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!
Our second son is due in November, and I’m trying to find a name we can agree on.
For our older son, we chose Oliver because it was a little bit different. Or I thought it was a little bit different, because it turns out that he’s the second Oliver in his room at child care, and the third in the center. (And that’s out of maybe thirty kids right now!?)
Our last name is like the H in HP computers (no relation!) so we can’t use names ending with T, and probably wouldn’t use an H first name, even though I do like Hudson a lot.
My maiden name, Anderson, is Oliver’s middle name, and we’re thinking of using it for all of our children.
Our girl name is Eliza. It’s been my favorite since we first found out we were pregnant, and we might still use it, so we probably don’t want another E/El name.
Besides hopefully not being too popular, I want our son’s name to have one spelling/pronunciation. Brianna shouldn’t be a problem, but people do say it lots of different ways, and I feel like it’s awkward to correct someone, but equally weird to let them say my name wrong. Let’s not even talk about spelling, LOL!
My husband likes Jack, but we already know way too many Jacks, so I just can’t.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new son!
Popularity is tricky. Sometimes you can choose a Top 100, even a #1 name, and go years without your child sharing. Other times, you’ve picked a relatively obscure name, but surprise – your kid is one of two Denvers or Alfreds or Wrenleys in swim class.
Since it’s on your mind, I’m going to avoid suggesting Top 50 names. Will it avoid every chance for duplication? Not at all! But it lowers the odds.
The whole one spelling/one pronunciation thing is tougher than it seems, too. I know the mom of a Jackson who was truly, truly baffled when she was asked to spell it. And we’ve all heard our names pronounced in ways that surprise and then some.
On the good news side? This limits your list rather nicely!
A BROTHER FOR OLIVER
Maybe Caspian is a little too different? But I like Oliver and Caspian as brothers, two long names that feel current, but rooted in the past. One hesitation: Caspian Anderson H-like-the-computers is kind of a mouthful.
If Hudson is close, but not quite, maybe Griffin? My first thought was actually Finn. But I wonder if an extra syllable makes it slightly more appealing?
A gemstone name that ranks solidly in the Top 200, but still feels relatively uncommon.
Joe is the ultimate everyman name, but Jonah takes it in a less expected direction.
Maxwell might end up answering to Max. I’m not sure if that’s a plus or a minus, but I do love the L-ending of Maxwell with your middle and last name choices.
The most popular name on this list, Miles is the kind of name we all hear – but maybe one that will repeat less often than Oliver (or Liam or Benjamin).
One of the reasons I like Miles so much is that the ‘s’ ending really flows with Anderson and your surname. But if Miles is a little too familiar, maybe Wells works instead?
Like Miles, Xavier ranks in the current US Top 100. But it’s less common than those chart-topping names, and really – nothing else sounds quite like Xavier.
Overall, I keep coming back to Miles, but Jonah is growing on me, too. I think the ending sound is so important here. Other ‘r’ ending names risk sounding too close to Oliver, and some ‘n’ enders conflict with Anderson. Factor in the need to avoid ‘t’ sounds – and probably ‘d’ ending sounds, too – and it does shorten your list quite a bit!
That said, focusing on boy names ending with s or maybe a vowel sound could be the key, I think.
Sheri Moore says
Anderson as the first name would be perfect, if you’re open to it- maybe Anderson Jack?
Oliver Anderson and Anderson Miles
Or maybe Anderson Xavier if you want to keep the triple syllable thing going?
Best of luck!
I know two brother sets where one boy is named Oliver. In both cases, there is an obvious, yet somewhat subtle, link between Oliver’s name and that of his brother. In the first case, Oliver is the younger brother of Sullivan. Both names have 3 syllables, with a strong V beginning the third syllable. The brothers are often (mostly?) called Sully and Ollie (Olly?),
In the second case, there are three children: Adelaide, Oliver, and Archer. It seems to me that most likely the third child’s name was favored because it relates to both of his older siblings’ names — beginning with A like Adelaide and ending with -er like Oliver. (I don’t think they’re planning to have further children.)
I would try to find something with three syllables like Oliver and Eliza.
I suggest Finn or Max!
Finn Anderson H… Oliver and Finn. They both have a literary character that shares a name with them and I think Finn has thatame modern feeling pop that Oliver has. It’s also not overly common.
Or maybe Holden? Nolan? Silas? Sullivan?
Sullivan would probably be my 2nd choice. But it is a bit long with Anderson H…..
Love Abby’s suggestions of Miles and Jonah. They also sound great with Oliver and maybe one day Eliza. I think Sara’s suggestion of Angus is also great Oliver and Angus or Ollie and Gus is so cute!
I love Miles for you.
Some have already been mentioned, but I’m here for Theodore, Nico, Felix and Angus
I love Miles, and Oliver + Jasper + Eliza is making me swoon!
I like your suggestion of Griffin for Oliver’s brother! Is it possible to use Anderson as the first name? Maybe Phillip?
Adrian * Julius * Leon * Roderick * Phineas * Leander * Dominic * Fabian * Victor * Axel * Arthur * Desmond * Chester
I hear you. I have many friends with Olivers and they all thought it was less common when they chose it. Funny enough, three of those Olivers have Benjamins for brothers, two have Leos for brothers, and one has a Miles for a brother. It’s a great name! And I do agree with Abby that trying to beat popularity is a gamble. For example, while I know all those Olivers, my two kids (now in Gr.3 and Gr.1) haven’t had one in their classes yet. But they’ve both had duplicate Jack, Mattias and Liam. So make sure whatever you choose is something you love, cause you may end up with another common name in your area.
Assuming a future sister Eliza, here are my suggestions!
Oliver & Davis
Oliver & Blake
Oliver & Simon
Oliver & Calloway
Caspian, Jasper, and Maxwell are SO perfect. My first thought was Killian, and Ambrose once I saw Jasper. If we assume a third sibling, a sister Eliza, I would probably not use Maxwell.
Killian might seem way out there at first, but it’s just like top five William ( the nickname is even Lian), and the Kylian spelling is currently trending in the US. I would stick with the William adjacent spelling because its most obvious, Kylian seem like it should sound like Kyle when read outside of a listing for Killian. Upon further review so is Cillian ( I hear a lot of people mispronounce this as silly-in).
Jamie and Lucius could be interesting top ten adjacent choices (James and Lucas). I think something adjacent to a top ten name will keep Oliver less of an outlier in the sibset.
Adriel, Ivan, and Arthur stick out from the top 200. A vowel forward sibset is super swoon worthy. Ulysses would be great here too.
Would you consider Artemis for a boy? Everyone knows it, no one uses it, and its not unheard of for boys.
I think my top picks are Caspian, Jasper, Ambrose, Artemis, and my wildcard pick is Adriel.
There are *so* many ways to spell Griffin:
Griffon, Griffen, Gryphon just off the top of my head. If you want one spelling, I’d avoid it.
I love Miles as a choice, and I’d add:
Simon, Josiah, Matthias, Theodore, and Gideon
Since Eliza, Oliver and your maiden name are all starting with vowels, I’d suggest picking a name that starts with a different vowel. Ivan, Ingram and Urban are the names that come to my mind.
Alison Doherty says
Oooh I like Max, Miles, and Jasper with Oliver. I also thought maybe Rowan, Felix, Preston, Calvin, Luca, or Grant.