Menu

Name Sage: How About Ambrose?

Name Sage: How About Ambrose?

Brandi writes:

With my son I knew his name years before he was born, it was always going to be Henry Nolan.

I also thought he'd be my only child.

Surprise! I'm 38 and pregnant!

I really love the way an old-fashioned, tried and true, name sits with a fresh, more modern, name but I really dislike trendy names. Funnily, Henry was named way back in 2008 and born in 2015, almost as if I predicted how popular the name might become. 

If this child is a girl, she'll be Marigold Frances or possibly Margot Pepper. Still trying to sell my husband on the second one!

And if the baby is destined to be male ... I'm stuck. I really love the name Ambrose but it's SO heavy with every combination I've tried. So far Charles Ambrose is the winner but I'd like to see Ambrose as the first name.

The other issue is our last name. It sounds like "aught-well." It's very hard to find something that doesn't clash.

If Ambrose as a first name isn't meant to be, I'll accept defeat and move on to another but I'm hoping you'll save the name for us!

The Name Sage replies:

Let's talk about Ambrose.

First, it's a great name. I happen to know a toddler Ambrose, and as soon as you hear it on an adorable kiddo? It's perfect!

But make no mistake: it's a daring choice.

Henry ranked in the US Top 25 into the 1930s. It never left the US Top 150. And you're right - you chose the name just as it was coming back into favor. That makes Henry tried and true ... but also trending.

In many ways, Ambrose follows a similar pattern. More popular in the late nineteenth century, Ambrose fell out of favor by the middle of the 1900s. And it's early stage revival now, currently ranked Number 821 in the US.

So it could be perfect.

Except ...

Ambrose was never anywhere near as popular as Henry. That means many fewer of us have uncles or grandfathers with the name. We don't hear it in as many stories. Unlike Henry, odds are that you won't run across an Ambrose on every other page of a history book.

It is a trending favorite on Nameberry, where it currently ranks in the Top 100.

But remember: those are names future parents are considering. Not names that they'll necessarily use.

I'm a huge fan of reviving antique names for our sons. They're instantly recognized, but seldom shared. We know they'll age well! And the signs suggest that your Ambrose might be at the beginning of the name's revival ... meaning that you could meet a few more in future years.

That said, Ambrose Aught-Well does sound a little bit like a new character in the next Downton Abbey movie.

I agree that a modern middle might help a lot.

Would you consider:

Ambrose Bennett Aught-well

Ambrose Hayes Aught-well

Ambrose Jordan Aught-well

Ambrose Luca Aught-well

Ambrose Rowan Aught-well

Ambrose Sullivan Aught-well

But if none of these combinations helps, I wonder if Ambrose feels just slightly too daring? Other classic boys' names pair well with Henry, but aren't quite as unexpected.

NAMES for HENRY'S BROTHER

ARTHUR

A regal classic, just like Henry.

CALVIN

Easy nickname Cal and the cool middle V are helping Calvin trend back into favor.

FELIX

A quirky classic with millennia of use, just like Ambrose.

LOUIS

Pronounce it with the 's' and Louis shares Ambrose's sound. But I think Louie sounds amazing with Aught-well.

PETER

One of those classic names everyone knows, but no one is choosing.

ROBERT

A former Number One name from the 1920s and 30s, Robert is instantly familiar, but not terribly popular. Nicknames Robbie and Rob, though, keep it very wearable.

SIMON

Simon just plain sounds smart.

XAVIER

A cool classic, Xavier's sound is unforgettable - and stands up nicely to Aught-well.

If you're uncertain about Ambrose as a first name, I'd suggest Felix Ambrose as a substitute.

But if you're willing to go big with Ambrose - knowing you might encounter a few surprised looks - then Ambrose Hayes gets my vote.

Please visit our forums to weigh in on Brandi's decision: is Ambrose ready for revival?

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.