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 sweet 2 year-old named Jack Murray. It’s the only name my husband and I agreed on. Now we’re expecting another son, and we can’t agree on anything.
Our last name is long and German, so names like Sebastian and Nathaniel don’t sound right.
Murray is a family name. We don’t really have a second family we agree on, but we’ve talked about Harris, Lansing, and Purcell, or maybe William or Gordon.
My list: Grayson, Elliott, Sawyer, maybe Miles, Parker, or Levi. Most of these were on my original list three years ago with Jack, too.
His list: Benjamin (too long with our last name, even though Ben sounds good with it), Luke (too much like Jack), Thomas, David, Matthew, Adam, Joseph (don’t want to repeat initials), Paul (his favorite, but just not for me).
Is there something we’re not thinking of?
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Rachel –
Finding the middle ground between two naming styles can be tough! But you’ve done it once, with Jack’s name, and I’m confident we can help you find the right name for your new son, too.
It sounds like your tastes run a little more contemporary, while your husbands prefers his names a little more classic. But there’s plenty of overlap in those two categories.
Do you have a definite idea about nicknames? It sounds like Ben could please you both, but maybe you dislike Benjamin with your surname – or maybe you’re just not wild about nicknames in general?
You mentioned Grayson; it’s a name I might’ve suggested if it weren’t on your list already. And Luke is great, but I agree – it’s just too close to Jack.
So let’s start fresh!
Take the surname appeal of so many names on your list, mix it with Benjamin, and Bennett feels like the inevitable outcome. I love it with Jack.
I suppose Cole strikes me as a match for Jack because they’re both related to more traditional names. Jack evolved from evergreen John; Cole, at least in some cases, developed from the middle syllable of NiCHOLas.
I’m guessing you might know a Drew or two; it’s been around for a while. But I think that’s part of the reason it sounds like a brother for Jack.
Jack is a brisk, upbeat name worn by more action heroes than I can count. (Think Bauer, Reacher, Sparrow …) Finn belongs to a hero from Irish legend. It has the same brief, but complete sound as Jack.
I’m guessing Hayes might be more your style than your husband’s, but I’ll suggest it anyway. It’s short and upbeat, an energetic name with plenty of history and contemporary style.
Owen has history galore, but it’s a contemporary favorite – which makes it just like Jack.
I feel like your husband might be more of a Theodore guy, but Theo – just Theo – has a lot of modern spirit, combined with classic roots.
With an X and a V, Xavier scores high in Scrabble. It’s an effortlessly cool name that could be a great match with Jack.
Overall, my favorites are probably Owen and Cole. Though really, I like every name on this list SO much for your family. I’d probably go with Owen Lansing.
Readers, what would you suggest as a brother for Jack?
I have a Jack, his twin is James and baby brother is Owen! 🙂
Maybe Wade? It’s never been outside of the top 1000.
Love Finn and Bennett with Jack!
Our first son is Jack and our second is Flynn. I think their names sound great together. I like short, snappy boys names.
I think there are a lot of good suggestions here. What about Rhett?
I share your husband’s affection for Paul but since you don’t like it I too suggest plain Ben – or how about :
Benson is another option to get to Ben.
Ditto to all the Sam suggestions. I also think Abby’s suggestion of Drew is perfect.
I think just plain Ben is your obvious choice.
Sam is another one that works. I’ve known several sets of brothers called Sam and Ben.
I will add Callum to the mix. As said above, Cal and Jack are darling together.
Like suggestions of Finn, Bennett and Hayes. Also wanted to suggest:
I’d def look for a family name for the mn (maybe your maiden name?) or at least one with some sort of special meaning.
Bennet was my first thought before I even read the suggestions! Jack & Bennet feel so perfect as brother names. Cole, Drew, and Owen are also great with Jack. I would suggest Henry and Miles, too, but Bennet(t) is still my favorite. 🙂
For the middle name, I agree that Owen Lansing sounds cool! Bennet(t) William and Cole Harris sound nice as well.
Max — may sound too close to Jack
I haven’t looked at others’ comments, so there are probably lots of repeats listed.
How about Ivan?
Ivan Harris or Ivan Lansing
The Mrs. says
Ben Harris Really-long-surname sounds excellent!
What about Van?
Van Gordon Really-long-surname is smart.
Rafe might suit you both, too.
Rafe William Really-long-surname has panache.
You have good taste! Congrats on your new son!
I was about to suggest Ben Harris! I love Ben on its own, I think it’s substantial enough and even chic as a stand-alone.
Or what about Harry as a nod to Harris? Jack and Harry sound great as brothers.
I immediately when to Bennet from Ben too. And I think Owen might really work for you all.
The other thought I had for you is Eric. Jack and Eric. Less popular than Jack is right now for sure, but many of the same vibes. Jack could be anyone from outdoorsy to professional. I feel the same way about Eric. Plus it scratches the short name, no nn itch while being very recognizable and established but not overwhelming over done (kind of a balance for both your naming styles). Plus the sharp c sound seems to appeal to you. And no repeating first initial. Lastly, it had a slightly Germanic feel which may match the last name well given your comments on heritage. Eric Lansing sounds pretty cool with the repetition of the ic/si sound like Jack Murray repeats the a/ay sounds.
Last thought was Calvin. I know a couple of Jack and Cal sib sets. Seems well matched. Maybe this would work for you too?
Best of luck!.
I am partial to Miles Gordon, but Finn (Finn Harris) is my favorite from Abby’s list. I am partial to Bennet and Theo as well, both again I would pair with Gordon.
I think names from the 20s could work well for you.
In general I am really leaning toward Harris or Gordon for the middle, but I like Lansing for Sam and Max, and I like William with Leo an Oscar.
Erin Beth says
Would you consider using Ben as the given name? My favorite suggestions so far are Drew, Cole, Leo, and Theo. A few other ideas:
Erin Beth says
Thinking on this some more, I wonder if Noah would appeal to both of you? It has some similarities to both of your lists and it sounds great with Jack.
alex b says
Probably you’ve considered these, but here’s what comes to mind besides what’s been mentioned:
William or Harris for the first name?
As soon as i read your Benjamin concern i immediately thought of Bennett too!
Julie G says
C in DC says
Hale came to mind for me too. Love Rhys. Carl, Royce, Hugo, Mark, Miles, Anders, Kent, Kirk, Clint, Clark, Cliff, Colm, David.