Name 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!
Hi! I could use some name help. I’m due with baby #4, a boy, in November and we’re having a really tough time with names. His middle name will be James.
My other kid’s names in order are Zane (b), Fox (b), and Violet (g).
I think the main issue we’re having is that my husband and I both tend to like “thing” names, like Fox and Violet, but I’ve been trying to find a non “thing” name for this baby so my first born isn’t the odd one out. My husband wanted Jett and I wanted Luca but we vetoed those.
A few possible contenders are:
- Leo – but it’s a bit too common
- Axel – the current front runner which is not technically a “thing” name but borders on one. I’m also concerned that the “x” sounds in Fox and Axel have a bad flow.
We keep the name a secret until baby is born so I have no one to bounce my thoughts off of! So, I don’t know! I’d love to hear some ideas. Thanks so much!
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Jamie –
Congratulations on baby #4!
Here’s what jumps out at me: your two sons have single-syllable names.
Yup, that’s the first thing I noticed, not the thing-ness of Fox and Violet. In fact, the thing-ness doesn’t even come in second place.
Second place goes to all of those high-value Scrabble letters: the Zane’s ‘z’ and Fox’s ‘x’, plus Violet’s ‘v’.
Factoring in Axel, I suspect that you gravitate towards short, modern boys’ names with powerful sounds. It just so happens that these tend to be noun names, in slightly higher proportion than is true for all names.
Violet also feels a little different because, well, it’s been a given name for ages. Fox, not so much. But the fictional Dowager Countess of Grantham claims a birth date of 1842, and we all find the name perfectly reasonable. (Indeed, it is. The name ranked in the US Top 250 back in 1880, and plenty of nineteenth century Violets appear in the historical record.)
And yet, I agree that avoiding another noun name – especially a nature name – feels sensible. If – and only if – you can find one that you love. I also wonder if you’d prefer to choose a two-syllable (or even longer) name for your son, to bridge the shorter sounds of Zane and Fox with the slightly longer sound of Violet. But again, that’s only if the right name happens to be longer. Plenty of short names made my suggestions list, too!
Now, on to the names:
Arlo – Would you consider Arlo, or maybe Milo, Nico, or another o-ending name, of which there are dozens. No, hundreds. I suggest Arlo because Leo is so high on your list, but you’d prefer something less common. Also, Axel reminds me slightly of Arlo. And lastly, an o-ending name stands up to those high-value Scrabble letter choices nicely. It’s another distinctive sound. (Even though it’s just one point in the board game!)
Dash – Okay, Dash could be considered a word name. It feels like an action verb name. And yet, like Zane and Fox, Dash seems effortlessly cool. While it’s most often short for Dashiell in theory, Dash ranks in the US Top 1000, while the longer form does not.
Everett – Like Violet, Everett would make for a longer choice than Zane or Fox. Actually, the names share a ‘v’ sound and ‘t’ ending, too. It almost makes your older children’s names seem paired – Zane and Fox – and your younger children’s names sound like a set. Hmmm … that’s either exactly perfect, or completely wrong. If you’re in the wrong column, might I suggest another -et ending name, like Beckett, instead?
Ezra – Ezra ranks in the current US Top 100, just a few spots north of Leo. So maybe this also feels too popular? But I think it’s a great brother name for Zane, Fox, and Violet; plus, Ezra’s ‘a’ ending reminds me of Luca.
Jude – Another strong sound that pairs well with Zane and Fox. Sound-wise, it reminds me slightly of Jett. No question that Jude feels more traditional, though.
Lennon – Here’s the problem with Lennon: it implies that you’re huge fans of the musician. Others will almost inevitably ask. And yet, Lennon makes for a cool name that doesn’t duplicate sounds.
Roman – Speaking of cool names and strong sounds, how ’bout Roman? Zane, Fox, Violet, and Roman. I don’t have a great reason, but I think this is my favorite so far.
West – You probably shouldn’t name Fox’s brother Wolf, but West might work. Yes, it’s another word name. But in general, I like the idea of a W name. Wilder, Weaver, and Wells come to mind, too.
And yet, even after finishing this list, I wonder if Axel isn’t your best bet. Sure, Fox and Axel share a strong, distinctive letter. But they don’t share an initial. And I’d file Axel with Violet. Maybe it brings to mind a thing – a car part, a figure skating jump – but it actually is not a noun. Plus, you’ll likely say your children’s names in birth order much of the time: Zane, Fox, Violet, and Axel. And I like the fact that it’s a two-syllable name, not another single-syllable choice.
If the duplicated ‘x’ bothers you, I’d lean towards Arlo or another o-ending boys’ name. There are so many to choose from, and I think it gives you a distinctive sound that stands out from your other children’s names, while still fitting in.
Readers, what would you suggest as a brother for Zane, Fox, and Violet? Do you agree that the Fox/Violet nature name isn’t too, too obvious? Or am I wrong-headed on that one?
I have a Silas James 🙂 It flows nice and has a beautiful meaning.
I like Quinn, Quint and Quaid. He would have his own unique scrabble high letter score.
Love you current kids names. Zane, Fox, Violet and… (I agree with abby, I High value letter like W)
Wells would go perfect!
Wick (My favorite)
Slade (Different but not too out there)
Riv (Loved this name for my first)
Lars (Sounds really good) but not sure with James
I love Bo James…
York (Sharp sounds and has a younique letter) and I think York James is cute!
Steel (super cute with James)
Love Axel and Boaz!
Louis (shortens to Lou)
Love the suggestion of Rhys/Reese!
Lots of good suggestions!
Favorites I’ve seen –
West or Wells
Axel or Arlo
My firstborn is Cyrus, which could also work, I think. Or my husband’s name, Koan! We are generous with our names – have as many as you like!
Colt or Colton?
Zane, Fox, Violet and Xander.
Love the suggestion of Dash. Would be so cute for a little boy. Here are a few more that I think could work.
There have been some great suggestions. I think Axel works very well. I also like Abby’s suggestion of Arlo, and particularly like Griffin, Idris, Viggo, Abel and Milo from the suggestions below.
Quinn, Cove and Leif seem like good fits too, but I think a 2-syllable name might flow better with James.
Some more suggestions:
Calvin (or Colvin or Corvin)
Possibly a bit “thingy” for your taste?:
One syllable (and sounds thingy):
My favorite suggestions from Abby are Roman and Jude. So stately and dashing with Fox, Violet, and Zane. (I LOVE Zane btw!)
What about Nash or Stellan? I think both are quirky-cool like your other kids’ names but are still strong sounding. Zane, Fox, Violet and Nash. Zane, Fox, Violet, and Stellan.
I also think the suggestion of Quaid would be a great choice!
Lisa T. says
Quinn is a great suggestion!
Mandie L. says
Zane, Fox, Violet and . . .
Quinn is the first that comes to mind.
Wesley or Westley
Is James as a first name an option? I know it is more common, but otherwise I think it works. High Scrabble letter, not a thing, one syllable, and if you use Jim or Jem each name has different vowels.
I like the suggestions of West, Jude, and Ezra. Also Axel.
I would lean away from both names being 1 syllable, but since your other boys have short names I would rethink the middle, personally.
Fwiw, I love Jett for your sib set. Not really crazy about how it flows with James, though.
Names that go
Off beat ones
A few other suggestions (but I really like Axel)
Ivo or Ivor
I got a little carried away…
I read your list and immediately thought of these three boys’ names:
Granted, two are “thing” names. But all of them are short and have a cool factor that fits with Zane, Fox, and Violet.
The Mrs. says
I haven’t read any other replies, so if there are repeats, my apologies.
What about Boaz for a son?
Zane, Fox, and Boaz? They feel cohesive: few letters, “high value” Scrabble letters, & familiar but rare. Throw in sister Violet, and you’ve got a winning mix.
Otherwise, how do you like Griffin? He’s technically an animal (just mythological) like Fox, two syllables like Violet, but as Wild West classic as Zane.
Zane, Fox, Violet, and Griffin. The combo feels COOL.
Next up: Roy. He’s a highland warrior and musical cowboy. He’s a saavy fellow that makes everyone smile.
Zane, Fox, Voilet, and Roy.
Lastly, there’s Rex. He’s loosely connected to an animal (T-Rex), one syllable, has an ‘X’, and isn’t overused. He could be a rancher, jungle explorer, mountain climber, CEO, football coach, or computer programmer.
Zane, Fox, Violet, and Rex.
I agree with Abby – Axel or Wells. And someone else suggested Atlas, which I also love (I really didn’t notice the “word” aspect of this group).
I also like Casper with these names. And Yeats for the end-of-alphabet theme.
C in DC says
Quinn, Quinton, Quincy, Quilliam, Wesley, Wilson, Wilder, Weston, Whit, Whitman, Walt, Yancy, Yance, Yves, Vance, Dax, Ross.
I like Axel and Ezra, too.
Zena Eve says
I really like Jude, West, Ezra, Arlo and Milo for this family. Dash also works. Not a fan of Axel.
I’m with Abby on this one! Axel seems like a perfect match.
My favorites are Roman and Ezra. Both are strong names that fit well with all 3 siblings. Here are a few more suggestions that I think would work well for you…
Tempted to suggest Grey (or Gray if you must 🙂 ) because it goes with each of the others in some way. But also for your somewhat 1860s western theme:
I like that the other commenters are pulling names with W because that’s what I’d do-a subtle end of alphabet thread. Even a dashing Y name could work too! So to West and Wylie, I’d add Wyatt if it didn’t sound so darn close to Violet. What about Wynn? Wilder (maybe too close to Violet again?Waldo? Whit?
I love West for you! The high-value scrabble set is exactly the theme I’d try to continue. Some others:
Zane, Fox, Violet & Crew
Zane, Fox, Violet & Walsh
My wife suggested Wylie, which I think is just about perfect. It