I need another boys name

I have three children, an Ivy, an Arthur and a Peter.  We are currently expecting our fourth, and if it is a girl, we have a long list of lovely names to choose from. If it is a BOY, we have nothing. My husband and I don't so much see eye to eye on boys names, and at this point, I kind of feel like we've named ourselves into a corner when it comes to boys.  Both Peter and Arthur seem to have these great legendary king associations for many people, and they are both names that are everywhere in the culture, but not that commonly used for actual children anymore.  Can you think of a third name that fits this mold?  I'd like a name that's well-known and full of positive associations.  

Our last name is problematic. It begins with the letter N, so a lot of names that end in N sound silly with it. It is also a bit of a first name, so names that sound too last-namey are out.  

Thanks for your help. This is indeed a thorny problem, but I've been lurking on this forum for a while, and I am very impressed at how thoughtful and tasteful your collective namng choices are.


June 16, 2012 2:43 AM

Some kingly names from assorted European countries:  Edward, Philip, Francis, Louis, Victor, Gustave, Harald, Carl, Albert, Ferdinand, Michael, Otto, George, Constantine, Basil, Kenneth, Donald, Malcolm, Duncan, Edgar, David, Robert, Eric, Magnus, Olaf, Frederick

June 16, 2012 8:56 AM

I think either Philip or Edward would go great with your other boys.  

By Coll
June 26, 2012 8:27 PM

Agreed! And George.

June 16, 2012 9:23 AM

Phillip, Harold, George, Louis/Lewis, Oliver and Charles fit well with Arthur and Peter.  Edward works, but I think I like Edmund a little better for you.  Henry also fits well, though might be becoming a bit too popular for you. 

My favorites with Arthur and Peter are George and Edmund.  However, I might be biased as my youngest is George.  



June 16, 2012 10:06 AM

A few more:

Alfred - running with the Saxon names, and potentially Alfie

Hector, Marcus - I'm not very knowledgeable about classics, but I believe they have strong leader figure associations

Gregory, Augustine - going off on a tangent with strong early church figures; a bit like Peter

I personally love many of the suggestions above, especially Edward, Edmund, Duncan and Magnus.

June 16, 2012 10:27 AM

I immediately thought of James. While it's a fairly common middle name, it's not often in the first name slot. 

By Guest (not verified)
June 16, 2012 9:12 PM

While they don't fit all your qualifications, both Timothy and Daniel popped to mind for me.


I also like Henry and Charles (Charlie) if they're not too popular for you.

June 16, 2012 10:15 PM

Oh! Thank you so much for your suggestions. I LOVE a lot of these, and many of them my husband and I have discussed at length.  Phillip and Edward especially I feel like hit exactly the right mark for us.  They are nice and classic and not too common. Unfortunately my husband hates them both, because he doesn't like names that can be reduced to nicknames he dislikes.  He dislikes Ed and Phil.  James is also perfect, I think, but we live in a fairly religious society, so having a Peter and a James would just be weird (in fact, we have some close friends with a James about Peter's age, and we always joke about someone needing to name a kid John to go with them).  Henry is perfect too, but my husband knew an evil boy named Henry once, so he dislikes it.  

Malcolm. . .is on our list.  I like it okay, my husband REALLY likes it (speaking of firefly fans).  I'm just not so sure it goes well with our last name or has the proper associations. What do you associate with it?

We don't like names that are terribly 'out there.' We are willing to explore the peripheries of the naming world, but when it comes to it, we seem to like names that are fairly established.  

Thank you for your suggestions, and I hope you will keep them coming. What you have suggested so far has given us a lot to talk about and consider.  

June 17, 2012 11:19 AM

I like Malcolm.  I associate it with old-fashioned and Scottish and "Malcolm in the Middle."  I've never seen Firefly.  You could use nickname Mac for him.  is it growing on you?

June 17, 2012 11:57 PM

Malcolm I like with your set. I also like the option of the nickname Mac rather than Mal.

I immediately thought of Edward and Phillip too and am sad to see they are a no go.

My other thoughts (sorry for any repeats): Frederick, William, George, Thomas, Alexander, Jonathan, Dominic, Christain.

I also think James and Charles are excellent suggestions.

I see your husband isn't fond of names that can be nicknamed but I think with this category of names most of them have a common nickname. That said, these days most little boys I know are going by their full names. I know multiple 'just Alexander' and 'just Thomas' etc.  So it is possible to have a nickname free name if you want to.

June 17, 2012 1:24 AM

A few more that are in the same general vicinity of "well-known but not currently overused": Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Timothy, Christopher. Yeah, they can feel a bit like "dad" names, but they're classics, and may appeal to your husband -- most men I know gravitate toward the familiar when it comes to names, and their contemporaries are what's familiar to them.

June 17, 2012 11:16 AM

I love the names you've already used for your kids!  Ivy, Arthur and Peter sounds like a set of storybook characters.  I hope your fourth enjoys new adventures with his siblings in the future.  Here are my suggestions:


and these I liked but dont' fit your criteria:


By Guest (not verified)
June 18, 2012 2:49 PM

So I've pinned my husband down to a LIST and I'm not sure what either of us really think of these.  Here are our candidates:



Phillip (see! I sort of talked him into it!) 



So what do you think of these? How well do they fit in the set of names we have already? Would a little Simon feel shafted in our family?  Which one do you like best, both in general and for us?  Are there any that you absolutely hate and why?


June 18, 2012 3:13 PM

(I see Alvin is out? ... Sorry... That was horribly lame.)

When reading your list, my gut reaction when I saw Theodore was "Yes! That's the one!" It has a sweet, quaint, somewhat quirky feel to me, and I think that it fits well with your other kids. You'd also have some nickname options, should you desire.

Phillip is okay, but I tend to prefer giving kids their own initials. Anyway, I still prefer Theodore.

Simon and Nicholas are my second choices, with Simon getting a bit of an edge because Nicholas just feels a bit more common.

Cecil is just simply not my style. However, that said, if it were just Ivy and Cecil, I could definitely get behind it. But with Peter and Arthur, it doesn't seem to fit for me.


June 18, 2012 3:34 PM

I'm exactly with Karyn on this one. :-)

Other suggestions that haven't been mentioned:  Richard, Samuel, Stephen, Spencer, Eugene, Colin/Collin, Tobias

Ohhh.... bonus with Theodore--all the boys will have a "t" in their name! Subtle tie together. :-) 

June 18, 2012 8:21 PM

Cecil isn't a good match to Arthur and Peter to me. How about Clement or Clyde?

Phillip, Simon and Theodore are all fabulous and I think Theodore would be my favourite.  

Nicholas is a good option but I'd put it just behind the others because it's a little more common. 

June 18, 2012 10:24 PM

I agree that Cecil just doesn't do it for me.

Nicholas does feel too common nex to Arthur and Peter.

Phillip, Simon and Theodore are all great.  Phillip is my favorite, my only hesitation is repeat initial with Peter.  Simon would be my next favorite.  But really, I don't think you could go wrong with any of these.

June 19, 2012 12:22 PM

I really like Louis for you!  I like Philip a lot as well and while in a perfect world it would be nice for everyone to have their own initial since Peter and Philip have different beginning sounds I think it isn't a big deal.

June 19, 2012 12:39 PM

The name Louis drives me crazy because I never know how to pronounce it. I always read it in French (and don't especially like it) and then wonder if it's supposed to be read as Lewis, which I like much better.

June 19, 2012 2:33 PM

I think it can go either way. I also like the "Lewis" pronunciation better, but I prefer the spelling of Louis. I think it's a case-by-case basis kind of thing, and if you don't know, just pick your favorite. I mean, how many people say "Pair-iss" instead of "Pahr-hree" when saying "Paris"? 


June 19, 2012 2:43 PM

Oh yes, it can go either way, which is why it drives me crazy :) For some reason more than other ambiguous spellings. (Probably because I like one version more than the other.)

As for the Pair-iss pronunciation, that is due to the prevalent pronunciation of a-followed-by-an-r that is the bane of my existence. I don't know why, but the majority of North American accents make the "ar" combination sound like "air". Watch Sex and the City and you'll hear that most of the characters pronounce her name like Kerry while some make it sound like the "a" of "hat". My name does not start with "Care", but most people make it sound that way. But that's a different issue from Louis, which is just due to different languages of origin.

June 19, 2012 3:19 PM

Oh no, I'm one of those people!

I can hear the difference in accents, but since I grew up in the midwest, it's what feels right. For a bit in middle school I tried to change it to pronounce things more "correctly", but stopped because it felt pretentious and fake (while, admitedly, I was pretentious and fake for most of middle school).

June 19, 2012 3:43 PM

Are you talking about the Mary-Marry-Merry merger?

I, like most of the Midwest/West US, merge those sounds. It's not that we say "air" when we should say "aer" ("ae" being the "hat" vowel), it's that there is no "aer" to say. I was born and raised in California, and now I live in New Jersey, and yes, I hear the differences in my accent vs. my neighbors'.

June 19, 2012 3:51 PM

Yup, that's what I'm talking about. Again :)

What do you mean that there is no ær to say? I'm quite positive that it's right there in my name :D

June 19, 2012 4:07 PM

I think he means it doesn't exist in the accent? As in, if I speak within the confines of my midwestern accent, there are no instances wherein I would use the "aer" sound.

June 19, 2012 4:23 PM

Agreed. However, how do you feel about pronouncing peoples's names the way they say them themselves? I've known my husband for nine years and he still cannot say my name the way that it feels like "my name".

June 19, 2012 4:50 PM

I accept alterations in accents and Anglicization and other items just fine. If I insisted to my German in-laws that my name John requires a voiced fricative, not unvoiced, and the vowel is unrounded, all I'd get is irate in-laws. Heck, my wife doesn't pronounce my name like a Californian, and it doesn't bother me at all.

My wife is quite used to people not pronouncing her name in the German fashion, although it's still quite possible in English. (It's Claudia, pronounced Cloudy-ah, not Claw-dee-ah)

My mother's Spanish name, she doesn't even bother trying to get native English speakers to pronounce it in the Spanish method, but is perfectly happy with a particular Anglicization (although, admittedly, not another Anglicization). Her name is Micaela, pronounced mee-cah-eh-lah, but she Anglicizes it to mih-Ky-luh. It is not mih-Kay-luh, but we dont' know anyone who says "ay" and not "y," so once people hear the name, they know what to say.

So really, recognizing that different people grow up with different accents and hearing different sounds is perfectly natural. There are scientific studies that show that people learn specific sets of sounds and then have difficulty detecting differences that their native language doesn't have. It would be rather insensitive to expect someone to speak specific sounds that he or she does not natively have.

June 19, 2012 4:56 PM

I have linguistics training and know about that research and find it quite cool. I also have zero problem when non-native English speakers pronounce my name alternate ways. It doesn't even bother me when non North American English speakers pronounce my name in different ways. It's really only that one vowel sound in that context spoken by North Americans that drives me crazy. Can't I have that one hang-up?

Besides, that's not even the issue that I mentioned with the original post. That was about ambiguous spellings/ambiguously-pronounced names.

By hyz
June 19, 2012 4:14 PM

Hmm.  In my experience (east coast and midwest US), it would be very unusual for a person here to pronounce Louis or Paris as anything other than Lewis or Pare-iss, unless there was some good reason for the Loo-ee/Pa-ree pronounciations (e.g. if the context is obviously French, or when referring to specific individuals, like Louis XIV, or a specific phrase, like "meet me in St. Louis," or "gay Paris").   So, to me, there is effectively no ambiguity in the pronunciation of either of those words, except in the relatively rare instance that the context indicates there should be.  I would say they are equivalent to Jean or Gilbert, which I would certainly prounounce as jeen and gil-bert (rather than zhan and zheel-bair) unless I had a very good reason to the contrary.

I am not a huge fan of Louis--it's ok, but I think it sounds a bit nerdy, maybe--but I do prefer that spelling over Lewis.  The nns Lou and Louie aren't nerdy at all to me--in fact, they go a bit too far the other direction into macho for my taste.  From the current list, I really like Simon and Theodore--both are great, and fit well with your set.  Nicholas is also great--I agree the only downside is that it maybe feels a bit more common than your others.  I still love it, though.  I don't love Philip, which feels dated and also sounds a bit nerdy to me (despite having multiple friends I really love named Phil, the name has not grown on me), as does Cecil.  Cecil also bothers me because I do have pronunciation questions about that--see-cil or cess-il?  Kind of like Basil as a name--like the herb (baze-il), or Baz-il?  I would guess the former in both cases, but be concerned that I was wrong. 

By mk
June 19, 2012 4:28 PM

Agree. I have a few relatives with Louis as a first or middle name, and they all pronounce it Lewis. I only pronounce it in the French way when speaking French. Otherwise, it's "Lewis" unless I'm told otherwise.

Of the names I like Nicholas the best.

June 19, 2012 4:33 PM

Absolutely. For a lot of ambiguous names, I find that knowing something about the person's place of origin helps. Plus, it matters how much exposure you've had to one pronunciation over the other.

For me, I can't recall ever meeting a French-speaking Gilbert, so it wouldn't even cross my mind to say it any way other than GILL-burt. However, where I live, "Jean"s abound... I can't even count how many guys I know with names like Jean-François (JF), Jean-Philippe, Jean-Pierre {both JP), Jean-Sébastien (JS), etc... so unless I know that it's a woman, I'm definitely thinking "Zhahn" before "Jeen". Similarly, I've been surrounded by streets, tunnels, statues, historical figues named Louis, all said the French way, so the Lewis pronunciation is only an afterthought, and when I feel like I may be reading someone's name wrongly, it makes me a uneasy.

On the other hand, if I've encountered an equal number of people with the English and French pronunciation, e.g., Simon, then I just go with the flow. I'll assume English unless I have information that leads me to the French.

By hyz
June 19, 2012 6:09 PM

I understand and agree it would definitely be different where you are (I am pretty sure I've never actually met a male Jean of any sort!), and that was essentially my point for the OP, really.  I just wanted to throw in a comment about the regional differences, in case she is in an area where Louis is not generally ambiguous at all, and may have been concerned by your comment about that (and may not have known that there's more French in your area).  I remember an eye-opening conversation here when I learned that Alistair/Alastair did not have one fairly standard pronunciation here in the US or elsewhere, and that did go down as a check in the "con" column when we were considering it for our son.  So I guess depending on where the OP is, it may or may not be an issue for her. 

June 19, 2012 6:15 PM

In that case, it was an excellent point :)

By hyz
June 20, 2012 10:50 AM


(I just looked back at my first post above, and realize that although I was thinking about the regional differences, I didn't refer to them other than the parenthetical in the first line, so my point was really not very clear.  Sorry about the confusion!) :)


June 19, 2012 7:58 PM

Now that I have left New Orleans after 25 years. I have to remind myself that Jeanne is Jeen, not Zhahn (Jean is Zha with a nasalized vowel).  My sister's name is Suzanne with the flat a, but in New Orleans Suzanne always has the broad a.  And the next parish over was St. Louis (Lou-ee) King of France.  But I often heard the cathedral pronounced St. Louis with the -s, maybe because of the many tourists visiting it.  Sandra Bullock adopted a New Orleans baby and named him Louis, I believe pronounced Lou-ee although I am not 100% sure.  And Louis Armstrong is always Lou-ee.  But many New Orleans pronunciations take some getting used to for newcomers:  Calliope like hope, not Cal-eye-oh-pee; Bur-GUN-dy, not BUR-gundy; Chartres like charters (legal documents), not Shartr' like the cathedral city; Melpomeen, not Melpomenee; and so on.

BTW I grew up in SE Pennsylvania, and I have the Mary-merry-marry-Murray distinction.  My mother-in-law who was born in Philadelphia just after the turn of the 20th century did not distinguish merry and Murray.  As far as she was concerned it was Murry Christmas.  Karyn, I am one person who would get your name right.  I also have the cot-caught distinction, but I do not have the hoarse-horse distinction.   I am personally mystified by the "Harry" puns.  For me they don't exist.

By Guest (not verified)
June 19, 2012 6:33 PM

We live in the very French-less West, but I still never know how to pronounce the name when I see it.  I'm a bit of a history buff, so all of those French kings are absolutely my first referents for the name.  My second referent is probably Louis Armstrong.  And I like the Louie pronunciation better anyway, but I would feel totally weird trying to pull that off.  I kind of feel like you need some kind of ethnic 'excuse' to use foriegn names like that, and we are both just basic American mutts (I'm sure we could dig some French out of somebody's family tree, but it would be a stretch).  I like Louis though, pronounced either way, but my husband vetoed it.  He doesn't even have an reason this time, he just associates a not nice person with Louis.  

June 19, 2012 7:18 PM

I think Simon would go great with your other kids' names.  I'm a well known Simon-lover, I know, but it does seem to fit well.  

By hwar
June 19, 2012 8:10 PM

Of your choices I really like Simon and Theodore, particularly Theodore.

Others that I think fit with your sibset:

Edwin (Edmund also, but I find Edwin more pleasing in a modern context)
Frederick (I prefer this to Phillip because Freddie is darling)

June 21, 2012 6:56 AM

Out of interest, did you win your husband round to Philip on the basis that it wouldn't necessarily lead to the nickname Phil, but could be just Philip, or Pip?

I wondered if you could also argue that Edward wouldn't have to be Ed, but could be Ned/Ted?

June 21, 2012 10:32 AM

The Philips I knew growing up where either Philip or Flip, not a Phil (pr Phillie) among them.  I made sure my son Edward was called Edward 100% of the time--until he grew up and chose to be Ed.  My parents called us Mimi and Suzi, and my sister dumped Suzi for Suzanne as soon as she left home, while I kept Mimi.  My mother was always called Esby (the -s- voiced) derived from her initials S.B.  She hated it and got rid of it when she married and moved to a new city, although her sisters, cousins continued to use the hated Esby.  My point is that nicknames are very malleable.  They come and go over a lifetime evolving with changing circumstances.  Some stick, some don't.  I know a junior high age child named Stephen who for some reason is called MikeMike.  If the mom chose the name Stephen because she liked Steve, well, she was out of luck.  If you like Edward, and don't like Ed, don't call him Ed, and correct those who presume to do so.  Eventually the child will grow up--and do as he pleases.  And there are always those carefully chosen nicknames that are replaced organically by nicknames deriving from a childish mispronunciation or some character trait or funny event or term of endearment.

June 21, 2012 5:14 PM

Quite right, and phrased better than I could put it.  I can also think of plenty of people who have defied the common pet forms of their name.  The example that springs to mind is a friend who generally goes by her full name, Elisabeth, but has several (non-standard) nicknames used by different groups of friends and family members.

June 22, 2012 11:04 AM

You know, I totally think that this is true nowadays, that little boys can happily live their lives using the full version of their names. I named both of my sons counting on that, in fact.  My HUSBAND who doesn't spend as much time around little kids disagrees.  He didn't entirely come around to Phillip, he's just willing to sort of consider it because he knows I really like it.  And yes, I think you are all right about the flexibility that a long-form name offers. That's one of the reasons I like Theodore so much is because it offers a lot of acceptable nickname choices, so whatever his personality may turn out to be, there is something workable in there.  Edward though (and if we went the Ed----- route, it would HAVE to be Edward, it's my father-in-law's middle name, and I would LOVE to name a baby after him, he's a great man) has only unacceptable nicknames. But seriously, is a two-syllable really that hard to say?  My spouse is right though, once he started school, it would be out of our hands, and if little Edward wanted to be little Eddie, we wouldn't be able to do much about it.  

Good suggestions, recent poster.  We discussed Calvin at length for our last baby and determined that we couldn't handle the cultural baggage attached to it.  Stephen is my dad's name, and we don't want to name a baby after him, but I like the name.  

By Guest (not verified)
June 24, 2012 9:14 PM

I think most people would assume Louis to bepronounced like Lewis, although you could always choose the Lewis spelling to avoid all confusion. I personally prefer the Lewis spelling anyway. I think it goes perfectly with Peter and Arthur, and is a handsome name. I think Timothy also fits the bill for a familiar classic name that is underused. Out of the names you mentioyour your husband being willing to consider, my pick would be Malcolm.

By Guest (not verified)
June 26, 2012 12:28 AM


By Coll
June 26, 2012 8:39 PM

Simon, Theodore, and Philip are all great. As a mom to a Simon, I have to give that my vote, with one caveat: Will you find it weird that the apostle Peter's original name was Simon Peter? And he's often called that in biblical stories? If not, then do it! Ivy, Arthur, Peter, and Simon are just a wonderful set (and Arthur is on my list for a future boy, so we really are simpatico with the naming).

Theodore is also wonderful-- with the potential drawback that all your sons' names will end in a rhotic (assuming you're in the US). That wouldn't prevent me from using the name, though.

(ps: People love my Simon's name. I have gotten so many unsolicited raves about it since he was born--and from non-name enthusiasts, too).

June 26, 2012 9:21 PM

Just out of curiosity, what ELSE is on your list? And what are your other children's names?  It does sound like we have very similar tastes.  And yes, I have thought of the Simon-Peter issue, and we live in a very religious community, so people absolutely would notice that.  I have similar (although less academic) concerns with the name Theodore.  I worry people would pronounce it "theeder" which sounds WAY too much like Peter, and saying Peter and Theodore might make this more likely.  

In short, I think I have yet to find a winner. 

June 27, 2012 6:36 PM

what about Erik after your first name? Peter, Arthur, Ivy and Erik

i also liked one posters suggestion of Markus. and i'm a fan of Simon, usually, but not with Peter.

June 28, 2012 12:16 PM

That actually doesn't sound too bad, but since my name is basically Erik with an A tacked onto the end, I sort of dislike being around other Erics.  Every time somebody addresses one I think they're talking to me.  

And Mark happens to be my husband's name. I have always LOVED the idea of having a junior until I married my spouse.  I just REALLY don't like the name Mark.  I tend to dislike single syllable names and names that can be a verb anyway, and I really dislike such names that I associate with a creep my mom dated several years ago.  (My husband uses a nickname.)  So no naming babies after their parents for us.