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 love our boys’ names and had no trouble agreeing on either of them. But now we’re expecting a third (and final) son, and nothing seems right.
Wilder was always our boy name. We liked the idea that Wilder could be Wil/Will if he ever wanted something more traditional. My husband and I met leading an outdoors experience for incoming college freshmen, so it seemed like an outdoorsy name, too.
With our second son, we settled on Jones pretty quickly for similar reasons. We liked the Jo/Joe nickname option and the idea that everyone knew how to spell it, but he wouldn’t be one of three boys named Liam.
The issues this time:
- It feels like everyone else has found our list of names! For Jones, we also considered Banks, Wells (too close to Wilder?), Callahan, Hayes (we know one now), Boone, Flynn (decided we don’t really like them with our last name), Crew (too Chip and Joanna now?), Thatcher, Finnegan (too Irish/too many Finns), and Huxley (not sure we can pull this one off).
- The nickname thing is hard. To be clear, we DON’T call the boys Will/Joe. But the way we decided on Jones so quickly was that the option was there. Lots of other names we’ve considering can’t really be shortened at all, much less with something that sounds traditional.
- Because our last name ends with n, names ending with N aren’t great. I go back and forth on how much this matters. I really love Callahan, and I think Cal works as a nickname. But Callahan doesn’t sound great with our last name.
- We don’t really want a popular name. My husband is one of three Mikes on his team at work. And while I know that it’s not likely to happen today, we still agreed to avoid anything in/near the Top 100. That rules out Harrison (which I like, but it wouldn’t work anyway), Weston (same), and Brooks.
Our last name sounds like Man-yun, but spelled differently.
Are we overlooking the perfect name?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your third son!
I love the idea of cool surname names with classic nicknames! We hear it so often for girls – Emerson-called-Emmy or Madison-called-Maddie. But the options are there for boys, too, and they’re every bit as appealing.
One caution, though: it strikes me that you’re not calling your boys Will or Joe. So while I’ll focus on surnames that could have traditional short forms, maybe it’s not a dealbreaker if a name lacks one? (I’ve added a few in the mix that lack an easy nickname, just to see.)
And yes, … I do agree that the world has caught up to you!
Ten years ago there wasn’t a single Wilder out there. Now I really do hear it more and more often. But it’s still distinctive and different, so I think we can find a name that will be similar … possibly a little more familiar than you might like, but not Carter/Logan/Mason levels of popularity.
A BROTHER FOR WILDER and JONES
Not the most surprising choice – it currently ranks #101. But the possibility of shortening Bennett to Ben might appeal. For more Ben names, see this list.
Calder isn’t in the current US Top 1000, even though it sounds like could – maybe should be! Cal isn’t quite as classic as Will or Joe, but it fits the general theme.
Most Cams are Camerons, of course. But Cameron isn’t great with your surname. Plus, it’s been a Top 100 pick for years, which also makes it not quite what you’re after. Campbell, though? It’s rare, a name that ranked on the fringes of the Top 1000 earlier in the 2000s. (It peaked at #663 for girls in 2006. For boys, Campbell never even cracked the Top 900.)
There’s no obvious nickname for Crosby. And yet, I think it sounds great with Wilder and Jones. It’s a different ending sound, which makes it distinct from your older boys’ names. Plus, Crosby is crisp and high energy – just like the names you’ve already chosen.
Easy nickname Dex puts this name on the list. And yet, Dexter strikes me as more vintage/throwback than Wilder or Jones?
Does Gray count as a nickname? Like Crosby, I love the -y ending with Wilder and Jones. At #396, Grady is known but not too popular.
Jacoby looks like Jacob-with-a-y, which opens the door to nickname Jake. Sound-wise, Jack is another option.
Len, Lex, and Leo all feel like obvious nickname choices. The X ending is different, too – and yet, at #291, Lennox is a little more popular than you might wish.
How do you feel about alliteration? Maguire shortens to Mac. And yet, it’s such a great name – I’d want to use it in full!
It’s easy to imagine Rafferty shortening to Rafe, just like the more traditional Raphael/Rafael. This might be my favorite choice if you planned to shorten it … and yet, since you tend to use the names in full, that sways my opinion.
In fact, my favorite is Crosby. It’s got a great sound. At #801, it’s similar to Wilder and Jones in terms of popularity. And I love the way the three names sound together: Wilder, Jones, and Crosby.
But if the lack of nickname does matter? Then I think I’m most drawn to Calder, even though it means sharing the -R ending of Wilder.
McLean is a wildlife refuge in CT. It could be nicknamed to Mac or Lane. Oddly, the meaning is related to the meaning of Jones because they both derive from John.
What about Smith? Wilder, Jones and Smith
Edison nn Ed
Magnus nn Max
Alistair nn Al
I’d love Conall with Wilder and Jones. I feel Cal could easily be a nickname if you wanted to use one.
This was a fun challenge! Here’s what I came up with:
Abel – Abe
Edgeley – Ed (Edison works too but not sure with your last name)
Nicholls – Nick
Bentley – Ben
Danby – Dan
Sammells – Sam
Maxwell – Max
McCall – Mac or Cal
Roscoe – Ross
Congrats on baby #3! Honestly, my first thought for a suggestion was…
WILDER, JONES, and FELIX!
Didn’t see it anywhere in the comments, so I thought I’d chime in.
All the best in this process! x
Another nickname for Crosby could be Oz – we have a cat named Crosby (came to us at Christmas) and we call him Croz of Oz a good bit.
I’m hoping you like the stretch of the nickname Rob for Crosby because Crosby with your boys names is just perfect.
Oh, that is SO genius!
Wild3r, J0nes and Conall or Cornell, nickname could be Cal.
A nn option for Crosby could be Rob. I rather adore it with Wilder and Jones.
Instead of Thatcher, what about Hatcher?
℅ Nicole A says
My favorite suggestion is Rafferty! Ray would also be a great classic nickname. Since you like Cal as a nickname (so handsome!) and nature name, what about Calyx or Calix? More obscure than your other kids, but so cool. (And who cares, I say! )
Other suggestions I have:
Sirius nn Sy
Cyrus nn Cy
Morris nn Moss (kind of opposite nn situation as your other two but cool, right?)
Sylvan or Sylvester (again poss nn Sy. I guess I really like that?)
I think that considering how it sounds with your last name is excellent but don’t worry so much about matching as a family or hitting the pattern you happened to fall into with the others. (2 is not a pattern anyway!) Find what makes your heart sing or what just “feels like him” once he’s in your arms. Good luck!
I love the suggestions of Crosby, Grady and Lennox for you if you’re okay without that timeless traditional nickname option. Your sons names are distinct, and I’d totally skip repeating an ending (ER, S) and initial.
I was coming to suggest Sullivan, though I’m not sure if that butts up against your surname in a bad way? I like that it’s at least a different syllable length, even if it ends in N. He could even be Sam at a slight stretch, which totally fits the pattern. Especially if you throw an A middle in here (SAM – bam.) But maybe that doesn’t sound good with the surname?
I also love Calloway for you! You like Callaghan, but not the N ending. So why not Calloway??? Will, Joe & Cal, done!
How about…(some of these nicknames are a stretch for sure)
Pierce – Pete
Millard – Miles
Redmond – Ray
Alison Doherty says
For some reason Garrett or Barrett jumped out at me as a good option for your new son – both are familiar but well outside the top 100 and they seem kind of rugged and in your style. I also love Callahan nn Cal, Bennet nn Ben, and the suggestions of Crosby or Rafferty from Abby’s list. A few other thoughts were Sterling or Ford … which don’t have great nicknames but feel like a nice match with Wilder and Jones.
Abby beat me to suggesting Crosby, Jacoby, and Grady; all fantastic choices! If Hayes, Wells, Brooks, Flynn were all on your list then I want to suggest Nash and Zane to you as well. I really love Crosby and Grady most for you though.
I love Calder! That is a great suggestion. And Maquire is an awesome name that sounds perfect with your boys.
My only other thought was Cormac. Again, a Mac nickname option. But it has the same adventure vibe.
Wilder, Jones and Cormac.
I feel like Grady (or Brady) are great options for you. They ARE surnames, but they’ve been in use as given names so long they don’t need traditional nicknames as options to make them more like first names.