Do you reserve names for later use?

The consultation I posted on November 23 was for a family that had picked out Felicity for a girl — a beloved name, full of meaning for them — only to discover they were having a boy.

Grace commented, “My suggestion is Felix! Since she was really excited about Felicity’s meaning and saintly pedigree, Felix really seems the perfect alternative to me! Popular in the UK, Spain, and Germany, it definitely has a hip, continental thing about it while not being unusual or hard to pronounce, and the x-ending makes it flow very well into middle names beginning with either a vowel or a consonant! I think it’s super awesome for them,” which several of us agreed was a great suggestion.

Sarah commented, “We did this with our first. We loved Natalia for a girl, but he was a boy. Naming him Nathaniel kind of nixes a future Natalia. That said, we loved Nathaniel enough to where there are no regrets. I think it just depends on how much they love Felix. If it hits all the right notes, great. If Felicity still makes their heart sing and Felix is just okay, then I say save Felicity,” which I loved, especially this bit: “If Felicity still makes their heart sing and Felix is just okay, then I say save Felicity.”

I’d commented, “My only worry with Felix is that it knocks out Felicity for the future … which brings up a whole other issue, which maybe I’ll do a post on sometime — what are all your thoughts on reserving names for possible future babies? Have you/would you and why or why not? Felix now at the expense of Felicity later (potentially) is a perfect example …”

I have a small example of that in the naming of my own kids: The first name we decided on for a girl has been the same through all my pregnancies — it’s an honor name for my mom and my grandmother and it won’t change. The middle name has changed several times though, most often in order to honor my mother-in-law in different ways; we’ve also discussed variants of her name as a first name possibility for a second daughter. Then we decided to give our youngest boy a first name that was a variant of my mother-in-law’s name, which knocks out of consideration the variants of her name we’d considered for a first name for a girl. I felt the tiniest of twinges at our decision but really. Six boys, no girls — holding a name in reserve for a second girl seems kind of silly when a first girl hasn’t happened and may never. Also, like Sarah said, I love the male variant we chose for my youngest, so I don’t really miss the possibility of using the feminine variants.

I’d love to know what the rest of you think! Do you/have you/would you save names for future use that knock possibilities out of consideration for this baby right here right now?





85 thoughts on “Do you reserve names for later use?

  1. My husband and I are hoping to be blessed with a baby soon, so we have started the (fun for me, slightly less fun for him) baby name talks. We both adore the name Josephine for a girl, so I pointed out to him that since we love that name, we wouldn’t use Joseph for a little boy (which is my husband’s middle name), even if we had little boy(s) first.

    I think the only way I could bring myself to use Joseph as a name for a boy would be if I was 99% sure that this was our last child. And even then, I’d be slightly on edge about it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • “if I was 99% sure that this was our last child. And even then, I’d be slightly on edge about it!” –> I totally get it!

      Also laughed out loud over “fun for me, slightly less fun for him,” I tooootally get it, same deal in my house. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My wife and I are in this predicament, actually. We have a name that we totally love for a boy, and it fits perfectly. However, should we have a boy first (we actually find out the gender today!) I’m not so sure we’ll use that particular name because of this reason: I’m a first born, and so is my father; he and I both share the same first name. Having said that, should God will that my wife and I have a boy first, it’ll be really tough for me to give that same first name up for the name that we love.
    It may sound silly, but the name we both really like for a boy doesn’t seem like a “first born” or “leader of the sibs” kind of jive to it; it’s more of a younger sibling name to us.
    So we have discussed reserving it for the potential of another boy. Kate, you did mention though that we may never get that chance and to heavily consider using it in case we wouldn’t get the opportunity to use the only name we have truly agreed upon for a little guy, which is why we ARE thinking about that..
    Those are my two cents! God Bless!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. We’re savers. We have actually been saving Felicity for a second girl since we were pregnant with our first, though, like you, the middle name is in flux each go ’round. And when discussing middle names, the question of whether we would like to save a name to use as a first name down the road is always on the table. Another consideration is where we stand in terms of childbearing. Given our ages, we figure we have 1-3 more kids to name. As that number dwindles, the need to save decreases and the sense of urgency to “use up” favorite names will probably increase.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Despite my suggestion of Felix for the family in the original post (because they loved the meaning so much), I usually do not think about using both gender variants of a name. For example, Josephine & Joseph. Josephine is/was a favorite name of mine (until a sibling stole it from me), but I don’t really care for the name Joseph in the same way. Generally it seems to work that way for me. I love the name George, but the feminine variants of it do nothing for me. Etc.

    That said, I do NOT save names. Based on my fertility history, I NEVER assume there’ll be another baby. Each time, we narrow it down to the one (or two, with middle name) name we love best, not considering the possibility of another baby coming along. I would never NOT use a middle name in hopes that I’d be able to use it as a first name the next time (I know lots of people who have done this), because each one of my babies was somewhat hard won and I know that any of them could be the last. This doesn’t stop me from dreaming and hoping, but it also keeps me very pragmatic in the moment, especially when choosing a name.

    I often remind myself that even in the case of very large families, say 10-12 children, that is still ONLY 10 or 12 names to get to bestow out of hundreds that are beautiful and amazing. In the scheme of things, we all only get to name so few children. I feel it’s best to name each one as though he or she will be the only child you will ever name.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I think I would probably be pretty tempted so save, but I could see myself doing something like you did with your youngest. I really want to honor one of my sisters (I don’t really have to go out of the way to honor my other sister, because her name is Marian, so that will just happen). If I even got to boy 3 or 4 with no girls, I would start considering Alexander or Alastair, because the idea of not honoring her actually terrifies me.

    But then I also start thinking about just my favorite boys name which has been William for like the past 7 years. I might have a little bit a break down if my future husband doesn’t love it. I also love the name Willa, but not more than William. The idea of not using William makes me really sad, so I know if I was on girl 5 or 6 with no boys, I’d be really tempted to use Willa instead, but there would definitely be that “what if I do have a boy?”

    I think this is also even a problem beyond opposite gender naming. Say you use the name Ava for your first daughter. Then you find out you’re having another baby girl, names like Evangeline, Evelyn, Eva, Ada, Avia, Aida are all out. There’s a unique challenge to naming when you think you’re going to have more kids then the average 2 or 3.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “I might have a little bit of a break down if my future husband doesn’t love” the name William. Grace, you’re great! Haha! My sisters and I have talked about this so much. Pesky husbands! (Just kidding guys!!!!) 😀 You make great points!

      Liked by 2 people

    • My sister’s favorite boys’ name is William, too! Her husband vetoed it hard and fast when she was pregnant with their first, and has continued to do so with each baby since. She keeps bringing it up, though, hoping he’ll come around. In the meantime, they just look at names I like and then steal from that list. 😳

      Liked by 2 people

      • My sisters and I have this conversation all the time too! I’m the only one of them married/with children … just the other one of them told me under no uncertain terms can anyone in the family use some particular names she likes …

        Liked by 2 people

      • My sister is really horrible about this. I love her, she is my best friend, but it’s awful. She’s pregnant with another girl now and was actually talking about using the name we’d finally chosen for our last child had he been a girl, which she knew then and which I have mentioned since. (This is the only kind of saving I do—sometimes I carry the unused name to the next child, such as my oldest would’ve been James had she been a boy, and so her brother was James, and then this time, we decided to hang onto that girl’s name just in case.) I was SO angry with her. She was like, “but, it might be the only thing we both agree on” to which I said, “find something else.” And they did, and it’s not even a name I like! Yay! Lolololol 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Is it bad that when my sisters ask about names I like, I tell them names I just like and don’t love? Like, I won’t tell them my favorites, but I’ll tell them like Zoe because yeah, I like it, but I’ll never use it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hahaha! Maybe that’s for the best! I do find though that not sharing names leads to the possibility of someone choosing the name without knowing you like it, and then you have no leg to stand on, you know? But I know a lot of people disagree with me on that!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Grace, I agree with your last point (with the example of Ava, Evangeline, etc.)
      I have a friend who named her first daughter Marie as an honor name for a few people in her family, and then later regretted that it’s the only time she’ll get to do an explicitly Marian first name (I think she may have chosen a different variant of Mary if she’d thought about this first).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. We will reserve names if we really love them.

    For Baby #1 we picked out William James, after my husband (middle name of William), my husband’s grandfather (first name of William) and my great-uncle, but baby #1 ended up being a girl. We named her Elanor Mary instead.

    Baby #2 was a boy, and he became William Joseph. We decided to change the middle name at the last minute in honor of Pope Benedict XVI, nee Joseph Ratzinger. My mom also liked that the “Jo” in his name could be after me as well.) We still have James on our list as a potential future boy name (either first or middle).

    For Baby #3, we had Gabriel Keith picked out for a boy name even before I was pregnant (it eclipsed James because I loved the nod to G.K. Chesterton), but she was a girl and became Violet Elizabeth. We considered using the girl name we’d had picked out for William (Rose Victoria), but I decided I wanted to name her after my grandmother Violet instead.

    Baby #4, we finally got to use Gabriel Keith!

    James was a contender for Baby #5, but I really wanted to name him something papal due to my love of the new Pope Francis (he became Pope during my pregnancy), so we settled on Peter David instead (my father’s name is David, and I’m also a big fan of the Star Trek author of the same name).

    Liked by 5 people

  7. We experienced this in our most recent pregnancy. The two names we chose, almost from the beginning, were Luke and Lucy. Baby was a boy, and so he is Luke. It makes me slightly sad that we will never have a Lucy, but I think i’d be sadder to not use Luke, so it worked out okay 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting! Our first was a boy, and he was George from the get-go. This time, we decided on Mara for a girl, and most likely Mark for a boy – not because they were feminine and masculine versions of a name, but because we just happened to like those two names. Well, baby was a girl, we named her Mara, and it suits her. I doubt we’ll ever use Mark though – I worry that it’s too similar to Mara to work for any but twins – which is sort of sad, but I would have been sadder not to use Mara. This “which name would I be sorrier not to use?” test is helpful, thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I wouldn’t have thought of Luke and Lucy being too close. I could see using them. I love Luke and would have like to use it for our last but the sibling right above him was Leah (and people often think it is Leia anyway) so nixed the idea of having a Luke and Leah. Now if there had been more separation of siblings between, I MIGHT have still gone ahead with it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • We do have a family at my parish who have a Lucas and Lucy, which is arguably even closer than my example because of the Luc- beginning. Nobody even bats an eye about that. Just for our taste, Luke and Lucy are a bit close 😉 We don’t even have any repeating initials.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Wow! Are Lucas and Lucy separated by a couple/few siblings?

        You bring up another good point — so many of the things people like us agonize over are totally not even noticed by others.


      • I’m glad to hear this! A mom was just asking me the other day if Luke and Lucy were too close … I came to a similar conclusion — if there are siblings between it’s not that big a deal.


    • I really think Luke and Lucy are very similar, but if you love both of them, it would be a shame to waste Lucy just because you already have a Luke. And the same if you already have a Lucy and you want a Luke. And beautiful names like those should not be wasted. That’s just my opinion.

      But if I could, I’d rather use both of them to name a twin set!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Gosh, I think there are so many variables in this question and people have brought up good points and individual circumstances that led them to their choices. We had a favorite girl name that we saved through several pregnancies and then never used even though we had one girl. Still wish I had gotten to use it. Our name for girl with first pregnancy was Lauren (Elena or Elise for middle). Had a boy. Next pregnancy same girl name still the choice. Had a boy. Next pregnancy, I made a conscious decision to change name as I didn’t think “Lauren” wanted to be born – so hoping for a girl and a little superstitious in my thoughts. So we came up with another girl name, Leah Miren, and it was a girl. So I had convinced myself to change name and could have gone back to original but we really loved the new one as well. 4th pregnancy went back gone back to Lauren as girl choice, but it was a boy…lol. Was not meant to have a Lauren, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A little off topic, but since we’ve touched upon the theme of how close is too close, I have a sweet story. As I mentioned earlier it sure looks like my baby due in June is a girl. If we were having a boy we were pretty set on naming him Peter and I had noticed that my oldest son Paul (who is 14) had become quite attached to the idea of baby Peter (even though I don’t think he truly cares what gender the new baby is). I asked him about it and he said that he liked Peter because “it’s a little bit like my name.” I thought it was quite revealing because I often worry that names will be too close to my older children’s name, but Paul saw it as a connection with his much younger sibling.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. How nice for you both, Grace and Skimac!
    It is so fun to read everyone’s thoughts about this!
    As I look back, I remain steadfast with the thought that my children’s names are the names that just seemed right…just for each of them…kind of a wonderful was to feel!
    Such beautiful names, also, have been discussed here. It would be so interesting to know why certain names just set well with some and not with others…aside from the connection to a pleasant or not so pleasant experience with someone in the life we have lived until now…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I sometimes think that would be a great advantage of having twins–getting to use names for two babies at once and not having to make that decision between your two favorites 😀

    I love the middle name Rose, especially for the first name that I have picked out for our next daughter (God-willing). But it also is a name I would love to use as a first, if I had 4 or 5 daughters. Given our fertility, I don’t expect to have that many daughters (unless we don’t have any sons, or maybe if we have twin girls haha). So I would likely go ahead and use it as a middle…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I loved this post! We had to consider this when naming #2. We really like the name Elise for a girl (it was in our top 3 girl names) but it’s now probably ruled out because we named #2 Elias. So Elise is off the table for potential girls 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We have saved our boy name (which we discussed before we were even married by the way) because we have 4 girls, but in our minds there is always a possibility that we will have more and that a boy will be in the mix, plus if we never have a boy, there’s bound to be a grandson and maybe one of my daughter’s will be ok with the name we have loved for a boy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww a grandson with your boy name! I think that sometimes about our girl name — after six boys the possibility of getting to use it is dwindling and like you I’ve pictured it on a grandbaby 🙂


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