UPDATE: He’s here! Welcome Peter Wesley. Scroll down for some thoughts from Stacy.
When we were naming our first son, we had a lot of rules. No nicknames, no family names, nothing too hard to pronounce or spell. Something with history, but not like a William-James-David kind of super-traditional name. No Top Ten names, but nothing weird, either.
After months of looking, we found the right name: Adam Elliott. It works well with our long, hard to spell and impossible to pronounce last name, and I like that everyone knows it, but we don’t hear it a lot, either.
If this baby was a girl, we were thinking of Ruth, but hadn’t really settled on it. And we’re not sure about using another name that seems so Biblical. (We’re not especially religious.)
Avoiding a clearly Biblical name would probably be best. Also, I’m reluctant to choose a hipster name. Walter and Clyde and Alfred almost seem like the right kind of name, except I think they feel sort of cool, and that’s not what we’re going for, either.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Stacy –
Congratulations on your new son!
I think I hear what you’re looking for: the elusive normal name. They’re easier to come by for boys than for girls, probably because names for girls tend to trend in and out favor just a little more quickly. (Though that’s changing!)
The trouble is that there’s really no such thing as a normal name. Walter and Clyde and Alfred ought to qualify, but I know what you mean. I expect to stumble on those kids in certain neighborhoods in Portland or Austin or Brooklyn. They’re great names, but names with a certain style, right?
Instead, let’s look at this list: Sweet Spot Boy Names.
A bunch of these – like Jonah and Jude and Kai – probably fall short of some of your criteria. But that still leaves:
Graham – The name has been around for ages. It’s a Scottish surname, in heavy use as a given name long before we all decided to name our boys Mason and Carter.
Hugo – The ‘o’ ending makes Hugo a little more stylish, but only a little. This is a rock solid choice, traditional but current. And the meaning is marvelous: heart.
Malcolm – I suppose Malcolm often becomes Mal. Or Cole or Colm. But I think it would be pretty easy – maybe even automatic – to say Malcolm in full circa 2019.
Simon – Like Adam, Simon comes from the Bible. But neither name strikes me as particularly religious … more in the overlooked traditional names category.
Speaking of traditional, maybe we should stick to something more classic? There’s overlap across the lists, of course.
George – The future British monarch gave this name a tiny boost, but it remains just outside the US Top 100. (In fact, it’s hovered there for a few years.)
Patrick – Parents likely avoid Patrick because Pat feels like a nickname from another age. But Patrick in full works wonderfully well today. And the few little Patricks that I know all go nickname-free.
Peter – Like Simon, it’s clearly drawn from the Bible, but doesn’t feel like a spiritual choice. And, like Patrick, I tend to hear it used in full. After all, this is the era of Hunter and Parker and Carter. Peter makes more sense than Pete.
Vincent – Like Adam, Vincent doesn’t exactly feel fashionable. No celebrities are using it. It’s not racing up the popularity charts. But that’s what makes it so perfect, right? Men of distinction – saints, artists, athletes – have answered to Vincent. And while I like Vincent best in full, I wonder if Vince would appeal? It’s one of those nicknames that’s quite faithful to the original name.
My picks are Graham and Patrick. I think they hit the right note: familiar, traditional but not too buttoned-down, unlikely to be shortened, and they don’t sound like they’re straight out of the Old Testament.
But I know readers will have some great suggestions. And so let’s open this up: What would you name a brother for Adam Elliott?
UPDATE: He’s here! Stacy writes “We loved Ian, but not with our last name. He was almost Paul until he was born, but something about it didn’t feel exactly right. After lots of back and forth, we went back to this list and decided to name him Peter Wesley. It suits him perfectly. Thanks for all of the help!”
JK Garrisin says
I love Adam Elliott! Here are some other short and classic (but not too trendy or religious) suggestions:
Ian, Miles, Jude, Cole, Grant, Evan
Sara L. Uckelman says
I’m going to toss in three suggestions: Timothy, Paul, and Justin.
Ian and Wesley are great suggestions. Also:
Ok, yes, Mark
I don’t want to say these are 80s inspired but I feel like these are solid choices ready for revival, in some cases.
But Ian Alexander might be my favorite combo with Adam Elliot!
Adam and Walt give me all sorts of warm fuzzies! I hope you reconsider Walter! Other names that come to mind are Sam, Gus, David/Dave/Davey, William/Will/Billy, and Wes/Wesley.
I like the suggestions of Grant, Heath, Peter and Joel. Also: Nolan, Emmet, Colin, Evan, David, Davis, Daniel and Zachary and Trevor.
Love suggestions of Joel, Perry, Eric and Scott. I also think the name Heath stands well with the name Adam, isn’t overly popular and doesn’t seem hipster or stuck in one generation to me.
Erin Beth says
My first thought for you was Joel, although I realize it is Biblical. Other ideas I like:
I think Graham is perfect! I also like Thomas, Spencer, Sawyer, Ian, and Max/Maxwell!
I’m going to pile onto the Eric bus…. I think Eric is pretty perfect with Adam and you desire for traditional but not overused and not hipster.
I was wondering about Eric Alfred…. Would be a neat inverse of Adam Elliot’s initials while including a name on your “like” list. Just a thought.
The Mrs. says
One more (even though he’s biblical): Isaac!
The Mrs. says
The suggestion of Grant is excellent. So is Scott!
What about Frank?
Or John? (Perhaps he’s too William/James…)
Dean could work.
Jesse is biblical, too. Philip is usually just Philip, not Phil.
Hey, what about Ray?!
Best wishes and congrats!
I have a cousin named Adam and was going to suggest his brother’s names, but I *just* realised they all have biblical roots — even being someone as “into” names as I am, I literally never noticed before! Probably because their parents aren’t particularly religious either. Anyway, in case you’re interested: Michael, Elijah, Zachary, and two more half-brothers [unrelated to Adam] named Austin and Ethan.
Vincent is my favorite from Abby.
May I also suggest:
Adam makes me think of Ryan, Clark, Simon, Eric, Kyle
Are Mark and Luke too biblical?
I’d also want to suggest Stephen and Matthew, but maybe too nickname-prone?
Patrick and Eric are perfect. I’ll add Scott.
Jean C. says
I love the suggestion of Jonathan. I feel like in today’s naming world, this name is unlikely to be shortened to Jon. It’s such a great name! Same goes for Patrick. I wonder if Nathan, Kyle or Travis might also work?
Leo! Adam and Leo. Everyone knows how to spell and pronouce Leo, but it’s actually in #227 (far away from Adam in #72). To me it is the “elusive normal name”, if we exclude Biblical names.
Leo’s such a great name.
The first idea that came to mind for me was Jesse!
SUCH a good suggestion!
I absolutely love the suggestion of Wallace. Adam Elliot and Wallace Kent seems to hit a sweet spot of known name without being hipster or overly popular. However, Wallace can very easily lead to the nickname Wally, which is a good name all on its own. Erik is another great choice, maybe it’s just where I am it seems to be used quite a lot, or I just seem to run into parents with little boys named Eric/k/Arik. Ryan is another great suggesting. Adam and Ryan sound very much like brothers to me. Good luck finding a name that hits the sweet spot Adam Elliott did the first time around.
I agree with all of the suggestions for Eric. It’s almost always used in full, and you rarely hear it, but it’s perfectly wearable.
And harking back to one of the last name help posts, where the number of letters was a consideration, it even has the same number of letters as Adam and Ruth (if she holds onto this name for a future girl).
Grant seems perfect. Maybe Brett.
What about Zachary? Yeah, its biblical but it doesn’t feel religious in the same way that something like Ezekiel or Jedidiah would, if that makes sense. Adam and Zack. Adam and Zachary. A to Z is kinda fun.
Other names that are established but you don’t hear often…
Perry and Eric are two names that come to mind. Long history of use, easy to say and spell yet nobody is currently using (at least where I live).
I love Perry. Never would have thought of it.
Graham sounds great with Adam. I am also partial to Hugo and Vince.
I think based off of your examples of Walter, Alfred and Clyde you might like Eric, Wallace or Clark. While we’re on Clark, let’s just say Kent too.
Names I like with Adam from least popular in 2018 to most popular
I probably wouldn’t use Walter, Wallace, or Archer if you are avoiding names with nicknames.