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!

Finding Strong Traditional Names that Aren’t Taken

Em writes:

My husband and I come from big families and have lots of friends with young children/expecting. We like pretty traditional names. While we understand it’s impossible to avoid repeats indefinitely, we’d rather not choose a name in our close circle.

When our son was born, we loved the name Henry for a boy and Eleanor for a girl, but it felt like everyone had just named their son Henry. While we know other boys named Thomas, it’s not anywhere near the number of times we hear Henry, so it’s perfect.

Names we would not consider include: James, William, Charles/Charlie, Theodore/Theo, Adam, Andrew, Oliver, John/Jonathan, Jack, Joseph, David, Sam/Samuel, Alexander, Nathan/Nathaniel, Max/Maxwell/Maximilian, Paul, Patrick, Arthur, Dominic, Daniel, and Zachary. My husband is David Jr. and we do not want a Third, but we might use David as a middle name.

We tend to like names that we don’t need to shorten. Benjamin is a name that we like and isn’t taken, but we don’t really like the way everyone would call him Ben. We do call Thomas Tommy sometimes, but everyone else calls him Thomas.

Our favorite girl name is Eleanor, so we probably don’t want to use a boy’s name like Elliot, Eli, etc. that would mean we couldn’t use Eleanor in the future.

I feel like lots of things go well with our last name, which sounds like Bower with an M.

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

Uncommon Traditional Choices for Thomas’ Brother

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

The challenge with traditional names is that they are still subject to trends, right? Edward was a very popular name in 1924. Richard, Harold, and Albert, too. They’re still classics, but they’re a little surprising today, the kind of names that prompt others to ask, “Oh, is he named after someone?”

That’s not necessarily what you’re after, I think. Instead, we need names that feel immediately familiar and contemporary without ranking at the top of the charts, or being taken by a friend or loved one – yet.

Can we do it? Let’s try!

Get new posts sent to your inbox!
Don’t miss out! Subscribe and get all the new posts first.

Names Like Thomas


Shorten it to Tony, and this name feels dated. But since you prefer Thomas in full, might Anthony work? It’s rather dashing, I think.


It’s a name that manages to be both regal and down-to-earth at the same time. After all, it means farmer … but has been worn by six kings of England, too. While Georgie and Geordie are sweet nicknames, but most of the time, a George is going to be George.


I think some parents pause because Jesse feels like a nickname. It’s not, though – it’s a significant Old Testament name with a great meaning: gift. And while we don’t necessarily think of it in the same category as Joseph and James, it’s equally timeless.


Is it possible you don’t know a boy named Lucas, Luca, or Luke? I feel like you should hurry and use this name before someone else in your circle does!


My thinking with Michael is similar to Anthony. Mike is a great name, but wow – I know lots of Mikes! Michael, though? A whole other vibe.


This is one of my favorites in the underused classics category. It’s strong and gentle, traditional and surprisingly uncommon, too.


I could repeat everything I’ve said about Peter for Simon, I think.


Just like Anthony and Michael, Vincent feels like a completely different name when used in full. I know a school-aged Vincent – also from a big family, with lots of cousins – and I think it’s an inspired choice.

Overall, I love the idea of Anthony David – assuming you’d consider using dad’s name as a middle? Or maybe Luke Anthony or Michael Vincent? Thomas and Anthony; Thomas and Luke; Thomas and Michael. It’s tough to choose!

Readers, what would you suggest for Thomas Henry’s brother?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Benjamin does seem like a perfect choice! If you’ve so far been able to steer folks away from “Tom” and “Tommy” with your first son, I imagine you’d be able to do the same with “Ben”.

    I also love Abby’s suggestions of Anthony, George, Peter, and Simon.

    Some other classics I’d add to the list of possibilities include:


    My favorites are probably Alec and Isaac. They both go nicely with David as a middle name and “Bower-with-an-M” as a last name.

  2. Hi there,

    Warm congratulations on your baby on-the-way! “Vincent David Bower-with-an-M” and “George David Bower-with-an-M” are my favorites from Abby’s picks. I think these would be nice and unexpected combinations, especially “Vincent David Bower-with-an-M”.

    My suggestions are as follows (repeats are mentioned as well!)…

    + WESLEY “Wes” David Bower-with-an-M
    + FRANKLIN “Frank/Frankie” (if you prefer nicknames) David Bower-with-an-M
    + VICTOR David Bower-with-an-M
    + JULIAN “Jules” David Bower-with-an-M
    + GREGORY David Bower-with-an-M
    + TRISTAN David Bower-with-an-M

    Hope you feel you have more than enough to choose from and that your next choice feels just right. Best to you and your family on your naming journey. x