Thoroughly Modern Middles: Belle in for Beth

It’s been a while now since automatic go-to single-syllable middle names like Ann and Lee and Lynn and Beth were found on the majority of girls’ birth certificates, only to be followed by the suddenly and almost equally ubiquitous Rose and Grace. But now we’ve entered a new era of greater diversity—with forgotten favorites and fresh new, more individualistic, choices abounding. Here are some of the coolest, including a few drawn from nature.


Two of the sweetest vintage choices, but with slightly different images. The Mae spelling seems to be taking the lead—it’s been used by Ian Ziering (Penna Mae) and Greg Kinnear (Audrey Mae). Maeve is a great, somewhat more substantial, Irish alternative, as is the colorful Mauve.

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15 Responses to “Thoroughly Modern Middles: Belle in for Beth”

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tararyaz Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 7:40 am

So many great choices here! I would love to add Fern into the mix. And maybe Ruby is the new Marie?

epowell Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 7:42 am

ugh…I hate Ray. So many girls in Texas have it as their middle name. Here, it is so “country/trashy” sounding. I cringe when I hear it.

MaryKathryn Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 7:59 am

I love this compilation of names!! I really would love a whole week of simply middle name posts. The middle name can be just as important as the first!

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 8:10 am

@tararyaz – I still love Marie, more-so than any of the similar names attached to it (Maria, Marisela, Maryann, Mary and the like). But I’d prefer it as a first name.

@epowell – I actually don’t think I’ve heard too many Ray’s in Texas, boy or girl. I’d use it, spelled Rey for either gender. Though I have an emotional attachment to the name as it was my grandpa’s middle, and more commonly used, name.

I do love a lot of the -ae/-ay names. Mae, Faye and Bay often battle it out for first place (As I said, Rey is the first I’d use), but most days it’s Faye that wins because I think it’s cute on a little girl and a name that can grow with her, whereas Mae and Bay, though adorable, I just can’t see on a lawyer or doctor.

Grey has become my go-to future (very far in the future) daughter’s nickname as it would incorporate the G from my mom’s name (who I would also choose to honor) and the Rey from my grandpa’s “honor name”. I just worry about my very Mexican family calling her “Gris” (pronounced grease)…

I know it’s not a name on the list, but I’m really loving Agnes at the moment.

Lark and Wren are other favorites of mine right now, though Wren wins out (which is surprising since I grew up in the Ren & Stimpy time)

Adore Claire (preferred with the i and not spelled Clare like I’ve seen) and Jude (though I like it only as a nickname for Judah, not so much by itself)

Pearl is what I call my car because she’s a pearl white color and doesn’t have much pick-up speed (which is why I call her a “dainty” car)

miloowen Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 9:19 am

I prefer more substantial names in the middle, and used my two daughters’ middle names to honour my great-grandmother (Louisa) and grandmother (Helen). My son’s middle name is his Hebrew name, Caleb (Kalev).

Clare and May I prefer as first names, and I’ve heard Jude used in my community as a nn for both Judith (Yehudit) and Judah (Yehuda).

My best friend from Glasgow is Elizabeth Rae — where the Rae spelling is an actual surname in her family.

Lark and Wren are cool first names but to me they lose their cachet when they are just used as “syllables” in the middle.

mill1020 Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 9:46 am

Wren reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem: “The razor-tailed wren/ he’ll pretend he’s your friend/ As he cuts all the grass on your lawn/ But do not leave anything/ sticking far out/ or swishety–it will be gone.”

MiladyArya Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 10:05 am

Some of these I don’t really see as being “new” but I love a lot of these. Lark, Snow, Dove are a couple of my absolute favorites 🙂 I may have to reconsider some things on my own list….

chi1127 Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 10:59 am

And I prefer multisyllabic middle names to offset our single syllable surname. If you do a post on middle names with 3 or more syllables, I’m in.

NaomiNY Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 1:09 pm

My maternal grandmother’s middle name was May 🙂

I also like Rae, Lark, Wren, Dove, Belle, and Snow.

peach25 Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 6:16 pm

One of my aunts had “Pearl” for a mn. She hated it. Another aunt has “Dell” for a mn, but goes by this because she doesn’t like her first name.

Aligator_xxx Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 10:33 pm

My middle name is Rae and I love it. Some great choices here.

CauliflowerMama Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 10:40 pm

I’ve always wanted to use Plum as a middle name (my family has a vacation property we call Plum Corner, so it has very positive associations for me), but I thought it was too out there. Maybe not!

JH Says:

May 2nd, 2014 at 10:40 pm

My husband’s grandma’s middle name was Mae and if our son had been a daughter we had picked out Alice Mae. Ali Mae…too cute. If we have a daughter in the future, I would definitely consider using Mae for a middle name still.

peacebird10 Says:

May 3rd, 2014 at 9:13 am

One I hear a lot now is June. There are also the ends-with-x I hear more now: Lux, Pax, and Fox. Bear is another animal-turned-middle.

From the list, I love Plum and Lark! Hope they don’t become fillers.

indiefendi Says:

May 3rd, 2014 at 10:04 am

Louis C.K.’s daughter is Mary Louise not just Mary Lou

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