Name Help: Now WhatName 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!

Bree writes:

Ever since we found out we were expecting a boy, we thought we had a name: David. David was my husband’s older brother who died in an accident at 19. I never met David, but it seemed so important to my husband that I never questioned it.

At the same time, something about it never felt completely right to me. I tried to warm up to calling him Davey, or maybe even DJ. We didn’t really like any J middle names, but it seemed like maybe we would choose one because I liked the idea of DJ better.

We didn’t tell a lot of people about the name. Looking back, maybe because I didn’t feel like it was right. And then we were talking to my mother-in-law, and my husband told her about the name for the first time. She got quiet, and told us that she was so touched, and loved us for wanting to keep his memory alive, but thought it would be hard to have another baby in her life with David’s name.

All this time, I’ve been thinking that using the name was something we had to do, and it turns out that my husband felt the same. On our drive home, we decided that David would be our son’s middle name. Now we need a first!

The last name will be H@rr!son.

I like Asher, Miles, and Ezra. We have nephews named Oliver and Caleb, both of which I like but can’t use. We both like Charlie, but not Charles. My husband doesn’t like nicknames. (He’s Michael, and doesn’t like being called Mike – but lots of people do …) We agree on Henry, but someone pointed out that Harrison means Henry’s son, so that’s probably out, too.

So here we are, due in just a few weeks, with a middle name chosen, but no first name. Help!

Please read on for my response, and share your helpful suggestions in the comments.

Hi Bree –

Congratulations on your new baby!

Reading your letter, all I can think is … well, this is a twist! You did the right thing, agreeing to use a name rich with meaning for your husband’s family. But now that’s off the table, and you need to find a solid shortlist as soon as possible.

My first question: is there a reason Asher, Miles, or Ezra can’t be the name? I love the sound of Ezra David H@rr!son. Asher and Miles work, too.

But if those three aren’t exactly right, let’s see if we can put some more options on your list.

It sounds like you prefer names with a traditional feel, though not necessarily the most conventional of the classics. It also sounds like you prefer nickname-resistant names that are currently popular.

Theo – There’s something upbeat about an ‘o’ ending. Theodore feels traditional, and begs to be shortened. But Theo? Theo has all the friendly charm, none of the formality.

Leo – Of course, the problem with Theo is that it might not feel complete. If that’s the case, may I suggest  the vintage, regal Leo instead?

Max – Max is a mini name with style to spare, and Max H@rr!son sounds great together. There’s also Maxwell or Maximus or Maximilian – but that might not sit well with your husband’s Mike/Michael concerns.

Jude – Another name that is complete at just one syllable: Jude, he of the Beatles song and the saint.

Cole – Cole recently left the US Top 100 after well over a decade in the rankings. But it’s still very familiar, and that strong C sound reminds me of Caleb.

Micah – I know you’ve just gotten past the whole naming-for-a-loved-one moment, but I wonder if you would like Micah? It’s not the same as having Michael Jr., but it does nod to dad’s name.

Jonah – If not Micah, maybe Jonah? Bonus: Jonah David could be JD were you so inclined.

Emmett – I really like the sound of Emmett H@rr!son. Emmett has a relaxed, vintage, and yet contemporary sound, too.

As for Henry, I’m torn. It does bother me that your first and last names share the same roots – it feels like naming someone John Johnson. And yet, it doesn’t sound that way. In fact, I like the sound of Henry Harrison. So let’s have a quick poll, because I think the readers will have some good insights here.


Overall, my favorite is Emmett, but that’s only if Ezra is truly off the table.

Readers, what would you suggest to Bree and Michael?

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. My first thought is What’s wrong with Charlie David Harrison ?

    My second thought is Dewi is the Welch form of David so Why not do Dewi Oliver or Dewi Miles Harrison as a suttle homage to David, same goes for names like Davey Asher but not sure Davey Asher Harrison flows right…..

    Third and final thought aloft of people are making historical reference to William Henry Harrison. I love the name
    William Henry Harrison and being named after a president isn’t a bad thing so maybe you can consider William David Henry Harrison.

  2. Our son is named Ezra and our runner up name was Asher! Oliver was also a name we considered. Currently I’m loving- Max, Quinn, Cornac, Beckett, Otis, Ferris & Bram!

  3. The only thing I don’t like about Henry H@rr!son is that it dings my President bell. You say Henry H@rr!son and I hear “William Henry Harrison… Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” (I’d feel the same about any name that gets too close to a president’s name.

    I also don’t suggest Benjamin for the same reason. ^^

    1. I had the same initial reaction to Henry H@rr!son, perhaps because we have a new-ish dog called Will and sometimes I call him William Henry Harrison.

      That said, I don’t think most people will make that connection.

      I really like Asher David.

  4. Can I ask why people feel like they need to disguise their last name? Genuinely curious. Usually the last name is generic enough that I feel like worrying that someone will find the post in a google search would be near impossible.

    1. Probably because if their baby’s chosen complete name appears in the post (say the parents do go with Asher David) then 20 years from now, a casual google search for his whole name is going to ping this post show that baby Asher’s parents wrote to a name site for help. Baby Asher may not care, but sometimes the stories are embarrassing or might cause family drama. Its not bad to try to preserve your future child’s privacy.

    2. I think Sara is right. FWIW, parents often don’t ask me to disguise their last names – I often suggest it for just that reason. On my part, the problem is this: I can always delete a post, but I can’t control where it has been archived. (TBH, I don’t completely understand how that part works, except to know it is potentially out of my control …) So it seems like a kindness.

      That said, my kids’ names are very searchable, as is mine, and I tend to feel the way you do. Sure someone might find it someday, but it would a needle-in-a-haystack kind of moment, and not especially interesting.