Baby name consultation: Surname-name for baby no. 5

Happy Friday, everyone! Let’s finish off the week with a consultation for a mama who’s due soon! Allyson and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Harper Anne (“I was in the depths of a PhD program; studying literature and I loved the works of Harper Lee; but above all, she just “felt” like a Harper: and so Harper it was! This was nine years ago, before it was on any popular name lists. My mom’s and my middle name is Ann; and I added an “e” for my grandma’a middle name “Eva” [and also the nod to the literary Anne].”)

Monroe (Mun-RO) Grace (“Sadly, my dad passed away from a (very) long illness two weeks before Monroe was born. My doctor told me not to fly to his funeral, all while writing a doctor’s note to let me fly to his funeral.

It was such a heavy time; but when I look back, I only see this perfectly calm, patient baby girl who was my medicine and healed me [she is still this person]. My dad’s name is Roger; and within her name are the letters R-O-G-E-R. The only other name we considered for her was Livie.

She was NOT named after Marilyn Monroe; but she looks exactly like her (at age 7) … which is a funny coincidence. I loved the name because Madison was such a trending presidential name for little girls, and James Monroe was the next in line! I also loved the names of Harper and Monroe together (we often called them “Harp and Roe”; and we had kind of started a surname trend with first names.

We have no family ties to the middle name Grace; but it was through God’s grace that she specifically came to our family at this time. I played the song “Amazing Grace” no less than a million times in her first few weeks. She offered me amazing grace.”)

Cohen Matthew (“Cohen is currently our only boy, and was the easiest to name. We decided he would be Cohen as we were driving back from the 20 week ultrasound; and so it was! Cohen is a common Jewish surname (we are not Jewish); and a name for a religious leader or priest. We loved the reverence of this (as well as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”: there’s the surname again). Matthew is my husband’s middle name and also means ‘Gift from God’ which sums up our sweet Cohen. Truly a miracle.”)

Blair Allyson (“Blair flew into the world 2 years ago; with no doctor in the room. I had a list of 50 names and I sat in the hospital for 2 days crying over the fact that I could not assign her a name.

All I wanted was to name her Elle; but our last name starts with “Bow” and she would essentially have the name “elbow”. I still love Elle; but she is definitely a Blair! With flair! And more. We decided not to add the ‘e’ to the end of her name … but I may honestly change it to include the ‘e’ as I think (now) it looks more feminine.”)

I love this family naming style! And I loved reading the story behind each first name and each first+middle combo — things like “Monroe Grace” containing within it Allyson’s dad’s name is the kind of detail that can be so meaningful to a family, even if no one else in the world knows about it or gets it. I also laughed out loud about Elle Bow-/Elbow!

Allyson writes,

[W]e have struggled with, and changed (almost) every one of our babies’ names (our last actually has “infant” as a first name with an amendment for her name on her birth certificate — we don’t want to do this again). It is SO difficult for me to assign names to these perfect, little people.

Harper left the hospital named Allegra Anne (which I still love). It is Italian with the meaning “joy”; and has a musical connotation (which I am very involved with). My husband was a dental student and that very day the allergy medicine “Allegra” was changed to be sold across pharmaceutical counters. He told his patient her name, and he asked how he could possibly name a baby after an allergy medicine. Our parents actually thought it was the name of a different medication 🙃; and to be fair, we couldn’t call her by her name, so we changed it.

Whew! So, we need a name for this baby!

We obviously lean toward classic, but trendy names with the sound of ‘surname’ as their first name.

If it’s a girl we will use the middle name ‘Mae’ after my husband’s mom and my aunt who is like a mom to me (as well as my mom’s favorite aunt).

If it’s a boy, we will use the middle name ‘Jay’ after my husband’s dad.

Names we like:

Girl

  • Quinn: (this means queen and fifth born!).  It’s kind of perfect; but my husband thinks it is a boy name; and I don’t love it with the middle name Mae.
  • Elle: Can’t do it. But I love it.
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: I love London, but I know so many babies with that name … the other two might be too trendy?
  • Jolie, Juliet
  • Lucca
  • Delaney, Demi
  • Bellamy
  • Mila

(I have a list a mile long of more girl names I love).

Boy

  • Jamison
  • Maxwell
  • Jones
  • Landon

(Shorter list, not completely sold on any of them).

Anyway! This was a novel! We all need all the help we can get!

I’m fascinated that Allyson and her hubby changed their babies’ names multiple times! I definitely hope we can help them feel peaceful with a name for their little one before birth! But it’s clear that even if the same thing happens again, they’ll end up bestowing a fantastic name, just like they did four times before.

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names Allyson and her husband like, in case they’re helpful:

  • Quinn: I love Quinn for a girl! It’s very easy to debunk Allyson’s husband’s claim that Quinn is a “boy name” — the naming stats compiled by the Social Security Administration show that in 2020 (the most recent year we have data for), Quinn was no. 85 for girls and 440 for boys. Vastly more girls than boys were named Quinn! I do think a greater concern is that Allyson doesn’t care for Quinn with Mae. I wonder if she’d be open to considering a different middle name? Mae is a form of Mary, for example — would Quinn Mary appeal to them and retain the same honor for Allyson’s mother-in-law and her aunt? Or maybe they’d like to consider a double middle name, like Quinn Lucca Mae? If they were open to dropping Mae altogether, a suggestion I’d usually offer is Edel, after Venerable Edel Quinn — my readers who have considered Quinn for their girls (almost always for their girls!) look to Ven. Edel Quinn as patron — Quinn Edel sounds quite nice (I’ve heard Edel said like Adele; like the first part of Edelweiss; and to rhyme with “pedal”), as does Quinn Edel Mae. I also have a reader whose daughter is Quinn Margaret, which is lovely. Or maybe switch up the order and call her by her middle name? Mae Quinn called Quinn? I did a broader spotlight of Quinn here.
  • Elle: Such a great name, really too bad. Speaking of Edel, it’s kind of like Elle without the “elbow” problem — maybe they’d like to consider that?
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: These, along with Landon on their boy list and the fact that Allyson loves Elle (“L”!), really make me think they might like to consider an L name! I have quite a few suggestions below. Otherwise, I know they considered Livie for Monroe — Liv would be great. Lux is maybe a little edgier than they’ve done already? Lennon seems spot on for their style, and if Allyson knows a lot of Londons, I’d love to see if we can find something that feels fresher to her.
  • Jolie, Juliet: My first thought here is that, since they’ve done surname-type names with their other kids, I’d really love to see them continue that theme. Juliet is one of my favorite names in the whole world, but it has a frilliness that Harper, Monroe, and Blair don’t have (Marilyn notwithstanding!). Jolie fits in nicely, though (thank you Angelina for giving it a surname vibe!), and it was fun to see that Cohen, Elle, Quinn, and Juliette itself (that spelling) are style matches for it per the Baby Name Wizard!
  • Lucca: If it wasn’t for Allegra, I’d probably wonder where Lucca came from! I like that it’s a surname (as opposed to the first name Luca), and it does fit in with a name Allyson loved (Allegra), but it is very Italian as compared to their other kids’ names.
  • Delaney, Demi: I often see Delaney on name lists of parents who have taste like these parents, such a cool name! Demi is all Demi Moore and Demi Lovato to me, and in both cases they may be (for Moore) and are (for Lovato) nicknames for Demetria (some sources say Demi Moore’s given name is Demetria, but I guess she’s said that’s not true. Demetria is, however, Demi Lovato’s given name). I only say this because Demi on its own has names like Kirstie, Gigi, and Rico given as style matches for it, which don’t seem like Allyson’s style at all, so maybe she’d like to consider it as a nickname for a longer name instead? One option is the biblical name Damaris, which I’ve seen sometimes spelled Demaris; another is to use a D first name with Mae for the middle and think of Demi as sort of a mashup nickname from the first+middle names: Delaney Mae, Dempsey Mae, Darcy Mae, Della Mae.
  • Bellamy: I always think it’s so great that “Bella” is the first part of Bellamy, making it feel really feminine, and also that the whole thing means “beautiful friend.” Bellamy actually directly inspired one of my suggestions below.
  • Mila: When I first read Allyson’s email, and again when I started working on her consultation, I read this as “Mia” both times and thought it seemed a departure from her style, but okay. Mila makes so much more sense to me for them! I would understand if Allyson’s mother-in-law didn’t feel honored by Mila (nor her aunt), but I’ve often thought it can be a nice nod to a baby’s grandmother because of St. Ludmila.
  • Jamison: I think Jamison is such a fun way to shake up the traditional James. If the Jay for Allyson’s father-in-law is short for James, Jamison could be thought of as a nod to him?
  • Maxwell: A fine name, no surprises here. I’m wondering though if Wells might be more their style?
  • Jones: I’ve often thought Jones would make a cool first name! I like that it’s derived from John, which gives it all sorts of faith connections.
  • Landon: As I mentioned above in regards to Liv, Lux, Lennon, London, Allyson must really like L names! I have a couple suggestions of others below. Also, Lander is a style match for Cohen — I’ve never seen Lander before and don’t really know anything about it, but I thought it was neat that it’s like a more unusual Landon.

So Allyson and her husband have some pretty great ideas here, but of course I can always come up with more! I mentioned the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) above — you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I was excited to do so here, as Allyson’s kids’ names are a bit outside of what I usually see and it was fun to see what names were listed as style matches for them! (I’m such a name nerd! Haha!) There were a few that didn’t have their own entries in the book, so I used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com, and I also had a couple of my own ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

Girl

(1) Greer, Tierney

Right off the bat I thought of Greer, one of my very favorite girl names! I knew a girl when I was growing up whose name was Greer, which I thought was so fun and interesting and unusual. When I discovered Greer Garson, the name took on a starlet feel, which totally goes with Monroe I think. Brooke Shields used the Grier spelling for her daughter. I love both Greer and Grier!

Tierney is included here with Greer because the Greer I knew growing up has a sister named Tierney, which I also thought was amazing, and it was fun to see Tierney listed as a style match for Bellamy!

(2) Romilly

Speaking of Bellamy, Romilly is a style match for it, and as much as I like Bellamy, I think I like Romilly even more. Such an unexpected name, I wish I heard more of it!

(3) Luna, Larkin, Linnea, Landry

Just as Allyson had a list of L names she likes, so I have a list of L names I came across in my research that I loved for her — I couldn’t pick just one! I said above that I thought Lux was a little too edgy for their style, but Luna is so similar and a bit softer, and it’s a match for Jolie and Mila.

Larkin is an actual style match for Monroe as a girl’s name and also Jamison, and also given as a boy name match for Jones. My only familiarity with it is as a girl’s name, probably because of the bird “lark” having a feminine feel and the actress Lark Voorhies from Saved by the Bell as well as the sister’s name of a friend of mine, and this family used Larkin for a daughter too. (It appears to be a medieval diminutive of Lawrence, so if you wanted to honor a Lawrence in either a boy or a girl’s name, Larkin would be great!)

Linnea is a match for Allegra, and I might have thought it too frilly but that I know it derives from the surname Linnaeus (the linnea flower is named after the botanist Carolus Linneaus), which goes along with this family’s style.

And Landry is another one I thought of right away for them — a surname with unisex usage that’s also a Saint’s name, so it’s often a go-to suggestion from me for other families who enjoy similar names.

(4) Eyre, Eden

I kept my eyes open for names that struck me as having a similar feel to Elle, which I thought both Eyre and Eden fit. Eyre is a match for Monroe and as soon as I thought it I thought of Allyson’s academic work and thought it might be perfect. Eyre also reminds me of Lux — “air,” “light.”

Eden is an actual match for Elle, and also for Jolie, and having Old Testament connections also ties it to Cohen, which I like.

(5) Halle

Finally, Halle is a match for Jolie, Hailey is a match for Madison, and Hali is a match for Demi; of those, I like Halle the best for this family because of why one family I spotlighted chose it — because it’s contained within Hallelujah! I think that’s amazing! (They also have a Grace Marilyn! Like Monroe Grace!)

Boy

(1) Rourke

Knowing that Allyson and her hubby are having a harder time with boy names, I really tried to cast a wide net. Both Roarke and Rourke are style matches for Monroe, and I was intrigued right away since they represent a sound/rhythm that I think is kind of unusual among boy names. I thought Roarke was too Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, but there are two Irish Martyrs with the surname O’Rourke that I would look to as patrons (more specifics about Bl. Conn O’Rourke here).

(2) Bennett

Bennett was a big match for this family! It’s listed as a match for Monroe, Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell! I love that it means “blessed,” and I love that Bennet has a literary connection through Pride and Prejudice!

(3) Elliott

Elliott, too, did very well in my research — it’s a match for Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell. Elliott is derived from Elijah, which I’ve always thought was amazing — a biblical name “in disguise”!

(4) Tate

I have to say, I wasn’t sure whether to put Tate in the boy list or the girl list, and ultimately decided to put it in the boy list because it’s listed as a boy match for Blair and Elle, and because I thought a girl Tate might be misheard as Kate too often. Tate is a fun name! Tate with their last name sounds like a star football player to me.

(5) Lincoln, Lexington

Finally, I’m making good on my promise to offer more L names! Allyson mentioned liking the presidential connection of Monroe, so I wondered if she might like Lincoln? I think Lincoln and Linc are fantastic names, and Lincoln’s a style match for Harper, too.

Lexington is a match for London, and I kind of thought of it as a Lux alternative, but for a boy?

Those are all my “official” suggestions, but there were a bunch of other names I considered including that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, so I wanted to list them just in case there’s something here that feels right to Allyson and/or her husband:

Girl

  • Austen, Avalon, Avonlea
  • Cassidy

Boy

  • Garrett
  • Grant
  • Cashel
  • Patton
  • Locke
  • Knox

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Harper, Monroe, Cohen, and Blair?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

22 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Surname-name for baby no. 5

  1. We also can’t use an Elle type name due to our last name, so I feel your pain!

    Lennon was my grandmother’s maiden name, and I am still considering using it. I like Lennon and Eyre for this family. Avalon and Avonlea? How awesome are they, although they’d be a big departure for us.

    For a boy, I love Jamison, and I also think that Elliot would be a great way to get an Elle type name that wouldn’t be a nickname issue.

    Happy naming!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If not Elle, what about Ellis?
    I also like Casey, Lainey, Vesper, Teagan, Sienna and Goretti for this family.

    For a boy, Emmett, Cooper, Brooks or Logan.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For girls, Ellis was my first thought too!! That and Ellery. Maybe Quincy Mae, but if Quinn is all boy to her husband, he probably wouldn’t go for Quincy.
    *Ellis Maeve
    *Ellery Mae
    *Quincy Mae
    I think Jolie is my favorite from their list with Mae.
    Bellamy might be a great way to get your Elle sound, but any name starting with L could have the nickname ”Elle” among family.
    I love the suggestions of Dempsey, Darcy, Tierney, Greer, Romilly and Teagan.
    I wonder if they’d consider Jones on a girl since it just adds an S to Joan. Or Lexington on a girl, although I personally love it on a boy. I would also suggest August or Auden.
    *Jones Mae
    *Lexington Mae
    *August Mae
    *Auden Mae

    For boys, I love all of the options. Both on their list and the suggestions. My favorite with Jay as the middle is probably Maxwell. My favorite in general is Jones for either gender. Of the suggestions, my favorite is probably Bennet for the literary connection, although Wells, Tate and Brooks are awesome, too.
    I wonder if they’d consider Lux on a boy, as well as Kate’s suggestion of Landry.
    I’ve been liking Porter lately, or maybe Rhodes or Merrick
    *Lux Jay
    *Landry Jay
    *Porter Jay
    *Merrick Jay

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Girl:
    Ainsley — a name being considered by someone I work with.
    Amory
    Avedon
    Berkeley
    Calloway
    Dru
    Garnett
    Hadley — a cousin’s daughter and the name of two more little girls I’ve met.
    Hollis
    Kensington
    Paisley
    Raleigh
    Ridley
    Ripley — either girl or boy. The one I know of who was born last year is a boy but I like it for a girl.
    Saige
    Sorrel
    Starling
    Trilby
    Vere
    Wellesley
    Willoughby

    Boys
    Anson
    Baird
    Bard
    Bridger
    Creed
    Deacon
    Field
    Flint
    Gardner
    Hayes
    Ingram
    Jennings
    Jensen
    Laird
    McCoy
    Quill
    Robson
    Sterling
    Tolliver
    Wiley

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Also agreeing with the suggestion of using Elle as a nickname for Ellis/Ellery/Eleri/etc! Sound-wise, it could also work as a nickname for a L name. I have a nickname, but it is pretty much never used with my surname, so the El/Bow issue doesn’t have to be an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My son is Knox! For his patron, we felt Knox could be connected to/honor Our Lady of Knock. And it happened that he was born 4days after the date of the apparition at Knock (which also included St Joseph and St John-for us this was even cooler to learn about because our first baby who is in heaven is named Joseph so I felt like it was a sweet connection between our boys’ names).

    Liked by 1 person

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