Name Help: A Brother for Freya + EmrysName 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!

Audrie writes:

We’re excited to be expecting a baby boy in May. Our older two children are Freya and Emrys.>When we named Freya several years ago, the name was still very uncommon here in the US.

A couple of years later we felt another rare name would be a good match and chose Emrys for our son. We loved the connection to Arthurian Legend and thought it was a nice complement to our daughter’s mythological name.

Of course, Freya has since rocketed up the name charts to within the top 200 and looks poised to continue its rise.

On the other hand, Emrys isn’t even in the top 1000 and doesn’t look like it will be any time soon!

So, I suppose that in just a few short years, these two names have become kind of an odd pair themselves which makes things more confusing as we try to select another name to join the group.

The list of names we’re considering currently consists of:

  • Malcolm: On our list for all of our pregnancies. We love that despite its classic feel, it’s never been popular and we love the nickname options. This name would probably be our hands-down choice, but we’re both concerned it feels a bit like the odd-man-out with our other two kids’ names.
  • Rhydian: Another Welsh name outside the top 1000. Despite it being extremely uncommon, I feel it has a very familiar quality about it (maybe because it rhymes with Gideon) and I think it’s easy to pronounce. My one hang up has to do with nicknames. We might use Rhys for Emrys, and Reid seems like a natural nickname for Rhydian. But Rhys/Reid are just too much for me. Even Rhys and Rhydian seem too close.
  • Cian: Pronounced “Kee-an”. I like the sound, though I think I’d get frustrated with the inevitable mispronunciations based on the spelling.
  • Tristan: Another more common name that we’ve always had on our lists. We like the legendary connection.

My husband loves Taliesin with the nickname Tal. I love the nickname, but just can’t get on board with the given name.

I love August and Lachlan, but my husband isn’t a fan.

I’d love thoughts on our list, but we’re completely open to suggestions! Thanks for any help you can offer!

Abby replies:

How exciting to be expecting your third – congratulations!

It’s funny how we go out of our way to balance our children’s names – origins, meaning, popularity, syllables, image, nicknames – only to have the world come along and change everything after the fact.


So that’s out of our control.

But the good news? Freya and Emrys are great together, and they still feel nicely matched. Even though Freya is rising in use, it’s still the kind of name that’s VERY rare on 20-something and older America. Freya might have another Freya on her soccer team, but it won’t be the coach’s name.

I think the strongest threads are:

  • Established names with strong, clear backstories.
  • Northern European influence.
  • Intriguing + unexpected, but straightforward sounds.

When I look at that list, I see your dilemma. Malcolm does feel a little more conventional. August, too.

Rhydian, Cian, and Taliesin pose spelling/pronunciation/nickname challenges.

That leaves Lachlan and Tristan … but it sounds like Lachlan is out.

Tristan, then, is the last one standing.

I do think it’s perfect. It hits every one of the threads I hear in your older kids’ names. And while it’s similar to Freya, popularity-wise, the good news is that Tristan almost certainly peaked in the late 1990s, without ever quite catching on. That means that yes, your Tristan might have a soccer coach with the name … but he’s less likely to share it with a teammate.

Still, let’s see if we can come up with some other names – because if Tristan fit, then you wouldn’t be writing, right?



An Irish god of love and youth, and the name of several historical kings, Angus fits with Freya and Emrys nicely. But does the repeating -s ending seem too close? Still, Angus hits that everybody-know-it but nobody-is-choosing-it sweet spot.


A name borrowed from medieval French legend – though, full disclosure, Bayard was the wildly powerful horse. Still, Bayard is rare as a first, somewhat familiar as a surname, and shortens to accessible nickname Bay.


Maybe your first thought is barbarian. But the rise of late night talk show host Conan O’Brien has reshaped this name’s image. It’s more classically Irish now, with a great meaning: little wolf.


Okay, Fintan is the name from Irish legend. Well, lots of Finn names feature in their tales, from Finn McCool to plenty of saints. Fintan, legend tells us, was the only person to survive the Great Flood. Finnick is borrowed from The Hunger Games stories, but it feels like a cousin to so many heroic, adventuring Finns.


You’ve yet to choose a name from Greek or Roman myth, so how about Leander? Like Tristan, Leander is famous for a tragic love story. It also shortens nicely to Leo or Lee … or Ander, so plenty of choices.


Like August, Magnus has roots as a title. It means “great.” Or possibly strong, because Norse myth gives us a son of Thor called Magni. The name is well-used across northern Europe, but seldom heard in the US. (Though unlike Emrys, it does fall in the current Top 1000, at #806.)


Another option from Greek myth, Orion is the hunter, immortalized in a constellation. At #326, it’s more popular than many names on your lists, but still relatively uncommon.


Maybe Oscar is too similar to Malcolm? They’re both great name with stories galore, and a sort of stands-out/fits-in quality.


Thor is too big of a name for a child, especially in our Avengers-soaked moment. But Torsten – literally, Thor’s stone – might bridge the mythological and the accessible.


Another Norse name that’s not yet wrapped up in the Marvel universe, Vidar was a son of Odin in myth. It’s an incredibly cool sound, but maybe it feels more like an import than Angus or even Torsten.


First and most importantly: from your original list, I really wouldn’t rule out Malcolm.

Maybe it’s not a perfect fit in terms of cool/surprising/unexpected factor. There’s something strong and enduring about Malcolm. I’d probably describe it as a solid choice. But that’s a good thing, right? Freya, Emrys, and Malcolm sound just right together.

But if the legend/myth part matters, and I can see that it does, I love Tristan. It splits the difference between Emrys and Freya, and it avoids some of the pronunciation/spelling issues with Cian and possibly Rhydian.

From my list, I’m tempted to push for Angus. It feels like the perfect name we all know, but seldom hear on an actual child. Yes, it shares an ending with Emrys – but Rhys and Gus aren’t too close. Plus, I think Angus has a lot of cool factor. (Maybe it’s the AC/DC factor!)

Readers, what would you name a brother for Freya and Emrys?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I want to second Gareth. The legendary one is a wonderful character, the sound is quite different from your other kids while still fitting nicely (partly thanks to that middle “r”?), and it’s uncommon but still feels familiar.

  2. Marsden. I hear very similar repetitive two syllable, ends in n/m sounds to your style. Also, has some remnants of Malcolm but with an unexpected and cool factor.
    Freya, Emrys, & Marsden
    I have an August and would have Marsden on my list for another so I also think if its a style thing, at least for me, they are both on my list of ideal names so there must be something that is hitting a commonality.

  3. You both seem to love the name Malcolm and I think you should go for it even though it’s not exactly the same style as his siblings names. If not, Tristan is such a lovely addition to the sibling set!
    From Abbey’s wonderful suggestions I think Magnus is wonderful and I’ll add in Torin.

  4. My son is Malcolm Augustus so…I definitely love your style! I wonder if it’s the order you’re saying the names in that makes it feel a little out of rhythm? For instance, does Malcolm, Freya and Emrys give you a better feeling about it? I love the name Malcolm and I love all the nicknames that come with it too (we use Mac primarily, but Mal and Max sometimes pop up too).
    I love Rhydian best out of the other options, and Leander from Abby’s suggestions. I too am a big fan of Lachlan (Locke as a nickname omg) but also couldn’t get my husband on board. As has previous been suggested, I think Hugo could work fantastically too.

  5. To me it sounds like Malcolm really has your heart so I think you should go with it! I think Malcolm sounds much more compatible with Freya and Emrys than your other possible choices so I wouldn’t worry about Malcolm coming across as the “odd man out”. If not Malcolm then perhaps you’d like Morgan, a lovely Welsh choice that isn’t overly popular but still plenty familiar.

  6. Rhydian, or the version I discovered some time back Rhidian, is a name I have loved for years. I discovered it looking for an obscure Welsh name for a character I was creating. It was the perfect name for him and his nickname quickly became Rhi. Though if you are thinking Emrys will end up being called Rhys (my oldest nephew’s name btw) then as much as I want to say use Rhydian, maybe use another name.

    All that aside I love the name Tristan and think it works well. I would also offer up Gareth as a possible name to consider. I quite like the combination of Freya, Emrys and Gareth. I do also love the suggestions of Torsten and Torin, two names I have loved for a long time. I would also like to add the suggestion of Artair the Scottish Gaelic form of Arthur, because someone before me mentioned Arthur which might be too common, while Artair is not at all common.