One vs two middle names

Kind of a boring question moreso for the sake of my curiosity... but would it be weird for my son due in three weeks to have two middle names while my daughter only has one middle name?

While we certainly could have picked two middle names for our daughter, we decided from the getgo that we would use my surname as our children's middle names to avoid hyphenation. It still gives credit to my surname, which I didn't change when we married. Even though we're still undecided on a first name (let alone a possible second middle name!), I'm wondering "what if"? It seems like most people are of one camp or the other, so can anyone think of any reasons for/against a second middle name for just one child? If we end up a bit torn over two names, might this might be a solution or if it would just confuse matters? We weren't torn with my daughter's name so the possibility never came up. Thank you!


September 11, 2017 8:37 AM

I think its better just to have the one middle name especially since your daughter only has one

September 11, 2017 10:00 AM

So your daughter has your last name for her only middle name? And you're asking about giving your son a 'first name' middle name as well as your 'last name' middle name? I think he'd end up dropping your name and just going by his first middle name :-/.

September 12, 2017 7:38 AM

Hmmm, that's very possible. I'm hoping we WON'T resort to this option in any case if we can decide on a first name that we love. Just trying to cover my bases!

September 11, 2017 10:08 AM

We actually gave my oldest son two middles...and his twin sister only one. Baby A got a very short first name and two medium-length middles, one of which is my husband's bachelor name (and a traditional male given name); Baby B got a medium-length first name and a long middle, which combines several family references (not a mash-up name, just a long name that works in different directions). It has never been an issue.

Several years down the line, all three of our sons have double middles (only the first has my husband's bachelor name). Our second son's second middle is unofficial, because at the time that we named him we, for some reason, thought that would be easier. He now wants us to make it legal, because he has always grown up knowing it as part of his name. We offered to let our daughter pick a second middle at the same time, just in case she felt left out somehow (and because I'm a name enthusiast, and can't help but feel that everyone must want more naming opportunities), but she seems uninterested. It's probably worth noting that her three names still have one more syllable than her twin's four (but one less letter), and the same number of syllables as her two younger brothers'.

So TL; DR: If it's what you really want to do, go for it; no one will be traumatized.

September 12, 2017 7:41 AM

Good to know it wouldn't be traumatizing ;) Thanks!

September 11, 2017 5:38 PM

I can't see that it would be a big deal or cause confusion so I'd say go for it if you find two names you want to use. One of my aunts has three sons and the oldest and youngest both have one middle name while the middle has two, they are all adults now and as far as I know it has never been an issue for any of them. The story I was told as to the reason is that when the second one was born they let the older brother also pick a name (and the parents picked one each), giving him two middles, and I suppose when the third came along they went back to one middle because the alternative would have been three! 

September 12, 2017 7:44 AM

That's a really cute idea to let the older sibling pick an "extra" middle name :) Though I can only imagine what my 2.5 year old would pick in this case... given her My Little Pony kick, my guess would be Twilight-Sparkle. Not exactly my style, haha.

September 11, 2017 7:42 PM

I know a family where the son has two middles and the daughter has one, so I really don't think it matters, especially if it's your maiden name + choice name we're talking about. If it's what you want, go for it!

September 11, 2017 9:55 PM

Whether the siblings have multiple last names is not an issue!  That said, I have two middle names and it can be a hassle.  Usually on forms there is only room for one initial and the second one gets dropped.  There have been a few cases in my life where things got mixed up - like duplicate entries of me in a computer using different middle names.  I think it would be a lot easier now than when I was a kid, though, and having two middle names was rare.


September 12, 2017 7:46 AM

I did consider that factor as well. My intention was never to have two middle names, and I still hope we can find a name we're both happy with soon!

September 12, 2017 7:44 AM

Glad to hear it's not completely unheard of!

September 12, 2017 12:24 AM

My dad was the eldest of four. He and his youngest sister were not given middle names, but their middle sister and brother were each given one middle name. I've asked my aunts about it, but they said they didn't know why their parents did it this way. In Hungary (where they live), middle names are not as common as in the U.S., so neither my aunt nor my uncle ever really used theirs; this is similar to how a second middle will likely completely disappear in the U.S.

The moral of the story is, the discrepancy between siblings is a non-issue, and besides, it will be largely invisible anyway. So if it reduces your naming anxiety to contemplate a second middle for your son, go for it.

September 12, 2017 7:50 AM

It sounds like I'd be trading off either way. If I choose a second middle name for the second slot (which is where it would go since my maiden name is intended to be next to the surname), it will probably be the dominant middle name on forms and such and overshadow the second middle name. Since my goal all along was to not lose my maiden name, this makes me sad... so even if it helps us if we're stuck between two names, it may also cause issues. Womp womp.

September 12, 2017 8:28 AM

I have to disagree that the 2nd middle will disappear. The (few) people I know with two middles use theirs just as much as someone with one uses the one. As far as I know, they don't deal with much confusion. 

September 12, 2017 3:17 PM

Ditto. My dad has two middles. He doesn't use either in normal life, but when it comes to official life, he definitely uses both. 

September 12, 2017 6:26 PM

Chiming in again to agree with both of these. I have two middle names and use both on any official form that asks for middle name; very very rarely (literally 2 or 3 occasions in my entire life) have I been forced to drop the second middle due to lack of space (both my middle names are long). And I always tell people both if they ask what my middle name is.

September 12, 2017 4:14 PM

I personally am not a fan of multiple middle names.  However, I also don't think you have to match siblings unless you want to...  After the age of 18, it is unlikely their sibling will be tied to them in any way, so the idea of matching names or not using names because they don't go with _____ is silly to me.  

September 13, 2017 5:59 PM

I'm a proud bearer of two middle names, the second of which is my mother's maiden name. It has never caused problems for me and I really like having both.

That said, I may be a lot pettier than the other people mentioned here, or possibly just had a worse relationship with my sister growing up - but I think that if she had had two middle names and I had one, that might have caused a bit of resentment.

Also, some families give their daughters no middle name because the daughters are expected to take their husband's name when they marry, and use their maiden names as their middle names. I know that's not a factor here, but could give off that impression, so it's worth considering.

Really, though, I think that whatever you choose will work out fine, especially if you can explain it correctly to your kids ("we just couldn't decide which name we liked better so we gave your brother both").

September 14, 2017 12:10 AM

I don't see that as petty, I see that as someone who places great value in names and would feel hurt if her parents appeared to put more effort into her sister's name thank into hers. Some (most) people care much less about names than the people who frequent a name forum, so while you (and I) would feel hurt, many, many others wouldn't give it a second thought.

September 17, 2017 12:42 PM

One of my sisters has a double middle name, and hates it. The biggest problem, for her, is that middle names often get reduced to initials on forms -- with only one slot for an initial. So she has had to choose, her whole life, to leave out one of her initials. It drives her up a wall, esp. since she likes her full set. 

Her intense dislike of the situation is why we went with my surname as our kids' first surname, rather than giving it to them as a second middle. (I would have happily given it as a single middle to both kids, but my husband had a family surname he wanted in the middle slot for the firstborn, so.)

By EVie
September 18, 2017 9:18 PM

I'm considering the same dilemma, except we used a chosen (family) middle name and left out my surname for the first, and now I'm considering adding my surname as a second middle for a hypothetical second. I use that construction myself, and I've never had any major issues with it (there was that DMV employee who didn't think I could put both on my new drivers' license, but I sent her to her supervisor who knew that I could--obviously, as I was returning to a state where I had previously lived and had my old expired license with the correct names as proof). I drop the second middle in bureaucratic situations that force me to do so, but in professional settings I drop the first middle and go by First Maiden Last, as I think it has more gravitas than my First Middle Last. I don't find it at all frustrating--I actually like having that flexibility in my self-presentation.

I've asked my son whether he'd like to add my maiden name as a second middle name, in the context of a conversation along the lines of "Mama, how many letters do I have in my name? How many letters do you have in your name? That's not fair, want to have the longest name!" (he's four). He turned down my offer, though, as he identifies very strongly with his name as is. If he ever changed his mind, I would probably do it unofficially until he turns eighteen, then let him do his own legal name change if it's important to him.

September 19, 2017 7:45 PM

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! We're currently leaning towards one particular name but aren't officially deciding until he is born as we did for our daughter. So, if we stick with this name and still feel good about it, we shouldn't need a second middle name :) Fingers are crossed!