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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baby Boy Grande

Zoë writes:
Hi Swistle! I’m Zoë, and my husband is Jamie. (Zoë Isabelle and James William Martin). We are expecting a baby boy on September 21st, and we still can’t decide on a name for him. This is especially important because he is our first son (we have three girls) and he will be our last child.

Our girls are Mathilda Rosemary (Rosemary after Jamie’s mother, who passed away about a month before she was born), “Tilly,” and our twins, Hazel Beatrice and Amalia Claire. Beatrice and Claire are both after family. Our naming style seems pretty consistant; names that have a classic, slightly old fashioned feel, but not too common. Amalia was most popular in 1924, and Mathilda and Hazel 1918, respectively. But we just can’t seem to agree on a boy’s name.

We’d initially agreed on Henry, which we both liked, but we don’t want a very common name, and Henry is number 78 and on the rise. So that’s out. The same goes for Benjamin, which we’d thought about, but it’s number 25. Popularity (or, for us, lack of it) is very important to us. We want a name that’s somewhere in the middle – not a name that people do a double take when they hear, but we don’t want him to be one of five in his class.

Other names we’ve thought about are Owen (too popular), Griffith (I liked it, he didn’t), Toby (vice versa), Oliver (too popular), Grant (our last name is Grande), and Julius (too popular). I also really love Jack, and Jamie does too, despite it’s popularity, but I feel like it has to be short for something, and neither of us likes Jackson. And we also discussed Trevor and Fletcher, both of which are more modern and popular and don’t really go with our daughters names, but we kind of like them.

Oh, and we really want to honor both of our fathers (Lyle and Earnest) in the middle name, but we don’t particularily like either of their names.

Oh my, we are in a pickle here. If you could help us with a classic, early twentieth century name that isn’t too common now, as well as finding some way to honor my dad and Lyle, that would be amazing.

Thank you so much!

Let's talk for a minute about commonness. The name Jacob (not on your list, I know, but stay with me) is the number one most popular boy name in the United States, and it was given to 1.0355% of boys born in 2008 (source: Social Security Administration). This means that out of 100 boys, approximately 1 is named Jacob. Assuming a class size of 30, where 15 are boys, that gives you roughly one single Jacob per SEVEN classrooms.

And that's the most popular boy name in the U.S.! The name Julius, which is on your too-common list, was given to only .0501% of boys born in 2008. That's 5 boys named Julius for every 10,000 boys---or roughly 1 Julius for every 667 classrooms.

My point is that if you want a classic and non-double-take name, I think you're dramatically over-limiting your options---even if you want it to be quite uncommon.

But I can still take on the challenge! Here is a list of names that were common in the time period you want, but AREN'T common NOW (source for 2008 name rankings: Social Security Administration):

Frederick (#523)
Walter (#393)
Louis (#351)
Carl (#490; Karl is #864)
Theodore (#295)
Warren (#509)
Stanley (#653)
Russell (#406)
Harvey (#913)
Everett (#383)
Rufus (not in Top 1000 in 2008)
Leon (#502)
Edmund (not in Top 1000 in 2008)
August (#482)
Franklin (#467)
Calvin (#228)

Here are a few more to consider; these were around (though not common) in the time period you have in mind, and I think they have the right sound:

Cyrus (#512)
Gideon (#534)
Wilson (#537)
Malcolm (#546)
Emmett (#547)
Abram (#548)
Aldo (#569)
Wade (#591)
Jefferson (#599)
Clark (#698)
Sullivan (#706)
Sterling (#872)
Arlo (not in Top 1000 for 2008)

Now it's a matter of seeing which names from those lists go well with your surname and with the sibling names. I think I'd use both grandpa names as middle names: I favor using people's actual names to honor them (in my experience, even a bleah name has grown on me with time because of the family connection), and I don't mind the use of two middle names for this one child since it's your last chance to use the names. A few sample possibilities:

Frederick Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Frederick
Everett Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Everett
Rufus Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Rufus
Edmund Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Edmund
Franklin Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Franklin
Calvin Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Calvin

Would anyone else like to give opinions on which names work best, or opinions on the middle name situation?

Name update 09-26-2009! Zoë writes:
Hi, Swistle! Thank you so much for posting our name dilemma. When people suggested John with Jack as a nickname, we decided to do some more research to find out what other names we could use as a full name for Jack. And we agreed on Jasper (#452, but also popular at the turn of the century). Earnest and Lyle just weren’t appealing to us, though, so we’ve gone with both of our fathers middle names instead (both of which were on your suggestions list!). Jasper Franklin Louis Grande was born a day early at 8:07am on Sunday, September 20th. The girls are already referring to him as ‘Baby Jack.’ We’re very happy with our decision.. how do you think the name sounds? Thank you so much for your help!



P.S. My father’s middle name is pronounced “Loo-ee,” but we’re not sure if we should pronouce Louis in Jack’s name that way or as “Loo-iss.” Which you think sounds better? Just wondering:)


Me? A Mom? said...

i think your commonness theory would only play out as such if the classrooms were comprised of kids from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

In reality, people of the same socio-economic background tend to be in the same school districts and name their kids similar names.

Patricia said...

I think the Earnest Lyle combination makes a very substantial middle name(s). I really like Frederick Earnest Lyle and Freddie as a nickname for the little boy in your family: Tilly, Hazel, Amalia and Freddie.

I prefer Swistle's first list to the second and also like:
Theodore "Theo"

There are some really good choices here for a name that was popular in the same period as your girls' names.

Congratulations on having a boy after 3 girls!

Anonymous said...

What about Justus (a name I love but can't use) Earle (EAR from Earnest; LE from Lyle)?

Cassie said...

I like Edmund, Everett and Gideon from Swistle's lists (espeically Gideon; I'm a sucker for alliteration). How about Linus as a first or middle name to combine Lyle and Earnest? I like how that sounds.

tracynicole22 said...

The first name to pop into my mind was Oliver and then I saw you nixed it due to popularity. Please revisit this name, it sounds great with your daughters names. Here are some others I like:
Tobin (I love this one!)
On to the mn name issue. I'm not sure what to do here. I'm not normally a fan of the double mn, but in this case with your son being the only son and final child, I think he can carry both names to honor your fathers. But then again Earle (as suggested above) could work too. And PLEASE stick with the classic, old-fashioned feel for your son's name. Your daughters names are beautiful, no sense in changing the style now! Good luck!

tracynicole22 said...

Okay, I really should read more carefully!! I now see your last name is Grande, so yeah scratch Graeme from my list! And I also see that your husband has 2 middle names, so definitely go with the double middle name of Earnest Lyle.

Joceline said...

What about Julian? Very similar to Julius, but it seems to flow better with the grandfathers' names. Julian Earnest Lyle Grande. I think it sounds beautiful with your girls' (gorgeous, by the way) names.

Pocket said...

love the double middle name, especially since you have a one syllable last name (I think). My favs are Edmund and Frederick. Classic, but not weird.

The Schwant Family said...

We have a Jack whose real name is John. I like more timeless names and felt like Jackson was trendy. Jack was actually originally a nickname for John, the Jack/Jackson thing is relatively new. So since you said you loved Jack but not Jackson that could work!

Melio (MelissaInk) said...

I like Walter. Walt has a similar short, fun sound like Jack. Walter Earnest Lyle Grande. Walter Grande. Me likes.

For commonness, I wouldn't go only by the SSA website. I'd go by people I know. Seriously, I know two girls under 3 named Liberty and only one under 3 named Emma. In my group, you'd be pretty safe with Julius, even Oliver.

Leah Rubin said...

Wow, you did a great job on the research!

I'm really fond of Calvin, with Walter and Wilson close behind. And I agree that you should use the real names as middle names-- it will be a real honor that way.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I love the suggestion above of Frederick shortened to Freddie. Too cute, and goes sooo well with your daughter's names.

Everett and Edmund are my other favourites from Swistle's list.

TweePopACap said...

I see that someone already suggested combining the names of the two fathers to form Earle. I'd like to add that you could also reverse it, and make the combination Linus (the "ly" sound from Lyle and the "nes" sound from Earnest). Perhaps a bit hipper than Earle, in a geek-chic sort of way?

Amber said...

Loving these suggestions, the names Swistle and comments came up with seem a great fit. Esp like Freddie with one of the middle names that are a combination of your fathers.

More suggestions:
First name: Thatcher
Middle name: Lear (combo of the L from Lyle and the Ear (spelling not sound) from Earnest.

Not necessarily together though! I like Frederick Lear or Thatcher Earle...

StephLove said...

I like Benjamin, Owen and Jack from your original list. Why not use Jack as a nn for John?

From Swistle's list I like Louis best. It really does seem to fit in with your style.

Anonymous said...

Big fan of Everett. Nickname could be Rett.

Kendra said...

I must say that Theodore just jumped out at me on that list. I think it fits well with the girl names, and has a bunch of cute nicknames. Tilly, Hazel, Amalia, and Teddy? I also like the double middle name of Earnest Lyle, especially since the husband has 2 middle names as well.

Anonymous said...

Theodore is my favorite, especially the nn Theo.

I also like Edward, nn Ted or Everett.

Lonna said...

SO LOVE Franklin!

Karen said...

I like the double middle name to match dad and honour both grandfathers.

From Swistle's list, my favourites are Franklin and Theodore. I like Theodore even more because I like both Theo and Teddy but Frank doesn't do much for me.

Jan said...

Frederick and Franklin are my favorite suggestions. But Freddy and Franky aren't as off-beat as your girls' names. I think Julius or Julian (which I prefer to Julius( would be a better fit. For a middle name maybe Errol (okay, maybe that's a stretch)?

Swistle said...


1. Love the name.

2. I think it would be better to go with the same pronunciation as your dad.

The Schwant Family said...

great name! we love our "baby jack" or "jack baby" around here too! i think i'd go with "loo-is" but i don't think you can go wrong either way.

Hope T. said...

I love the name Jasper and it goes so well with your other children's names. I would pronounce Louis as "Loo-is" just because I think that sounds better next to your last name.

Karen said...

Congratulations. wonderful name! and sibset, too. Great idea to use their middle names.

I'd go with Granddad's pronunciation and I also happen to think LOOee (or looEE, if it's meant to me French) sounds nicer.

TweePopACap said...

Oooh, I'd never thought of using Jack as a nickname for Jasper, but I love it! Way to go!

As for your question about Louis, I would go with the same pronunciation as Grandpa's name, the better to honor him. Plus, said with your last name, it sounds really cool! "Louis Grande!" :]

Anonymous said...

I would go with grandpa's pronuciation. it sounds better and it honors him more.