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!


Caitlin writes:

We recently learned that we are expecting triplets!

We do not yet know boy/girl but two are sharing a sac so it’s likely we will have two of one gender and one of the other.

We plan to pick out three names for each gender just to be prepared.

The new babies will join big sister Emerson and big brother Arlo. They both have classic, one-syllable middle names. (We will likely choose family names for the middles so we mostly need help with first names, though all suggestions are welcome.)

Our last name is three syllables and can be hard to know how to pronounce the first time you see it but most people get it after being told. The only initial we want to avoid is F as my husband doesn’t want alliterative names.

We want each triplet to have their own unique initial, no alliteration there either.

We chose our first two kids’ names because they were relatively gender-neutral, were recognizable but not popular, a little bit fun/whimsical but not frivolous, and could be shortened to nicknames (though they both prefer their whole names!)

The babies’ names don’t have to necessarily share a common theme, just fit into our overall vibe with our first kids’ names.  

Thank you in advance! We love your site and know if anyone can help us, it’s you and the readers! 

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

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Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new babies! And thank you for your kind words. This is a challenge, but I believe the AM community is up for it, right?

Emerson and Arlo are both great names, and happily, I think you’ve left yourself plenty of room to choose more compatible names. It sounds like the right names will be:

  • Fresh, contemporary names; nothing too old-fashioned, but also nothing invented
  • Not strongly gendered, though your son’s name is more common for boys and your daughter’s name for girls
  • Familiar without being too popular
  • Have nickname potential

I think that’s a good list to start with – so let’s dive in!


A note before we begin: lots of these names feel like they could fit on the list for daughters or sons. Maybe that feels like I’m cheating, but I like the way it gives even more options.


Brian meets all of those R-ending surname names, with plenty of the natural world mixed in, too.


There’s something strong and solid about Cade. It’s less traditional than Jake, not quite as trendy as Caden. (Or Kayden or Caiden or … you get the idea.)


Lots of Cal names could be great here, but I’m sticking with Callahan because I like the way it balances with big sister Emerson’s name.


Finding names with a similar energy matters, but so does choosing names with distinctive sounds so your kids’ names don’t run together, right? I think the long A paired with the scissory S ending of Hayes is a great choice.


I thought about Judah, since it shortens to Jude, but Jude seems more like your style.


This name ranks in the current Top 100 for boys; it’s also used for girls, though it’s not quite as popular. I’m not sure if that means Rowan belongs on the girls’ list … or maybe isn’t something that works for you at all?


Like Callahan, a longer name that balances out Emerson when I say all of the names together.


As with Judah, Tate could easily be short for Tatum. This is where it gets interesting: Tatum is just about unisex, given to around 1500 boys and 1300 girls last year. But Tate is almost exclusively masculine. I like Tate better with Arlo and Emerson, but Tatum has plenty of potential, too.



Because it’s close to classic Claire, Blair feels nicely feminine.


One of those names equally at home on the boys’ list, and worth noting that Finn/Fin is seldom heard for a girl.


A word name and modern virtue with a bright, distinctive sound.


A rising modern favorite.


Another nature name, this time bringing a vibrant red color and the meaning of remembrance.


Like Rowan and Poppy, a name associated with the color red.


One of those surname names that’s been steadily trending for girls and is catching up for boys.


Bright and just plain fun to say. It could shorten to Tea, like the letter T, or Tea, rhymes with Mia and Leah.

Now, the challenge: coming up with combinations!

While it sounds like you might still be surprised, I’m limiting my suggestions to two boys/one girl and two girls/one boy.

For two boys/one girl, I really like Jude, Hayes, and Poppy. There’s one surname in the mix, something a little old school and a nature name – quite the mix, but they all seem compatible.

But I can also imagine something like Rowan, Tatum, and Blair – a little more weighted towards that modern surname style, maybe?

For two girls, one boy, I immediately thought Juniper, Teagan, and Callahan – Junie, Tea, Cal, if you like.

Finding another option was tough, but maybe something like Sutton, Rory, and Jude?

Okay, this is a challenge. Time to open it up to the community.

Readers, what would you name triplets to go with siblings Emerson (g) and Arlo (b)? No repeating first initials or names that start with the letter F.

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. Great suggestions from Abby! I especially like Rory and Jude (both of which would suit a son or a daughter).

    Like a few other commenters, I couldn’t resist the idea of three vowel names to go with Emerson and Arlo. For example:

    Indigo “Indy”, Oscar “Ozzy”, and Yardley “Lee”
    Innis, Owen, and Ulrich
    Isme, Omar, and Ursa

    Some other possibilities:


  2. Emerson, Arlo and…

    Boy, boy, boy: Loch, Quinn & Callum
    Boy, boy, girl: Hayes, Loxley, & Blair
    Boy, girl, girl: Brooks, Harlow, & Mabel
    Girl, girl, girl: Jovie, Wren & Lilac