Name Help: Initials AJ or MZName 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!

Morgan writes:

My husband’s family has a naming tradition. The eldest child gets a name that has the same initials as dad. My husband is Andrew Joseph, and our daughter/first child is Annabelle Joy.

Then we had a second daughter, and we didn’t want her to feel left out. So we named her Amelia Jeanne.

We were having a hard time finding a name for our son, but we finally settled on Miles Zachary, because those are my initials. (The Z is for my maiden name, now my middle name.)

After our son was born, we thought our family was complete. But – surprise! – baby number four will be here in August.

I feel strongly that a girl needs to have another A name and probably another A.J. name.

I’m less set on another boy having an M.Z. name, but I think I’d prefer it over some other random set of initials, if that makes sense.

We always found out what we were having before, but this time we’re going for a delivery surprise.

Our girl list so far is: Aurora (husband isn’t sure about it), Ava (I think it’s too popular), Adelaide (is it too much like Annabelle?), Adeline/Adalynn (can’t agree on spelling and not sure about how to say lynn/line).

Our boy list so far is: Matthew (but it feels a little boring), Micah (but will people think it’s a girl name?), Mitchell (husband loves, I don’t like), Marshall (another husband favorite), Mason (we both agree on it, but neither of us really loves it).

What are we missing?

Our last name is two syllables and pretty common, starts with H and ends with an EE sound.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new baby!

Sometimes continuing a naming custom can really paint you into a corner. But, happily, you still have lots of choices.

Or maybe that’s the problem!

We need a girl’s name that goes with Annabelle Joy and Amelia Jeanne, and a boy’s name that goes with Miles Zachary.

While I think there are some good options on your short lists, let’s begin fresh.



Would you consider just Adele instead of Adelaide or Adeline/Adelynn? I think Adelaide is great with Annabelle and Amelia, but Adele is maybe even a little more distinctive.


The name of a river in Scotland, borrowed from a poem by Robert Burns, often set to music.


A traditional name that sounds like a sister for Amelia and Annabelle.


Alina feels like a modern update to Elaine.


Style icon Audrey Hepburn leaves a mark on this one.


Possibly an alternative to Ava – still popular, but a little less so.



A traditional choice that feels like a midpoint between Mitchell/Marshall and Micah.


The ‘s’ ending makes Marcus feel more current than 1960s/70s chart-topper Mark.


A handsome, surname-style name connected to friendly, traditional Max.


A surname that closely resembles our word merit – “worthy” – while also fitting in with Beckett and Emmett.


Traditional and once powerfully popular, Michael is now surprisingly uncommon on newborn boys.


A handsome, Hollywood-inspired surname option for a little gentleman.

One final thought: what would you think of giving this baby an MZ name … regardless of gender? I ask because you’d then have two children sharing your husband’s initials and two children sharing yours. There’s some lovely symmetry to that, and it would open up some new possibilities for a daughter’s name, too. (Madelyn Zoe, maybe?)

Sticking with the original assignment, my favorites are Alice and Maxwell. Maybe:

  • Alice Josephine, Alice Juliet, or Alice Jane
  • Maxwell Zane, Maxwell Zander, or Maxwell Zavier

I’m drawn to Alice Juliet and Maxwell Zane, but let’s open this up to our readers.

What would you name a daughter with the initials A.J. or a son with the initials M.Z.?

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. Definitely feeling like Aurora & Amelia are too much together. I also feel the same way about Adele and Annabelle, that A- ending in -Elle sound. Adelaide is definitely better, because it’s -eh rather than another -elle sound. I really like the way Audrey brings some new sounds in, and Alice is lovely too.

    I had Marcus in my head from just reading their list. I really like Micah too.

    Love Margot with the siblings – Margot Zoe. Two with dads initial, two with mums. Three AJs make me notice the one not-AJ kid so much more than two AJs.


    Marigold “Goldie”

  2. I really like the suggestions of Audrey, Aurora, and Adelaide but I am in favor of using MZ regardless of gender:

    Here to suggest: Malachi Zane
    I LOVE the suggestion of Miriam Zora! I think that’s my absolute favorite. Other ideas:
    Margaret Zelda
    Meredith Zoe
    Molly Zora
    Marcella Zara
    Miranda Zoe

  3. Do you like Martin?
    He’s as classic as Miles.
    Martin Zephyr
    Martin Zane
    Martin Zebedee

    Annabelle, Amelia, and…
    Avril Jessamine
    Acacia Jemima
    Arcadia Justine
    Autumn Jensen
    Joy Jeanne

    And I had the same thought as Abby… why not use M.Z. no matter what? The balance would be nice. And how great would it be to tell her, “We needed you! Even the initials were out of balance without you!”

    Maren Zipporah
    Mavis Zelda
    Maxine Zoe
    Macy Zara
    Melinda Zee
    Melaina Zora

  4. Alice Juliet is hard to beat but I’m with others who’d love you to consider another MZ name regardless of sex!
    Munro Zander
    Mabel Zinnia
    Miriam Zora
    Madigan Zeal

  5. For a girl, I would consider using MZ as the initials. You were concerned enough about your second child being left out to match her initials with her big sister, and I think your 3rd might feel left out if he’s the only MZ among a sea of AJs.

    You could use an M name that includes either a or j, or both – Maja comes to mind – Maja Zipporah? Maja Zinnia?

    I also like Meredith for you – Meredith Zola? Meredith Zelda?

    For a boy, perhaps Malachi or Maddox?

  6. Audrey, Audrianna, Adrianne, Alena, Ariana, or Alyssa/Alicia/Allison for the A. Josephine, Jennifer, Jacqueline, Jessamyn, Jewel/Jule
    Malcolm or Martin for the M. Zane or Zephyr for the Z.

    For girls, M: Margaret, Margot, Madeleine (mad-a-len), Madeline (mad-a-line), Madelyn (mad-a-lin), Miranda, Marisol, Mallory Z: Zephyr, Zelle, Zoe, Zina, Zola, or your maiden name.

    My favorites are Audrey Jewel, Malcolm Zane (or your maiden name), and Mallory Zephyr. With the last name H–ee, Miranda might be better than Mallory, but I think Audrey still works, with perhaps a longer middle name.

  7. I love A’s suggestion of Zane Morgan! Zoe Morgan (Zoey Morgan) or Zara Morgan could work for a girl.

    Perhaps you might like:
    Ada Josephine or Ada Jocelyn
    Adelaide Jolie — imo, Adelaide is not too similar to Annabelle.
    Adeline Juniper — I pronounce this with a long i, as in the barbershop song “Sweet Adeline.”
    Alexandra Jane
    Arianna Joan
    Augusta Juliet — baby is due in August and Gussie is a sweet nickname.

    Magnus Zavier
    Marcus Zander
    Matthias Zane — less common than Matthew.
    Micah Zion — probably need to pronounce these names with a hard stop in between to avoid it sounding like a compound name. In 2021, Micah was ranked 107 for boys (90 in 2022); Micah was ranked 975 for girls in 2021 (not in the top 1000 in 2022).

    Best wishes to you!

  8. So fun! Can’t wait to see what you land on. Adelaide – love this for you and I don’t understand why it’s like Annabelle? Love Alice from Abby’s suggestions. I realllly want to know of you use nicknames though cause to me that would guide choices more than anything. I’ll just assume you don’t. I assume you’re also avoiding -EE endings with the surname (though I agree Audrey June is super sweet.)

    Alexia (I think an Alex variation is perfect for your set and I like Alexia best!)
    Aurelia (although if husband doesn’t like Aurora maybe this is too much)

    Malcolm and Marcus are great. Came to add Morris. And I love the idea of flipping the inituals for a Zane Morgan! Your bookend baby – A to Z! A girl could be Zara Morgan!

    Actually I think I’d use MZ boy or girl to even it all out.


  9. If you’re going between Adalyn or Adaline, you might like my name; Adallie. (pronounced add a lee) It’s not a very common name, but I love it! I also love Audrey/Aubrey or if you want to get fancy Aubrielle. I like the idea of Jane/Jayna, Jesse or Judith for a middle name. Just suggestions of course! Have fun finding a name!

  10. This is such a fun tradition! Came here to suggest Audrey or Malcolm “Mac”.

    Audrey June feels sweet and a bit vintage just like Amelia and Annabel and I love that all the girls would also have a one syllable middle name

    And Malcolm Zane is SO handsome! Maxwell Zane would be my second choice. Or would you consider flipping the initials to ZM? Zane Morgan would be a sweet honor to you 🙂