Name HelpBaby 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!

Melanie and her husband are expecting baby number four soon – her due date is January 30th!

Their first three children all have names with the letter ‘v’ in the middle: Olivia, Nova, and River.

She writes:

Don’t really want to continue with the ‘middle V’ as it was accidental but almost feel like we should. We are altogether stuck!

They’re looking for boy and girl names.

Read on for my answer, and please share your suggestions, too!

Hi Melanie –

First, thanks for writing, and congratulations on baby #4!

The heart of your question is this: Do you have to continue the ‘v’ theme, with an ever-dwindling pool of names?

The answer is no.

No, you simply do not.  No family should ever feel pressure to continue with a name theme just because they’ve stumbled into one.  Or even if they’ve intentionally chosen one.

Well … maybe if you’re Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, and you’re adopting twins, and the cameras are rolling, and your 19 older kids are debating the merits of Julie and Jethro … then maybe you’re stuck.

But for the rest of us, there’s no rule saying that a theme has to continue.

I’m guessing that you don’t have another V in the middle name that you love.  If you were all about Vivienne or Donovan or Elvis, it wouldn’t be a thought. And since the pool of possible V in the middle names isn’t huge, chances are that you’ve considered them all.

So how do you go about naming a kiddo without a V in the middle name?

  • Choose your favorite name, regardless of the letters involved.  Do you have a few candidates that are just perfect, except for that V in the middle? I’m guessing the answer is no, because again, if you loved a particular name, you might not be feeling quite so stuck.
  • Think about the theme differently.  The V in the middle leapt out at me, but it isn’t the only shared characteristic of your three children’s names.  They’re also nature names – at least subtle ones. Olivia refers to olives, Nova to stars, and River is well, you know.  Naming baby #4 Willow or Orion emphasizes something that your kids’ names have in common – but has nothing to do with the letter V.
  • Or, think about your theme differently another way.  You might not love any V-in-the-middle names, but are there X or Z names that you love? I know sibsets like Ava and Axel – subtly linked by their high value Scrabble letters.  Naming a son Felix or a daughter Zinnia gives them names that share a certain style with their siblings’ names, but it isn’t the letter V.

Let’s get some feedback on this precise point – to V or not to V – from the AppMtn community before we go any farther.

Okay, now let’s see if we can pull together a shortlist of possibilities for baby #4.

Baby Names with V in the MiddleLet’s start with one list I feel compelled to make, even though you’ve almost certainly considered all of them: the V-in-the-middle names you won’t be using.  On the off chance that something does leap from this list to the top of your possibilities, let me assure you this: no one can insist you continue a theme, but no one can insist you drop one, either.  Even if you’re planning on a big family, you wouldn’t run out of baby names with V in the middle.

Now let’s bid a fond farewell to Eva and Davis, Sylvie and Jovan, and move on to other possibilities.


A Sibling for Olivia, Nova, and River: Nature Names

Let’s start with some possibilities for a girl:

  • Willow – Like River, this is a nature name that’s gone mainstream.  It’s clearly feminine, but that ‘o’ ending makes this name feel modern. And I like the way Willow’s ‘o’ ties to big sister Olivia.
  • Wren – An avian name on the rise. Wren has the same first sound as River, but a different initial. It’s much shorter than Olivia, but I’m not convinced that’s an issue.
  • Celeste – Another celestial option, this time a rather lady-like one.
  • Ciel, Cielo, Cielle – The modern cousin to Celeste.  Ciel is sky in French; Cielo in Spanish.  Cielle is a respelling that makes it more name-like in English, as it resembles other modern favorites like Brielle and Arielle.
  • Iris – There are oodles of flower names, of course.  Iris is nearly as traditional as Lily and Rose, but less expected.  Possible bonus? Iris was a messenger goddess in Greek myth, the personification of the rainbow.
  • Luna – The moon, and a Harry Potter heroine, too.  Olivia, Nova, River, Luna. I think this one stands up well to the V in the middle sound of your older children’s names.

Now some options for a boy:

  • Orion – Hunter is a popular choice for boys. Orion is the hunter of the night sky, a familiar constellation from Greek myth.
  • Rowan A tree name, one of the more mainstream choices.  (Though if you’d like to consider the more obscure, there’s always Cedar, Oak, and Elm.)  Could work equally well for a daughter.
  • Sage – Like Rowan, this is a unisex possibility. And like Wren, on the short side compared to Olivia.  But Sage has a strong sound and two meanings – the herb, and wisdom.
  • Jasper – A mineral and gemstone, as well as one of the Cullen vampire family members in the Twilight series. Jasper shares an ending with River, and also fits in the category of boys’ names on the rise – but not yet wildly popular.
  • Forest, Forrest – There’s something slightly preppy about Forrest, especially when spelled with the double r.  Olivia, Nova, River, Forrest – it’s distinctive without being too different.
  • Leo – A vintage choice with a bright, modern sound, and ties to the king of the jungle. Olivia, Nova, River, and Leo.

A full Swedish Scrabble set.

A Sibling for Olivia, Nova, and River: High Value Scrabble Letters

Once again, girls first:

  • Zinnia – It’s a nature name, as well as zippy Z choice for a girl. I’ve met a Zinnia – she’s about six now – and it wears well.  Olivia, Nova, River, and Zinnia.
  • Zora – From a Slavic word meaning dawn, so again, this fits on both lists.  I also thought of suggesting Aurora.
  • Eliza – It’s a more traditional choice for a daughter, closer to Olivia than Nova – but with such a strong sound, this one works.  Olivia, Nova, River, and Eliza.
  • Alix – Alix looks like an attempt to make a feminine form of Alex, but it isn’t – it’s the medieval French form of Alice.

And now, boy name possibilities:

  • Axel – A Scandinavian import with a lot of rock ‘n’ roll style. Olivia, Nova, River, and Axel.
  • Huxley – A surname name with a literary vibe, but also the kind of modern discovery that never seems to get a negative reaction.  Potentially shortens to Huck – which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your affection for Mark Twain stories and, of course, potential rhyming issues.  (I’m a fan.)
  • Felix – Friendly, happy Felix is more vintage than modern nature name, but he would not be out of place: Olivia, Nova, River, and Felix.
  • Hendrix – I’m not sure how you feel about surname names, or names with ties to rock ‘n’ roll – Hendrix is both, of course. But if you’re worried that Felix is too old school, Hendrix has the same x-ending, and a more modern vibe.
  • Max, Maxwell, Maxim, Maxfield – Or any of the other many, many Max names. Max itself might feel too brief, and I’ll admit I’m most of fond of the artistic and rare Maxfield with your older kids’ names: Olivia, Nova, River, and Maxfield.  But Maxwell is the more popular choice.
  • Ezra – I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a z name here, too! Ezra might feel a little too literary and bookish, but I think that strong ‘z’ sound holds up well to the ‘v’s you’ve already used: Olivia, Nova, River, and Ezra.

What do you think of the possibilities I’ve suggested for baby #4?  What would you add to the list?  And should they really stick with V in the middle names, or do you agree that it’s time to move on?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Well we ended up a bit early but Jasper Riel arrived last night and he is beautiful. We both liked Jasper when we went through the list (last night) and were surprised it hadn’t struck us before. We were actually settling into Silas when we decided to look at the list together one last time. He very much suits Jasper!

  2. You have so many great options! While I kind of like the idea of sticking with a v (from previous suggestions… I love Everly, Maeve, Sullivan, and Everett for you), there are a ton of great possibilities if you decide not to as well (again, from previous suggestions… Fiona, Autumn, Orion, and Jasper are so lovely). How about…

    Olivia, Nova, River, and Esme
    Olivia, Nova, River, and June
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Violet
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Lucia
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Cosima
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Milo
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Linden
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Holden
    Olivia, Nova, River, and Ellis
    Olivia, Nova, River, and August

  3. Thank-you everyone for the help, especially Abby. We have had a number of the names suggested on the table but because we have like minded friends and family a lot have had to go…like Axel and Joven. I will keep you posted when the times comes…we will have to decide pretty soon as apparently you can’t leave the hospital without a name. Lol

  4. I pondered this exact theme when we were expecting our first child. My husband’s name (Trevor) and his dad’s name (Ivan) both have v in the middle. Here are some of the boy names in brainstormed at the time: Calvin, Sullivan, Neville, Sven, Gustave, Reeve, Harvey, Ivor, Ivo, Levi, Bevan, Corvin, Pavel, Ludovic, Devon, Grove, Jarvis, Navarone, Clive, Lev. In the end we didn’t use any of them, but Sullivan was a close second.

  5. The first name that came to mind was Levon, which I love, and would use myself for a son (but I already named my Rottweiler this).