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 a son named Charlie, NOT Charles.
Our second son (and last baby) will be here in May, and we’re not sure about names.
I like James, but my husband wants to call him Jamie. I think Jamie and Charlie are too cutesy together, and I grew up with a girl Jamie who kind of ruins the name for me. Plus, I like that we don’t have to explain what to call Charlie, so I want another name that isn’t shortened.
Kai was also on my list for Charlie, but my husband thinks it’s a little too different. And I’m not sure about it with our last name.
My husband suggested Ryan, but we know a lot of adult Ryans, including a colleague on my team, so I think it’s out.
And then my dad suggested Parker, which I loved immediately. Except it was a joke, because Charlie Parker, the jazz musician.
Our sons’ last name is hyphenated and sounds like Howl-Berk or Halberk, if you say it fast.
We keep looking at lists, but nothing sounds like our son’s name. Help!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your second son!
I hear a few factors here.
First, your style is a little more casual-cool. It sounds like your husband prefers more classic, or at least traditional, choices. That makes Charlie a great compromise.
But happily, it’s not only compromise possibility!
It also sounds like your husband prefers names that he recognizes. It’s tough to wrap our heads around what kids are really being named now, not until we have a couple years’ worth of school assemblies and soccer team rosters to draw from. Because Kai is, of course, a fast-rising Top 100 favorite. While Ryan? It’s definitely in dad-name territory, though plenty of babies are still given the name.
The other hurdle might be your surname. Sounds-like-Halberk means you probably want to avoid names ending with a, because they’ll run into the beginning. But anything with a strong B/R/K might conflict with the last syllable. So … not insurmountable, but I did find myself saying “Arlo Halberk? Hmmm … no.”
That means we’re looking for a casual-cool name with enough history to satisfy you both, and a sound that balances well with sounds-like-Halberk.
A BROTHER FOR CHARLIE
If you like Parker, I wonder if other ends-with-R names would appeal? Asher has Hebrew roots and means happy. While it’s relatively new to the US Top 100, it has plenty of history. Plus, Ash names – from Ashley to Ashton to just Ash – have been around.
I’d call Emmett homespun. It’s a capable name, at home on a hiking trail or a college lecture hall. And I like the way the -ett ending pairs with sounds-like-Halberk.
As with Asher, Finn’s history traces back over centuries and then some. It has the same casual, breezy vibe as Kai. But all of that history might make it feel a little more familiar to your husband.
Sticking with single-syllable names, it’s hard to argue that Luke is anything but traditional. The repeating hard K sound is noticeable, but Luke is such a classic choice that it’s easy to overlook.
The first name that came to mind! Short like Kai, with a casual-cool energy that matches Charlie.
Maybe it’s Charlie Parker that put Miles Davis in my head, but why not Miles? It’s conventional but particularly stylish right now.
Ryan and Kai share a vowel sound. Add in a dollop of Parker and you’ll have Ryder. I’m guessing Ryder might be a little new for your husband, but it’s an established surname. (Think of golf’s Ryder Cup.) And it’s been used pretty regularly since the early 2000s.
If your firstborn is Charlie-not-Charles, could his brother be Theo-not-Theodore? Plenty traditional, but also very in step with twenty-first century naming.
CHARLIE’S BROTHER SHOULD BE …
Overall, my favorites are Max and Theo. I think they’re hitting the same notes as Charlie.
But I threw in some dark horse possibilities, too, because I can easily imagine Charlie’s brother answering to Ryder or Emmett or Finn.
We tend to try to duplicate the style of our firstborn’s name. But sometimes a new child is a chance to start fresh.
Jean C. says
Max was my first thought and I was not surprised at all that Abby suggested it! It feels perfect to me. The commenter suggestion of Leo also feels very fun and just-right.
There’s a lot of great suggestions here! What about Bennett, Holden, or Dash?
I have a Charles who goes mostly by Charlie (but sometime Charles). Expecting another boy in June and was really digging Miles until I realized it shares the -les ending with Charles. Since you don’t have that problem, I say go for Miles! Love it.
Xander is another one I thought of – it’s a short form that stands alone well, an -er ending like Parker, and complements Charlie nicely.
Kyle also came to mind as sharing the same sounds as some names you like, as does Cole (with bonus points for being a nickname).
Miles was the first name that came to mind. I like that the letter L is repeated in both names. I don’t know the style of Charlie’s middle name, but I can imagine Miles Sebastian, Miles Nathaniel or Miles Theodore Halberk.
My first thought was Miles, so I was glad to see it among the suggestions.
Also, I in initially read the suggestion of Asher as Archer … is Archer to close to Charlie? It feels a little bit like Parker, but with a little bit more of the traditional feel of Charlie. Even if he was called Archie sometimes, there’s a lot of the same sounds but I think they’re distinct enough to not be confusing…?
My other thought was Beau, which fits with the casual cool of Charlie, is reminiscent of Kai, but a little softer with the surname.
I really like Theo for you – it hits the right style notes you’re after, it’s a friendly short form but with plenty of history, it sounds great with Charlie and with your last name. Leo would also work, but it shares a sound with Charlie – CharLIE, LEo.
Another name that might work, for the same reasons, is Nico.
Instead of James, I thought of Jensen or Jansen. Or how about Jules? Or Ames?
Charlie and Zach
Charlie and Alex
Charlie and Bo
Charlie and Quinn
Charlie and Owen
Charlie and Mike
Charlie and Fred
Charlie and Graham
Short form names that work well with Charlie…
Names that don’t have a natural nickname/can’t really be shortened and remind me of Parker, Kai, and Ryan…
I think my favorite picks would be Will and Elliot if I could only choose one from each list.
Alison Doherty says
I agree Jamie is a little matchy matchy with Charlie – but I think Jay would sound nice.
I also love so many of Abby’s suggestions – Max, Asher, Miles, Finn, and Theo are all perfection.
I also thought Leo, Calvin, and Gus also came to mind!
I know you said you don’t want a name tgat shortens, but if you both love James, maybe choose a different short form but try to enforce James? Like Jem or Jay?
I love Will. Just Will.
I wonder about old nickname names that feel whimsical these days for you, like Charlie (and Max!):
Hank (love the alliteration)