Felix & Xavier?

We are expecting our second baby in the spring. We're in love with our girl name, Eloise Beatrix, but a recent sonogram suggests that we won't get to use it. The same thing happened the first time - we were set on Sabrina Blythe, and still debating boy names when we found out we were having a boy. What is it about boys' names?

Anyway, our son is Felix Samuel. We love his name and it fits him to a T. Felix means happiness and luck, and he is the happiest baby with the easiest disposition. We picked Samuel for (Samuel) Dashiell Hammett and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), and for a one-year-old, Felix seems to be developing the wit and cleverness of his namesakes. So that really ups the pressure for naming #2!

Out of nowhere, my husband has decided that Xavier, which he rejected the first time around, would be perfect. He likes how it matches Felix, and came up with Avi as the nickname, which would be the middle of the name just like Eli. I'm so impressed that he's put so much thought into a name that I'm giving it more credence than I would otherwise, I think, but I have some reservations:

1) Is it too Bradgelina to have two kids with X in their first names?

2) Which is the more common pronunciation, ex-ZAY-vyer or ZAY-vyer? I don't mind either, but I'd want to make sure we were using what he is most likely to encounter. I have a name with multiple "correct" pronunciations (Alicia), but was raised using just one and became very defensive about my name as an older child/teen.


We like names that are clearly boys' names, generally a little on the old-fashioned, classy Old Hollywood or vaguely British, not too hard to spell or pronounce, and have nickname potential (although we got creative with Felix - we use Eli - so not having an obvious nickname isn't an automatic rejection). As a teacher, I'm also dead-set against anything too popular. 

Up until this morning, Lionel was our front-runner. We really haven't settled because we don't have a good pairing yet. We like Winston as a reference to Winston Churchill and John (Winston) Lennon, but I don't know that I like it as a first name for a little boy. We've also discussed Isaac, Derek (with nn Rex), Roland/Rowland (Rory), Arthur, Edwin... ugh. Too many. Anybody have other suggestions that might fit our style AND have enough cool-factor to match Felix? Our last name is similar to Harrison (same syllables, first and last letters).



November 2, 2013 12:32 PM

Congratulations! I think Felix and Xavier make a dashing pair and I especially like the nickname Avi--it's a great name on its own and is very unexpected as a nickname. We just had a long discussion about the pronunciation of Xavier (see Penny X's thread here: http://www.babynamewizard.com/forum/help-me-name-xaviers-fingers-crossed-sibling). The consensus seemed to be that it's regional: Zay-vier tends to be more popular in the south while Ex-zay-vier is more popular elsewhere. Write the name down and see how random people in your area pronounce it without giving hints as to which pronunciation you prefer.

November 2, 2013 3:25 PM

I agree with Elizabeth T. on all counts -- Felix and Xavier are a very cool brother set, and Avi is very interesting, especially with Eli being Felix's nn. We have an Xavier, and we say ex-ZAY-vyer, but like Elizabeth T. said, at least in my own informal polling of my friends/relatives, and in what I've read here, it does seem like the difference in pronunciation is regional (I'm in the Northeast, and ex-ZAY-vyer seems most common here, as it seems to be in Canada also; many others who say ZAY-vyer seem to be from the south. I'd be interested to see further evidence to support or discredit this theory, and polling your friends/relatives is a great way for you to know which pronunciation will be most natural for your son's circle of acquaintances).

November 2, 2013 3:33 PM

I actually really like Felix and Xavier as a sibling set - with BOTH pronounciations of Xavier. And I think that Avi as a nickname option is a stroke of brilliance (likewise with Eli as a nickname for Felix). To answer your questions: 

1) I definitely didn't get a Brangelina vibe with these two names. Although, to be honest, I couldn't remember any of their kids names except for Shiloh and had to look them up. They have 3 boys whose names end in "x": Maddox, Pax & Knox. And I think the fact that the "x" is the LAST letter of their first names is more obnoxious and "matchy-matchy" than Felix and Xavier.

2) In terms of the pronounciation of Xavier, I say "ex-ZAY-vyer" and the reason is pretty simple: The only place I've actually heard the name is in X-Men. Professor X's name is Charles Xavier and they pronounce it with the "ex" beginning. I actually wasn't aware that there was another option until it was brought up here in the forums - and I actually LIVE in the south. (I'm currently in Virginia, but I've lived in Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.) So, I would definitely second the suggestion of writing the name down and showing it to people in your area to see how they pronounce it.

I also wanted to add that I LOVE Winston as a middle name option. I agree that I don't think it's a contender for a first name (that's just a little too "old man" still), but I love the namesakes and would love to see someone use it as a middle name. =) I also used to have Roland on our boys name list (Roland is the hero of Stephen King's Dark Tower series which is the first series my husband and I bonded over), but scratched it off due to a lack of nicknames (I actually kind of like Lando because I'm a big geek, but my husband wasn't going for that); next time, I'll just see if you and your husband can come up with nickname options for me because Rory is adorable!

November 2, 2013 3:34 PM

Xavier would get my first vote, but another name I thought of based on your list is Orlando with the nn Rory. For some reason I feel like it fits perhaps even better than Roland, and Rory as a nn is adorable (I've often thought Rory could be used as a nn for Robert as well, since that's a name my husband often likes, but I don't care for Rob/Bob etc.). (I also knew an Orlando who went by Andy.) I like Isaac a lot too. Good luck!

November 2, 2013 3:49 PM

I agree with all that's been said.

I'll also add that I think Xavier is really a much better match to Felix than the others you've considered. I think it's really the only one with that elusive, "Cool," factor you mentioned.

I also pronounce it like ex at the front. In general, (sweeping sterotype), I've found that boys and men are much less bothered or interested by names and naming. EG I once asked my husband if it had bothered him to grow up with a popular name, and he looked at me like I had four heads. Whereas, my girlfriends called Jennifer can all talk for an hour about it.  In sum, I think if your little guy has to correct one or two people he won't be bothered by it.

Other thoughts-Conrad, Ansel, Sterling, Dashiell as the fn.


November 10, 2013 3:27 PM

My husband is one of many Matt's, and is definitely invested in the not-too-popular naming crusade. We actually had Dashiell as a top choice for most of my first pregnancy, but finally decided it was too hard to spell/decipher. 

November 11, 2013 1:05 AM

Some friends of mine recently named their second son Dashiell (after Dashiell Hammett, of course), and it's so seriously cute on a little boy.

November 11, 2013 10:39 AM

I think Dashiell would be a great name for a boy.  I think everyone has to spell their names now.  My DH's name is Christopher, and you wouldn't believe the people who ask "with a C or K".  My sons' names are Ian and Eric, and we constantly have to spell both, getting Ean and Erik as some variations of spelling.  So I wouldn't let spelling deter me from a name I loved.

November 3, 2013 12:35 AM

I love Felix for a boy, but I have never been a fan of Xavier.  After reading the comments, I've completely changed my mind.  I actually really like the name now and agree it goes well with Fellix.  I don't think they sound  Brangelina at all, and I agree with the ex-Zay-vyer pronunciation.  I'm in California and have only heard it pronounced this way. 

November 3, 2013 8:55 AM

I spelled the name Xavier for my husband last night and asked him to say it. He said Zay-vier and then looked at me like I was crazy for thinking it could be pronounced any other way. He's from Delaware.

This is fascinating to me. I think Xavier hits the sweet spot of being a familiar name that is actually so uncommon that almost no one knows more than one person with the name. (Since Xavier hit 81 on the charts last year, however, this is going to change quickly.) Therefore, the one pronunciation they have heard sets the tone for the name as a whole; few people seem to be aware that there is more than one pronunciation. Early in my life I realized that there were multiple acceptable ways to pronounce Cara, Alicia, and Lucia. But Xavier? The first time I met someone with the -ex pronunciation, a student, female at that!, my gut reaction was that she was mispronouncing her own name. I still have to pause before saying the name with that pronunciation because it's so counter-intuitive for me. Years of Zay-conditioning have brainwashed me. :)

November 3, 2013 2:18 PM

I agree, this is fascinating! I also agree that the name's rarity (up until now) encourages people's experience of its pronunciation to be firmly set in their minds as the *only* one or the *correct* one, and I'd love to know how/why there are two pronunciations to begin with. I've loved these conversations!

November 3, 2013 11:28 PM

I love Felix and Xavier together, I think they fit without being overly matchy. I also love your creative nicknames. 

November 4, 2013 1:05 AM

1. I think it's only veering into Brangelina-ville if you had a third child and their name ALSO had a prominent X in it. So, if you were thinking that your family might not be "two and through" then I might tell you to think about it ahead of time, but if you're either done or if you'd be fine with names for future child(ren) either continuing or not continuing the theme, I think it's totally okay!

X is unusual and eye-catching enough a letter that I think the similarity between Felix and Xavier is as noticable as any two names that have the same (more common, boring, low-scrabble value) starting letter. However, I tend to think that "two is a coincidence, three is a pattern"... and it wouldn't surprise me to meet a Felix, Xavier and Eloise. It WOULD surprise me to meet a Felix, Xavier, Alexandria and Sabine, though.

It also helps that Felix and ZAY-vyer don't actually share much of the same sound in terms of what sounds the X is making. Of course, if you do the ex-ZAY-vyer pronunciation, that's less true.

2. I think the difference between ig-ZAY-vyer and ZAY-vee-er is pretty subtle, and the beginning "ig" can be rather swallowed, so I think the two pronunciations sort of blend into each other. I was familiar with both pronunciations, so neither would surprise me, but I also might tend to vaccillate between the two. If you had a very strong feeling that the name must have only one pronunciation, I might consider that reason to look elsewhere.

A good way to try out which pronunciations predominate locally is to have your husband order coffee or make dinner reservations or get takeout pretending that his name is Xavier, and see what the barista/etc says based on what's written on the cup/calendar/slip. (Only works if the coffee shop is busy enough that the person taking your order is not the person who is handing you the drink, and also if you're paying cash.) Sneaky, eh? Only trick is remembering to give the name you're testing when you're asked, rather than blurting out your own name.


November 10, 2013 3:48 PM

I like your point about ZAY-vier lessening the matchiness. I always pronounced it with the ex-, so that didn't even occur to me. I LOVE your coffee ordering idea! That will give us a much broader view than just asking friends and family. The only Xavier I've ever met is a current kindergartener who uses the ZAY-vier prononciation. His family is African-American, which seems to be a naming culture stronger than most regional associations, so I don't think that's necessarily the more common pronunciation for our area. My husband's family is Catholic and trend toward (Saint) ex-ZAY-vier, and most of our friends grew up with Professor X, so we need some less biased test cases. 

November 10, 2013 7:51 PM

Hah, bonus with Xavier is that you could use it as an assumed surname, too, and you could also do the pronunciation test for restaurant reservations and other situations where last names are being used to identify a party!

I suspect that you will find a mix of pronunciations, and if that is bothersome to you then I think Lionel is an EXCELLENT choice. It's a little fustier than Xavier, so it brings out the old-mannishness of Felix, but I think that's not a bad thing -- I have a son named Rupert, after all. I really like Lionel and Lyle for the nickname, and Lio/Leo could be another nickname choice.

I think the Lion factor gives Lionel an edge, too. I'd stick him in a lion hat for the birth announcement photo, anyway, and make that a nursery decor thing - I don't think most people would think of it on their own, but with a little push they would!

November 11, 2013 10:42 AM

I've grown up in the South my whole life, and at least in my circles, all the ZAY-vier pronunciations are spelled Zavier.  All of the ex-ZAY-vier pronunciations are spelled Xavier.  At least where I live, they are considered two different names based on spelling. 

November 10, 2013 4:26 PM

So at this point, we're pretty much sold on Winston as the middle name, and down to Lionel (Lyle) or Xavier (Avi) as the first name. I still lean toward Lionel, which feels like it's of the same era as Felix and not becoming more popular. I think the lion connection gives it some edge, although not the same kind of edge as an X has. And I think it feels like his own name; not something that was inspired by his brother's name. This would be easier if one of us disliked the other's name, but we don't. We just each like a different one better.

It seems like this board prefers Xavier, as does my husband. What makes Xavier sound better to you? What is Lionel missing? How do we choose (this was so much easier before my husband started having ideas)?!

Lionel Winston Ha-__-__n (Felix & Lionel/Eli & Lyle)

Xavier Winston Ha-__-__n (Felix & Xavier/Eli & Avi)

By EVie
November 10, 2013 7:02 PM

Well, you can put me down firmly in the Lionel camp, actually. I like Xavier fine, but the pronunciation issue bugs me (I don't have issues with names having multiple correct pronunciations in general—my own name does—but with this one I feel like I look at the name and am not sure how to say it, whereas with names like Alicia, Aurelia etc. I default to one or the other and adjust for people who say it differently). The X initial is very cool, but a little too cool for me, if that makes sense. Lionel actually might be a frontrunner for us if we have another boy, so I'm a big fan. Love the meaning, love that old-fashioned, dignified, aristocratic, scholarly feel. Xavier is flashy and cool, but Lionel has more subtle elegance, and I prefer that style. 

November 11, 2013 1:07 AM

To me, Lionel has a strong association with model trains.  Of course, your son may LOVE that association as he grows up.  (My son would probably lose his mind if he had the same name as TRAINS.)

November 11, 2013 9:55 AM

My reasons for preferring Xavier are personal -- we chose it for our son because it's a family name and a saint's name, our two main criteria for naming -- so not likely the reasons you like it. It also happens to be one of my favorite names, so it would be my vote over most any name.

More helpful to you probably are my thoughts about Lionel -- all I think of is Lionel Ritchie (Richie?), especially as he was in the 80s, both of which (Lionel Ritchie and the 80s) are not appealing connections for me. It's an uneducated viewpoint I know -- I have no other associations with the name Lionel (except, more recently, the train), so I don't know about its history of usage or any of the other more sophisticated associations. I also find myself tongue tied saying Eli and Lyle out loud.

All that said, though, I really like your reasons for liking Lionel -- similar feel to Felix, not so popular, you like the "lion" connection -- but especially that you feel like it would be the baby's own name, not something inspired by his brother's name. The Lionel train connection is also a great one -- my son Thomas has always loved that there's a train with *his* name, it would be fun for your Lionel when he's little.

November 11, 2013 10:59 AM

I think Xavier pairs better with Winston, and I also prefer the nn above the one for Lionel.  I love the nn Avi with Eli too.  Also when I hear Lionel, I think Lionel Richie more than trains.  So if you aren't big fans of Lionel Richie, you may want to reconsider the name given the strong association.  I can also imagine strangers upon hearing his name will say or sing "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" or some variation of that.  One of my friends was named Luke, and after the whole Star Wars craze he has yet to go anywhere when he tells someone his name he doesn't get "Luke, I am your father." in the very best Darth Vader voice the person can emulate.  :/  The train thing wouldn't bother me because lots of boys are named Thomas, and I immediately think Thomas The Train.  :)

November 11, 2013 1:06 PM

Hmmm.... I like them both, but I have to say I lean Xavier nn Avi.

November 10, 2013 6:20 PM

Well, I love Xavier as a name, and I pronounce it ex-ZAY-vyer, but when I worked in a day care we had a ZAY-vyer so there probably will be people who will pronounce it differently than how you originally intended it. In my opinon, it goes great with Felix.