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 named our daughter, Margot Isabelle, in about ten minutes right after the ultrasound tech told us it was a girl.
It took until the very last possible second to name our son, Henry Elliot.
We had about twenty girl names we could’ve used, but barely could settle on Henry.
Happily, we love both names and think they suit our children perfectly.
But now we’re expecting another son in February, and naming hasn’t gotten any easier. We want to avoid the stress of not deciding until the very last minute … if we can.
We like that our kids’ names are classic, short, not-nickname-able, and sound cute on kids but will grow with them. The short part is important because our hyphenated last name is V0lk3r-H3ss. The no nicknames part matters because I have always hated having to be Elizabeth/Lizzie. Also, my partner comes from an all-J name family (not that one), and so feels strongly that we all get our own initial. That means no (more) L, J, M, or H names. (And maybe not E, either? We’re divided on which initial is “really” mine.)
Can you help us find some names that fit our (very picky, I know) requirements?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Lizzie –
Congrats on your new son!
It sounds like you’ve looked at every boy name already, right?
I mean … while I often say that the pool of names is nearly infinite, when you’re trying to stick with more traditional choices, the list can feel very short!
It’s also true that your children’s names are quite stylish. Classic names do trend, and both Margot and Henry are having a moment right about now. I’m guessing you might not know tons of kids that share your children’s names, but you’ve heard them on playgrounds and friends-of-friends’ families, too.
So while I’m sure you’ve seen these names before, let’s see what I’d suggest that satisfies your rules and feels like a vibrant, current, classic to go with Henry and Margot.
But maybe we can look at them with fresh eyes.
Before we get to the names … are you absolutely certain that another J name is off the table? Because Jack sounds like exactly the name you need. Then again, if lots of J names repeat, then maybe there’s already a Jack/Jackson/Jackie that rules the name out anyway.
CLASSIC, CURRENT, NICKNAME-PROOF BOY NAMES
ALEX – Alexander fails your test, because it’s nearly always shortened. But how about just Alex? It’s traditional, easy to spell, and hard to shorten further. (And, for what it’s worth, I think Alexander-called-Alex isn’t quite like Elizabeth-called-Lizzie. Because you might be Beth or Libby or Ellie, but most Alexanders do end up being Alex.)
CHARLIE – On a similar note, you might name your son Charlie-not-Charles. It’s a traditional choice – either in short or in full – for a son.
FELIX – Vintage Felix seems modern, thanks to that x ending. And the meaning is great, too – lucky.
ISAAC – A Biblical boy name that’s caught on in recent decades, Isaac feels traditional, but still plenty cool.
OTIS – Maybe this isn’t quite mainstream enough, but Otis shares the OT of Margot and Elliot – so it feels like it matches in a subtle, almost secret way.
OWEN – A name with a long history of use, and a compact, but upbeat sound.
SIMON – Simon sounds smart, a scholarly name with plenty of history. It’s not quite on the upswing, in the way that Henry and Margot have been, but I think it fits that cool-classic vibe, too.
THEO – Most Theos are probably Theodores, but as with Alex, you can always skip straight to the short part. As with Leo (which I would’ve suggested, but, oh those repeating initials!), it’s bright and upbeat.
XAVIER – Xavier feels modern, but it’s been around for ages. Like Margot and Henry, it’s traditional and quite stylish. And you haven’t used the initial X yet!
It feels like lots of these names have potential. I’m drawn to the idea of Xavier Otis – I mean, his initials would be XO! Or maybe Isaac Alexander?
Simon was also the first name that Cameron mind. Simon Alexander would be a great choice. Simon is a classic 2-syllable “nn” proof” name beginning with a consonant. Alexander is a classic 3-syllable name starting with a vowel. Simon Alexander flows nicely and fits well with Margot and Henry.
I like Isaac and Simon from Abby, and from pps I like Calvin, George, Oscar, and Toby. I also agree with Abby’s comment about Alexander — a lot of the traditional boy names have nicknames that don’t seem to require a lot of explanation and can be used interchangeably. So i might still consider Charles, Alexander, and Peter even though they are nicknameable.
My immediate thought was Simon, so happy Abby had it on the list.
Someone suggested Peter which is lovely, and the suggestion of Robert also is wonderful. It does break the nickname rule, perhaps Robin?
Robin was steeply dropping for girls, completely left the 1000, and is only clinging on currently. For boys it just came back, and is in the mid 800s. This is much less popular than the names you picked, but I can’t think of a single male Robin who’s ever called Rob- it’s a name that stays full. Everyone knows the spelling. And it’s a very long lived, well known name.
I set the SSA list to 1900, the time that Henry was its most popular (besides right now!) to see what his siblings would be back then.
Also, while these have nicknames, I don’t think of them the same as Elizabeth-called-Lizzie.
Names that break your rules, but I want to suggest, in case a future parent-to-be comes in looking for similar advice! Or you decide using an L name isn’t too bad…Louis and Lawrence are SO CUTE.
Julian and Julius
Edward, Edmund, and Edwin
I definitely would have suggested Owen and Felix!
Other names in a similar vein:
These are gorgeous, and they sound like siblings to each other.
I keep thinking Robert may work for you. Regal, traditional. To me it scratches the same itch as Henry. I like the repeat of the r in all three names.
Margot, Henry and Robert.
Alison Doherty says
Felix was my first through too! I think it fits with your style very well. I also thought of Calvin or Ezra (if you don’t mind using an E)! I think Arthur would also fit well with you sibset … plus you have King Arthur as an association I’m sure your kiddo will love. I hope you find the perfect name.
Erin Beth says
My first thought for you was Blaise.
Well, I jumped in to suggest Graham, so consider this another vote!
Felix and Isaac are may favorites from the list.
I also agree with Peter, Basil (love Basil!), and Simon from the suggestions.
How about Blaise? Definitely has history, but feels modern too.
Otto (but is that too much with Margot?)
I think it’d be too much of a stretch for them, perhaps, but I think a vintage “old man” name would be so great with Margot and Henry (I realize some of the above names probably fall into this category, yet they feel more on-trend already to me):
Reuben (I know a baby Reuben!)
I think that style is on the way back in, so they’d be just ahead of the curve, and at the same time it would fit in so well with Margot and Henry (that sibset would make the “old man” name even cooler!).
Arthur would be great
Kirstin G. says
I like Graham and Theo for you as well! Here are a few more suggestions:
I was thinking Jack too!! I also love the suggestion of Clark. What about Samson, Declan, or Leon?
I second Graham! Colin could also be great for your sib set.
Names that I love with your sibset that don’t repeat initials:
Jaime, I woke up this morning thinking CALVIN! So glad you added it to the list. 🙂
I love Theo, Xavier, Beau, Drew, Grant, George and Conrad for you!
I like Felix or Simon for this family! Well, all of Abby’s suggestions are great (I am personally not as keen on the nicknames, and there are other names here that suit your purpose perfectly with no nickname confusion) But OTIS *heart eyes* please Otis is so cute!!!! Margot, Henry, and Otis!?!?! So sweet.
I do like how Felix picks up the “l” in the first surname, kind of a subtle alternative to alliteration, and Otis and H3ss both end in an “s,” but they are so far apart in the name that it’s very lovely, not hiss-y.
Best of luck! There are some real winners here, I bet your son’s name is among them. Can’t wait to hear what his name will be.
Here to echo Abby’s suggestion of Simon! Margot, Henry, and Simon sound absolutely phenomenal together. Simon Alexander, maybe?
Otherwise, what about Duncan or Graham? Both are classic, nickname-proof, and sound great with Margot and Henry! I like Duncan Theodore or Graham Jasper.
Isaac is adorable.
I’ll expand on Felix; I have always though Felix, Eli, and Toby sound like siblings (if you decide E would be fine).
Similarly, I have always thought of Basil, Jasper and Ambrose as siblings. To avoid J you could use Gaspar or Casper.