Name Help: Home on the Range


Name Help: Home on the Range

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!

K. writes:

We are expecting our first child later this spring. Turns out that my husband has ideas about names, and these ideas are a little different than mine.

Before we found out gender, he suggested the following names: Jolene, Daisy, or Pearl for a girl. Brock, Case, or Marshall for a boy.

We are not now, nor have we ever been, cowboys. We don’t even have an SUV. We live in an apartment.

I’d never even heard the Dolly Parton song, the source for his favorite girl name: Jolene. (The lyrics are about a homewrecker! Not exactly a lullaby!) Still, I think we could have agreed on a girl’s name, because I kind of love Daisy, too.

Except, we’re having a boy. Every name my sweet husband suggests sounds right at home on the range.

My suggestions so far: Silas or Asher, or for something a little more modern, maybe Beckett or Hudson. He’s not on board.

We’re running out of time, and I don’t know where to start. Help!

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

Dear K. –

Congratulations on your new son!

Compromising on names can be tough – even when you generally agree on style. And this time? You aren’t on the same page.

Except … I wonder if you might have the tiniest bit of overlap?

Beckett, Hudson, and Marshall are all surnames. So maybe, like Daisy, there are a few names that will hit that sweet spot.

Ages ago, I wrote this post on Dukes of Hazzard baby names. As crazy as it sounds, lots of parents – probably many of whom are more urban than rural – have embraced a list of names that appeared on the television series back in the day. Like … Daisy!

Daisy appears with Clara, Sadie, and Ruby for girls; Simon, Jasper, and – wait for it – Hudson for boys. The post was inspired by the term “hickster” – hipster with a country edge. I’m not sure that’s completely a thing, and yet it captures the spirit of the names your husband prefers, right?

So let’s see if we can find names that hit the hickster sweet spot while still feeling at home in the ‘burbs.

Chase – This feels a little bit preppier and buttoned-up than Case, but only a little. It’s still a high-energy, action verb name.

Dalton – Dalton briefly appeared in the US Top 100 back in the 1990s, but it never quite caught on. I wonder if it would be a good compromise between current favorites like Hudson, and throwback ones like Marshall?

Emmett – There’s something homespun and humble about Emmett, but still rugged and capable.

Garrett – Pat Garrett was a sheriff in the Wild West, famed for taking down Billy the Kid. Like Dalton, it peaked in the 1990s – but never got too popular. It splits the difference between Beckett and Marshall.

Nash – Nash sounds Southern – just think of Nashville – but this name caught on following the success of 1990s drama Nash Bridges, about a California police inspector. It’s more popular today than ever before, an emerging favorite that shares sounds with Asher, but fits with Case and Brock, too.

Parker – I’ve loved Parker for ages, ever since I saw Parker Stevenson as the older brother in the Hardy Boys television series my older cousins loved. But it’s only caught on in recent years, entering the Top 100 in 2009. Since your husband’s taste seems a little bit 1970s, I wonder if Parker straddles the divide?

Sawyer – If it’s the feeling of freedom that puts names like Case on your husband’s list, would Sawyer appeal? Tom Sawyer makes this surname an Americana choice, one with a certain free-spirited quality.

Walton – It rhymes with Dalton, but Walton has a slightly different vibe. Maybe that’s because The Waltons ran forever, from a 1971 television movie debut to sequels in the 1990s and constant re-runs. I think it fits with Asher and Silas, but also with Marshall, too.

I keep coming back to Garrett and Walton. And yet sometimes names that meet in the middle feel deeply unsatisfying to both parents, and I’m not sure if that’s the case here.

Readers, what am I missing? Surely there are more names that strike a good balance between Asher and Case?

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24 Comments

There are some really good suggestions above. I thought of (some repeats):

Dean
Clark
Cooper
Archer
Logan
Miles
Crosby
Calvin
Adam
Levi
Wilder
Remy
Colin
Thatcher
Thayer
Scott
Griffin

It’s funny, I actually know people with all of these names, including Jolene (which I love) and Brock and Case (not so much, just my opinion). Even a Nash AND a Cash!
I was going to suggest Garrett also. I have a Garrett, and read somewhere that it was on some list list for being “somewhat western” whatever that means. I just always liked it. “meaning: armed with a spear” We live in Michigan and are not cowboys either. It is not overly used – I’ve met 4 in my entire life. When I had him I also like Marlon/ Waylon/Owen.
His brother is Jack – can you really go wrong? Tough, classic – yes maybe kind of common but we’ve only encountered like 2 in the schools and my kids are older.
Reading your letter I thought of :

Mitchell (similar to Marshall)
Brooks (like much more than Brock)
Bryce/Brady (Brock’s brothers IRL)
Travis
Troy
Eric
Dean
Rhys
Jude
Calvin/Clayton
Luke
Emmett / Everett
….. to me they’re crisp, but not preppy, and don’t scream Country or Wild West.
Good luck and Congrats on you baby!

Congratulations on your son! I am wondering if a middle ground name might be Ashford with the nickname Ford? Or maybe Eben is a compromise you’d both like?

Some of these have already been listed, but here are my ideas…

Wyatt
Weston
Jasper
Malcolm
Flynn
Boone
Walker
Blake

First of all, I adore all of your husband’s girl names so at least you have a husband with good taste. I AM from a cowboy family, so here are some less common cowboy names that might strike your fancy:

Trent
Tyler
Travis
Troy
Keston
Tyrin
Clancy
Callen
Dustin

I immediately thought of Bridger. It is very popular where I live (Utah) because of Jim Bridger–the mountain man. It isn’t very common in the east, though.

I am totally loving on the name Dodge. It has a definite western vibe (get out of Dodge!). My hipster niece has Tripp on her list and I love that, too.

From Abby’s suggestions, I love Nash. It definitely has a hipster sound, but feels like it could fly western.

In my extended family, we are all about the Louis L’Amour names. We’ve used:

Cowen (from the character Benjamin Cowan), Orrin, Jubal, and Lando.

Other L’Amour names that I love are Tell, Galloway, and Mordecai.

These aren’t western names, but I still think they might hit the sweet spot for you:

Talmage
Gideon
Jack

Good luck!!!!! And update us!!!!

Paxton
Wade
Rhys
Reed/Reid
Clyde
Houston/Hughes/Hugh
Clayton
Hayes
Bram
Wyatt
Coleman/Colby/Colton nicknamed Cole
Greyson/Grayson

I love Cole and Colby and have seen them both in the burbs several times. Second proper Clyde, it is both old man cool and a great reference to Famous outlaws. Good luck, it only takes one name and you will find it.

When I see names list like this, I think about the name rich Hatfield and McCoys.

Tennyson
Ellison
Anderson
Asa
Perry
Calvin
Troy

Or Red Dead Redemption 2
Arthur Morgan
Dutch
Micah
Pearson

But I love both Marshal and Hudson

Wesley
Everett
Elliott
Dashiell
Miles
Brooks
Huxley
Jasper
Otis
Roscoe
Edison
Dawson
Wells
Orson
Ellis
Fletcher
Foster
Wilder
Xander
Remy
Dougray

I LOVE Roscoe! That was on my shortlist but we went with Oskar instead. Still . . . I love Roscoe so much. Roscoe reminds me of Wiley–another Southern hipster/old-school name.

I second Arlo! Maybe you’d also find common ground on:
Everett
Bronson
Otis
Flynn
Gage
Blake
Ridge
Boone

I actually quite like Marshall (maybe that’s from enjoying How I Met Your Mother.)

Crosby, Henry (nickname Hank), Colton, Desmond, Malcolm (nickname Mac), Cormac, Colton, Quinn (short for Quincy or Joaquin), Barrett, Arlo

I agree that you guys might be closer than you think. You both want something a little fresh and a little quirky, but you mean more towards the fresh and your husband toward quirky. I think, like Daisy, you might just need a name that has a little bit of magic for both of you!

Rueben (my favorite for you guys!)
Clyde
Rufus
Archer
Angus
Jonah