Name Help: Finding a Middle Name for NeveName 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!

Cristina writes:

I hope you can help me with my name dilemma!

We have almost fully agreed to the name Neve (pronounce the Portuguese way, Nev). Neve is a name I’ve loved since I was a little girl, and the meaning – snow – is special to us.

But, we have a few problems. One is the pronunciation. It’s always been my assumption that people would know it’s Nev, but my mother pointed out she always thought it was Neeve (like Niamh). Do you think we will deal with that her whole life? Aside from Neve Campbell, I’ve never met a Neve (or Niamh for that matter) in real life, so I have no idea what the general consensus is on pronunciation of our chosen spelling. Should that be a deal breaker?

The second problem we have is that we have a long Dutch last name that starts with Van. Now I’m thinking there’s too much V sound (is this a deal breaker too? How does it sound to you?), and we are also having issues finding a good middle name that fits with Neve and our last name. I’d love it if you and your readers could help me with middle name options. I can’t decide if the middle name should be long and more feminine, or shorter and more the style of Neve.

Our list so far:

  • Neve Matilda
  • Neve Josephine
  • Neve Magnolia
  • Neve Alma
  • Neve Fiona
  • Neve Felicity
  • Neve Amelia
  • Neve Selene
  • Neve Rosalie

Hope you can help us! Part of me feels like if I’m overthinking it this much, then maybe it’s not THE name for us, but the thought of not using it makes me very sad. Thanks for your help!

Dear Cristina –

How exciting! Neve is all kinds of lovely, and it sounds like it’s both your favorite name, and a name rich with meaning. I can’t think of a good reason not to use it.

Well, wait. There is potential for confusion about pronunciation.

I am sure that some people will rhyme Neve with Eve. In the US, that’s not because they’re familiar with Niamh, but because they are familiar with Eve and Steve and such. That said, we’re also aware of Evelyn. So, yes, some people will say it incorrectly. Maybe every single time! But most people will get it right, even if they have to be reminded initially.

So it doesn’t seem like reason enough to choose a different name – unless, of course, you personally find the idea of pronunciation hassles deeply frustrating.

As for the repeating V sounds? That’s a matter of personal preference. But I know a family with a strong ‘v’ sound in their surname, and their kids also have strong ‘v’ sounds in their first names. A little bit of repetition makes a name pleasing to say, and easy to remember. In this case, I think it works just fine. (Note: I can see their surname from Cristina’s email address, but I generally don’t share them.) I suppose, if someone read her name quickly, it might sound like Nevan LastName instead of Neve VanLastName. But I’d say your strong attachment to the name outweighs the occasional mishearing.

Now, on to the fun part: middle names!

I’m most drawn to Neve Josephine, followed by Neve Rosalie, Neve Fiona, and Neve Felicity. There’s something memorable about a short first followed by a three-syllable (or longer) middle, especially when that middle isn’t the staple Elizabeth.

And I’m inclined to avoid the ones that start with softer sounds, like Amelia, because they do run together in a way that seems less appealing. Likewise, the M middles might seem a little too harsh. But those aren’t rules – just my reaction, and I’m sure others will make a convincing case for Neve Magnolia or Neve Amelia.

A few other suggestions:

  • Neve Adelaide – I know, I just ruled out a bunch of other A names. But Adelaide’s strong Ad- sound makes me feel differently about it.
  • Neve Alexandra – Alexandra is every bit as traditional as Elizabeth, Margaret, or Katherine, but is much less common as a middle. The strong sounds of Alexandra stand up nicely to Neve. (Though perhaps it shares too many sounds with your surname?)
  • Neve Beatrice – Beatrice comes from the Latin viator – voyager, but the spelling changed to reflect the word beatus – happy or blessed. Both seem like very appropriate meanings for this child!
  • Neve Katerina, Neve Catalina – Does one of the more elaborate forms of Katherine appeal?
  • Neve Lucinda – We tend to associate Lucinda and other Luc- names with the Latin lux – light. As with Beatrice, it’s the meaning that makes me consider this name. Other long Luc- options include Luciana, Lucienne, and Lucia. I like Neve Lucia at least as much as Neve Lucinda.
  • Neve Rosamund – I love Neve Rosalie, but just wanted to point out that there are lots of longer Rose names to consider if Rosalie seems close but not quite the right fit.
  • Neve Tourmaline – I feel like most of the longer middles I’ve suggested – and that you’ve considered – are fairly mainstream. But you might choose something even bolder, a gemstone name like Tourmanline; an edible one, like Clementine; or a color-inspired one, like Isabelline.

Overall, I still don’t think anything can top Neve Josephine!

But readers, over to you. Would you use Neve with a surname starting with Van? And what kind of middle names sound best?

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. Hhhhm, in Australia we typically murder celebrities’ names to fit our accent (Demi Moore rhymes with semi for example). Probably for this reason I’ve only heard of Neve Campbell being said to rhyme with Eve.

    Here if I see Neve I assume it’s an anglicised Niamh. The first baby in New Zealand follows that approach.

    Also possibly an accent problem but I struggle with Nev Van Dutchlander style surname. I hear Nevan Dutchlander.

    Having said that I like the short first with the two word last. Any chance you like Ena? With a shirt E sound. I really like it with the surname and it is close to Nev.

  2. My first point of reference for Neve is the actress Neve Campbell, and I assume parents of similar age and with similar pop culture knowledge/background will, but that won’t be everyone. Kids don’t really have the name context that adults do, so they’ll go with whatever you/she tells them. So then you’re just left with all the other wild cards to educate. 😉

    One benefit of the name Neve is that, if it proves too tricky for teachers or care providers, you could easily drop the second E and use “Nev” as a “nickname,” so her cubby at preschool or whatever might say Nev, which make the pronunciation pretty obvious for other adults. Or maybe that sounds like sacrilege to you!

    Otherwise, just prepare your line. “Neve, it rhymes with rev.” “Neve, like the first syllable of never.”

  3. Based on google it looks like the Portuguese word might be pronounced NEH-vee? I would have guessed you were going for “neev” because I’ve been hearing Niamh around, but I think “nev” is usable because of Neve Campbell. The internet says she was named from her mother’s dutch surname, so interesting that you have a dutch surname too. My favorites for middles are Josephine and Beatrice, and I’ll add:

    Neve Charlotte
    Neve Julia
    Neve Sophie

  4. I love the pronunciation Nev of the name. I like the middle names Veronica, Margaret, Rosamund, Gabrielle. Something longer and established a la your list. From your list Neve Matilda gets my vote, it sounds perfect!

  5. Sorry to be negative, but I really dislike how Neve Van _____ sounds and I don’t think it works! I think she’d have to slowly repeat her name a lot of the time when introducing herself.
    I also have only know Neves who pronouned it as neev, but that isn’t as big of an issue.

  6. My first thought when I saw Neve was “Neh-vey” like Nevaeh. I could see it even creeping a little towards Navy. I think it would definitely be mispronounced and probably misspelled quite a bit. Would you consider using it as a middle name? I actually really like the sound and flow of Josephine Neve VanLastName.

    1. Oh gosh! I really dislike Nevaeh, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I’ll have to think about that. Definitely not open to using Neve as a middle name, as the meaning for us is more meaningful as a first name. Thank you though! I do love Neve Matilda!

  7. Two years ago we named our daughter an usual name that I knew had some possibility of pronunciation confusion but I thought that–as Abby said–eventually people would figure out which of the two ways to say it was correct. Well, I still love the name (it’s belongs to my daughter, after all!), but I definitely underestimated the amount of patience and correction it has taken to get the people in my daughter’s life to say it correctly, including close family and even grandparents (who, granted, only see her a few times a year, but still!) Not to mention every person at the park, dentist, playground etc. I think I would still choose her name again, if I went back in time, but I wish I had had a clearer understanding that this confusion will always be part of her life.

  8. I’m trying to think of middles that will bridge the Portuguese and Dutch, without being boring. For that reason I love Neve Josephine Van… Maria would be the obvious traditional choice, but expected and it doesn’t flow as well. Beatrice is another good culture spanning name. Caroline, Therese, Cristina, Linnea, Theodora, Penelope, Cassandra,. Or you could go more modern with one of the surname names: Riley, Harper, Piper, Keller, Cruz.

  9. Neve is a great name!! I did know a Neve who pronounced it Neve-rhymes with eve. However, like any name with multiple pronunciations, once people hear it they usually say it correctly. I think it really depends on your feelings about having to clarify and the occasional person saying it the other way. I personally don’t think it’s a deal breaker and if you love Neve you should definitely choose it. 🙂
    Some middle options for you-

    Neve Seraphine
    Neve Penelope
    Neve Primrose
    Neve Luella
    Neve Juliette

    Congrats on your baby girl!!

  10. Tricky one! I almost want no middle name with Neve pronounced the Nev way and a Van last, as if Van is the middle.

    But if using one, I agree: steer clear of A middle where overall effect could sound like “Never”. I like the rhythm of Felicity but it’s too smooshed with Nev (v and f – so if using an F name, needs not not be Fe-).

    I like the -ine names for this version of Neve: Josephine, Celine (less ambiguous spelling than Selene, though Selene looks good with Neve), Francine, Capucine, Florentine (or Catherine).

    1. Neve Celestine would be beautiful!!

      Ps. I didn’t know Neve Campbell pronounced her name as rhyming with Eve. In Canada, it’s typically been reported as Nev.