Middle Names

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You've got the first name down. that's no problem. But what about a middle? Katinka Rose is beautiful, but what about Katinka Anne? Katinka Marie?

Many people don't give middle names much thought, that's why, if you're female, you're middle name is probably Ann, Lynn, or Marie. That's also why most of your friends also have the middle names Ann, Lynn or Marie. Name connoisseurs call them "filler" names, or "throw-away" names because they seem to be just that- a pretty sounding name that doesn't have much substance that acts as a 'bridge' from the first name to the last name. People commonly use the following rationales when choosing a middle name:

  • When do you ever use a middle name anyway? Don't you only use it when you're angry? (i.e. "Jennifer Ann Schmidt! You get in here *NOW*!")

    Yes, it's true that middle names seldom get used. However, this is precisely why you shouldn't use a boring middle name. For example, if you've always loved uncle Rupert (but never really liked his name),  why not put it in the middle position? Who's going to ever know?

  • When my daughter gets married, she'll lose her middle name anyway.

    This just isn't true anymore. More and more women are keeping their maiden names when they marry. Many choose to hyphenate their last names. A good middle name may inspire her to keep a maiden name!

Try to break out of these rationales!

Choose a name that has meaning to you, or that you absolutely love. Don't just throw in John or Ann because it sounds nice with Michael or Brittany. Perhaps your maiden name, or the name of a special friend, relative, or other person whom you admire would make a good middle name. If you're wary of weird names, and don't want to saddle your child with a unique first name, then maybe the middle name is the place to be creative! And also, if you select a more common first name, a creative middle name will make your Little Michael or Ashley stand out from the crowd more.

Consider this: I went to high school with Michele Smith and Michelle Smith. There was also a Michelle Murphy and a Michelle Adams. Both Michelle Smiths and Michelle Murphy had the middle name Marie (Michelle Adams's middle name was Ann, just like Michelle Fabrizio's in the grade ahead). The Smiths were really stuck! They were known all throughout their school days as Michele-with-one-L Smith and Michelle-with-two-Ls Smith. Needless to say, they were pretty sick of the whole thing by the time they graduated. The two Robert Johnsons and two Mike Allens fared much better, just being known as Robert Michael Johnson and Robert Verne Johnson. (the Mike Allens were so different in stature that they were forever "Big Mike Allen" and "Little Mike Allen").

So why do so many girls have middle names Ann and Marie?

The answer to this is simple: It's all about rhythm. Ann sounds good with just about any name. Ditto for Marie, Lynn, and their friends Louise, Elizabeth, Lee/Leigh, Jo and Beth. For more discussion on rhythm, click here. Most first and last names are two-syllable, accented on the 1st syllable. In fact, according to The Babyzone's Top names of 1988, 43% of girls' names were 2 syllables, accented on the first (i.e. Megan, Emma, Kayla, Ashley etc.). Of the remaining 57%, 20% were accented on the first syllable.

With so many first names accented on the 1st syllable, a short middle name like Ann sounds nice. Which sounds more melodic? Megan Sarah Taylor or Megan Ann Taylor? Most people would say Megan Ann, because it breaks the 2-syllable monotony more than Megan Sarah. Names with the same number of syllables and the same stress tend to sound sing-songy.

Marie is another popular choice for a middle name. Marie's popularity can stem from the fast that it is accented on the 2nd syllable, which makes it break up the 1st syllable stress as well. Which sounds nicer? Megan Marie Taylor or Megan Sarah Taylor? Most would say Megan Marie, because having the accent on the 2nd syllable (unlike Megan), it breaks up the sing-songy-ness.

Middle names for boys are a bit of a different story. While there is a certain stock of middle names for girls, there isn't the same thing for boys. The most popular middle names for boys are fairly similar to the most popular first names. Consider the following top 10 name chart. The numbers in parentheses indicate the position the name holds on the first name chart for the same year. A "0" indicates that it doesn't even place on the chart. 64% of the boys' middle names are also popular enough to be on the boys' first name list. Compare this with only 25% of the girls' middle names.

Top 10 Middle Names for Tompkins/Schuyler Counties, NY 1997
Rank Girls (rank in first name chart) Boys (rank in first name chart)
1 Marie (0) Michael (5)
2 Elizabeth (10) James (6)
3 Ann (0) John (31)
4 Lynn (0) Joseph (14)/ Robert (0)
5 Lee (0)/May (0)
6 Thomas (15)
7 Nicole (17)/Renee (0) Stephen (0)
8 David (0)
9 Michelle (18) William (7)/Alexander (10)/Allen (0)/Scott (0)
10 Katherine (11)/Morgan (0)/Rose (0)/Claire (0)/Jean (0)/Jo (0)/Noel (0)
(data collected by K. Doyle & N. Burch)

Beware of the 90s Filler Names!

In the 90s, parents have wised up a little bit. They're branching out from Anne and Lynn. however, what have they done? They've created a whole new set of 'filler' names! The following list of names may sound fresh and new to you now, but they're being used a lot these days. Remember, today's Emily Rose and Hannah Grace will probably be tomorrow's Jennifer Lynn and Michelle Ann!
  • Rose
  • Nicole
  • Grace
  • Claire
and to some extent (but aren't quite as popular):
  • Noelle
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Joy

but My middle Name Is Ann! And So is My mother's! And grandmother's!

So it's a family tradition to use Ann, Marie and friends. Here are other forms of common names you could use to carry on the tradition.

Instead of: try
Ann(e) Anne, Annika, Annelise, Annabel, Annette, Anita, Anais,or a name that ends in -ann, such as Marianne, Vivianne etc.
Lynn(e) Linnea, Linda, Lynnette, Linnell, Linnet, Melinda, Belinda, or a name that ends in -lyn, such as Madelyn, Evelyn etc.
Marie Mariel, Marisse, Marisa, Mireille (mee RAY), Mireia (mee RAY a), Maria, Maureen, Mara, Maren, Maura
Jane, Jean Joan, Joanne, Joanna, Janelle, Jeannette, Janine, Jana, Ivana, Sinead, Siobhan, Janna
Rose Suzanne, Susannah (both names mean 'rose'), Rosette, Rosa, Roseanne, Rosalie, Rosaleen, Rosaline, Rosalyn, Rosemarie, Rosemary
Lee, Leigh Liana, Leanne, Leela, Leila, Julie, Jolie, Leena, Leah, Carly, or another name that begins or ends in Lee (Haylee, Caylee etc.)

Or, if you just want ideas of names that sound nice, here are some more names you could use. The following lists are divided by number of syllables and syllable stressed.

1-Syllable Names (the Anns, Waynes and Lynns of Tomorrow)
Girls Boys Either
Belle Beau/Bo Ashe
Bess Berg Blaine
Bette Birch Dai
Blanche Blade Dale
Bliss Blaise/Blaze Dane/Dayne
Blythe/Blithe Bond Day
Brie Bram Drew
Brynn Bran Jay(e)
Cai Brant Kai/Cai
Cass Brent Lane/Layne
Elle Brock Lore
Eve Bruce Sage
Fawn Bryce Storm
Faye Burke Tao
Fern Cain Teale
Fleur Carl True
Gail/Gayle/Gael Clay Tyne
Greer Clive
Gwen/Gwynne Clyde
Hope Cole
Jill Dean
Joy Jett
June Judd
Lark Jude
Lise Kerr
Love Laird
Maeve Lars
Pearl Leaf/Leif
Rain Lear/Lir
Rue Lorne
Ruth Luke
Snow Mark
Starr Miles/Myles
Wren Neal/Neil
Wynne Noel

2-syllable iambic middle names (the Next Generation's Nicoles and Maries)

Adair Adele Aileen Brianne Brielle Brienne Brigitte
Camille Carine Celeste Cerise Chantal Charlene Cherise
Cheyenne Ciel Clarisse Colette Corinne Cybelle Danae
Denise Eileen Elise Estelle Gisel(l)e Ianthe Janae
Janelle Jaylene Jeannette Joanne Joelle Justine Kathleen
Katrine Laurine Leanne Lisette Lorraine Lourdes Lucille
Lynnette Martine Maureen Maxine Milan Mireille Monet
Monique Nadine Patrice Pauline Rachelle Raquel Rochelle
Roxanne Sarai Selene/Celine Simone Sinead Siobhan Solange
Solenne Suzanne Suzette Yasmeen Yvette Yvonne

3+ Syllable names that don't end in A, and are not stressed on the first syllable (the Next Generation's Elizabeths)

Phew! That's a long title! These names sound fancier than they really are. They are meant for with 2-syllable names ending in A. For example, Kayla Angelique, Emma Leilani, Sarah Felicity, etc. Since a lot of 2+ syllable names end in 'a' (Amelia, Amanda, Alyssa etc.), I though it would be nice to include some names that didn't.
Alanis Alizé Amari Amaris Anais
Angelique Annemarie Antoinette Araceli Arianne
Arielle Ashanti Bernadette Briallen Christiane
Damaris Delaney Dolores Dominique Eleni
Eleri Eliane Estefani Felicity Gabrielle
Guadelupe Imani Julianne Juliet Katriel
Leilani Liliane Loreto Marielle Mercedes
Naomi Nicolette Nicoline Oriane Rhiannon
Rosario Rosemarie Serenity Vivianne

3+ Syllable Names that End in A

Not every first name ends in A. Sometimes a longer name ending in A can be nice with a shorter name. For example, Brooke Amanda, Taylor Marissa and Megan Calista.

Acacia Adriana Aida Aisha Alanna Alexandra Aliya/Aaliyah Allegra
Alondra Amanda Amelia Amina Amira Angelica Angelina Anissa
Antonia Ariana Athena Aurora Ayana Belinda Bianca Calista
Carissa Cassandra Clarissa Dafinah Delilah Diana Elena Eliza
Fiona Gabriel(l)a Geneva Isabella Juliana Katrina Kiana Larissa
Liana Liliana Linnea Louisa Marcela Mariah Marissa Melina
Melinda Miranda Montana Natalia Natasha Nikita Rebecca/Rebekah Samara
Savannah Selena Serena Siena Sophia Susannah Tanisha Tatiana
Teresa Vanessa Xiomara

3+ syllable Names that are Stressed on the 1st Syllable and Don't end in A

OK, you're thinking "haven't we had enough yet?" Maybe so, but if you have a name that's stressed on the 2nd syllable, sometimes it's nice to have a middle name that's long, but stressed on the first. Nicole Addison, Tanisha Amity, and Victoria Abigail are some examples.

Abigail Addison Adeline Adrienne/Adrianne Al(l)ison Amelie
Amity Angeline Annabel Annelise Augustine Beatrice
Beatrix Bethany Cameron Caroline Cassidy Charity
Desiree Destiny Ebony Emerson Emmeline Eveline
Evelyn Genesis Genevieve Gillian Gwendolen Hil(l)ary
Ireland Isabelle Jacqueline Jocelyn Josephine Kennedy
Liberty Lillian Mallory Margaret Maribel Mariel
Maryam Melanie Melody Meredith Miriam Natalie
Rosalie Rosalind Rosaline Rosamund Rosemary Sheridan
Stephanie Trinity Valerie Verity Vivian

Middle Names For Boys

Finding rhythmically nice middle names for boys is tricky. Most boys'; names follow our faithful two-syllable, first-syllable stressed pattern (as in Brandon, Austin, Michael, Jacob etc.), so it's actually difficult to come up with nice boys' names with 3 or more syllables (there are lots of really odd ones out there, like Hercules, Abelard, Ethelbert and Adonis, but I didn't include those!). However, here is a list of some 3+ syllable names that we thought were plausible!
Abraham Absalom Adair Adrian Alessandro Alexander
Algernon Amyntas Andreas Anthony Antoine Arsenio
Aurelian Cordell Damian Darius Deangelo DeWayne
Dominic Donovan Dorian Elias Elijah Emerson
Exekiel Fabian Fabiano Frederick Gabriel Garrison
Gregory Harrison Ishmael Jaleel Jermaine Jonathan
Julian Julius Killian Leonardo Lionel Lucian
Mackenzie Malachi Malachy Malik Marcel Matteo
Maverick Maxmilian Nathaniel Oliver Omari Orlando
Rafael Remington Roderick Solomon Thaddeus Theodore
Tobias Ulysses Uriel Valentine Xavier Zachariah