Name Help: Sibling for Callen, Alden, EllisonName 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!

Kaitlin writes:

I am 30 weeks with my fourth and final baby, and I finally accept that we need some name help.

We accidentally started a last letter N trend, and I just can’t break it now. My husband disagrees. My name is Kaitlin, husband is Jordan, sons are Callen and Alden, and daughter is Ellison. We often use Cal and Ellie as nicknames but not always. My style is different/unique yet wearable and somehow familiar.

Baby’s gender is a surprise. We generally agree on girl names, and we found a great name that we both love. We’ve been tight-lipped about it and prefer to not share it with the world just quite yet. Suggestions are always welcome, of course, but we feel pretty good on this one.

The big struggle happens if we have a boy. There are no names that we seem to really love or agree on. My oldest son wants to name a brother Logan, which we like, but it just feels a bit too popular. My husband loves the name John, which is a family name. I’m totally on board for this name as the middle, but I don’t quite feel like it’s meant to be our son’s first name.

I only seem to research names that end with N, but I’m still feeling like I’m missing some gem. Can you think of any N ending names that feel fresh yet wearable? Also, if you feel there is something fitting that doesn’t end with an N, feel free to share that too, as my husband feels like we are really limited by our naming trend. Boys’ names are so needed, but girls’ names are welcomed too.

Thank you so much for your help!!

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your fourth!

And oh, yes – this is the easiest kind of pattern to fall into, and there’s no perfect answer about how to proceed.

My take: Cal, Alden, and Ellie don’t suggest a pattern to me. They’re cool, contemporary names. Callen, Alden, and Ellison sound far more coordinated … but not in an unbreakable fashion. After all, they’re also surnames, which makes me think that any name with a similar, surname(ish) style could work nicely.

Still, since your names also end with N, I completely understand the urge to find one. more. name. And since this child will complete your family, I tend to agree even more strongly.

Should you find The Name and it breaks the pattern, so be it. But until then? I think focusing on N-enders makes sense.



This might be a surprise. After all, Dean peaked in the 1960s. But it’s actually risen in use recently, bolstered by pop culture (Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, a smaller Harry Potter character) as well as the enduring cool of James Dean. It’s crossed in modern classic territory, and yet it still feels slightly unexpected.


Strictly speaking, Eben has been a first name forever – it’s from an Old Testament phrase meaning “stone of help.” Charles Dickens borrowed it for his miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. It sounds a lot like Ethan and Eden, with that long E, but is far less common than either of those names.


Flynn came to mind first, but another option could be something like Finnian – or Finan or Fintan – with the short form Finn. I’d guess that you probably know a little Finn (possibly two or more!) by now, but it’s not as common as, say, Liam or Oliver. And the longer forms, like Finnian, are incredibly rare.


Grayson ranks in the US Top 100, but Grayden and Graydon are less popular. Yes, they rhyme with Aiden. (And Brayden, Jaydon, Kaiden, Hayden, Aydin, Zaydin, and so on …) But it feels like a distinct name, rather than a modern invention.


John is intriguing. On paper, it fits the pattern … but it definitely doesn’t match the style, right? What about names related to John that edge a little closer to Callen, Alden, and Ellison? John started out as Johannes, and Hans is a common form of John in several European languages, so Hannon/Hanson follows naturally. Jensen is another choice. At a real stretch, you might even get to Zane. But Hannon is my pick, a sound that sits on that masculine-but-still-soft border, the same as Callen and Alden. Plus, there are no N sounds in Hannon, so it sounds a lot like Callen, Alden, and Ellison … but still is clearly a different name.


Just putting this one on the list because I think it’s of the best familiar, not common, ends-with-N names of our moment.


Like Hannon, it’s compatible with your older kids’ names. Moving the L to the first initial, though, makes it sound a little different.


Some initials are just plain cooler than others. Quinton called Quin feels like a great brother name for your set.


Poetic and just plain fun to say, Tennyson comes from Dennis, which is a very buttoned-up name. But Dennis comes from Dionysus, the god of revelry in the ancient world. It’s rare, but thanks to the poet, immediately familiar and easily spelled.


The Greek word for hunter, Theron hasn’t appeared in the US Top 1000 since the early 1990s. But it’s a cool possibility with mainstream nickname Theo built right in.



Like Hannon/Hanson/Jensen, Jones comes from John. That bright O makes this name distinctive. The only drawback: Jones John isn’t a great first-middle combo. (In contrast, I think Hannon John is subtle enough to use.)


Names ending with X are stylish and fun to say. Some of them – like Hendrix or Maddox – feel a little more modern to my ear. But something about Knox leans a little more traditional. Maybe it’s because the name has a place in American history – the famous Fort Knox was named after Boston bookseller turned American Revolutionary War hero Henry Knox.


Traditionally, this surname was given to roofers, since we once covered our houses in straw, also known as thatch. Humble in origin, it sounds polished and preppy today.


This name’s origins are unclear, but today we connect it to true and truth, making this surname virtue-adjacent.


A polished surname name, Wells also suggests the natural world, as well as a wellspring of health and good fortune. It’s an auspicious choice, and a stylish one, too.


My guess is that Wesley is much too popular for you to consider – it’s just outside of the US Top 100. And yet, Wesley shortens to Wes, has a great L sound, shares your older kids’ surname style, and sounds great said together with Cal, Alden, and Ellie.

My favorites are:


Because I think it’s the sound and style you’re looking for, even if it breaks the pattern in some ways and is more popular than you might wish.


Because Finn and Finnian give you that great rare, surprising given name with a more common nickname, a choice that seems to really work for your family.


Okay, cheating here to choose both Hannon and Jones. I think I’d put Hannon in the absolute #1 spot and make Jones #1b. Because if you can choose a family name and continue the pattern? That feels like a double win!

Readers, over to you – what would you name a brother for Callen, Alden, and Ellison?

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 like the Dean suggestion because it keeps the N pattern with giving a different sound at the end (like “een” rather than “on / en”). I also like Finn for a slightly different sound but still ending in N.

    How about Desmond nickname Des? It has the N sound towards the end without actually ending in N.

    Or a John variation: Jonathon, Sean or Shawn, Evan. Sean may be my favorite, paired with a longer middle name of other family or personal significance to you!

  2. From an earlier commenter, I like Holden for you.

    Other ideas…



  3. If you both like John but think it may be too bland next to his siblings, what about John variants ending in -n?
    Johnson, Johnsen, Johan, Yohan, Sion, Ivan, Yvan, Iban, Ioan, Jovan, Yann, Hankin, Jankin, Evan.

  4. I know a Jensen time and that was the first one that came to mind. Good one, Abby!
    I like Sylvan with this family. Sylvan John is just great, I think.
    And this may be off the wall, but what about Reuben?