Baby #2: Time for a really long list! (boys' edition)

Hello lovely NEs,

I am expecting again, and this will most likely be our last child (if I wanted a third, my husband would need some very, very powerful convincing, and I'm not at all sure that I do anyway). So I want to try and have fun with this naming process, especially since last time it wasn't all that fun due to my husband's stubbornness. I haven't discussed names with him yet and don't plan to until we find out the sex, at which time I will present him with a list of names that he can choose from. If he vetoes all of them, then he gets to come up with his own list--I'm not going to spoon feed him names I don't really like that much anyway like last time.

Since I tend to write novels for posts, I'll focus on boys here and do girls in another post. The objective at this point is to come up with a curated list of about 10–20 names that I would be happy to use, not to narrow it down to one perfect name. First names only for now, though some of these may be in contention for middles down the road. 

Our son is Thomas Elliott, and we've gotten a whole lot of compliments on how "literary" and "professorial" his full name sounds. I would like to try and hit the same notes with Kid #2, though I'm not really concerned with choosing a *perfect* match. If I were to put a label on the style of boys' names I like, it would be "The Gentleman-Scholar." Last name is a familiar, one-syllable Anglo-Saxon name starting with R. Rhys is a good stand-in. 

Names that currently feel like front-runners to me:

Arthur: I like the old-fashioned, scholarly feel and the mythological associations. Husband may object because he has a college friend named Arthur, though he only goes by Ace. 

Theodore: A long-time favorite. The derivation doesn't mean much to me, but I do like the Greek roots. Nicknames Theo or Teddy are both great, though husband will probably veto Teddy as it was the name of a deceased family dog. He'll probably also say that Theo is too close to Leo, my soon-to-arrive nephew, but that doesn't bother me. Theodore will give us two Th- names, which isn't ideal, but I don't think it's a dealbreaker. Since this is probably our last kid, we don't have to worry about a future pattern (and I wouldn't care about breaking it even if we did).

Oliver: Husband will object that this was used by his close college friends. I will respond that he has never met the kid and hasn't even spoken to his friends in a couple years, except maybe brief email or online exchanges that he never mentioned to me. They live about 200 miles away and I doubt they will be a major part of his life going forward. Germanic roots and literary connections are a plus for me. 

Julian: This wasn't in contention for our first because Juliet was a frontrunner for a girl, but since it's probably our last kid we can add it in, and I like it a lot. My only small quibble is that I have a first cousin named Giuliano, which is the Italian version of Julian. Our family is pretty close, but he and I aren't, and the pronunciation is different enough (joo-lee-AH-no) that I don't think confusion is an issue... it's more that it would just be kind of weird for me to name a kid after him. Not sure if husband will pick up on the similarity. I would also consider Julius, though I think I like Julian a hair more. Either way, love the Latin roots and historical associations.

Martin: I much prefer the British pronunciation to the American (with the swallowed t), but I like it enough to add it to the list. Plus my stepfather is English, so I'll get to hear the lovely British pronunciation regularly. Another plus for the Latin roots. 

Jonathan: This is the "establishment candidate," so to speak: a long-time favorite that's just not super exciting to me anymore. Last time around, husband commented that it's fine but kind of boring (one of the most positive comments I got from him on any name). I'm fine with Jon as a nickname, especially since our Thomas goes by his full name, though I do sometimes think that "Tom and Jon" are a bit similar if Thomas ever decides to switch... thoughts? 

Nicholas: This would be mainly a way to get to the nickname Nico; I like the full name, but it's the nickname that I really adore. The main complication here is that Nicholas is also the name of my stepbrother (he goes by Nick). Our parents married when we were already adults, he lives on another continent and I've only met him two or three times in my life, so I don't really see this as a problem (especially since we wouldn't be using Nick), but husband thinks it would be weird and awkward. In my imagination, I would LOVE to use one of the other Latinized Greek Nico- names like Nicodemus, Nicomedes or Nicostratus, but in reality I'm not sure I'm bold enough, and I'm pretty sure husband would veto.

Sebastian: I think in our previous name discussions, husband thought this was too much of a mouthful, but I have some hope that I might be able to talk him around this time, now that he has a bit more experience with the names of the next generation. I would be on board with Bastian for short. Latin roots get a plus, though the place-name derivation doesn't mean much to me. 

Names that were formerly frontrunners, but now have issues:

Gabriel: This is probably my favorite boy's name. I love it so much that I used it for the romantic lead of my novel (not yet published, but my agent and I are working on revisions together before trying to sell), and therein lies the problem... not so much that I've used it already (I wouldn't have a problem re-using some of my other character names, which include many of my favorites--Arthur, Theodore, Jonathan), but that this character in particular is very sexualized, and I think it would just be weird for me. It especially doesn't help that my son could very well end up resembling the character, as my husband does (yep, I have a type). And nope, can't change the character's name--he already exists too concretely in my imagination. The book is essentially one of my babies as well :) I think I will probably end up taking this one off the list, sadly. 

James: This was my favorite boy's name for years and years... so long that the luster has maybe started to fade for me a little bit. Also not helping that we are in a James pocket, not geographically but socially--my son's best friend at preschool is a James, plus two sets of close friends named their sons James (and all call them the full James), one of which is husband's best friend from college, whom he actually does stay in touch with. I might be ok shrugging it off (and in fact, I already let them know that I love their taste and James was high on my list as well), but husband probably won't want to copycat.

Alexander: There are lots of strikes against actually using this, though I love the name. One is that I'm not really interested in Alex as a nickname--I would want Alec. Unfortunately, husband's first cousin's name is Alec, and while he hasn't been part of our lives until recently, it's looking like he's going to be more involved with our side of the family going forward. Husband will probably think it's weird. There are also many other Alexanders/Alexes in our immediate circle, including the child of close friends, another cousin who lives nearby and other people who we don't necessarily want to name after (including the person who introduced my husband and me and best man at our wedding, which seems like kind of a plus, but he is actually dysfunctional enough that we're not sure we want to name after him). And my sister is using Alexander as her son's middle name, though that's actually the least significant obstacle. 

Leopold: This would have been our #1 frontrunner, especially because husband actually LIKES it (!!!) but now it's absolutely off the list, as my sister is pregnant with a boy who will be Leo. I'm just putting it up here for reference purposes. 

Other ideas that I'm less sure about:

Simon: I used to like it a lot, but then I used it for a character in my book who turned out to be kind of unlikeable (I didn't mean it that way, he just evolved as I wrote). I could possibly change the character's name, and could try to remediate my self-created associations. 

Marcus: I've loved this name for a long time, but I know husband hates it. Will probably put it on the list anyway, but it's not going to happen. 

Dominic: This would be another way to get to Nico. The only issue is if he later decides to go by Dom, which is way too close to Thomas/Tom for my comfort... that, and I don't care for the BDSM association. What do you guys think? If we use Nico to start, what's the risk?

Raphael: I love the nicknames Raff and Rafe. Husband won't like the alliteration of Raphael "Rhys". 

Edmund: I like it, but I'm not sure I can see myself actually using it. I would like it better with Ted/Teddy as a nickname option, but there is that deceased family dog interfering again (I didn't even like the thing when it was alive, though I'll admit I'm not a dog person). 

Graham: A bit surname-y for my usual tastes, but I am fond of this one.

Percival: I love it in theory, but in reality I worry about it being a little too milquetoast... plus, we'd then have Thomas and Percy. My son loves the trains, so I guess that could be ok, just seems a little kitschy to me.

Gilbert: The name of the romantic hero in a book that I really love, and I find Gil as a nickname quite charming. It's definitely pushing the funky-clunky boundary of my style, though. I think husband would probably veto it. 

Lucas: Husband vetoed this last time, but I can't remember why--it may have a shot. It used to be one of my favorites, but I'm not as enthusiastic now as previously. 

I think the list above gives a pretty good representation of my style, but for further guidance, I'm most interested in names with a long history of use as given names, bonus points for Latin, Greek, Germanic or Old English origin and for literary associations. I lean away from Old Testament revival style names (Elijah, Ezra, etc.), the conspicuously Celtic style, surnames and creative names. Ideally, I would like traditional with some spice, as classic with our last name can starts to read very white bread generic, but since we went very classic with Thomas, that's clearly not a dealbreaker.

Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? If you were to pick another 3-5 names in the same style to add to the list, what would they be? If you had to narrow it down to ten, which would make the cut?


September 22, 2016 1:53 PM

Congratulations!! This is exciting news. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that Gabriel knows much success in the literary world so that you'll get many occasions to keep his name alive in your daily life.

3-5 names in the same style: Daniel, Charles, Joseph, Nathaniel (Felix, Cyrus, or Jasper if you're getting a little more modern)

I don't think having a Thomas and a Theodore would be a problem since the pronunciation is different. Most people wouldn't notice the theme because they'd be hearing the names rather than seeing them written down. And even seeing them doesn't immediately call to mind the similarity because the pronunciation overrides the visual (at least for me).

I also don't think Julian is problematic with a cousin named Giuliano. I have a cousin named Sara and my daughter Sarah was almost 10 months old before I realized that their names are pronounced the same in English (my cousin speaks Spanish as a first language). Every once in a while I have to say "My daughter Sarah" or "My cousin Sara", but it's no big deal.

Good luck! All of these names are fantastic. I can't wait to see your girls' list.

By EVie
September 22, 2016 8:24 PM

Thanks! I appreciate the crossed fingers--publishing is incredibly cutthroat these days, so it's an uphill battle. Also appreciate the confirmation on Theodore and reassurance on Julian, since those feel like a couple of my top choices for the moment (we'll see what Mr. Veto thinks in a few weeks). 

Thanks for your suggestions! I will mull them over and see if any stick with me. Felix, Charles and Cyrus feel the closest to what I'm looking for, though Cyrus gives me some pause because of the country music associations--if it were just the historical Persian king, I would be all over it (I should note that my family has major history in Iran, so that connection is a plus for me). Jasper also suffers from the country association--I know about the Tudor, but I just can't shake the image of a hillbilly in a pickup truck. I love the sounds in Daniel, and Joseph and Nathaniel are great, classic names as well, but I think I just have some competing associations that make them feel like not quite the right fit. (Daniel is a very catty sometimes-friend in my extended social circle, plus many others in my age cohort; Joseph feels very, very Catholic to me, which we are not; and Nathaniel is very Americana to me, probably largely due to Hawthorne and Bumppo. Not a bad thing in of itself, just conflicts with the more Brit-Lit image I'm going for). 

September 22, 2016 5:08 PM

You and I have quite a bit of overlap in boys' style, although I've never actually gotten to name a boy. Arthur, Simon, and Theodore were in my top 5, so obviously they're my favorites for you.

I totally agree on the pronounciation of Martin. If you haven't watched the series Doc Martin, give it a go. You'll get to hear the name pronounced beautifully. I'll admit I'm just not a fan of Marty. It feels a little fuddy-duddy to me, and not in the classic gentlemanly sort of way.

The only name on your list I'm not fond of is Sebastian. It's still too Little Mermaid for me, and I just don't find the stressed BAST syllable appealing.

Suggestions...Jude, Walter, Joel, Oscar, Milo.

I'm looking forward to your girls' list!

September 22, 2016 5:58 PM

If not Edmund then perhaps Edward, both popular at the court of Elizabeth I.  Other than Ted, possible nicknames are Ed (of course), Ned, and Ward.

By EVie
September 22, 2016 8:46 PM

Edward is of course another handsome classic :) I lean toward Edmund over Edward mainly because it has been less popular over the course of the last century or so, and so feels like a more surprising choice--especially with our common last name, I would love to choose something a little unexpected. However, my husband may end up prefering something more straightforward (like Thomas), so maybe Edward would be a good alternative to have on the list.

September 23, 2016 12:43 PM

Being the mom of an Edward, I can say I have run across very few others his age (37) and younger.  He never met another Edward in his cohort until he got to college when there were two others in his circle.  My six year old grandson has never met a kid Edward either.  My sense is that these days it is more common as a middle.  I would say that with a common surname and a straightforward given name (any straightforward given name), I would go for a baroque middle to avoid being hounding for someone else's debts.

Adding, my son has recently become interested in family history and has been all over Ancestry.  Hw is officially named for my father, but he has found Edward everywhere in his paternal grandmother's lineage repeated in every generation, most often in the form Charles Edward (ancient Jacobite sympathies?).  So, yes, Edward has seen steady use and thus everyone knows how to say it and spell it, but for babies born now, it would be unexpected, as would be John and Mary.

By EVie
September 23, 2016 1:00 PM

Looking at the stats, I'm actually somewhat surprised to see that Edward didn't see any effect from the Twilight craze--it's been on a very slow and steady decline since mega-popularity around 1900, and that's continued since the publication of Twilight starting in 2005. I guess it just didn't hit the same chords that Bella, Jasper et al did?

A very simple solution to finding a highly unusual middle would be to use my maiden name in the middle spot, which is an option that I will consider, though I'm not wedded to it. I probably wouldn't do that with Edward or Edmund, though, as the initials would then spell ERR, and I am fussy about initials that spell negative words (one of the reasons I kept my original middle name and moved my maiden name to a second middle, instead of just dropping the original middle--I prefer to be EVRR than ERR). 

September 23, 2016 3:19 PM

I was just talking to my son about the names he is finding on his family tree, and I said that given the constant confusion with people with the same name as his, perhaps we should have used Aloysius (another family name) as his middle.  He said, um, no.

By EVie
September 22, 2016 8:40 PM

I think we'll have some overlap in the girls' list, too, as the top contender for our first pregnancy was Juliet! I agree that Marty isn't as nice as the full Martin, though I don't object to it enough to rule out Martin just based on the possibility of Marty cropping up. We've successfully stuck to the full Thomas for our first and even managed to convert a *very* recalcitrant grandfather from Tommy, so I have hope that we could stick to another full name if that's what we prefer. Thanks for the suggestions!

September 23, 2016 6:17 PM

Oh yay, congratulations!! Wishing you a smooth and happy nine months ahead!

I love Leopold. The Spouse vetoed it a long time ago so I knew it was not happening for us, but it would make me very happy for it to happen for other people. Too bad about the Leo cousin close in age - that would be ruling out to me, too, but maybe someone else will see these comments and use it on their own child. Arthur is another longstanding favorite that wasn't quite right for us, but I would love to see it used here! Rupert has some of the courtly-fusty feel of Leopold, I think, and Edmund is also another very similar name to me. The fact that your husband liked this one also makes me want to suggest Ferdinand and Sylvester and Bartholomew, which are similarly funky-clunky and have some sleeker short forms to go with them.

Suggestion 1: definitely put Nicodemus and other crazier Nico-variants on the list to show your husband. Even if you are certain that he will veto them, they will I think provide a context that will make him less likely to veto slightly-adventurous names... even ones that he would have dismissed as too weird in milder company. It basically recalibrates the weird-o-meter. I highly recommend this strategy, especially if they are names you actually DO like and you MIGHT be possibly the sort of person who parents a Nicodemus Rhys nicknamed Nico. It's also worth noting that the several young Nicos I know are all birth-certificate Nicos, too, so I think that's a totally legitimate option as well.

Suggestion 2: definitely keep Percival on the list. It's such an awesome blend of big name with different-feeling nicknames (Percy and Val take it in a different direction entirely). I think milquetoast can only be said of Percy (thanks to Harry Potter), while Percival feels very grandiose and epic, and Val is very sleek and androgynous in the same way that Nico is. Many people guessed this would be the name of our last child, and frankly, if I'd had twins they might have been right. The train sibset aspect would not bother me one iota -- I think it would be quite fun, actually.

Suggestion 3: have you considered any of the other -ander names which are less likely to be saturated by associations in your social circles? Besides Philander, I think they're all excellent: Lysander and Evander are my favorites, but Leander is another fun choice (though probably too close to Leo?).

I can't with the Dom- names. While it's not my personal scene at all, I know some people in the BDSM community... so seeing Dominic written out, I am hearing it in Dan Savage's voice already. I do think people do tend to use truncated forms of names far more innately and more spontaneously, no matter what other nickname you are gunning for. (Also, seeing Dominic immediately and irrevocably has lead to the most persistent earworm of all time, Dominique, being stuck in my head since you posted this post, and I don't even speak French so I am just singing along gibberish in my head.)

I like Julius a little better than Julian, and I obviously like Jo1yon best of all the variants, but the entire name family is a total win. I think the further you step away from your cousin's name, the less weird it is... but I don't really think it's weird at all. I have a cousin Robert and no one at all thought that Rupert was a namesake for him.


By EVie
September 24, 2016 9:30 AM

Thanks for all the feedback! Leander is probably my favorite of the other -ander names, but I think it's unfortunately too close to Leo. I do like Evander too, though (Lysander is one that I really want to like, but I can't shake my mental association with Lysol). I went hunting for other -ander names in my long list of Greek and Greek-derived names and suprisingly only came up with two others--Cassander and Nikandros. I actually think Cassander is really cool, but in practice I think it would be way too easily misheard as Cassandra. Nikandros is a bit too Greek in that form, and I can't come up with a Latinized version that I like--Nicander somehow just doesn't look right to me. Too bad, as it sounds good and would solve the Nico issue. 

That's exactly what I mean about Dom. More power to the people who get consensual enjoyment out of that stuff, but it's not at all my thing, and now that the association has lodged itself in my brain, I'm not sure I can get over it enough to use it on my kid. 

Yeah, I'm not as concerned about Julius (or Juliet on a girl) being too close to my cousin's name--only Julian, since that's the variant that is an exact translation. So maybe that's a point in favor of Julius. 

The Leopold thing is definitely disappointing... not so much that I can't use it, but that she's not even using the full Leopold, just Leo. (Leo an honor name on her husband's side of the family, while the full Leopold is ours... I can't help feeling that my great-grandfather is getting short changed!) But I may still consider it as a middle name. My sister may not be thrilled with that, but I don't really care--my concern is mainly not having two little boys in the same close-knit family going by Leo as a call name, for reasons of them having distinct identities and also not confusing my poor grandmother. 

September 25, 2016 12:00 PM

I kind of like Cassander, as it's a refreshing twist on "feminine version of [well known male name]" as a phenomenon. It would be fun to say, "the masculine form of Cassandra" as an explanation.

But mostly I would consider Nikandros Latinization options a little longer, and play with spellings to see if one becomes less odd-looking with time. It just seems like a terrific long form for Nico given that you like the -ander ending! While I agree that Nicander looks a little funny somehow (I think it's making me think of salad nicoise), Nikander looks totally natural to me.

September 25, 2016 3:36 PM

Nikander looks more natural than Nicander to me as well. If you're more flexible on the ending, perhaps Nikandro or Nikandre? Or Nicandro or Nicandre?

By EVie
September 25, 2016 8:38 PM

I agree that Nikander seems to work better than Nicander. It also has a pretty distinctive non-Western flavor to me, though (possibly influenced by names like Iskandar, the Arabic form of Alexander), which is an awesome choice for some families, but doesn't really fit us so well. My husband is also pretty resistant to anything non-English, let alone non-Western--I tried to sell him on a couple of Italian names last time, which is actually a major part of my heritage (I have dual nationality, Italian passport and all!) and he wasn't having any of it. I understand, though, if he doesn't feel comfortable with a name so different from his own identity--if he tried to sell me on a super-Jewish name like Shlomo, I wouldn't feel comfortable, either. So I think unfortunately, the less Anglicized/Latinized variants are out.

** Though that does remind me that one of the Italian names I pushed for last time was Niccolo, so I might add that to the Nicholas/Nicodemus/Nicostratus/Nicomedes list, even though it doesn't have much chance.

September 24, 2016 10:26 AM

May I suggest Henry?

By EVie
September 24, 2016 8:38 PM

Thanks for the suggestion! Henry is a great name, but unfortunately, way, way overdone in my circles. Otherwise I would probably be considering it. 

September 24, 2016 2:26 PM

Classic with some spice, maybe: Marco, although Mark is fine too; Alistair instead of Alexander; Bertram called Bertie; Laurence called Laurie (I would love this to come back as a boy's name); Frederic; Rupert. Of the names on your list, I like Edmund (except for the nickname Ed/Eddie); Theodore; Arthur; Martin; Julian. I also like Edward, which you might be able to keep from being nicknamed; Andrew, ditto; Charles, called Charlie (too popular?); Linus; Lionel; Tristan. I have to say, no matter how kitschy it is, I love Thomas and Percy. It just makes me smile. I know what you mean about Percival being milquetoast though. I think you should consider just using Nico. It's a great name on its own.

By EVie
September 24, 2016 8:55 PM

Ooh, I like a lot of your suggestions there. Laurence (or Lawrence?), Bertram, Alistair, Lionel and Frederick (probably with the k) are all names I could consider. Rupert is a fantastic name as well, but I think it's just *barely* across the line for me on the fuddy-duddy scale, plus it's a little tongue-twisty with our surname--it's one of those names that I'm thrilled to see other people using, but isn't quite right for us (also see: Nigel). Tristan is one that I would have been all over if it didn't get trendy a few years back... now it feels a little stale to me. Andrew belongs to both my husband and nephew, and we're not into Jrs. or otherwise duplicating the names of living family members, so that's out, though it's a great fit stylistically. I can't think of Linus anymore without hearing Buster from Arrested Development refer to his genitals as his "Linus and Charlie Browns." (Arrested Development is also responsible for me not being able to take the name Tobias seriously ever again). Thanks also for the feedback on Percival/Percy. I love Nico and I know a lot of people do use it on its own, but I'm really not a nickname-as-given-name person--I want something formal on the birth ceritficate.

September 26, 2016 1:48 PM

I haven't seen Arrested Development in ages and don't remember Buster naming his genitals. What a way to ruin a good name. Now that you mention it, I do know a little Tristan which probably means there are a lot more out there. 

By EVie
September 26, 2016 4:03 PM

If it were just plain popularity I probably wouldn't mind, but it's the kind of popularity that has spawned a ton of alternate spellings, complete with girls named Tristyn. That's what kind of spoils it for me. (Though I did use Elliott for my son's middle, and there are girls out there named Elliette, so I guess I'm being inconsistent). We are huge Arrested Development fanatics in this house (except for the fourth season which Shall Not Be Spoken Of) and one-liners from the show are part of our daily vernacular, so even the minor jokes stick around.

September 27, 2016 1:50 PM

Alistair jumped out to me as being such a fantastic choice that I can't believe it hasn't come up before! (And snort to the Arrested Development reference.)

By EVie
September 27, 2016 4:33 PM

I think Alistair is one I will definitely be adding to the list. When my son was first born and I was in a fog of hormones and anxiety (he was in the NICU for a few days), I had a lot of trouble seeing him as a Thomas and the names that popped into my head as really "fitting" him were Oliver and Alistair. Not sure where they came from, as they weren't near the top of my personal list at the time. After I got used to using Thomas I settled down and now I don't have regrets--he loves his name and hearing how joyfully he spells it and points it out when he recognizes it in writing makes me very happy. But it does make me think that those two names have real potential for me. 

The only hesitation I have is pronunciation. Alistair is definitely my preferred spelling, but is it AL-uh-stair or AL-is-ter? Or are they actually the same pronunciation, and the second is just a more slurred version of the first?

September 27, 2016 5:05 PM

I've always thought of the two pronunciations as variations on the same, with some people enunciating more strongly than others. Especially since I've heard people use a version that is planted squarely between them.

September 27, 2016 6:01 PM

I agree with Karyn that you'll likely get both pronunciations, probably depending on region/dialect/associations. I think it might be hard to enforce the -ster pronunciation with the -stair spelling in parts (most?) of the US, though, given how much that ending looks like the common word.

September 27, 2016 6:08 PM

I say AL-is-ter, but I think they're the same pronunciation, one more slurred than the other. This was The First Name Spousally Vetoed 16 years ago, so to quell my sorrow I used it on our very first pet together, which is only relevant because it means I had loads of opportunity to say this name and also got a sense of how vet techs and groomers say the name. Anyway, it's a terrific name and I hope you DO get a chance to use it on a human because I could not (though it was also an excellent name for an excellent cat). Interestingly, the Alistair I know has a brother named Oliver.

September 28, 2016 4:02 AM

I feel like I should get my Spouse's input on your list! She came to our naming team with more of a Ladies and Gentleman style of naming and I came with more of an Exotic Traditional bent. Over time we ended up meeting in the middle with literary examples from the English category: a little further afield than you are, I think, but not a huge amount off. Our second and third sons' names were totally her suggestions. While she vetoed Alistair 17 years ago as being too nebbish and milquetoasty, I am pretty sure that if it had been suggested a decade or two later, after I'd innundated her with increasingly more bizarre names, she'd have been all for it.

Anyway, names she's always liked and would use if she were naming independently (a list which also includes Lucas and Collin and Sebastian): Milo? Edwin? Quentin? Xavier? Gavin? August (where I would plump for the full Augustus)? Maximillian?

I think one awesome thing about the Thomas and Percy train connection is that it means that Percy starts to sound more at-home next to Thomas: it plays up the normalness of Percy and the quaint Britishiness of Thomas. But it's definitely a bit more of a statement name, out of your list, still.

By EVie
September 28, 2016 11:56 AM

Ooh, Quentin is an excellent suggestion. I really like the full Maximilian as well, and if it weren't for popularity I would be totally on board with Max as a nickname, but I'm a little hesitant, as I have encountered quite a few little Maxes. I am going to mull this over, because popularity is the sort of problem that I can get over for the right name. Edwin is definitely on the right track, but I think if I go for an Ed- name, Edmund is still my favorite. My heart is with you on preferring the full Augustus, but I think in reality we would go with the Anglicized August. Anglicized classical names really seem to be the dominant theme here! Xavier is probably too Catholic for me (and the pronunciation ambiguity is annoying, though that's a secondary factor and not in itself a dealbreaker). Milo is adorable, probably too adorable for me as a full name--I prefer something weighty for the birth certificate. We might have considered Miles for a middle name, as it was the name of husband's grandfather, but my sister-in-law used it on her son's middle, so we're off the hook for that one. 

September 27, 2016 7:07 PM

Even though I'm highly persnickety about name pronunciation (my name and my daughter's) I can tell you that the variation I've gotten in her name does not disturb me the way the variation in mine does. When Karyn is pronounced improperly (according to how I say it) it's because of the *#@! Mary-merry-marry merger and the vowel is just WRONG. It's not me. I am simply not Care-in. However, the variation in Cordelia is more in line with what we're talking about here. It's mostly core-DEE-lee-uh versus core-DEEL-ya, and though we say the former, the latter isn't so different that it feels like the wrong name. I mean, I notice it, but it doesn't irk me. I don't get that oh-so familiar cringy feeling in my gut. (We also get some core-DILL-ya, which makes me feel like the person has a slightly odd grasp of vowels, but again, it doesn't *bother* me.) I have the feeling that the variation in Alistair would be similar. And if someone as picky as I am can live with the variation, I'd say that most people who love the name Alistair enough to use it would be able to live with the slight variation, too.

By EVie
September 28, 2016 12:02 PM

I think I'm on board with Alistair--it's reassuring to know that I don't really need to make a choice between the two pronunciations or worry about which one is technically correct. I have a name with multiple authentic pronunciations--the correct one, the one that I can live with (and which I honestly would have chosen if I'd had a say--my mom felt otherwise, though), the one that grates on me, and then the others that are JUST WRONG. I've learned to answer to all of them. It's an annoyance, but not the end of the world. I agree that with Cordelia and the other -lia names, it's more a slurring of the vowels than a different pronunciation. Same with the 2 vs. 3 syllable pronunciations of Violet, Katherine, et al. 

September 28, 2016 2:55 PM

I just realized that I don't know which version you use. In my head, I always default to the stress-on-the-first-syllable Ellen- version when I read that name, but I know that many people default to the stress-on-the-second -LAY- version. Which did your mother choose? 

By EVie
September 28, 2016 3:48 PM

I use the LAY pronunciation, but the Ellen one is the one I would have chosen if I'd had a say. In my experience, the LAY pronunciation is the most common in the U.S., the Ellen in the U.K.--maybe in Canada too? The LAY pronunciation is closer to the Spanish, the Ellen to Italian (which is my family background). 

September 29, 2016 12:36 PM

That actually makes a lot of sense, since there is mininal Spanish where I live and quite a number of Italian speakers. I'll try to remember to read your name properly in my head from now on :)

By EVie
September 29, 2016 1:51 PM

Hah, thanks!

September 24, 2016 2:46 PM

I like Sebastian and Theodore the best on you list, below are some other options. 

Beckett, Benjamin, Charles, Collin, Demetri, Everett, Foster, George , Holden, Jacob, Jeremy, Landon, Louis, Maxwell, Murphey, Meyer, Schuyler, Walden, Wesley

By EVie
September 24, 2016 9:05 PM

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions! I like Colin (prefer that spelling) and Charles. George is a good idea, but already in use in our family by multiple people, and we don't want to duplicate the names of close living relatives. Jeremy, Jacob, Louis, Benjamin and Demetri are nice, classic names that just don't quite do it for me one way or another (an ex boyfriend, too common, too strongly associated with a culture that isn't ours). The others are all surname-names, which is really not my style. 

September 24, 2016 5:36 PM


Have you been peeking at my family tree? Most of these can be found within its branches, and several are among my favorite boys' names. I definitely agree you should add in some names that are farther afield, like Nicodemus, to "recalibrate the weird-o-meter" as lucubratrix put it.

Arthur- If the college friend is only ever Ace, then I don't see the issue. This is a favorite of mine, too.

Theodore- Two Th- names would bother me way too much, but otherwise I like the name.

Julian- Love the whole name family! I do like Julian better than Julius myself.

Nicholas- One of my favorite boy's names! I'm not one that minds nicknames on the birth certicate, so I'm wondering if "just Nico" is an option? It would solve the stepbrother dilemma.

Sebastian- Another one I really like. For me The Little Mermaid association is strong, but I would consider it a plus since I'm a Disney fan.

Gabriel- I'm afraid under the circumstances I would find it a bit creepy for your son to have the same name as your character. Sorry! :/

Leopold- Such a shame! I love the name and would be delighted to meet a little Leopold!

Simon- Would a variant such as Simeon appeal to you and also be far enough removed from the character in your mind?

Dominic- Seriously, have you been looking at my family tree? This one I like, but it feels quite Catholic to me. Since you said you're not, I'm wondering if this is just my personal perception of the name or if it will come across to others as such, too...

Raphael- Not as keen on this one, partially due to the association with a large anthropomorphic turtle who dwells in the sewers of NYC, eats pizza, and wears a red mask.

Edmund- You have so many good names on this list! I like the association with Edmund Spenser. Would you care for Ned as a nickname? Edwin is another great Ed- name you might like.

Graham- Too surname-y, too much like crackers, and too unisex for my taste.

Percival- Love it. My association is the Arthurian knight not Harry Potter. I think the train sibset is fun and subtle enough to not be kitschy.

Gilbert- I prefer several of the other -bert names, including Albert, Hubert, and Wilbert. I think the first syllable "gil like fish gills" bothers me, though I'm not sure why.

Oliver, Martin, Jonathan, James, Alexander, Marcus, and Lucas- I like all of these, they're just not very exciting to me.

If I had to narrow your list down to ten, ignoring my own family connections, then it would be Arthur, Julian, Nicholas, Sebastian, Leopold, Dominic, Edmund, Percival, Martin, and Marcus, in no particular order.

Since you apparently like many of the names in my family, I'll suggest some more: Gideon, Vincent, Augustine, Marcel (or Marcellus), Gerard, Normand, Oscar, Bertrand, Reginald, Alfred, Jules, Lester, Henry, Edgar, and Peter.

By EVie
September 24, 2016 9:20 PM

Thanks for the feedback! I do agree that Dominic feels pretty Catholic. I'm descended from Catholics on my mom's side, but she rejected religion from a very young age and I was raised a godless heathen :) My husband was raised Jewish but is also totally uninterested in religion. So we lean away from any names that have a strong religious connotation. Between that and the BDSM thing, I'm thinking Dominic will probably be cut from the list. Gabriel will probably be cut, too, as I agree with the creepiness factor. Back when the book was still mostly just in my imagination, it didn't seem like a problem, but once you start discussing the characters and their motivations with real industry professionals, they start to feel much more real. 

A lot of people seem to have the Disney association with Sebastian. I do, too, but I tend to think of Bastian from The Neverending Story first (a good association... that movie & book were pretty formative for me when I was a kid). 

Funny that you mention the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... my three year old was just chattering about them in the car. I have no idea where he learned about them, because we don't have a TV and he only watches very select toddler shows on my iPad. Possibly grandparents are to blame. He was just insisting to me that "Raff" was a "bad guy." So maybe that's a sign that I should nix Raphael...

Thanks for the suggestions! They're definitely in the right stylistic realm. I think Bertrand and Reginald are my favorite. I would be inclined to favor August over Augustine (religious associations again). Edgar is another I might consider if we didn't already have one in the family. Jules would be a likely candidate for a nickname for a Julian, Julius or Juliet, but I think I like the longer forms better. 

September 25, 2016 3:28 PM

I think that's a big plus in favor of Sebastian and maybe a little leverage to use in convincing your husband, too! If I had known my great-grandfather Sebastian better, he might overide the Disney association for me, but sadly he died when I was very young and I have no memory of him.

I've no idea what they've done with the characters in the newer installments of TMNT, but in the early 90's movies Raph was certainly never a "bad guy." He was the toughest of the four turtles and sometimes clashed with their leader Leonardo, but he was a good guy!

I'm glad you like some of the suggestions! I do agree that Augustine can have a religious connotation that August doesn't share. Believe it or not, I left out several of the more overtly religious names in my family.

By EVie
September 25, 2016 8:45 PM

My kid sometimes comes up with the randomest ideas and insists that they're true, even when presented with evidence that they are demonstrably false, or things that he can't possibly know for himself. "Mama, your favorite color is yellow." "Actually, sweetie, it's blue." "No Mama, blue can't be your favorite color. Your favorite color is yellow." So it doesn't surprise me that he would randomly and counterfactually decide that Raphael is a bad guy, and he will maintain his position until his opponent gives up in exhaustion. He's a little politician in the making. 

September 26, 2016 5:09 PM

Your son sounds like one of my young cousins who told me a couple years ago that he likes Captain Hook better than Peter Pan. When I asked him why, he said, as if it was obvious, "Because Hook wins." Ummm... ok...

And I'm loving the idea of cousins named Leo and Raphael!

By EVie
September 28, 2016 12:03 PM

My son has been fascinated with the idea of "bad guys" recently. Also, he announced to me out of the blue that he wants to be "Raff" the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Halloween. We'll see if it sticks... before that he wanted to be a lion, and before that, a garbage truck.

September 25, 2016 8:58 PM

I actually think it would be super fun to have a same-aged cousin set of Leo and Raphael, for obvious TMNT reasons. I couldn't do it for siblings, but for cousins it is amazing.

September 24, 2016 6:08 PM

I really like Martin for you - I think it's a good mix of traditional but a little bit unexpected these days, and it's a good match for Thomas. I may be biased as it's one of my little boy's middle names. :) His first name is Lewis, which may interest you as well (I know of brothers named Thomas and Lewis and I find it quite a sweet set!) Otherwise my favourite from your list is Edmund - which we considered as well. Other options which come to mind: Walter, Hugh or Hugo, Oscar, Clifford, August, Benedict, Clement. Also - if you like Jonathan but worry about the nn Jon, how about Jonty? It's a fun name (jaunty, even!) and has a nice old-fashioned appeal to me.

By EVie
September 24, 2016 9:32 PM

Thanks for the ideas! Your son's name is lovely :) I do prefer the English spelling Lewis over Louis, in part because it gets around the pronunciation confusion (LOO-ee?) I also adore Benedict, but I also run into a writer problem with that one--my book has a Benedict who turns out to be a not-so-savory character. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have used all my favorite boys' names in the same book *sigh* But at the time, I did actually think I was saving my favorite names... it's just that my taste has changed since then, and those names aren't necessarily my favorites anymore.

August may be an option. Walter is a great name, but unfortunately out because of the veteran's hospital which shares our surname. Clement is a really interesting suggestion, but like Percival/Percy, it feels a little too milquetoast to me. I do really like some of the feminine variants, specifically Clemence and Clemency (I prefer those to Clementine, which has a more country feel to me). 

September 25, 2016 3:32 PM

It's funny because Benedict and Clement, as well as the feminine Clemence and Clemency, strike me as having many of the same religious associations as Dominic and Augustine do for me. (Clementine doesn't retain that same association for me due to folk songs and fruit.)

By EVie
September 25, 2016 8:49 PM

Yes, they're very papal! I think Benedict Arnold was previously a major association that diluted the religiosity a bit, but the recent Pope Benedict has boosted it again. I think the potential for Benedict to be nicknamed Ben makes it feel more useable to me. Clemence and Clemency also feel a little more useable than Clement, just because there isn't a specific religious figure (or figures) looming in the background--it's more of an idea. I probably won't end up using either, because I have a wealth of other girls' names that I love to choose from (will post this week), but I would be thrilled to see them on someone else, and maybe will someday use one in a book.

By rooo
September 25, 2016 2:39 AM

From the list you have, I like Arthur, Oliver and Nicolas for you. My one concern with a last name like Rhys is that Arthur and Oliver may blend in. Say them out loud with your real last name and see what you think.

Here are a bunch more ideas (some may be repeats):

Instead of Arthur... Alton, Arden, Archer, Asher, Carter, Gregor, Peter, Rodger, Walter, Anthony
Instead of Theodore... Trevor, Theobald, Dorian, Salvador/Salvatore
Instead of Oliver... Oscar, Otto
Instead of Julian/Jonathan... Judah, Jeremiah, Judson, Jonah/Jonas
Instead of Martin... Michael, Nathan, Alvin, Winston, Raymond
Instead of Sebastian/Simon... Sullivan, Samuel, Sylvester
Instead of Gabriel... Gavin, Galen, angel names
Instead of Leopold... Lincoln, Laird, Otto, Hugo/Hugh, Harold, Leland
Instead of Marcus/Lucas... Amos, Cyrus, Curtis, Elias, Harris, Linus, Miles, Morris,Malcolm
Instead of Dominic... Damian, Daniel, Derrick, Donovan, Desmond, Dylan (FWIW I think of Dom Perignon, not S&M)
Instead of Graham... Grady, Beckham, Abraham, Callum, Griffon
Instead of August... Augusten/Augustin, Austin, Fergus

By EVie
September 25, 2016 10:21 AM

Thanks for the feedback! The R-blending issue was definitely something I worried about when looking at names for my first pregnancy. This time around, I don't think I care much. Our real last name is so, so, so common and familiar (I can think of several public figures and fictional characters who share it or its homophone just off the top of my head) that no one is going to mistake it for anything else--same way that James Smith is not going to be misheard as James Mith, because our brains are so familiar with "Smith" as opposed to "Mith" that we just fill in the missing S even if we don't actually hear it. 

I like Gregor, but Gregory/Greg is already in use in our family and we don't want to duplicate living relative names. Archer is one of the few surname names that I've always liked, but the style overall is not one that I'm eager to project, and it's so close to Arthur that I would rather just stick to the traditional name. Walter is a great name that's unfortunately out because of the veterans' hospital. I really like the suggestions of Trevor and Theobald, though I think I would ultimately stick to Theodore of the Theo- names (I am also a fan of Theodoric, which is surprisingly an unrelated Germanic name that in modern English renders as Derek--but again, it's so close to Theodore that I think I would end up sticking to the more familiar). Galen is one I really like in theory, but in practice I find it a bit too feminine-sounding (doesn't help that the majority of Galens I've known have been girls). I'm really not into the heavy Old Testament names like Judah and Jeremiah (I get this overwhelming image of big, bushy beards), or surname style names like Grady and Beckham... Graham is definitely a major exception in my tastes. 

September 25, 2016 3:57 PM

The names Hugh and Hugo jumped out at me as names that would be fitting here. Also: Russell, Foster, Murray, Rupert. 

By EVie
September 25, 2016 8:54 PM

Thanks for the ideas! I do like Hugh, though I'm not sure I like it with our surname. I prefer the Anglicized version to Hugo, which feels a bit hipstery to me. Rupert is pretty close to our style, though ultimately I think it's a little fustier than I want to go. I like Russell in theory and on other people, but it's rather similar to my maiden name, so if I went in that direction I would just use my maiden name, and in the middle spot. We already have a Murray in the family, and Foster is too surnamey for me.