Motherhood

What’s Your Middle Name?

What’s your middle name? Recently I’ve noticed something funny…

People giving their babies offbeat middle names.

When I was growing up in the eighties, everyone I knew had pretty basic middle names: Andrew, Jacob, Marie, Anne. But nowadays middle names are on fire!

Danger. Valentine. Sunshine.

My friend gave her baby the middle name “Swift” because her labor was so quick.

Our friends chose the middle name “Buffalo” for their son because it was his dad’s nickname growing up. “It took my husband nine months to convince me,” my friend told me. “Then, in the middle of the night after signing the birth certificate, I had a mild panic attack at the hospital. Now I love it.”

A journalist named Justin Rocket Silverman explains his name: “That has been my name since I was eight years old. Before that it was Justin R. Silverman. That’s still my legal name. But at the tender age of eight I asked my dad why I had only a middle initial, and he told me that he and mom had done that so that I could choose my own middle name. As long as it started with the letter “R.” So I did what any eight-year-old boy in his right mind would do and I picked ‘Rocket.’ “

What’s your middle name? What about your children? I’d love to hear… Toby’s middle name is Paul, after my grandfather, and Anton’s middle name is James, after Jim Morrison (Alex’s pick!).

P.S. The most popular baby names, and the crazy things you do as a parent.

(Photo by Charles Gullung)

  1. Ambre says...

    My middle name is Angel! My great grandmother had always wanted to name one of her own children that but her husband had always refused. My own mother was very close to her and wanted to name my sister and I both after her in some way. My sister definitely got the short end of the stick as her middle name in Berdine.

  2. My middle name is Fawn, like a baby deer. My mom was a hippie.
    I gave the same middle name to my own daughter. <3

    • Sarah Joy says...

      Love it. ♡

  3. becky says...

    I recently changed my middle name from Marie to callahan. When I took my married last name I went the extra step to change my name from my aunt/godmother’s name to my grandmother’s maiden name. I always identified more with my dad’s mom. Than my mother and her family. Though she died when I was young I love hearing stories about her. I have just a few photos of her. My married last name is Scottish and I feel like my name fits me now. Also I tell people. If you knew my aunt you’d change your name too!

  4. Lena says...

    My mom was done having kids before she had me. My father still wanted one more child and spent a lot of time convincing her. Finally, she told him, “If you want another kid, then you get to name him or her.” So if I were a boy, I would have been David Stephen Phillip Fox (after my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather). And because he liked the names Angela and Elena, he combined them to form Angelena, then used my mom’s name as my middle name. Making me Angelena Sonia Fox. He adored my mother with his entire soul, and he loved me even before I was born. Those are things I hold onto now that he’s passed away. And I hope to pass down my mother’s name to one of my daughters, too.

    I couldn’t just tell you the part of the about my middle name. The whole thing is a beautiful story that I’m very proud of.

  5. Dinah says...

    My middle name is Claire, which is the first name of my only, dearest cousin. Sometimes I go by Dinah Claire with my family members and when it comes to my online life I’ve been dinahclaire86 since highschool (or middle school?) – 15 years or so! Because of Facebook and Instagram I often run into friends of friends associating me more with Claire than Dinah – presumably because Dinah is a less common and more difficult name. There is a little extra confusion when I introduce my daughter, Clara. Clara Lane – Lane is my since-middle school best friend who I knew I would have forever and so promised, back then, that my daughter would be *Something* Lane *Something*. My husband and my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. are all Thomas – coincidence. And my father had no sons so I told my husband our boy should be Tom too! And he shot that right down, so he is Calvin Thomas, which means as much on my side of the family because Calvin was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, and a name my father would have used if he hadn’t had four girls (!) I love that this explanation is always somewhat confusing. This sounds trite, but I love the heritage of these names. Though they sound ordinary and uninteresting to an outsider (though, they are fantastic) they are full of meaning and history to me, even more than I’ve mentioned. And the fact that they are all swirled around and re-used and altered and smooshed together feels like family and wholeness to me.

  6. Shannon says...

    My middle name is Joan after my mom. I have two little girls – Rebecca Grace & Johanna Hope. I liked the idea of using their middle names for qualities I hope they’ll grow up to have. I now like them so much that once I’m done breastfeeding I’m going to have “Grace & Hope” tatooed on my shoulder blade – I can’t wait!

  7. TipsyJWalker says...

    I absolutely love your blog. The colors and your tone provide me with a sort of solace when I panic about motherhood. Thank you. My daughter’s middle name is my last name, Pari. In hindi, it can be translated into fairy or angel. During my pregnancy my husband and I were unsure of what to name her but I was always certain that she will have both my last name and her fathers. It seems fitting, her first name is hers and hers alone, the middle name we share and her last name is shared by all three of us. Luckily, my husband doesn’t mind this connection that is shared by the two of us alone.

  8. Rue says...

    My middle name is Frances, which is a particularly handy family name since you can change one letter and use it for boys or girls, and then there are many relatives with the name, so it gets repeated a lot on that side of my family. I have the name for my maternal grandfather who died shortly before I was born but it’s also my mom’s first name, and SHE was named for a maternal uncle who died young.

    My sibs and I all have family names for first and middle, and we all have names from each side of the family, although I’m the youngest and my first name is just a name my parents liked, that also fits my dad’s ethnicity, instead of being named for a particular person.

    Having family connection with names is important to me. My partner and I aren’t at a picking names stage yet, but I hope he’s open to sharing family names from his side, even though his family history is complex, because I like feeling connected to both sides of my family through my names. He has a religiously based first name, a middle name after an auto repair shop in his hometown (no joke!), and a last name from someone who is no longer part of his family. So we come from opposite naming traditions!

  9. escondista says...

    My middle name was Lynn; hated it. Along with my first name I sounded like a country music star. When I got married I changed my middle name to my maiden name which i really love because i was able to keep a name i loved and get a new one.

  10. Chiara says...

    No middle name for me, but my son’s one is Leonardo – from Leonardo da Vinci, as a promise of a brilliant and daring mind (the first one is Matteo, and it sounds so good along his middle name!)

  11. My family always laughs about my middle name because my dad decided to make it unique and spelled “Danielle” with just one L. Every time I give my name, it is almost like a full sentence “Daniele with one L.” My dad passed away last October so it is a really special legacy he gave me and I always smile when I have to tell someone “Daniele with one L” (My brother’s first name is Rian with an I so I am glad it is just my middle name that is spelled differently!)

  12. We have a tradition of tying names to family. Mine is Anna, after my grandmother. My oldest daughter’s is Anna as well. My oldest son’s is Matthew, after my husband’s brother, the next boy’s is McRae which is my Scottish ancestor’s last name, boy number three’s is Dale after my father-in-law, and my baby girl’s middle name is Amanda Marie. She got two middle names because my husband and I always joked with my sister that we’d name one of our kids after her because she set us up on our first date. We also wanted to use Marie. It’s our last baby and our last chance for both so we just went for it.

  13. in my family, me and my brothers have middle names named after a family member of the opposite sex.
    For example, mine is Terra after my dad Terrance.
    My brother is Patrick after my grandmother Patricia and other brother is Tyler after my aunt Tyla.
    I’ve always liked it! I definitely plan to do something fun, but not at the childs expense.

    • Sarah Joy says...

      Ooh then i could use michaela after my brothers middle name michael.

  14. My daughters’ middle names are Belle and Ruby, and my son’s middle name is Huckleberry. Nathan Huckleberry Lin (like Huckleberry Finn, my husband’s idea from his high school days haha. silly i know!)

  15. I’m a total child of the 80’s – mine is Anne. It was the name of my mom’s favorite Aunt growing up. My husband’s is David, which was his father’s middle name too. Our girls each got one of their grandmother’s middle names, Yvonne and Lee. Our family passes names down, via the middle, apparently.

  16. Portia, after the judge in Merchant of Venice. My mom was a literature geek.

  17. My middle name is Katherine, named after my great grandmother who changed her middle name from Catherine to Katherine because it made her initials spell something cool when she was in her teens. In her late 70s the IRS showed up at her door, they thought she was trying to commit tax fraud. My mom thought if I just got the “K” right off the bat I wouldn’t have to change it. So far so good!

  18. Anonymous says...

    My daughter’s middle is Margaret, after a great-aunt my husband was very close to (I knew & loved her too). A nice coincidence is it gives my daughter the same initials as her dad.

    My son’s middle is my dad’s middle, Phillip, which is actually the name he goes by. This gives my son the initials O.P., so we called him Opie sometimes when he was a baby.

    If we had a second daughter, we wanted to name her Charlotte after my MIL. So then I wanted a middle to honor my mother. Her name, Carol, wouldn’t go with Charlotte. Her middle was not meaningful and her maiden name didn’t go with our last name either. Finally I asked her what she would want and she suggested using MY middle name–since she picked it. I thought that was a great idea.

  19. My middle name is May, and my two sisters have classic “filler” middle names too; Rose and Grace. My stepsisters’ middle names are Queen, Frances and Plum, and our baby brother has two middles: Edward Basquiat.
    I definitely plan to give my children edgy, interesting middle names rather than popular classics (not that there’s anything wrong with them). I love Winter, Reverie, Lark, Fox, Wilde, Wren, Honey, Brave, Sway, Jonquil, Boheme, Valor and Poet.

    • Sarah J says...

      Oooh i like winter.. Sienna Winter. Olivette Wilde, Rosette River

  20. my middle name is corrine! my parents couldn’t agree on how it should be spelled, so on one document it’s spelled corrinne, one it’s spelled corrine, etc. everything had something different on it. i used to be so embarrassed that it wasn’t spelled corinne, but now i love to tell the story.

  21. Mine is Margaret, a Scottish tradition on my paternal grandmother’s side. Her mother’s name was Margaret, it’s her middle name, my aunt’s first name and my middle. For some reason, when I was younger, I detested it, but I’m the only one with names that connect to all three of my family’s backgrounds, I’m quite fond of it. Besides, it offsets the uniqueness of my first name. :)

  22. My middle name is Buren. It was my great-grandfather’s first name. I used to think it was really weird when I was little, but now I love it and can’t wait to pass it on when the time comes!

  23. Emily Jayne says...

    My middle name is Jayne (pronounced like Jane) – it’s also my mother’s middle name! My brother has my father’s middle name – Jordan. I love it :-)

  24. My youngest daughter’s middle name is Blu. I gave her this name because it my parents pet name for each other. When they first met my Dad was in a band called Los Blu Boys and they have called each other Blu ever since. This was a way to give my daughter both their names.

  25. I actually go by my middle name—my parents consciously decided to call each of us by our middle name. I’m from the south and, while it confounds my northern friends, I know lots of people who do the same. Perhaps it’s cultural?

    While I love the quirkiness of going by my middle name, I won’t call my future children by theirs—it gets really complicated in paperwork!

  26. We were pretty strategic about names. Oh, the pressure! We chose a meaningful name, a namesake, and a literary figure for both kids with the hope that when life gets messy (as it always, always does) they would have some built in back up for working through the hard stuff. We named our first Silas Peter Thoreau. Silas means forest (we lived deep in the woods when we had him after a long struggle to get pregnant), Peter is a namesake from my mentor and favorite professor in Rome from my study abroad days, and Thoreau is our favorite transcendentalist who has brought both me and my husband so much solace. Our second is Maren Susannah Jane. We had 14 (!) forms of Mary in our families (including both of our mothers named Mary) and wanted to give her an unused derivative. Susannah is after my deceased grandmother who was such a rockin’ lady. Jane… Jane Austen! Of course. I’m pretty sure Jane Austen saved my life, maybe even several times.

  27. We did the opposite of your post. My kids have somewhat uncommon first names (Lake and Willow), so we gave them standard middle names (Ethan and Jane). I’ve never regretted the decision and if they decide not to become news anchors (Stone Phillips) they can always go by their middle names!

  28. My middle name is Francine, after my mom, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother (there’s even a diamond ring that gets passed down with the name). When I got older I was a little disappointed Francine wasn’t my first name, but then my grandmother pointed out that her name was actually Helen Francine Farmer Beggs. I think Helen Francine and Kelly Francine sound similar, and that made me happy. Plus, I confirmed that I will indeed get the ring, so it’s all good.

  29. Omiose. The origin is Nigerian and it means “child of God.”

  30. My middle name is Eowyn (Meg Eowyn), after Eowyn of Rohan from the Lord of the Rings books – she was a warrior, and I love the name and idea behind it. My sister is Arwen (Kathryn Arwen)after the elf princess from the same books. We both like having that connection and a point of difference…

  31. My parents originally were going to name me Katherine Elizabeth. But apparently when I was born, they didn’t think I looked like a Katherine Elizabeth. So they shortened Katherine to Kate and Elizabeth to E. So my name is Kate E Montana. I’ve always loved by unique middle name!

  32. My middle name is Moir… Which was my grandmothers middle name and her mothers etc I’ll give it to my first daughter too to continue the tradition (and because I love it). If I have a boy I want his middle name to be Ilya (I Love You Always) but we will see if the future father actually let’s me!! Haha

  33. My middle name is Selene which is a family name going way back. It’s my moms middle name, my grandmother first name and she was named after her own grandmother.

    My daughter middle name is Lily her name comes from my husband Godmother.

  34. I’m going to have to go through this thread for baby #2 some day :) Mine is Rebekah, keeps the biblical theme going with my first name (Hannah). Our daughter Rhoda’s middle name is Primrose, which is the name of the street I grew up on (and where my parents still live). We didn’t find out the gender of the baby but we had decided if we were having a girl her middle name was going to be Ellen (after my MIL’s middle name Mariellen) but then I had a very vivid pregnancy dream where Rhoda was born and my husband handed her to me and said “here’s our daughter, Primrose!” If it weren’t for The Hunger Games that might have been her first name but it works great for a middle name, I think.

  35. Well I have a whole ton of middle names, so many I could share them . They are Louise Charlotte Lorraine- I was adopted and these were the middle names of my birth mother’s children, so I kept them.

    If *I* have kids my favourite names would be Sofia Luisa for a girl or Joshua Atticus for a boy.

  36. My middle name is Grace, and my son’s name is Samuel David, and my daughter’s name is Naomi Ruth. We are thinking about naming our new baby daughter Jasmine, but haven’t decided on a middle name yet. My husband especially likes that first name.

    -Hannah

  37. My middle name is Jayne, a combination of my mom’s first name (Jane) and my dad’s middle name (Jay).

  38. Mine is Catherine, after my grandmother. My first name is Amy, after my great-grandmother (also uber-popular in the late 70s, when I was born). Neither of my names are crazy, but I’ve always loved having that connection to women in my family. If I have kids, I will definitely dig into the family tree for names. :)

  39. My middle name is Sparks after my great grandmother’s last name. She was adventurous and my mom wanted me to have that sense as well. I hated it when I was little because it was different from everyone else. Now I absolutely love it. I actually found the piece of paper from my mom’s stationary with the finalist for my name with my name circled at the bottom. Such a fun discovering over the holidays!

  40. Our last child was conceived during the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia, where his father is from. We gave him the middle name Salem- peace- in hope for the country and the region.

  41. My middle name is Rae. It was my mother’s name and her father’s name (but spelled Ray). She and her father were Little Rae and Big Ray. Her middle name was Carman, which was the last name of her relatives.
    I’ve always found it funny that my parents gave me my mother’s name since I’m the youngest of 7. You’d think they would have done it sooner!

  42. The Winter Rose! I was born in February during a snowstorm in Illinois, granting me ‘Winter’ and my maternal grandmother is Rosalie, hence ‘Rose’. I hated it when I was younger and now I love it so much that I REALLY don’t want to change it to my maiden name when I get married (which is happening soon (!!!)- Hannah Winter Rose Miller vs. Hannah Tucker Miller, easy winner). Everyone seems to change their middle name to their maiden name here in the South (NC is my new home) when they get married and I don’t like the idea of voluntarily choosing a blah name over something truly unique… Anyways, I love the new trend and fully support creative middle names.

  43. My middle name is Isabel. My maternal grandma’s name is Maria Isabel. My paternal grandma’s name was Ana Isabel. My niece’s name is Isabella Marie. It would have been for my daughter. Isabella after me and Marie after my sis’ first name Maria.

  44. Mine is Monique. My son is Alexander my grandmother’s maiden name, my daughter’s is Louise, my mothers middle name.

  45. My middle name is Eleni, which is Helen in Greek. My parents chose the name in honor of my grandmother. I love it because even though I don’t have any vibrant memories with her, I feel a connection to her and her vibrant spirit.

  46. My middle name is Sydney. It was supposed to be my first name, but i was an emergency c-section and my dad panicked when it came to the naming (and my mum was too tired to correct him), so I ended up with Hannah Sydney Brennan. I would have preferred Sydney Hannah Brennan purely on the fact that I know so many other Hannah’s!

  47. Isabel, after my Great Aunt Isabel. I never knew her but I’m told she was a wonderful homemaker and extremely kind, things I hope rub off on my along with her name.

  48. I don’t like my middle name. It’s my mom’s best friend’s name so I guess that makes sense. If I have a girl I plan on giving her the middle name Elizabeth – that’s my BFF’s name and also my MIL’s middle name so it would work out great. I do like the idea of a more exciting middle name, though!!

  49. My middle name is Dawn but my son’s middle name Tae San which means great mountain in Korean. His birth was an ordeal so I feel like I climbed a great mountain in order to get him. :)

  50. My middle name is Aspen (for the tree or the city, my parents will never tell!), and I am constantly thinking about using it as my first name. Maybe one day…

    Many of my friends have Anne or Marie for their middle names, namesakes of their grandmothers, which I think is very cute.

    I like to think in the future, though, I’ll be giving my baby a not-so-common middle name

  51. My sisters and I all have the same middle name, Anne. Our parents did it so that if/when we all marry we’ll always share our middle name :)

  52. My mothers name is Annie Lee so she switched it around and gave me the middle name LeAnne. I love having her name and a bit of country swag too.

  53. Ours sons names are Daniel Charles and Oliver Barrett Daniel is my dads name and Charles was supposed to be my father in laws name but his dad didn’t like it so he wrote c. On the birth certificate. Barrett is a Teutonic name that means bear-like. It’s also the name of my husband favorite character for the video game final fantasy 7

  54. Clearly I’m not the only one obsessed with names :)

    Our daughter is due in four weeks (!!!), and though we are not fully decided on her first name, her middle name was a given. It will be Ryan, for my younger brother who passed almost 10 years ago. Interestingly, she is due on the day that he died (we’ll see when she chooses to make her debut, though).

    I took my maiden name as my middle name when I got married. I never liked my middle name very much (Kaye), but I liked that it was chosen so I would have the same initials as my father.

  55. My husband and I have rather basic names–Jennifer and Frank, and my middle name is Lyn. We wanted our boys to have first names that weren’t too far out there, so we decided to make their middle names a little more interesting: Max Augustus and Benjamin Sterling.

  56. I shudder to think what my middle name might have been if I was given the chance to choose at 8yo.

  57. mine is Partridge… it’s a family name and i love it and it usually gets raised eyebrows from people. even better!
    my son’s is vincent after one of my closest friends who died too soon and my daughter’s is my mother’s maiden name McCabl. i love a weird middle name though…so fun!

  58. Mine is Eileen, after my mom and my Nan before her (and another aunt and two cousins and some in-laws). I like the name because it is a family name, and I like that my initials spell a name- MEG. When I was growing up, I used to go by “Megs” because there were so many Eileens (and some Maire/Mary/Mauras) in the family.

    I do like the interesting middle names though. The Civil War governor of Indiana (I’m a native Hoosier) was called Oliver Hazard Perry Morton. I’ve always thought that Hazard was the coolest middle name, and sometimes I think that maybe I would use it if I ever had a child.

  59. We let my oldest son pick our youngest’s middle name. He was 2 1/2 at the time and obsessed with Thomas the Train. The baby is “Nolan Thomas” which I love and I love to tell that story how our oldest picked the name “Thomas” for the baby and he is always so proud. I think it really helped bond our boys.

  60. My middle name is Renee, after my mom. Then my oldest’s middle name is Hazell ( said like haze- elle ) after her great, great grandmother, and my youngest has the middle name of Luceilia after… well, the sf giants mascot ( it was my husband’s turn to pick).

  61. My middle is Marie, the same as my mother’s. Nothing crazy! My fiancé (William Matthew),his 2 younger brothers (Joseph Tyler & John Nathan) and their dad (William Joseph) all go by their middle names instead of their first names. And they don’t really have a straight answer for it!

    If we ever have a daughter, her middle name will be Annette after his mother who passed away. Good thing she had a pretty name! ;)

  62. Our kids have “namesake” names as their middles- Abraham Lewis for Congressman John Lewis and Vivienne Leymah for Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee

  63. The husband is a Philadelphia sports fan, so our first kid got the name of the Eagles QB at the time (McNabb) and the second kid got one of the power hitters from the Phillies (Howard).

    The guys LOVE their sporty middle names.

  64. My daughter’s first and middle names are Eva Fallon. It took my husband a long time to convince me of the middle name, but now I’m glad I went with it!

  65. My daughter’s middle name is Moon. It sounded great at birth. We now feel its a bit hippy-dippy, but she’s stuck with it!

  66. Mine is Suzannah. I love the unusual spelling my parents chose to give me for my middle name.

  67. My son is named Harrison Ford….. After we picked the first name I said ford as a joke, then my husband wouldn’t give up the fight for it.

    My middle name is Delane, my om wanted it to be lame but my dad was upset that it wasn’t the same initials as him and my 3 brothers (LDS) so she was a”de” to it .

  68. My middle name is Rella, after my great-grandmother, and I absolutely love it. It’s somehow sounds traditional and unusual at the same time.

  69. My middle name is Dorothy after my Nanna/ my mum’s mum. So my full name is Nancy Dorothy Wakeman. I LOVE it! I’ve recently started using it quite a lot because I just love the feel of it. Also for business reasons, i’m a Graphic Designer and I brand myself as ‘Nancy Dorothy’, mainly down to the fact that my surname will change once i’m married, so I don’t need to worry about changing emails, business cards etc in a hurry.

  70. My middle name is D’Aun (pronounced dee-ON with the emphasis on the second syllable). It’s my mom’s middle name and I used to hate it growing up because it was different than everyone else, but now I LOVE it and if I have a girl, I’m going to pass it on to her. It sounds nice with any name! Try it!