Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, 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 and I have always loved the name Josie for a girl. Now that we’re having one, we need a little more help.
We don’t like Josephine but I do like Joseline , pronounced Jo-se-leen. However, I know people would say it like Jocelyn so we may just go with Josie. Do you think the mispronunciation is worth the longer name to use if she wishes?
Our other dilemma is a middle name. We both love Josie Rocket. A rocket is the symbol of the record label that brought us together.
Personally, I am a little worried about people’s responses, even though I like it. I do like word names, though, and have considered:
- Josie Liberi, from my home state’s motto– “Montani Semper Liberi,” “Mountaineers are always Free”
- Josie Coyote, also meaningful to me but the same problem as Rocket.
- If we choose a more traditional middle name, I’d like to honor my grandma, Elaine. I’ve thought of Josie Elise or Josie Elle.
Please read on for my reply, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Becca –
Congratulations on your daughter! It can be tough when you almost-kinda-sorta have the perfect name chosen, but you’re not quite there.
It sounds like there are two questions. First, to use a formal name for Josie, or to just go with Josie on your daughter’s birth certificate.
Let’s have a quick poll, because I tend to favor formal names – but I don’t think it’s necessary in this case:
As for the question of which formal name. I expected there to be tons of options, but when I really mulled it over, there aren’t as many as I expected. Josephe seems confusing. Joanna and Jolene take away the ‘s’ sound and making Josie feel like a stretch. Josette is kind of fabulous, but I’m not sure it’s quite your style. Josefina and Joselina are a little bit frillier than the other names on your list.
I think that leaves Joseline, which I have no trouble spelling and pronouncing – though I expect you’ll run into the occasional headache.
While I tend to favor formal names, I think this might be one of those moments when it’s best to skip it. You love Josie – and agree on Josie. It sounds like that’s not the case with any of the formal versions of the name.
So despite my usual bias towards formal names, I’d vote for just Josie.
Now, on to the really rich part of this post – to use a bold middle name, or to play it safe?
Let’s take a look at your options. I’ll add a few of my ideas into the mix, too:
Josie Elise, Josie Elle, or something other form of Elaine – All good options, any of which would make a solid name for a daughter. And yet, my sense is that you would prefer to choose a bolder middle name. There are plenty of good reasons to do this, and with a familiar first name like Josie, I think you’re free to be really bold.
Josie Laine – Before we get to the bold, here’s one that’s sort of in between. Drop the ‘E’ from Elaine, and you have the sleek, modern, but not too out there Laine. Safe, but not quite conventional.
Josie Liberty – If you like the idea of honoring your home state but hesitate to use the Latin, the English form has some history as a girl’s given name. Josie Free or Josie Freedom are options, too, but they’re almost as out there as Liberi while moving farther from the original inspiration, so I don’t know that there’s any point in choosing one of those over Liberi – unless you love the sound.
Josie Coyote – Now, let’s look at the bold choices! I don’t love singsongy sound of Josie Coyote. When I say it, the ‘o’ sounds make it feel more like a name for a fictional character than a real girl. I wouldn’t say this rules it out – if Zooey Deschanel can have Elsie Otter, you could have Josie Coyote. But I don’t think it’s the best option on the list.
Josie Liberi – I really love this one. I think the rhythm works beautifully. It’s a nod to your heritage, but it’s not as obvious as passing down your name. I suppose you could also name her Josie West, or find another name that refers to your home. But Josie Liberi is just plain genius.
Josie Rocket – And yet, I’m inclined to encourage you to use Josie Rocket. It has to do with the story of how you met, then it’s even better. And many of the ideas that Pharrell expressed about the name Rocket – how it relates to achievement – make the name feel more like a modern virtue choice than anything else. Yes, it’s a cool name. But it also sounds like a name that feels right to you – and that, more than anything, is what matters.
Readers, do you agree that Josie Rocket is the go-to name for their family? Or would you suggest something different – another middle, or maybe another formal name for Josephine?
My daughter is Rocket Josephine, and it turned out to be PERFECT for her! I love love love your name choices – I’m sure that little Joseline is as lovely as her name.
Thank you so much, everyone! Sorry it took me a while to respond.
I think we are going to go with Joseline for her first name. I really do love it, and reassurance about the pronunciation helps. I’m also thinking that even if she has to correct it sometimes, it isn’t any more of a hassle than correcting our last name or telling people, “nope, just Josie” if we went that route. The person who mentioned giving her a formal name as a sort of “kindness” particularly spoke to me. Mostly, though, feeling my own reaction to people’s insight made me realize that I want to use Joseline so thank you!
And yes, we will use Rocket! Thanks too for your enthusiasm there.
As for some of the concerns people expressed :
There is always an option to use just an initial. On wedding vows, you can even opt to use nicknames if you want. On diplomas, they do draw from your student records but there isn’t any reason why you can’t choose to just put an initial on your records. And if she really wants to, we have two last names (not hyphenated) and she could choose to drop her middle and move one of those to that spot.
My son’s name is Jonas. I had typed that in but noticed the form erased it as I pressed submit. So his name isn’t as “bold,” but the Jo makes them feel unified to me.
Thank you again!
Joseline and Jonas sound like perfect siblings. Congratulations on your impending arrival!
I think using just Josie is fine but I don’t like Josie Rocket, it sounds very harsh.
British American says
I think you can do Josie as a full name. I’m Jennie (full name) and I have never wished to be Jennifer. I much prefer Jennie. People do assume that I am Jennifer though and back when I switched schools as a child they put me down as Jennifer in all their records. Maybe these days schools wouldn’t assume like that.
My son had a couple of Josies in his class. I think they were both Josephine. Last year one went by Josephine, but this year she is Josie.
If I saw Rocket as a name I would guess it was a boy’s name, before I thought “girl”. But as a middle name, you already have Josie to point towards “girl”. It might be one of those names that would be embarrassing for awhile but then cooler when you are older. We kind of joked about giving our daughter a middle name that was a made-up version of my name. We recently mentioned that to her and at 10 years old she didn’t like the name at all, much preferring the traditional middle name that she has.
Anyhow, I think Josie Rocket would be ok to use, if you love the name. You might get a few raised eyebrows and go through a time where your daughter doesn’t want to tell people her middle -but I like that there’s a story about how you met in there.
Josie Rocket all the way!!!!!
I vote yes to Josie Rocket! Uncommon or bold middle names aren’t really that big a deal. I seldom even know anyone’s middle name until I get to know them really well. I have nothing against my middle names (I have two) but I choose to use just a middle initial on formal documents for simplicity. You love Josie Rocket and I think it has a great ring to it. A former boss of mine gave her daughter the middle name Racer which has a similarly sporty, spunky, word name sound and I think those types of names in the middle spot are especially being seen among children being born now, so again, not that big a deal.
As for Josie on its own–I tend to prefer a formal name than a nickname name and I do love both Josette and Joseline (I don’t think pronouncing it like Jocelynn rules out Josie as a nickname either), but I feel like Josie is strong enough and timeless enough to stand up on its own. It doesn’t read like a child’s name or a light and silly nickname to me. In fact to my ear it sounds quite strong. If Josie is the name you really like then giving her a longer name to get to Josie feels like an unnecessary extra step. You can tell her some of the longer names you were considering as she gets older and if at some point she decides she’d like to have or use a longer name she can always go by one of those. People change their names both officially through the courts and unofficially by just deciding they want to be called something else and telling people to call them that other thing all the time. As some other commenters have mentioned, you can’t know how your daughter will end up feeling or what she’ll love and whatever you choose here she may someday decide that something wildly different like Titiana Rose is what she wants to be called, but she’s a lot more likely to love her given name if YOU love and feel strongly about her given name and it seems like that’s how you feel about Josie Rocket, so I say go for it!
Where I live a rocket is slang for a girl that’s super hot in a sexy way. Like, “that girl is a rocket.” But it’s less a compliment and more an objectification. You can urban dictionary it. For that reason, this name would be totally unusable for me for a girl but maybe as a boy’s middle it would be ok. I don’t hate the way it sounds with Josie (which I really like and don’t think needs to be a short form of a more formal name), but I wanted to point out that slang.
I love Josie Rocket! Go for it!!
I really hope you go with Josie Rocket. I love the way it sounds and the fact that it has meaning for you is a big bonus. Good luck with your new baby!
The Josie I know actually hates having a long form of her name, she’s a Josephine on nothing but her birth certificate, most people don’t have any idea that her name is actually Josephine. Since it’s Josie that you like just name her Josie.
Christina Fonseca says
Five years ago my answer would have been very different. Today, I say go with Josie Rocket! The middle name slot is perfect for daring or unusual choices.
Kelsey D says
I too personally prefer a more formal name, but that is just my preference! I absolutely love love love Josette! Josefina is spunky, different and totally awesome. As for Joseline, I pronunced it exactly as you are, I didn’t have to think twice about it. So if you like that name, then go for it!! I also think Josie is perfectly fine too for a first name, so if neither of you care about a “formal” name, then don’t!!
As for middle names: 100% go with Rocket! Josie Rocket… Um ya, that’s a total kick-butt name. The only name I don’t like with Rocket is Josette. Josette Rocket is a bit too harsh to my ears but I think all the other names totally work. For some reason I don’t like Josie Coyote. It doesn’t work for me …
I think you should totally use Josie Rocket! It seems like it’s the perfect fit for you. While I myself don’t tend to like modern, bold word names, Josie Rocket just sounds really cool! It takes a common, yet cute, name and adds some unique flare. I would definitely go for it! 🙂
C in DC says
I don’t know the middle names of most of my coworkers or of most of my kids’ friends. If they use Rocket, Josie could just use R. or tell people it’s a family name if she doesn’t like it. I could even see her preferring Rocket in her teen years.
C in DC says
I like Josie and Joseline. I’d also suggest Josefa. Rocket is great.
Josie is a cute name for a girl, but I’m thinking of all the adult women I know and there are quite a few of them that I just can’t picture with a name like Josie. A relative of mine is ‘just Jenny’ and I think she would have preferred to be a Jennifer, even if she were always known as Jenny to her family. My sister is very glad to be Catherine rather than Cathy because Cathy is now a dated-sounding nickname whereas Catherine is more of a timeless classic. I’m not categorically against the use of nicknames as given names, but Josie is one that is just TOO fun, spunky and cute for my taste, and I think some women would find it really doesn’t suit them.
Josiane is an option that I don’t think has been mentioned, and I think Josie could work as a nickname for Jocelyn. If you do choose to go with Josie as a first name, I’d suggest choosing something a little less whimsical than Rocket as a middle name so that if your daughter hates Josie she has other, non-cute options available.
Yeah, my mother has a formal first name only because the priest told her father that the cute, trendy nickname name they wanted to give her was “not a Catholic name,” and they still went with a cute short nickname middle name. The nickname + middle name SCREAMS 1950s.
Her family still called her exclusively by the cute nickname but as soon as she was an adult she switched to the full version and a different, less cutesy nickname for it, and has said that she’s so thankful for that priest intervening, so that as an adult professional she isn’t stuck constantly explaining that her name really is legally just a dated, childish nickname that was trending 60 years ago.
Your comment got me to wondering if the “surprising middle” name will also have a shelf life and date those who have one as being born in the late 20-teens?
She does not like Debbie at all, less still with Sue attached, and she has gone by Deborah professionally and Deb with friends since she was old enough to make her own call. Her mom is the only one who still uses Debbie.
I also have a male relative who *is* legally a Ricky, and he’s gone by Rick ever since he was an adult.
Adorable nicknames for kids don’t always wear well in to adulthood.
Your dilemma feels quite close to what I’ve been pondering over my already-named younger daughter’s name.
Does Josie stand alone well? I vote yes. People are doing it. I know 2 Josephines who are always called Josie and one ‘just’ Josie. I think that Josie can be stripped down to Jo to sound more serious if necessary.
And a question I keep asking myself (and I’d love to see Abby cover!) is why can’t a Josie introduce herself as Josephine in certain situations? Or even use it on a resume? If an on-paper Josephine can go by Josie her whole life without explaining how she got to it, why can’t the opposite happen? I had a conversation at the park with a father of an Eli the other day. He said he can always say he’s Elijah whenever it suits him. There are so many names where I love the ‘nickname’ but not the formal name, so why put a name you don’t like on the birth certificate?
But I get wondering if you’re doing your child a disservice. I’ve scoured the Internet looking for people with given nicknames who have spoken about whether they like it or not. And my husband’s old coworker just happened to have the same nicknamey name as my daughter, so we asked her her opinion and she said she has never wished for a formal version and she calls herself a ‘true ___’ as in your Josie would be a TRUE Josie among the Josephines. Interesting concept.
We also gave our daughter an unconventional yet more conservative than Rocket middle name and that is what I’m regretting more. I want her to have options and she will never go by her middle. It’s more complicated than this with our particular dilemma but I think I want her to have a middle she can fall back on, even though she’ll grow up in a works of Poppys and Ellies, and even though she can tell people a formal version of her name when she darn well pleases.
Josie Rocket is adorable. I love the meaning. But as someone mentioned above, I’m not sure I’d want to wear it everyday and that’s a test I use myself.
You make a really good point here. If my name were Elizabeth, but my nickname is Liz so permanently that I introduce myself as Liz, my business cards and name plate on my desk say Liz, etc…. then why can’t a Josie decide that her nickname is Josephine, and begin using it in the same way Liz does?
Could you do Josieleen or Josielene ? A more deliberate spelling of the name you like? There are Darleen’s and Darlene’s. Or even josielena? Then she can be Lena If she likes too. I feel like the second of those three reads most clearly the pronounciation you liked (Josielene) it also looks quite feminine.
As for Rocket I say go for it (although I am a big lover of Liberty but that’s only because I associate it with Liberty London). I think middle names can mean something special to you and it’s such a beautiful strong noun with a lovely association. I know brothers named Rok and Kit and I personally feel Rocket is less ‘out there’ than Rok 🙂 I always regret not giving my first child the middle name Behr – and he thinks it would have been pretty cool!
I definitely suggest going with Josie as the stand alone name. My name is Abby, and I have never once wished to be Abigail. People worry that it will be a pain to explain, but it isn’t. “Nice to meet you Abby. Is it short for Abigail?” “Nope, just Abby.” And then the conversation moves on.
I’m with the majority here who thinks Josie Rocket is wonderful! All these worries about resumes and wedding invitations? First of all, maybe she will love her middle name and proudly display it on her documents. And if she doesn’t, why can’t she just be Josie R. Thompson on her resume? I don’t know why Rocket would get any more snickers than a kid with family names like Eugene in the middle name spot
The Mrs. says
If you are looking at longer names for Josie, there’s also:
Another idea to get to Josie is to use a ‘Jo’ name as a first name and a ‘See’ name as a middle. Example: Jolene Semper. (This would Incorporate part of your Montana motto, too. Love that Semper means ‘always’. It kind of reminds me of True.)
My gut feeling is that if a person has a sensational middle name, a more traditional first name would be a boon to them. Now having typed that, I realized that my own girls have VERY nontraditional first and middle names… *laughing* so what do I know?! (They love their names, too.)
Let me ask this: if Josie Rocket is THE name, what would you name her siblings? Valor Hawk? Ellie Brio? Monty Cosmos? Sally Vesper? What is the long-term vision? If you read that list and think, “YEAH! That really works for us!”… you’ve found your name! If you read it and think, ” Wellllll, maybe NOT,” you two have some decisions to make.
Either way, best wishes to you all! Very happy for your family!
Excellent advice, The Mrs.!
Good advice but I think “Sic Semper Tyrranis” rules out Semper
My two cents for what they are worth…my parents thought they were naming me an uncommon name when they named me Emily after a 1940’s song. Growing up I had Emily’s everwhere and I loved it. As an adult, I moved to a different state and I don’t really find that many Emily’s any more. My parents gave my brother an uncommon but known first name with a classic middle in case he ever wanted to go by his middle. My brother however loved being one of just a few with his name. My parents were lucky that our names worked for each of us, but you really can’t know how your child will feel. I think your best test is something Abby has mentioned in the past which is to ask yourself if you wouldn’t mind having that name yourself. If your answer to Josie Rocket is “YES!”, then go for it. If it’s not, then maybe reconsider your selection.
I think Joseline Rocket is great and you can call her Josie Rocket but she can fall back on Joseline as an adult if she feels like she needs it.
My parents named me a nickname name and I really would have much preferred a formal name that would have “grown up” with me.
I love Josie Rocket! And Joseline seems intuitive to me if you do want a formal name. As you can see from the comments and your own ambivalence, you know the name is daring and what its potential downsides might be. But rather than letting those downsides be a worry, I’d ask yourself what the downsides are of NOT USING the name you love or even of softening it for merely “potential” consequences. We can’t predict what resumes conservative businesses and Harvard Law will look at in 20 years-my hope is that they’ll look at something more than her name. But you can know every day that you wanted Rocket and didn’t do it and that would be sad.
Not to mention she can put R on her resume 🙂
And leave her middle name off her formal wedding invitation and ceremony if she ends up having either….
Josie Rocket could be a cute nickname for a young girl, but as a given name, it doesn’t have much to offer an adult unless she becomes a performer of some sort…
I like Joanna Elaine for you. Honoring your grandmother would be meaningful for you and your daughter. Joanna Elaine is a name that would serve her well all of her life — and she could still be called “Josie”.
I don’t think Josie Elaine works with its repeating “ee” sound at the end of Josie and beginning of Elaine.
Pronounce names dot com:
“Pronunciation of Elaine
Pronunciation: EE – l ai n
EE – l ai n
see let pain no”
But you could name her Josie with Laine as her middle name, as Abby suggested: Josie Laine. That may be more your style.
It’s faddish at this time to use “surprising” middle names, but this is your daughter’s lifetime name. Think of her name on her high school diploma, college degree, resume, her wedding vows if she marries, etc. (“I Josie Rocket take thee William James…”) Josie Rocket will always elicit comments (and perhaps snickers). Joanna Elaine (or Josie Laine) is a name she can be proud of.
Best wishes, and please let us know what you name your daughter.
Megan M. says
I also think you should go with Josie Rocket. The only middle name choice I dislike is Josie Coyote – Abby’s right, there’s something weirdly singsongy about it. If you do go with a formal name, I love Joseline, I think it’s really pretty, and I don’t think the mispronunciation would be as difficult to deal with as you think – most people would hear her name before they saw it, and the majority of people would only need the clarification once.
Josie Rocket is fun, spunky and cute. I don’t think Josephine or another formal version of Josie goes with Rocket.
I think Josie Rocket is great! My daughter’s name is Josephine nn Josie, but we usually just call her Josie and no one ever asks about her “real” name. And go with the middle name you like. People will only know her middle name if she tells them, and she doesn’t have to include it on resumes, so there is really nothing to worry about. She’ll probably love having such a fun middle name.
I have a Joanna whom we call Josie. It works for us–never had anyone question it. I like Joanna Liberi for this family, but I think I like Josie Rocket more!
I like the explanation behind Josie Liberi but Liberi is so far from any typical given name that I think it will be read while she is a child by most people as likely your maiden name, and when she is an adult as *her* maiden name (the popularity of women using their maiden names publicly in the middle name spot seems to have skyrocketed with the rise of Facebook). I think very few people will ever ask or know the story behind it.
I also think if you’re going with a cute nickname first name and a highly unconventional middle like Rocket, that giving the kid at least the option of a formal first name is a kindness. She may well grow up to be the perfect embodiment of a Josie Rocket Smith and adore it- and I think it’s adorable! But she might also grow up to be someone who wants to function in circles (first tier law school, anybody?) where Josie Rocket Smith’s resume would go to the bottom of the pile. I think we name geeks tend to forget that not everybody’s ear is oversaturated with names and attuned to the appeal of an unconventional choice. Someone seriously told me the other day that Adaline was “too crazy” of a name.
Giving somebody a name like Josie Rocket at least the *option* to be Joseline if they want formality or anonymity as an adult seems worthwhile.
I would totally go with Joseline Rocket. Joseline is a beautiful name, and I think few people would pronounced it like Jocelyn — it’s similarity to Josephine, the presence of the s, the presence of the -e, all make the most plausible pronunciation your desired one.
And if you’re going to be introducing her as Josie, then the chances that Joseline will be mispronounced are way, way fewer. (I’m in a similar situation with my daughter, who is a Gwendolyn pronounced \linn\ not \line\. But the issue hardly ever arises, because she’s primarily Gwen or Gweni.)
My favorite suggestion is Josie Laine. I have a niece, Josy, who is all grown up with four littles of her own. It wears well. She was occasionally called Jojo as a child, but the name Josy wears well.
I know of a baby girl born a few months ago who was named Rocket. I don’t know where they got the name, but there is a real child out there called it.
1) I agree with Abby that if it’s Josie you love, it’s Josie you should use. Joseline is a fine name but there would definitely be the occasional mispronunciation, and it sounds like you know that would bother you. Nickname names are definitely “in” as standalones right now, so I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid at a Josie just called Josie. It’s cute and current without feeling like too much of either.
2) Josie Rocket! Second choice Josie Liberi. When I saw the title of this post, I thought “Wow”. I love combos like this – more conservative (but not boring) first name, combined with a totally out there middle. It doesn’t always work and can seem a bit forced and try-hard, but not here. Rocket has meaning for you, it feels aspirational and fabulously tomboyish which totally complements spunky Josie, yet at the same time it comes as a total surprise. I really like the idea and flow of Liberi in the middle too, but Josie Rocket sounds like it’s your favourite and it’s mine too – big, bold and beyond cool.
I like unique names and names with history (personal or etymological), but I’m not a huge fan of Rocket. I agree with other commenters there is a lot of teasing potential and the name may not transfer into the adult world smoothly. While using an initial is a possibility on a resume or self-created document such as a wedding invitation, does one always have the option to go by an initial in all circumstances? What about something like a college diploma that pulls the name directly from school records? I believe it would be the full name. (Then again, as another poster suggested with Liberi, Rocket may be perceived as your madien name; my maiden was a word name place.)
Obviously, Rocket is a very meaningful name to you or you wouldn’t be considering it as a name. I do wonder if there are variations on the word Rocket you may consider? The meaning and history would still be there (albeit stretched), and you could call her Rocket or Josie-Rocket as a nickname. It could possibly be the best of both worlds. The name that comes to my mind would be Rochelle.
Of the names Abby suggested, I prefer Josie Laine. As a combination it sounds similar to Joseline, which is also a beautiful name. To me, a little Josie Laine with the nickname Josie-Rocket represents the best of all worlds.
Good luck naming; I’d love to know what you decide!!