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!

The Challenge: So Many Names They Love Are Taken

Ellen writes:

I’m a planner, and I’ve been thinking about what I’d name my children for as long as I can remember. By the time my husband and I got married, we had a list of three girl names and three boys names:

  • Girls: Beatrice, Charlotte, Penelope
  • Boys: Henry, Charles, Theodore

We named our daughter Beatrice Grace, often called Bea. While I’m not troubled by a popular name in theory, I have noticed that there are other girls named Charlotte and Penelope at her child care center, in our neighborhood parents’ group, etc.

I’ve also noticed that the boys’ names we liked with Beatrice are even more popular. We have friends who have used every one of those names. And while they’re not such close relationships that we couldn’t still use those names, they feel a little less special to me now.

Our style is definitely traditional, but I appreciate that Beatrice is the kind of name that everyone likes and knows, but we’ve yet to have another Beatrice in her group of friends.

We’re now expecting our second child, probably our last. It’s a boy, and as excited as we are about this new baby, I feel like we need some new ideas for names.

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

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The Answer: Let’s Brainstorm More Traditional Boy Names

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

It’s a common conundrum: you’ve got your style all worked out … and then the world catches up with you!

Because I’ll bet when you were first mulling over Theodore and Henry, the names did seem just different enough.

The good news? There’s always a fresh group of traditional names that feel like they’re ready for rediscovery.

I’ll suggest some, and I know the AM community will have more ideas.

A Brother for Beatrice Grace: Fresh Suggestions


Traditional and strong, but still summery and warm, there are so many reasons to embrace August. One hesitation: it’s gaining quickly in popularity. Parents who would’ve chosen a name like Theodore or Charles a few years ago are considering August instead. So it’s both a logical, obvious substitute that could be perfect for your son – and a name you’ll likely hear more of in the future. Still, I think it checks every box for you.


There’s more than one possible origin for Colin, but it’s often considered a form of Nicholas/Nicolas. (From that middle syllable, of course …) It’s polished and traditional, but not too popular – and since Colin has been in steady use for well over two decades, I doubt it will be the Next Big Thing. (Yes, even though there’s the new season of Bridgerton coming out in May.)


Does Fred still read a little Flinstone? Possibly. But Freddie? Is absolutely adorable, and brings to mind everyone from rock legend Freddie Mercury to actor Freddie Highmore. Freddie is a Top 20 favorite in England; in the US, Frederick just barely makes the Top 500, but it’s holding steady – an overlooked classic, to be sure.


While Louis is more common than Frederick, it still fits in the overlooked category. One challenge: some say Louis like Louie; others prefer Lewis. But it’s regal and nicely pan-European, the kind of name we all know but seldom hear in use.


While Malcolm isn’t quite a classic in the John/Joseph/William category, it does fit. It’s warm and Scottish, a name that feels nicely grown-up. Malcolm Gladwell makes it smart and insightful; nicknames like Mal and Cole and Colm lend it some versatility. Speaking of nicknames, fans of early 2000s sci fi favorite Firefly might think of Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds.


Every bit as traditional as John, Paul brings to mind everything from the New Testament to Paul Revere to the Beatles. It’s a big name, in a compact four letters with a certain gentleness, too – after all, the name means humble.


While Robert technically ranks in the current US Top 100, it feels nicely underused. A generation of grandfathers and great-grandfathers answered to Bob; today, a younger Robert is probably Rob or Robbie. It’s a name with history to spare that feels surprisingly underused.


There’s always a three-syllable, ends-with-Y name near the top of the popularity charts for our sons. Gregory and Zachary, Anthony and Jeremy have all had their moments in the sun. So did Timothy, a 1960s favorite. Shorten it to Tim and maybe it still reads just a little dated. Use Timothy in full, though, and I think this name has plenty of potential with current favorites like Sebastian and Josiah.

Overall, I want to try to talk you into Frederick. Bea and Freddie! Maybe Frederick James?

But I wonder if that’s maybe a little too different? I feel like August might be the more logical choice, a traditional favorite that will likely continue to rise in use, but isn’t as common as Henry/Theodore/Charles just yet. I especially like the sound of August Henry.

And, of course, it’s always worth noting that there are lots of good reasons to consider sticking with a popular – even a Top Ten – name! So if we’re back to your original list, I’d probably put something like Theodore “Theo” Louis at the top of the list.

Readers, over to you! What would you suggest as a brother for Beatrice?

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. Another vote for Frederick called Freddie!

    I also love Calvin, Hugo, Felix, Arthur, and Edward for some less used classic names!

  2. Firstly, if you love the names you chose then don’t worry about other people.
    I do have a couple of suggestions as your taste for boys names is pretty similar to my taste so hopefully I’ve got a few possible suggestions. They have the traditional feel you like but less commonly used but personality.

    Isaac Zac
    Leonard nn Leo

  3. We named our daughter Beatrice and our top boy picks were Arthur, Frederick and Hugo. It was hard when so many people in our circle chose Theodore! That’s always been one of my favorites!