Name Help: Brother for Mary AdelaideName 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!

Lauryn writes:

We have a daughter named Mary Adelaide, and we’re expecting a son this summer.

When we were pregnant with Mary, I wanted to name a boy Henry Barnabas. My husband’s sister just had a little Henry a few months ago, though, so we can’t use Henry now.

Our style is pretty traditional, but I definitely like older names. My husband wouldn’t agree to those as first names, but he’s happy to let me choose what I want for middles.

Names I like that my husband has said no to: August, William (because of someone he went to school with! this bothers me so much), Simon (because of the chipmunks!), Daniel (no reason why he doesn’t like it, just says no).

Names he likes that I’m not crazy about: Patrick (we’re not Irish and this just is so Irish to me), Thomas (I want to like Tommy/Tom, but I’m not sure), John (this is too basic even for me, especially with a daughter named Mary), Joseph (his dad’s name, but we’re avoiding family names for lots of reasons, so even though I like it as a name, I feel like it would cause problems).

Nothing else has really leapt out at us, even though I feel like we keep going over the same names. Help!

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your son!

It’s too bad about Henry, but I can see that having two cousins so close in age with the same name is a lot.

So we need a boy’s name that is:

  • Traditional
  • Probably nickname-light, if not entirely nickname-proof
  • Familiar without feeling antique

Let’s see what I can think up that you haven’t already considered!



Not so long ago, David was a really common name. (Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall created a song called “The Daves I Know” … but that was back in the early 1990s.) Today it ranks a relatively modest #31 in the US and is falling. That could be the sweet spot – a name everybody knows, but your son won’t actually share with boys his age.


Like David, Edward was once really common in the US. Today, though, it’s faded. The challenge here might be around nicknames. Eddie is obvious, and would fit right in with boys named Charlie. Ned is another option, a sepia-toned choice that would fit in with current favorites like Max. But I’m wondering if the nickname makes this a non-starter?


Greg is a Brady, but Gregory used in full? It’s a handsome name, a little like Montgomery.


If your husband loves John, would you consider Jonathan? It’s just a little different. (Because I agree that John and Mary is maybe too classic together!)


A name that feels both traditional and contemporary.


As brief as John or some of the other traditional choices you’re pondering, but with some of the spirit of Jack, too.


Mary and Sam sound perfect together.


A classic we sometimes overlook, maybe because we’re not wild about Vinnie. But Vince is a great nickname … not that a tw0-syllable name requires one in the first place!

My favorite, overall, is Samuel. Samuel Barnabas and Mary Adelaide; Sam and Mary. Or maybe Jonathan, as it feels like a compromise between one of your husband’s favorite and your preferences.

But I’m curious to hear what readers will suggest, so let’s open it up for suggestions. What would you name a brother for Mary Adelaide?

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. After thinking it over, I love John with Mary. It’s so classic that’s it’s fresh and unexpected. Especially with a fancy, long middle name. So good.

    Other new ideas… Adam (love with Mary), Evan (fresh take on John), Jamie (fresh, handsome take on James and sweet with Mary), Louis (a classic and ee sound like Henry).


  2. I sometimes think that picking a name for some comes down to picking the right first name and middle combination.

    So when you have something in Mind like Henry Barnabas

    So I may suggest a name like Silas. A lesser know biblical name. Has sounds like Barnabas. Kinda modern like Adelaide.

    Would Silas Henry work?

    Also Asher. Seems like a good option as well

    Asher Barnabas