Name Help

Baby Name Help is a new series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Colleen writes:

We have one son, Zachariah Tom.  We are expecting a second son in December.

We have decided to name our second son Vincent with Vin as a nickname.

Our struggle is finding a middle name.

Zachariah’s middle name is after my grandfather.

We would like to use a name from my husband’s family this go around but we’ve hit a road block. None of the names work for us.

Do you think that we can just pick a name we like if we say our first daughter (if we have one someday) will have a name from his side of the family?

Colleen also shared their current shortlist of possible middles:

  • Ronan (from husband’s dad, Ron)
  • Francis
  • Matthew (no family connection. I just like it but I worry it’s too boring)
  • Luca (my suggestion if he’s born on St Lucia Day 12/13)
  • Nico (if he’s born on St Nicholas Day)
  • Ford (because I’m married to a car guy)

She also added that they’re an outdoorsy family and open to nature names.

Read on for my ideas – and please add your suggestions in the comments!

First things first: nope, you don’t need to use a family name for baby #2.  Or for any child, ever.

And while you didn’t ask me this specifically, I don’t think you even have to make promises about future children’s names.  After all, you like the concept of using family names, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a good fit in this case.

What seems more significant is that baby #2 has a name that you love just as much, and a name that carries some meaning.  Someday you can tell Zachariah that his middle name is for his great-grandfather, and tell Vin that his middle name is for …

So we’re trying to fill in the blank, and I think you’re definitely on the right track.

A note on your firstborn’s name – Zachariah Tom isn’t too out there – and yet, together, there’s something slightly edgy about Zachariah Tom.  That long, elaborate first name and the short, nickname-y middle.  I wouldn’t have thought of it if I thought for a thousand years, and yet I really love it – it feels confident.

Let’s also try to match that vibe – established names that pack a punch when put together.

  • Vincent Ronan – A handsome combination, and the only one on your list that honors a loved one – your husband’s father.  But since you’re inclined to use family names, and you’re not sold on Ronan, maybe this isn’t the name for you.
  • Vincent Matthew, Vincent Francis – They’re nice names.  But I feel like they don’t quite satisfy your wishlist.
  • Vincent Luca, Vincent Nico – Great names, both, and unconventional enough that they feel like a brother for Zachariah Tom.  I’m inclined to root for either of these, or their variants.  (Vincent Lucius?  Vincent Nicolo?)  I think you could certainly Nico – or any Nicolas name – for a baby who arrives anytime during the holiday season.
  • Vincent Ford – This seems almost as confident as Zachariah Tom.  I think they sound like brothers.  And if dad is into cars, then this is a meaningful middle.

Since it seems like you’re attracted to the idea of a seasonal name, I thought I’d check this list for inspiration.  How about:

Hoar frost or soft rime on a cold winter day i...

  • Vincent Frost – A seasonal name that feels just right for a winter baby.
  • Vincent Drummer – Christmas story “The Little Drummer Boy” is mostly a twentieth-century phenomenon.  (There’s no drummer boy in the traditional nativity story.)  And yet, it feels like a seasonal name.  Though maybe this is too offbeat.
  • Vincent Fraser – The name of an evergreen – associated with the season, but also with loyalty and steadfastness, good qualities both.

The middle name is a great place for something a little more daring, and since Vincent is such a masculine classic, I think you could really take a chance.

A few non-seasonal suggestions:

  • Vincent CedarTree names are a great source of ideas, and Fraser got me thinking … if you’re not sold on a seasonal name, would Cedar appeal?
  • Vincent Field, Vincent Fielding – Field is outdoorsy; Fielding is slightly preppier, but still with a nod to the natural world.
  • Vincent Rael – The only family name you’re considering is Ronan, for Ronald.  Ronald is originally a great Old Norse name – Ragnvaldr, brought to Scotland thanks to the Viking invasions.  According to Nordic Names, Rael is another form of Ragnvaldr.  Is that too far to feel like it still honors grandpa?  Maybe, but it seems like an interesting sound.

Overall, my favorite is still from your list – Vincent Ford.  It’s a little different, with a nod to dad’s interests.

Colleen, congratualtions on baby #2 – and please let us know what your family decides.

UPDATE: He’s here!  And his name is Vincent Ford.  Congratulations to Colleen and her family, and a huge thank you to each and every reader who helped think this one through!

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I love Vincent Ron! Our son’s middle name is James, after my husbanf’s grandfather who was known exclusively as Jim, and now I wish we’d gone with Jim as the middle name. Roan is another inspired idea. I also like Vincent Nic or Nico, and Vincent Jack is great both on sound and as a nod to winter, with he Jack Frost reference. I was also going to suggest Vincent Noel as another Christmas-y reference.

  2. I also like Vincent Ron or Vincent Ford best from the list and suggestions.
    Are there other car names that might work? (I have no idea what I’m talking about so just throwing out things that sound good):
    Vincent Royce–car connection and the RO part of Ronald?
    I think Vincent Dodge sounds cool, but even I know that is NOT a cool car.
    Other suggestions based on sound/brevity:
    Vincent Cam
    Vincent Jack
    Nature ideas:
    Vincent Leith
    Vincent Ash
    Vincent Tide
    Vincent Field

  3. Add my vote for Ford. If Son #1 was named for someone on mom’s side of the family, and you want to keep parity, say #2 was named for someone on dad’s side of the family, namely, dad!

  4. Thank you so much for posting my question! We’ve been reading the post and comments. What great ideas and perspectives! Thank you Abby and all who posted. I promise to give an update once he’s here and the birth certificate is all filled out.

  5. I like Vincent Ford the best from your list based strictly on how the name sounds. Ford, like Tom, is a rather abrupt middle with a longer first. I like the continuity. Other options:

    Vincent Roald (still short, but kind of like Ron?)
    Vincent Frost (love this from Abby’s suggestions)
    Vincent Oak (love this from Kerry’s suggestions)
    Vincent Fox (very fun and makes the extremely masculine first a little more mischievous)

    Good luck!!

  6. Love Vincent. How about using Heath if you like nature and the outdoors? I think Vincent Heath has a handsome ring to it. X

  7. I like Vincent Ford best from your list, but think a nature name would be the best way to match the unexpectedness of Tom.

    Vincent Oak
    Vincent Alder
    Vincent Roan

  8. Why not Vincent Ron? It follows the pattern of your older son’s name and would honor your husband’s father.

    1. This is what I thought when reading this! Ron has a more easy-going vibe than Tom, but both are mid-century specials, and the grandfather connection is awesomely great.

      Vincent Nic has a definite edge, and as Abby noted above, is totally appropriate for any guy born near the holidays. It *almost* sounds like Vin St. Nick. Subtle and cool.

      Great naming style and best wishes to you!