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 and I are expecting our second son in March, and we have no names that we even kind of agree on.
Our first son is Xavier Alden. It took us until the very last minute to agree on it. My husband’s name is very unusual, and he’s sensitive about giving his kid a “weird” name.
On the other hand, I’ve always liked having a name that’s just a little different. (And I think his name is awesome, but he’s made me promise not to share it.)
If it were up to my husband, Xavier would’ve been Joseph or David. It’s not that they’re not good names, it’s just that they feel all used up by SO many Joes and Daves I know.
Plus, our last name is pretty common and short, so there are probably two dozen Joseph LastName already.
I really liked Gideon, Judah, and Felix, but the list of rejected names goes on and on. Can you suggest some boy names that my husband will agree are “normal” but aren’t dull?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
How exciting to be expecting your second son – congratulations!
No matter what our personal preferences around names, I think there’s often so much more compromising required than we expect, right?
You’re absolutely right – there’s no such thing as a normal name!
It sounds like your husband wants a name that’s traditional, familiar, and easy to wear. You’re looking for something with history, but a little bit of flair.
Those aren’t bad qualities. After all, Xavier is a great name! So let’s see if we can find something that combines them again.
A note on popularity: Xavier ranks in the current US Top 100. (As of 2019, it’s #91.) But it doesn’t feel particularly common. Most of these names are around the same popularity level, but a few are rarer – because it’s possible for a name to be both instantly familiar and rather uncommon, too.
Dominic has a great rhythm. Nothing really sounds quite like Dominic. It’s ranked in the US Top 1000 every year since 1900, and yet it doesn’t sound nearly as classic – or common – as Joseph and James.
I wonder if a subtle connection between your boys’ names would appeal? Xavier and Everett sound different and distinct, but they share that stylish middle v.
On paper, Hugo is relatively rare. But everyone recognizes it and can spell it immediately.
Just like Xavier, Isaac stands out sound-wise. But it’s a Top 50 pick, about as common as Anthony, Luke, or Christopher – which feels pretty mainstream.
Halfway between Gideon and Joseph is Julian.
Malcolm is a rock-solid name for a son, traditional and never trendy.
A New Testament name with an outdoorsy meaning – forest – Silas feels like a modern favorite that’s fresher than David and James, but has every bit as much history.
Tristan left the US Top 100 after 2014, but it’s still widely recognized without feeling too common.
Overall, my favorites are Everett (I’m a sucker for that shared middle V sound) and Dominic (I just love the way it sounds with Xavier.)
But I know the community will have some great suggestions, too.
Simon is a pretty common name these days and that’s great but one of my favorite underused names is Simeon. Xavier and Simeon are lovely yet definitely not mainstream.
Oh man I agree with the folks that echoed Felix—such a shame that it’s already been nixed!
What about Simon? I love that name—it feels stylish but also friendly, and definitely recognizable and classic.
If not, I’ll echo others suggestions of Victor, Otto, and Silas.
Kirstin G says
A few more to ponder:
Dominic and Hugo are my favorites from Abby’s list and are favorites, in general! Would you consider Ivan or Vincent or Theo?
From Abby’s list, I really like Silas and Everett. From yours, I love Gideon and Felix.
A few additional suggestions:
I want to second Solomon (Sol) #415. Another great name that fits in and stands out: Declan. (#95). Victor and Lewis are also nice possibilities. Congratulations and good luck!
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestions of Dominic and Everett. I would add Blaise and Gavin.
I think Dominic is a great name and fits well with Xavier. Jeremiah is another name that falls in this space, at 70.
You can’t go wrong with anything from Abby’s list. I would add Wyatt, Eli, Toby, and Baylor.
Antony instead of the more common Anthony? I also wonder if you’d like:
Can I throw out my son’s name, Nathaniel? It’s at about the 150 level in the UK, although it might be higher in the US. But it’s a classic name with centuries of regular usage that (to me at least) still doesn’t feel overused. We call him Nat or Natty for short.
I totally get your dilemma!
Edmund (actually way less common than you’d think)
Magnus (this one is probably too out there)
Felix (shares the x of Xavier but with its own sound)
Bastian (feels like the end of Sebastian, so familiar but feels fresh and new)
Xander (if you don’t mind repeated sounds…but that might be hard if you have a third kid)
Everett and Xavier are great together and I agree that Dominic shares Xavier’s pizzazz.
One other traditional but distinct name for me is Victor. Xavier and Victor sound like brothers, share the same V, and match each other in terms of strength. Ranked at #186 in 2019 it is slightly more rare than Xavier yet Victor doesn’t tend to fluctuate wildly either and is solidly on traditional ground.
Xavier and Victor.
I second Victor! It’s the name that immediately came to mind.
I also love Dominic from Abby’s list.