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. I feel inclined to say you’ve followed tradition and there’s now wiggle room to create within.
    My suggestion for a boy is choose one name initial for each parent.
    Perhaps consider Joseph as the first name from dad and Moore as a reference to you in the middle.
    Annabelle Joy, Amelia Jeanne, Miles Zachary and Joseph Moore

    Or you could never after your first initials…AMH or MAH

    For your set I keep going back to Matilda because it’s got M at the start and A at the end.
    Annabelle Joy, Amelia Jeanne, Miles Zachary and Matilda Zelle H… Lee
    If you were to play with the tradition I’d prefer J or A after M, especially an A name so you are represented then her dad.

    Annabelle Joy, Amelia Jeanne, Miles Zachary and Matilda Alice H.. Lee

    AJ for a girl
    Alice Juliet as Abby suggested
    Allegra Jo (for Joseph)

    MZ for a boy
    I’m going to vote for Maxwell Zane that Abby suggested

    MZ for a girl
    Mabel Zara H.. lee

  2. Malcolm Zane would be a fine pairing with the name of his older brother Miles Zachary.

    Both Malcolm and Zane are included in Abby’s recent post, “Sweet Spot Boy Names: Jonah, Malcolm, Lane”. Miles is on that list too.

    I have a 3-year-old grandson called Malcolm, a bright, curly-haired little moppet. I love his name.

    Malcolm is a rather unique name (I’ve never met another Malcolm of any age) and at the same time, a classic name. As one baby name website describes the name, “Malcolm is a strong and traditional Scottish name that is still in regular use in the modern era. A royal name of Scotland, Malcolm was the name of four Scottish kings including the son of Duncan who succeeded the throne after Macbeth.” Abby writes that that “Malcolm has never cracked the US Top 200 – or left the Top 1000. It’s the perfect under-the-radar choice.”

    For a baby girl, I agree with those who are suggesting that MZ initials would be a nice balance for your family. I especially like Miranda Zoë.

    Miranda happens to be the name of our 16-year-old granddauaghter (cousin to little Malcolm); she is usually called Mira. I think Miranda would go well with her older sister’s very feminine, 3-4 sylable names, while having the same initials as her older brother.

    Thus my suggerstions are Malcolm Zane or Miranda Zoë.

    I hope you’ll let us know the name you choose for your baby.