Name Help: Completing the AlphabetName 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!

Clara writes:

I am writing to ask for help for a scenario I did not envision happening – naming our (surprise) fourth baby. We recently found out baby is a boy, which was a second surprise as I was convinced it was a girl. We had a girls name ready to go, but are struggling to find a boys name.

We currently have two boys and a girl: Asa, Emmeline (who always goes by Emmie) and Baker. Combined with my husband and my names, our initials represent ABCDE. Our last name rhymes with Thomas.

The alphabet initials were not intentional- in fact we didn’t quite realize it until after Baker was born. Now, it feels like a missed opportunity not to find an F name for this boy.

We like Forest, except that it is a bit of a tongue twister with our last name (Forest Thomas gives you the idea of the sounds). The bonus is that we have been calling the baby Four as a nickname and could continue that. I just can’t quite get over the rhyming aspect.

We aren’t wild about other F names, but have considered Fox as a middle name (our oldest child’s middle name is Bear).

So – should we throw out the pattern and go back to the drawing board to find another name? Would Forest actually work? Is there a mystery third option I can’t see?

Looking forward to hearing your advice and also hearing from your awesome readers!

Please read on for my reply and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

Let’s think this through:

  • First off, I so agree with you! Finding a name that starts with F feels like solving a puzzle, and completing your family in a subtle, but clever, manner.
  • It also automatically narrows your list from Every Name Ever to just a few dozen possibilities, which can be helpful.
  • Except I also agree that Forest sounds-like-Thomas isn’t ideal. Parents use flawed first-last combinations ALL THE TIME. So you absolutely can make this choice. But will it bother you? I suspect the answer is yes, or you wouldn’t have written.

For the moment, let’s assume that Forest is off the table.

Let’s consider other options.


FOX – I’m guessing you’re not wild about using Fox as a first name. I do think the strong association with the cable news network could make this a polarizing name, and yet … Fox Mulder is probably most parents’ first thought with the given name. Besides, it’s the age of Bear and Wren. In the past twenty years, Fox has more than quintupled in use. It sounds good with your last name, too, so I think it deserves consideration.

FRANKLIN – This name sounds smart and principled, friendly and accessible, thanks to some combination of Benjamin Franklin and Franklin Turtle. It’s got a great vintage vibe, too.

FRASIER – Forest had me thinking about trees, and Frasier firs immediately come to mind. This Scottish surname is also spelled Frazier and Fraser, which gives you a few options – and possibly complicates your son’s name ever so slightly.

FINNIAN – I’m guessing you’ve ruled out Finn names, but would Finnian appeal? It has the longer sound of Julian and Adrian. Also, I love it for you because fin means end in French, from the Latin finis – conclusion. (Think of our word finish.)

FORESTER, FORRESTER – What would you think of adding an extra syllable to your son’s name? He could still be Forest for everyday use, but for those first-last name occasions – kindergarten graduation, third grade award ceremony – he’d be Forrester Thomas, which sidesteps all of the awkward repeating sounds.

FOSTER – Another surname name option.


FORD – Okay, it’s an F name. But it’s in this section because it also sounds quite a bit like Four. And it works with your surname. Asa, Emmie, Baker, Ford … it fits.

DREW – This is a stretch, but the sound Drew is right there in “quadruple.”


ZANE – Since your firstborn’s name begins with an A, another option might be to choose a Z name for your last child. Zane seems like a possibility.

ZEKE – Or maybe Zeke? It’s often short for Ezekiel,


It’s worth considering that the pattern is so subtle that it took three kids until you’d noticed it!

Most people will never pick up on – after all, someone has to know the names of every member of your family to even have a chance to notice. So often, we forget the name of a casual friend’s husband – maybe we’ve only met him once. Or you know your daughter’s best friend has an older brother, but you’re not sure of his name.

In other words, if finding an F name just isn’t happening? You can move on, guilt-free, and know that your son won’t feel left out.

But I feel like Ford and Finnian deserve a closer look, because they’re F names with a meaning that nods to this child’s place in your family.

My favorite pick of all might be Forester/Forrester. Like Emmeline, he doesn’t have to use his full name. But it’s there for those moments that require it.

Readers, over to you. Does Forester work? Is there another F name they should consider? Can you suggest some options that start with another initial?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Asa, Emmie, Baker, and

    Fenton “Thomas”
    Farrow “Thomas”

    Quade has the meaning of ‘four’ according to some resources. Your other two sons have the long ‘a’ sound in their names as well.

    I know a family with a Felix who goes by Fox.

    Esteemed, black, conservative judge Clarence Thomas makes an excellent inspiration for a child’s name, but he is rather famous, and that might make your surname misheard if you use Clarence.

    How great that you found this family pattern! Congratulations and best wishes on your son!

  2. I think Finn or Felix would go really well with Asa, Baker & Emmie! I also like suggestions of Ford and Franklin! Good luck finding a beautiful name!

  3. “Frasier/Fraser” reminds me of the word “favor” and it was honestly my first idea when reading your name help post. I think it sounds really cool with your potential last name!

    There’s also “Finnian” or “Finley” but it may/may not be your style. It could definitely go well without tongue-twisting though.

    “Fabian” is also a different option! It’s one of those names that people are familiar with but is uncommon. It’s the kind of name that I feel like is “so out, it’s in”.

    A few more suggestions…

    “CORBIN” Thomas

    “OTTO” Thomas (4-letter name for the 4th kiddo, anyone?)

    “THATCHER” Thomas

    Congrats on your new little one on the way! Trust what feels right when the time arrives! x

  4. I am really charmed by this enquiry! I love that you happened upon this naming pattern by accident.

    The fact that you’re now stuck on F reminds me of the film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where the sixth brother is named Frank, as in Frankincense, because their mother couldn’t find a good F name in the Bible.

    My first thought was Forester/Forrester/Forster, as well, but then commenter Renee astutely pointed out that having two sons with ‘-er’ surname names might not be ideal, especially since your other son’s name doesn’t fit this pattern.

    If you go with Forest, you could always call him “Four” or even “Fox” as a nickname! And when using his formal name, you could make a point of including his middle name or initial:

    Forest James sounds-like-Thomas (for example)
    Forest J. Thomas

    I do think Ford is a terrific suggestion, if it fits your taste! These surname names starting with “For-” would all work on the same principle:


    Since you like Fox, I wonder if you would consider Fox-adjacent surname names, such as:


    All that said, I don’t think you have to be beholden to F names, if you aren’t finding one that feels right. I know a few families where all the kids’ names begin with the same initial, except for one kid whose name “overrode” the pattern.

    The “overriding” name might be an honor name (for example, inheriting dad or grandpa’s name). Or it could be a reference to when the child was born (for example, August or Valentine) or a place of significance to your family (such as where you met your husband or a favorite mountain).

    Like commenter Maclary, I also thought of incorporating the Roman numeral IV as a nod to the “Four” nickname. But you don’t have to restrict yourself to names that start with ‘Iv-‘. You could open it up to any first names you like that start with I, then a middle name that starts with V (by the way, Voss is a Germanic name meaning “fox”):

    Isaac Voss sounds-like-Thomas
    Ismael Voss sounds-like-Thomas
    Innis Voss sounds-like-Thomas

    And just as Abby suggested a Z name to “complete” the family sequence, I think an X name could work. X is the unknown variable, the enigma that defies all patterns. You could even use Fox as a middle name to double up on the Xs:

    Xavier Fox sounds-like-Thomas
    Xoel Fox sounds-like-Thomas
    Xan Fox sounds-like-Thomas

    You could also pick a first name that starts with the same letter as your last name, so that this child’s first initial is still “special” within the family.

    Overall, I think you have tons of great options to go with the wonderful names you’ve already given to your children. I hope you’ll write back with an update!

  5. Asa is one of my favs. Congrats to you.

    Ford ‘Thomas’ is handsome.

    Asa, Baker, Emmie, and Felix for 2 syllables. Or Fallon or Francis.

    Fabian or Fitzgerald or Finnegan to compliment Emmeline.