Name Sage: Finding a Subtle Honor Name

Working with a love of baseball to name a baby

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

By Abby Sandel

Robin writes:

My husband Kristopher and I are expecting our second child in a few weeks. Our son’s name is Everett. We love that his name has a strong meaning, isn’t too common, but is easy recognizable.

We’re having a delivery surprise, so we need both a boy’s name and a girl’s name.

Ideally, we’d like the name to share the same characteristics as Everett’s name.

Here’s the most difficult part. We’d like to honor a loved one with the name. The names that we could use are Christopher, Dennis, and Ryan – though none of those seem quite right. Also, our loved one was a huge fan of baseball, but a lot of baseball names seem too much like Wrigley or Babe.

Any ideas? 

The Name Sage replies:

It’s always a lovely idea to use an honor name, but I do think you’re wise to look for a way to make it your child’s own.

But it does make for a puzzle, doesn’t it? We can work with Dennis, Ryan, and Christopher – though Christopher is awfully close to dad’s name, so that’s a consideration. And, of course, baseball names are a rich category.

We’re also looking for a name that:

–Has an interesting meaning, preferably a virtue or nature-inspired name.

–Like Everett, a simple name that is not too common, but easily recognizable. Everett has risen quite a bit in recnet years, and ranked Number 167 in 2014. My sense is that you’d be comfortable with something even less popular, as long as it still felt familiar.

That’s a tall order! But I think there are some great options, and I know the readers will have even more ideas.

I’ve mixed the boy and girl names together, and I think some might work for either a son or a daughter.

Tennyson – This name came to mind the second I read your letter! Tennyson is a surname name based on Dennis, via Tenney, a medieval nickname. The link isn’t immediately obvious, but it’s there. Thanks to the poet, most of us instantly recognize the name and know how to spell it. There’s also the kid-superhero Ben 10, full name is Benjamin Tennyson. 47 boys and 25 girls were given the name in 2014.

Dyson – I can’t decide if Dyson is the ultimate Dennis update, or too associated with the vacuum cleaner. Dye was another medieval nickname for Dennis, so like Tennyson, Dyson means “son of Dennis.” Dyson also sounds very current, and there were 79 boys named Dyson in 2014.

Sidney/Sydney – There’s more than one possible origin for Sidney, but a popular theory is that it comes from the place name St. Denis. (Denis is the patron saint of France; if you listen to the pronunciation in French, it makes sense.) My only hesitation? Sydney has been very popular for girls in recent years, while Sidney has been obscure for boys. So it might feel either too common or too different – though I do think it works for boys and girls.

Dion, Dione, Dionne Dennis originally comes from the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. Dion is a masculine form; Dione and Dionne, feminine. The talented singer Dionne Warwick comes to mind, as does Cher’s sidekick in Clueless, Dionne Davenport. I’m not sure that any form of this name is very current, but I do think they’re fresher than 1960s favorite Denise.

Carsten – This might be a stretch, but Christopher and Christian share similar roots, and Carsten is a German form of Christian. It’s distinct from Christopher and Kristopher, and fits in nicely with current favorites like Camden and Carter.

Mariana, Marianna, Maryanna, Marianne, Maryanne Ryan had me stumped until I thought about names that included the letters. I’m not sure if Maryanna is your style, but it does include the name Ryan – subtle, but graceful. Mariana ranked Number 331 in 2014 – the most popular of the spellings – so I think it fits your definition of familiar, but not common.

Arthur, Rex, Kingsley, Kingston Ryan means “little king.” A regal name, like Rex or Kingsley, could work. Arthur is among the most famous of kings. But have we gone too far from Ryan now? Maybe …

Fielder – Moving on to baseball! I’m not a big fan, but my friend Kelli at The Name Freak! is, and she’s got a great post about baseball-related baby names. Fielder jumped out at me. It’s a term for any defensive player, but it also has a great nature name vibe. It’s rare as a given name, but ends-in-r choices are on the rise, and I think Fielder would be easily understood.

Nolan – Another great name from baseball, thanks to Nolan Ryan. Ooh, look – baseball and Ryan! Nolan comes from an Irish surname meaning noble, so the meaning is there, too. It seems like a great option, but it is a popular one. Nolan ranked Number 81 in the US in 2014.

Robinson, Gehrig, Mattingly – The surnames of legendary players could be a great source of inspiration. I’ve met a little boy called Robinson, so that leaps out at me as very wearable – except that it might seem like an honor name for mom, not your loved one. Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig’s surname pops up on birth announcements every now and again. Mattingly is a new one for me, but Kelli mentions that it could fit with all of the Madeline/Madison/Matilda names, and be shortened to Mattie for a girl.

Catherine – Ready for the most obscure baseball reference ever? Jane Austen’s young Catherine Moreland in Northanger Abbey prefers “cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback …” It’s one of the earliest references to the sport in writing. So while plenty of fictional characters have played the baseball before and since, Catherine has a special claim.

My favorites for a brother are Tennyson and Fielder: Everett and Tennyson, Everett and Fielder. For a girl, I’m torn – though if you like the idea of Maryanne or Mariana, I think that’s a clever, subtle nod to your loved one.

What would you name a little brother or sister for Everett? Can you think of any great baseball name ideas that I’ve missed?

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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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23 Responses to “Name Sage: Finding a Subtle Honor Name”

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lesliemarion Says:

June 2nd, 2015 at 11:02 pm

I like Dennison, Denis, Denys, Denholm, Dresden, Hayden, Belden, Auden, Alden, any -den ending name to honor Dennis.

JH Says:

June 2nd, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Girl name: Kristen or Kirsten

mrsbuntain Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 12:09 am

Christmas, Crispin, Kyran, Kieran, Denver, Denise, Rain, Rylan, Rylie

Crazy4Jeter Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 12:28 am

I’m a big baseball fan, so I’ve thought a lot about baseball names! My personal favorites (and I hope to use) are Cooper, Easton, & Gehrig. Cooper after Cooperstown, NY the location of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think it would go wonderfully with Everett! Easton is in honor of the sports brand Easton which specializes in baseball equipment. It also works well with Everett, but you may not want to get stuck in an ‘E’ theme. For girls I do love the suggestion of Mattingly, especially with the popularity of Maddie/Madelyn, etc. Paige (Satchel Paige) and Ruth (Babe Ruth) are sweet. Some extra suggestions: Cy (Cy Young), Ty/Tyrus/Tyson/Tyler (Ty Cobb), Ryne (Ryne Sandburg), Wagner (Honus Wagner), Jackson (Reggie Jackson), and Cal/Calvin or Ripken (Cal Ripken, Jr.).

NameFreak! Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 2:15 am

if you want another girl baseball name (and one that is mentioned in my post Abby links to), what about Pearl? i think it’s a beautiful name, goes well with Everett and refers to a brand new baseball. kind of poetic in a way. 😉

kierawakefield Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 6:01 am

With regard to baseball names…so much of it depends on which team and players are important to you. I know a huge Cubs fan who gave his daughter the middle name of Addison because Wrigley Field is located on West Addison Street. I thought that was a clever way of working the baseball in. It could work as a boy name too.
Another baseball name I like is Brooks, for Brooks Robinson. You couldn’t get a better role model (or third baseman)! When you hear the name Brooks, you don’t automatically think, “His parents must be baseball fanatics,” which I like.
My advice would be to think of what’s meaningful to you about baseball, a team, a player, a location, a moment in history, etc. and try to work around that.

trysaratops Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:04 am

For a boy, I love the suggestion of Nolan. It fits perfectly with Everett and its a subtle way to combine Baseball and Ryan.

Some suggestions I have for girls:

Carys- To me this feels like it could be a good combination of Christopher and Dennis. It’s not too popular and has a lovely meaning.
Ana/Ann/Annabel- The “An” names could be a subtle nod to Ryan, perhaps.

Baseball inspired for girls:
May (Willy Mays)
Louise (Lou Gehrig)
Clementine (Roger Clemens)
Maris/Marisa (Roger Maris)

marisarose Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:26 am

I love the name Cooper, as a nod to Cooperstown NY, as well as having the C for Christopher. I also love a pp suggestion of Crispin for Christopher. A friend of mine gave it to her son as a middle name to honor her mother Kristine: Krispin.
However, for a girl, the first thing I thought of was Riane or Rianna, a feminine version of Ryan, but it has a different sound, so it would be a very distictly personal name.

Everett and Cooper
Everett and Crispin
Everett and Riane
Everett and Rianna

Toronto87 Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:41 am

I must prefer Fielding to Fielder. Everett and Fielding sounds very nice together.

lisaskye Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:46 am

The Name Sage wrote, “though Christopher is awfully close to dad’s name”. Um, how about it’s the exact same, just different spelling.

katelane Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:49 am

I personally love the suggestion of Fielder. I also immediately thought of the name Carys/Cerys for a girl, seconding trysaratops’ post. It has a similar sound to Christopher and with it meaning love, it seems perfectly appropriate. Working with Ryan, I think of Rhya for a girl and either Rylan or Ryland for a boy. I prefer Ryland as it sounds strong like Everett. This may be a stretch but Tristan reminds me of Christopher, as they share “rist” in common. Tristan is a name that could go for either gender, depending on your preference.

markat Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 10:40 am

I know Abner Doubleday is often credited with creating baseball…it’s a little different, but Abner could work as a baseball reference

colls39 Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I think Nolan is the perfect name in this situation. Also, Dyson is the name of a popular vacuum cleaner brand, so I’d nix that one from the list.

indiefendi2 Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 5:53 pm

My middle name is Dionne! 😀

Sylvia_rosenkrans Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Baseon/Base (rhyming with mason)


Saffron_Rice Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Ruth appears to be a perfect suggestion for a girl.

jonix Says:

June 4th, 2015 at 4:11 am

what about regan or reagan? irish spelling of ryan. everett and re(a)gan.

hlparker Says:

June 4th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

For Christopher:
Kester, Scottish varation of Christopher

For Dennis I like Dion/Dionne

For Ryan:
I think Nolan is a great suggestion
Names that link by same/similar meaning:
Reagan – for a boy or girl
Kingsley – for a boy or girl

As far as baseball names go, I can be no help there. I do like the suggestion of Fielder, though.

Lo Says:

June 4th, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Robinson is one of my favorite baseball inspired names – Jackie and Brooks.

Samnardi Says:

June 6th, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Bryanna (RYAN hidden in the middle)
Auden (DENnis at the end)
Hayden (DENnis at the end)
Arden (DENnis at the end)
Jaden (DENnis at the end)
Diamond (Baseball field)
Alley (Space between leftfielder and centerfielder)

Bryan (RYAN at the end)
Braden (DENnis at the end)
Jayden (DENnis at the end)
Caden (DENnis at the end)
Aiden (DENnis at the end)
Madden (DENnis at the end)
Christian (CHRISTopher in the beginning, ryAN at the end)
Emitt (Mitt for baseball)
Parker (Park for ballpark)

abbylily Says:

June 8th, 2015 at 4:40 pm

How about going with Christopher but using the name ‘Kitt’ everyday?
I like the sound of Kitt & Everett.

margaret_louise Says:

June 24th, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I like:

Cooper – after Cooperstown, NY the location of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Emitt – baseball mitt
Parker – ballpark
Chipper – Chipper Jones
Brooks – Brooks – Robinson
Rogers – Rogers Hornsby
Ranger – Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is home field for the Texas Rangers.
Turner – Turner Field is home of the Atlanta Braves and named after the team’s former owner, Ted Turner.
Ace – The best starting pitcher of a team is called the team’s ace.
Homer – A homer is a nickname for a home run.

Jackie – Jackie Robinson, whose real name was Jack (which is way too common), comes to mind, but I think Jackie could work well for a girl.
Louise / Louisa – Lou Gehrig
Ryann / Ryanne
Christine / Christina – similar to Christopher; nn Chris, Chrissy, Tina
Annie – Annies are what baseball players call their groupies. In the baseball movie Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon’s character was named Annie because of this reference.
Pearl – A pearl is a brand new white baseball.

Addison – Wrigley Field is located on West Addison Street
Shea – Shea Stadium was the home field for the New York Mets from 1964-2008.

(some borrowed from other commenters / the other blog post referenced)

Nikkiscott Says:

August 11th, 2015 at 1:07 am

I love the name Rylan (could work for a boy or girl imo!) to honor ryan
Cooper is wonderful too
Easton, Brooklyn, Angel, Ace, Grand, & Homer are all baseball related names!
The guy that wrote “take me out to the ball game” was named Jack Norworth (named John Godfrey at birth) jack or Jackie could work

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