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 are due with baby #3 at the end of March. It’s a boy!
This baby will join Max Ocean and Mila Starr.
We plan to use another nature name in the middle – though we haven’t decided that name yet, either.
There are no names that my husband and I both love and that flow with Max and Mila. Everyone we ask thinks we should use another M name, and we have thought about Mason.
But I am okay breaking the pattern. We have also thought about a G name to honor our grandmothers, Gloria and Gita, like Griffin or Grant.
My favorites so far are Asher, Levi, August, and Rex. (Although Rex I think is too similar to Max.) My husband really likes Grant and Xander. His name is Alex, so Xander would be a continuation, which might be weird.
I would love to hear your suggestions. Thanks for your help!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your third!
It sounds to me like your preference is a non-M name. At least, none of your favorites begin with M. And your husband doesn’t seem especially inclined to stick with more M names, either.
Switching to a G name – particularly with such a compelling reason! – is a good idea. But, again, it sounds like G names are just okay for you. Griffin and Grant would both be good options, but I’m not sure they’re at the top of your list.
I share your instinct that Rex and Max are too close.
As for whether naming Alex’s son Xander is a little extra?
But countless families have a Ryan Sr. and a Ryan Jr., a William Sr., William Jr., and William III. And so on. While it’s a little cute to use the second half of dad’s name, it’s arguably more subtle than naming him Alex Jr., so I’d (probably) keep it on the list.
The one advantage to Xander? There’s no question as to why he has an X name rather than an M.
That leaves Asher, Levi, August, and possibly Xander. I think they’re all great with Max and Mila. My favorite is Levi. It’s brief, stylish, but still timeless. And I love the way Levi shares a high value Scrabble letter with Max – V and X – and the L in Mila, too.
Levi August would be a little bit of a nature name. Levi Griffin or Levi Grant picks up on the G theme. But if you wanted to use an M name and a nature name in the middle spot?
I can’t stop thinking about Levi Mercury, but I wonder if you’ll find it too much? Ocean, Starr, Mercury … it works!
Maybe a few fresh ideas for first names would help.
A BROTHER FOR MAX and MILA
Traditional, brief, and complete, Finn sounds like a brother for Max. And since the sound is embedded in Griffin, I wonder if it already appeals?
Thinking of G names, I immediately thought of Grayson. But maybe Gray is even better?
August shortens to Gus, but Gus is a cool nickname-name that gives you the initial G.
A natural name for Max’s brother, and I love it with Mila, too.
I’m guessing you’ve considered pretty much every M name under the sun, but just in case … Originally a place name, it coincides with our word merit, meaning worthy.
How ’bout just Nate? Not Nathan or Nathaniel. It’s bright and upbeat, an easy name to wear.
I always think of Sam as a brother for Max. The question, of course, is whether it’s best to have Sam stand alone, or be a nickname for Samuel? The data tells us that most parents opt for Samuel on their son’s birth certificates, but both are options.
Likewise, most Theos are Theodore. But in our age of Leo and Milo and Arlo, just Theo works nicely, too. And I think it’s a great brother name for Max.
I’m still stuck on Levi from your original list. I think it’s perfect!
And the advantage to Xander? There’s no question about why you broke the pattern.
In both cases, your middle name could be both a nature name and start with an M … which might make it feel less like you’re breaking a pattern and more like you’re just continuing in a slightly different way.
But let’s ask the community, because I’d love to hear more ideas!
Another Emily says
Our first 2 children (a boy and girl) both have A names. It wasn’t intentional, we just happened to like them. Our third has a T names and number 4 will have a P name when he’s born. It sounds like you’d rather not stick with the M names and that’s perfectly fine. Pick a name you both like/love and he’ll be just fine! Love Levi and Asher, and adding a little Xander would be so sweet too!
What about Marius or Montague with the nickname Monty?
I don’t think you need to use an M name, and in fact, I would purposely avoid it unless it’s something you really want to lean into. My favorite of your choices is Levi.
I think you have 3 options for the middle name, any of which would tie this baby in with the family/siblings:
Use a nature name, use an M name for the middle, or use Xander, which is a nice connection to dad.
Or Magnus nn Gus
You get an M name and a G name all at once!
Oh, that’s brilliant!
I suggest : Axel (ref. Alexander), Rogue/Rock, Gage, Xavi, Kai, Jett,
Axel for Alexander is a good idea!
I like the simplicity of both Max and Mila, and think you should continue with that more than following the M pattern. Your 2 children each have 3 syllables all together.
I’m biased because it’s my son’s name, but what about Arlo? Arlo Rainn, Arlo Moss.
Working off the 3 syllables pattern: Xander Leif, Levi Rainn, Gus River.
I don’t find the Xander part odd at all.
Arlo is a great name – and so good with Max and Mila!
Based on your list of favorite names, I would say that your husband would really like an honor name for this child, whether it honors him or your grandmothers. I think honoring dad with the name Xander would be nice rather than weird. The name flows well with the sibling names, shares the high value Scrabble letter ‘X’ with Max, and is two syllables like Mila.
Also, your nature themed middle names cover air/atmosphere (Starr) and sea (Ocean), so I thought one that covers land would be nice. I really like the name Oak with Star and Ocean.
Xander Oak sounds awesome!
Xander Oak is amazing – and good observation re: honor names.
I admit I don’t understand the need for another M name; maybe it’s just that sibling names that are really matchy are just not my style. If they’re your style – go for it! But if not, you shouldn’t feel like there’s some “rule” about doing another M name. Somewhat incongruously, I find the “Xander” tie-in to dad’s name charming, even though the Xs in dad and both brothers’ names would be another kind of pattern. But again, that’s a personal taste thing. Gus, Grant, Graham, or Griffin to honor grand mothers also seem like lovely choices. What about Gage? I also would endorse Reid and Levi. I’m a big believer in naming a child what is most meaningful to you, whether it fits all the rules or not. Your child deserves a good name story, and to me: “We had to name you to match your siblings, so we ended up with Mason,” doesn’t hold up to: “We loved the name Mason, and it happened to have the same first letter as your siblings.”
The tricky thing with continuing the pattern of M names is to find one with the same spark, while still distinct from those already used. So while Malcolm works as is, if you shorten it to Mac it becomes too close to Max. Miles I like, but it’s too similar to Mila.
Your option of Mason definitely works, but you also have to like (love?) it.
I like the suggestion of Marcus, and I *think* even if it was shortened to Marc it would still sound different enough from Max.
Martin could work, but not sure if the style suits what you are looking for.
How about Morgan?
Max, Mila & Morgan.
Max Ocean, Mila Starr & Morgan Field?
And if you exhaust all options and still find nothing you love, you can break the pattern of M names now without it being an issue. The nature middle name though, I think you should keep. Whatever his name it will fit right in.
All the best!
I was wondering about names that end in m like Liam , Callum, Beckham, Adam or Tatum. Graham would also end in M and have the honor G initial to start. Max and Callum seem like brothers to me.
Also if Xander isn’t right, what about Xavier? Max, Mila and Xavier. Has a similar vibe to Xander.
Christina Fonseca says
I like Xander with a nature middle name beginning with M as a brother to Max and Mila.
Gale could work as a G name. What about Hayden, Luke or Luca, Jack, Axel (probably too close to Max but a nice tribute to Alex), Beau, or Hank?
Alison Doherty says
I like the suggestions of Merrit and Malcolm. I also thought Monroe fit your naming style … but if you really want to break from the Ms, I think Grant, Gray, or Garret are all a nice way to honor family members!
There are a number of themes at play here and it’s fun!
If it were me, I’d still try to look for M names that I love (Mylo if not too close to sister? Marcus?), but if none were there, I’d ditch the M – two is a coincidence three is a pattern, right?
A G name is also a great idea, and same thing, if you can find one you love, great but if not scrap it. Gray or Grayson is a great idea. Or Grady? Grant is a good solid choice, but I see it isn’t on your favourite list. A G middle name that is also a nature name would be a sweet nod to the grandmas – Garnet, Grove? I know you already have a Starr, but Galaxy is pretty kick-ass, plus a nod to dad too.
Same with Xander, it really does make sense as a nice nod to dad, so if you both love it, keep it on the list. But I don’t see it on your favourite list… would something like Xander Gray sell it?
Cool middle names to round out your ocean and stars:
I do like Levi, and Abby’s recommendation of Nate – your husband seems to like the solid strong sounds. Maybe Clark, Pierce, Jake?
If this will most likely be your last child, I agree with those who are suggesting you choose another name beginning with M and suggest Malcolm.
You have a unique pattern going — name beginning with M plus a nature name, so why not continue it?
Malcolm Heath — “According to its English origin, the meaning of Heath is ‘land of heather and grass’. In Old English, the name Heath was used for ‘someone who lived near a moor or heath’. Similarly, it means ‘untended land where flowering shrubs grow’ in American.”
Max, Mila and Malcolm
An aside: I have a darling 2-year-old grandson called Malcolm. I was surprised when his parents chose the name Malcolm, but it suits him very well and is somewhat unique while still fitting in. Malcolm is a strong name, with timeless roots. And while Malcolm has more letters in it than your other children’s names, Malcolm has just two syllable like Mila.
A non Alexander Alexander name that goes with Max and Mila: Sasha
Grandma names: Gerard and Bridger (I assume Gita was for Bridgette or Brigitta)
Giulianos nn Jules Bridget is a wisdom goddess and Julianos is the god of wisdom in Skyrim, with an Italicized spelling to tie to both grandmas. If the names was Margita/Margarita perhaps Margrave nn Gray , Marc/Marv also work
M Names: Myles, Magi, Malachi, Montgomery
Me Again says
Oh boy. At risk of being annoying. The more think about it Sasha, Margrave or Magi would be great. All together your kids names would be great, gracious defender/prince/mage.Thinking about the names in this way MARINER would be sooooo good. Mariners navigate the oceans with the stars, and siblings raised right help each other navigate life. Or perhaps Mariner in the middle? I like Sasha Mariner with Max Ocean and Mila Starr. I feel like Sasha Mariner is a good compromise to move away from m with reason, but still keep an m name. While I might not call Mariner a nature name, it’s definitely nature adjacent. Prior I was favoring Sasha/Magi/Malachi/Montgomery Blaze. Honestly I love your name set and style, and I suspect this will continue to niggle the back of my mind.
I would much rather see another M name, and I think Merritt is an impeccable choice!
I think Fen or Vail (or any nature names that have to do with “land” but these two are my favorites) would be the perfect middle name because Starr is from the sky and Ocean is from, you know, the ocean.