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Note: In all posts, links appear in blue text. When a name appears in bold text, in blue, that means the link goes to the Baby Name of the Day post.

Oodles of women have the middle initial E, and my (completely unscientific) observation is that nearly all of them are Something Elizabeth Something.

And why not? She’s a saintly, regal classic. Elizabeth fills in the gap between a short given name and not-so-long last name, or vice versa. She can anchor a gender-neutral or extremely uncommon choice. And she’s been so popular for so long that chances are she honors someone in your family tree – or maybe lots of someones.

Of course she can also feel like a default choice – unimaginative filler. If your last name is relatively common, and you’re in love with a popular given name, then Elizabeth might seem too plain – almost like no middle name at all.

But there are tons of intriguing choices that lead to the middle initial E. Here are a few:

  • Elettra – Electra is an awful lot of name, even in the middle, but Elettra – the Italian version – softens the mythological overtones. There’s also Eletta, a family name for the poet Plutarch.
  • Ellison – Surnames on girls are a touchy subject, but attitudes tend to soften if the name is in the middle spot. Other elaborate E choices include Ellington, Ellery, Elliot, Emerson, Emery, and all of these ideas over at Nook of Names.
  • Elspeth – The Scottish spin on Elizabeth is only a tiny bit different, but it could be enough. Other international options include the Italian Elisabetta or maybe even the Basque Elixebete.
  • Elsinore – She’s a literary place name, but if you’re looking for a literary E name, there’s also Eleanor or Elinor – not quite as unexpected, but still distinctively different.
  • Eluned – Borrowed from a 5th century Welsh saint, she takes the best of Luna and Ella and puts them together for an unexpected middle moniker.
  • Endellion – The Cornish saint’s name attracted a flurry of attention when British prime minister David Cameron and wife Samantha welcomed their daughter while vacationing in Cornwall – and called her Florence Rose Endellion in honor of her birthplace. Another Cornish option? Elowen.
  • Embeth – I’m not certain where Embeth Davidtz’ parents found her unusual appellation, but like fellow South African actress Charlize Theron, she wears the classic-with-a-twist name nicely. In the middle spot, she’s a smoosh that could honor an Emma or Emily and an Elizabeth.
  • Emmeline – Or Emmaline, or Emeline, or even Emmalyn.
  • Estella, Estelle – A spin on the soaring Stella.
  • Esther – Like Estelle, she might not be long enough to bridge two shorter names, but she’s the kind of impeccable classic that fits nicely in the middle spot. The French Estée might be another possibility.
  • Evangeline – She’s a poetic pick that’s catching on fast. Evangeline is also more dressed up than Eve or Evelyn in the middle. Other unusual Ev- options include Evadne, Evelina, Everild, Everine, or Everly.

I’ve only scratched the surface with this list.  What have I overlooked? And which ones are just way too good to hide away in the middle?

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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. I grew up with a Jane Elizabeth as well as a Jane Evelyn. I have the classic 60s-70s middle name Lynn. But Joy is my mom’s middle name, so if I have a girl, her middle name will be Joy. I’d love for it to turn into a middle-first-middle-first tradition.

  2. I love the name Elizabeth (it’s the name of my mother and my best friend), but I hate “filler” middle names (“Grace” seems to be a particularly common sin these days), so I guess it’s a good lesson to me that one person’s “filler” is another’s beloved family name.

    I think it’s especially unfortunate that so many people choose “filler” middles for girls on the pretext that they’ll drop their middle names when they marry and take their maiden name as a middle name. I didn’t, and I don’t expect my daughter to, either.

    For middle names, I wanted something literary, and my husband wanted something she could use as a possible stage name. In the end, we went with the hat trick and picked a family name that works for both.

  3. Hm. What about Ever and Ember? And my own E middle name, Elyse! Or Elise. Whatever floats your boat.

    Evangeline is gorgeous, and Elizabeth really is, too, though my heart lies with Eliza. Elodie is a good one, too, I think. Or Esperanza? Yes. Estella and Estelle might be my favorites off this list, Abby.

  4. Elizabeth is in my middle slot, as well as my Mom’s, my grandma’s, and a smattering of cousins’ too. If I’m ever naming a girl, you’d bet right that Elizabeth will be the middle name.

  5. Hmm, well I just WISH my middle name had been Elizabeth/Elisabeth! Instead my parents went for some creatively devised variant of Elizabeth that I suppose they thought seemed cool and different. It’s just ugly, and such a mis-match with my first name that if anyone had ever discovered it, would have led to name bullying for sure. I disowned it as soon as possible.

    Out of your choices, I would accept Elsinore, Endellion, Emmeline or Evangeline as substitutes.

  6. i love e names!! my daughters middle name is emilia to honor several emilys and emmas in our family.

  7. Like others have mentioned, I’ve known quite a few women with the middle name Elaine. Elise/Elyse is another popular middle name, both are probably chosen for the rhythm more than love of the name.

    One uncommon name I love is Elodie, but for a really unexpected name there’s also Eos… the goddess of the dawn in Greek mythology.

  8. Just writing in to suggest Petronella as a name of the day! She was the sister of Eleanor (E!) of Aquitaine.

  9. If Alaric had been a girl we were going to go with at least one “e” middle name, possibly two (since both of our kids have two middle names). Elsie was going to be one of them, in honour of my grandma, and we were also considering Evangeline, but thought it might be a bit much with the first name we’d selected. I personally love Eluned, while Mark thinks Endellion is perfect. Elowen is pretty, but I always hear L O N.

  10. If I had given my daughter a less unusual name, I would have loved to pick a really interesting middle name. But since we named her Juno, and my grandmother’s name was Elizabeth, that was the perfect choice for us. A little bit ancient Roman, a little bit classic. 🙂