Sweet Spots and Super Smooshes
Sweet spot biblical names: Gideon
Looking for a biblical boy name that’s familiar but not overused? Something between Jacob and Jehoshaphat? One to consider is Gideon, the name of the newest member of the Duggar clan. (He shares the same middle name, Martyn, as his dad.) Gideon sits comfortably in the US top 400 but doesn’t look like it’s going to be the Next Big Thing. Other biblical boys’ names in this sweet spot include Solomon, Zachariah and Moses.
Neglected names: Esmond
Now for a boys’ name that’s way below the radar, yet still doesn’t sound too strange. You might have seen this story about a 108-year-old great-great grandfather who finally has a descendant bearing his name (as a first: he’s already honored in several middle names). That name? Esmond. Adorably, Esmond the younger is known as Ez.
Never very popular (unlike Desmond, which is in the Top 400), it’s still accessible. You could think of it as a romantic alternative to Ezra, or a male alternative to Esme. (Although yes, Esme did start out as a male name.)
Super smooshes: Everlee and Alexavier
Another way you could use family names is by combining two into one – name lovers sometimes call this a smoosh. Red Sox baseballer Bryce Brentz was lucky enough to have family names that fit together into a currently stylish pick for his daughter, Everlee Marie. Everlee is a portmanteau of Everett from his mother’s side and Lee from his father’s side, while Marie comes from Brentz’s wife’s family.
If you’re looking to combine two names gracefully (and perhaps a little more subtly than Renesmee), there’s lots of inspiration in the Nameberry archives. Here’s a look at combo names past and future, from Maryjane to Miabella. Abby once made a stunning list of smooshes both real and invented – some of the most original ones include Wrenelise and Rosaleah. And the creativity never ends! This year’s entries in the invent-a-name contest included Isadela, Miralba, and the winner Rosaluna.
It’s not only girls’ names that can smoosh. For boys, just think of saintly Johnpaul or international Giancarlo. Or think of footballer Barkevious Mingo, whose first name combines his mom’s name, Barbara, with Kevious, which she just liked. (One of his brothers is named Hughtavious, a riff on their dad’s name.) Or Anne Hathaway’s son’s middle name Rosebanks, from her grandmother Roseline plus family surname Banks.
Modern combo names in the news last year included Colmic (after grandfathers Colin and Mick) and Dax (honoring Daniel and Alexander). And speaking of Alexander, look in the data and you’ll find hundreds of boys named Alexavier born in the last few years.
Now that the Winter Olympics have come to an end, these fabulously-named athletes are no longer on our screens on a daily basis. But as consolation, here’s a great winter sport-related name story. Joe Polo of the American gold medal-winning curling team has a daughter called Ailsa, in honor of Ailsa Craig, the Scottish island where most of the granite used in curling stones comes from. (The other source of curling granite is Trefor quarry in Wales…so perhaps Trevor is a future brother’s name?)
Ailsa is #103 in Scotland but rare in the States – it was used for just 12 girls in 2016. Similar to Elsa but without the Frozen connotations, it could be a nod to Scottish heritage. For more inspiration, check out these Scottish island names rarely heard elsewhere, like Innes and Vaila.
Did you have this baby naming dilemma? Just when you think you’ve decided on the perfect name, you say it with the surname and…oh. Back to the drawing board.
You might enjoy these names rejected by parents as unwearable combinations. There’s nothing wrong with the names themselves: Finn is great unless your surname is Finlay, and Ryder is super but a bit too horsey with the last name Nay. Ronald? If your family is McDonald, you’d better weigh up how much you really love it.
Then again, some of this is a matter of modern and personal tastes. Having matchy names doesn’t seem to have held back the many men out there called John Johnson, David Davies, or indeed Jerome K. Jerome.
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on March 1st, 2018 at 8:47 am
Ailsa looks lovely on paper, but when you say it out loud, it sounds like Elsa with an exaggerated Southern accent, which could set your kid up for teasing depending on where you live.
on March 1st, 2018 at 9:31 am
I’m trying to imagine what kind of terrible teasing a kid would suffer based on the obscure criterion of having a name that “sounds like Elsa with an exaggerated Southern accent.” Ailsa is a perfectly charming name, and the one Ailsa I know is also affectionately called Ailie, which might add to its appeal.
on March 1st, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Great roundup! The repeat names always make me wonder. We had a Dan Daniels run for office. Nice job on Jerome K. Jerome. Reminds me of Holling C. Holling.
It’s not something I would do, but maybe someone who would can tell us why.
on March 1st, 2018 at 2:21 pm
Ailsa is so lovely! I grew up with my friend Ailsa living next door and have always had a soft spot for it! In a pretty accent Ailsa and Elsa sound quite different.
My top middle name choice is Marigold, as it combines my MIL’s middle name (Mary) with my mum’s maiden name (Gold). While it doesn’t always work, I tried combing my FIL and dad’s names and got Antonian which I wasn’t super keen on, I’m always intrigued by interesting smushes. My favourite is Evangelica.
on March 1st, 2018 at 2:23 pm
*That should say British accent! Not ‘pretty’! I find plenty of accents pretty that aren’t my own!
I meant to say either ‘It is pretty in a British accent’ or ‘In a British accent they sound different’ and ended up with neither.
on March 1st, 2018 at 6:44 pm
I absolutely love the name Gideon (Duggars have nothing to do with it). Also Gabriel and Ephraim, the latter of which I would love to see get more “air time”.
And I can relate to the Unfortunate Combo”. Most of my life I thought, “when I have a daughter I will name her Elizabeth.” Then… my surname became Taylor. And I realized that parenthood does, indeed, have a price. LOL LOL
on March 3rd, 2018 at 5:04 pm
@Maerad Marigold is a great combination! I can see someone using Evangelica too.
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