Name Help: Reinventing Gerald and StephanName 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!

Alice writes:

I want to name my son after two of my grandparents. Their names are Gerald and Stephan. I don’t exactly like either name, but I want him to carry both their names. Is there anyway you can help me reinvent it?

I don’t actually know if this baby will be a boy, but I already have my girl name picked out to name after my sister: Lindora Samantia.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your baby-on-the-way!

Reinventing family names can be the best of both worlds. You honor your loved ones, but your child has a name of their very own, too.

Of course, everyone has their own personal sense of what qualifies as a reinvention, and what strays way too far from the original name to really count. Only you can decide what makes a satisfying honor name.

Just in case none of these work, you can always consider honoring a loved one without directly handing down their name.

Let’s try refreshing each name individually, and then putting them together in combinations.



Re-arrange the letters of Gerald, and Adler is one possibility, assuming you don’t mind dropping the G. It means “eagle” in German.


Alder also uses every letter, again except for the G. (I suppose it could be Aldger, but that’s a different sound.) There’s an alder tree, which puts this name in the same category as Rowan.


It’s possible to imagine Aldo as a Gerald nickname, borrowing the last syllable. But Aldo is far more current, an o-ending choice with Germanic roots. That might be perfect … or maybe a little too brief.


Gerald and Garrett sound pretty different, but Garrett started out as a surname derived from Gerald.


A Scandi name meaning “spear,” Geir comes from the same roots as Gerald. (The Germanic ger also means spear.) The one snag? Geir is pronounced with two syllables in modern Scandinavian languages, more like Guy-er. I’d be tempted to rhyme it with spear in American English.


One more ger name, this time a little easier to pronounce. The G sounds like a J, and –vase sounds like, well, vase. Comedian Ricky Gervais comes to mind. While Gervase was used in English, it softened into Jarvis over the years.


A variation of Garrett, but with a J instead of a G.



Hands down, my favorite way to reinvent any of these names is with Estevan. Esteban is the more common Spanish form, but Estevan is occasionally heard, too. It’s clearly linked to all of the Steve names, and yet it’s just a little different.


The French form of the name, and another intriguing possibility.


It depends, I suppose, on how you pronounce Stephan. But if you say it with a soft PH in the middle, then the second syllable almost sounds like Finn.


The letters are waiting, right there in StepHAN. Han brings to mind iconic Star Wars character Han Solo, but Hans is also a common form of John.


Would just respelling Stephan to Stefan make a difference? Visually, it looks a little bit updated.


If you accept that Estevan can be a Stephan honor name, then maybe just Van works, too?



I love the way that Alder uses nearly every letter of Gerald. And Estevan is such a sparky refresh for Stephan.


Maybe this strays a little too far from Gerald and Stephan, but I think it’s sleek and stylish.


Garrett might be my favorite update for Gerald, again paired with the longer middle name option.


Maybe just opting for Stefan works? If so, Stefan Jarrett seems like a good blend of the modern and the traditional.

My favorite is probably Alder Estevan. I think it’s just daring enough, a good mix of your grandfathers’ names and twenty-first century naming style.

Readers, over to you! How would you reinvent the names Gerald and Stephan?

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. I’ve been thinking about this for a while before replying as I didn’t find it easy to come up with spin off name suggestions. I agree as I’m not a fan of either name.

    Trying to make a name from a name you dislike (while nice to acknowledge the grandparents) is boxing yourself into using a name their parents chose. If they aren’t named after somebody on the family tree then it’s not exactly a family tradition you’re breaking.

    I say… if you’re determined, stick them (despite disliking them) in as middle names and choose a first name that makes your hearts sing

    My suggestion is think more broadly.
    What about their middle names? Surnames? Place of origin? Something important about them? Or perhaps ask them to choose 5 names each that they love and choose from those? For the child the special thing is that grandad and poppy chose their name. That’s a huge honour to help choose a name.

    My dad was Gary, I hate that name. My surname used to be Davis so my son’s middle name is David. This also happens to be my father in law’s middle name.

  2. Gary
    Aldan (endinf of Gerald + ending of Stephan)
    Ralph (part of Gerald + part of Stephan)
    Gil (different pronunciation, but the letters are there)

  3. Gere, like the actor? Pronounced like “gear”? Gere Stéphane?
    You could also do Sven for Stephan. Sven Gerard is very handsome in my opinion!

  4. Some really great suggestions here! I especially like the ideas of Gerard, Aldo, Stevie, and Stevenson.

    Here are some additional options based off of the name meanings:

    Gerald (“spear rule”) could give you…
    Asger (“spear of God”) – Contains “ger” from Gerald
    Berenger or Berengar (“bear spear”) – Contains “ger” from Gerald
    Corin (“spear”)
    Fletcher (“arrowsmith”)
    Oscar (“spear of God”)

    And Stephan (“crown” or “garland”) could give you…
    Garland – Contains many letters from Gerald

    Both names have connotations of rulers, which could give you…
    Alaric (“ruler of all”)
    Aldrich (“old, wise ruler”) – Contains “ald” from Gerald
    Avery (“elf ruler”)
    Eric (“eternal ruler”)
    Henry, Harry, or Hendrix (“home ruler”)
    King or Kingsley
    Mael or Maël (“chief” or “prince”)

  5. Love the suggestion of Fitzgerald nn Fitz! That’s such a cool name and sounds nice with the girl name you picked out.

    There is also Gerard and Jared which fell similar.

    Stellan could work as a more current sounding version of Stephan that looks visually very similar.

    Stellan Fitzgerald sounds spectacular!

  6. Gerald can be spelled Jerald. Either way, I love the nickname Jed. Another idea is Jerrell. I think I’d still use Jed as a nickname.

    Has anyone suggested Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald Stevenson – Fitz, Jed

  7. Gerald has Germanic roots. Ger meaning spear , Walt meaning power, authority, ruler. Would Walt/ Walter appeal to you?
    Variants of Gerald in other languages would be Geroald ( old German, I think it’s beautiful, nn could be Ro), Geraldo in Spanish and Giraldo in Italian. I went to school in Germany with a boy named Gero, and I always thought it to be cool and unusual moniker.
    Other names with the element Ger-: Roger, Oscar, Jarvis, Jervis, Ansgar, Gerolt, Major, Gerrit.

    For Stephan ( also super common in Germany) I really like the nickname Stevie. It’s so sweet and reminds me of the wonderful Stevie Wonder, whose actual name is Stevland.

  8. The suggestion of rearranging most of the letters of Gerald to come to Alder or Adler made me think of Aldan as a possibility that incorporates parts of both names.

    Also rearranging the letters of both names, I’ve come up with the following (letters in brackets are the ones not used):

    Gasper Ethan (ld)

    Gasper Dante (lh)

    Ethan Dale (gr sp)

    Although perhaps the simplest and greatest honour, if it becomes too difficult, would be to use both names as they are in the middle and find a lovely and/or meaningful first name.