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.