NEW LOCATION

This blog has moved! Please join us over at http://www.swistle.com/babynames!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Could Hildegard Work as a Middle Name?

C. writes:
I feel somewhat premature in sending this as I am not due until April, and we won't even have a shot at knowing gender until thanksgiving, but we plan on having several children, so it's bound to come up eventually, and I'm feeling surprisingly settled about everything save this last sticking point, which I have made no progress on for months.

My grandmother's name is Hildegard. She is an amazing woman, and ever since my now husband met her, we have joked about naming children after her. Sometime around when we began trying to conceive he made the comment that he was '100% absolutely in favor' of using the name Hildegard.

And I became unsure. It is just so very much of a name. It is so very unapologetically German.

To put it in perspective, our last name is 'Ford'. We would probably pair it with the first name Alice, possible nn Liss/Lissy. Potential sibling names / other names we like include Hazel, Lynn, Nell, Ada, Liam, Tobin and Daniel. The only other Germanic name we've even remotely considered is Clara, and it isn't a huge favorite. Other family names we would consider as honor names for siblings include David, Robert, Jean, Grace and Minona. I look at those lists, and think that while they could use some combinatorial tweaking, they are pretty consistent and a good starting point. But none of them sound anything at all like Hildegard.

On the other hand, all by itself, I like the contrast and rhythm of 'Alice Hildegard Ford' - it's just when compared with potential sibling names that it seems so out of place.

Finally, we live in a fairly rural area, and I somewhat doubt that our children will be exposed to many other international sounding names amongst their schoolmates. This is pretty low on the list of concerns, but I suppose it's still on there.

Neither of us like the concept of multiple middle names, and I do not like Hilde at all, so we're in an all or nothing situation.

Am I worrying too much? Should I just say 'pah, it's an honor name, she can use an initial if she doesn't like it' or is that a lot of Germanic syllables to thunk down on one child alone?

Thank you! I've had a ton of fun reading your blog.

p.s. We think it's very important to ask the honoree in question, as my husband was named after a relative who later admitted to hating his name, but we don't want to ask if we're going to change our minds and not use it, which might account for my eagerness to have it settled.

I would myself say "Pah." I can even see it being fun as an adult to have a very unusual middle name. A similar name in my own family tree is Willemina, and I'm imagining someone saying idly, "What's your middle name?"---and me being able to say "Willemina" instead of "Nicole." THAT would wake them up a bit!

I see what you mean about it not coordinating with other possible honor names, but I think it would seem silly to give up on the idea of honoring someone you and the other parent very much want to honor, and instead honor someone else, just because in a group of siblings the middle names wouldn't coordinate. I'm pretty far up on the spectrum of liking first names to coordinate in sibling groups, and even I don't care much if the middle names coordinate. It's NICE if they do, just because of the pleasing tidiness, but it's not any kind of deal-breaker---and the coordination of them all being honor names is already pleasingly tidy.

28 comments:

Susan said...

I think "Alice Hildegard Ford" nn Liss/Lissy is a smashing name. In fact, I think Ford could stand up to Hildegard as a first name, nn Hilly/Hildy. But DEFINITELY it works as a middle name.

Alice said...

Chiming in as someone with a "weird" middle name (Wesley, as a girl, before the boys-names-for-girls was in full swing) I can tell you that as a kid, I thought it was embarrassing and only used my middle initial. As an ADULT though, I LOVE how unique my middle name is, and the reason behind why I have it. I say go for it!

Leah said...

I adore Hildegard. I am a bit out of the current style with how much I love German names, but that one just has so much awesome to it. I'd be tempted to use it as first name, with the Hildy nn, actually. But I think it pairs well with Alice and the story behind it is perfection.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I love the name Alice Hildegard Ford. Beautiful and strong.

Lynnette said...

Alice Hildegard Ford is too great NOT to use. Matchng siblng middle names is a bit too limiting, to me. Also, I can guarantee your area has plenty of international middle names, unless you live in an area mostly populated by Native Americans.

liz said...

Alice Hildegarde Ford is a wonderful name.

I love it.

Anonymous said...

Alice Hildegarde Ford is a fantastic name! It sounds very intelligent. No wonder, considering the literary associations (Alice Walker, Alice Munro, Alice in Wonderland, and Hildegarde of Bingen).

LiciaLee said...

I kinda LOVE the name Alice Hildegard Ford. AMAZING. And I don't think honor middle names necessarily have to match. I actually wish I could use middle names MORE because I love my daughters full name, but it never comes up. LOL.

Anonymous said...

It's a great name. If it's a middle name I can't imagine it being an issue at all. I don't recall saying my middle name hardly at all when I was a child. And rarely do people even ask me my daughters middle name. Most people will be content with the answer "Alice but we call her Lissy. "

Clarabella said...

Hildegard was MY unapologetically German grandmother's name! And I would LOVE to use it, but never considered it for a middle name. I have hesitated about it for first name for the reasons you list above. Also, my son's name is Liam, as his father's side of the family is as UBER-Irish as mine is UBER-German. Anyhow, I think Alice Hildegard Ford is just lovely and you should go for it.
My Oma went by Hilde (pronounced Hildee), which I've always thought of as a FN alternative to the weight of Hildegard. If you don't like Hilda, I imagine you might not like Hildy, but it's an idea.
Good luck!

StephLove said...

Like another commenter, I have an unusual middle name (Dell) that I didn't like as a kid, grew into as an adult and handed down to my daughter for her middle name. It's a family name as well.

I would use it.

vanessa steck said...

basically what Swistle said. Please use it! It's a great honor name, and I dont think middles particularly need to coordinate.

Slim said...

It's not the name Hildegaard I am lukewarm on; I just don't like the double --rd sound on the end.

Is Alice Hilda Ford an option? (my family bounces between Mary and Marie as a mn for the first girl in the family)

Peyton said...

LOVE! DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!

Frazzled Mom said...

Alice Hildegard Ford is a great name. While I would hesitate to use Hildegard as a first name, since I fear it could be difficult to bear and don't like the nicknames, I see no problem using it as a middle name. I feel it is ok to use more leeway with middle names and not try too hard to coordinate sibling middle names or worry about how easy the name is to bear.

Slim said...

(By "double --rd sound" I meant "Hildegard Ford."

Carmen said...

Alice Hildegard Ford is a fantastic name. I would use it without hesitation.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to echo all those who love the sound of Alice Hildegard Ford. Now there's a name! One that manages to be both strong & beautiful at once. I love it. Please use it, if only for us anonymous commenters!

beyond said...

Alice Hildegard Ford? i love it! it's exquisite, and a bit offbeat, in a very good way.

The Mrs. said...

It's a keeper! Great name!

Jenny Grace said...

I think the middle names coordinate in the fact that they are all honor names, and need not coordinate in style.

Anonymous said...

I love Alice Hildegard Ford! Great name :-)

FWIW, the middle names of my three siblings and I are: Leopoldine, Maria, Gottfried and Elisabeth. As you can see, we've got two VERY old-fashioned, very German/Austrian middle names and two very classic names, that could be either German or American (or pretty much anything, for that matter). We are all named after family members and I think we were all fine with our middle names and actually quite proud of them as children because of who they represented. We grew up in the US and I really don't remember our middle names coming up often at all.

Joanne said...

There are four in my family and our middle names are somewhat the same style: Michael, Marie, Rose and Edward. But they are all family names and my families are both Irish. But I am thinking of a cousin of mine, whose firstborn has his mothers maiden name as a middle, and his sister, whose middle name is Bridget. I've never given it a thought. I think Alice Hildegard is lovely and I'd use it.

Sarah A said...

Alice Hildegarde Ford is really TOO awesome to not use! I say definitely go for it :) I also really love the 2-3-1 syllable pattern of the entire name.

I also think that naming after a relative, especially one you like, is important and outweighs other concerns. My middle name is my grandmother's name and as she nears the end of her life I really treasure having that special connection with her in our names.

NameLover said...

A) I love it. B) You have a family connection. C) The historical figure Hildegard Von Bingen rocks. Honestly, I can't see a downside! Please do it.

Bethany said...

Why not?

Sure, its a mouthful and kind of an odd name. But its easily justifiable since its a relative's name! And the fact that you have great love for the namesake makes it more special than just some name you found online or some name you found in the depths of your family tree.

dreadybetty said...

My middle name is Williston, and I've always been proud and pleased about it. I was named after my mother's beloved grandmother. Go for it!

Christy (original poster) said...

Thanks everyone for sharing their thoughts! They mean a lot more here than those I've talked to in person, who I always suspect may just be being polite, if that makes any sense.

As to the repeating 'rd' sound, thanks you for bringing it up, as I'm normally quite sensitive to repeating sounds. (names we've ruled out: Faye, Laurel, Morgan). But this one doesn't seem to bother me. Perhaps our local accent just doesn't enunciate the trailing consonants as much as vowels or initial sounds?