Name Sage: Honoring Grandma Elaine

Name Sage: Honoring Grandma Elaine

Aviva writes:

I’m expecting my first child. I was very close to my grandmother Elaine, who passed away, so I’d like to name my son after her. 

For his first name, I’ve thought of Laine or Lane. Is there anything else I’m missing? 

I’m leaning toward Laine right now but don’t know if I’m overly complicating his life with that spelling. What are your thoughts? 

I’m not really sure about a middle name at all except that I would want something more traditional to offset the potential Laine/Lane. 

Thanks for any insight!

The Name Sage replies:

Naming your son Lane/Laine to honor your grandmother Elaine is perfect. The names feel closely connected, and yet completely separate.

While it’s not exactly traditional, Lane is solidly established as a boy’s name. 

It’s ranked in the US Top 1000 every year since 1932 (and a handful of years before that). In fact, Lane generally charts in or around the US Top 300 - and has for the entire twenty-first century. 

Spell it Laine, though, and the picture is slightly different. In 2020, 111 girls and 99 boys were named Laine. It’s unisex and relatively uncommon. (For comparison, 1,360 boys were named Lane, along with 103 girl Lanes, in that same year.)

When in doubt, my advice is to choose the dominant spelling. While it’s not a guarantee, generally speaking, it’s easier to go through life as Molly rather than Mollie, Jordan instead of Jordin. 

That doesn’t mean that Laine will cause your son problems. If keeping his name as close to Elaine as possible matters most, then chances are you won’t mind spelling and repeating it. (In fact, you might enjoy the opportunity to explain that he’s named for your beloved grandmother.)

But before we settle on Lane or Laine, let’s think creatively about other Elaine-adjacent names for your son.

I’m guessing you’ve ruled out other options, like family surnames or her middle name? It might be worth exploring those possibilities, too.

Based on the name Elaine, here are some thoughts.


Flip around some of the sounds and letters, and Alan almost sounds like a softer take on Elaine. The names aren’t technically related, but the sounds could work.


The name Elaine emerged through the legends of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. While the Elaines - there are several! - tend to have more to do with Lancelot’s story, Arthur seems like a nod to the whole literary, legendary origin.


Lane/Laine comes from dropping the first part of the name. Reverse it, and you could have Eli instead.


Names beginning with Eli are plentiful. Elian, especially, seems like a near-anagram of Elaine. 


Drop the El, mix up the vowel sounds, and you’ll arrive at Ian. 


Elaine comes from Helen, and Helen means shining light. Boys’ names like Lucian and Lux, or even Luke, all share a similar meaning. 


Tennyson’s version of the Arthurian legends introduced the name Elaine into English. That might make this even more of a stretch than Arthur, but it’s a handsome, unexpected possibility for a son.

Overall, I don’t think anything beats Lane. It’s brief, established, and clearly connected to your grandmother’s memory. If ease of wear matters most, then Lane is the better spelling. If you're eager to emphasize the name's connection to your beloved grandmother, Laine works, too.

But it’s certainly not the only choice, and some of these might make excellent middle name possibilities.

Readers, please visit the forums to weigh in on this question! How would you honor grandma Elaine with her grandson's name? And what do you think of Lane versus Laine?