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 have three children, all named for family. Each time, the right choice immediately came to us. For this baby, though, it feels like we’re running out of good choices. Can you help us narrow down our list?
We will find out gender, but not for a few more weeks. And since this might not be our last baby, we feel like it would be good to have lots of name ideas!
Our kids are:
JAMES – Named for both of our dads. It’s my husband’s middle name, too. Super easy. His middle name is Nicholas, for my husband.
ALICE – Named for my grandmother, Mary Alice. He also had a grandmother named Marie, so her full name is Alice Marie. We thought we’d call her “Alice Marie,” but she’s always Alice.
MATTHEW – My mom’s maiden name was Matthews, and since neither of her parents were honored with James and Alice’s names, it feels like it sort of covers everyone. His middle name is Patterson, which is Nick’s mom’s maiden name, so it’s perfect.
Our last name is a color/metal that rhymes with Cold.
Here’s our list:
NAMES FOR A SON
Bailey – Another family name, but not sure if this is a boy or girl name?
Bradley– A family last name, but I feel like this is very 80s. Maybe as a middle.
George – I don’t like it with our last name, though George was my husband’s favorite uncle.
John – Another grandfather.
Joseph – Another grandfather; also Nick’s brother, so we’re not sure if it’s really ours to use.
Roger – From family surname, Rogers.
Thomas – From another grandfather.
William/Wilson – From my maiden name.
NAMES FOR A DAUGHTER
Anna – Love this name, but maybe it’s kind of plain. My mom’s name is Cheryl Anne, and while I adore her, we both agree her first name isn’t really ready to be passed down.
Elizabeth – My middle name. Not sure how I feel about shortening it. (Though I know I don’t like Lizzie.)
Genevieve – I just plain love Genevieve, but I would like to find a family name if possible.
Lynn, Lindie, Madeline – From my grandmother, Linda. But Madeline is maybe too much of a stretch, and I don’t know if I like Lynn/Lindie enough to choose them. Linda just feels like too much of a grandma name.
Rebecca – The name of a close family friend, and I like the sound, but Rebecca feels like such a mom name.
Rose – My mother’s confirmation name and my confirmation name, so Rose would be perfect, but not with our last name, Cold-with-a-G.
Susan, Suzanne, Susanna – For my husband’s mom, Sue (Susan).
Up until now, it’s felt like we can just use family names, without having to think about it a lot. But maybe we’ve used up all of the logical ones, and needing to stretch a little makes the names feel less special? Like we’re not really honoring the people we love, if that makes sense? But choosing names we just like seems like it would be harder AND maybe leave those kids feel like they’re left out.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new baby!
I think this is one of the conundrums of family names: it’s easy to choose the first family name. Or maybe two or three or four. But at some point, inevitably we run out of a) obvious people to honor and/or b) names we can really bring ourselves to use.
Both James and Alice were straightforward choices. Matthew is maybe a little more creative, but only a little.
If you’re going to continue using family names – and it seems like that’s your preference – it’s going to require a little more flexibility.
And that’s a good thing!
Let’s think through some options.
FAMILY NAMES FOR GIRLS
I don’t think Anna is dull at all. Bonus? You could use a much bolder middle. Anna Genevieve is gorgeous, and something like Anna Bailey could be great, too.
Does Ella feel connected enough to Elizabeth for you to use? It sidesteps the Lizzie problem neatly. Elise, too, a form of Elizabeth … except I think it’s way too close to Alice.
If George isn’t right for a son, could Georgia work for a daughter?
Same question here. I understand not wanting to use a brother’s name if he has his heart set on naming a future son Joseph. But Josephine is a little bit different.
It’s not Linda, but it’s only one letter removed – and far more contemporary in style.
This feels like the best of both worlds – Sue plus Anna.
FAMILY NAMES FOR A SON
As with Georgia and Josephine, this is a gender flip. What if you honored Rebecca with a son named Beckett?
Building on Joseph, could another Jo- name work?
I’m guessing that John isn’t ideal with a short last name, but how about Jonathan?
My favorite from your current list. Excellent with James, Alice, and Matthew!
Oh wait, this might be my favorite from your current list. Not only does it go together well, but it honors you. Which seems especially lovely.
Overall, my favorites are probably Georgia for a daughter and William for a son, but I think there are lots of possibilities here.
Using and adding to suggestions above:
– Susannah Lily (nn Suki?)
– Willamina Elsie
– Georgia Elspeth
– Georgiana Liesl
– Josephine Annabel
(I love Rose names but I would avoid with your last name to save kid boring jokes about favourite g*ld types)
– William Roger
– Thomas William
I really like William!
Rosanne or Rosanna
Annabeth or Annabel
James, Alice, Matthew, and…
Thomas Wilson- my fav
Thomas Ambrose nn TAG
George Wilson (I like alliteration)
Lily (Susan meaning) Anastasia (Anne & Stacie).
Jane (for John) Elizabeth
Congrats on your upcoming 4th!
Definitely seconding ROSALINE/ROSALIND with nickname “Rose”. It would be an honor name for both yourself & your grandmother, so there wouldn’t be too much to compromise but loads to feel great about!
As for a strictly boy name, WILLIAM/WILSON has got my vote. What a nice way to honor yourself but also your family. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with honoring a mom by naming a son after her. It’s actually refreshing!
Hope you come to an agreement that feels just right. Best of luck!
Abby has really suggested some great options. Particularly swapping to Georgia.
I did some research and thinking about the name Cheryl. Several sources link it to Charlotte. Let me add a suggestion of Charlotte Anne which is clearly a link you your mum with the sounds and the use of the middle name.
I think Eliza is also a great match with Alice.
Thomas and William are both excellent choices with the siblings.
I’d leave Joseph.
I think you could use Anne Charlotte in honour of your Mum. Anne Charlotte from Cheryl Anne sort of mirrors Alice Marie from Mary Alice, though granted you did have another honoree for Marie as well.
Anne (and Anna) may seen plain on paper, but I think it’d be a refreshingly beautiful surprise to meet a baby Anne.
The Mrs. says
Oh, man! If I had the chance to have the name Rose (C)old, I would LOVE it! Please at least use it as a middle name! It’s just too good!
What about doing the exact same thing you did with your husband’s name? Just switching first and last for your daughter:
I like how it’s classic, just like James, Alice and Matthew.
Thomas Wilson for a boy.
Another grandfather + another family last name
I like Thomas George and Joanna Elizabeth or Joanna Lynn. Girl nicknames could be JoBeth, Jolie, JoJo/Jojo . . .
Best wishes to you!
You have a great selection of family names to choose from!
James, Alice and Matthew all read very classic and traditional to me, so I’d try to continue that theme with #4. From your options, I think George, John, Joseph, Thomas and William for boys and Anna, Elizabeth, Rose and Susanna fit in nicely. The others feel a bit more dated, rather than timeless, but still could work.
For a boy I really think you can’t go past William or Wilson.
I have a few more thoughts about girl names:
Madeline for Linda is brilliant – all the letters are there. Adeline also works in this way.
I like Lucinda as an elaboration of Linda. Lydia has a similar sound, rather than all the letters, but could be option too.
I like Abby’s idea of Georgia for a girl; Georgina is another possibility you might like.
Since Rose is out due to your last name, and you’d choose it because it’s your confirmation name, I wonder if Therese could substitute? St Therese is associated with roses so that could be a subtle connection. I quite like Therese with your other kids’ names (and it starts the same way as grandfather Thomas).
Johanna is a feminine form of John that includes Anna. I’ll also suggest Hannah as an alternative to Anna.
Anastasia is perhaps a bit elaborate in the sibset, but it covers Anne/Anna as well as being a longer form of Stacie.
So many beautiful names in this family! I love how intentionally the parents have chosen names to honor loved ones and create a sense of legacy for the next generation.
From the parents’ list, I especially like Thomas, William, Anna, Susan, and Susanna.
From Abby’s list, Georgia and Josephine really stand out – particularly because of how special those family relationships are to the husband.
From the comments, I love Rosalind and Willa.
You could consider a variation on your two eldest children’s middle names, such as:
-Nicole, Colette (from Nicholas)
-Mary, Maria, Marianne (from Mary)
And some possibilities derived from other family names:
-Annalie, Annika (from Anne)
-Joanna, Joanne, Johanna (from John and Anne)
-Tamsin, Thomasina (from Thomas)
-Beth, Tess (from Elizabeth)
-Linden, Linnea, Linnet (from Linda – which I also think is due for a comeback and would make a lovely middle name)
I hope this family will write back with an update!
C in DC says
How about Lyndon/Linden for a boy to honor Linda? Linden and Bailey are both unisex in my world.
There’s also Franklin as a subtle nod to Linda.
For Cheryl Anne, you could use Cheyenne or the Greek name Cherith but with the more English-friendly spelling of Kerith. For a boy, Archer for Cheryl (Archery ends with Chery…)
I agree with trying to use part of one of your names (first, middle, confirmation, or maiden name).
William works very well with any of the names on your boys list if you choose the one that feels most significant to you! William Thomas, William Bradley, William George, etc.
I also love Eliza for a girls name with these siblings. Eliza Rose, Eliza Suzanne, even Eliza Cheryl if you want your mom’s name. Suzanne / Susanna is a sweet way to incorporate Sue and Anne.
I’d like Thomas Wilson and Susanna Elizabeth .
Patricia Ann says
You have so many great family names to chose from that go so lovely with your children’s beautiful names!
My favorites are Rosa Elizabeth or Willa Elizabeth-
Thomas William or Thomas Joseph
Willa is such a good suggestion!
I love how easily you incorporated family names for your trio! What luck you had so many name crossovers in your families.
I really like Abby’s lists, especially the idea (continued in the comments) of tweaking family names for the opposite sex. So many options!
One aspect I’d love to see in the name is your first or middle and maiden. Whatever you feel connected most to! So far your husbands whole name has been used but never yours. Fourth time is a charm 😉
First: repeat your initials for a Samson Elijah or Stella Elizabeth?
Middle: Elijah William or Eliza(beth) Rose (I know you say you may not want to shorten Elizabeth but Eliza is so gorgeous with sister Alice)
Confirmation: Rosalind Willa or Ross William
Maiden: William Elijah or Willa Rosalind
Kerri McP says
What about Genevieve Melinda? Gets Linda in without being so blatant, and would even allow for the fun nickname GiGi from the initials. And I think I like Thomas Bailey for a boy.
Not sure how you feel about very elaborate names, but there are names like Rosalinda, Rosalind, Rosaline, and Rosalyn for a Rose/Linda smoosh that maybe mitigate the Rose Cold-with-a-G issue. Also, heads up that Jonagold is a type of apple.
When I was thinking about honor names for my child, I decided that it was enough for me to choose a name that reminded me of the honoree since I wasn’t honoring anyone living. If I had been honoring someone living, I would have worried about whether or not that person would feel like it was an honor or not if I changed the name too much. But strong connections made me happy with the name.
That’s a good point, renchickadee! Rosalind is gorgeous …
Bailey is gender neutral. Marshall and Reeves have similar meanings.
Regarding Joseph, you could consider the historic Canadian variation Joset (m) Josette (f). Both are pronounced joe-SET, not JOE-zet.
You really seem to be struggling with girl names.
Analiese is a smoosh of Anne and Liese (short for Elizabeth). I always loved this name growing up. There was one in my grade.
Elsie Rose (from Elizabeth, very from Alice)
Georgiana covers George and Anna, though technically it’s just a variant of George, not a smoosh name.
Wilhelmina (in my region we don’t pronounce the middle l) sounds like will-uh-me-nuh (either Willa or Mina would be a cut nickname though I was thinking Billie Rose)
Actually though, I’m kinda loving Willa Rose, but Wilhelmina Gold is easier to say than Willa Gold.