The Middle Name Riddle

January 24, 2017 Abby Sandel

They’ve found the perfect first name for their daughter. But when it comes to middle names, that’s a riddle they just can’t solve.

J & M write:

We’re expecting a baby girl later this year. Luckily, my husband and I both love the name August.

However, we can’t seem to agree on a middle name.

We’ve considered:

August Vivian – But husband feels it’s too long

August Clo – But I don’t like the flow

August Ava, August Sloane – But maybe both middles are too overused

August Eloise – Husband doesn’t like

August Amelia – Husband thinks it’s too plain

We’re good to go on this first name. Please help us find a middle!

The Name Sage replies:

Sometimes going through endless lists results in a eureka moment, where suddenly The Exactly Right Name comes to you both. More often, it’s an exercise in frustration, as names are suggested and shot down, over and over.

When you’re stuck, it often helps to back up and think about the qualities you’re after. Should the middle name honor loved ones? Balance out an unusual first, or spark up a traditional choice? Are you hoping for a few more syllables to complement a short first, or do you want to keep it simple? Or is it just another name that you like every bit as much as August?

Based on the names you’ve considered so far, I’d say that a middle name for August should be:

ShorterEloise, Amelia, and Vivian are out, but Clo topped your husband’s list.

Not a Word – Double word names, like August River or August Mae, are probably out.

Feminine – Unlike June or January, August remains more common for boys than girls. It sounds like many of your suggestions tend towards the feminine, striking a good balance.

Flowing – I noticed some of your names, like Ava, almost blend together: Augustava. It’s an intriguing, attractive sound.

Modern Clo seems like a bold choice, so we can safely rule out the traditional middle name picks, like Elizabeth and Marie.

Time to dive into the suggestions!

Claire – If there’s a middle point between Clo/Sloane and Amelia/Eloise, it has to be Claire. Spare and elegant, but still traditionally feminine, Claire works well with August. It’s common as a middle name, but not nearly as overused as fellow single-syllable names like Rose and Grace. But does Claire feel too traditional?

Elle – If Clo makes your shortlist, I wonder if Elle might work? It’s more sound than name, but it wears well. Plenty of El– names, like Eloise, feel popular and stylish today. August Elle – say it fast and it almost becomes one longer name!

Lou or Lue – Depending on your perspective, Lou is either television’s Lou Grant – masculine – or Heidi Klum’s youngest, Lou Sulola – feminine. Respelled Lue, it’s quite rare, and yet might make an appealing middle. Longer Lou names, like Louise and Luella, might also appeal.

LaineAugust Laine sounds great together, but maybe it’s a bit too double noun name? I suggest it because, like Claire and Reeve, it seems like another name in the key of Sloane. A quick note on numbers: while Lane is significantly more popular for boys, Laine is favored for girls.

Reeve Reeve reminds me of Sloane, but also the V sound in Vivian and Ava. Writer Reeve Lindbergh – daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh – takes this name in a feminine direction. But overall, it’s quite rare. Fewer than 50 children received the name in 2015, three-quarters of them boys.

Lia – Because mini name Ava made your list, I wonder if you’ve considered Lia? It’s a spin on traditional Leah, influenced by mega-popular Mia. But just as Clo owes something to long-time favorite Chloe, Lia seems just different enough. Like August Ava and August Elle, it becomes a name that can almost be said in one breath: Augustlia.

Selene or Celine Selene and Celine sound the same, though they share different roots. Selene is from the Greek word for moon; Celine, from the Latin word for heaven. Either way, it seems like an unexpected choice that combines the best of tailored names like Sloane and feminine picks like Eloise.

Eden – Is a summery name and a garden name too much of a phrase? Maybe, but I quite like the sound of August Eden. Eden seems to split the difference between all the styles you’re considering, too – modern, but not invented; feminine, but frills-free; not wildly popular, but not unknown.

Overall, I’m drawn to E names, like Eden and Elle, to pair with August. Though I think you have plenty of great options – and I know readers will suggest more! But don’t hesitate to think a little bit about the kind of name you’d like – and what functions you might like it to serve – before you go through all of the ideas.

Readers, can you suggest some middle names for August?

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

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