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!
I’m hoping you can help with our name dilemma. We had our fourth and final child in September and he was SO hard to name! And now I’m not sure we chose the right name for him: Aleks@nder Bl@ise.
We live in the Czech Republic, and my husband is Czech, but I’m American. We may live in the US in the future.
The Czech Republic only allows for a first name, or a double first name – no middle names! They also require that any name used must be found in Jak se Bude Vaše Dítě Jmenovat? It’s their official name book. (Technically, Bl@ise isn’t in the book, but we’ll be able to use it.)
We can add a middle name on his US birth certificate, and we have some time to decide.
We originally planned to name him Aleks@nder Bl@ise and call him Bl@ise. However, I feel unsettled about the decision. Other people are already calling him by different nicknames for Aleks@nder. I have no problem setting people straight in real life, but it’s raising some more doubts.
Plus, while I’ve loved Bl@ise for ages, I’m now afraid that people will just hear “blaze” and not take him seriously later in life. Will we doom him to Top Gun moments of “Maverick? Did your mother not like you or something?” Tough, edgy, cool guy names just aren’t us and are definitely not this baby. I love Bl@ise for St. Blaise and Blaise Pascal.
Other names we considered:
Alois – We’d call him Louie. It’s Czech, and we like it, but it never felt quite right.
Augustine – we have loved this since early in the pregnancy and still do, but we don’t like Auggie and Gus and they felt too inevitable.
Basil – A last minute possibility. My 13-year-old says she’ll call Bl@ise Basil (pronounced like the herb) because the sounds are all there and that I do love!
Benjamin – My longtime favorite that really does hit just the right tone, but popularity scared me away. In Czech a Benjaminek is a rookie/youngest player on a team, and so he’s the “Benjaminek of the family,” which is so sweet. But are the initials ABB too much?
Ernest Hugo – Our grandfathers’ names. Neither were considered for first names, but we like them together as middles.
Isaac – My husband’s favorite. I like it a lot too, but it’s also quite popular and my sister has a dog named Ike (not a deal-breaker, but the connection bothers me a bit.)
Ives – We considered Isaac Victor, because he’d be IV – the fourth, which I still love. Victor is a family name. Ives would be another fun way to include IV.
I’d be so grateful for your fresh perspective and any suggestions.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new son!
It sounds like your best option is to add a bonus middle, even if it only exists legally on his American documents. It might give you additional flexibility around what to call him now, and would certainly give your son more choices into the future. There’s really no reason NOT to add one (or more), right?
As for the name, I think the decision is easier than it looks:
- I’d rule out Alois immediately. It sounds like you like it in theory, but not for this child. And if you’re not dropping Aleks@nder, well … two Al- names isn’t ideal.
- Basil and Isaac seem close, but not quite.
- Augustine is great, but if Auggie and Gus don’t thrill you, then the name isn’t really adding a strong alternative nickname option.
- Ives is so clever! But much as I love it, I think it’s in the same boat as Augustine – if you wouldn’t consider it as an everyday use name, it doesn’t really fulfill its purpose.
That leaves Benjamin.
It’s your longtime favorite. The idea of this son being your family’s Benjaminek is just so sweet. And while the repeating Bs is a lot, it’s barely noticeable in the middle.
Now let’s talk about what you’ll actually call your son.
Your hesitation is reasonable. That line from Top Gun!
But, but, but … this is the age of bold word names. At least in the US, Maverick is about as popular as Charles or Thomas, Lincoln or Miles, Josiah or Isaac.
That means that Maverick, more and more, just sounds like a name, stripped of its too-bold meaning. I’ll be surprised the first time I meet an accountant named Maverick … and yet, it will happen. It opens space for more bold word names, like Legend (just outside the current Top 100 in the US) and Messiah (Top 200 in the US).
I’m guessing people who know your family will mostly think think Pascal or Saint Bl@ise when they hear your son’s name.
The hurdles come later, when your son is off on his own, on a college campus or in the workplace, where maybe it’s not as obvious that his name was chosen for its rich history.
At that point, though …
1. Your son might become a completely different person than you expect. My firstborn? Is a varsity athlete in a team sport. It’s so unexpected that we joke he was switched at birth. It’s very possible the name Bl@ise could suit your son in all sorts of unexpected ways.
2. In any case, the definition of a normal name shifts over time. My guess is that Bl@ise might have to spell his name more in the future, but it won’t be perceived as different. Just like I think of Craig and Bryan and Brad as normal names for 40-something men, we will someday think of River and Cash and Jett as grown-up names.
3. And, of course … your son already has at least one back-up name waiting. It’s easy enough to go from being A. Bl@ise to Alek@ander B. Or from Bl@ise to Alex. Or Bl@ise to S@sh@. Adding in a bonus name like Benjamin (or Isaac or Ives) just increases his options.
One other thing: it sounds like your son’s name is the result of careful consideration and lots of compromise. Which is great! But it can feel far less satisfying than a lightning bolt moment.
The reality is, of course, that not every naming process leads to a moment of clarity – at least not right away.
And that’s so hard, especially if names have come easier in the past.
Adding in a bonus middle that you love is a great way to tie it all together – a classic first name that honors the country of his birth, a second name that you just plain love, and a bonus middle that you also adore and that adds meaning and flexibility.
Thank you so much! Such excellent advise and perspective. I particularly love your thoughts on how a culturally diverse name influences how you learn to adjust your attitude and embrace differences! I hadn’t thought about it like that, but it’s so true.
Thanks so much for those suggestions! You nailed our style perfectly as those are all names we’ve liked a lot of talked about 🙂
He’ll have a double first name on both documents, plus he can have a bonus middle name on his US documents (it’s strange, I know!). We went with Aleks@nder Bl@ise as his first name initially because we liked that flow, but we’re planning to just call him Bl@ise. Then the second-guessing started as to whether to keep and use Bl@ise. Is it too much like Blaze? Too fiery? Too bold? We do love it though and Abby’s thoughts and perspective on it helped so much! 🙂
We have a little more time to register his name with the US, so we are trying to figure out the best middle name as well. So basically, we have 2 more names to decide on fully. Aleks@nder SecondFirstName Middle Name.
Abby explained it well! He will have a double first name on his Czech documents, plus he can have a bonus middle name on his US documents. So he’d be Aleks@nder Bl@ise LastName in CZ and Aleks@nder Bl@ise MiddleName LastName in the US. Aleks@nder Bl@ise would be his full first name on all documents. The US documents have to match the CZ documents for his first name, but the US will just let us add a middle name.
And we’re deciding if we want to call him Bl@ise full-time. We liked the flow of Aleks@nder Bl@ise, which is why we opted for that order. Hopefully that makes sense!
When we realized we couldn’t use Bl@ise without the additional paperwork, it suddenly made me wonder if Bl@ise was the right name – so that’s our dilemma: push through the bureacracy to get Bl@ise or use something else? We’ve definitely decided to do the additional bonus middle name and just having trouble deciding which one 🙂
He’s been such a challenge to name, lol!
If you are only allowed to register a first name, no middle, I wouldn’t choose a first name that’s not what I intend to call him.
In a country of no middle names, people just won’t get why you won’t use his first name.
So, I would pick:
Hugo Ernest (I think Hugo works as a first)
Isaac Blaise (called Zack, if you don’t want Ike)
So I grew up in California & personally think that it depends on where you will re-locate in the United States that will make you feel either hesitant, or totally stand by the middle name, “Blaise”. Regardless, I think that because it is in the middle name spot on a U.S. birth certificate, it won’t matter as much down the line. Your child will be whoever they will be and it’s not that bold compared to “Maverick” as was stated in this blog post. In fact, I’m aware of ”Blaise” being a saint’s name, but even if I wasn’t I would still understand how aesthetically and by sound it’s pleasing with the 1st name you chose.
And while I won’t state my first name, I can tell you I grew up with a unique name myself. Classmates, friends, and co-workers always found a way to give me a nickname that suited the environment or how they perceived me. But you know what? My legal full name is a mix of cultural influences too. Having an unusual name means you learn how to adjust your attitude about being accepted or rejected, and eventually you embrace these differences. Already being half-Czech (a dual citizen no less), I imagine that your child will grow up with different influences that only support such a unique name combination.
You will also find that the generation in their 20s and 30s who will end up teaching or influencing your son are more adventurous namers, or are embracing names from other cultures. So dare to be bold.
Bl@ise has always been an oddity to me. Maybe because I didn’t have any association / introduction to it until my teenage cousin used it as a middle name for his first son. Along with 2 other bold names. To me, back then, from him, it was absolutely a “heck yes, his middle name is BLAZE!” statement. I went on wondering if Bl@ise was a made-up spelling (because they also went younique with the first name spelling.) Then I watched name forums where people who also had more conservative names on their list liked Bl@ise too. To be totally frank, it does make me think it’s chosen because it’s an established name that also conveniently sounds pretty cool too.
I think Abby is right that people who know you will either know your fondness of St.Bl@ise or Bl@ise Pascal, or if they don’t, sure they might assume you wanted to go a bit bold. He’s here, right? And you say people are using nicknames for his first name, so I think that speaks volumes too. If you’re concerned people don’t understand A) why you chose Bl@ise and B) what to call him, can you circulate something to people explaining just exactly that? “Now that Bl@ise has been here for a few months, we wanted to eliminate any confusion about what to call him – he’ll be known as Bl@ise, which we chose because XXXX.”
But I guess you’re actually worried about him being judged for his name later in life. I would assume that’s why you’ve given him a traditional first name to use too? I see no issue with adding in Benjamin (I LOVE that tie-in to Benjaminek!!) with the initials ABB – why is that too much? Is the surname an A? Maybe that’s too much. Hmm. I think the unknown of who your child will be is just part of the naming risk. Bl@ise totally fits in with the Cash / Archer / Knox crew sure. Will he like it? Who knows. As long as you feel you’ve chosen well and would wear the name yourself throughout life, I’d stand firm.
There are a few parts to your letter I don’t completely understand though. Bl@ise isn’t part of the official name guide you have where you are. So on paper there, he’s just Aleks@sander? Or Aleks@nder-Bl@ise? But on his US birth certificate, you’ll be writing Aleks@nder Bl@ise? And maybe adding a second middle name to give him options? Why not put his first name as Bl@ise on his US birth certificate if it’s not showing up on his official name where you are anyways? Or is using a middle name part of tradition or pattern you’re intent on?
So there’s some wiggle room because the baby has dual citizenship. Legally, his name would be Aleks@nder Bl@ise, which the Czech paperwork sees as a double first name, like Mary Anne or John David. (Though in the US, of course, those would legally be either Maryanne and Johndavid or Mary A. and John D.)
The name Bl@ise isn’t officially Czech, but Bl@zej is. So they’ll need to file an additional form to get the spelling Blaise, but again, dual citizenship means this won’t be an issue.
If I understand correctly, there’s no more space on the Czech paperwork for additional names, but it’s possible to add additional names on his American paperwork.
Love what you said about “the unknown of who your child will be” – so well said!