Looking for some feedback and motivation!

Back on the name hunt after an almost 3 year hiatus... this time we know it's a boy, and I do have my previous list of contendors that didn't get used since we had a girl last time. I find myself feeling especially blah and almost lazy this time around. Probably because I'm chasing a toddler around, haha. Our daughter has a Scottish name (Maisie), and since I had really wanted either French or Celtic we are happy with her name. I'm less strict about that criteria this time since I've been through the French/Celtic lists a million times and had little luck for the boy side, even last time around. It's a preference, but definitely not a necessity. 

Here's my original list from 2014:

My new additions:

The only name with a Celtic connection is Ivor, which I love the sound of but worry people might say "Eye-vore" instead of Iver. I don't like the Iver spelling because then it's no longer Celtic, which is the reason it's on the list. MacIvor is a known surname around these Scottish-influenced parts, so it might not be much of an issue locally. Both Elias and Everett, though not Celtic or French, were both names of great uncles on the French side of my family, so I have that connection. Felix, if we accent the E, has French usage but not origin. No links with Tobias, I just like the name and Toby is a great nickname. Marlow has a loose water/lake meaning which I like because our property is along a long river, and we're from a coastal area. I don't know if it's too feminine sounding with the rise in popularity of Harlow(e)?

Just looking for thoughts/suggestions/additions since I'm feeling so unenthused about picking a name, even though deep down it's important to me. Thank you!

P.S. Surname has an -in ending, and I really dislike rhyming names. Sadly, a lot of great names end with in/n :(


May 31, 2017 2:13 PM

I really love Everett from your list. 

Other suggestions: Oliver, Louie/Louis, or Liam -?

June 1, 2017 7:59 AM

Thanks! Everett is probably/maybe my top choice from the original list, but I'm still kind of neutral at best. My cousin's son is Oliver though I do love it! Louie/Louis will always be King Louis. Liam is insanely popular (for good reason, but I can't do it!). Thank you for the input though!

May 31, 2017 5:00 PM

I likeElias, Felix and Tobias best from your list,  Everett is nice for the family connection too














Boyd, Bryce, Andre, Lous, Percy, Remy

June 1, 2017 8:06 AM

I LIKE all my choices too, I just wish something would jump out or at least grow into LOVE, lol.

I won't get into boring details, but there are a good number from that list that I've had to rule out due to knowing someone (not all good connotations, haha), living family members, or the names being oddly popular in our fairly Scottish microcosm. I did have Angus on my bigger list, but I'm torn about it being simultaneously adorable and harsh. I also had a dog named Gussi (Angus was his name, but it never stuck). I wondered if that was weird. I LOVE Rory (know several, boys and girls), but I find it hard to say without feeling tongue-tied. 

June 1, 2017 1:38 PM

I think that something growing into love can definitely be nurtured along. Consider looking up books featuring characters named Whatever-the-Name (try Novelist which your library probably has a subscription to) and watching movies and just generally giving yourself some pop-culture run-ins with the name. This was definitely how I went from liking to loving my second son's name while pregnant.

I think Angus is adorable and the dog wouldn't be weird at all.

June 3, 2017 1:50 PM

Good points. I'm not TOO hung up on the dog this in this case, it just kind of gave me further pause. I'll have to run all of my new list and new suggestions by hubby anyway, so that will probably help! 

May 31, 2017 5:24 PM

I am not familiar with Ivor, but my first guess was eye-vore or ee-vore.  I would expect a lot of people who aren't familiar with the name to default to one of these if they see the name written because of similarity to Ivan.

Marlowe does read as feminine to me, probably because I've never encountered it on a man IRL.  I do see a lot of people grabbing on to it as a kind of Harlowe/Marlo old Hollywood glam sort of name.

I like Elias and Everett, but don't feel excited by them.  Tobias is fantastic!  I also really like Felix.  I've heard it used in English, French, and Russian contexts and I like that it is a name that travels well.  I would personally not use the accent, but only because they tend to get dropped on official documents here in the U.S.  

I'll suggest Silas, Jasper, Mathias, Abram, Miles, Milo & Mitchell.

May 31, 2017 6:29 PM

In fact, if you assign "standard European" values to the letters, Ivor ought to be pronounced /ee-vore/. ("Standard European" in scare quotes because every European language mangles the alphabet to its own ends; it's just that some mangle it more than others, I'm looking at you French and Irish, and English in particular totally messes around with the vowels courtesy of the Great Vowel Shift.)

June 1, 2017 8:37 AM

Seems like anything goes with English, the rules are bent so much. It's hard with a name like Ivor that is similar to other names with varying pronunciations. 

June 1, 2017 1:44 PM

I like Ivor, in general and for you. I think a "Ivor, rhymes with fiver" is a mnemonic which would help it stick quickly enough, even if the first initial pronunciation is wrong. Plus, if you're in a strongly Scottish microcosm, it likely won't be the issue for you that it would be for someone else. In case it helps, we have a local sea food chain named Ivar's which I've very consistently heard pronounced eye-ver's, so that would be my default pronunciation for Ivor as well, and it suggests that people can learn this name without too much trouble.

June 3, 2017 1:52 PM

Haha, I'm quite used to this tactic with my daughter: "Maisie, rhymes with Daisy" is my go-to, so maybe the siblings ought to share this misery ;) I do think because MacIvor is common enough here as a surname it will help, but seeing Ivor in isolation hopefully won't throw people too off-kilter. 

June 1, 2017 9:20 AM

I didn't explain Ivor well, my apologies. It's Eye-ver, rhymes with diver. But yes, it definitely could be easily confused with Eye-vore/EE-vore which is rather unfortunate sounding... Eeyore, anyone? I'm not absolutely hung up on people mis-pronouncing my childrens' names. Maisie gets Macy ALL THE TIME, and I'm always justifying that I didn't just come up with a weird neo-spelling for kicks by explaining that it's an old Scottish pet-name for Margaret. Poor kid! So if we go with Ivor, I expect it'll just be another case of constantly correcting that I'd get used to. 

Do you think Marlo without the w/we would be more masculine, at least in print? I hear/see Arlo as totally masculine, so maybe? I do quite like it.

You're right about dropping the accent in Felix. I don't think we'd use it, though here in Canada accents are allowed in official documents. It does change the pronunciation, and I'm not going to go with a name that requires a specifically French pronunciation even though we have a strong French culture here as well as Scottish. He'd get FEE-lix over Fay-LEEX no matter what.

I'm with you on Tobias, I wish I had some connection other than my first childhood dog being a Toby. Seriously, we've chosen some great pet names over the years that totally stole my human child options: Toby, Gussi (Angus), Jasper, Asher, Lachie (Lachlan). I had Mathias on my longer list, but kind of weighed it next to Tobias and preferred the latter. Thanks for your great reply!

May 31, 2017 5:43 PM

I really like Ivor, and I think it would sound great with your daughter's name (although I do think any of the names on your list would work), my second choice from your list would be Felix. I admit that if I heard of siblings called Maisie and Marlow I'd assume they were both girls, I don't know if it's the matcing initials or the overall sound/feel of Marlow itself.

More suggestions: Alfie, Freddie (Alfred), Rhys, Connor, Jack, Sean [I know that ends with n but it doesn't have the 'in' sound of say Ryan or Dylan because of how it's joined to the 'aw' sound so it might work], Seamus/Hamish. I'll also second Angus, Callum, Finley, Louie and Oliver. :)

Hope you get out of your naming funk soon, how far into the pregnancy are you? If you have a way to go it might be best to just table all discussion for a month or two and maybe you will find you have more enthusiasm for it then. 

June 1, 2017 8:28 AM

I agree about the Maisie/Marlow combo... it definitely could sound like two little girls. I'm thinking at least on paper Marlo would be slightly better, but I'm not sure if that matters enough. Isn't it annoying how it's totally okay for a girl to have a masculine name, but a masculine name that CAN BE feminine is somehow tainted for little boys? Grrr!

Alfie is actually pretty great, but our local politician/family friend (great guy) is an Alfie and I just couldn't do it! I hadn't really given Rhys any thought, but I'll ponder it. Jack is kind of blah to me, too common. We have a Connor, Oliver, and Sean already in the family, and you're right, Sean definitely works with the last name despite the n. Angus is still on my longer list, just not sold on it.

I'm 22 weeks, so still lots of time. I hope I get some inspiration soon! Thanks for the input!

June 1, 2017 2:00 PM

I think it's totally okay to name your son Marlow, just as it's okay to name your daughter Marlow. I've said this a lot, but I have a son with a name that is 100% mistaken as feminine in writing, and another who by name is assumed to be a daughter at least half of the time, in writing or otherwise, and it really doesn't bother anyone much at all, and my eldest is at 8 in the age range where I'd expect this to be at its most sensitive. Give young Marlow(e) a more gender-distinctive middle name should he want to seek refuge in it at any point, but otherwise, don't worry about the potential taint of a name also being used for girls. It's a surname and surnames are unisex items.

Here are the Marlowe-and-sound-alikes in their current US popularity for boys and girls:
yob2016.txt:Marlowe,F,256 and M,17
yob2016.txt:Marlo,F,92 and M,71
yob2016.txt:Marlow,F,91 and M,22

Marlon-and-spelling-variants seem to tend more male:
yob2016.txt:Marlin,M,70 and F,16

And Marley-and-spelling variants seem to tend more female:
yob2016.txt:Marley,F,1491 and M,258
yob2016.txt:Marlee,F,699 and M,17

(My favorite unisex name with these sounds is Merle.)

June 3, 2017 1:55 PM

That's true... I don't know of any Marlow(e) girls, so maybe a boy Marlo(w) will set the tone locally. 

June 3, 2017 2:48 PM

There is the actress Marlo Thomas, still known for her support for St. Jude Hospital. My primary association for Marlowe is the playwright-spy Christopher.

June 2, 2017 4:52 PM

Annoying and more than a little ridiculous, but that's what comes from living in a patriarchal society. That said I don't think that Marlow is anywhere near unusable for a boy or even "tainted", it's one of those names that I have never encountered irl and so was looking at with no real context. I think I could very quickly adjust to seeing it as a male name if I ever met a boy/man named it (in fact it's already reading more 'boy' to me just from the conversation in this thread) and I imagine that would be the case for other people as well; if you named your son that he would likely be the primary association with the name for most people he knew.

I think Angus is really cute (and I don't think the dog is an issue at all, especially if he was basically Gussie) but if you don't love it then it's probably not going to be for you.

June 3, 2017 1:57 PM

It sounds masculine to me by default, but just one of those names that could get swept into the tide of masculine-turned-feminine names, like Harlowe. But you know, whatever. I'm not scrapping it yet!

May 31, 2017 9:00 PM

The French form of Elias is Elie, and the diminutive of Elie is Elliott....

June 1, 2017 8:30 AM

I actually know an Elie from the French population here. He goes by Eli though because in a mostly Anglophone area, he was getting confused for a girl a lot and as a teenager, I don't blame him. I had Elliott on a way longer list last time around, but preferred with Elias and Everett. Cool history/connections though!

June 1, 2017 2:54 AM

Love Marlow! Other suggestion












They are Celtic, if Google doesn't lie to me and none of them ends in n/-in sound. 

June 1, 2017 8:36 AM

You have a few on there that were on my longer list! Angus, Arthur, and oddly Emrys. I had never heard of Emrys in my life, but came across it on a Welsh list of names. I can't quite get a handle on it thought since it's new to me. My gut thought it sounded kind of feminine/pretty with the Em at the beginning, but that's probably just my conditioning. I'm interested to hear if anyone else has any thoughts since I quickly scrapped it. We have an Oscar in the family already, but from your list, I'm kind of liking Desmond. Thank you :)

June 1, 2017 10:04 AM

You're welcome, I understand your concern about Emrys but I also love Emil as a boy name so the name can be feminine doesn't bother me much. Glad you liked Desmond! 

June 1, 2017 10:56 AM

Emrys is the Welsh form of the Latin Ambrosius. Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus) was a Romano-British war leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons in the 5th Century. The memory of his military feats got woven into the Arthurian legend as part of the background of the wizard Merlin. Nothing feminine about it! 

June 1, 2017 2:15 PM

Merlin itself is seeing a fair bit of use for girls, too:
Merlin,M,38 and F,11
Merlyn,F,8 and M,6

My cousin has a little Emrys! I think it's a great choice and perfectly wearable on a boy, even though there are girls using the name as well. (Last year was M,66 and F,19).

My kids go to school with a Desmond -- a very handsome choice as well. 

June 1, 2017 3:36 PM

Speaking of Merlin, did you notice the name of one of the men who lost his life heroically trying to protect the young women against a hate crime in Portland? He was called Taliesin (the name of an early medieval Welsh poet) Myrddin. Myrddin is the original Welsh form of Merlin. Myrddin became Merlin when Arthurian stories began to be written in French. The dd in Welsh is pronounced like th in English. Since that sound didn't occur in French, the dd of Welsh would have become d in French, and that would have been completely unacceptable in romances the audience for which was primarily aristocratic women. 

Thus I have been wondering about the name Taliesin Myrddin. Were the parents students of medieval Welsh literature? Was that name self-chosen in adulthood? The surname is not Welsh, so that provides no clues. In any case, the original Taliesin would have certainly found this Taliesin's heroism worthy of an encomium.

June 1, 2017 9:12 PM

I was wondering about this, too! His sister's name is Vajra Alaya Maitreya and his mother's is Asha Deliverance, which I only find more perplexing.

In any case, Emrys is one of my favorite boy names, and it doesn't seem feminine at all to me. I like Taliesin, Merlin, and Myrddin, too. The OP may want to watch the BBC series Merlin. Merlin is also known as Emrys in the show, so it's a good way to get some more exposure to the name in use.

June 1, 2017 10:06 PM

That almost seems like Baron Shiv Arqua-style naming: get a nice long baby-names book, look up a culture that appeals to you at this particular moment (having connections to said culture is entirely optional), list all the names that you like, and saddle your offspring with every single one of them. Thus were born, or at least named, Akuti Tejaswini Jyoti ghem Estif Arqua and her elder siblings Mercedes Sofia Esperanza Juana Paloma and Stella Antonia Dolce Ginevra Lucia.

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look up Ivan's Book, a.k.a. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold.)

By EVie
June 2, 2017 10:36 AM

Hah! I actually just finished that book recently (and Gentleman Jole yesterday, so I'm out of Vorkosigan books to read for the first time, boo), and I really enjoyed all the name digressions--including the bits explaining how Barrayaran names are distortions (not mutations!) of Old Earth names. I guess Bujold is way past the point where her editors are like, "Hey, this isn't directly relevant to the plot, so we need to cut it, word count word count word count" and she can kind of let loose with the worldbuilding trivia.  

Regarding Taliesin Myrddin, my guess was that his family are the very hippie/New Agey/possibly Pagan Portland types? The names seem very much the type one might find in lucubratrix's Llewellyn book (which I just received from Amazon yesterday, funfun!)

June 3, 2017 1:14 AM

I am dying at separation from my Llewellyn book, because I feel like this book is exactly what I want to be browsing while discussing these names. It really is a remarkable combination of very creative new agey/pagan-type names and really accurate name origin information, and thus so much fun to browse for a name enthusiast... certainly an effective antidote to the "I feel like I've contemplated every name in existence at least twice" blahs. 

June 3, 2017 1:59 PM

Another semi-connection I thought of with Emrys is my French grandfather. One of his THREE middle names (haha) was Emory. I can't help but think of an emory board with that name even though I do like it, but Emrys could be a subtle nod. 

June 1, 2017 5:10 PM

I *love* the name Emrys and don't have any trouble seeing it on a boy, possibly because it reminds me so strongly of Emeric. (Émeric being the French version of the German name Emmerich. Any interest? I love it but wouldn't use it with my husband's surname beginning with K.) 


EDIT: I just realised that, despite the Christopher Marlowe association, Marlo(w)(e) feels very feminine to me because I hear the similarity to Margo and Marla more than to Arlo. (Of course now I feel like Marlo should feel like the masculine correlate of Marla, and maybe it will now, but you can't really control how logical associations are.) 

June 3, 2017 2:00 PM

I quite like Emeric actually, but the surname starts with a hard C and I always have trouble with names that end/start with the same sound. Do you let them run together or have the jolty break? I typically don't even consider them just to be safe.

June 2, 2017 7:33 AM

I have a daughter named Emrys (chosen before I knew its Welsh history—long story), so obviously it feels feminine to me, but I don't think that makes it unusable for a boy at all. I will say that only one person, an elderly Welsh man, has ever guessed she was a boy based on her name, but perhaps that will change as the name gets more exposure; it wasn't even given to 5 babies in the US when we chose it, so it is definitely seeing an upswing.

(And for the haters out there—I always swore I wouldn't give a girl a masculine name, but this one has a personal connection I couldn't give up; it's also the rare name that started out feminine—the ancient Greek αμβροσία was a feminine noun and sometimes personified as a goddess with the same name—and then "went boy" so there's some historical justification; and her twin brother has a name that was considered unisex-verging-on-girly when we picked it, though it's gone more strongly masculine since. I know, defensive much? But there are some really strong opinions about this!)

By EVie
June 2, 2017 10:48 AM

I like that history for Emrys! It's the same argument I would agree with for using Julian or Vivian on girls--they're as reasonable truncations of Juliana or Viviana as for Julianus or Vivianus, and if you remove the Latin gendered ending there's no reason they shouldn't be either gender. Same with Ambrosios/Ambrosia/Ambrose. It's just historical accident that the neutral form was assigned male. 

I feel the same way about surnames--they're not my style, but I don't think they should belong to one gender over the other. I do feel more strongly about names that are grammatically masculine or have only ever had a masculine form. 

June 3, 2017 1:21 AM

I feel like this entire threadlet needs to be earmarked for that FAQ that we've been kicking about. Well said, EVie and nedibes, both!

June 3, 2017 2:02 PM

It definitely works for a girl despite the history, and most people wouldn't know the history. I guess that's my issue with the name. A really unfamiliar name that no one is going to know the history behind without being told might automatically assume girl, which isn't really the end of the world but makes me question using it.

June 2, 2017 4:59 PM

In my head Emrys is firmly linked to Merlin (of Arthurian legend) so it reads completely male to me, even with the Em at the beginning. Maybe reading some of the stories would help you to see it as less feminine. :)

June 3, 2017 2:05 PM

When researching the name I did come across that link, which was new to me. I'll have to check that out!

June 1, 2017 9:13 AM

Oh! What about Sawney? It's the Scottish form of Sandy, sort of has the pet-name feel that Maisie has. Thoughts?

June 2, 2017 5:09 PM

I am very much enjoying imagining Sawney being said in a Scottish accent. :D I like it for you and completely agree that it has a very similar feel to Maisie, so I think it would make a great sibling pair. And while it's an unusual name that I'd guess the majority of people to be unfamiliar with I think the visual similarities to Sawyer help it seem a bit more familiar. 

June 3, 2017 2:08 PM

Apparently there was a legendary Scottish mass murderer/cannibal named Sawney Beane from the 1300s... VERY obscure and I doubt anyone around here would know that, let alone the name. But COME ON... a cannibal? Way to taint a good name. I still think it's adorable but masculine and hopefully I can ignore the unfortunate namesake.

June 3, 2017 6:23 PM

That is unfortunate but I feel like the 1300s has to be long enough ago to not count any more, there has to be some kind of statute of limitations lol. Plus like you say I feel like the chances of you meeting someone who knows of that are incredibly slim, so just pretend you never found it out.

By EVie
June 4, 2017 6:16 PM

Are you by any chance an Outlander fan? There's a brief bit in Voyager when Jamie goes by Alexander/Sawney, which is one of his middle names. That was my first exposure to the name. (I highly recommend the books if you're interested in Scotland, and especially the audiobooks--the narrator, Davina Porter, is English, but has a Scottish mother and husband, and she really nails all the accents). 

June 4, 2017 7:05 PM

THANK YOU! It's been driving me CRAZY trying to place where I knew that name from! (Was that name also carved into his little wooden snake in the book? I looked it up, but all I can find now is stuff from the show.) And I second the audiobook recommendation. They're fantastic!

June 4, 2017 8:02 PM

I did read the series a good 5+ years ago, and perhaps that's why the name seemed familiar to me but I couldn't place it. I much prefer that association to a cannibal! Yay!

By EVie
June 1, 2017 10:26 AM

Your interest in French and Celtic names makes me wonder, have you explored Breton names? Or are you specifically looking for Scottish on the Celtic side? Browsing through the Breton list on Behind the Name, these ones jump out to me:





The list is here: https://www.behindthename.com/names/gender/masculine/usage/breton

There aren't many; I would love to find a more comprehensive list somewhere.


June 1, 2017 11:00 AM

I hadn't specifically checked out Breton names, it's a really interesting list being Celtic with a dash of French. I like Mael, but know one personally already and prefer the feminized Maelle anyway. My interest in French/Celtic is just my family history--mostly French with a 1/4 mix of Scottish/Welsh. Hubby's side is French and Irish. 

June 3, 2017 2:27 AM
  • Connor, Cormac, Declan, Desmond
  • Eamon, Finbar. Garrett. Grady. Gus, Hugh
  • Keegan, Keelan. Keanan, Kennedy, Liam
  • Fintan, Kieran, Nolan, Owen, Patrick
  • Riordan, Rory, Rowan, Ryan, Seamus
  • Tierney, Tiernan, Torin, Dylan, Aled
  • Dougall, Bryn, Cadell, Ellis, Emlys
  • Emrys, Evan, Glynn, Llewellyn
  • Macsen, Morgan, Owen, Rhys
  • Vaughn, Conan, Gavin, Tristan, Kane
  • Callen, Iain, Donovan, Fingal, Keane
  • Brayden, Cael, Aidan, Brendan, Brennan
  • Carson, Casey, Cian, Colin, Corey. Darcy
  • Duane, Finian. Flynn, Loman, Kian, Mac
  • Madden, Murphy, Neil. Nigel, Orin, Oscar
  • Quinlan, Quinn, Reagan. Riley, Rowan
  • Shaun, Shane, Shea, Sullivan, Torin
  • Tully, Montgomery, Kenneth, Kennon
  • Dawson, Flloyd, Gareth, Lloyd, Marvin
  • Mervyn, Romney, Yale