The Republican Presidential Name Field

Nov 30th 2011

Quick quiz: which of the eight major Republican presidential candidates go by their full first names on the campaign trail?

Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum

There are just three out of those eight, a sign of the times. Politics today is increasingly a land of self-applied names of choice. That choice invariably pushes the name toward the brief and informal, encouraging a friendly, likeable, man-of-the-people image. So even as more and more parents insist that their little James be called James, candidates named James introduce themselves as Jim...or even Rick, in the case of James Richard Perry. (There's a freebie for you.)

Looking back over broadly contested Republican primaries, the decline of the birth certificate name has been swift and certain. In 1968, all of the candidates campaigned under their full first names. In 1980 it was down to 5 out of 7. Since then short nicknames have dominated, with the sole exception of 2000 when the main candidates happened to have one-syllable given names (George Bush and John McCain).

This year's birth-name three are Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman. Why did those three buck the trend? Well, Michele Bachmann can't easily go for the "man of the people" bit, not being a man. Michele makes a pretty good political everywoman name, too. Herman Cain's name just doesn't have a handy, back-slapping nickname, and he has no middle name to turn to. Jon Huntsman was spared the need for a nickname, since he has a nickname for a given name.

Among the others we see three brief, snappy nicknames; one middle name that's a brief, snappy nickname; and one brief, snappy nickname of a middle name. Spot any trend there?

The middle namer is Mitt Romney, born Willard Mitt Romney. The name Mitt was taken from the nickname of Romney's father's cousin, football player Milton Romney. The first name Willard was in honor of his father's friend Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott hotel chain. (Of course, Willard Marriott himself was actually John Willard Marriott.)

Romney's public name is part of a long naming tradition in American politics. Many prominent candidates have gone by middle names which were not traditional given names, instead of more familiar first names. James Strom Thurmond and Thomas Woodrow Wilson are two examples. And Mitt is clearly more campaign friendly than Willard. If Romney did go by his first name, you can bet it would be in the form Will (just like actor/rapper Willard Smith).

In sum, smart money says the eventual Republican nominee will run under a one-syllable name. The leaders in most polls, Mitt and Newt, are a particularly quirky pair of names. Mitt/Newt vs. Barack would be the least traditional name showdown in American presidential history, easily surpassing Dwight vs. Adlai (1952/56) and Ulysses vs. Horatio (1868).

The splendid flamboyance of that last pair can't help but make the current era -- epitomized by Bill vs. Bob in 1996 -- seem a little drab. But take heart, the electoral generation of Krystopher and Tiffanie is right around the corner.

Comments

1
November 30, 2011 2:53 PM

Prior to the Republican presidential candidate race I had only vaguely heard of Mitt Romney and for some reason I thought his name was Mint Romney. Once he decided to run though it was hard not to hear his name. It's everywhere now. I like Mitt much better than Mint. although I do have a soft spot for Mint now, I think it's kind of cute, makes me think of bright and shiny things and peppermint.

to my 21st century ear though Barack sounds a lot more everyday common place than Ulysses. I agree, the interesting name pair will give the 2012 election a bit of pizazz.

2
By Jane Bailey (not verified)
November 30, 2011 4:07 PM

What does everyone think of the name Frank? My husband and I both really like but no one else shares our enthusiasm.

Do you think we should go with Frank, Franklin or Francis? I was surprised to find that many boys were just named Frank. Franklin seems a bit more complete to me but I don't really want to call him Franklin, just Frank.

3
November 30, 2011 4:11 PM

Don't forget Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin (she might not technically count). Their names fit right in as Trump goes by a nickname ("the Donald"). Sarah fits in with Michele--no real nickname but has wide appeal as a full name.

Looking solely at the names disassociated from the candidates, it seems unlikely that Mitt and Newt would be the top two winners. Rick and Jon signify very little to me--I can imagine any sort of a person being named Rick or Jon (or Michele or Sarah for that matter). But Herman conjures up more of an image of outdated mustiness and Newt and Mitt of, well, just plain bizarr-o naming world.

As an NE, I love this! So unexpected to have a Mitt/Newt vs. Barack pairing.

4
By Angela Dawn (not verified)
November 30, 2011 4:13 PM

Jane - I love Frank - it has the short snappy feel of Max. I feel you can get away with Frank as a given name.

As for Mitt Romney, I was very familiar with him, since I live in Massachusetts. I suspected Mitt wasn't really his given name, but I guess I was only partially right. It wasn't his given first name, but it is his given middle name.

5
November 30, 2011 4:46 PM

Jane-the things that put off Frank are these: hot dog slang; Franklin=cartoon turtle; Francis=well is it like Frances the girl's name? That is why I personally wouldn't use Frank/Franklin/Francis.
There are also other names that have problems similar to that so its not just that Frank doesn't work. If it wasn't for those problems it would be an okay name like Fred, John, or Harry.

Getting back to the topic at hand, wasn't there a study done that suggested people sometimes vote according to the names and not the characters of the people running? I will try to find it. If you were voting though based on the names, would you pick Mitt or Newt; Michele or Mitt; Rick or Ron; etc.?

ETA: this was not the original article I was thinking of but it is still interesting.
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/a-polling-based-forecast-of-the-republican-primary-field/

6
By Hanah (not verified)
November 30, 2011 5:35 PM

You left out my favorite Republican presidential candidate, Gary Johnson. He campaigns under his full first name, but it's a very short, boy-next-door name.

7
November 30, 2011 6:33 PM

Jane:

I personally don't have a problem with Frank. It's great in an "everybody knows it, nobody uses it" way that despite not fitting sound trends, it hits the mark on unique-but-not-crazy trends.

I personally prefer Franklin over Francis, mainly more for American reasons (Benjamin, Roosevelt). Other names that can get you to the nickname Frank include Francisco, Franco, and Franz.

8
By Kristen R. (not verified)
November 30, 2011 6:45 PM

I was thinking it was age-based: that the candidates are people born in the time when everyone got nicknames, so that's what they've always gone by. Current babies are going by James and Elizabeth, but my peers are still going by Jim and Liz because those were the trends when THEY were born.

9
By Birdonthestreet (not verified)
November 30, 2011 7:31 PM

Howdy! Hoping to pick the brains of the best name nerds on the planet! I have three boys: Charles, Louis, and August. The intent was to call them Charlie, Louie, and Gus, but August seems to be called Augie more than Gus. The other two are called Charlie and Louie.

Anyway, I'm pregnant again and am worried that if it's a boy, I may never find a name that's acceptable to my husband.

I find that in the past we've gone for traditional sounding names with approachable nicknames. Many people joked that we like, "kingly names."

So, any suggestions for a fourth boy name? I've tossed around Rex, which means king and also Edward, but I'm looking for a few more choices!

Any help would be great.

10
By anon42 (not verified)
November 30, 2011 8:14 PM

@Jane Bailey - I kind of like Frank as a name, but I think the pop culture connotations are unattractive. Here's Frank from the tv show 30 Rock - he's the one in the trucker hat.

Of course, by the time your baby is conscious, the show will be long over. But it might be shaping reactions now.

I have a strong bias against nicknames as official names, so I'd go with Francis or Franklin.
I always assume that a Francis is from a (Irish or Italian) Catholic family, after St. Francis of Asssisi. Not inherently good or bad, just an association you might want to consider.

@Birdonthestreet - Henry! Tons of English and French kings named Henry. And the sound fits with your other boys' nicknames.

11
By DryEyes (not verified)
November 30, 2011 8:27 PM

Sorry to hijack, but I'm a long time reader of this blog and now I could use some name opinions from people I trust, as we're expecting our first kid in March (a boy). You commenters are the best name experts around, so I'm excited and nervous to see what you think!

Last name sounds like Sanger.

Short list, drawing from family and different heritages:

Leonard (nn Leo)
Julian
Malcolm (nn Mac)
Desmond
Moses (nn Mo)
Isaiah
Alexander

Thoughts? Anything disqualify any of these names? Thank you so much!

12
By Guest1105 (not verified)
November 30, 2011 9:25 PM

What about Ron Paul? I was under the impression that Ronald was his middle name, but I'm not sure. Anybody know?

13
By SabbyLo (not verified)
November 30, 2011 10:58 PM

DryEyes, I like:
Leo
Desmond (nn Des?)
Moses (not a big fan of Mo, though)
Isaiah.

I hear of lots of little Alexanders, if you're going for less common.

Malcolm may conjure Malcolm X to lots of people, but not with the nickname.

Birdonthestreet, what about:
Henry (Hank),
Benedict (Ben, more pope than king, but the same sort of idea)
George
Harold (Harry)
Alfred (Alfie)
Richard (Rich)
Solomon (Sol)
Leonard (Leo)
Edward is good, what about Edmund too?
Julius (Jules)
Robert (Rob, Robbie, Bobby, Bo)
Philip (Phil, Pip)
Felix
Gregory (Greg)
Theodore (Ted, Teddy, Theo)
Nicholas (Nick)
Martin (Marty)
Some of this list are historical king names, some are popes that (to me) sound kingly too.

Raja is a king in India, I think. A little exotic, if you like that style.

Rex is cool, but IMO a little too obvious along the king theme, unless you don't mind obvious. But like I said, it's a good name!

Good luck!

14
By ozy
November 30, 2011 11:08 PM

Birdonthestreet

What about...

Frederick
Alexander (lots of nicknames here)
Phillip
I like Edward, though would be worried about the "from Twilight?" questions

Dryeyes

I really like all of your names, particularly Desmond - I think Desi is such a cute nick name. Not as crazy about Leonard as a given name, but Leo is nice. What about Leopold?

15
By I don't know my name (not verified)
November 30, 2011 11:20 PM

Ron Paul is another serious contender, so I'll go ahead and include him in the conversation. It's interesting that most of those nicknames are crisp. Ron isn't a crisp name, though. Pretty soft. It stands out that way ^_^ Even Jon has a strong starting sound, although it's also probably the most traditional sounding name.

Mitt vs. Barack
Newt vs. Barack
Ron vs. Barack.

BirdOnTheStreet - Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Not only are your three boy names royal names with approachable nicknames, but they all end with an s sound.

Other royal names:

Arthur (nn Artie) (even if he wasn't real)
Alfred (Alfie, Allie)
Edmund, Edgar, Edward (Eddie)
William (Willy, Billy, Will, Bill)
Henry (Hank)
John (Jack Johnny)
James (Jim, Jamie, Jimmy)
Richard (Rick, Richie)
George (Geo, Georgie)

Other old names ending in s with approachable nicknames:

Francis (Frank, Frankie)

Sorry I can't think of more without getting too out there (Odysseus nn Odie, Linus). Unlike the regular commenters here, I'm not an expert.

DryEyes - What nice names! Congratulations on your baby boy!

Sorry I'm writing this when it's late and I can't think too clearly. All I ca think of right now is that Alexander is the most popular, classic name on your list. It is a very well liked name, even by people who prefer not-so-typical names (such as myself and my husband).

All of those names are cool. I think the least trendy of the bunch is Leonard, which makes it stand out to me. But that may just be that it's at the top of the list and I'm too tired to be objective and rational. Hopefully the regular posters will be able to give you more sounder advice.

16
By Beth the original (not verified)
November 30, 2011 11:45 PM

Jane Bailey, a friend of mine named her boy Franklin about 8 years ago, when nobody would have picked it. It's very cute on him. I don't like Francis as much as the girl name Frances is much more common.

17
December 1, 2011 12:34 AM

DryEyes-I like all of the names on your list too. Congrats! I would caution you to be careful with the names that have/end in an S. They may run into your LN and create an unusual sound that you might grow to dislike. Example:Alex Sanger may become Al X Sanger for instance. I think my favorite is Julian. I like Leo but there is a 70's singer named Leo Sayer and that would be weird for me (if it was me).

Birdonthestreet-Congrats also! I also noticed that your boys all have an S ending sound in their name. Idontknowmyname gave you a bunch of good suggestions. Curtis; Ernest; Vincent; and Phineas would follow a similar pattern if you are going for a pattern. Here are further suggestions though:
Gilbert; Oliver; Jasper; Frederick; Samuel; Isaac; Owen

18
By Essy01 nli (not verified)
December 1, 2011 10:51 AM

Birdonthestreet - love the names of your sons, they work so well together and I love the "king" theme. you've got a lot of great suggestions already I particularly like George (nn could be Geo/Gio or just Gee). What I find interesting about your names (I know there is lots of cross-over but using intuitive thinking) English royalty, French royalty, Roman Empire - so perhaps it could help to look at another country? (some repeats, and lots of overlap between countries so I separated in what I thought the names would be most associated with)

Scottish Kings: Kenneth, Donald, Duncan, James

Russia: Nicholas, Alexander, Peter, Alexis, Michael, Boris, Ivan

Spain: Phillip, Ferdinand, Francisco, Emilio, Alfonso

Sweden: Eric, Magnus, Frederick, Oscar

Biblical: David, Solomon

Greece: Alexander, Theodore, Christos/Christopher

Egyptian Pharaohs: Horus/Horace, Darius

Back to Rome: Anthony, Titus, Maximus, Marcus

Shakespeare: Duncan, Malcolm, Claudius, Oberon, Hamlet (he's not really a king but close), Alonso, Leontes (Leon), Simonides (Simon)

Other suggestions: Reginald (nn Reggie), Constantine, Remus, Arthur.

I still like George the best.

19
By Amanda RW (not verified)
December 1, 2011 11:26 AM

Ha! In Canada, we can't even imagine someone calling the prime minister by a nickname. Definitely "Stephen" Harper, NEVER Steve. Oh, and only in American politics could anyone take someone named "Scooter" seriously.

20
By Amy3
December 1, 2011 12:17 PM

Ulysses vs. Horatio - how fantastic! Imagine if we had candidates with those names. I guess we'll have to wait many more years before any little Ulysseses and Horatios would be presidential-candidate age.

I do actually like the name Mitt, particularly because it's one of Eo's telescoped nns (where is Eo? I miss her!). As for Rick, Jo(h)n, Ron, and Michele ... *yawn*.

@Jane Bailey, I love Frank, just Frank. That was my grandfather's name as well as the name of a dear friend. I think it's a fabulous, strong, understated boy's name. I hope you'll use it!

@Birdonthestreet, I like SabbyLo's suggestion of Harold (although I'd use the nn Hal in a half-second - love that!) and Duncan from Essy01.

@DryEyes, my faves from your list are (in order) Malcolm, Moses (don't care for Mo, though), and Julian.

21
By Sharalyn (not verified)
December 1, 2011 1:20 PM

This is kind of more appropriate on the previous post, but I put it here to get more views.

Articles from BabyCenter (how they can do this before the end of the year is weird to me):
http://www.babycenter.com/top-baby-names-2011

http://www.babycenter.com/0_hottest-baby-names-of-2011-the-movers-and-shakers_10360023.bc

http://www.babycenter.com/0_hottest-baby-name-trends-of-2011_10360024.bc

Interesting reads, although I'm not sure I agree with all of them, and I'd like to see their data (which is all from their own websites, not SSI or anything official).

22
By Essy01 nli (not verified)
December 1, 2011 1:41 PM

Amanda RW - that's so true, I've never thought about that. Although Canadians did take a shine to Jack Layton whose full name is John Gilbert Layton I believe. So he definitely went for the more friendly version there and I think it helped him a lot because it allowed him to have a man-of-the-people sort of image. That and he kept saying Hashtag. I think shortening names is a good strategy for any up and coming Canadian politicians. Steve, Mike, and Jack sound a lot more approachable than Stephen, Michael, and John oh and can't forget Elizabeth, Lizzie May <- she should rebrand herself with that, I like her more already. Oh also, Kim Campbell's name is actually Avril Phædra Douglas Campbell - Kim is a nickname, not related to her birth name at all.

Nicknames don't seem very Canadian. I don't know why. Fascinating to think about.

23
By Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm (not verified)
December 1, 2011 5:28 PM

Speaking of Herman...

I was just listening to the Ella Fitzgerald/Bing Crosby version of Rudolph. They say "Do you recall 'bout the most famous reindeer of all? Is it Herman? Sherman? Eddie? Freddie? Oh no! Marge? Shapner? Mark? Abner?"

It seems like such an odd list. And Shapner was made up just for rhyming purposes right? I've never heard of it as a name.

24
By hyz nli (not verified)
December 1, 2011 6:54 PM

Totally off topic, just had to pop in for a moment to share this NYT article I came across today, relating to children/adults with hyphenated surnames, how they choose to handle those when they get married, have kids, etc.--thought you all would be interested in light of the post/discussion here awhile ago.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/fashion/babies-surnames-to-hyphenate-or-not.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

I was particularly interested in the following quote from the article: "Nevertheless, the vast majority of families stick with custom. According to a 2009 study analyzing data from 2004, only 6 percent of native-born American married women had unconventional surnames (meaning they kept their birth names, hyphenated with their husbands’ names, or pulled a Hillary Rodham Clinton)." This is lower than I expected, although maybe it is pushed down in part by the older generations of women included in the study? Still, interesting to me.

25
By CasKin (not verified)
December 1, 2011 9:01 PM

A name dilemna...
A name that fits the style
With older sisters
Savannah And Ellie (twins)
Piper
Adeline
Julia
and Mackenzie

Any name suggestions of boy OR girl names that fit the following would be hugely appreciated! Thank you!!!

26
December 1, 2011 9:44 PM

Hyz, you totally just beat me to posting that NYT article which I was coming to share. That exact quote is what raised my eyebrows, too... especially since they include women who keep their maiden name in the middle slot a la Hillary Rodham Clinton. In my social circle, I think it's a lot more than 6%, as per the different demographics discussion we had previously.

Another NYT name article about expectant parents googling names and how it increases creative spellings to avoid unpleasant associations: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/fashion/google-searches-help-parents-narrow-down-baby-names.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

27
December 1, 2011 10:15 PM

3 naming challenges in such a short time...Let's see if I can live up to the accolades my fellow posters bestowed on me last thread (tee hee)

I've already posted on the first two. CasKin for you its a bit difficult (but not impossible) to match the style exactly. I say this because to me, everyone sort of goes together except for Mackenzie. However, Piper kind of ties them all together in a more abstract way.
Piper=modern, hipster
Savannah=modern, southern, place, western
Ellie=modern-yet-old, nickname
Adeline=old-but-new again
Julia=80's but popular now
Mackenzie=90's

They all sound like they could be anything in life from cheerleader to bookworm to soccer star and that's something that can tie them all together pretty cohesively. So my suggestions are:
Victoria; Sydney; Grace; Kendall; Claire; Lydia*; Brooke; Naomi; Corrinne; Lorelei
Vaughn; Carson; Preston; Bryce; Leo; Grant; Rowan; Jasper; Reed; Spencer; Rafe; Mitchell

28
December 1, 2011 10:41 PM

Sharalyn, hyz, and lucubratrix: Great articles. I actually saw the one lucubratrix posted and saw the Top 10 and Risers/Fallers on the Today show this am. I've been watching Mason climb locally for 3 yrs now and have tried to win Laura's contest with it to no avail. Maybe this will be its year.

29
December 2, 2011 10:58 AM

Really interesting post. I think it's a revealing indication of a still-apparent disadvantage women face in politics that they need to go by their full name while the men can AFFORD to go by only their first name or a nick name. They can afford and even desire to seem chummy and approachable. The women still need to work to surpass gender stereotypes to command respect and seem like serious contenders. It still seems too familiar or diminishing to only call them by their first name. No?

Jane: I kind of like Frank (either by itself or as a nickname to Franklin). It makes me think of the adjective "frank" - straightforward, honest. In my experience (maybe it's regional), people don't use the word "frank" for hotdogs very much.

Birdonthestreet: I really like Edward for you.

My husband has recently expressed a renewed attachment to Camille for a boy. I'm trying to figure out how I feel about it. On the one hand, maybe it's sexy in a French-I'm not subject to your gender stereotypes-I'm manly enough to carry it off-kind of way. The way you can imagine a sexy French guy named Michele...I dunno. Of course, he'll be growing up in the US, though. I want to be open minded about it. Obviously, there's a softness to it similar to Simon (my favorite). Rhythm-wise, it's not great. What do you guys think? I know I've asked about it in the past, but thought I'd just take the temperature.

30
December 2, 2011 11:43 AM

PennyX: Camille still reads quite female to me, but Kamilos, Camillo and Emil are names that would feel male, and are similar to Camille. Similarly, Michele is female, but Michel is male, and has the same pronunciation.

31
By mk
December 2, 2011 1:47 PM

Jane Bailey: I have several relatives named Frank and I think it's a fine name on its own. Out of Francis/Franklin I'd go with Franklin, since hearing Francis I would think female first (I also have relatives named Frances). I don't know who Franklin the turtle is and no one I know has ever actually called a hot dog "frank" so I don't see either of those being a problem. But even so, there are worse things to be associated with than food and turtles!

PennyX: I think in the US people will mostly see Camille as a female name. Not crazy abut it for a boy, though I do like Michele for boys. Are you looking for a French name?

32
December 2, 2011 1:54 PM

PennyX-My mind went the same way Linnaeus' did. I thought Michelle is female but Michel is male. So ergo, Camille is female but Camil is male. Well okay THAT didn't work because I'm pretty sure you don't want your kid to be called Camil/Camel. LOL! I like Linnaeus' suggestion of Emil. Maybe Cameron would work as a combo of Simon/Camille. There are also other names that have elements of things you like such as Merrill, Karol, Cyril, Phillip, Mitchell and for a girl Simone.

33
By Laura V (not verified)
December 2, 2011 8:22 PM

lucubratrix, I think they don't just mean "move the maiden name to the middle name slot", but also that the woman continues to use the maiden name in daily life. So my friend C, who uses C Maidenname Marriedname, spelled out in full, for legal, social, and professional purposes, is pulling a Hillary Rodham Clinton. My friend W, who is legally W Maidenname Marriedname but uses W Marriedname socially and professionally, isn't doing so.

34
December 2, 2011 8:43 PM

Hyz - Thanks for the interesting article!

I kept my last name for a couple of reasons, one of them being ethnicity. I'm Chinese and my husband is Japanese. I didn't like the idea of taking his Japanese last name and having everyone think that I am something I'm not. On the other hand, I have no problem giving my kids my husband's last name since they *are* Japanese.

Birdonthestreet - I second the suggestion of Theodore nn "Teddy." Theodore is surprisingly low on the popularity charts, which makes it even more appealing. I have a friend from college whose boys are Charlie and Teddy.

35
By kasey (not verified)
December 2, 2011 9:54 PM

Camille is definitely unisex in France. Although some names swap gender of there, for example Lilian is male in France

36
By management (not verified)
December 3, 2011 7:21 AM

Good work! I always like to leave comments whenever I see something unusual or impressive. I think we must appreciate those who do something especial. Keep it up, thanks
Helen Olsson

37
By J&H's mom (not verified)
December 4, 2011 2:15 AM

Camille definitely reads as feminine to me, and I think both it and Camilla are probably poised to rise, at least here in the states.
I suspect a boy called Camille would end up being called Cam by relatives who felt compelled to give him a more boyish moniker.
Just me speculating, though.
I adore the name Simon. Could I interest you in Ansel? It pops to mind for some reason.

CasKin: Olivia, Tess, Lucy, Stella, Zoe
Lincoln, Miles, Jackson, Oliver, Jack, Drew

My sister kept her maiden name. Tried the hyphen thing with her first hubby but it never took. I, on the other hand, dumped it as soon as I could. I'm not close to my father, and I prefer the sound of my married name and associate it with my happier grown-up self.

Hope you're all well.

38
December 4, 2011 11:18 AM

PennyX, on Camille - I would tend to assume that a Camille was female when first encountering the name (at least in an American context)... and I think most people would, as Camille is only given to 5-ish American boys each year but to about 1100 girls. However, it's one of those things that would just need to be pointed out to me once for me to revise my mental script, and it would not be a big deal to me at all.

My brother grew up with a very similar situation - his name is Jan, as in, the short form of Johannes, a European version of John (pronounced with a Y sound). After moving to the US at a very young age, though, on paper Jan is usually assumed to be a female name (as in Janet). He has always been one of the super popular kids and it never ever seemed to bother him: the occasional mix-ups (e.g. getting a pageant form in the mail) were only a source of great amusement. I never heard him express even the slightest dislike of his name... quite unlike my other brother, whose name is #1 in popularity.

I think having a name only used for boys overseas gave that added "sexy European male" cachet of which you speak, actually. It does makes me think that a name like Camille on a boy really depends on the kid you have whether it works and is deemed really "cool" by his peers or whether you enter into "Boy Named Sue" category. I would in any case pair it with a very certainly-male middle name... this is not the time to embrace a Catholic heritage and throw Maria into the middle name slot for a boy.

So, I do think it's useable... but I would solicit a lot more input from others who have more experience as growing up male with a mostly-female-useage name, since I think it could be much less comfortable than it was for my (very handsome, socially graceful) brother.

I also wonder whether the newer proliferation of unisex names that stay in usage for boys might make it even easier for a male Camille or Jan now than it was growing up in the 1980s or earlier.

39
December 4, 2011 11:26 AM

LauraV, I think you're right about that, but I always thought one of the advantages of the First Maiden-as-middle Last system is that you can be very flexible about whether you use or don't use the middle name in a particular context. I have my wife's maiden name in the middle slot and I use it much of the time, but not always. (If I had wanted to use it always, I would have hyphenated.) In fact, I thought Hillary Rodham Clinton was also alternately using and not-using the Rodham in there in different phases of her life/career.

40
By considering (not verified)
December 4, 2011 7:36 PM

Hi all,

What do you think of Magdalena (nn Maggie or Lena) for a girl? We have a very short, common last name that begins with L.

I want to pick a name with German, Hebrew, or British origins to fit my background, and I wanted one that had a family tie. Magdalena was the name of both my great-grandmother and my great-great-grandmother, Margaret was the name of my other great-grandmother, and Lena was the name of my great-aunt... so it is connected to every side of my family.

Other family names:
Alice
Rita
Mae
Theresa
Mary
Ann
Virginia
Sarah
Margaret

It's kind of a small pool of names. I also thought about perhaps elaborating on one of the names, like turning Ann into Anastasia, Annabel, Annika, etc. Thoughts?

41
By J&H's mom (not verified)
December 4, 2011 8:02 PM

Btw, has anyone else noticed that Mitt Romney has a son called Tagg?

I quite like it, though I confess it was going to be the name of our dog for a time.

Anyway, he is a grown man, so it struck me as an interesting choice for that era-though maybe it has history I don't know. Unlike the Palins, the Romneys gave the rest of their largeish brood conventional names.

42
December 4, 2011 9:05 PM

Considering:

I really like Magdalena myself. I've considered Magdalene for us. I personally like the nn Magda, but my husband insists that she'd end up being called Maggie instead. I think Magdalena nn Lena is beautiful and very classy. Actually, your query just prompted me to ask dh if we should consider Magdalene again for us ;)

My perception is that Magdalena/Magdalene is less popular to people these days, I guess because of the GD consonant sound - that it's a more consonant heavy name. I like that about it, though.

Thanks for the weigh-ins about Camille. I agree that a super handsome and popular boy wouldn't have much problem with the name. Tough to bank on that, though. I just wanted to check that I wasn't overly prejudiced against it.

43
December 4, 2011 9:12 PM

considering-I knew a little Magdalena. She was only 2 or 3 when I knew her a year or so ago so I guess she is 4 or 5 now. Her siblings had religious names. There was a Rafael and another girl I don't remember right now. I don't recall her being called by a nn though the boy was often called Rafi (Rah-fee).
I think it is definitely a usable name and should be especially nice with a short LN. Be aware she may be lumped with the Elena/Alayna/etc. and may come across some unfamiliar with the name and thus mispronouncing it.

J&H's mom-Nice to see you again :) I don't know about the name Tagg. Part of me sees it as similar to Trygg/Trygve which is a Scandanavian name and nice for those with that heritage. Yet another part of me though, is tainted by the Palin's use of names which frankly I find strange. Tripp/Trace/Trapper and all those other TR-names just aren't really names to me. What is wrong with Travis and Trevor?

44
December 4, 2011 9:34 PM

PennyX-Remind me of some of your choices still in the running. Are you/did you consider Agatha, Iris, or Anastasia? I love Iris for you ;)

And not to leave the boys out Sinclair, Tristan or Lucian?

45
December 4, 2011 10:29 PM

Zoerhenne:

We don't have a very long list, really. Simon Xavier is the only boy name that's really stuck. For girls, the real contenders are Ursula Camille, Anya Pascale...and maybe Magdalene will stick. I was actually just trying to think of middle names I liked for Magdalene. Magdalene Sabine? Magdalene Leone? I dunno. For the girl middle names I'm liking French names with the accent on the second syllable.

I actually like Agatha a lot. My mother had a cat named Agatha, though, and I don't love Aggie. I guess I'm a really particular NE. I have such arbitrary and strong reactions to certain letters and sounds.

I kind of like Sinclair, though. I think I'd prefer it as a middle name, though.

46
By J&H's mom (not verified)
December 4, 2011 10:59 PM

Thanks, Zoerhenne

We know a Magadalyn (this spelling). She is called Maggie.
I could see it catching on, what with the popularity of Adalyn, Madalyn, etc...and the upswing of old-fashioned names like Maggie.

47
December 4, 2011 11:11 PM

PennyX-Arbitrary and strong reactions are what make us individuals. Don't apologize for being you. I remember the names you've mentioned and they are great combos. Magdalene Sabine seems too rhymey. Magdalene Leone makes me wonder how Leone is pronounced.
Let me suggest Adele, Celeste, Gisele, Aurora, or Aurelia? Or you could rearrange and go with Ursula Sabine and Magdalene Camille. I have so much fun suggesting names for you. Your style is so unique and I am just in love with your LN.

48
December 5, 2011 9:42 AM

Zoerhenne:

Oh, I really like Magdalene Adele! And you're right, switching to Ursula Sabine and Magdalene Camille is a great solution, too. Thanks!

49
By Fancynancy (not signed in) (not verified)
December 5, 2011 10:49 AM

Hey all! I'm visiting family in the Netherlands right now and visited my cousin's preschool this morning. He goes to an international preschool, and there was a whole wealth of names! Sadly I couldn't remember them all, but here are about half of the names of kids in my cousin's class:

Tingkai
Lukas
Vladislav
Jack
Swan
Gideon

All are around 3-4 years old.

50
December 7, 2011 5:52 AM

I love Camille for a boy! (But I am Dutch and live in a French speaking area) In Holland Camiel is a boys name only, not used for girls. It is also a form of the archangel of love Chamuel (or Camael). Very male to me! (I wish my British SO would agree...)