Name Sage: On first-last name harmony

Is Silas Smith too much hiss? What should they choose instead?

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

They love Silas, but their last name sounds like Smith. Try saying that five times fast! How much does first-last name harmony matter? If Silas is off the table, which names should they consider instead?

Shanda writes:

We love the name Silas for our baby coming in June. However, our one-syllable last name begins with an S. So if we were to choose Silas, his full name certainly wouldn’t roll off the tongue.

My husband thinks this doesn’t matter that much as his full name will be reserved for formal situations – or when he’s really in trouble!

We’ve also considered Asher, Alder, Humphrey, Beckett, Remy, and Jonah. My husband loves the idea of Ezekiel, nicknamed Kiel for the German city. I just don’t love Ezekiel. None of these have really stuck.

How much should the appeal of a full name factor?

The Name Sage replies:

My rule of thumb is this: a middle name can be a mismatch when it has meaning. Henry Harvey Smith isn’t great, but 99% of the time, he’s just Henry (or Harry or Hank or Henry H.) Smith. So if Harvey is your beloved grandfather’s name, it’s still the right choice as a middle name.

But you do hear and say your first and last names together an awful lot. Not as a young child necessarily, but I introduce myself as Abby Sandel routinely.

First-Middle harmony can be overlooked, but First-Last harmony matters.

The question, then, is whether a combination like Silas Smith is a dealbreaker. It’s not the first S that gives me pause – it’s the second. The repeating ‘s’ sounds in Miles Smith or James Smith can be tongue twisters, too.

I don’t think the hiss of Silas Smith is impossible. It’s just not ideal, and makes me think that we should brainstorm more names that are like Silas – but don’t end with ‘s’.

Let’s brainstorm some more names.

Bennett – If Beckett is almost, but not quite, maybe Bennett is better? It shortens to nickname Ben, just like traditional Benjamin, but is a little less expected.

Emmett – Another –ett ending name, Emmett strikes me as a brother for Silas, or in this case, a good substitute.

Archer Asher and Alder remind me of Archer. It’s less common than Asher, more familiar than Alder, and has some good nickname options.

Walton – There’s something gentle about Walton, but it’s still a solid name for a son. And while the two-syllable, ends-in-n pattern is very common for boys’ names today, Walton doesn’t even chart in the US Top 1000.

Kiel – Or maybe, if your husband loves Kiel and you’re on board with the idea, you just use Kiel? Conventional wisdom is that a short surname needs a longer first name. I’m not sure that’s always the case. If you’re after something unconventional, but rich with meaning, Kiel – just Kiel – seems like an option.

CarstenPicking up on the German theme, how about Carsten? It’s a German form of Christian, rare, but not unknown, in the US.

Calder – Take Cartsen’s C, add it to Alder, and you’ll arrive at Calder. It’s a surname name with ties to the worlds of ice hockey and the arts. It shortens nicely to Cal.

Eben – We started with Bennett, so let’s end with Eben. Eben sounds like Ethan with a b instead of a th; it’s a Biblical name that’s rare in the US, but certainly not unknown.

Overall, I love Calder for you – it’s close to Alder, but adding the C leads to nickname option Cal. And Bennett seems like a great alternative to Beckett.

Let’s end with a poll: should they keep looking for a name that doesn’t end with S? Or is Silas the name to use? More substitutes for Silas are welcome in the comments, too!

Should they use Silas with their S-surname, or choose another name?

  1. AChoose another name! Silas S. is too much together.
  2. BIt's not ideal, but if you love Silas, go for it!
  3. CUse Silas! There's nothing wrong with the s-S sound.
Show current results

Current Results:

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required
Abby Berry Juice default profile image

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
View all of Abby's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers


22 Responses to “Name Sage: On first-last name harmony”

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

ellaborg Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 12:14 am

I’ve never been a huge Silas fan but I do love the name Cecil. Kind of the same sounds but in a different order:)

Namecat Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 6:12 am

I like the name Silas but with Smith it doesn’t work. Your son will be Sila Smith or Silas Mith…. If people understand his name at all. In other words, there are some names that bleed together where the two names are still intelligible – as usually happens with back-to-back hard sounds like P or Ck. But Silas Smith sounds like you are mumbling no matter how hard you try!. Also, immature friends might notice that the word a$s being spelled when the name is written.

jrocky Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 10:54 am

Ending the first name and beginning the last name with the same letter can sound a bit confusing. Kiel is brilliant and strong—I think that is a wonderful choice!

CrystalTips Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 10:59 am

Just wanted to say that if you both love Silas, honestly I’d go for it. There doesn’t seem to be much difference to me between say Silas Smith and James Smith – and whilst I suppose the second ‘s’ sound isn’t ideal, I really don’t think I’d let it put me off using my favourite name.

Eizariya Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 11:52 am

I’m with Namecat. The last sound of the first name blending with the first sound of the last name seems like a deal breaker, especially for less common names.

What about Simon?

grantairebear Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 11:56 am

I think if you both love Silas, you should go for it. Especially if he has an unexpected middle name. That way he could use the middle initial to break it up – Silas J. Smith, Silas K. Smith etc. I’d just be wary about immature reactions (Silas A. Smith for example highlights the a$s thing) and Initial Spellings (SASS, SMS, SOS). From your list, I really like Silas Jonah Smith, Silas Beckett Smith and Silas Kiel Smith.

I predict a lot of alternative names being thrown your way so I’ll try and stick to variations on your favourite to maybe find a “close enough” substitute if you decide to veto Silas.

Spelling variation Cylas avoids the first ‘S’ problem but keeps the second ‘s’ sound where the hiss is more prominent. Samuel Smith works a lot better than James Smith for example. How would you then feel about altering the ending? Silas variation Silo/Sylo could be a good substitute. Silo Smith and Sylo Smith both work. Or alternatively, you could keep Silas Smith and use Si/Silo as a nickname. The ‘o’ ending keeps it on trend with other ‘s’ names turned ‘o’ like Milo. You could even take it a step further to Siley (rhyming with Riley). However, whilst Silo/Sylo has a history in romantic language countries, Siley is definitely a made up nickname. That doesn’t make it any less valid though.

Silvius seems to be the latin variation of Silas. With that in mind, there are a range of names you could choose from: Silvain, Silvio, Sylvain, Sylvan, Sylvester and Selwyn all seem like a reasonable step from Silas. Particularly Silvain and Silvio.

Failing that, if it is the meaning of Silas you like, how about a link that way? Silas means “wood, forest”. Forrest/Forest keeps the sibilant sound of Silas but takes the ‘tt’ ending from Beckett. Forester is a variation. Sawyer keeps the ‘S’ initial but has a totally unexpected ending.

Again, if Silas is the one, I’d vote that you go for it. Out of the variations I could find, I definitely like Silo/Sylo Smith and Silvio Smith as a runner up.

I hope I could help.

LoveBugsMama Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 12:10 pm

If Silas is what you love, I’d say go for it.

Sweetchariot Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I vote for Silas because you love it. If there’s still doubt, I suggest Solomon. Instead of Ezekiel, what about Ezra? Do you like Ansel?

AshleyLouisa Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I don’t mind Silas Smith – however, as someone else pointed out the a followed by the s s is bothersome. I would also avoid Emmett – too close to the football player. There’s already been lots of other great suggestions given! Not sure if this one has been suggested but Milo Smith sounds great.

Waverly123 Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 3:17 pm

How about Adler? Similar to Alder, but a bit different, maybe different enough to love?
Silas – makes me think of these names: Bruno, Dean, Xander / Xavier, Zacharias, Victor, Arlo, Atticus, Theo, Finn, Elijah, Jasper, Felix, Milo, Oscar, Ezra, Gideon & Declan.

chi1127 Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Just throwing out some more possibilities for you. Please excuse repeats.

Ezra, Eli, Isaac, Sinclair, Simon, Simeon, Alonso/Alonzo, Axel, Milo, Alistair, Lysander, Riley, Saul, Tristan, Caspar, Silvan, Silvio

JaguarQueen Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I agree with grantairebear. There are a lot of great nicknames and variations you could use instead. I personally am okay with the s s pattern. If you love Silas, go for it.

catcher5 Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 5:08 pm

If you really really really love Silas then use it. But use it knowing that the double ‘s’ is going to be “a thing” for the kid’s whole life. My first name ends in ‘L’ and my maiden name started with ‘L’. It was troublesome. Not impossible. But annoying enough that whenever I had to introduce myself, or check in for an appointment or any other situation where full names are used, it always went like this “first name…….LONG pause……last name.” And even then, people got it wrong by either cutting the ‘L’ off the end of the first name or cutting it off the beginning of the last name. Needless to say, although I love my maiden name, I am happy that my married name starts with a different letter. 🙂

SparkleNinja18 Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 9:34 pm

Last names are often used during childhood. I recall using them when I reached middle school because at that point there was 150 people I could potentially associate with rather than maybe 30. Silas Smith isn’t ideal and could be a deal breaker. However, I’ve known a Taylor T@bor and a Michaela McC@be so a similar last name hasn’t bothered people in the past. I love the suggestion of Calder though. I think it works wonderfully! Also love just Kiel. Good luck!

lesliemarion Says:

May 18th, 2016 at 10:31 pm

I love the name Silas Smith.

But I do think he might go through life saying his name to people and them saying, “Sila Smith?” or “Silas Mith?”

A friend of mine is named Reid D—– and another is Michael L—-. With Michael the end and beginning L sounds haven’t mattered b/c Michael is so common a name, but poor Reid has spent his life explaining over the phone that his name is not “Ree” D—.

tfzolghadr Says:

May 19th, 2016 at 9:08 am

I don’t agree with pps who said “If you love it, use it.” You may love it, but you’re not naming yourself. This name is the first gift you are giving to your son, and one that will probably follow him his entire life. Why settle for something less than ideal? Silas Smith is going to become Sila Smith or Silas Mith. Add to it the little kid accent or if he has a speech impediment… bad idea.

I’m actually overjoyed to see this post. Parents are always asking for naming advice, but neglecting that the surname can really make or break the perfect name. Not only are the sounds in the surname important, but also the style. So many of my favorite boys’ names (which are truly perfect for us) just don’t work with our surname. Cyrus, Darius, Clarence, Lorenzo, Eliezer, Casper, Elias, Lewis, Lawrence, Tobias, Anders, Lars, Amos, Teague, Jasper, etc. don’t work with our exotic Z-r surname. It’s sad, but it also helps to narrow things down. The great part about Smith is that you can truly be daring with the first name, and your surname doesn’t really have a clear style. Except for 1 syllable names and names ending with an s/z/th almost everything sounds good!

I love the suggestions of Eben, Bennett, and Kiel…

-Asher- Archer, Wilder, Booker, Bridger, Ezra, Ephraim, Eliezer, Ledger, Corin, Corbin, Soren, Stanton, Eli, Oliver, Tolliver, Arthur, Ryker, Ryder, Lysander, Leander, Sayer, Thatcher, Tucker, Sawyer, Porter, Parker, Cooper, Topher, Ashby,
-Alder- Connelly, Merrit, Connall, Kiefer, Callister, Evander, Fisher, Fraser, Fletcher, Gregor, Ivor, Keller, Ranger, Rainier, Lancaster, Allister, Sequoia, Palmer, Walden, Wheeler, Walker, Whittaker, Walter, Arden, Alden, Holden
-Humphrey- Hugh, Desmond, Neville, Edmund, Rupert, Ned, Eber, Heber, Hiram, Irving, Nigel, Grover, Roland, Barnaby, Mortimer, Winston, Martin, Hugo, Felix,
-Beckett- Becker, Beecher, Kenyon, Keaton, Byron, Lachlan, Declan, Elliot,
-Remy- Ogden, Leo, Leon, Enzo, Lorenzo, Renzo, Nico, Langston, Arlo, Rafferty, Jacoby,
-Ezekiel- Raphael, Gabriel, Adriel, Adlai, Ari, Abram, Abel,
-Jonah- Casper, Oren, Jasper, Judah, Josiah, Zachariah, Micah, Malachi, Job, Isaiah, Isaac, Caleb, Reuben, Tobiah,
-Silas- Cedric, Cecil, Toby, Frederick, Franklin, Gawain, Theo, Theodore, Theon, Sylvan, Stellan, Sullivan,

allikay18 Says:

May 19th, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Side note: Eben sounds like Ethan?! The only child that I have ever actually met with the name pronounced it to sound like Evan. “Eben, as in a short form of Ebenezer” is literally how they introduced him.

ShadesOfScarlett Says:

May 19th, 2016 at 3:16 pm

I agree with what was said about if a middle name is meaningful, go ahead and use it, but not a bad first-last combo.

With that being said, why not use Silas as a middle name? Sure (blank) Silas Smith doesn’t flow great, but it’s better than Silas Smith on it’s own and the middle won’t be used nearly as much.

And I love Name Sage’s suggesting of Archer. Because crazily enough, Archer Silas is on my short list of boys names.

So I definitely vote for Archer Silas Smith, although all of the other suggestions, especially Bennett, are really nice.

On the original short list, I very much like Remy, Ezekiel, and Jonah. All of which would sound very nice with Silas as the middle!

emiliafisher Says:

May 19th, 2016 at 9:36 pm

I agree that Silas Smith is too many /s/ sounds all together, and don’t really like the a next to the ss either. For that reason, I probably wouldn’t use the combination Archer Silas Smith either, although it is a gorgeous name. I like the suggestions Alistair/Allister, Ansel, Ezra, Wilder, Simon, and Axel. I also thought of Asa or Ransom as a possibility for you.

tiffanyalana Says:

May 20th, 2016 at 6:07 am

Silas Smith is not that bad of a combo. I think it sounds nice. This whole topic is somewhat of a personal choice. Everyone likes/dislikes different sounds. We’re actually having the same conversation over Silas with our S heavy last name. It’s not my favorite but my husband loves it. If it really just irritates you then look at other names. But if you are just worried over what the “rules” are, I’d say stick with Silas. It’s a beautiful name!
Also I personally know a James Smith and it’s never Jame Smith or James Mith.

Bobcat108 Says:

May 21st, 2016 at 6:15 pm

One negative of using Silas as a middle name: It eliminates using a first name beginning w/A due to the unfortunate word spelled by the initials.

eila143 Says:

May 25th, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Why not give him a short middle name, or a second name to go with Silas that he can use to introduce himself with?

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.