAZ

Again, Boaz is riding high with Dutch speakers. And while it’s pretty rare elsewhere in the world, it’s not unknown. After all, it’s an Old Testament name with a great meaning – swiftness. And talk about a great nickname! It shortens to the friendly, accessible Bo.

JONAS

Since you both like Silas and Willas, it’s tempting to stick with other names ending in s. Jonas comes with so many nickname options – Jo/e, Joey, Jon, Jono … maybe Jos or Joop? Joris could work, too, though I think Jonas bridges the Dutch/English divide more easily.

MILAN

Common across much of Europe, and familiar in the US and UK, too, Milan might be an interesting option. Mil doesn’t seem like much of a nickname, but both Mills and Miles do.

OTIS

Another name ending with s, Otis is cousin to Otto and many a related name. (Think Udo and Odette.) Otis feels equally accessible in English and Dutch, and the idea of shortening this name to just O is fun, too. 

ROAN or ROWAN

They’re not the same name. Roan means raven, while Rowan refers to the tree – or the Irish name meaning red. But they’re close, which suggests that they’d work across languages. Just like Bo is a killer nickname for Boaz, Ro works beautifully for Roan/Rowan.

STEFAN

Sticking with S names for a minute, would Stefan appeal? It’s a rock solid classic of a name, and Stefan feels like the pan-European equivalent of the English Steven/Stephen. Wes and Stef work nicely. Though maybe something so traditional isn’t quite your vibe?

TYCHO

A great brother name for Wes? Ty! While you might use Tyson or Tyler, I think Tycho – as in the legendary Danish astronomer – has more potential. Tycho Brahe was born Tyge; I understand the Dutch version is Tygo. But since you’re bridging two cultures, I wonder if the international renown of the scientist might make Tycho a rare, but accessible, option.

I’m sure there will be more great suggestions on the forums. Hopefully, one of these names strikes you both as the best choice, over both Silas and Willas.

And if that doesn’t happen?

Your suggestion of drawing from a hat strikes a chord – it’s the way my own grandmother resolved my father’s name many years ago!

I do think a different nickname for Silas might be the best place to start. Sly? That’s still close to Si. Woody, maybe? After all, Silas means forest. A general nickname name, like Sonny, could be perfect. His initials or middle name might be a source of inspiration, too.

In fact, if you can compromise on Silas’ nickname? You might not need that list at all!

Readers, how did you choose between two final favorites? And do you have any thoughts on the best Dutch/English names for boys? Share them in the forums here!

About the Author

Abby Sandel

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.

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