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Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby Boy Stevens, Brother to Beckett Wallace

JoLee writes:
We are due with our second boy in six weeks, and we still don't have a name. Our older boy is named Beckett Wallace. We love his name and frequently call him B, so names that start with B are probably not going to work for his brother. My name is JoLee and my husband's name is Nathan.

Our last name is Stevens with a ph. Because we have such a common last name, I want a first name that is distinctive and interesting. (Personally, I have always really loved having such a unique, but not way-out there, name.) The biggest issue that we are having is that a lot of names don't sound that great with Stevens. Because Stevens has an S at the beginning and at the end, names that start with S (like Soren, a family name I really like) don't work well, and names that end in an S (like Thomas) or another soft sound tend to blend into Stevens. Also, most names that end in -an, -en, -in, -on sound really rhyme-y (like Ethan and Soren). Of all the sound issues, I think the rhyme-y one is the worst offender.

Here are some possibilities we've considered:

August: My husband and I both really like August, maybe more than any other name on the list. It has loads of good nicknames. However, the -st at the end of the first name and the St at the beginning of our last name is a real sticking point for us. It's even worse than an -s S combo.

Felix: I love Felix. It's one of the only names from the beginning of my name search that has stuck around. It too has the -s S problem.

I seem to be really drawn to names that have a softer ending, so much so that I think I might have to overlook the -s S issue.

Quincy: We thought long and hard about this one too, but we can't seem to fully commit. Maybe the name is too gender neutral for us? I know two girls named Quinsey. Or maybe it seems a little cutesy? I'm not sure. I think that names ending in -y sound good with Stevens. I've also pitched Rory and Cassidy, but I don't think that either were ever strong contenders.

I also think names that end in an -o sound good with Stevens. My favorites are probably Hugo and Winslow. Is Winslow too out there?

Names that end in -er also sound good with Stevens, but I don't like very many -er names. I'm not sure why exactly. My husband likes Alexander and Spencer. Both are too common for me. I know that Spencer was only #227 in 2010, but it's much more common in my community. I know at least half a dozen Spencers. I could perhaps grow to like Fisher or Thatcher, but I'm not crazy about giving my child a "real word" name. We also considered Jasper.

Frederick is a family name that I think sounds good with Stevens. My husband is not keen on the nickname Fred.

Pascal is a name that I recently saw you recommend to someone else, and I think it would be a good one for us to consider too. We really wanted a Cal, but Calvin sounds too rhyme-y with Stevens, and we couldn't find another Cal- name that we liked as well, although we considered Calloway for a while. Perhaps a Pascal could use Cal for a nickname. Or perhaps not. I'm thinking about this name for the first time as I write this.

My son's middle name is a family name. Wallace is my husband's middle name and the name of one of his grandfathers and one of my grandfathers. With all the Wallaces in our families, we actually chose Wallace before we chose our son's first name. I think we will try to choose another family name for this boy's middle name, but we aren't as set on doing that. Honor name possibilities include: Parry, Alexander, Frederick, Russell, or maybe Donovan (as a variation on Donna, my mother's name).

It seems likely that this will be our last child, but if we ever did have a girl we really love the names Beatrice and Portia. If we could actually commit to either is another issue entirely. I've loved Beatrice for years and Beckett would certainly have been a Beatrice if he had been a girl. Using the name Beckett might have made Beatrice impossible to use, but I decided I could give up Beatrice for the real boy instead of hanging onto it for the imaginary girl. My husband I both love Portia, but we worry that it is too close to Porsche.

Thank you, thank you Swistle!

Winslow leaps out at me from your list. Winslow Stevens; Beckett and Winslow. It's true it's very unusual in the U.S. for boys (only 18 baby boy Winslows born in 2010), and in fact I've started recommending it for girls because of Winnie/Willow. Still, I love it with Beckett, and with your surname, and so far it's NOT being used for girls (not even in the Social Security database for girls in 2010).

My first thought for the August-ends-in-st problem was to try Angus or Augustus---but both end in S. There's also Augusten, but that ends in -en.

Let's see, unusual -er names. Oscar Stevens; Beckett and Oscar.

Alistair Stevens; Beckett and Alistair.

I'd like Casper to overcome the friendly ghost the way Oscar is overcoming the grouch. Casper Stevens; Beckett and Casper.

Miller is one of my favorite -er boy names. Miller Stevens; Beckett and Miller.

Keeler works well, too, I think. Keeler Stevens; Beckett and Keeler.

Or Coulter. Coulter Stevens; Beckett and Coulter.

I recommend the name Milo frequently; it seems to me to be at that perfect "unusual but not difficult, quirky but not weird" point. Plus, it came close to being my youngest son's name, so I feel a little sentimental about it. Milo Stevens; Beckett and Milo.

For a y-ending, I like Grady. It's surnamey like Beckett, and I think it sounds great with the surname too. Grady Stevens; Beckett and Grady.

I think the world may be ready for Murphy again. Murphy Stevens; Beckett and Murphy.

I saw a birth announcement for an Oakley a few months ago. Oakley Stevens; Beckett and Oakley.

Wesley is one of my favorite y-ending boy names, in a large part because of the nickname Wes, which I think is one of the best boy nicknames of all. If he goes by the nickname, there's the -s/S problem; does that rule it out? Wesley Stevens; Beckett and Wesley.

Calloway makes me think of Campbell. Campbell Stevens; Beckett and Campbell. Cam for short.

I do think Cal might work as a nickname for Pascal. Pascal Stevens; Beckett and Pascal; B and Cal.

One more suggestion, sort of from nowhere: Reid. Reid Stevens; Beckett and Reid. People vary considerably on how they feel about repeating sounds; in this case, I like the repeating long-E.

Name update! JoLee writes:
Felix Parry Stevens joined our family on February 26th. At the time of his birth we had narrowed down the name choices to two: Felix and Winslow. For three days he didn't have a name because we felt like he could easily pull off either option. Finally we had a chance to sit down together and decided Felix was the right choice. We love the name more and more every day. Thank you Swistle and readers for encouraging us to use a name we loved even if it didn't sound perfect with our last name. And thank you all for giving lots of love to the name Winslow. It was very nearly this little boy's name.


A said...

Donovan would be a great first name! It really suits the style of your other son's name.

Clarabella said...

Can I just say that Jasper Stevens and Pascal Stevens both make me swoon. I LOVE them.
Of Swistle's list, I think Wesley and Milo are also just awesome.
If Casper is too ghost-y (I am trying to sell my partner on this name), would you consider spelling it Kasper? That is a German variant, so it's not too out there. I just love it.
Good luck! (Oh, I like Frederick as the middle name ALL DAY LONG!)

Nicole Trager said...

I to like Winslow from your list. My favorites from Swistle are Grady and Casper for sure.

Here are some others. To go with Cal and -er what about Calder or Caulder?

Another -er name I love for you is Thatcher .. Thatcher Stevens, sounds great.

To mix the -o that you love and the -er, what about Porter? Porter Stevens

to mix the -x and -er what about Xavier? Xavier Stevens

Good luck!

Slim said...

What strikes me about Beckett is the literary-ness of the name. To that end, Winslow, Calder, and Pascal all have a nice cultural vibe to them (as do Portia and Beatrice).

Anonymous said...

What about just Quinn instead of Quincy? I totally understand the concerns you have about Quincy Stevens, but I think Quinn Stevens works really well. Beckett and Quinn.

I also really like the previously suggested ideas of Milo and Xavier.

Jacque Jones said...

So many GOOD choices, I can't narrow them down! They all seem to suit your family and make me jealous I didn't think of them. :)

Homa said...

Kipling is one of my favorite names. Kipling Stevens or Kip Stevens sounds great and will go with any of your middle names.

Faye said...


There have been some very promising names mentioned already - I particularly like Alistair, Hugo, Jasper and Miller - but here are some of my suggestions:

Callum - sounds lovely with your last name, offers the nickname Cal, and isn't too popular or too eccentric

Katarina said...

Might I throw out a crazy suggestion such as Lysander? Your style seems extremely Medieval/Shakespearean. Beckett makes me think of Thomas Beckett and both Beatrice and Portia are characters in Shakespeare plays. Lysander ends in "er," but it is very uncommon, though still familiar because it sounds a lot like Alexander. Plus, you can get the nickname Zander/Zan pretty easily. Lysander Russell Stevens or Lysander Perry Stevens both sound quite distinguished to me. Quince is also a Shakespearian name, and perhaps a little more "masculine" bent than Quincy? Or Quintus. Quince Alexander sounds especially nice to me. Oh, have you thought about Augustine? It is similar to August but Augustine is also a saint like Beckett. I prefer the pronunciation Aug GUS tin, which make August or Gus great nicknames.

If By Yes said...

How about Isaac? That's a name that is coming back into style, but not overly popular yet.

StephLove said...

I think Felx Stevens does work. The X sound is distinct enough from the S, at least to my ear.

I also had Alexander in mind before I read your husband favors it, so I'd urge you to give it some consideration, popularity aside. I think Alexander Stevens sounds good, and Sasha or Xander are good nicknames if you want something more unusual.

I think ends-in-n names will work if they aren't two syllable names. See how Dane Stevens and Finnegan Stevens sound better than Ethan Stevens? Even a two syllable name that's partially elided, like Ian Stevens might work.

Here's a new ends-in-o name for you: Mateo.

Anonymous said...

We have a Felix, and are considering Kemuel for our second son... perhaps you'd like it? Kemuel Stevens, Kem Stevens... unusual, but not too out there.

All the best!

StephLove said...

Just read the comments, I agree that Donovan would make a great first name for you.

Rex popped into my head, too. Can't decide if I like the repeating eck/ex sound from Beckett or if it's too much.

Nichole said...

My top 3 from both lists are Grady, Milo, and Jasper. I think they make GREAT sib-set names with Beckett!

Mary said...

i think August Stevens is fine, especially if you intend him to go by a nickname- Auggie Stevens is adorable.

What about Aubry? Or Beckett and Auden?

Instead of Felix, what about Phelan, Feolan?

Instead of Calvin, what about Calder, Callahan, Callan, or Callum?

If you find Winslow too out there, perhaps you'd like Winston, Whelan, or Wilke?

Some other ideas- Griffin, nn Finn, Devon, Keegan, Rafferty- nn Rafe, Vaughn, Tate, Conner, Kieran, Crosby, Coby, Blake, Sawyer, Gavin

Cara said...

I love August for you but I can see the problems with your surname. What about Augusto? That gets you the o ending as well. I also love Milo and Grady!

Anonymous said...

Even before I got to Swistle's suggestions I was rooting for Winslow. I think Winslow Alexander Stevens sounds great!

Anonymous said...

I lover the suggestions of Augustine and Alistair for you. Of your list, I love Frederick, Jasper and Donovan as firsts...and Donovan makes a great middle with all of them. Frederick Donovan, Jasper Donovan. Or Donovan Jasper, Donovan Alistair, Donovan August. Moving August to the middle still gives you the great nickname Auggie if you want to use it. Augustus flows much better as a first. The s to st sounds don't bother me as much as the repeating st. BTW, Donovan is my son's middle name (after my grandfather Don) so I may be a bit biased...but I do love the name and think Beckett and Donovan together are perfect!

Anonymous said...

I actually think that names where both the first and last name start with the letter S are pleasing to the ear. Look at Stella Stevens, Sally Struthers, Steven Spielberg, Susan Sarandon, Steven Seagal, Sylvestor Stallone, etc.

Natalia said...

I was going to suggest Augusto, but Cara already did. Another options to avoid the -st ending are Augustino and Agustin.
August made me think of Asher and Auden.

If you like Felix and want the nn Cal, there's Calix, and with the -o ending, Calixto, both names very unusual.

What about Quentin instead of Quincy?

From the above suggestions, I like Griffin and Vaughn.

I want to suggest Holden. I think it's perfect with Beckett and goes really well with many of your family names:
Holden Alexander Stevens
Holden Frederick Stevens
Holden Donovan Stevens

Good luck with your decision!

liz said...

Our last name is Miller and my husband's first name is Stevens with a v. So I vote for Miller.

But I'm also voting for Winslow.

If you like Felix, what about Flannery?

vanessa said...

I love the name Winslow and think it is an especially great brother name for Beckett: Samuel Beckett, Winslow Homer. And Win/Winn/Wynn is a great boy nickname. I also love Kipling from the above suggestions; Beckett and Kipling, B and Kip.

gail said...

Hmm. I know sisters named Winslow and Roslyn, so this name, too, could become more unisex.

My favorite of Swistle's suggestions is Oscar. I really like the way the "c" in Oscar echoes the "k" in Beckett. I love Oscar Frederick Stevens--very distinguished.

My next favorite Swistle suggestion is Campbell, with Cam as a nn. Next up would be Grady.

From other commenters, I like Calder, Callum, and Dashiell. I'd add Cormac to this list. Dashiell Parry Stevens.

Not sure about Beckett and Donovan as a sibset, and Donovan lacks workable nn's other than Don or Van, but fantastic in the middle.

I absolutely love Beckett Wallace and can see why you're eager for another touchdown.

My outlier suggestion would be Tarn, a mountain lake. Tarn Alexander.

Anonymous said...

Rather than Spencer or Alexander, would you like Conner, Oliver, Asher, Turner or Hunter?

Would Callum work to get you to the nn of Cal? Or Callahan? If you like the nn Cal, would you like Camden nn Cam?

Other names I think might work with your last name are Grant, Merritt, Emory or Ford

Oh and I love Thatcher! I also like the suggestion of Miller--possibly use nn Milo?

The Mrs. said...

Winslow is brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Three others that you may like:


I know they both end in 'er', but if you considered Jasper, maybe you'd like these, too.

Hmmm... what about Barnaby? Ah, yes; nevermind, it begins with 'B'.

How about Royce? Beckett and Royce? Royce Donovan.

But, like others have mentioned above, Donovan is a fantastic name in its own right. (And it has the nickname of Van. Very cool.)

Best wishes to you and your growing family! Please let us know what you and your husband decide!

AirLand said...

Go for August if you both like it the best! I don't think it's a problem that it ends with the same two letters as your last name starts with. Normally people want to avoid that when you can't tell what exactly the first name is... like Brooks might not be a good choice for you because people would hear it as Brook Stevens. August Stevens just takes just a little more enunciation, but everyone will hear it as August even if it's slurred. Even Gus Stevens, which could run together, couldn't be mistaken for anything else but Gus.

I think August Alexander is really adorable and handsome! August Russell is nice too, and Russell sounds more like a last name to me, like Wallace, so I think it goes with your other son's name really well.

Anonymous said...

What about using both your names as a starting point? Beckett Wallace and Jonah Russell, Jones Frederick, Jotham Donovan, Jonathan Russell?

Anonymous said...

Caleb, nn Cal! (I want to believe this can work.)

Anonymous said...

What about Calister? It gives you the nickname Cal and the 'er' ending.

I heard it on a forum of expectant moms and it was in the woman's family, not sure the history or meaning.

Anonymous said...

Some ideas....
Calton, Cooper, Ralston, Pierce, Paxton, Tucker,
Landon, Henry, Nolan, Drake, Griffey, Wade
Drew, Elliot, Archer, Fielding, Corbin, Porter
Vance, West, Lane, Jonah, Micah,

Anonymous said...

Søren is the Danish form of Severin. Severin (or Sevrin) Stephens could be way cool - Beck and Sev :)

christine said...

I love love love Jasper and Hugo. So much that I don't want to suggest anything else.

But! I like Langston even though it ends in the "en" sound with Stevens and I really like Graham. Graham Stevens, Graham and Beckett.

Nicole said...

Nigel... I like it, it is unique.

Anonymous said...

Lisa said...

I think Asher Stevens would be fantastic. Asher Frederick is my favorite combination with the family names you've listed.

Anonymous said...

When you mentioned Portia, I immediately thought of Porter. Porter is ranked fairly similarly to Beckett.

Perhaps you'd think about Macallister? It is a form of Alexander, a name you've already considered. You could use the nickname Cal that you like. Beckett and Macallister sound so great together as cool sur name inspired first names.

Sara said...

My suggestion would be Callahan

Beckett is a last name, Callahan is also a last name so the brothers would have that in common.

Callahan sounds AWESOME with stevens. Callahan Stevens.

As a middle name I'd go Wayne. Callahan Wayne Stevens.

That way you'd get your Cal that you like, B and Cal sound cute. I love it!

Candice said...

I really like Callum as a way to get the nn Cal, and I think Callum Stevens sounds fantastic. Maybe Callum Frederick Stevens? I like Callum better than Callahan as previous posters suggested because I think it sounds better with Beckett (which I also love, BTW!), as both are 2 syllables.

I also like Winslow, FWIW. Good luck with your decision!