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 two sons, Archer Cohen Bear “Archie” and Atlas Fraser Finch “Atty Finch”.
We’re having a third boy this autumn! I’m having a hard time finding any names that I love. I know I definitely don’t want another A name. I don’t have to have another animal middle. I do require a nickname option, though. I greatly enjoy using nicknames for a nice, full feeling name.
I feel like I’ve looked at hundreds of names. I might like Wilder? I don’t know if it feels good enough though. My name love is Dashiell but my partner dislikes it too much to compromise. Help?
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Remy –
Congratulations on your third son!
It was so much fun to help you think through a name for Atlas Fraser Finch. And it’s a great choice! But here’s what jumps out at me – and it sounds like you’re feeling it, too – there’s a lot of pattern set.
Both of your boys’ names:
- Feel stylish, if slightly on the unusual/unexpected side
- Begin with the letter A
- Both first names are two syllables
- Have two middle names
- The first middle name is a common surname
- The second middle is an animal name
- Shorten to a casual nickname
It might feel awkward to name a sibling something completely different – Archie, Atty Finch, and Bob. Archie, Atty Finch, and Jayden. You can, of course. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to.
That leaves this puzzle: which matching parts do you keep?
Let’s start with the assumption that all A first names are out, but that stylish/slightly unexpected matters.
It sounds like your long-time favorite is Dashiell, but that’s at the top of your partner’s nope, no thanks list. Too bad, because it goes well with Archer and Atlas.
Wilder fits, too. Except it might leave you searching for an easy nickname. Archie and Atty clearly come from Archer and Atlas. Would you call Wilder … Willie, maybe? That doesn’t quite seem like your style. Wiley, maybe?
When you were expecting Atlas, I suggested Beckett, August, Louis, Harrison, Leland, Dexter, and Donovan. I’ll skip them all this time, but I did want to revisit one from the prior post: Finley. As I noted last time, Finn might be a little too popular. But if you’re not sold on any animal-inspired middle names, the advantage of Finley is that it does bring to mind all be-finned creatures, which means your third son would have a vaguely aquatic-inspired name.
Or maybe that’s not good enough? Since potential animal, or maybe even just nature-inspired, middles abound, let’s focus on firsts.
I find that I’m really struggling to find two-syllable names that shorten to two-syllable nicknames. Surely there are some I’ve overlooking! But I also suspect that’s more accidental than intentional pattern, so I’m not going to worry too much about that.
Caspian – A place name with literary ties, it sounds like a brother for Archer, Atlas, and Caspian. There’s a certain adventurous spirit all three names share. It shortens to Cas and Cap, and maybe even Ian. (Or Cian, with a hard C sound?)
Dempsey – Maybe it’s the upbeat Irish appeal of this surname name; maybe it’s boxer Jack Dempsey, a world heavyweight champ back in the day, that lends the name a certain fire. I think Dezi or Dez could be a great short form of Dempsey.
Forrest – A preppy surname with an outdoorsy vibe, Forrest is both relaxed and ready to climb a mountain. At first glance, nicknames are elusive, but I like the idea of shortening Forrest to Ret – though maybe I’d spell it Ret?
Lennon – Archer and Atlas make great brother names, but in many ways, they’re different. One is a surname; the other, borrowed from myth. Lennon feels like it bridges the two. Sure, it’s a last name promoted to the first spot, but it’s also inspired by a legendary musician. Bonus? It shortens to Lenny, Len, and maybe even Leo.
Linus – While I’m thinking Leo, could Linus be Leo – or maybe Lio? I suggested Leland last time, and I still think it’s great with Archer and Atlas. But since it wasn’t for you, maybe Linus would work instead? I think it’s among the greatest of the undiscovered boy names.
Orion – Archer and Atlas both appear in the night sky, so maybe Orion is the logical name for their brother? It shortens to Ry, Rio, and Rion, Ory and O.
Orson – Orson borrows a little something from Archer’s name – it means bear. But I think that’s a subtle enough link that it feels meaningful, not repetitive.
Rodney – Roderick, the big brother from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, popped into my head this morning. Could Roderick or Rodney be ready for revival? In fairness, Rodney peaked in the 1960s and Roderick in the 1970s, so they haven’t been gone long. But something about Archie, Atty Finch, and Roddy seems very appealing. For an even rarer name, maybe Riordan would work?
Sullivan – I feel like Sullivan, shortened to Sully or Van, makes for an obvious choice with these boy names.
Tennyson – Tennyson might be a little bit longer, but I think it works well with Archer and Atlas. It’s poetic, but veyr wearable, and Ten and Tenny make appealing nickname options.
I love the idea of Archie, Atty Finch, and Leo, but I wonder if the rich nickname possibilities in Orion aren’t the better choice?
Readers, over to you! What would you name a brother for Archer and Atlas?
What about Daxton nn Dax?
Congrats on boy #3 🙂
Whales and Anchors says
I love Abby’s suggestion of Caspian, nickname Cian (key-an)! Caspian fits so well with the other boys’ names, and Cian has two syllables, plus the advantage of not being too popular.
Caspian … Pom (from pomme: apple. Like in the Babar books) – Cian Pom
Caspian … Oak – Cian Oak
Caspian … Adler – Saddler or Paddler
Caspian … Skyler – Cian Sky
Tobias nn Toby
Edgar or Edwin nn Eddie
I think Orion is a really great suggestion, it sounds like the perfect fit. Archer, Atlas & Orion. Very celestial, very adventurous.
I don’t normally like Forrest but in this case I actually think I might.
Larkin (neat connection with Finch?)
Wilder to me just feels like asking for trouble. I’d expect an out of control wild child, ruly and rambunctious.
Loving the suggestion of caspian or how about cosmo?… They seem good choice with sibling names others you may like are:
I like Declan in addition to Dexter. 🙂 it may be a contender.
My maiden wouldn’t really work. I don’t feel fondness for it, really. It’s okay but eh. If anything, it has a prominent “Ruby” sound so it could be used for a daughter one day if I chose to go that route. 🙂
I haven’t been sure I wanted to lock in an animal name theme. I was considering keeping a nature name, to make it fit without making it as specific. Bear was honoring, Finch was pure love, but I do like nature inspired names in generally. They feel so sweet. I’m picky on animal names though. My mum and sister were bit by a rabid fox (which happens surprisingly frequent in some states, so I learned?) and I’d prefer a creature without too many gruesome connotations (so no otters, wolves, etc). I’m so picky, sorry! I’m not opposed to Colt, even if it’s not infatuation it is a nice name.
I actually love Ronan, even if not Rowan! <3
It’s encouraging to hear some positivity on Wilder. A part of me is scared to use it, thinking people will think unruly rather than adventurous, which is what I prefer.
I do like Oz! And Ozzie. I don’t love Oscar for some reason. I tried considering Oswald but it didn’t feel natural. And for some reason, Oz alone feels too nicknamey to me to be a stand alone.
Thank you all so much!! I’m feeling a little relief on my naming journey. I’ve been so anxious to find *something*. And I feel like I finally have names written on paper to consider!
If you wanted a nature name, but not an animal name, than the above suggestion of Leif is great. I am having a hard time coming up with one syllable nature names.
Wilder ______ Leif.
However, Wills Leif or Will Leif doesn’t sound the same as Archie Bear because Will/Wills doesn’t have the two-syllable. Wiley Leif if a bit of a tongue-twister. Hmm.
Wills River or Will River. I could envision yelling that at the playground.
Wills Hawthorne is soooooooooo handsome. I think that is my favorite. It breaks you out of a lot of your trends to open up future baby names, but it still keeps a nature name.
For the record, I don’t think Wilder leads to the conclusion of “wild child.” It sounds like a surname name to me–the same as Bennett or Sullivan or Coen, or dozens of others. I, personally, really like the surname trend so that might be why I like it so much. Plus, it is just so gorgeous.
Alright, I posted and then I walked downstairs and stood by my kids (who were being hooligans) to encourage sleep and thought through WHY I love Wilder so much, and why it feels like a very gentle and nostalgic name for me, and I remembered Thornton Wilder. Yes, that is the root of why I associate historicity and Americana with the name, rather than “wild.” It feels like a literary name like Finch (I didn’t even think bird until I reread the post–it is all literary cred with me). After thinking that through I remembered that you hear Wilder and think adventurous (which is very logical, since in my neck of the woods, all of our adventuring is done in the wild), and I came up with another possible nature middle that I love:
Wilder ____ Huckleberry.
I am in love with this name because it has double literary references and it sounds so boyish and adventurous and playful and it is just plain fun to say.
I love it. I would be happy to say that every day. Wilder Hawthorne also has double literary cred and definitely has a different feel to it, a little more solemn, less playful, but still gorgeous.
I loved the above posters idea of Oak as a middle. That would be great, except you’d probably need to go with Wiley Oak to make the rhythm work. Wills Oak. Will Oak. Wiley Oak.
I also liked the idea of Sky. We have a 19 year old male neighbor named Sky and it makes me think of Guys and Dolls, which is enhanced by the fact that he’s a very talented musician. Sky is very handsome on a boy. Will Sky. It sounds like one of Robin’s merry men to me. I like it.
Good point about Thornton Wilder – it does make the name feel very literary! I always think Billy Wilder, too, so there’s some Golden Age Hollywood in there, too …
Stay with Wilder nn Will or Wills or Wiley. I love it. It is such a great name!
I definitely think you should break the A trend, as it is very prohibitive with other names, but keep the two middles and one animal name. It is just too much fun to not keep the animal name second middle.
My favorite animal name is Badger and I was going to use that if I had another boy, mostly because I adore the nickname Badge. Fox is an obvious choice, although not a favorite of mine. Bear sounds loving and kind, Finch sounds smart (maybe because the whole name reminds me of Atticus Finch), so what other trait would you like to incorporate? I like Colt with Wilder, it is not thought of as an animal name, but it is.
Wilder _____ Colt.
Maybe that’s too western for you.
Otter sounds super playful to me–I think that balances out the more intense Wilder.
Wilder _____ Otter.
Puma and Cougar also work (well, I think they do as I have several in my family, but again, we’re westerners).
If you don’t use Wilder *sniff* then I like Leander for you. Leander matches your other boys’ names and it has great nicknames: Leo, Lee, Anders.
Another great one is Oskar. It has a great, playful vibe and Oz or Ozzie is beyond darling.
Archer, Atlas, Oskar
Archer, Atlas, Leander
Good luck! I love your son’s names!
Since you like Dexter what about Declan nn Decker?
Would your maiden name make a good middle?
I think we are all picking up the nature theme from the boy’s middles but these are honour names. The next name will cement the theme here – do you want to lock yourself in with honour names or nature names? Is there any chance you can come up with more honour names that are also nature names?
Remy means ‘oarsman’ so you could use Rafter perhaps (subtle/tenuous link). Declan Rafter (Decker).
From commenters, I do sort of like Merrick and Milo. I’m unsure but I’ll sit on them. I’m hesitant to use any name with Rick in it as there’s so many Richards in my family it’s just a lot.
I’ll address August as it seems a favorite. I endured a trauma in August and spend the entire month of every year in a really bad state of mind. It’s really ruined the name as potential for me. I can’t get by that, you know? Plus, I may have another baby one day and using a third A name secures to pattern. Two is a coincidence, three is pretty intentional you know? I don’t love any A names and don’t want to stick to it for the sake of it. Nor would I want to feel compelled for yet another A name down the road if we have a fourth child.
So while reading this post, for some reason when you brought up the previous post and it’s suggestions, Dexter sort of clicked? Not necessarily as “the one” but in a “maybe I should reconsider it!” Sort of way. I originally wasn’t sure if I could get over the “serial killer” association but at the same time… It is so handsome!
I do love Finley! It’s so handsome. Unfortunately, with us calling our second son by Atty Finch, I feel like Finley and Finch are just too close.
I’m going to sit on Forrest, Linus, Orion, Orson, and Sullivan though. The middle name Bear, within my eldests middle names, is actually an honoring name after my late brother whom I called Bear 99% of his life. It felt too impersonal to use his given name as I literally never used it. The idea of the subtle honoring in Orson is sweet.
I also think the constellation theme sounds so fun! I’m not sure on Orion yet but I could grow on it!
I’ll also address – I am definitely opened to two middle names. The surname honoring names ARE after loved ones. I don’t have any other surnames I can think of to use honoring, the two people I can think of their surnames don’t really appeal to me in that way.
For Wilder… I originally thought maybe Wiley or Will could be nicknames? I keep going back and forth as part of it feels so handsome but I’m so worried of things like judgement from strangers that he’s a “wild/ crazy” kid or something.
Thank you sooo much for all this to think about!! It feels like a step in the right direction.
I’m not sure if this is too out there for your tastes but what about Wildrose nn Wilder. It would soften the prejudice that your son might be wild/crazy, and tie in with the nature connection that your others sons’ names have…
Since you don’t love Orion, maybe another astronomy name: Phoenix? Or any of the names (e.g. Lennon, Oliver) that get you to nn Leo, another constellation?
From Abby’s suggestions, I’d choose Orion or Caspian.
Another idea could be Crosby.
Jean C. says
I really love your boys’ names. Abby’s suggestion of Caspian feels perfect, and I also love August, although it really commits you the letter A.
I also wonder if you might like Jude, Shepherd, or Hugo.
I assume the first surname-middle-name might have some significance, but I do think that Wilder would work for the nature-themed second middle. Or I’m fond of Wolf and Fox. Or River?
Honestly my immediate thought was August Wilder … with the nickname Auggie, before I read you did not want another A name. Personally I still think Archer “Archie”, Atlas “Atty”, and August “Auggie” work amazingly well as brothers. Then you add in the middle name Cohen, Fraser, and Wilder though maybe not Wilder since it ends in an er like Fraser. so maybe August Dempsey instead since Dempsey ends differently than Cohen and Fraser. Or maybe I am just overthinking things, because maybe you do not care about such things. As for the second middle name you have a mammal, a bird, so why not a fish, and for that I recommend Pike. In this case August Dempsey Pike, or August Wilder Pike, with the nickname Auggie would be my suggestion.
Okay, now that I have made my case from one of my favorite names, August, I will move on to other possible names that I think would work. Wilder with the nickname Wiley is a great option. I like Forrest, but personally I am not sure how I feel about Forrie. Finley with the nickname Fin or Finnie fit nickname wise fits but something about it doesn’t seem to fit with Archer and Atlas. I think the suggestion of Orion fits best with Archer and Atlas and I like the nickname Ori with Archie and Atty. Orion “Ori” Wilder Pike seems to me like a good choice.
Sullivan, nn Sully or Van is a great suggestion. I also like Finnegan, nn Finn, or August, nn Gus.
LOVE Caspian for this sibset. Or maybe Casper? Either way, Cas and Cap are great nn options and both sound great with Archie and Attie. Is Peregrine nn Pip too far out for you? It brings in the animal element in a different way than for his brothers, but maybe still makes that connection?
Caspian Wilder Brook
Peregrine Dashiell Birch
Ambrose Wilder Fox would get my vote!
I love keeping the A names going and Amby goes well with Archie and Atty
I love Fox, but if you’d like to have a different initial for the animal inspired middle name (Finch/Fox) maybe Hawk Colt or Drake?
Ambrose Wilder Hawk
Ambrose Wilder Colt
Ambrose Wilder Drake
Archie Bear Atty Finch and Amby Hawk/Colt/Drake?
Lisa T. says
Another vote for Caspian “Cas”!
The Mrs. says
How about Fletcher? Fletch or Flip are nice nicknames. Archer, Atlas, & Fletcher. Archie, Atty Finch, & Fletch.
Then there’s Tarquin. Tarq is a smart nickname….or Quin, for that matter.
Magnus might suit you. Archie, Atty Finch, & Gus.
Jordan P says
Orion and Caspian get my vote. Caspian nn Cas is so perfect.
Read comment about Forrest nn Forrie. I think that’s so cute! It made me think you could also get away with Richard Forrest = “Rory” or any other R first name obviously. Archie, Atty Finch, and Rory sound like adorable brothers
Hawthorne, nn Hawk?
Sullivan and Dempsey both seem like good fits as well.
Love your boys names! So many cool options so far for baby 3… Here’s some combo possibilities for you. Congrats!! 🙂
Cassius Finley Foxx “cash”
Merrick Carver Colt “Ricky”
Dempsey Caspian Colt “Dez”
Wilder Forest James “Wiley”
Finley August Beau “Fin”
Montgomery Leo James “Monty”
Fredrick Forest Grant “Freddy”
Orion Bastian Leo “Rion”
Sebastian Wilder Finn “Seb”
I had Archer and Atlas on the list for my son but they were both vetoed by my husband. We went with Calvin. What about Leo or Milo? I love Arlo, but it’s probably too close to Archer. My top vote among the suggestions above is Caspian.
Susannah Stout says
Archer and Atlas were both on my list too, and we have a Calvin!
My grandfather is a Forrest, and my grandmother has always called him Forrie. I could see pairing Forrie with a more classic boys name in the middle to get the rhythm of your old two…something like Forrie James.
Or, I also like the idea of a one syllable name with River (or a different two syllable word name) in the middle. Lee River. Jake River. Cade River.
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestions of Linus, Caspian, and Orion. A few other ideas: Ulysses, Virgil, Perseus, Evander, Seneca.
Erin Beth says
I like Lennon, Sullivan, and Finnley!
Julie G says
Love Leo, Lennon and Tennyson.
Congrats on your third son!