Name 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!
We are expecting a son early in 2017. My husband loves the name Enzo! My fear is that it is too European. The only tie we have to Italy is a love of pasta. What do you think about this name?
Our daughters are Isla Christine and Reya Valentine. We love that Enzo fits in with our other girls’ names being four letters and vowel-y, but our family members don’t seem to like the name.
Our last name rhymes with Freedman, so I feel as though names with an “ee” sound as well as names that end in an “in” sound too similar to our last name, which eliminates SO many names for us.
Any thoughts on a middle? Something that’s not two syllables and not James. My maiden name is Miller, so we were thinking Miles. But does Enzo Miles have too much “z” sound going on?
Other names we like:
- Silas (too simliar to Isla?)
- Baylor (too college-y says husband but I love B names for a boy)
- Jude (husband is not on board)
- Jonah (too religious for husband)
- Everett (I really want to call him Ever; husband doesn’t see the appeal)
- Griffin (ends in ‘in,’ arg!)
- Leo (too many eeeees)
- Russell (Russ)
Dear Nicci –
How exciting to be naming a boy after two girls!
Let’s start with Enzo. I think it matches the style of Isla and Reya perfectly. As you say, it is four letters, heavy on vowel sounds, and yet not repetitive. Plus, saying Isla, Reya, and Enzo together is just plain fun!
If the year were 1996, I might think that Enzo was best reserved for families with some tie to Italy. In 2016, however, names like Enzo feel far more mainstream. Consider Luca, Mateo and Matteo, and Leonardo, all top 200 names rising fast. Beyond the clearly Italian/Spanish imports, we’ve embraced Leo, Milo, Arlo, and other -o ending names for boys. And so I would say that romance languages names work well for families, even when they’re not heritage choices.
Incidentally, Enzo ranks in the current French Top Ten. It’s also popular in Spanish-speaking countries. In the US, Enzo and Lorenzo both rose in use last year. That makes the name an up-and-comer, the kind of name we use because we love. After all, not every Emma claims German heritage, and plenty of Liams have no ties to Ireland.
But let’s have a poll, because I love to hear others’ takes on this kind of question.
If not Enzo, then I’m tempted to suggest more four letter, ends-with-o names for boys.
I do think Silas and Isla seem a little too close, and it seems like many of the other possibilities on your list don’t quite have your husband’s buy-in. Would you consider:
Hugo – Hugo shares many traits with Enzo, but has a less specifically Italian/Spanish vibe. It’s actually the Latinized form of Hugh, which is Germanic by way of France.
Theo – You could opt for Theodore, but just Theo works, too. It’s more conventional than Enzo, but still has that great o ending.
Milo – Milo removes Miles from your middle name list. But it ties your son’s given name to your maiden name, which is all kinds of great.
Miles – Of course, Miles works equally well as a given name. Isla, Reya, and Miles. It breaks the four-letters, vowel-heavy pattern, but still works beautifully.
Ezra – It seems like your husband prefers non-Biblical names, but maybe Ezra would appeal? It shares the ‘z’ sound of Enzo. Plus, Ezra strikes me as more literary and creative than religious, thanks to Ezra Pound and Ezra Jack Keats.
Owen – I know that you’re ruled out ends-with-n names, but trying saying Owen sounds-like-Freedman a few times. I often find that Owen’s emphasis on the O changes the way it sounds with an ends-in-n surname. (Hey, it works for Owen Wilson!) Isla, Reya, and Owen are great together, too.
Now, let’s look at middle names.
Enzo Miles sounds-like-Freedman does feel a little heavy on the s/z sound. And yet, it’s not a dealbreaker, especially because Miles carries a special meaning. But if you’d like to choose something that avoids the s/z sound, how about Miller?
Plenty of families use mother’s maiden names as middles. Miller works well with every name on your list, except, of course, Milo and Miles.
Baylor and Everett might work well, too, from your original shortlist. Perhaps your husband would find them more appealing as middles, rather than firsts.
I think Enzo Miller sounds-like-Freedman is my favorite combination, by far. It sidesteps the s/z problem, ties to your heritage, and keeps the name you love.
Milo Everett would be my second choice, tied closely with Miles Everett.
Readers, what would you suggest to Nicci and her husband? Do you think Enzo wears well, even if the family isn’t Italian?
I love Enzo! I think Enzo Miller sounds great and it works well with your daughters’ names. My second and third choices would be Hugo Miller and Milo Miller (I don’t mind the repetition, especially with a middle).
The daughters’ names seem very European to me too- Isla-Scottish, Reya-Spanish, so Enzo-Italian fits right in. If it wasn’t a problem before, why is it one now? For middle names, if Miller and Miles are out, what about Nicholas since the mother is Nikki? Enzo Nicholas.
I love Enzo Miller! Of course I love Ezra too (my son’s name!)… and we used my maiden name as his middle name. I like Ezra Miller or Theo Miles too.
For me, it’s not quite mainstream yet, and there’s nowhere to go with if it ends up not quite fitting. I think names like this work better if there’s a story behind it, more than “we loved the sound of it.” Personally, I’d go with Hugo or Milo or Owen- something that gives you the strong vowel you’re looking for, without the international baggage.
Love Enzo. Petiod. Just go for it.
Enzo Miller is wonderful.
I have a very French name and I’ve gotten snobbish reactions from French people my whole life when they learn I’m not fluent and I’m only part French. So I’ve always shied from names that don’t belong to the culture I identify with or that are clearly from a different culture. Subjective, I know. I would definitely assume a little Enzo has Italian roots. I wouldn’t assume Isla was Scottish, because it’s quite clearly mainstream at this point, especially here in Canada where it’s Top 20. I like Ezra for you, it’s definitely gone mainstream. And I love your idea of Everett nn Ever.
But what I really like for you is Miller. I know it’s not 4 letters. But it feels perfect with the sibset and bonus to honor your family.
The Mrs. says
Enzo Miller is marvelous.
Hugo would be my second choice for you.
Winslow could work, too. Hank sounds nice with your girls and is four letters, but it lacks the long vowel.
What about Jones? Isla, Reya, and Jones “Freedman”. But it’s not four letters…
Basil seems like it would be an “out there” option, but it sounds good! Isla, Reya, and Basil. It does start with a ‘b’!
Speaking of starting with a ‘b’, do you like Bodhi? (BOH-dee). Isla, Reya, and Bodhi. It’s two syllables (like your daughters’ names), has a long vowel, is not Iranian, and has a cool-sufer-dude vibe.
My favorite is still Enzo, but I hope that helps!
kelsey D says
Isla, Reya, and Enzo …. perfect. Honestly – if you and your husband both love the name then you should use it. It’s fabulous and suits the girls names. It really is perfect. As for family members, when the baby comes and if this is the name you choose to give your son – your family’s opinions on the name won’t matter since it’s your sons name and they will love him and that’s just that. To add an additional comment about whether it’s “too Italian” for you. I would disagree. Essentially all names are derived from older cultures/places that we ourselves have never lived (most names are Latin, or Hebrew, or Italian, etc. in decent). So how can one decide/comment whether a name is “too Scandinavian or too Italian or too ___” when one could argue that for almost every name chosen and given to a baby in North America?? Isla has Scottish history, Reya has a Scandinavian feel (similar to Freya), and Enzo is Italian – seems fine to me.
Other first names: I really like Hugo. Or Milo (a nod to Miller?)
As for middle names – I don’t think that Enzo Miles has too many “zz” sounds to it unless you intend on calling him by both names all the time. Otherwise, the odd time you will say the full three names together, I wouldn’t be worried about the similar sounds.
I do like the idea of using Miller. Enzo Miller.
Good luck. I say GO FOR IT!!!
Isla, Reya, and Enzo are perfection. I think you should definitely go for it! I come from a very Italian family myself, but there are plenty of family members with Irish, German, etc. names. I think heritage choice are meaningful, but I also think you should go with the name you love no matter what the name’s background. As Abby said, there are plenty of Emmas, Liams, Erins, Elenas, Charlottes, Isabellas, and Colins with no connection whatsoever to their names’ respective backgrounds.
My “no” vote was based on having lived in an urban area where European ethnic identity still has a lot of salience. In another part of the country it would probably be fine, but in my former home, it was the name of a very popular Italian pastry shop. In a place like that, I think it could lead to assumptions that would be problematic or at least annoying.
Lorenzo, on the other hand, seems to avoid that problem. It was used in the nineteenth-century United States and by Shakespeare, and so reads like a literary and vintage name rather than a heritage choice to me. I also especially like the suggestion of Hugo with the sibling names.