Elaborate Middle NamesElaborate middle names can transform a plain first. And yet, they’re slightly harder to dream up, aren’t they?

Coming up with novel middle names is just plain fun. Cool, usually single syllable stunners feel easy at this point. Scout! Blue! Glow!

Elaborate middle names can spark up a mini name, like Mia or Ava. They work well with traditional choices, and mainstream ones, too. But they don’t come to mind as easily.

There are plenty of reasons to go big in the middle spot. If you’re inclined to go big, both in terms of something truly distinctive and the syllable count, these

One of my favorite baby naming tips is to go big in the middle spot.  Sure, there are kids who hate revealing that H is for Herman.  And there are parents who put Danger in the middle spot, probably not funny after … Or maybe it is.

For boys, two elaborate middle names came to mind immediately: Tiberius and Pendragon.

But for girls, it took some thinking. The names had to come in at three syllables or more. They had to stand out as truly unusual choices. And yet, they had to be reasonably wearable, too.

Here are my choices for great, completely unexpected elaborate middle names.

Elaborate Middle Names: Twists on Old Favorites

Elsinore – I’ve heard plenty of women with the middle name Eleanor (or Elinor). But how about Elsinore instead? The literary place name takes us back to tragic Hamlet, and yet it seems intriguing and wearable, too.

Isabeau – Isabeau comes from the same roots as Elizabeth and Isabella. Few of us have ever heard Isabeau, but with Elizabeth such a go-to middle name choice for girls, it feels like a logical substitute.

Elaborate Middle Names: History and Literature

Boadecia – Confession: I cannot pronounce this name. But Boadecia or Boudica – spellings vary – ruled a British tribe back in the first century. After her husband died, the Romans moved in and wreaked havoc. Then she took control of the kingdom, and led an uprising. It failed, of course, but she remains a fierce historical legend with a super-cool middle.

Scheharezade – Ages ago, a reader suggested that I write about Scheherazade. It inspired this post.

Elaborate Middle Names: The Natural World

Isabelline – This sounds like it belongs in the first category with Isabeau. The origins of Isabelline are debated, but today it refers to a color. The pale grey-yellow shade is associated with horses and birds, and sometimes other animals. Isabel works just fine as a middle, of course, but Isabelline makes it even grander and less expected.

Olivine – The mineral Olivine takes its name from its olive green color. As with Isabel/Isabelline, you might argue the Olive works every bit as well as Olivine. But if elaborate middle names are your style, it’s hard to beat Olivine.

Elaborate Middle Names: Modern Virtues

Remember – Someone asked me to write about Remember years ago, and what can I say? It stuck with me. The downside? This name sounds like a warning as much as a virtue. And yet, it’s an intriguing sound, and certainly implies a story.

Evergreen – At first glance, Evergreen belongs with the nature names. And that’s part of the name’s appeal, no doubt. But to be Evergreen is to be steadfast and loyal; unchanging and true. It’s not a great given name, despite the potential to shorten to Evie. But as a middle? It could make a surprisingly gorgeous option among elaborate middle names.

Okay, I’ve barely scratched the surface! What are your favorite elaborate middle names for girls?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Apollonia as already mentioned is my ultimate fave, but I also love Maybelline, Forsythia, and Anemone.

  2. I like “Terabithia”–a magical place in the children’s book “Bridge to Terabithia”–as a girl’s middle name, but I think I’m too timid to use it . . .

  3. I have loved the middle name Annaleise for a little while. One of my sixth grade classmates was named Annaleise and I immediately loved the name. I also like Madeline, Meredith (as a first or middle name), and Maralyn.

  4. I really love the concept of Remember as a first name or middle. The cute nickname “Remy” would be a good match.

    Two elaborate Biblical choices that could work in the middle name spot are Tzipporah and Jochebed, both relations to Moses (his wife and mother, respectively).

  5. Oh I love a hearty, unexpected middle name! My own is Apollonia and I love it.
    Some of my favourites are Mathildis, Iphigeneia, Persephassa, Ethelwynn, Ignatia, Lysistrata, Constantina and Zéphyrine.

    1. Lucky duck! Apollonia is one of my favorites. I loved the book Apollonia’s Valentine when I was little.