Welcome Max WallaceKate writes: Thanks for all the feedback about using Max with Mae. We looked at all of the suggestions, and really liked many of them. But when he was born, I knew immediately that his name was Max. We’re all so in love with our sweet little guy, and thanks again for the encouragement to stick with our favorite name.

Kate writes:

We love our daughter’s name, Mae Elinor. I like the way it’s strong but sweet. And I love that everyone knows the name, but she’s the only Mae we’ve ever met.

Now we are expecting our second and last baby. It’s a boy! My husband loves the name Max. And I do, too!

But I’m not convinced that Mae and Max go together.

It it helps, our last name sounds like Tennessee-with-an-H. We both have short names, and we’d like to stick with one-syllable names for our kids, too. If this baby was a girl, we were thinking about Rose. The only middle name we’re seriously considering is Wallace, a family name on my husband’s side.

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

A name can break lots of rules and still be the perfect choice.

I’d re-frame the question.

Imagine you couldn’t use the name Max for some very specific and insurmountable reason.

If that were true, what names would you consider instead?

Because Max is your clear frontrunner, right?

It’s perfect with your surname, and fits the style of names you clearly prefer – brief, traditional-ish, maybe a tiny bit vintage but perfectly familiar today.

What other names check the same boxes?

Let’s come up with a list. It’s possible that some name will make you pause and say “ooh … I like that a lot … maybe more than Max.”

If that happens, then you have a decision to make.

And if not?

Then you can move forward with naming your new son Max.

Because – this is the question I think you’re really asking – while they’re visually close, they’re not that close when spoken.

And they’re similar in a way that might be kind of fun: Mae and Max.

Is it a bit of a matched set? Sure.

Would naming be a challenge if you welcomed surprise twins in two years? Maybe.

But Mae and Max seem to be on the right side of problematic, even if their kindergarten signatures on artwork could be tough to decipher years later.

Moving on to names that might substitute for Max!



The names share the same long A sound, but Mae and Chase still sound nicely distinct.


Finn reads daring and a little bit carefree. It matches Mae in an unexpected way.


Just as Mae is a gentle nature name, bringing to mind all things Spring, Heath also nods to the natural world.


A high-energy mini name, with a vintage vibe.


A strong sound that pairs nicely with Mae.


Luke shares many of the same qualities with Jude, though it’s a much more popular choice.


Okay, Theo is two syllables – but maybe that’s just fine? The bright O ending is a plus.


An edgy, cool sound with deep roots.


Overall, I like Theo Wallace or Finn Wallace with Mae Elinor. But I’m not sure I’d rule out Max!

Readers, I can’t wait to hear what you think: is Max too close to Mae? What names would you suggest for Mae Elinor’s brother?

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. Rex! It’s my son’s name so I am biased but it’s a great short, modern, fresh but recognizable name.

  2. I absolutely love Mae Elinor and I agree that Max doesn’t need to be out. Some other ideas:


  3. I think my hesitation would be twofold: that I know MANY Maxes, and Max Wallace sounds kind of…unfinished…to me.
    If you like Mae being the only Mae you know, consider that Max might be Max H until he’s 18 depending on your community.
    What about these other ones that feel like Mae-level common to me:
    John Wallace Tennessee
    Asa Wallace Tennessee
    Will Wallace Tennessee

    And this isn’t on that list but I do LOVE Cy and think it goes with both Mae and Wallace Tennessee with an H.

  4. I have a Max and a Mae! Max is older, and when we were naming Mae I did wonder about how close the two names look. But they don’t sound that much alike, and we loved the name Mae so we went with it. I don’t regret it at all.

    Also, my husband’s name is Nate and I can report that Nate and Mae sound much more similar than I ever realized.

    If you’re interested, here some of the boy names we had considered: Remy, Hugo, Toby, Luke, Felix, Isaac, Leo, Theo, Henry

  5. I would just go with Max. If you’re looking for a similar sound, maybe consider Jack, Matt, Pat, Alex, or Sam (some of these as nicknames for their common formal variant). Or you could go more rare with Lex, Dex, Pa,m or Axel. Or very trendy Jaxon. A name like Sam or Alexander is extremely well known, yet I can’t think of any kid with either name in any of my kids’ classes or social circles.

  6. Since you say this is your last child and you would have used Rose, do you like Ross? Same instantly familiar vibe? Meeting a young Ross would truly refreshing to me.

    I’d definitely take pause at Mae and Max as a sibset… but Max IS a great name! And they won’t be paired constantly for most of their lives, except in your mind. (But very true about the kindergarten signatures, Abby lol!)

    Some other ideas that remind me of Max and would sound great with the surname:

    Nate (although this might be closer to Mae in sound than you’d like)
    Twain (ditto)

    Good luck! I love your daughter’s full name, it’s so lovely.

    1. I love the suggestions of Clark, Dean, and Gus the most! There are some really great options that go so nicely with Mae.