Elaborate 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?
Calpurnia, Constatina, Photina, Olivetta, Marietta
Apollonia as already mentioned is my ultimate fave, but I also love Maybelline, Forsythia, and Anemone.
Sara A. says
My daughter just named a doll Eve Magnolia, which seems such an extravagant name for a doll.
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 . . .
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.
Philomel, Isadora, Leocadia, and Amaranta
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).
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.
Lucky duck! Apollonia is one of my favorites. I loved the book Apollonia’s Valentine when I was little.
Hypatia after the ancient Greek Mathematician/Philosopher/Astronomer/Teacher in Egypt. She was tragically killed.
Scholastica a 5th century nun and saint. It has quite the intellectual vibe as well as being unique and elaborate!
My personal favorite elaborate smoosh is “Vangelaine” from Evangeline + Elaine.
From fantasy: Eilonwy of the Black Cauldron.
And I’m kind of fascinated with Arsinoë, the sister of Cleopatra.
The pronunciation of Boudica (in any spelling) is hotly debated by historians- it seems you’re not alone in not knowing it, Abby!
I used to love the idea of tragic warrior queens when I was a kid. I would have considered Boadecia at one point, sounds better than the more historically correct Boudica. Unfortunately you can get modern translations of speaches she made and they’re pretty sexist and aweful, calling romans effeminate because they wear dresses and weird stuff like that. Put me off it. I would seriously consider Tarenora as a middle name for a daughter, after Tasmanian geurilla leader Tarenorerer. She was a pretty remarkable yet forgotten women who deserves a namesake. Plus I’m Aussie so it’s heritage appropriate.
If “Remember” is too imperative, Memorantia has been my new favorite virtue name ever since I found an example of it.
Great find, Sara – thanks!
Zena Eve says
Artemisia and Wisteria in the middle makes me swoon.
When I was in elementary, I loved reading the Dear America series. There was one in particular that was the fictional diary of Remember Patience Whipple who was a girl who came over on the Mayflower. That name has always stuck with me, I loved seeing it on the list! I also love Isadora and Valentina.
Slightly more traditional but Carolina and Alexandria make for interesting variations in the middle.
I’ve always been tempted by Edelweiss.
Oh – completely belongs on this list!
I’ve been tempted by Edelweiss as well!