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’re expecting our second child, a boy, in June.
Our daughter is Beatrix Rose, but we call her Bea (pronounced like Bee).
We’re looking for a name that is stylistically similar to Beatrix, but also has a cute nickname.
Ideally the name would also be similarly classic, but not particularly popular. So while we like William and Oliver, they feel too common.
We also want to use the family name Hughes as a middle name.
Current front runners are August/Augusten Hughes (called Gus) or Henry Hughes (called Hank – Henry is generally too popular for us, but Hank feels like it checks the classic, but uncommon box).
We tend to like Gus better than Hank, but like the more formal Henry Hughes better than August Hughes. Should we prioritize the name based on the nickname we like best, given it will be what we call our son most of the time?
We’re also open to other suggestions. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new son!
Let’s begin with the last question: should you prioritize the formal name, or the nickname?
I think this comes down to how you plan to use the names.
If you intend to introduce your child as Hank or Gus, label it on his backpack for his first day of kindergarten, and sign thank you notes and holiday cards “and Hank” or “and Gus,” then that’s the name you prioritize.
If the were opposite is true – if the nickname is primarily for family use, and he’ll still be Henry or August/Augusten outside of the house? Then I’d choose accordingly.
But it sounds like you’re really deciding between Hank and Gus, and you have a clear favorite.
We’ll get back to that in a minute.
AUTOMATIC NICKNAMES VERSUS ONES YOU THINK ABOUT
There’s one other factor to consider.
Beatrix-called-Bea is so automatic that I doubt it causes any hesitation. Chances are someone would try to call her Bea even if you hadn’t planned to shorten her name!
August-called-Gus is familiar, but plenty of Augusts answer to Auggie, too. And while my sense is that most people know that Hank is short for Henry, it’s far from automatic.
I’m suggest a few boy names that fit your general style and seem like default nicknames.
MAXWELL – MAX
Strictly speaking, Maxwell started out as a surname. But we hear it as a first, and the most common formal name for Max. Max and Bea are pretty darling together.
NATHANIEL – NATE
Long and elaborate Nathaniel could be Nat, but it most often shortens to friendly, accessible Nate.
FINLEY, FINNEGAN, FINNIAN, FINTAN – FINN
There are a lot of formal names for Finn. But while I think Bea and Finn together are brilliant, I’m not sure if the formal name options fit your style.
THEODORE – THEO
The good news? Theodore isn’t nearly as popular as William or Oliver. But … it’s gaining on Henry. So while I think it’s a great example of a classic choice with an automatic nickname, I’m not sure it’s a better bet than what’s already on your list.
A BROTHER FOR BEA
Much as I can imagine any of these names with Bea, my vote goes to Gus.
August ranks in the US Top 200 and is climbing in use. But it’s far from the lofty Top Ten heights of some names you like. Both the formal names August and Beatrix and the casual Bea and Gus sound great together.
But I think this is the perfect opportunity to hear from the readers:
Blake T says
Not sure anyone will check in on this post any more, but we ended up going with a bit of an unusual route to get to Gus that we both liked: Atticus Hughes, nn Gus. A little bit of a stretch to get from ‘cus to Gus but it was a stretch we got comfortable with. Thanks to everyone for their well thought out suggestions!
Robert nn Bo
Rocco or Robert nn Rocky
I wonder if you’d like Ray?
I like both August and Henry. But I think you are here because you are not sure that is “the name” yet. So, in terms of other options:
– What about Philip? Ranked in the high 400s in 2019, Philip is an underused traditional name. I adore the nickname Pip and think Bea and Pip are just darling. Plus, Philip Hughes is dashing.
– I’m not sure it is your style, but wanted to suggest Leopold. It sits in the 500s, while Beatrix is in the 900s. So, it is quite a bit more popular, even though it may not feel it. The meaning is “brave people” which is appealing. Plus, don’t Beatrix and Leopold sound well matched? Bea and Leo? Swoon. Leopold Hughes.
— My last thought was Abram. I guess you could go all in with Abraham but I feel like Abram is a more contemporary. Sitting in the 400s it isn’t exactly popular either, yet has history galore. Nickname Bram. Bea and Bram, which you will either love or hate. Abby did a great post on Bram the other day. Abram Hughes.
Point is, you have great options beyond William and Oliver to have appealing, traditional yet still underused full names with endearing nicknames. Congrats on your little boy!
Another vote for Angus nn Gus!
Or even Bernard/Arthur/Edward to get Bee and Bear 🙂
I like Victor, Oscar and Dominic, too.
Erin Beth says
Gus gets my vote. I am partial to Augustine as a full name. Other ideas:
Julian nn Jules
Dashiell nn Dash
Edmund nn Ted or Ned or Mundo
Caspian nn Cap
Erin Beth says
One more idea: Jeremy nn Jem.
Angus!! I know a sibset of @ngus and Bea@rix, and I’ve given it my award of all-time favourite sibset! I love the sound of Angus Hughes…
And hey, you could always choose Henry Hughes nn Gus. No one will stop you from it. My cousin Justin went Gus growing up and no one batted an eye.
Although, I am also cheering on Hank for a comeback. So you can’t go wrong. Wait to meet him and bring your two options (along with Angus)?
Definitely not Bea’s dad, nope says
Curious how the board/Abby feels about Phinneas as an unusual alternative to get to Finn
I think Phinneas to Finn is awesome and a great way to have the more traditional name lead to a fun nickname.
Super cute! Beatrix & Phinneas / Bea & Finn is a sweet set.
LOL at the username…
I agree with how to prioritize, but I will say that if you use first middle when admonishing/disciplining then that preference matters just as much. I like Maxwell too.
Basil/ Jasper called Baz/Jaz
Ezekiel called Zeke
I think Augusten Hughes flows better than August Hughes as a formal name, but otherwise I agree with everything that’s been said about Gus sounding like the name. Beatrix Rose and Augusten Hughes are gorgeous together! (Also, Augusten is a less popular version of August, just like Beatrix is a less popular version of Beatrice.)
In regards to the original poster’s question: “Should we prioritize the name based on the nickname we like best, given it will be what we call our son most of the time?” I would say yes, as long as you are still happy overall with the formal name too. The amount of times your child will be called by their first and middle names together will be quite limited, so if you prefer Gus more than Henry Hughes, then yes, pick August… (but only if you’re happy with him also being called August and Auggie/other unforeseen nicknames too as Abby mentioned).
But I also really like Maxwell from Abby’s suggestions. Beatrix and Maxwell / Max and Bea sound great together, and I like how they both share an X (may not be so great if you’re planning more kids down the track though).