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!
My husband and I both come from big families, so we have lots of nieces, nephews, and cousins, creating a list of can’t-use names a mile long. We have two children, Simon Wallace and Eleanor Lacey. Wallace and Lacey both have significance to us. The first names are names we liked.
Now we’re expecting boy-girl twins, and we have a lot of rules, and it feels really hard to come up with names.
- Our last name rhymes with Ken-first, but starts with a P, so no Isabelle, Isaac, or other I names, because the initials I.P. seem like a curse. The same for P names and probably U names, too.
- I don’t like nicknames. Eleanor is always Eleanor, but that still worries me (a little). I prefer names like Simon, that don’t open themselves up to nicknames. (My husband is more neutral about this.)
- We both prefer classic names, and my husband really dislikes word names, even traditional ones like Rose or Grace.
- Neither of us really minds if a name is popular, but the more common it is, the greater the chance that it’s taken by our families. We could consider repeating a name, but I think we’d have to have a reason stronger than, “Oh, we liked it.”
I don’t think we’re fussy, it’s just that every name that we would consider is either taken already or violates a rule. (For example, I do like Isaac, Peter, and Isabelle.) We’re lucky enough to see lots of our family pretty often. (Two of my husband’s siblings have kids in the same school where Simon will start in the fall, and my brother just got married and moved a few blocks away from us.)
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Clare –
Congratulations on your twins!
Big families are great, but yes – it is easy to feel like every name is spoken for, especially if some of your siblings started their families first.
Still, I think you know what you want: traditional names that can’t be easily shortened. That’s a pretty clear direction. It’s just a question of working through the options until you find two that don’t conflict with your surname – and aren’t already taken.
I’m also going to assume that most of the more common names – William, James, Joseph, John, Katherine, Margaret, etc. – are already spoken for, and focus on names that are a little less popular.
TRADITIONAL & UNCOMMON BOY NAMES
Arthur – Like Simon, Arthur is a traditionally masculine name with tons of history. But it’s not Top 100 today, and so I wonder if that makes it just different enough? From King Arthur to Arthur Curry, there are plenty of dashing examples of this name wearing well.
Benedict – I know you’re wary of nicknames, but if your Eleanor isn’t Ellie, then there’s no reason why Benedict would have to be Ben. And I think it pairs perfectly with your old kids’ names.
Conrad – Nothing sounds quite like Conrad, I think. It’s another name that we all recognize, but few of us are using.
Gregory – Greg is still wearing bell bottoms on re-runs of The Brady Bunch, but Gregory – said in full, no nickname, seems far more handsome.
Malcolm – I suppose Malcolm could shorten to Mal, but it’s a mere two syllables. It works perfectly in full.
Vincent – From saints to world-changing artist van Gogh, Vincent has plenty of noteworthy namesakes. Like Gregory, Vincent works best when it’s not shortened.
TRADITIONAL & UNCOMMON GIRL NAMES
Dorothy – Storybook Dorothy feels vintage and adventurous. It’s cousin to Theodore – they both mean gift of God – but relatively rare.
Louise – Like Eleanor, Louise is tailored and traditional. It’s classic, and while lots of Lou- names are wildly popular these days, Louise isn’t nearly the chart-topper that Lucy or Luna has become.
Margot – Margaret almost begs to be shortened (though I do know at least one who doesn’t), but Margot? It works beautifully in full.
Miriam – I thought about Mary and Marie, but I think Miriam is the name that fits best with Eleanor and Simon.
Rosalie – You said no to word names, but maybe Rosalie is different enough?
Vera – Short and sweet, Vera fits with names like Ava, but isn’t nearly as popular.
Overall, I think my favorites are Conrad and Margot. They’re not likely to be shortened, and they feel compatible with each other, and with Eleanor and Simon, too.
What would you name boy-girl twins to go with Eleanor and Simon?