Sunday Summary 7.16.17On Friday, I found myself talking to a dad who happens to be First Middle Last V. He told me that it never occurred to him to name his child anything other than First Middle Last VI, and that his school-aged son already talks about someday giving the name to a seventh generation.

There’s something to be said for enduring traditions, and it worked with this family’s style. Their other two children also had names that feel traditional, but not expected.

Family names work for plenty of families, but not all. I can advocate for starting fresh, too. And honestly? It’s pretty easy to dismiss a “tradition” when you’re a junior debating whether or not to have a third. But after five or six passes? I think that feels much, much harder to break.

Apparently Adlai Ewing Stevenson IV said something similar when he named his son Adlai V. (I can’t find the original quote online, but Wikipedia references it.) Though of course that name seems a lot more famous – and distinctive – than many a family name.

And then there’s this story of a baby boy sharing his birthday with his dad and his great-grandfather. They’d planned a different middle name, but, “when he was born on the 1st we knew we had to keep with tradition and throw a James in there.”

Would you break a many-times-handed-down name streak? I’d probably keep the custom, but focus on finding a great nickname option.

Elsewhere in naming news:

  • Because I’m Disney-obsessed, I’m following the news from D23 closely. D23 is the official Disney fan club, and every other year it holds a massive conference, jam-packed with announcements about their movies and theme parks. Because I’m name-obsessed, I’m also listening for potential baby name inspiration. I’m curious about two upcoming Disney-Pixar sequels. In 2018, we’ll get Incredibles 2. Will Dashiell finally catch on? Or is it just Dash that’s destined to climb? Secondly, Wreck-It Ralph returns later that same year. I’m still surprised at the success of Vanellope, a vanilla-Penelope mash-up name introduced by the 2012 movie. Will we see another bump for the invented name in 2019?
  • Beyonce made it official with another record-setting Instagram post. She and Jay Z named their son Sir, and their daughter Rumi. Based on more Instagram posts, it appears Rumi does honor the poet.
  • Nancy tackles the list of possible U names. When I shared it to the Appellation Mountain Facebook page, Kelly had some great insights. She noted, “… a short U is a sort of nondescript sound, and one that we are linguistically evolving away from. As vowels shift and gain popularity further away from the throat, there’s popularity rising in names like Isla, Isaac, and almost every A name you could think of.” Emily added, “U is the least-commonly-used vowel in English, and even more relatively rare as a first letter in words. I’d imagine that general lack of familiarity carries over to our naming tenT
  • BellyItch has a list of Top 10 Names Millennial Parents will love. Wilder, Remy, and Arrow? Yup, JJ nailed it.
  • This Living with Kids family includes daughters named Lu and Ellie. I’m so curious to know if Lu has a longer name! I’m a little obsessed with two-letter baby names. I’d love to meet an Io.
  • Did you see this birth announcement at Sancta Nomina for Fisher Gray? Spiritual names continue to appeal to parents, from eastern-leaning ones like Bodhi to the quietly Christian Fisher.
  • Fisher always makes me think of Fletcher, so get this: Jill Kargman, of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out fame, has daughters named Sadie and Ivy, and a son called Fletch. Fletch! It’s missing the Christian overtones of Fisher, but has a preppier vibe that I find intriguing. But is it just Fletch, like Dash?
  • British Baby Names profiles Gaia. Take the so-popular Maya, mix in a healthy dose of nature name and ancient style, and I think this name really works.
  • From the wayback machine: Aglaia was featured as Baby Name of the Day in 2016. Lando took center stage in 2015. In 2014, it was all about Genevieve. 

Lastly, if you haven’t voted in the New Names Showdown, now’s your chance! The boys’ semifinals are posted here, and the girls’ semifinals here.

That’s all for now. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

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. My mother in law broke tradition. Her husband is Joseph III, and she didn’t want to make her son (my husband) Joseph IV, so he ended up a David. Which I’m glad about because I would have felt the pressure to name my son Joseph V.

  2. I have a good friend named Io! He’s 26 and of Filipino descent. 🙂 His brother is Le.

  3. Personally I’d break the tradition, even if extends over multiple generations, and I say that as someone who in 6-7 months may face that decision.

    My husband’s father often comments on my husband–on the legacy of both name AND (coincidentally?) career AND hobbies–in ways that sound as if he equates my husband’s identity with his own, or at least takes extreme pride in their similarities.

    If we end up having a son, we want him to feel like he has his own identity, and not to feel pressured to replicate his father’s career or other life choices. My husband and I both appreciate traditions, but we feel that middle names–not first names–are a healthier way to honor family, if so desired. Just our personal opinion, of course, but it comes from firsthand experience.

    1. I hear you, KW. It’s a tough line to walk. Our son has his grandfather’s name. That little cushion of a generation seems to make a big difference. Of course, we also don’t live nearby, and we don’t have an extended social network in common. If we did? I’m not sure if that would change my thinking, but it might …

      1. I can see how having a generational gap between names would ease the pressures. In our case, there are four generations in a row bearing the same name, with life choice similarities to accompany it. A lot depends on the personality of the name giver and of the person who’s being honored, I imagine.

        1. Ah – four in a row does up the pressure!

          I did not have a family name, even though naming customs – with a healthy amount of adaptation and reinvention – were very much the norm in my mom’s family. And so I always found the idea charming. (She was the first – and the only – sibling to entirely jettison the family names in her generation.) I suspect that if I’d had a family name, I might feel very differently about the matter.

          And yes, if you know it’s been a source of tension, then it is absolutely best to move on. Even if it feels like an unbreakable tradition. Because really, there’s no such thing, right?

  4. I *think* I’ve met an Io! At a creche, I met a little girl called Nova and her toddler sister. I asked them both what little sister’s name was, but couldn’t make sense of the sounds…but it occurred to me later that it might have been Io, and I hadn’t realised because I hadn’t been expecting to hear it. I’m inclined to think it was, given her sister’s name – they make a great classical/astronomical pair.

  5. A friend of mine married a Benjamin ______ IV, who goes by Ben, and they named their eldest Benjamin ____ V, but he goes by Quin (ie the prefix for five) which I just love! Their other two boys have names that end in ‘n’ as well (Nol@n and Ev@n). It is such a great sibset.
    I love two letter names too, a friend of ours has an Ia (pronounced like the letter E, and than ‘ah’) – it is a Cornish saint.