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Tricky Last Names: What Goes with Lo?

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

What to do when your last name rules out nearly every first name you love? An Australian reader turns to the Name Sage to solve the puzzle of a not-too-religious boys’ name that works with Lo.

Ping writes:

I’ve been reading your Name Sage posts keenly, hoping one might help us out. But our problem feels unique, and I’m getting genuinely worried, so I’m plucking up the courage to write in with our dilemma.

We’re pregnant with our third – and final – child, whose sex we’ve decided not to find out. We like the surprise!

We currently have two boys, named Archie and Jesse.

The kicker is, their surname is Lo. Turns out, it’s the HARDEST name to work with! Here’s why:

– Any names starting with B, F, G, or S would sound out as blow, flow, glow and slow!

– Names ending in ‘s’ or ‘x’ also roll into Lo awkwardly, making the sound ‘slow’.

– Names ending in vowels, especially if they contain ‘L’ in them, sound too sing-song.

So many of our favorite names fail these basic tests: Sasha, Leo, Louis, Seb, Benjamin. The only possibilities we have in mind are Roland – but is Rolly Lo too much? – and Reuben.

We have a few girls’ names in mind, but are stuck for boys’ names. Please help!

The Name Sage replies:

Nearly every surname presents certain challenges. But you’re right – Lo might be short and sweet, but it does rule out a remarkable number of names!

Jude Lo? Nope. Sounds like the actor. William Lo becomes Willow. Duncan Lo sounds like a basketball move.

And yet, even as I rule out possibility after possibility, it strikes me that Archie Lo and Jesse Lo sound exactly right. So there must be other options!

We’re looking for a traditional name with a distinctive sound that plays well with your surname. Because your older sons’ names end in the ‘ee’ sound, most of my suggestions do not. Here’s what comes to mind:

Emmett – Like Archie and Jesse, Emmett is a complete name unlikely to be shortened. And it has enough of a definite sound to work with Lo without running together. Archie, Jesse, and Emmett sound like brothers – a tiny bit old-fashioned, but very much at home in the world today.

Ethan – I like the long ‘e’ sound of Ethan with the long ‘o’ of Lo. Like Jesse, Ethan has Old Testament roots, but we don’t think of this as a Biblical boy name the way that we might, say, Noah or Hezekiah. It’s less common in Australia than the US, so I wonder if it feels like a good fit?

Henry – When your last name is challenging – either because it’s long and complex, or, in your case, short and easy to run together with a first name – sometimes the classics can be your best bets. As with Archie and Jesse, everyone instantly recognizes Henry as a boy’s name. That helps differentiate the first name from the last.

Julian Julian comes from the ancient world, but feels at home in the 21st century. Longer names can invite shortening, so I’m not sure if Julian leads to an automatic nickname in Australia. After all, Jules Lo creates the problem we’re trying to avoid! But if you can use Julian  in full, I think it makes a great brother name for Archie and Jesse.

Nate Nathan and Nathaniel might be options, too, but just Nate – with that bright, long ‘a’ sound – is one of my favorites on this list. Conventional wisdom says that a short surname requires a longer first name, but there’s something spare and appealing about two single-syllable names. More ideas that might fit in this category include Blake, Jake, and Graham.

Rory – I’ve been trying to avoid boys’ names ending in the ‘ee’ sound, but Archie, Jesse, and Rory seem like they’re still different enough to work for brothers. Irish Rory sidesteps any obvious religious ties.

Thatcher – I ruled out Arthur because it’s a little close to Archie, but there are tons of great ends-in-r names to consider. Carter, Spencer, Connor – all seem like options that work nicely. Thatcher is uncommon as a given name, but familiar enough as a surname that it should be easily spelled and pronounced.

Walton – While we’re considering surname names, what do you think of Walton? Even if it shortens to Walt, Walt Lo still feels very wearable. Aside from a 1970s television series, there’s no obvious association with Walton. It’s familiar, but uncommon – a winning combination in many cases. Archie, Jesse, and Walton.

As for your list, I’m torn over Roland. Roland Lo works nicely. But Rolly Lo? That seems close to the sing-song quality you’re hoping to avoid. And Rollo Lo? That’s fun to say a few times, but I suspect it would get old fast! Reuben, on the other hand, feels like a great fit. It’s traditional, not especially popular, and while it has Old Testament roots, it doesn’t feel especially spiritual.

Overall, I really like the sound of Reuben Lo. But if that’s not quite your style, I wonder if something like Emmett might work best? It’s my favorite with brothers Archie and Jesse, and I think it pairs nicely with your last name, too.

Readers, what would you suggest to Ping if this baby is a boy? Any tips on working with a challenging surname?

And oh–we have an update from an earlier post! Welcome, Nell James. Thanks to all for their thoughtful comments! Don’t you just love it when a parent finds the perfect name through our community?

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


20 Responses to “Tricky Last Names: What Goes with Lo?”

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Maerad Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 5:07 am

I think Rory or Ethan would be perfect with Lo and with your other son’s names!

a_r Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 6:37 am

I think Reuben is a great choice (and Roo is a sweet pet name). From Abby’s suggestions, Henry, Rory and Ethan feel like they’d fit in well with what I hear in the park.
Some other thoughts. These are a mix of old-fashioned, buttoned-down names and more more modern ones (with older roots). I’ve tried to choose names I see as friendly or approachable, which is how I see Jesse and Archie. I’ve tried to include popular and fairly uncommon (but familiar) names.

Edward/Edmund – Teddy’s sweet with Archie and Jesse. While Theodore might be a bit too formal with your other boys’ names, Edward and Edmund seem to fit OK and they also give you the bushranger cool nn Ned.
Rupert, Rufus – more handsome Roo- names.
Alfred/Frederick/Wilfred – I love Alfie, but with Archie as a brother, maybe Freddy might be a better pick.
Victor (Vic?)
Declan, Duncan – Duncan does run the risk of “dunny” as a nn, but there are plenty of Louis and Lulus who go by Lu/ Lou (and loo is probably a more widely used term than dunny). Declan is a similarly nice name.
Angus, Fergus – so cheerful.
Matthias/Mathias – I think this name is lovely. It might bring to mind Mathias Cormann, but I don’t think he’s prominent enough for that to be an issue for children born now.
Elias – a handsome biblical (but not overtly religious) name, like Jesse.

obow Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 6:41 am

I like Emmett the best, but it is gaining popularity which your other names are not. Perhaps Raymond Lo? Raymond fits the feel of your other boys names and Ray Lo sound downright cool. Our surname is pronounced like “back” so I feel you with the tricky name options. We loved Sawyer but it sounds like “so you’re back?” Hahah. Best of luck momma!

EloiseT Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 6:59 am

I also like Ethan or Emmett. Rory works too, I just personally don’t like the name as much. From above, also like Rupert, Finn and Edward (Eddy or Ned).
(Def not Raphael-lo!)

Also like Remy, Owen, Peter, Lincoln (Linc!), Dustin, Callum, Zachary or Xander.

Cordelia16 Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 7:43 am

I really like the suggestion of Ethan.

Emmett is also nice. Or what about Everett?

Monty would be cute with Archie and Jesse, though also has long ee sound at end.

Araminty Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 8:10 am

I agree with the pp who said Rufus or Rupert. I think these are much better than Reuben. They would go with surname. I also think Oscar and Matthias are good options.

Rafe for a 1 syllable that I think would work. This is good with the siblings’ names and a favourite of mine. Rafferty?

I prefer Everett to Emmett.

Rory or Harry would be great. I think Harry works better than Henry with the siblings, though I do like Henry.

Ethan is actually really popular in Australia – top 10 I think?

Amber W Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 10:35 am

For some reason Darwin was the name that first came to mind reading this.

ARead Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 2:05 pm

What about Roland, nickname Rory? Lots of great suggestions!!

CocoaPuff Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Emmett all sounds clunky to me. I think Ethan, Henry, and Edward are equally viable.

Callmecalliope Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 6:02 pm

I think Reuben is great. I also second the previous suggestion of Teddy…sounds great with your other boys and could work on its own or as a nickname. I wouldn’t do Roland. In addition to the Rolly Lo issue, it’s too heavy on the L sound.

Other ideas:


The_Cookie_Mobster Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Reuben’s a great pick. Perhaps Adam, Evan, Dexter, or Anthony could work, too.

mickie86 Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I love the long E sound at the end of Archie and Jesse! I say keep with it for a boy so he doesn’t feel excluded.

How about …..

Brodie (My favorite)

Araminty Says:

July 5th, 2017 at 11:05 pm

Sorry I realised in my earlier post I included some names that end in s and f, and just like op explained, these don’t work with Lo. Yes, I can see how tricky it is!

kennamoon Says:

July 6th, 2017 at 12:57 am

Love Archie and Jesse!! My favorite of the suggestions are Emmett and Nate but here are some more!
Henry is cute but could be shortened to Harry and Harry Lo is not so good lol

Archie, Jesse & Austin Lo
Archie, Jesse & Auden Lo
Archie, Jesse & Carlisle Lo
Archie, Jesse & Cade Lo
Archie, Jesse & Cameron Lo
Archie, Jesse & Caz Lo
Archie, Jesse & Chandler Lo
Archie, Jesse & Conner Lo
Archie, Jesse & Clark Lo
Archie, Jesse & Christopher Lo
Archie, Jesse & Dominic Lo
Archie, Jesse & Dane Lo
Archie, Jesse & Evan Lo
Archie, Jesse & Elton Lo
Archie, Jesse & Elroy Lo (My favorite)
Archie, Jesse & Holden Lo
Archie, Jesse & Hayden Lo
Archie, Jesse & Ike Lo
Archie, Jesse & Isaiah Lo “Zay”
Archie, Jesse & Josh Lo
Archie, Jesse & Jayden Lo
Archie, Jesse & Jasper Lo
Archie, Jesse & Kevin Lo
Archie, Jesse & Kyle Lo
Archie, Jesse & Kent Lo
Archie, Jesse & Levi Lo
Archie, Jesse & Malcolm Lo
Archie, Jesse & Martin Lo
Archie, Jesse & Madden Lo
Archie, Jesse & Nolan Lo
Archie, Jesse & Owen Lo
Archie, Jesse & Oscar Lo
Archie, Jesse & Ozzie Lo
Archie, Jesse & Parker Lo
Archie, Jesse & Patrick Lo
Archie, Jesse & Preston Lo
Archie, Jesse & Perry Lo
Archie, Jesse & Porter Lo
Archie, Jesse & Pacey Lo
Archie, Jesse & Quinton Lo
Archie, Jesse & Raven Lo “Ray”
Archie, Jesse & Ross Lo
Archie, Jesse & River Lo
Archie, Jesse & Rhett Lo
Archie, Jesse & Rupert Lo
Archie, Jesse & Renner Lo
Archie, Jesse & Riley Lo
Archie, Jesse & Tyson Lo
Archie, Jesse & Tristan Lo
Archie, Jesse & Thurston Lo
Archie, Jesse & Thierry Lo
Archie, Jesse & Uriah Lo
Archie, Jesse & Vincent Lo
Archie, Jesse & Victor Lo
Archie, Jesse & Warren Lo
Archie, Jesse & Wayne Lo
Archie, Jesse & Xander Lo (though you might also not like X. Lo)
Archie, Jesse & Yosef Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zaire Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zachary Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zen Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zev Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zander Lo
Archie, Jesse & Zac Lo

iipostmvh Says:

July 7th, 2017 at 5:36 am

Why oh why are sticking to 2 syllable names. That’s a huge part of the problem to me.

You like Seb, what about Sebastian.
Donovan nn Donny or Van Lo sound really cute and kick ass

Jblack11 Says:

July 7th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

My favorite from the suggestions are Graham and Spencer.

What about:

Benjamin Lo
Dominick Lo
Preston Lo
Ezra Lo
Harrison Lo
Jacob Lo
Wyatt Lo
Kenneth Lo
Conrad Lo
Clayton Lo
Owen Lo
Hunter Lo

tfzolghadr Says:

July 8th, 2017 at 2:59 am

Archie, Jesse, and…
Gideon Lo (glow is not so bad)
Duncan Lo
Edmund “Ned” Lo
Ogden Lo
Walden Lo
Ezra Lo (but it might sound too close to Extra Lo)
Quincy Lo
Quentin Lo
Freddie Lo (Flo could actually be a cool nn)
Frankie Lo
Zachariah Lo
Samson Lo (No one will ever call him Slo)
Crosby Lo
Everett Lo
Elias Lo
Anders Lo
Moses Lo
Henry “Hank” Lo
Irving Lo
Innis Lo
Sterling Lo
Reuben Lo
Grover Lo
Thaddeus Lo
Toby Lo
Tobias Lo
Merrick Lo
Mercer Lo
Thatcher Lo

Kjh446 Says:

July 8th, 2017 at 4:11 am

I like Emmett Lo! I also really like the suggestion of Donovan Lo, Van Lo or Donny Lo is adorable. Other names that stood out from the comments; Frank or Frankie, Oscar, Owen, Quincey.

Some more suggestions:

Elliot Lo
Jonah Lo
Ernie Lo
Theodore Lo, Teddy
Walter Lo, Walt
Finley Lo
Jasper Lo
Percy Lo
Winston Lo
Franklin Lo
Corbin Lo
Jack Lo
Oliver Lo
Edison Lo
Cody Lo
Rowan Lo
Peter Lo, Pete
Zachary Lo, Zach
Willem Lo

I think Theodore Lo sounds great and Archie, Jesse and Teddy sounds like a nice sibset.

Good luck with your search!

Emmadilemma Says:

July 9th, 2017 at 5:29 am

Jay. Jay Lo. J. Lo. Jennifer Lopez.

Jay is the perfect name for your child.

the-scarlet-letter Says:

July 9th, 2017 at 3:01 pm

If you’re a StarWars fan you can name him..
Ky Lo

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