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Middle Names

Middle names have become standard for babies, with one middle name the convention in the US though two middle names are becoming more usual following the example of the British royals and upper class. You might look to your baby's middle name as the place to use a unique name that feels too adventurous for first place, or a name that carries personal or family meaning. Middle names can be a way to honor extra family members or heroes, and a middle name can also be an adjunct surname.

Along with Elizabeth and Henry, middle names currently in the US Top 1000 for first names include Arden, Belle, Bowie, Claire, Jude, Nash, Orion, and River. Currently, popular middle names include Grace, James, Louise, and William.

While we include shorter lists of unique middle names and one-syllable middle names and middle names with meaning, this is our master list of possible middle names for babies -- though in reality the list is limited only by your imagination.

Middle Names
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KaiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "sea"
  • Description:

    Kai has many origins, but in the US is most commonly referred to as being of Hawaiian derivation, meaning “sea.” In Europe, Kai is largely considered to have Frisian origin as a diminutive of the name Kaimbe, meaning “warrior.” Kai is also found as an independent name in African, Chinese, Turkish and Native American cultures.

MaeveHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "she who intoxicates"
  • Description:

    Maeve appears in Irish mythology in two forms, one as the powerful Queen of Connacht, the other as the queen of the fairies. Maeve of Connacht was a warrior queen, famous for starting a war in attempt to steal her ex-husband’s stud bull. Other spellings are Meabh, Medb and Meadhbh, which are connected to mead, a honey-based wine that was produced in many ancient cultures.

FinnHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "fair or white"
  • Description:

    Finn is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn MacCool (aka Fionn mac Cuumhaill), an intrepid warrior with mystical supernatural powers, noted as well for his wisdom and generosity.

JudeHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin diminutive of Judah
  • Meaning:

    "praised"
  • Description:

    Jude is an example of a name whose image was turned on its head primarily by one appealing celebrity. So take a bow, Jude Law: You--in collaboration with the Lennon-McCartney song "Hey Jude"--have erased Jude's old connections to the traitorous Judas Iscariot and Thomas Hardy's tragic Jude the Obscure, and inspired a legion of new babies named Jude.

OscarHeart

  • Origin:

    English or Irish
  • Meaning:

    "God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior"
  • Description:

    Oscar has Irish and Norse roots—Norse Oscar comes from the Old English Osgar, a variation of the Old Norse name Ásgeirr. The Irish form was derived from the Gaelic elements os, meaning “deer,” and car, “loving.” In Irish legend, Oscar was one of the mightiest warriors of his generation, the son of Ossian and the grandson of Finn Mac Cumhaill (MacCool).
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HenryHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Henry was derived from the French Henri, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Heimrich, made up of the components heim, meaning “home” or “estate,” and rich, meaning “ruler.” The most famous wearer is Henry VIII of England, best known for having six wives—two of whom he beheaded for not bearing him sons. It’s been used in the British royal family many times since.

AtlasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology
  • Meaning:

    "bearer of the heavens"
  • Description:

    Previously thought too powerful for a baby boy – who would have to be strong enough to carry the world on his shoulders – Atlas has joined the pantheon of Greek and Roman god and goddess names now in the realm of possibility, along with Mars, Zeus and Apollo. It was one of the fast-rising names on the list in recent years in the USA, jumping from oblivion in 2012 into the Top 500 in 2015, and climbing several hundred places higher since then. Anne Heche was one of the first to make this audacious choice, but several celebrity parents have followed suit.

JackHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.

ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.

XavierHeart

  • Origin:

    Basque or Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "new house or bright"
  • Description:

    Xavier originated is use as a given name after Saint Francis Xavier, cofounder of the Jesuit order, who got his name from the Spanish-Basque village where he was born. His birthplace was Javier, the name of which was derived from the Basque place name Etxeberria, meaning “castle” or “new house.” Many Americans pronounce the initial X, as in ex-ZAY-vee-er, but it's equally accepted to pronounce the name ZAY-vee-er, closer to the French pronunciation.
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RoseHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rose, a flower"
  • Description:

    Rose is derived from the Latin rosa, which referred to the flower. There is also evidence to suggest it was a Norman variation of the Germanic name Hrodohaidis, meaning “famous type.” In Old English it was translated as Roese and Rohese.

RhysHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "ardor"
  • Description:

    There's Rhys and there's Reese (now more popular for girls) and there's Reece, and we particularly like the traditional Welsh spelling, which entered the list in 2004, possibly influenced by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, of The Tudors, and Welsh-born actor Rhys Ifans.

AriaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "air; song or melody"
  • Description:

    Aria has origins in both Italian and Hebrew. In the former, Aria's literal meaning, air, is meant as a musical term denoting a kind of song or melody. Hebrew Aria is a variation of Ari, meaning “lion.” In Persian, Aria is a male name, and in Indian it is considered unisex. Arya is an alternate spelling.

OrionHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Orion is a rising star, with both mythical and celestial overtones.

JamesHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.
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MilesHeart

  • Origin:

    English form of Milo
  • Meaning:

    "soldier or merciful"
  • Description:

    Miles, which took on a permanent veneer of cool thanks to jazz great Miles Davis, is a confident and polished boy name starting with M that has been appreciated in particular by celebrity baby namers, including Elisabeth Shue, Mayim Bialik, Larenz Tate, Joan Cusack and Lionel Ritchie.

WrenHeart

  • Origin:

    English bird and nature name
  • Description:

    Wren, a lilting songbird name, could be the next Robin. It makes a particularly pleasing middle name choice, as does her newly discovered cousin Lark. Wren entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2012 and is among the new wave of popular English names for girls.

NovaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "new"
  • Description:

    Nova is a name that has the feel of both newness, from his meaning, and great energy from being an astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, then fades.

MaxHeart

  • Origin:

    English and German diminutive of Maximilian or Maxwell
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Max was derived from Maximilian, a Latin name that originated from the Roman family name Maximus. The character name Max in the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are had an impact on baby namers. Max is a widely used name internationally.

DangerHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Description:

    Prime example of the aggressive word names that are an off-the-grid branch of the new macho names. Makes Cannon, Maverick, and Ranger feel almost soft and sensitive by comparison.
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ClaireHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Clara
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Claire is the French form of Clara, a feminine derivation of the Latin masculine name Clarus. The French word for “clear,” Claire’s meaning, is clair, and was traditionally a male name. Now the spelling is used mainly for girls, along with Clare, and occasionally Klaire or Klare.

WillowHeart

  • Origin:

    English nature name
  • Meaning:

    "willow tree"
  • Description:

    Willow came into use as a given name after the willow tree, whose name was derived from the Old English word welig, meaning “willow.” Willow trees are associated with grace and elegance, which gave way to the adjective “willowy.” Other names with meanings related to willows include Arava, Willoughby, Dozier, Wellesley, Selby, and Salton.

GraceHeart

  • Origin:

    English, virtue name
  • Description:

    Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for “grace.” It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace—the love and kindness of God.

BodhiHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "awakening, enlightenment"
  • Description:

    Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as "enlightenment" or "awakening" which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. The Bodhi tree is a large fig tree under which the founder of Buddhism received enlightenment. Spelling variations include Bodie and Bode.

CharlesHeart

  • Origin:

    French from German
  • Meaning:

    "man, free man"
  • Description:

    Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.
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SageHeart

  • Origin:

    Herb name; Latin
  • Meaning:

    "wise"
  • Description:

    Sage is an evocatively fragrant herbal name that also connotes wisdom, giving it a double advantage. It entered the Top 1000 at about the same time for both genders in the early 1990s, but it has pulled ahead for the girls. Toni Collette named her daughter Sage Florence.

JaneHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    No, we don't consider Jane too plain. In fact, for a venerable and short one-syllable name, we think it packs a surprising amount of punch, as compared to the related Jean and Joan.

RiverHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    River shares the tranquil feeling of all the water names, and seems to have pretty much escaped its past strong association with River Phoenix and his unfortunate fate. Keri Russell and the Taylor Hansons both have sons named River, Natasha Henstridge used it as the middle name of her boy Tristan, and Jason Schwartzman pluralized it for daughter Marlowe Rivers.

AnnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Hannah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anna is the Latin form of Hannah, a Hebrew name that derived from root chanan, meaning “grace.” European Christians embraced the name for its associations with the Virgin Mary’s mother, Saint Anna—known in English as Saint Anne. While Hannah and Anna are the most common forms of the name, variations including Annie, Annalise, Anya, Anika, Nancy, and Anais also rank in the US Top 1000.

WilliamHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, “will,” and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.
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MaeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "bitter or pearl"
  • Description:

    Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

MaverickHeart

  • Origin:

    American
  • Meaning:

    "independent, nonconformist"
  • Description:

    At the rate it's growing, Maverick soon won't seem like such a maverick anymore. Heard first in a 1950s James Garner western TV series, and then as the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, Maverick symbolizes an unfettered, free spirit.

HarperHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "harp player"
  • Description:

    Harper is a red hot name for girls, having jumped from obscurity to near the top of the popularity list in less than a decade; it entered the Top 10 for the first time in 2015, and has stayed near there since. Harper is a prime example of the trend of surnames that turn into boys' names and then become girls' names. Harper was rarely heard for either sex before the mid-2000s, entering the girls' list in 2004. (For boys, it was in use until 1906 when it dropped off the scope and didn't reappear until a full century later.)

AlexanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexander is derived from the Greek name Aléxandros, composed of the elements aléxein, meaning “to defend,” and aner, meaning “man.” According to Greek legend, the first Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. He was followed by Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III, who conquered much of Asia.

HunterHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "one who hunts"
  • Description:

    Hunter has been dropping a bit for the past few years but is still one of the leaders of a distinctive band of boys' names that combines macho imagery (Hunter, Austin, Harley) with a softened masculinity. Hunter was for years attached to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson; Josh Holloway used it for his son.
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AnthonyHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Anthony is derived from the Roman family name Antonii, and was initially used as Antony, without the “h.” The name evolved into Anthony in the 17th century, when it was speculated that it derived from the Greek word anthos, meaning “flower.” In England, whether it's spelled Anthony or Antony, the name is often pronounced as the latter, while Americans typically utter the “h” if present.

ElizabethHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva, formed by the components ’el, meaning “God,” and shava’, “oath.” In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and two of England's most notable queens have been Elizabeth I and II. Another memorable bearer was Elizabeth Taylor—who hated to be called Liz.

KnoxHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "round hill"
  • Description:

    Knox is an old Scottish surname that Brad Pitt (whose great-great-grandfather was named Hal Knox Hillhouse) and Angelina Jolie took out of the back cupboard, dusted off, and elevated to coolness--to the point where it entered the popular baby nameslist in 2009. Knox now ranks among the most influential celebrity baby names.

FlynnHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "son of the red-haired one"
  • Description:

    Flynn, a charming Irish surname, is still used only quietly, despite its easygoing, casual cowboy charm, unlike Finn which is a star of this genre. Flynn was the choice of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr for their baby boy, and is also the middle name -- used as his first -- of a son of Miranda's fellow supermodel Elle Macpherson, of Gary Oldman's son Gulliver and Marley Shelton's daughter West.

JadeHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "stone of the side"
  • Description:

    As cool as the precious green stone said to transmit wisdom, clarity, justice, courage, and modesty, Jade has been rising in popularity since Mick and Bianca Jagger chose it for their daughter in 1971. Superchef Giada de Laurentiis chose it as the English translation of her own first name. Jade manages to strike the golden mean as one of the familiar-yet-unusual girl names starting with J.
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KitHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Christopher
  • Description:

    Actor Kit Harington, aka the dreamy Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, has given this nickname-name new style and appeal for boys. Actress Jodie Foster used it for her son. For girls, it's an updated diminutive of Katherine.

CatherineHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    Catherine is one of the oldest and most consistently well-used girls’ names, with endless variations and nicknames. The Catherine form feels more gently old-fashioned and feminine than the more popular K versions. Most stylish nickname for Catherine right now: Kate...or Cate, a la Blanchett.

JohnHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    John is an English derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan via the Latin name Iohannes, itself coming from the Greek Ioannes. John was a key name in early Christianity, borne by John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the Evangelist, plus 84 saints and 23 popes, as well as kings and countless other illustrious notables. Contrary to popular belief, the names John and Jonathan are unrelated, the latter being an elaboration of Nathan.

DavidHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    David is derived from the Hebrew name Dawid, which evolved from the element dod, meaning “beloved.” It is the name of the Old Testament second king of Israel who, as a boy, slew the giant Philistine Goliath with his slingshot. He grew up to become a wise and highly cultivated leader who enjoyed music and was a poet, later providing inspiration to such great sculptors as Michelangelo and Donatello.

ZephyrHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "west wind"
  • Description:

    If you're looking for a boy's name that's light and breezy, this could be it. A name from mythology: Zephyrus/Zephyr was the Greek god of the west wind-- with many European variations, it's a name that's frequently seen in computer and video games, is a character in the children's book Silverwing, and appears in the Babar books--as a monkey.
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MargaretHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Margaret is derived from the French Marguerite, which in turn came from Margarita, the Latin form of the Greek Margarites. Margarites was based on the Old Persian word margārīta, meaning “pearl.”

ApolloHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    With mythological names rising, the handsome son of Zeus and god of medicine, music, and poetry among many other things might offer an interesting, if high-pressure, option. But if Romeo and Venus are now deemed baby-appropriate, why not Apollo? Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno might inspire some parents. And now that it's been chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, it could take off as their first son's name—Kingston—has.

SethHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "appointed, placed"
  • Description:

    The long-neglected name of Adam and Eve's third son after Cain and Abel, Seth is appreciated for its gentle, understated presence -- and strong middle-name potential. It reached a high of Number 63 in the year 2000.

ColeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "swarthy, coal black"
  • Description:

    Cole -- a short name that embodies a lot of richness and depth -- has long been associated with the great songwriter Cole Porter. It's quite popular in Scotland.

AshHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Asher, English
  • Meaning:

    "ash tree"
  • Description:

    Ash has Southern charm plus the arboreal-nature appeal. Plus your little boy will prize Ash as the name of the hero of the Pokemon cartoons. Ash can also be a dashing short form of Asher, Ashton, or any other "Ash" name.
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