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!
I’m expecting my second son in the next six weeks or so and my husband and I are at a loss for names. All we have so far is the short list of names leftover from our first.
Our first son is Art Dorsey. Names we both tend to like are short, easy to pronounce and spell, aren’t too popular, and are what would be currently considered as grandparent-chic.
First names that we were considering before that could be back on the table would be Gus, Gil, Jude or Dewey. Other names we both might like are Linus, Amos, or Mack.
Middle names still evade us. Maybe it is hard without the first narrowed down more. But I tend to test middle names out like Lavern, Turner, Roe, Casper, or Palmer.
Also, my husband and I have different last names and neither of us have strong feelings either way about which last name to give our children. So far we are just going with sounds better with the first name. Our first took my husband’s two-syllable, starts with an R, ends with a -k sound last name. But mine, which starts with a McD and ends with a vowel sound, could also be in the running again.
For example, we’ve had a girl name that we both love picked out for a long time now, which is Mabel McD. Maybe someday we’ll have a girl, but for now these boy names are harder for us to find something that really strikes us. What would you recommend? I appreciate your insight!
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Erin –
Congratulations on your new son!
Art Dorsey is a brilliant first-middle combination. I sort of want to add “and his Orchestra” when I hear it. The name feels early twentieth century retro, jazzy, cool. But it’s rooted in tradition, and no one could argue that Art feels like it’s trying too hard.
No wonder it’s tough to name his brother!
Gus and Jude seem perfect on paper, but they’re probably both much more common than Art. At least, Jude certainly is, and with lots of little boys answering to August and related names, Gus feels like it must be, too.
Gil, Dewey, Linus, Amos, and Mack feel closer to the mark. I feel like Lavern, Turner, Roe, Casper, and Palmer could all make great middles, but it can be challenging to choose a middle when the first remains unsettled.
So let’s look at some fresh options for firsts.
Dex – We’re mad for Max and Jax, so why not Dex? Like those other names, it’s just three letters, but X offers a lot of sound. It could be short for Dexter, of course, but I think it stands on its own, too.
Frank – Here’s the beauty of Frank: like Art, it’s a nickname, in this case for Francis. But unlike Art (or Gus or Gil), it feels more like an independent name. If you named your sons Art and Gil, I wonder if you’d feel trapped into a three-letter, nickname-name pattern for a third son. Art, Frank, and Mabel sound like my great-great-uncles and aunts, a generation that’s just far enough in the past to sound fresh and stylish once more.
Ike – I can’t decide if Ike is the exactly perfect match to Art … or a little too close. I do think it’s the kind of strong sound that fits right in on your list, though, so I’m leaving it on the list.
Lyle – It’s close to Linus, but a little bit different, too.
Ray – I’m applying the same logic as Frank here; it’s a short name that stands on its own better than some. Plus, the image of a ray of light makes it bright and upbeat, while accomplished men like Ray Charles make it feel jazzy and cool.
Roscoe – Is Roscoe too far out? I pulled it from this list of 1919 boy names. I think that ‘o’ ending makes it quite current, even though it’s definitely borrowed from another century.
Overall, my favorite is Ray Turner. It matches Art Dorsey very well, but the sounds are distinct. And I think it picks up the right vibe, too: grandpa-chic, but short and easy to spell and pronounce.
Readers, what would you name a brother for Art Dorsey?
Oh golly, it just came to me: Saul! Art and Saul. It’s cheesy in such a heartwarming way.
Oh wow – I love that!
There are some really perfect suggestions out there already. Here are a few I thought of that aren’t already listed:
Len, Duke, Earl, Roy, King, Milt, Norm, Rudy, Grove, Ernie, King, Perry, Cal, Stan, Stu, Cleve, Claude, Wilt, Cliff
Also – Kip.
Since you like Lavern, what about Verne for a first name? I also like Ralph and Amos. Good luck!
Andrea Young says
Lloyd. John. Montey.
Andrea Young says
This! I prefer Morris nn Moss, but Morris is so perfect!
What about Orrin? Art and Orrin? If you want the one syllable, I like Rex and Hank best. Best of luck!
How about Gable?
I love all the names on your list so much as a brother for Art. I especially love Amos and Gil. If you want to start over and not use any of the names you considered for your first pregnancy, the first name that came to mind was Ned, just Ned and not short for anything. I love the sound of Ned Palmer together. It is a slightly different style but I knew friends named Art and Royal and always thought they sounded like a great brother set. Ralph always pairs nicely.
Love your naming style and can’t wait to see what you choose.
Morris nn Mo!
JK Garrisin says
Some other short, grandparent-chic names to mull over:
Ned, Dell, Lon, Hugh, Ira, Lou, Pete
And few middle names that sound like they’d fit in your list:
Jasper, Leander, Emory, Irving, Sherman
Maybe Ned Leander or Dell Emory could be a brother for Art Dorsey.
The Mrs. says
Oh, I love your style! These names are so…so… iconic and sturdy. Fun but direct.
I don’t think Mack works with the McD last name. But, WOW, what great options!
Zena Eve says
So many great suggestions!
I’ll add Mel, Ralph, and Van/Vance/Vaughn
I love the above suggestions, and also Irving.
One more that I havent seen here yet and love: Clive.
I also thought Griffin might make a good middle.
Art Dorsey & Clive Griffin
Art Dorsey & Ted Griffin (I do like Ted)
I think from your own list Mack Turner McD would be perfect. All of Abby’s one syllable suggestions sound good with Turner and Palmer. Hank Roscoe and Linus Lavern McD are also very nice. Beau Casper and Ray Casper could also work.
I really like Gus Palmer or Hank Roscoe. They both stir up the same vibe as your first’s name, but also stand well on their own.
Congrats on baby brother!!
I think you actually already have the best names on your list!!! Maybe with a perfect middle they’ll seem more right? I feel like no one is using Art these days. Same with Gil. Both derivatives of names on the slow upswing. Linus is also the same side of dusty in my opinion. Sooo how about:
Gil Palmer Mc
Linus Roe R-k (love alliteration)
Gil Turner Mc
Linus Lavern Mc (again with the alliteration)
I like that you’re just choosing the surname that sounds best. My in-laws did this and my nieces have lovely names and in their smaller community everybody knows who ‘belongs’ together, regardless of surname.
I really like Mack, Gus, Ike, and Roscoe but I especially love the suggestion of Ray Turner; so handsome!
I really like Floyd, Bruce, and Hank along with Art.
I actually really like Gus for you with Art and don’t think it’s too popular. Also like the suggestions of Ray, Lyle, Davis, Ned and Rufus.
I could also see Harry, Louis/Louie or Wade.
Maybe I’m in a Gus pocket? I feel like I know a bunch. But I think it’s true that it’s really not THAT popular, and it is a great name …
Yeah, I know a ton of Guses too. August, Augustus (whose twin is Gideon!), 2 just plain Gus and one Douglas inexplicably called Gus.
Dana M says
Mack, Jude, Frank and Ray are great! FE’s suggestions of Beau, Hugh and Oscar are also terrific, and I think Walt, Cal or Gabe could be a good fit, too.
I feel like some early jazz names might suit you:
I love this style! What about: Cy, Ned, or Errol?
OH – how could I forget Cy? And Ned. Love Ned …
Errol is very owl to me, but in a good way. And I think I’d change that association in a heartbeat if I met a person named Errol.
A few ideas in no particular order (and more may follow when I’ve pondered a little longer):
Ed or Ted