Poor Marie. The name hasn’t been in The Top 100 since 1957. But if you check the drivers’ licenses of women around you – in your office, your family or even just waiting at the bus stop – odds are that quite a few of them will have the middle name Marie.

The same is true of Jane, Ann, Mae, Rae, Lynn, Jo and, increasingly, Nicole, Christine and Danielle – though the latter three are still commonly bestowed as first names.

This generation adds the following one-syllable choices to the list of common middle names:

  • Virtue choices like Grace, Hope and Faith
  • Nature names like Sky, Brooke and Rain
  • The most powerful of the flower choices, Rose
  • Nickname names like Meg, Kate and Elle

While there’s no requirement that children be given a middle name – and very little data on their use or the most common choices – it must be said that anyone who pays attention to names will notice that there’s often not much creativity between the endlessly debated first name and the (more or less) set in stone last name.

The simple fact is that nearly any name can work well in the middle – regardless of length. Witness how many women sport Elizabeth or Katherine in the middle spot.

But many parents are most comfortable keeping it short and sweet, and so I suggest a few fresh alternatives to the (mostly) tired ones listed above.

Instead of Marie, consider Maren.

Instead of Ann/Anne, consider Anneliese, Annalie or Honore

Instead of Rose, consider Riley, Rebecca or Violet.

Instead of Grace, consider Greer, Gwynne or Wynne.

And, if none of these suit, why not use:

  • Sloane
  • Sarai
  • Celeste
  • Evangeline
  • Isolde
  • Ivy
  • Lauren
  • Nell
  • Joss
  • Vrai (French for true)
  • Lourdes
  • Allison

Or any of the other names in the name-your-baby guide that didn’t *quite* make the cut for a first name.

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. Claire, what fabulous, gorgeous names! I’m jealous that you were able to use Vrai – and Maren Vrai is such an amazing combo! Ivy Evangeline is great, too. 🙂

  2. I’m sitting here laughing because my two daughters are Ivy Evangeline and Maren Vrai! For us, Evangeline and Maren are family names, and Vrai reflects my maiden name of Laurent, the middle name to be of any boy we have.