Name Help: Briar AdelineUpdate: She’s here! Krista writes, “Thanks for all the encouragement. We stuck with our favorite name, Briar Adeline. Despite all of the criticism before she was born, no one has said a word since she was born, and I love how it reminds me of my grandmother. We’re so glad we didn’t get talked out it!”

Krista writes:

We’re expecting our daughter in a few weeks, and we think we’ve chosen a name. But when we started telling other people, we got some negative reactions. Should we go back to our list, or just go with the name we like?

I’ve been saying that we wanted to name a daughter after my grandmother since we first got married. My gran passed away unexpectedly while we were engaged. We were very close, and I still miss her all the time.

Her name was Rose, and her married last name was Bryer. I always liked the fairy-tale sound of Rose Bryer, like Briar Rose in Sleeping Beauty. She didn’t have a middle name at birth, but she used Adelaide, her confirmation name, and I know she really liked it.

The name we’ve chosen is Briar Adeline, a different spelling of her last name and a form of the middle name she chose for herself. We don’t want to use Adelaide, because our last name sounds like Hailey-with-a-P, and so the D/P sounds run together too much.

We think it’s perfect, but maybe I was a little worried my husband’s family would feel slighted. (We do plan to name a future son after his dad, so it’s not like it’s all about me.)

Instead, they both hate it.

His family’s objections: Briar is a boy’s name/Briar isn’t pretty. My family: if you’re naming her after Gran, you have to name her Rose.

Seriously? I know maybe we should just shrug it off, but it’s bothering me. And now I’m second-guessing our choice. What do we do?

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

Dear Krista –

Congratulations on your new daughter!

Families are so very wonderful, and we need them more than ever once we welcome children of our own. And yet, often they seem determined to derail our naming decisions, don’t they?

Let’s back up.

Your grandmother’s name – as she used it – was Rose Adelaide Bryer. I’d agree that Briar Adeline Hailey-with-a-P isn’t an exact honor name. But I’d also argue that a little bit of healthy reinvention is smart. It honors your grandmother’s memory while also giving your daughter an identity of her own.

There’s also a style gap between Briar and Rose. Briar is modern, new to the US Top 1000, and still relatively unexpected. Rose is timeless, and also familiar. I’m guessing you might like names like Haven, instead of something more like Eleanor? So if Briar honors your grandmother and is true to your style, then that’s a win.

Now let’s talk about the whole boy name angle.

It’s easy to argue that Briar feels masculine, especially since it comes from surname Bryer. (Though, for what it’s worth, it typically comes from the nature name.) We tend to sometimes reserve those family surnames for a son. And names like Brian and Bryce are solidly masculine.

But you mentioned a strong argument against the masculine imagine – Disney princess Aurora, also known as Sleeping Beauty, also known as Briar Rose.

And so it’s not surprising that Briar ranks in the US Top 1000 for boys and girls. In fact, 243 boys were named Briar in 2017 … and 397 girls. It’s a little bit unisex. And with names like Rowan and River rising for girls and boys alike, I can imagine that you may very well meet boys named Briar, too.

But is Briar a boys’ name? Not by any stretch. It trends unisex.

My sense is that you’ve found your daughter’s name, and it’s just a matter of smiling and singing la-la-la should your loved ones object.

But let’s have a poll because maybe I’m missing something.


What advice would you give Krista and her husband about their daughter’s name?

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. As a fellow person that fell in love with the name Briar Rose from Sleeping Beauty (I can’t help but think of unicorns and fairies and other pretty, ethereal fairy tale beings), I think the name is gorgeous. It’s current, modern, and honors your family. It’s exactly the kind of name that I’m striving for. Don’t lose confidence. I think you guys did a great job with her name.

  2. The real take away from this story is never tell anyone your name until the baby is here.

    You chose a lovely name and your grandma would be honored

  3. Everyone has a right to their own opinions on names, but the decision making is the parent’s choice and belongs to the parents. You don’t want to set the precedent by allowing them a vote in the name chosen, otherwise they will expect a vote in all of your parenting choices. Thank them for sharing their opinion, then pick the name that YOU love.

  4. It’s a gorgeous name, but you have to decide how much you care what your extended family thinks. If you are leaning towards compromise, you might go full-on princess and name her Briar Rose, or Briar-Rose Adeline. That moves the name from unisex nature name (thorn) to a more obviously feminine floral (+ fairy tale princess). It would also be a clearer, more direct honor name.

    As far as the honor name itself goes, if grandma were alive you could ask her what she thinks, but she isn’t. At this point, it’s about you remembering her, and being able to tell your daughter “we named you for great-grandma. Let me tell you about her.” This conversation will happen just fine without having to name her Rose, and it really doesn’t matter what the rest of the family thinks. If anything, you can say, “well, this leaves Rose free in case a sibling or cousin wants to use it.”

  5. I would probably change the spelling to Bryer if you are honoring your grandmother and make the middle name Adelaide.

  6. This name is clever, sentimental, and lovely. I agree with another poster that sneaking Rose in as a second middle might be a nice addition.
    Nicknames abound! Bea, Bry-girl, Rosie, Bree, etc.
    Congrats and best wishes!

  7. I’m genuinely surprised that some people are naming boys Briar! It has always seemed very feminine to me!

  8. Please don’t drop a name that you love, with positive meaning and a loving association just because your family pushed back! I think if you allow yourself to be swayed you will likely regret that. A useful thought exercise – what did your parents and in-law’s bridesmaids wear to their wedding? Would they be considered stylish options today? Perhaps, but I doubt it! Tastes change and we tend to get set in the trends of our youth – names included.

    I named my son with my grandmother’s maiden name as a middle and it reminds me of her every time I say it. It actually doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks I know she would have been touched and it makes me happy.