HELP! Middle name for Henry (boy)

My husband and I are having our first baby (and potentially the last due to health risks) and have decided on Henry as the first name for our little boy but are having trouble figuring out what mn goes with our last name: Widdows (like black widdow but with an s) Rosales (ROSE-ah-lez)

The general concensus is to have two middle names to soften the blow of Widdows. 

So far I love Noah, August, Greysen, Jase, and alexander. My husband really likes Edward but it would cause problems because it is a family name from his dads side which would cause his mothers side as well as my family to be left out. Most of my family names are out of the question because they are very very mexican spaniard and widdows sounds horrible with them.. HELP! 


(If I cant come up with something that works, I am planning on dropping the "Rosales" part of the name)


November 9, 2015 3:10 PM

I think if you're going to have two middle names, you could easily have a Spanish first middle that would not run into Widdows, if flow is the issue (e.g. Henry Eduardo August Widdows Rosales, so that you don't have the -o ending conflicting with the W- sound).

If you're interested in possibly using some family names, if you let us know the names of some folks you might like to honor we can see if there's a way to combine them--folks here are really good at seeing connections that we might miss on our own (like recognizing common etymological roots of apparently different names). If you list last names and names of women, too, you'll get the most possibilities.

If you want to avoid family names altogether, perhaps you'd like to play around with the Name Matchmaker--you can plug in some of the names you like, and get lists of names "inspired by" those names. Also, if you tell us a little more about what you want in a middle name (biblical, modern, nature-inspired, whatever) we can help generate more on-track suggestions.

November 9, 2015 3:11 PM

First, multicultural names are a great way to honor all parts of a kid's heritage (and I think they sound very cool), so I wouldn't automatically consider your family names out of the question.

Are there any family names that would honor people in multiple families? Ex: Someone named Carlos on your side and someone named Charles on his side could be honored with the same middle name. Since you have decided on two middle names, it gives more room to honor an extra person.

I think if anyone's family would be offended by not being honored in a middle name, the diplomatic option would be to honor them all or choose a non-family middle name.

November 9, 2015 4:36 PM

I would not suggest 2 middle names to "soften the blow" of Widdows. 98% of people will never know his middle name, much less that he has 2 of them.  To most people, he will just be Henry Widdows Rosales.  I'll add that a 2nd middle name will also give him a pretty long name, which could be a hassle for paperwork.  Unless both middle names have significant family connections, I'd just do one and be done with it.

I see no reason to eliminate family names from your side because they "sound horrible" with Widdows.  Again, most of the time his middle name (or names) won't be used.  In the case of middle names, I think meaning usually trumps flow issues.  If you just really don't want to do it, could you use an English version of a Spanish name from your side?  I suggest this only in the case that your family will accept such a variation as a legitmate honor name.

Family names are all about connection, not creating strife.  If using Edward will cause hurt feelings within your husband's family I think it should be eliminated. 

I see no reason to drop Rosales.  Why should you drop the connection to your family & culture because of perceived flow issues caused by your husband's name?  You child will equally belong to your family & culture and I think his name should reflect that.

If you decide not to use any family names from your side, and you eliminate Edward, I suggest looking for a middle name that has meaning for you & your husband, as opposed to something that just "sounds nice."  Nature or place names, names of historical figures you admire, characters from books/movies/songs, etc., or virtue names that you feel inspired by are all good places to start.

If you can't find anything else, as a last resort, I'd suggest picking something you like and you think sounds good (recognizing that "sounds good" is very subjective).  From your current list, I do not care for Greyson or Jase at all.  Noah is kind of meh.  My favorites (in order) are August & Alexander.

I shall summarize my very long winded post.  I suggest you not use 2 middle names unless doing so will allow you to incorporate both sides of the family.  Eliminate Edward because it sounds like it will cause problems in your husband's mother's family. If you use only 1 name, try to find something with meaning, even if it's not a family name.  Do not drop Rosales!!!

November 9, 2015 4:58 PM

Totally agree with this! My kids and I have a long double-barreled very ethnic surname. I love it because it gives us connections to all our families. That said, my kids only have one middle name, and most people in their lives don't know it or use it.

I think you should just pick the middle name that you love, and not worry about family connections, especially with a baby that gets a surname from both sides.

For what it's worth, I think Henry Greyson sounds very smooth and upper-crust, Henry August has a nice old fashioned charm and Henry Alexander is just classic.  Henry Noah sounds a little awkward to me, and Henry Jace just seems like two very different styles.

November 9, 2015 5:00 PM

I agree with both NAGA and Nedibes here. You can absolutely use a Spanish middle name, or an English version of one, if you want to. Also, the people here a quite good at offering ideas for specific naming conundrums. If you can tell us some more family names we may be able to help you find a way to honor both side of your family.

November 9, 2015 5:44 PM

I agree with all of this. 

I also don't think Widdows is a big deal. 

Yes, it is a sad thing to be a widow, I suppose, but I've heard plenty of worse choices. 

Henry Something Widdows Rosales sounds very handsome to me! 

If you could come up with the Spanish version of a name that is on both sides of the family that would be the way to go in my opinion. 

November 10, 2015 2:04 AM

I actually think that Rosales is doing a wonderful job cushioning the impact of Widdows all by itself! Rosales is a wonderful and very graceful surname, and I think having it come after Widdows sort of keeps one from dwelling too long on the Widdows part -- acts as a palate cleanser of sorts, if that makes sense. I definitely would not drop the Rosales part!

(I do think that the two-d spelling also removes it further from the word for a bereaved spouse, too. It took me a moment to figure out what the problem was, in writing, though it would be very obvious in speech.)

Otherwise, much agreement for what everyone else has said here. Henry Middlename Widdows Rosales is a fantastic choice.

I hear you on honor names being a tricky thing to negotiate if branches of your families are competitive with one another. Taking turns can be a fair way to resolve it, but that only works if you have multiple children. Honoring the branch(es) of the grandparents whose surname did not get passed down is another way, because in a way the surname already honors an entire chunk of family. In your case, if Widdows is your husband's father's family surname and Rosales is your father's family, perhaps you could present using a name from your or his mother's family as a fair way to ensure that their branches of the family are also included.

Lastly, as a science nerd I want to make the point that if you can comb further back on the family tree, too, with every generation you have exponentially more ancestors to choose from, and then you have greater chances of finding names that overlap between the two families. (Here it really helps that for a while it seems like almost everyone was named Mary or John, or perhaps Maria or José in Spanish-speaking contexts.)

Some math: A child has 2 parents (25 years ago), 4 grandparents (50 years ago), 8 great grandparents (75 years ago) and 16 great-great grandparents (100 years ago)...  if you add it all up, your child has 510 ancestors total if you can go back 200 years. If you can go back further, it gets progressively more insane: 8,190 ancestors in the past 300 years, 131,070 ancestors in the past 400 years. I find this interesting because my father was namesaking (completely; first/middle/last) the family progenitor born 350 years earlier -- that's quite an honor to be selected from 32,766 ancestors!


November 9, 2015 10:57 PM

Some ideas:







November 10, 2015 2:50 AM

I think the double middle name is way too long. I agree with the others. I'd list some of the family names and see what kind of feedback you get. I'm sure there is one that works well with all the names. 

December 27, 2015 8:51 PM

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for your input, now that we're getting closer to our due date we're trying to figure this out faster. We have decided to do only ONE middle name since Rosales does soften Widdows quite a bit and five names, while interesting and generally pretty is a little too much when you have two multiple syllable last names. 

As far as names on my hispanic side of the family we have: 

Indalecio (EEn-dah-less-EE-Oh)

Raymundo (rAY-moon-doe)

Omar (OH-mahr)

Armando (arr-mon-doe)

Rigoberto (rEE-GO-bear-tOE)

Alvaro (al-vahr-OH)

Guadalupe (wah-dah-LOO-peh)

Mauricio (mau-reese-sEE-Oh)

Abel (ahh-bell)

Alejandro (ahh-leh-hahn-drO)

Noel (NO-el)

Francisco (fran-sEEs-co)


Other than that, I've kept looking into Henry and I wanted to look into Jacob, Benjamin, and Alexander. My husband likes Sebastian, Daniel, Andrew and Jason.

(We've also liked the names Greysen, Noah, Clark, Luke, Alan, and Rhys)

We decided to keep both last names so the baby will be _____ ______ Widdows Rosales.


Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!



December 27, 2015 10:43 PM

I looked up the origins of the family names you listed (well, all except Indalecio, which I can't find in any of the sources I know). I was struck by the number of army/warrior/soldier/defender-type associations and derivations:

Raymundo: Germanic 'advice' + 'protector'
Armando: Germanic 'army' + 'man'
Rigoberto: Germanic 'ruler' + 'bright'
Alvaro: Germanic/Norse 'elf' + 'army'
Mauricio: Patron saint of infantry soldiers
Alejandro: Greek 'defender of men'

You could cover most of these in one fell swoop with Miles, which is identical to the Latin word for 'soldier'.

December 30, 2015 2:03 AM

I agree with the posters who've said that having two middle names would be too long, and that cohesiveness in sound shouldn't be a reason to avoid Spanish name options for your son--speaking as someone who generally likes cohesiveness, I feel that honoring your side of the family would be more important than a Spanish middle name clashing with Widdows.

That said, if you really don't want to go with something Spanish, you can use other forms of some of the names you'd listed:

Alexander (yup, you're in luck here)




Abel--you can have it pronounced both ay-bel and ah-bel, if you like.


Of course, as already said by NotAGuestAnymore, you can also choose a name you and your husband both like that isn't an honor name.

December 28, 2015 4:24 AM

Indalecio gets my vote on pure craziness factor -- I kind of feel like if you have that in the family tree it would be a shame not to give it a run in the next generation.

More normal options that still maintain the Mexican flavour would be Alejandro, Mauricio and Francisco, but I would perhaps go with the relative you feel closest to?

Guadalupe is a woman's name, isn't it. I was thinking of cross-gender namesakes and wondering, does your mother have a name with a masculine version (I.e. Maria - Mario.) It could be a nice way to include her side of the family as well.

December 28, 2015 5:35 AM

Guadalupe can be a man's or a woman's name, and the nickname Lupe seems to be equally applicable to both. 

December 28, 2015 5:04 AM

These are some great choices! I think my first criterion for choosing the middle name would be sentiment -- if any of these namesakes are more meaningful to you than others, or the names are shared by multiple branches of family, then I would upvote those.

As a secondary consideration, I personally tend to like a bit of contrast between first and middle names, to give a child options (though it's also just a style that I find pleasing). I would be tempted to pair a very well-loved classic like Henry (if you live somewhere where Henry is well-loved, as I do) with something a little more unusual and eye-catching. I also like the idea of having it be distinctively Spanish so as to honor that portion of his heritage, rather than a name like Noel or Abel that could be either.

Indalecio is nice -- it's not often that I get to know a totally new name, and this is a great one! Fun to say, nice rollicking rhythm with the whole name. Why should girls have all the 5-syllable fun?

Raymundo is a fantastic name!  I do find the -ree Ray- transition with the first name to be a little awkward. I am one who really likes using first and middle names together for emphasis, so while I generally agree that flow isn't really that important, I think it might be useful as a tiebreaker if you no other more important reasons exist.

Armando - Armando is such a fabulous name. It's really sleek and stylish and the sort of name most people would love to have family name reasons for using. It's a little darker and gothic in feel for me thanks to The Vampire Armand, and I think that also means that it would pair well with Henry, which seems much more buttoned up and classic.

Rigoberto - I like this one -- so fun to say! It's a little more daring in terms of including the -bert element which is kind of "out" right now, but I think that also gives it a certain panache, too.

Guadalupe is a name that I'm much more familiar in feminine usage... that said, every one of my uncles has Maria as a middle name, so I am understanding of the fact that some Mary-honoring names are gender-traversing.

Mauricio - I would be giving my unborn child Maurice as a middle name if my spouse would consent to it, so this might be my absolute favorite of your options.

Francisco - I really like this name, too. I know it both on grown men and on a young boy who goes by Cisco, which is a great nickname, too.


Lots of great choices -- you really can't go wrong!

January 1, 2016 11:52 AM

I think several of the names from your middle list would work fine and would not necassarily need to be changed since they should be easy & familiar for English speakers.  However, since it is his middle name, I don't think having it be easy & familiar for English speakers is hugely important, so if you want to use something a bit more difficult go for it.

Of these names, are there any that are especially meaningful for you?  When picking honor names, I think it is important to consider who you'd most like to honor and the expected reactions of family members.

I noticed you are looking into Alexander, so that could also allow you to double dip in that it can be a namesake for Alejandro and then you could still do a middle name from the Hispanic side if you wanted.  

December 28, 2015 5:43 AM

Is "Widdows Rosales" being used in the traditional "father's last name, mother's last name" pattern of Spanish surnames? I teach in a nearly-exclusively Mexican community, and the "second last name" almost always gets dropped. If I have a student named, say, Juan Gonzalez Rodriguez, he will be alphabetized under "G" and always refereed to as Juan Gonzalez (unless perhaps there is another Juan Gonzalez in the same class). 

The juxtaposition of an Anglo surname and a Spanish surname is interesting, and might result in Rosales being used more often, especially if the child "seems" Hispanic. I have cousins with a Spanish father's last name and an "Anglo" (but actually Slavic) mother's last name, and it certainly is noticeable when their names are said.

A lot depends on your community. At the high school I attended, "Henry Widdows Rosales" would have been called "Henry Rosales" most of the time. At the school where I teach, he would be "Henry Widdows."

December 28, 2015 11:39 AM

It would likely depend on how familiar the area is with Spanish naming traditions. I agree the kid is likely to get both.

My Latin-Anglo friends in Canada hyphenated to make sure both get used, but otherwise he'll lijely just have to be ambidextrous about using both! I live in Spain and answer to Emily-middle name most of the time. They don't seem able to understand that I only have one surname. 

December 28, 2015 4:47 PM

Emily, this is interesting, Before you and Optatus reminded me, I had forgotten about the Spanish naming tradition. The question in my mind had been can a person have multiple last names the same way some have multiple middle names? Remembering this tradition, the answer in clearly yes. Funnily enough, as I'm typing this, I heard the name of news anchor Jose Diaz Ballart.

Anyway, when I see an anglo full name like Jane Ann Smith Jones, I assume two middles and Smith is probably a family name, most likely mother's last or maiden. But if it's Jane Ann Smith-Jones, then I assume mother is Smith and father is Jones and both are clearly the last name. Of course, thankfully, times are achangin'. So now I might think one father is Smith and one father is Jones-or replace both fathers with mother.

To the OP, like others have said, many of the names you listed would work very nicely. I also think some of the more unusual ones would sound great the few times the full name is said out loud. 

December 28, 2015 5:06 PM

In my experience, which is with Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants in Central California, the first last name is the "real" surname in everyone's eyes. Usually this is easy enough to distinguish from middle names (although if the middle name were something like "Cruz" it might be difficult.)

If a student's name is "Armando Guadalupe Soto Trujillo" he will appear in our computer as "Soto Trujillo, Armando G." When he gets called to the office, they will ask for "Armando Soto," and that is also how he will be announced at graduation. 

However, the second last name being present does allow for more fluidity. It is much easier for a student to tell the school "I use my other last name" and then be called "Armando Trujillo" than it would have been for me, whose mother's last name is not legally part of my name, to convince everyone to use it for me. 

December 28, 2015 7:14 PM

Almost all of the Latino kids in my children's acquaintance have hyphenated surnames, which kind of pushes the "include both of these as the surname" issue. I do know children who have two surnames without a hyphen, but largely from other cultural traditions... and I will say that hyphenation seems by far the most frequent way that two surnames are dealt with, in general.

I agree that two surnames without the hyphen allows the most flexibility in terms of later use including one but not both names... but if you really would like both of the names to be acknowledged all the time, the hyphen requires the rest of the world to treat both names as part of the surname.

December 28, 2015 7:56 PM

I'm surprised hyphenation is so common: I have seen it maybe twice among my students. It's almost always the non-hyphen, first-last-name-gets-priority paradigm. I suppose these things can differ from community to community, and depend somewhat on where in Latin America the majority of the community comes from. And since there are so few non-Hispanic people in my school district, perhaps the ambiguity that leads to hyphenation isn't present. 

December 28, 2015 10:29 PM

I think the difference is really that hyphenation is very normative in my community for all families, Latino or not, so in that context I'm guessing it seems like a very intuitive way for families from a Dadsurname Momsurname cultural tradition to include both of the names.

(The last time I ran stats on classmates, it was a definite minority of kids who had the same surname as both of their parents. Lots of hyphens, but sometimes just mom's name or just dad's name.)

December 29, 2015 1:23 AM

The standard practice in the libraries I'm familiar with is to alphabetize by the final element of the author's name, where an element is anything that's separated by spaces. Lois McMaster Bujold is under B, but Sue Civil-Brown is under C.

However, our local library system's catalog drops hyphens from names, making their alphabetization seem arbitrary, and highlighting the frustration of having a name with a hyphen (or any non-alphabetic character). Some computer systems silently drop hyphens, usually replacing them with spaces; some reject them outright as "invalid" characters; and there are many half-baked systems like the aforementioned library catalog, where the hyphen is sort of there, but it doesn't always show up. The rarity of hyphenation in your experience may be a Catch-22: it's rare, so the systems aren't set up for it, so people get frustrated and drop it, so it's rare.

What does your local library do with an author's name like Bujold's? Do they file her under her maiden name (McMaster)? What about Civil-Brown? Is she under C or B?

December 29, 2015 5:39 AM

My area, the San Joaquin Valley, is still generally English speaking institutionally. Thus, the library would file Lous McMaster Bujold under B. However, since Hispanic customs are so well-known and accepted, I suspect Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be under "G."  Civil-Brown would be under "C."

The schools are also English speaking institutions, but since the school where I teach is in such a universally Hispanic town the naming customs follow the perception of what Mexican names are supposed to be. Whether this structures holds true throughout Mexico I don't know: I do know that I have met someone named (something similar to) Anthony Thomas Schneider who was referred to as "Señor Thomas" in Mexico based on the assumption that this was his paternal surname.

The library system is almost a particularly bad example, though, because our library covers several counties, some of which are overwhelmingly "Anglo" and others of which are mostly Hispanic. Thus, the system of alphabetizing is more likely to be bureaucratic and to follow established American naming traditions rather than being influenced by local practice in one town. 

December 29, 2015 11:20 AM

This reminds me of an issue with my own name. I style myself Miriam Maiden Name Surname for two reasons: first, it is the correct traditional style for a divorced woman, and, second since my maiden name is unusual (although not unheard of), it distinguishes me from the literally hundreds of other women who share my first and last name.  And I have no middle name to help distinguish me from all the others with my first and last name combo.  So, once when I was giving a paper at a conference in the Netherlands, I couldn't find my name in the alphabetized list of participants.  Upon further examination I found that my maiden name and surname had been hyphenated and alphabetized under my maiden name.  Wrong! No hyphen, alphabetize under surname!  I drew this error to the attention of the conference organizer, and this woman had the gall to tell me that she knew how names work and that her version of my name was correct.  Seriously!  She knew better than I what my name should be.  The word for this is chutzpah....

BTW names like Chretien de Troyes and Geoffrey of Monmouth are alphabetized under C and G respectively.  I can't count the number of students who complained that the library had no holdings on these authors--because they were looking under T and M.

December 29, 2015 12:53 PM

Since my parents had different surnames, checking reservations or picking up tickets was always an exercise In "oh, it's not under Jones? Try Smith." I now do the same with my middle name/surname, and with various versions of my surname (which is a Mc name but frequently spelled/pronounced Mac here).

When I'm looking for an author with an ambiguous name, I always check all the options. Daphne du Maurier always has me running between the ds and the ms, and I've found her in both.

December 29, 2015 11:53 PM

Funny, I'm a librarian, and I don't think about how things are alphabetized at all, since I pretty much look everything up electronically before I go looking on shelves (I recently had a patron who was deeply disappointed that we didn't have any Trollope in the library...of course, we do, in the stacks under "literature"--not in popular fiction where the patron was looking).

Checking just now, we have McMasters Bujold listed under b, du Maurier under d, and Garcia Marquez under g. I'm pretty sure there are conventions for all this--I'll have to ask our cataloguer after the break.

December 31, 2015 5:44 PM

Nedibes, I am very impressed that your library alphabetizes Garcia Marquez under g. That is unusual. Miriam, I had a student tell me she couldn't find anything on Chretien because she was looking under d! Oy!

January 1, 2016 4:33 AM

This, I don't understand (especially for "Google generation" undergrads). Are they going to the first bookshelf they see and just scanning along? Traveling back in time to find a physical card catalog? Looking at a drop-down list of all X-thousand volumes in the library?

January 1, 2016 11:06 AM

I've been retired and out of the student loop for ten years, but ten years ago near as I can tell, if it wasn't in Wikipedia they had no clue.

January 3, 2016 12:09 AM

My student exhibited her ignorance in the mid-90s, so she didn't have access to Google or Wikipedia.

January 1, 2016 11:58 AM

I think it's a mix where I am.  More recent immigrants tend to not hyphenate, but you start to see hyphenation with families who have been here longer.  I'd say by the 2nd or 3rd generation they've either dropped one last name completely or they've added the hypen to ensure that both names are used consistently.

With non-Latino families, the hypen is pretty much always used when there are 2 surnames.  Among my friends who have gone the 2 surname route it is important that both names be used regularly, so the hypen makes sense.