Rule-Breaking Baby Names
They have a well-established formula for naming a son, but this time nothing feels quite right. Is there something they’ve overlooked? Or is it time to break the rules?
I love classic, multi-syllable first names with an easy nickname and the Z/X/K sound.
What have we not thought of or considered?
We also take into account name meaning, so bonus points if it’s more significant.
The Name Sage replies:
Knowing your style can really help when choosing children’s names. And yet … could it be that your requirements are the tiniest bit too stringent?
Here’s your list:
The formal name must be three or more syllables.
It must include an easy nickname.
Both should contain the Z, X, or K sound.
You’ve found four great options that meet every requirement – and yet they don’t feel like The Name. It’s possible that you just haven’t found it yet. But it’s equally true that you might be ruling out a great name just because it doesn’t satisfy one of these rules.
Beckett – That hard ‘k’ sound appears in some great names. Beckett feels slightly different from Alexander and Ezekiel – it’s shorter, and a surname rather than a traditional first. But Xander, Zeke, and Beck sound like brothers.
Dashiell – The high-value Scrabble letters in Xander and Zeke make them instantly cool, but that’s not the only way to find a great-sounding boys’ name. Literary Dashiell shortens to the energetic Dash, which seems like a good match. Sidenote: if you chose Dashiell, you would have matched in another way – all three names contain the letters el!
Donovan – As with Beckett, Donovan feels less like a traditional given name, and more like a 21st century innovation. But Donovan claims centuries of use as a surname, and comes with an irresistible, formula-friendly nickname: Van. Sullivan also gets to Van, and might be worth considering.
Everett – Everett has been in the US Top 1000 every year since 1880, though it hasn’t been popular until recently. At first glance, it satisfies your list. Except Ev doesn’t feel like much of a nickname. Ret/t, though, has potential: Xander, Zeke, and Rett.
Jonathan or Jackson – Does Jack – or maybe Jax – appeal? You could use the impeccably classic Jonathan to arrive at either nickname, or consider the trendier Jackson. It’s worth noting that Jackson has never left the US Top 1000, making it a more traditional choice than you might guess.
Lucian – Lucian is pronounced either loo see ahn or LOOSH an. But you could easily shorten it to Luc/Luke, which brings back that k. It sounds like a brother for Alexander and Ezekiel – ancient, but with a cool, current vibe.
Nathaniel – I can easily imagine brothers called Xander, Zeke, and Nate. Nate’s long ‘a’ sound isn’t as distinctive as a Z or X, but it stands up nicely. All three names count as classics and modern favorites – a nice combination.
Raphael – Long and traditional, Raphael sounds like a brother for Ezekiel and Alexander. Plus, nickname Rafe feels like a bold, daring name that would stand up to Xander and Zeke. It’s the first name that came to mind – and one of the reasons I think you should really consider breaking your rules!
Theodore – Since you mentioned meaning, how about Theodore? It means gift of God, and even if the spiritual aspect doesn’t speak to you, “gift” might. Shorten Theodore to Theo, and that bright, lively ‘o’ ending makes Theo every bit as interesting as Xander or Zeke.
Zachariah – Okay, I’m encouraging you to move away from X and Z and K sounds, but here’s one that has it all: Zachariah. The challenge is that nickname Zac seems way too close to Zeke to consider. But would Ry work? It’s not quite as intuitive as Ezekiel-called-Zeke, but it’s not a stretch. If you don’t mind the idea of stretches, I’m also partial to Zachariah called Kai. (Say it five times fast, and the sound is definitely there.)
If names like Raphael and Theodore just feel plain wrong to you, it might be time to revisit the names that do fit the pattern you’ve established with your older boys’ names. I’m partial to Zachariah called Kai, but if that doesn’t appeal, I’d vote for Maximilian. It’s a storied classic, and brother names Xander, Zeke, and Max are just plain fun to say together.
Readers, are there more rule-friendly boys’ names I’ve overlooked? Or would you encourage Rachel to consider names beyond Z, X, and K?
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on August 1st, 2017 at 11:09 pm
Thaddeus/ Tad/ Tadeo/ Taddeo
on August 1st, 2017 at 11:14 pm
We have similar “rules” for our children. We also had to have family names. I have 3 boys and a girl.
Our boy names may work.
Casimir John (pronounced kaz-ah-meer) nn Caz
Ignatius Hayes nn Iggy
Fitzgerald Rooney nn Fitz
And for good measure Our daughter is Evangeline nn Evie
on August 1st, 2017 at 11:22 pm
I think she should consider Bartholomew “Bart” even though it doesn’t have the X, Z, or K.
Or maybe Mordecai “Cai”
on August 1st, 2017 at 11:23 pm
Lorenzo nn. Enzo
Matthias nn. Ty (no Z/X/K, but Xander, Zeke and Ty sound cool!)
Atticus nn. Kit
on August 1st, 2017 at 11:26 pm
Frederick nn Fritz! We call our Frederick ‘Freddie’.
I love Maximilian too, as it’s my 8 month old’s name. 🙂
on August 2nd, 2017 at 12:19 am
Maximus? It’s similar
on August 2nd, 2017 at 1:05 am
What about Hosea with the nickname Zea (pronounced ZAY-ah) or Isaiah with the same sounding nickname (but different spelling?).
There’s also Xavier with the nickname Xav.
You could switch sounds just a bit and try the Q sound – Quentin or Quincy with the nickname Quinn would also work well! Xander, Zeke & Quinn.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 1:46 am
We had rules for our first, but for our 2nd we’ve had to cut down the rules due to strict naming laws. Although it’s sad, as I won’t be using the name we planned on, Raphael, it’s also a blessing since it’s given me the courage to use another name that I love but was too timid to use, Caspian. So feel free to break the rules if they are not working! Suggestions…
Jericho- Jerry, Rick, RICO, Eric
Jacoby- Jack, Jake
Broderick- Rick, Eric, Brody
Roderick- Eric, Rick, Rod
Frederick- Fred, Freddy, Eric, Rick
Maverick- Rick, Eric, Max, Mav, Mack
Macsen- Mack, Max, Sonny
Octavius- Tave, Tavi,
Octavian- Tave, Tavi
on August 2nd, 2017 at 3:42 am
My favorite of your options is Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Dominic “Nic” and my favorite suggestion is Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Theodore “Theo”
my suggestions are
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Hezekiah “Ki” (Hezekiah means “God Gives Strength” and I think Xander, Zeke and Ki work just as perfectly as Alexander, Ezekiel & Hezekiah. It was the first thing I thought of when I read this!
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Caleb “Cal” (Caleb means “devotion to god” and even though it’s a bit shorter I think it still fits fin full name wise and nickname! Xander, Zeke & Cal/ Alexander, Ezekiel & Caleb)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Nicolai “Nico” (maybe Cole isn’t right for you? even though I love it!)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Casimir “Caz” (Not the best meaning (“destroyer of peace”) BUT Xander, Zeke and Caz is sooo cute! I knew a guy with this name/ nickname and I always thought it was cool)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Abraham “Bram” (or you could go with “Abe” or “Abel” It means “Father of multitudes”)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Isaiah “Zay” (or spelled “Sai” or I also like “Ike” means “Salvation of the lord” Xander, Zeke & Zay and Xander, Zeke & Ike are all cute. If you go with Xander, Zeke & Sai then all the nicknames will make the zzz sound in different ways! and Alexander, Ezekiel & Isaiah sound perfect together as well)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Laszlo “Laz” (it means “glorious ruler” and Xander, Zeke & Laz definitely sound like brothers to me!)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Kingsley “King” (means “King’s meadow”, King is an instantly cool nickname that fits great with his brothers! I also like Kingston which means “king’s town”)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Lincoln “Link” (means “town by the pool” which is a fun water twist! I think Link is unexpected but super cute and Xander, Zeke & Link is adorable!)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Cedric “Ceddy” (although you could also do Ric I just recently fell super in love with Ceddy as a nickname. Xander, Zeke & Ceddy is great and the full names match very well too! It means “bounty”)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Frederick “Fred/ Freddie” (Freddie might not have the letters you have preferred in the past but Frederick does! It means “peaceful ruler” Xander, Zeke & Freddie is so cute!)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Francis “Frank” (this is the opposite, the full name doesn’t have the letters/ sounds you like but the nickname does! I think Frank is an unexpected cool choice and Francis is a dashing full name that is as classic as his brothers. Francis means “free man” which is a great meaning! and Xander, Zeke & Frank sounds so great!)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Victor “Vic” (you could spell it Viktor “Vik” or just spell Vic “Vick” instead. It means ‘conqueror”)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Jethro “Jet” (though Jethro doesn’t sound like Jet it’s right int he spelling! Jet is a super cool name that fits in with his brother sand Jethro is an interesting classic. It means “excellence”)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Oscar “Ozzie” (it can mean “God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior” but it also could be spelled Oskar, either way Ozzie is an unexpected but perfectly for it nickname that goes great with the brothers! Xander, Zeke & Ozzie/ Alexander, Ezekiel & Oskar)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Raven “Ray” (I like Raven best on a boy! It means Raven lol)
Alexander “Xander”, Ezekiel “Zeke” & Coleman “Cole” (If you do like Cole maybe you prefer coleman? It means “servant of Nicholas”
I love your kids names!! For a girl (I know your not asking BUT) Penelope “Nel/Nellie” or Winifred “Freddie” either would be sooo cute!)
on August 2nd, 2017 at 5:59 am
I’d like to second the suggestions Atticus, Frederick and Jacoby, as well as rule-breaker Bartholomew – Gus, Fred, Jack, Tolly. Other rule breakers to consider could be Ferdinand, Ignacio, Reginald or Solomon – Ferdy, Iggy, Reggie, Sonny.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 6:12 am
on August 2nd, 2017 at 7:19 am
on August 2nd, 2017 at 7:27 am
With your other boys, I like:
Lorenzo – Xander, Zeke, and Enzo
Caspian – Xander, Zeke, and Cas or Cap
Isaiah – Xander, Zeke, and Izzy
Frederick – Xander, Zeke, and Fritz
on August 2nd, 2017 at 7:44 am
Desmond nn Desi or Des!
Abraham nn Bram!
Mac (could be short for A Max name orMc name of significance)
Rex ( unsure if a full name, maybe Richard?)
Also love Everett nn Rett,
Theodore nn Theo
Nicolai/ Nicolas or Dominic nn Nico
Lots of great options!
Erin Beth Said
on August 2nd, 2017 at 8:33 am
I love the suggestions of Nathaniel, Dominic, and Xavier. They all sound great to me. I would add Zachary and Joachim and Malachi if none of those suit.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 8:56 am
I like the suggestion of Lorenzo! I also like Malachi and Max from your original list.
Also will suggest…
Abraham nn Abe
Alonzo nn Lonzo
Cyrus nn Cy
Jedediah nn Jed
Lennox nn Knox
Leonardo nn Leo
Nikolai nn Niko
Sebastian nn Baz
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:28 am
X/Z/K are all well and good, but have you considered ‘V’ sounds? Victor nn Vic might just fit well. Zeke, Xander and Vic.
or Vincent nn Vince, Calvin nn Cal or Vinny.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:30 am
Jasper nn Jazz or Jas
Isaac nn Zac
Huxley nn Huck
Tucker nn Tuck
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:46 am
I’d like to second (third?)…
Sebastian, nn. Baz or Seb
Cyrus, nn. Cy
Solomon, nn. Sol
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:50 am
What pops to mind are these:
Dresden (z sound, nn Den)
Zinedine (z sound, nn Ned or Zin)
Zebulon (nn Zeb)
Zoltan (nn Zol)
Tarquin (k sound, nn Tark or Tarq)
Lienzo (nn Len)
Dalmazio (nn Dal)
Lorenzen (nn Ren or Zen)
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:52 am
Dalziel, Ziel or Dale
on August 2nd, 2017 at 11:11 am
I know someone who used Zyer as a sibling name for her Zander. There are a lot of great middle name options beginning with K that would go well.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 12:28 pm
People, Kai is a full name in and of itself. I don’t know why almost everybody thinks it HAS to be short for something. It doesn’t!
on August 2nd, 2017 at 2:27 pm
Because the OP wants a long name with nickname potential.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 3:13 pm
What about Joseph? Alexander, Ezekiel and Joseph sound great to me and Xander, Zeke and Zeph works wonderful.
Some other ideas:
Zion, Xander, Zeke and Zy
Zephyr, Xander, Zeke and Zeph
Maddox, Xander, Zeke and Max
Zebulon, Xander, Zeke and Zeb
Jasper, Xander, Zeke and Jazz
Hendrix, Xander, Zeke and Rix
Solomon, Xander, Zeke and Sol
Ossian, Xander, Zeke and Ozzy
Lennox, Xander, Zeke and Knox
Quentin, Xander, Zeke and Quinn
Sorry for repeats!
Good luck 🙂
on August 2nd, 2017 at 3:43 pm
I want to add Zebedee as well which is such a cool name imo 🙂
on August 2nd, 2017 at 5:03 pm
1. IZUMI (Japanese)–fountain, spring. NN: Zoom.
2. OSKARI (Finnish )–Oscar (deer friend in Old Irish) (a) god spear in Old English (Osgar). NN: Skar (adorable!).
3. OTTOKAR (Old German)–riches/wealth+watchful. NN: Otto or Toka or Kar.
4. UZZIEL (Hebrew)–power of (a) god. NN: Uzzi (so cute! You know you want to use it) (might be too similar to Ezekiel though. Probably counts as child neglect or something).
5. YANNICK (Breton)–pet form of Yann aka John (from a name meaning Yahuah has favored). NN: Nick or Yann, etc.
Eh, well, if not those then there’s always Lorenzo or Lazarus or Salazar (because why not?) or Yarkhibol aka Jericho (a great name if you love the moon). I tended to mention vowel names because your children have vowel names and it would be horrifying to have a child that was different in that respect unless you had several more which also ignored that vowel trend. Best of luck!
(Personally, I would go with Ixius)
on August 2nd, 2017 at 5:07 pm
Even if Ixius is associated with Apollo and pine-thistle nonsense and mistletoe supposedly. Or something like that. It’s just perfect for keeping the peace between Alexander and Ezekiel.
Pretty curious which name is chosen. Patience patience…waiting…would be hilarious if a daughter happened.
on August 2nd, 2017 at 8:31 pm
I know you considered Nikolai called Kole, but did you consider Niko? It fits well.
My favorites for your crew are: Sebastian “Baz” Nikolai “Niko” Dominic “Niko” & Donovan “Van”
If it helps, my Isabel & John are always Izzy and Jack, so I love your style! Congrats!
on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:52 pm
I realize that some of these are repeats, but how about:
Hadrien (Hade) – Xander, Zeke and Hade
Caius (Cai) – Xander, Zeke and Cai
Cassian (Cas, Caz) – Xander, Zeke and Cas
Emmanuel (Manu) – Xander, Zeke and Manu
on August 3rd, 2017 at 12:30 am
I’d like to echo the suggestion of Zebedee/ Zebediah nickname Zeb as well.
Willem or William nickname Wilkie
on August 3rd, 2017 at 8:59 am
I love dashiell nicknamed dash! such a cool name! Sebastian can also be shortened in bash, which is similar. I also love Raphael (Raph), Lucian (Lux), Marcus (Mars), Cyrus (Cy), but Dash and Bash are my favourite for you!
on August 3rd, 2017 at 11:57 am
I once met an Isaac nicknamed Ike which I thought was the cutest!
on August 3rd, 2017 at 10:31 pm
Raphael nn Rafe
Malachi nn Kai (or even Mal)
Calvin/Calvert/Charles nn Cal
Emmanuel nn Manu
Zephaniah nn Zeph
Vincent nn Vin/Vinnie
Sebastian nn Seb
Abraham nn Abe
Icarus nn Ike
Finneas nn Finn
Renley nn Wren/Ren
on August 4th, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Wow there was a lot of cool suggestions. I really liked Icarus nn Ike, Izumi nn Zoom and Lorenzo nn Enzo / Ren
Also I saw some Hungarian names suggested Zoltan and Laszlo. The traditional nn for those are respectively Zsolt / Zolt and Laci (LAW-tsee). Could also use Bolt or Lou as nicknames.
Some I thought of:
Lincoln nn Link
Lazarus nn Izzy
Laurence nn Larz
Willem nn Lem
Good luck in the hunt!
on August 4th, 2017 at 3:11 pm
Alexander “Xander,” Ezekiel “Zeke” &…
Zebedee – “Zeb”
Lennox – “Nox”
Indigo – “Indie”
Sebastian – “Baz”
a couple could also be middles, sorry for repeats!
on August 5th, 2017 at 8:22 am
Love Malachi/ Kai from your original list a lot. Also love the combination of meanings that would make for you kids, strength, protection, and messenger/angel .
For a different suggestions. Malcom/Cam/Kam a strong name with a long history.
Henry/ Hank- More common, but still seems to fit well inside your naming structure.
Felix/Lex- Xander, Zeke and Lex seem to fit well together. Ancient name that feels modern
on August 11th, 2017 at 6:51 am
What about Michael nn Mick? I also like Beckett nn Beck, Jacob nn Jake, and Lincoln nn Link.
on September 15th, 2017 at 6:55 pm
Perhaps, Braxton? It gives nicknames of Axe and Brax either of which would sound nice with your older boys. Xander, Zeke, and Axe. Xander, Zeke, and Brax.
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