Name Help: Leo Ocean siblingWelcome to the world, Stone Shaw! Congrats to Tiffanie & family, and thanks for the update.

PS – If you have a #namehelp update, please email We’d love to celebrate with you and your family.

Tiffanie writes:

My son’s name is Leo Ocean. I basically took my two favorite boy names and used them both, placing the “safer” of the names in the first name spot. My son answers to both names together or separately, using mostly “Leo” at school and mostly “Ocean” at home.

Names matter to me A WHOLE LOT. I obsess over name lists in my free time. The problem is, my style is too diverse and I cannot hone in on one name!

Another big problem is that I have to find a very deep and personal connection in order to choose a final name. My son’s name, for example, was chosen very thoughtfully. He was adopted at 3 years old from a fragile situation. I chose a name that would make him feel strong and powerful (Leo) and still vast and delicate (Ocean). That type of symbolism is what I cannot seem to uncover for my second child. I fear no other boy name will ever mean so much to me.

We decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise. To prepare I have unisex names and a few girl names. Although my gut tells me it will be a boy. Names I tend to stay away from are all of the -ayden names, names with difficult spelling and names with negative meanings.

Unisex: Sloane, Max

Boys: Indigo, Rhodes (love the nickname “Ro” but not Rowan or Roman)

Girls: Ivy, Hero, Fern, Florence, Ramona

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

Dear Tiffanie –

I sometimes hesitate to answer questions about meaning because, well, meaning tends to be highly personal.

And yet, it sounds like you’re looking for names that have more universal meanings. It’s not about honoring a beloved uncle or finding names from your favorite books. It’s choosing a name that conveys a far more easily recognized meaning. I think we can help with that!

From your list, these seem like the obvious places to start:

Rhodes – Rhodes brings to mind strength, probably because of the ancient Colossus of Rhodes. There’s also the association with Rhodes Scholars. Several theories explain the origin of the Greek island of Rhodes’ name, including rose and pomegranate. I think the first two associations are far stronger.

Ivy – Ivy tends to connote wisdom and scholarship, thanks to the Ivy League. In Celtic tradition, it also symbolizes enduring love and friendship, because of the way the plant grows.

Max – Max manages to combine two things: the idea of greatness – think maximum – and a completely traditional name for a son.

It sounds like you’d prefer to duplicate the Leo Ocean pattern, using a more familiar first with an uncommon middle. That means that Ivy works wonderfully for a daughter and Max for a son; but I tend to think Rhodes might be more like Ocean than Leo.

Let’s see if we can add a few generally meaningful names to the mix, all somewhere around the 1oo to 300 mark in the US.

Meaningful Boy Names

Abel – A Biblical boy name that sounds capable, thanks to homonym able.

Kai – The Hawaiian word for ocean, and a nice mirror to Leo’s middle.

River – Another nature name, like Ocean, but one that is considered far more mainstream.

Knox – Shares the sound of Max, but feels a little more modern. While it means hill, the cultural association in the US is with treasure – as in the gold depository at Fort Knox.

Archer – Archers hit their mark, tying this name to ideas about achievement and skill.

Meaningful Girl Names

Cora – Cora likely means maiden, but tends to be associated with the Latin cor – heart.

Willow – We think of Willows as weeping, but they symbolize healing, too.

Nova – From the Latin word for new, Nova is strongly associated with all things science, but especially the stars.

Iris – The messenger goddess in Roman myth, Iris travelled on rainbows. There’s symbolism galore here.

Vera – From a Russian word meaning faith, we tend to associate Vera with the Latin verus – truth.

I’m not sure any of these unseat Ivy, but I feel like Nova might appeal to you.

Meaningful Combinations: Boys

So far, my favorites are Archer Rhodes and River Rhodes. While the alliteration of River Rhodes is fun, I especially like the meaning of Archer Rhodes – accuracy and strength.

Max Rhodes sounds too much like a phrase to my ear. Maybe Max Lyric, for something poetic and unexpected. Or Max Wilder or Max Briar, for middles that take the name in a more outdoorsy direction.

Meaningful Combinations: Girls

For girls, I think Ivy Rhodes has potential. For something more feminine in the middle spot, there’s Ivy Paloma – wisdom and peace. Paloma is the Spanish word for dove, hence the symbolism.

Nova Florence combines the new with the Italian city famed for the arts.

I also love the idea of Cora Sage – heart and wisdom.

Depending on how you feel about the seasons, I think Winter could make a great middle, too: Ivy Winter, Cora Winter.

Another bold middle name choice: Ciel or Cielo, the French and Spanish words for sky, and also heaven. Cora Ciel might be my favorite.

So if I had to choose, I’d lean towards Archer Rhodes and Cora Ciel. But readers, I know you will have some fabulous ideas!

What would you name a brother or sister for Leo Ocean?

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. The name that stood out to me was Ramona and I like the idea of using Ro as a shortened nickname, a bit different than the typical Mona that people might think of.

    The previous commenter that suggested Ramona Prairie. LOVE. Brilliant suggestion. Love it.

    Otherwise Fern and Florence (I love Flora) are fabulous too.

    What about Esme? Meaning beloved. Can’t get more sweet than that.

    For boys names, I love Rhodes. It may be a bit different than traditional Leo but I don’t think it’s that far off. It’s unique and uncommon, which makes it special in its own way. – in response to Cecil Rhodes comment… definitely did not even come into my mind, even after it was stated, the association is so far off to me that I wouldn’t even call it an association at all. Just my opinion.

    If not Rhodes, I love Beaumont. Leo and Beau. Great combo. I love the meaning behind it… has that powerful, he can move mountains, feeling to it.

  2. Cora Ivy would make a statement! Heart and friendship? That sounds feminine and strong.

    Mira Hero… shimmering star of wonder that saves the day? Yeah, THAT’S a delicate and powerful name.

    Ramona Prairie. Peaceful hands in an open country of possibility — stunning!

    Lowell Rhodes… Wolfish like Leo is lionish. Rhodes is a masterful choice.

    Bram makes a fine first name. Clever raven! It’s great imagery next to Leo. Bram Indigo.

    Best wishes!

  3. I think Rhodes is pretty much perfect, unless you’re concerned about another O name.

    Not as subtle as Ocean, but I just thought of Constellation as a possible middle.

  4. I think the name Arrow could be put on your list to consider, maybe more for a middle. It gets you the nickname “Ro,” and has an evocative general significance.

  5. I know you’re not asking about how a unisex name will play out next to your first son and clearly regions are different in terms of name use, but with Leo being clearly a name used on boys, Sloane would be girl and Max would be boy, to me. I also love how Leo is subtle in its tie to a fierce lion, but Ocean is unabashedly evocative. So I’d seek to mimic this for your second child. Something more mainsteam + something more daring.

    I love Rhodes for you! Strong and studious, but also fits right in with the surname names, I would tuck this name into the edges of mainstream. Leo and Rhodes. Love the repeating e+o. For a middle name maybe: Beaumount (beautiful mountain), Felix (lucky), Garrick (Oak tree grove).. I really like Rhodes Felix with Leo Ocean. Other first name suggestions: Grady (noble), Samson (sun)… love Grady Garrick or Samson Beaumont.

    Abby’s Cora Sage seems like a perfect sister! Leo and Cora, Ocean and Sage. But your Ivy is also so lovely. Ivy Rhodes is maybe too collegiate, but Ivy Paloma is amazing! Or if you like something along the lines of love – Carys, Kerensa, Noa… Ivy Noa seems perfect for Leo Ocean. Or for truth, just True? Ivy True? Or to give her the sky, when he has the ocean – Sora, Ciela (as Abby suggested, I like it with the a-ending with Ivy), Solveig? Ivy Solveig is beautiful!

    I cannot wait to see what you choose! Such a lovely and thoughtful name for your son, I’m sure you’ll find something just as meaningful for your next child.

  6. Fern!! FERN!! Oh how I love Fern. I have recommended the name numerous times on this site and Abby’s other site. A botanical name but not frilly or floral, which I like personally, as a not very frilly or floral person. A totally ANCIENT plant. Which I think is so so so cool. Plus Fern Arable from Charlotte’s Web. Anyway, my vote is Fern for a girl. But I also really like Vera or Paloma. Cora is nice enough but my prediction is it’s going to be HUGE (or already is, depending). What about Fauna or Artemis or Esther? What just sounds really amazing with baby’s last name?
    For a boy, Rhodes or Abel, I love. What about Shepherd?
    How about Aviv for a boy or Aviva for a girl?! They are from the same Hebrew root that means Spring. It might not be an obvious connection to everyone, not like Leo is to lion, but the sounds are so great and each of them is great with Leo, I think. You and your baby (and name nerds like this crew) will know the meaning, which.. Spring! What a great meaning.

  7. I’ve always liked the thought of Cairn for a boy’s name. For me it evokes mountains and big open spaces and solidity in the midst of vastness and also guidance offered but unrestrictive. It can stand alone, at once perfectly whole and an interal part of a larger landscape, but it’s also made up of all the pieces people have chosen and collected to offer their help to each other in difficult and beautiful terrain and people stop there to measure progress or just to celebrate exactly where they are. It does sound awfully close to Karen though.

    Sylvan, Corbin, Cedar, Yarrow, Rune, and Rigel all seem meaningful to me and maybe simple enough for your first name slot. Polaris, Aeolian, or Aeolus seem a bit much next to Leo, but might work in the middle.

  8. Please not Rhodes! Cecil Rhodes (as in the scholarships) is so associated with colonialism that for many people the meaning it conveys is ‘racism’. Hopefully not the symbolism you are looking for.

    1. @Nell – I didn’t know that! Now I’m curious – is Rhodes like Ford? In other words, there’s a strong negative, but maybe it’s not the dominant first thought for most people? Or is this a more fatal flaw in the name? Curious to hear others’ reactions.

    2. When I hear Rhodes, the first thing I think of is the island in the Mediterranean and the Colossus of Rhodes. I’ve heard of the Rhodes scholars, but did not know Cecil founded it. I had learned about Cecil and his desire to establish English colonies “from Cairo to the Cape” but was he really more racist than anyone else at that time? People are naming their boys Davis and Darwin without the shadow of racism looming overhead, so why not Rhodes? Though I can see how it might be sensitive if one lived in Africa.