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A bit more than a month ago I had a fabulous chat will you all about reviewing and improving my name choices now that we're actually expecting. As a result of that thread my husband and I had settled on 2 choices for girls, and 2 for boys:

Betty Nightingale

Maple Josetta

Briar Samwise

Robin Oak

Now we're looking for a replacement for the Briar combo. My husband really liked Briar, so we decided to overlook a bit of an awkward situation on my side of the family, but it turns out that it bothers me enough to spoil the name. So we're name shopping again. We LOVE the girls names, but boys names are difficult for us. Nothing has struck us as perfect yet.

Robin is still in favor, it is meaningful to us. However, since Robin borders on classic and went through a girl phase not long ago the name is very familiar. I'm glad it is a well known name with a simple spelling, but we feel like this is a safe choice, not adventerous or exciting. It's not a "wow" or "interesting" name, but  the fact is that less than 200 boys were named Robin in 2016, so it actually is pretty unusual. Maybe we're just desensitized after looking at tons of names. We're still open to switching the middle name for another boys name on our list.

The current new contender is Percival with the nickname Percy. I think it has great potential, but it is surprisingly rare now (2016: Percival 46, Perseus 63, Percy 46). It makes me wonder if it really is a strange or difficult-to-wear name. Of course there are the Percy Jackson books, but neither one of us likes them very much. They are okay. We like the Authorian legend connection, we are fine with the Harry Potter connection, and the nickname Percy is pretty cute. I'm just not sure if it feels like our kid. One of our new tactics is asking ourselves if my husband looks like he could be named _____. We both agree he could be a Percy, so maybe it could be a good fit. How do you all feel about Percival and Percy? 

The best middle name we've found for Percival is Robin. Percival Robin sounds pretty good to me, and feels like a decent match for the girls names. However, we'd use up our back-up boys name with this combination. I know we can always find more names, but boys names just seem so much harder for me to like, so I feel like hoarding them unless it's a really good combination. 

If it came down to these two names, I could go either way. Robin is more meaningful but a bit safe. Percival is exotic and exciting with a well-known and easy to spell nickname. We're not committed to either. 

Can you give any Advice? Opinions? Alternatives? I'm feeling a bit stuck.

 

Replies

1
June 11, 2017 9:13 AM

If you like Robin more, I wouldn't put it in the middle spot. I think Robin Percival matches the girl name combos mcuh better anyway.

I was a bit surprised the Percy names were so low. That said, I'm wondering if once the generation of kids that really loved the Percy Jackson books come of age and start naming their kids in about 5-10 years, it might really take off (much like how Harry Potter names are starting to take off now).

2
June 12, 2017 4:36 PM

Thats a good option. I think you are right that Percy will go up as the Percy Jackson fans get older. 

3
June 11, 2017 11:47 AM

Well, I love the name Percival nn Percy, but I couldn't really see using it on a child, so I used the name on my car :) And it's funny because by saying it regularly for over three years, it feels so comfortable that I can imagine it on a child much more easily. I'd absolutely love to meet a real life little boy with that name!

That said, even though Robin is less unusual, will get fewer surprised and excited reactions from others, you need to decide if that's more important than using a name you love. I very much understand the impulse to choose a name that's going to yield reactions from people, but when it comes down to it, maybe your son would be the kind of person who prefers a name that doesn't jump out. Maybe a soft nature name would suit him really well. 

Go with a name that you can talk about with love, and once it's attached to a boy that you're crazy about, it will feel like *his* name, and will feel special because of it. 

4
June 12, 2017 4:40 PM

Percival is a name that seems more reasonable the longer you consider it! I think that is why it is hard to judge how I will feel about it the future.

Thank you for the advice and perspective. Today I'm leaning more towards Robin for just the reasons you mentioned. and it is encouraging to know that we won't be making a "wrong" choice either way.

5
June 11, 2017 3:54 PM

I like Percival fine, but I actually would be much more excited to meet a boy named Robin.

On the topic of "hoarding" names: I have named four children over fourteen years, and in my experience each time around is different. Sometimes "back-up" names from the time before still sound good, but for me, at least, they more often feel like they still "go with" the previous child in some way (and as rejects, at that). I've also found that our name taste evolves tremendously over time, as we have new life experiences, gain new associations for names, etc. And of course there's always the possibility that you won't have another child who a given name would fit; I have one daughter and three sons, so if I had been hoarding a 2nd-favorite girl name it never would have gotten used.

All of which is to say, whatever name you settle on, I wouldn't worry that you'll "run out" of boy names the next time around.

For alternatives, maybe more of the Knights of the Round Table would appeal? Gawain seems like a very wearable name, but also quite unusual (the more familiar Gavin is much more popular). Caradoc was a lesser-known Arthurian knight (and also hero of some other Welsh tales, I believe), and the name derives from the Welsh element meaning "love".

6
June 11, 2017 6:43 PM

I agree about not hoarding favorite names.  I have 2 children who 5 years apart, and I found that our tastes changed considerably in that time.  Many of my favorites with the first child I just wasn't as excited about with #2, and my husband had gotten used to/encountered enough names that he was able to actually consider names he had thought sounded to old/fusty the first time around.

I really like Percival/Percy, but I also really love Robin.  I do think I would feel more surprised about meeting a young Robin than I would a Percival/Percy.

I'll second the suggestion of Gawain.  I'll also throw our Rupert, Giles & Benedict

 

 

7
June 11, 2017 8:41 PM

Yes, exactly this!! Partners can come around to names over time and exposure to small children, and often their tastes become more adventurous! I had 4 kids in 7 years but even the closer spacing was enough for a marked style-shift to take place in my spouse. I would not worry about having all names nailed down to begin with.

8
June 12, 2017 4:44 PM

Deep down, I know that name hoarding won't get me ahead. It helps to hear it from people with experience though! I just need to stop thinking about all the possible children and pick what really fits our family best right now.

I do love Gawain, but pronuciation seems to vary and that bothers me. Also my husband didn't seem enthisiastic about it. I also love Caradoc, but it got nixed from the beginning.

9
June 11, 2017 7:45 PM

I love Percival for the Arthurian connection so I would be excited to meet a little boy named that. I will echo the suggestion of Gwaine/Gawaine (I am not extremely well versed in Arthurian legened but this is another name that would immediately make me think of it) and suggest maybe looking through the stories for other names you like; if you're after the more striking/unusual you could even consider Merlin or Emrys. 

Having said all that I do think Robin is a great name, while it might not be as "exciting" because it's more widely used/known it still falls firmly into the uncommon category and I think there is a lot to be said for using the name you love most or that has most meaning to you. Your son is more likely to appreciate having a name that you can genuinely tell him you loved (and why it meant something to you) in the long run. 

You could also just take both Robin and Percival (assuming you don't find a name you like more) to the hospital with you and see how you feel on meeting the baby. You might find that once you see him you feel like he definitely is (or isn't!) a Pecival/Percy. 

10
June 12, 2017 4:50 PM

Merlin is too "magic" and would give my grandmother fits, but I do like it. Still, I think it is off limits. Emrys would really blend in to all the E and Em names circulating right now, so I'll pass on that one too. I think we could find other inspiration in the Authorian legends, but it would be difficult. Percival was innocent/worthy enough to find the grail. Every time I suggest another knight, my husband lists all the women they shouldn't have slept with.

thanks fo the advice and support, we really may take them both with us to the birth center in the end. 

11
June 29, 2017 6:19 PM

Your husband's response to other Arthurian knights made me laugh so hard, I love it (although I can see how it would be frustrating from your point of view ;p). 

12
June 13, 2017 6:26 AM

Agree with this! FWIW I think Robin Percival is adorable - but definitely go into the birth flexible. Hubby and I had a name set and picked out and when my son arrived it just did not fit at all! 

13
June 11, 2017 8:39 PM

Oooh, I love Percival nicknamed Percy. It's a bit more formal in feel than your girls' names, so it wouldn't have automatically been a name I would have suggested to you, but it's one of my favorites and I'm so pleased to hear it being considered. I'd have lobbied hard for it if we had another kid or two. (It's actually substantially more used than my other kids' names, so I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with or unusable about names that are at this level of use.)

I like it with Robin, as it's a pairing of a more exotic name with a more familiar one, and the addition of a nature name really rounds out a sibling feeling with your other name choices. I wouldn't worry too much about hoarding names, unless you have twins you can name children as they come. In your place I'd regret not having a chance to use Robin more than the opportunity to find another name I loved equally much if I did have a second boy. (Of course, I say this as someone who found boy names substantially easier than girl names; happily I only had one daughter to name, since we'd have hit difficult territory thereafter, but I could happily have named another three boys, no problem. Check out my profile for other choices, if you'd like more in the Percival-ish direction.)

Have you thought about Orion?

 

14
June 12, 2017 4:57 PM

Percival wasn't a name I would expect my husband to suggest! It does sound a little too formal for the girls names, but Percy fits right in I think. It's reassuring to know that rare names aren't hard to live with.

 I thought Robin softened it a bit too, so it is good to hear another person feels the same. Thanks to all the wonderful advice on this thread I'm going to give up the name hoarding idea, but now I wonder if I'll be happy with Robin in the middle spot instead of a first. In the end, I think your absolutely right that I'd regret not using Robin somewhere in a son's name. So I'll just have to use it one way or another. 

For some reason Orion doesnt appeal to us. I'm not sure why.

15
June 13, 2017 1:04 AM

I think that you should also know that kids of a certain age will think it's automatically awesome because there's a character in the Thomas the Train universe by this name. i have escaped having to watch the videos for the most part, but I've read aloud every single one of the stories, original and novelizations of the dippy tv shows and movies alike. My other kids are all super jealous that my daughter is named Thomasina because HER NAME IS THOMAS GUYS. The others have to contend with middle names for engines.

I also think it's worth noting that Percival could also be Val, a sleek androgynous nickname which I think has a timeless appeal all its own, so Percival is a name with many options, which I love.

16
June 13, 2017 7:03 AM

I admit, I'm not excited about Thomas the Tank Engine taking over our lives, but I have some little cousins who are already deeply entrenched. I beleive that it is unavoidable. At least it is a comfort to know Percy would go over well with that crowd. (But then If we choose Robin I cannot tell him that I nearly gave him a train-name).

We noticed the Val nickname too, and I really like it! We're not sure if we should use it because my brother has dibs on Valiant for his first son (someday) and Val is the perfect nickname. Maybe Val could be used at school if he wanted a cool sounding name.

 

17
June 29, 2017 6:26 PM

Thomas the Tank Engine is the devil. The stories are boring and awful (the moral/lesson in them is often horrible) the cartoon is grating and the books are among the most tedious I have had to read. If you can possibly avoid it do (although it is almost inevitable you'll have to suffer it if you have a child who loves trains more than anything if you have one who only has a passing interest, or is just as interested in other things you should be able to minimise it).

18
By EVie
June 30, 2017 3:45 PM

I tend to agree, especially about the books. My son is a Thomas and went through a phase when he really liked it, but by age 4 he seems to have lost interest. He still likes playing with the toys occasionally, but almost never asks for the show or books, so I count that a win. These days it's all about Rescue Bots, which he was exposed to on a playdate. Not my favorite show either, but there are worse ones, and he doesn't seem to be learning any negative behaviors from it (I'm looking at you, Blaze and the Monster Machines, with your fixation on winning). 

19
June 30, 2017 5:14 PM

Yeah that's a win for sure. I am convinced that the ONLY reason Thomas is still so popular is because there are no other good train-based cartoons/books out there (that plus presumably the nostalgia from parents who remember when they went through the Thomas phase without remembering the details of how awful it is). In my experience most children do get over the worst of the obsession by the time they turn 5/6 so at least it is fairly short-lived.

20
June 11, 2017 10:46 PM

If you like the feel of Percival/Percy and lean toward nature names, have you considered Peregrine/Perry?

21
June 12, 2017 12:23 AM

This is a superb suggestion! I don't think Peregrine can used in the same name combination as Robin, but it's a really nice idea. http://www.britishbabynames.com/blog/2012/01/peregrine.html had some creative nickname ideas, too, like Pip and Pippin. 

Other masculine-suitable bird names: Merle (wouldn't use it with Maple as a first name, but ___ Merle would be fine, or useful if you have one daughter Betty and a second son), Kestrel, Falco(n), Hawk, Phoenix, Gryphon. 

22
June 13, 2017 7:08 AM

I've loved Peregrine/Pippin for ages because of Lord of the Rings, but my husband still hasn't come around to it. It used to be a veto, but when I asked him today I got a "but he is the dopey hobbit." I fought for Lord of the Rings names for years, but the only one I can get through is Samwise. Unfortunetly, it isn't first name material with a Sam in the close family.

Perry is too close to the name of a person I have bad memories of.

23
June 14, 2017 3:17 AM

Maybe you can sell Peregrine for its nature connotations, and tell him you're not intending it as a hobbit hommage?

Another -- out there! -- option which I saw on a birth announcement for a baby girl is Ptarmigan. This will probably be too crazy for your husband (mine thought I was insane), but it is a soft bird name with, I think, nickname potential.

Personally, although I really like both Percival and Robin, I think Robin is my favourite. It's unexpected but not in a declarative "look at me!" way (not that there's anything wrong with that, that that is the naming direction I've gone in), it fits really well with your potential sibling names and seems a really good representation of your philosophy (soft, naturey, literary).

On that last points, for Percival my favourite literary reference is The Scarlet Pimpernel, whereas Robin of course has Winnie the Pooh!

24
June 15, 2017 9:34 PM

I think Ptarmigan is quite interesting, but it is out of our comfort zone. It really is an intreging choice.

I think you really just summed up my current feelings abour Robin. It just fits our style better. I like Percival a lot, but it just isn't as soft and wondrful as Robin. We've officially agreed on Robin for a boy (for now). Christopher Robin was one of our positive associations, but really it's after Robin Hood. I've always loved Robin Hood stories, and our wedding reception had a Disney Robin Hood theme, so the family will get the refrence. Even so, I have family members who will love the Batman and Robin connection even more. 

I'm not sure which middle name we'll choose for it, and I'm not really that worried about it either. I think Robin Oak and Robin Samwise are in the lead, but Robin Humfrey and Robin Moss are also possibilities.  We'll just choose one when it speaks to us I guess.

I feel so much more settled after hearing all these opinions and making a choice. Percival/Percy will remain in the second option slot for a boy, it is a great name, but we think Robin fits.

On a side note, since the baby will likely be a Betty or a Robin my husband has suggested we use the nickname "bobbin" until baby arrives. It's pretty cute, and fits in with my hobby of knitting and spinning wool. 

25
June 16, 2017 6:56 AM

For what my opinion is worth, I thunk that you're making the right decision by leaving Robin in the lead. If you "like" Percival but Robin is "soft and wonderful", you've really answered your own question. But, of course, I really understand the need for the exercise of considering other names to be absolutely certain that it's The One. 

Bobbin is one of my absolute favourite in-utero nicknames I've ever heard! It's perfect.

I would love to know what details made your wedding Robin Hood themed! I mean, I assume that at some point you commented about your husband, "Oh, he's so haaaandsome", but what else? :)

27
June 16, 2017 8:31 AM

Our reception was pretty low key since it was a box lunch reception at a botanic garden, but for the theme we found a disney ceramic sculpture of Robin and Marian walking arm in arm in their wedding outfits for the top of the cake, which was decorated with water lilies. My brother made button pins for favors with the picture of Robin and Marian in the coach where you can see the just married sign on the back. It was simple, but cute.

28
June 16, 2017 6:43 PM

Oh, a fellow spinner! *waves* I actually name my fiber arts tools and have been meaning to post a list of them for a while. I'll go do that in just a jiffy! :)

I also just swooned reading about your Disney Robin Hood wedding reception!

For the record, I do love Percival. The nicknames Percy and Val are both nice enough, but not super exciting to me. If you want to look for more Arthurian names, then you should check out the Arthurian Name Dictionary. A print copy is rather pricey, but it's available online as well. (The stupid spam filter won't let me link to it, but just google it.) Fair warning, though, it's very extensive and one can easily get overwhelmed by it.

It sounds to me that Robin is so sweet, sentimental, and, as you put it "soft," though, that you don't really need to look further. I love all your middle name possibilities with it, too, and I don't think I could pick a favorite.

29
June 29, 2017 6:29 PM

I agree with Karyn; it's clear from your posts that Robin is really your name, and you shouldn't be put off by any worry that it's not exciting enough.

Bobbin as an in-utero nickname is adorable! 

30
June 11, 2017 11:51 PM

I like Percival/Percy okay; it strikes me as a little similar to "prissy," but my main character association with the name is the Scarlet Pimpernel, who is an excellent role model (and hero!).  Percival Ash?  Percival Falcon?  Percival Hawthorne?  Percival Dune?  Percival Wolf?

As a name somewhat related to Briar, but with a sound similar to Percival, what about Thistle?

My favorite boys' names from Arthurian legend are Gwydion and Galahad--especially Gwydion.  Oh, and Gareth (a younger brother of Gawain) is nice, too--it has a gentle sound, like Robin.  I like Robin very much for a boy and agree that it deserves first-name status.

31
June 12, 2017 3:14 AM

Gwydion is not Arthurian, but rather is a character in the Welsh Mabinogion. For his involvement in a rape, Gwydion is punished by being turned into a series of animals, both the male and female of each species. Perhaps not the best of role models....

Gawain's other brothers are Gaheris and Agravaine...and Mordred. I'm not recommending Mordred.

32
June 12, 2017 5:55 PM

It may not be canon, but Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon is my favorite take on the Arthur story.  In that version, his given name was Gwydion, later changed to Arthur.

33
June 12, 2017 8:15 PM

I actually met Marion Zimmer Bradley and spent three days in her company. Going by the old maxim that if you can't say anything good, say nothing at all, so here I end my comment on her and her book.

34
June 12, 2017 8:18 PM

Miriam, you're hilarious. 

36
June 13, 2017 7:17 AM

Thistle is a name that could grow on me, maybe. However, since we live in Japan/my husband teaches Japanese it would be so difficult for Japanese people to pronounce if this kid ever returns to Japan. I don't know how they would spell it. Se-tsu-ru? lol 

Percival will be a little tricky, but Percy becomes Pa-see more easily. Robin is very straigforward for them to say.

Gareth is a name I ADORE. I tried suggesting it over and over over the last year and a half, but he still doesn't like it. It also sucks that my father in law (who is awesome) had a a terrible time growing up with a family member named Gary. even so, I think I may ask him again just to check...

I am beginning to think Robin may have the edge here. I do love soft boys names.

37
June 16, 2017 2:01 AM

ティストル, i'd guess.  But yeah, ロビン would be more straightforward.  And パーシ is at least simple, although Pāshi isn't all that close in terms of pronunciation.

I'm glad you're settled on Robin!  :  )

38
June 16, 2017 11:19 AM

Oh, and he could have a kanji/hànzì etc. name with the characters for the bird robin, as well as katakana!