A reader, Jules, wrote to me about her naming predicament. She is in the increasingly common position of choosing a name without a partner. In some ways, that’s easier- you don’t have to worry about someone else’s clashing taste. But in other ways, it can make things more difficult- sometimes a second opinion is nice to hear, and with so many great names out there, it can be hard to narrow down the list. She writes:
Hi, I’m adopting my first child soon! I’m a single woman so I only have to consider my wishes in the naming process. At this point, I don’t know gender but I’m adopting here in the US and the child could be any race.
I don’t have a boy name. My girl name is without a doubt, Isannah. My preferred boy style is hipster-ish with a great meaning and it HAS TO BE UNIQUE. I prefer something outside the top 1000 and definitely not in the top 500. I am considering Revere, Macaulay, Stellan, and Starland (pronounced like Garland) but not sold on any of them. Other names I’ve considered but rejected are: Lochlan (doesn’t go with my last name which starts with an L but sounds a lot like Wetkins), Rainier (love meaning, not sure about sound), Tycho (makes me think of Tyco toy brand), and Ledger (again my last name). As you can see, I’m picky! I love L names but they inevitably don’t sound right with my L last name. I’m considering Jameson or Patrick as a middle but I’m not positive on that either. If you’re up for it, I’d love some suggestions. Thanks! Love your blog.
Congratulations on your upcoming adoption, Jules! Isannah is a wonderful, underappreciated name. You seem to have a style locked down- names with a long history that have never been common. They do seem to have a bit of a hipster vibe, but not a vintage-type hipster (which I would say includes names like Agatha and Amos); you seem to lean more towards a modern-international taste, which is great!
My first thought for you was Callum, but I know you’re not a fan of Cal, so that’s out. I agree that Lochlan and Ledger are a bit odd with your surname, but your list has definitely given me a great idea of your style. A few other ideas:
Tadhg, Tighe, or Tyge- Pick a spelling, any spelling! If Tycho is too toy-brand for you, maybe this Irish name, which sounds like the first syllable of “Tiger,” would appeal. Tycho actually comes from the Danish Tyge, which is pronounced differently; it’s more like too-eh. Tygo is another variant.
Quillan- This surname features the quirk of the Q- initial, but it’s grounded a bit by the familiar -an ending. I like it with Patrick in the middle.
Valor- Like Revere, it’s an epic word name, but it’s also got an -r ending like Rainer and Ledger. I think Valor Jameson is super handsome and a great flow with your surname.
Sterling- This was mostly inspired by Starland, but it also has a surname vibe like Ledger and Macaulay. Meaning seems important to you, and Sterling has several lovely meanings: it’s associated with the Old English for “little star” and is a dictionary word meaning “excellent.” The only problem is its popularity- at #458, it’s a bit more popular than you prefer, and it’s risen in recent years. However, Sterling has a unique sound. There aren’t many names that end in -ing, so Sterling stands out. Some names are rare but feel popular because they have common sounds; I would put Lochlan, with its two-syllable -n ending structure and similarity to popular names like Landon and Jaclyn, in that category. Sterling, I think, is the opposite- a top 500 name that doesn’t seem common at all.
Otto- Like Sterling, this name is on the verge of being too popular for you. It’s just outside the top 500 and I expect that it will rise higher. But I love Otto’s history, its cool skateboarder vibe (as a child of the 90’s, it reminds me of Rocket Power), and its palindrome-ness.
Cashel or Cassian- Cassian, like Tycho, is an ancient name that feels modern. Cashel has the same Irish-inspired feel of Macauly and Lochlan. I’m not sure whether you would like the nickname Cash- most of the names on your list don’t really have easy nicknames- but I think it’s cute for a kid. It also may be avoidable, as neither Cashel nor Cassian are particularly long.
Malachy- I considered suggesting Malcolm, but rejected it because it’s a pretty steady feature in the top 500. Malachy, however, has never ranked. I think Malachy is a bit moree fund than Malcolm, and it sounds a lot like Macaulay, minus the Culkin association.
Alistair or Macallister- Macaulay made me think of Macallister, but I think Alistair is also a good choice. Alistair has only ranked in the top 1000 once, in 2016. Macallister has never ranked.
Sayer- It’s a rare surname that’s even rarer as a first name; it was given to only 14 boys last year, which, incidentally, is the same number of boys named Revere. It’s also fairly nickname-proof, which may appeal.
Gannon- Gannon is surprisingly rare- it’s ranked #706 and falling. It briefly spiked around 2014, almost certainly because a mother on MTV’s 16 & Pregnant chose the name for her son. Obviously, that isn’t the greatest association, but the show hasn’t been on for years and it seems well on its way to being forgotten. I think Gannon is a great name that’s more than capable of overcoming that association.
If anyone out there has more suggestions for Jules, please leave them in the comments!