Name Help: Nolan, Grady, and ….


Name Help: A Sibling for Nolan and Grady

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!

Roma writes:

We are expecting our third and final baby at the end of January. This time I don’t want to know gender ahead of time and am at a complete loss for names (especially boy names).

Our sons are Nolan John and Grady Allen. Both names were from my husband’s list as I tend to prefer more obscure names. Still would prefer a name not in the top 100!

I love looking at name meanings (for those reasons I am drawn to Moira, Sedna, Sylvia, and my guilty pleasure name Morrigan).

Our family is into nature and the outdoors; both my husband and I are high level martial artists.

He prefers names that aren’t too “out there” while I would readily name a child Scout, Cove, Ridge, etc. I would welcome any suggestions for boys or girls! Thank you so much!

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

Dear Roma –

Congratulations on baby number three!

It’s tough to find a compromise when one partner gets nervous much outside of the Top 100 … and the other is thinking anything in the most popular 999 names is too common! But you’ve found two handsome names for your boys, so I’m sure we can help you find a third.

I wonder if your husband is more flexible on names for girls? Because a greater varieties of sounds and styles have been used for girls across the generations, parents often feel like they can be more daring when naming daughters. I’m going to assume he’s not keen on Moira, Sylvia, Sedna, or Morrigan – even though Moira and Sylvia seem like reasonably familiar choices.

As for boys, a name like Ridge seems obvious for an outdoorsy family! But let’s see if we can find names with a similar style that fit with Nolan and Grady, while splitting the difference between fits-in and stands-out names.

A SISTER FOR NOLAN AND GRADY

Adara, Adela, Adele, Adelaide – You mentioned meanings; because Nolan and Grady can both mean noble, I wonder if you’d like one of these? Adara means noble in Hebrew; the other three, in Germanic.

Carina – Carina could come from the Latin cara – dear. Or it might refer to the keel of a ship, or the constellation in the night sky that looks like the keel of Jason’s ship, the Argo, from Greek myth.

Ivy – Sylvia makes me think of Sylvie, which brings to mind Ivy. Ivy is wintry and maybe a little bit on the different side. (Though it’s just inside the current Top 100 now.) It’s definitely a nature name, with a little bit of an edge.

Juniper – Speaking of nature names, I love the idea of Juniper with Nolan and Grady. It feels similar in style, but distinct in sound.

Maeve – This name is Irish like Nolan and Grady, shares the ‘v’ of Sylvia, and comes from a legendary warrior queen.

Maura – Would changing the spelling from Moira to Maura sway your husband? Maura looks like Laura, which might make it slightly more familiar. And while the two spellings suggest different origins, and perhaps meanings, too, in practice, they’re often used interchangeably.

Olive – I’m guessing Olivia is much too popular for your tastes, but how about Olive? It has that sharp v sound, and an undeniable tie to the natural world. Plus, because olive branches are associated with peace, there’s another layer of meaning beyond the botanical one.

Piper – Yes, it’s Top 100. But it’s kind of perfect with Nolan and Grady, isn’t it? High-spirited and modern, but a name with roots, too.

A BROTHER FOR NOLAN AND GRADY

Declan – Again, Declan feels more mainstream than you’d like. But there’s something about the strong sound of Declan that makes it feel distinctive.

Flynn – Errol Flynn, Flynn Ryder … we’ve associated this name with dashing, daring men from the era of silent film to Disney blockbusters. And it splits the difference between chart-topping favorites and more obscure choices.

Kieran – I feel like I’m big on Kieran lately, but here’s the thing: it’s kind of perfect. It’s slowly gained in use since the 1990s, making it generally more familiar. I think that might appeal to your husband. But it’s barely crossed into the Top 500, so maybe that will make it just different enough for you?

Knox – At first glance, Knox is different from Nolan and Grady. And yet, I think it works every bit as well. On the outdoorsy scale, it means hill – so while it’s subtle, the connection is there. The ‘x’ makes it a little bit edgy and cool, putting it in the same general category as Cove. But it’s much more common than you might guess, currently in the US Top 250, so perhaps your husband can be persuaded?

Wilder – Wilder succeeds because it’s both bold and outdoorsy, but still a little bit buttoned-up. It’s midway between William and Stryker. It shares the vibe of Scout and Cove and Ridge, but it’s far more familiar. Plus, because it has literary (Thornton) and Hollywood (Billy) associations, Wilder is rugged, but also versatile.

My favorites are probably Wilder for a boy and Maeve for a girl – they just seem to hit the middle ground between something a little bit fresh and new and something familiar enough that it feels accessible.

But I know our readers will have lots of great suggestions, so let’s open it up for comments: What would you name a brother or sister for Nolan and Grady?

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8 Comments

Maybe common ground between you and your husband’s choices would be Marin (sea) or Sedona.

Sedona isn’t a name (but sounds like it could be!) but it is a place with a well-known beautiful red-rock park in Arizona. The name would be familiar to people.

I absolutely love Nolan and Grady as brother names! I’ve had both names on my list for future kids for quite some time.

I really think another Irish name would fit really well.

My first thought for a girl was Maeve. It’s not too common and is very pretty without being overly frilly. Nolan, Grady, and Maeve. I like how all 3 names have different endings.

For boys, what about Shane? Some may argue it’s dated but I’m sure he will never have another Shane in class with him. Nolan, Grady, and Shane sound very nice together.

For a boy I also think Quinn would be a nice choice. Nolan, Grady, and Quinn.

Or what about Callum? It’s Scottish and means dove/peace. I think it fits the bill for being a more uncommon name. Nolan, Grady, and Callum. This one might be my favorite!

Your sons have wonderful names! For girl names, I love the Moira/Maura and Maeve. Other ideas:
Neve/Nieve/Niamh (means snow in some languages)
Kerrigan
Keegan
Kiera
Brenna
Mallory
Sloane
Murphy
Campbell
Finley
Flannery
Rowan

Boy names:
Ellis
Everett
Finnegan
Keegan
Rohan
Ronan
Rowan
Rory
Rice
Burke

Twice in two days I’ll suggest my son’s name, Curtis.

It’s Old French (not Irish) and means courteous. I haven’t looked up its popularity ranking, but amidst a sea of Coopers and Connors he’s always been the only one, but no-one seems to confuse him with the others either.

And I think it rounds out the set nicely … Nolan, Grady & Curtis.

So for boys I immediately thought of Merritt. Although it could work for girls but I’m guessing your hubby would prefer it for a boy. Same two syllables. Same noble sound. Same last name first name vibe. Nolan, Grady and Merritt.

For girls I like Brooke. Nature themed but not overly popular and traditional in it’s usage as a name. River probably wont pass the hubby test, neither would Wren. But Brooke may. Nolan, Grady and Brooke. Each distinctive but hang well together. Perhaps that is the o and r sounds, both of which are in Roma actually too. Kinda perfect.

Best of luck!

Since your boys have Irish names, it’d be fun to finish the set, if you and your husband find another Irish name that appeals to you. For girls, Morrigan sounds like it fits (Maddigan, Finnigan, etc.). It might be confused for Morgan though. Do you like Morgan? It’s related to the sea like Sedna.

Two of the names on your list have the Mor-sound: Morley/Morleigh, Mordecai, Moreau, Maureen, Morena, Morena, Morris/Morrissey.

Two of your other names start with S: Sidony/Sidney, Sessony, Saxon, Sonora, Cecily, Sombra, Sasha, Celine, Zamora (It’s pronounced with the S sound. Or you can spell it with an S. And it has the mor sound. And it fits in with names like Cora and Nora. Winner?), Samoa

Other possibilities: Manilla, Calihan (Spelled like this so nn could be Cali. The name is Irish, too.) Carrigan

If you like Ridge, I suggest Bridger. (Or Palmer, Fielder, Archer)
I agree with Abby’s suggestion of Declan.
Beckett, Brecken, Tucker, Brooks, Garrett, Sutton, Sullivan, McCallister, Marcus, Marius, Marsdin/Marston (mar, like Latin for ocean), Marshall, Moss, Mills, Bennett, Oakley