Choose a middle name with care

A lot of non-name nerds don’t put much thought or care into picking middle names, particularly for girls. Many people think of middle names as an afterthought, never thinking that maybe a child will like the middle name enough to go by it. And if a girl likes her middle name enough, that could contribute to her being a Lucy Stoner, wanting to keep all of her name instead of ditching her original middle name to become Jane Smith Jones.

It’s such a breath of fresh air to see a name like Marie, Anne, or Rose being used as a forename instead of a thoughtless filler in the middle. My real middle name is Ursula, which I’ve always been extremely proud of. If my spinsterdom ever comes to an end, I’m keeping my entire name, the way it’s been since birth. I was already always baffled at how so many women automatically change their last names for marriage, but I was even more baffled when I found out about the high-society custom of a woman ditching her original middle name and moving her birth surname to the middle position. That’s definitely not something working-class or poor women do!

There are more middle names for girls out there than Marie, Anne, Rose, Grace, Elizabeth, Leigh, Lynn, Hope, Renée, Jade, Louise, Jean, Joan, Jane, Claire, May, and Paige. And there are more middle names for boys than John, James, William, Robert, David, Joseph, Edward, Michael, and Andrew. Why not pick a combination that dazzles, like Claire Octavia, Julia Rosemary, Jared Micah, Felix Samson, Amalia Chrysanthemum, or Jeremiah Leonard?

Sometimes a person decides to go by both names, though people with double names tend to be very religious Catholics or Jews, high-society people, or traditional Southerners. But if you want your child to have a double name, or if your child decides to be called both names, why not have a combination that’s a little out of the expected? Instead of yet another Anne Marie, Mary Catherine, Juan Carlos, or John David, why not try Mary Charlotte, Julia Rosa, Avraham Ezra, or Roger Edmund?

You don’t want to get too pretentious with double names, though. While many names sound awesome together, when constantly said together, they sound ridiculous, pretentious, too much of a mouthful. One of the most pretentious, mismatched double names I’ve ever seen was Irene Stephanie. Seriously, who’s going to constantly say, “Irene Stephanie, time for dinner,” “Irene Stephanie is sick,” “Irene Stephanie failed a class,” “I have a date with Irene Stephanie”? Keep the names simple and similar, without too many syllables.

And if you’re using a one-syllable forename, it seems to flow best with a longer middle name. Say, Anne Ernestine, Skye Octavia, John Francesco, James Fernando.

Honestly, when I see or hear of a new baby with a middle name like Marie, Anne, Grace, John, Michael, or Joseph, I tend to assume the parents didn’t really care about a meaningful middle name. Just something quick and easy to toss in there, nothing special to make the child different.

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