Duana Names: A trilingual boy

December 24, 2014 16:49:02 Posted at December 24, 2014 16:49:02
Duana Posted by Duana

Hi Duana,
My husband and I are having our first baby - a boy - in the next couple of weeks and we're having a hard time coming up with a trilingual name for him.

Our parameters are few but somewhat limiting. My husband is Moroccan and we would both like our son's name to reflect his heritage, in addition to be easy to pronounce in English. I communicate with my inlaws in French; we also live in a fairly bilingual Canadian city and intend to send the kid to French school, so ideally the name would work en français as well as English and Arabic. We'd like to give him 'Andrew' as a middle name, after my dad, but this is negotiable.

So far, the only two names we can both actually agree on are Adam (which is also my husband's cousin's firstborn's name), and Sami. I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have!

thanks so much,


Hi Amanda,

Yep, this is the zenith of baby name questions. Luckily as I write this, I’m sitting beside my Egyptian dad on the couch as we recover from too much turkey a day early. His name is Gamal, and it’s always translated rather well for him, so you are most welcome to it if you’d like it.

If that’s not quite it though, understand that I know what you’re up against. To have an Arabic name that’s also easily pronounced in English and French is…well, it’s specific. That’s why Adam and Sami are so good – they’re a fast pass to everyone’s comprehension. 

So what’s them without being them? Well, I’m immediately attracted to Rafi. It’s easy to say and to get behind because Rafi is great and unusual, and if you want to put Raphael on the birth certificate, you have that and also “Rafe” at your nickname disposal.

Also in the easy to understand category is Barack. Sure, there’s only one famous one, but I’m sure – especially as the presidency comes to a close – that there’s room for more. It is a stately sounding name, whether by cause or effect – and so pronounceable.

But maybe it doesn’t sound like a little boy to you. So what about Xavier, which has Arabic origins and is easily convertible to French? I should point out that I called over to my Dad and he was like “no this is not Arabic” (even though Nameberry says it is) but he also tried to tell me the oysters I bought were not shucked even as he knocked them back, so take with a grain of salt. 

Zayd or Zaid is so wearable, and so close to you know who from One Direction, that I see no downside – pronounceable in every language and goes really well with Andrew. In fact, why haven’t I been recommending this before? Zane of course is the more Anglicized cousin but would run together a little sloppily with Andrew so I think Zaid works, you?

I’m actually feeling nostalgic for all these names that maybe more people should use – that maybe I should have used. Let me know what you choose!

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