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!
My husband is Joseph Albert III, called Joe by everyone he knows except his family, where he is always and forever Joey. His dad is Joe, and his grandfather is Joesenior. Said just like that, all run together.
We decided pretty early that we wouldn’t have another Joe, but then I fell in love with the name Jonah. So our son is Jonah K***er (my maiden name, sort of like Chandler but a little different) Light-with-a-Br.
Our second child is due in August. We’re not finding out the gender, and we have questions for a boy or a girl.
For a boy, we’ve sort of settled on calling him Alex. Can we name him just Alex? Or should it really be Alexander? The problem is that we agreed to use my maiden name as a middle name for all of our children and Alexander almost rhymes with K***er.
Also, Alex comes from the idea of using an Al- name for Alyssa and Albert. Is that too much? We really don’t agree on another boy’s name, so I’m not sure if it matters anyway!
The other boy name I really liked with Jonah was Everett, and we considered Jonah Everett before deciding on using my family name. Since then, my brother had a son named Everett, so it’s off the table.
If this baby is a girl, we’re feeling pretty undecided. I like Clara and Cora when I was pregnant with Jonah, but we found out he was a boy, so we never really talked about it much. I don’t love those names as much now, and I’m not sure anything else really feels right, either.
We talked about using Alex for a girl, but I’d only do that if she was Alexandra for her full name, which takes us right back to the middle name dilemma. And I’m not sure I’m really the kind of person to name a girl Alex.
My husband suggested Eden, but I’m not sure about it. It seems very religious with Jonah (we’re not particularly religious) and at the same time, maybe kind of trendy and new? Most of the names I find myself liking seem a little more traditional.
We’re definitely avoiding the Top Ten because our last name is already so common, but I’m not into really different names, either. Some names, especially nature names, sound crazy with our last name. My best friend named her daughter Ruby, which I love, but with our last name sounds like Rainbow Brite’s cousin.
One more thing: it bothers me when I get called Melissa instead of Alyssa. I know that I can’t control that, but it makes me want to avoid names like Layla/Lylah or even Lily. People are sometimes surprised to hear the name Jonah, but everyone pretty much gets it right, and I really like that about his name!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new baby!
There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, Jonah to honor all of those Joes is so clever! I love it. And using your maiden name as a middle is a good choice, too – a way to include both families’ histories in your child’s name.
Let’s stay with the boy names a minute here, because I think this is the easier question to answer.
Yes, you should name your son Alex.
Most Alexes are Alexander. But not all. Alexander has been in the Top 20 for years, but just Alex ranks in the US Top 200, too. Aside from occasionally explaining that it’s NOT short for Alexander, I can’t imagine much of a downside.
Well, except that it’s worth noting that Alex is – maybe – more common than you’d like. But I think the pros probably outweigh the cons, especially because of the clever way it connects to both Albert and Alyssa without being too similar to either name.
And yes, you COULD name your daughter Alex. But it doesn’t sound like you want to.
Lots of girls end up called Alex. But named Alex? That’s fairly uncommon. (To put some numbers around it, 169 girls were named Alex last year, putting it well outside of the current US Top 1000.) Unlike Alexander/Alexandra, naming a girl Alex doesn’t feel terribly traditional, either.
There’s a lot of logic to naming your daughter Alexandra. Maybe her nickname would end up being Alex … or maybe something else. (Allie, Sasha, Alexa, Xandra …)
Except it sounds like you’re quite set on using your family name as her middle, and I agree – they’re not great together.
If you loved the idea of Alexandra so much, I suspect you’d cheerfully find another middle. And you could! Almost any other name from your side of the family might feel every bit as meaningful. This is even more true because you only have one older child. It’s not really a pattern, the way it would be if this was your fourth kiddo and all three siblings shared a middle, right?
But since that’s not a choice, let’s move on.
Are there other AL- names to consider?
I’d suggest Alexa for a daughter except there’s the AI factor. And maybe it’s closer to Alyssa in a way that’s not ideal. (Adding that extra syllable and the -a ending somehow makes me notice the similarity in a way I don’t hear with Alex.)
Other AL names to consider:
ALICE – Alyssa is a romance language take on Alice, but I think they’re different enough to work.
ALINA – I’m not sure if Alina meets your nothing-confusing criteria. I think it’s pretty easy to mishear as Elena or spell Alena. But it’s also a great name in that familiar-not-common sweet spot.
ALLISON – I know, I know. Allison feels like a mom name. And yet, it fits in perfectly with Emerson and Addison. If it hadn’t been big in the 1980s, it would be huge now. Maybe it still works?
ALMA – An up-and-coming name with multiple meanings, including “soul” from Spanish.
Overall, I really like Alma with Jonah … but I’m not sure it’s quite your style. Alice and Jonah, though, could be spectacular.
What if we consider some non-Al names? I’m jumping off of Cora and Clara and Jonah and Everett and Alex, too. Color names won’t work, along with any noun name that would make your surname sound too much like a description.
ELIZA – Nearly as traditional as Elizabeth, but with a spark.
EVELYN – Okay, yes, it ranks in the Top Ten. But sound-wise, it’s almost like Eden meets Everett.
HALLIE – Have you considered a name like Molly or Daisy? I think Hallie is a fresh, intriguing choice with a strong AL sound, but a different starting initial.
MARGOT – An easy classic-casual pick.
ROSALIE – As vintage as Jonah and well-matched, but not at all too similar.
THEA – A possible substitute for Cora and Clara.
But wait, let’s talk about Eden.
First up: I don’t hear Eden as particularly religious. Do I think some families choose it for the Biblical reference? Sure. But Eden ranks just outside the current US Top 100. That suggests broad appeal, well beyond any particular faith.
And Eden does check a lot of the boxes: there’s a single spelling. It’s good with the middle and surnames. And I like it with Jonah, too.
After all, Jonah is also a name with Biblical roots. If that’s never been an issue, I think Eden could be on the table. Though I do take your point: maybe Jonah or Eden isn’t especially religious, but siblings named Jonah and Eden hit a little differently?
My guess is that it’s not quite right for you, but maybe it’s worth another look.
Because Eden K***er Light-with-a-Br is all kinds of great.
I also like Hallie quite a bit, but maybe that’s too casual for you? I keep coming back to Alice, an undeniable classic that sounds great with Jonah, but is more storybook than Biblical and gives you the AL- beginning.
Readers, what would you name a sister for Jonah? And can you suggest any AL- names I’ve overlooked?
Morr Al- name options: Allegra, Alanis, Alana, Alba and Alva for a girl.
Aldous or Alton for a boy.
More names meaning “noble”: Ada, Elmer, Ethel, Aston, Alvin.
Love the name Eden for a girl AND a boy!
I love Jonah and adore both Alex and Alexander (I would normally always opt for the “full name” but if it doesn’t work with your surname then ‘just’ Alex still works in my opinion).
Otherwise I’ll suggest Callie/Calla/Calista for a girl, or Calvin or Caleb for a boy. Similar letters to Clara and Cora but with AL.
Else, Pascal (since it’s just been Easter, and has the AL), Sally, Paloma?
Personally I’d go with Alex or Calla.
Alix or Alexis
For a boy I like Alex. For a girl I like Margot. I like the strong O sound repeated in Jonah and Margot. I like that in Jonah it is in the first Syllable and in Margot it is in the second. Save Alex for a possible future boy. Jonah, Margot and Alex work together well.
For girls, my favorite suggestion is Alice! Another Al- name would be Alessandra, which maybe isn’t a great match for Jonah, but I think is just fine if you used the nn Allie (and maybe feels a bit less like a “mom” name than Allison).
For boys, I LOVE Alistair, and Alex is a perfectly reasonable nn for that since it’s a variation of Alexander. I also love Alfred nn Alfie.
Alexander or Alexandra would be great choices. Could you consider that the “and” sound in them is enough to honour your maiden name? Perhaps with a K middle name? Alexander Kyle/Kenneth/Kieran/Karl or Alexandra Kate/Katherine/Kirsten/Karla?
I also second the suggestion of Alexis – this could work equally for a girl or a boy with the nn Alex.
Have you considered using the -bert part of Albert: Bertram or Bertrand are a little out there, but both have a gentlemanly style that could wear well. And Bertie would be a very cute nn.
Both Albert and Alyssa derive from Adel – meaning noble. Therefore, I suggest
Adele (a-DELL) or
– or possibly Heidi, from Adelheid.
Eden is also nice. Eden Adela K.B.
Ailsa (very close to Alyssa, and Elsa)
Callista (also very close to Alyssa)
Elena is a great option, briefly mentioned by Abby. Or Helena, though it does have the same meaning as the last name (but it’s doubtful that anyone would even know that). It’s like an Eden and Alyssa combo.
Use any name and call her Birdie – from Berty, from Albert (Paloma, Colombia, Olivia, Paz, Wren, Lark, Robin)
Felicity (from the “liss” sound in Alyssa, but a different number of syllables)
Bliss (Bliss B****t?)
For either sex: Salem
For a boy, if not Alex, maybe
Alistair (could use for birth certificate to avoid rhyming, and call him Alex)
Callum / McCallister / McCall
Balthasar, called Taz or Baz or Laz
Salvador / Salvatore
Walter / Wallace / Wallis
Calvin / Alvin
Alfred – Freddie
Adler (similar to middle name)
[Would we want to use Mom’s maiden name as first?]
[If it turns out unexpectedly to be twins, I vote Avalon and Chalcedon as first middles. e.g. Eden Avalon K.B. and Alex Chalcedon K.B.]
Have you considered Alexis for a girl instead of Alexandra or any of the other variations? Apologies if it’s been suggested and I missed it.
Jonah and Alexis
Joe/Joey, Alyssa, Jonah, and Alexis
As someone else mentioned, your daughter might choose to go by a nickname besides Alex, such as Ali, Allie, Lexi, Lexa, or something altogether different.
Eden is a beautiful name. : )
I think Alex for a boy is great.
Best wishes to you!
Ugh I just spent sooo much time writing up a comment that looks like it didn’t post so I’ll just keep it short and sweet this time: what about Audrey? Alyssa means noble, Albert means noble, Audrey means noble. So does Alice. Audrey and Jonah. Alice and Jonah. Or for a boy Patrick or Grady both mean noble as well. Grady and Jonah is a nice set, both names kinda sit in that sweet spot of not too popular or overused but still familiar. I think the Al- condition is kind of backing you into a corner of choosing from names you think are just ok but not great so maybe finding a name with a similar meaning would work instead.
I do love Alice and Jonah and Eden and Jonah as well (it doesn’t sound too biblical to me). Joe and Jonah, Alyssa and Alice is sweet for a parent/child set but I would consider if this is something that would work should you choose to have a 3rd child down the road.
Eden Alexandra or Alexandra Eden are nice ways to sidestep the rhyming issue with your maiden name as a middle name while also still giving you an Al- name to honor Alyssa and Albert.
PS I am also an Alyssa who hates being called Melissa, Alison, Elise, Lisa, Alicia etc so for that reason I would not consider Hallie (even though I love it and was thrilled Abby suggested it!). She will probably be called Haley or Holly frequently and forever have her name misspelled as well. Sadly that is why I took it off my own name list 🙁
I love the idea of honoring Albert and Alyssa with another Al- name, especially because father and son are Joe and Jonah. However, it sounds like maybe the desire to pick an Al- name might be backing you into a corner of choosing a name you are just ok with instead of one you really love.
If you decide to stick with going the Al- route then for a girl I like Alice most. It feels like a sweet spot name much like Jonah; familiar yet not overused or too popular and style wise it goes nicely with Jonah as well. It also feels most closely related to Alyssa much like Joe and Jonah which makes a nice evenly balanced set across the whole family. This may make things tricky if you ever have a 3rd baby though. If you go with Alexandra or Alexandria as a first name then would you be open to a different middle name to avoid the rhyming issue? Alexandria Eden is gorgeous.
I think just Alex is ok for a boy but alongside Jonah it really leaves me wishing for Alexander in full. Since the Al- naming pool is kind of limiting, I wonder if instead of honoring Alyssa and Albert through an Al- name if you would instead be interested in finding another name with the same meaning? Alyssa and Albert both mean “noble” as do Audrey, Adelaide, Alice(!), Grady, Patrick, Ansel, Eugene and I’m sure many others. Grady would be another sweet spot name that would fit nicely with Jonah. Or maybe just another A name would suffice? Ainsley, Adeline, Arlo, Aaron (Aaron has two As, one for Alyssa one for Albert? Just a thought)
I also just wanted to add that I am also an Alyssa who hates being called Melissa (or Alison, Elise, Lisa, Eliza, Alicia, etc). At first I was going to advise against picking a similar Al- name such as Alice or Eliza but if you already have father and son named Joe and Jonah then clearly you are ok with so many name similarities in one family then why not go for it? Joe and Jonah and Alice and Alyssa are much too similar for siblings but fine in a parent/child mix. Also, I too have Eden and Jonah on my list and while I don’t think they scream biblical I do get what you mean by them feeling a bit more trendy than you are comfortable with. However, I think Eden is a great name even if its use is trending upwards and it does sound great paired with Jonah. I wouldn’t let the biblical connotations or trending use throw you off course if you do start to consider this choice more. Eden Alexandra would be a lovely choice and a great way to honor Alyssa and Albert.
One last thing (sorry this is quite a novel but I related a lot to this post since we have the same name and some similar name choices haha) as much as I absolutely love the name Hallie and am thrilled Abby suggested it I would advise against this name since you don’t want something that will constantly be mistaken for another name. I guarantee she will be called Haley or Holly frequently and have her name misspelled as well. Same issues as Alyssa, just a different name, which is why I will probably never end up using this name and it makes me so sad!
Congrats on your new baby and best wishes on your naming adventures!
Oh I LOVE these name tweaks to honour. This is my favourite ‘style’. Jonah for his paternal line is brilliant. And using your maiden name in the middle is lovely.
So for baby brother I definitely am voting Alex, not Alexander. Alex K-er is great. It sounds like you just feel you should use a longer form which is a preference not a rule, but if you want to use Alexander maybe you could chose your mother’s maiden name or a name from your maternal line to balance out? Or you could be tricky and drop the -er from your maiden name in the middle so it flows better and Alexander picks it up? Alexander K-d.
I REALLY want you to continue this great idea of using your name or a variant for a girl too. Alex doesn’t have to be short for Alexandra, it could be Alexa, Alexia, Alexandria. If you use one of the longer forms with an i, she could be Alix instead. I really like that spelling. Or Alice is lovely as Abby suggested.
But if you’ll maybe save Alex for a future child, I’d love to see a name that ties more specifically to you. Take the Lys instead and do Elyse? Or your middle name? I did see that you’d like the name to be straightforward and not misheard as something more common so that does omit a lot of names… Could the reason that Clara and Cora not be as enticing because you now have your a-ending child already? Jonah and Cora are sorta matchy for example. Ooh… how about Clarissa?? I actually love that alliteration with the middle too!
I love Alexander, so very classic. Sure call him Alex but the other options give him the opportunity to pick something else if he prefers. Xander, Sandy, Alec, Al, Xan, Xandi.
Girls… Clara and Cora made me think of Cara or Coral which has you AL at the end. Eden is lovely I once knew an Eden who was known as Eadie which was sensational..
Agree on the Alice suggestion too. Classy and elegant.
A few others that came to me Flora, Alana and Amelia.
I think Alice and Eliza are your best bets. I think there’s a slight benefit to Eliza over Alice because you could still use Alex for a future son, and they aren’t too matchy-matchy.
Evelyn made me think of Evren, but is that too rare for your taste? There’s also Aveline (AV-ə-leen) and Adeline (AD-ə-line), I think with all the multiple spellings of Adeline, you might prefer Aveline, but I’m not sure it avoids your pronunciation issue. (My son is Balor-rhymes-with-Valor aka Baylor aka Ballard, so I get it, really).
The more I think about it and look for other options, the more Eliza seems ideal.
My first thought is Ariel because it starts with an A, ends with an L, and sounds great with Jonah.