Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, 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!
We have two daughters, Anastasia Grace “Anya” and Genevieve Adele “Vivi.” Last year, Anya told me there was a baby brother in my tummy. Turns out she was right!
I’m a little lost on boy names, maybe partly because while I’m confident in what I like in girls’ names, I’m struggling to define or explain my boy name preferences. They feel pretty eclectic by comparison.
His middle name will almost certainly be Arthur, a family name. (We don’t like it as a first.)
We also have a niece who passed away recently. We’d love to honor Peyton, if possible.
I have a giant list of names that I whittled down to fifteen. But that list feels like it changes minute to minute. My husband’s list of four or five names has all been crossed out for one reason or another.
Here’s the original long list:
Alaric – My husband’s favorite right now, but it repeats an initial
Brio (meaning: life, musical term con brio: play with vigor)
Lucan – nickname Luc/Luke; this was our boy name when Anya was born, but there are some associations I don’t like
Lucian – nickname Luc/Luke
These are more guilty pleasures or possible nicknames:
I still LOVE a lot of the names on the list, but haven’t gotten “that feeling” that THIS one is it yet, which makes me wonder if there is a name I haven’t considered.
My husband is happy with Alaric and it’s not that I’m not. But I’m second guessing it.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Stephanie –
What a great story to tell your son someday – that his sister knew about him first!
I hear what you’re saying about not knowing your style. It’s easy to get hung up on the question, of course. But it’s also tough to feel like any name could be on your list.
Here’s what strikes me about your girls’ names:
- They’re both traditional choices with a long history of use.
- And yet, neither name has ever been particularly common, at least not in the US.
- Both are nickname-rich names that work nicely in full, with lots of flexibility built in.
It seems like you might like boys’ names that fit this same general pattern: rooted in history and broadly familiar, but not too popular; nickname-rich but not so elaborate that the full name feels burdensome.
On paper, Alaric sounds like a brother for Anastasia and Genevieve. Except. I can’t figure out how to shorten it. Al? Ricky? Rico? Lars? They’re all plausible, but not as automatic or perhaps even as appealing – at least for me – as Anya and Vivi.
It’s also true that Alaric feels far less familiar than your girls’ names.
And so I wonder if that’s why it’s never quite clicked?
I’m going to take another pass at your long list, and see which names best fit the same general guidelines as Anastasia and Genevieve. I’ll add in a few more, too.
- Alasdair/Alistair – It’s not automatic, but I think Alasdair could be shortened to Alec. Though it seems like you’d rather not repeat an initial, so I’m not sure if this really goes to the top of the list.
- Sebastian – Sebastian might seem a little too popular for you, and yet I wonder if shortening it to Bastian would sidestep that issue?
- Benedict – Benedict called Ben seems pretty much perfect. (Or, if Ben is too common, Benno, Nic, or Ned?)
- Callahan – One of my favorites. It’s not the same style as Anastasia and Genevieve, but the name’s length and rhythm make it feel compatible. It shortens to friendly, upbeat Cal or even Hal. It reminds me of Macallan and Calix on your list, too. If both are close-but-not-quite, how about Calvin, Calder, or another Cal- name?
- Dominic – I know that Dominic ranks in the US Top 100, and I’ve even met a few. But I feel like nothing sounds much like Dominic, and that makes it stand out. Nickname Nico feels edgy and bright, but Dom is an easy go-to choice, too.
- Donovan – It doesn’t seem like it’s one of your favorites, but Donovan called Van leaps out at me as a name that hits the same notes as Genevieve and Anastasia.
- Elias – Is Elias called Eli really off the table? It does rank in the current US Top 100, so perhaps it should be. And yet, I think it has potential.
- Everett – You’ve listed Everest as a guilty pleasure/middle name maybe, and I can see that. But how about Everett? It’s very similar to Everest, but far more mainstream. Evander might be a little more out-there, but it has potential, too.
- Finian – Looking at Finn immediately made me think of longer Finn- names. Griffin, maybe, if not Finian?
- Lucian – Lucian comes from the Latin lux – light. And Genevieve is the Patron Saint of Paris, the City of Light. It’s an appealing connection between the siblings’ names. Nickname Luc or Luke is pretty much perfect. And while it’s not directly related to Peyton’s name, the idea of light seems like an uplifting one, a very subtle way of remembering her life.
- Malachi – Malachi called Kai seems pretty close to perfect! Malachi is in the same popularity range as your girls’ names. And Kai seems like the kind of spunky, upbeat nickname that you prefer. Spelling isn’t ideal – it seems like it should be Chi, only that doesn’t really sound like Kai, right? Still, I think it works.
- Paxton – Strictly speaking, this surname doesn’t come from the Latin word for peace – pax – and it’s not related to Peyton. But it strikes me as a good choice to kind-of, sort-of approximate Peyton. And the meaning – peace – feels very appropriate, too.
- Wilder – William seems a little too conventional, but I can see that Wilder feels a tiny bit out-there. Would Wilder called Wil or Will be an option?
- Zachariah – I love the idea of Zachariah for your family. It’s a little bit different, but only a little. And Anya, Vivi, and Zach sound just right together.
- Zechariah – But if Zachariah is a maybe, would Zechariah be an option? Strictly speaking, Zechariah is the original, and Zachariah the variant from the King James version of the Bible. It comes from the Hebrew word zakhar – to remember, which seems fitting for your niece’s memory. It also shortens to Zeke, a nickname that might have some appeal.
All of this – the meaning, the nickname, and the name’s familiar-but-uncommon status – but Zechariah at the top of my suggestions list.
But if that’s not quite right, I’m most tempted by Callahan called Cal, and Lucian called Luc or Luke. I think any of the three work well with Arthur as a middle name, though Lucian Arthur might be my favorite.
Let’s turn it over to the readers, because I know they’ll have all sorts of great suggestions, too!
Readers, what would you name a brother for Anastasia “Anya” and Genevieve “Vivi”?