Dear Duana,

I am in need of your assistance with naming my first child and am hoping that you can help. I am not sure whether you post the entirety of the emails that you receive so apologise in advance if this is too long.

I am having a boy. At first I was happy about this because there are so many awesome leading man names that are esoteric and cool but unfortunately my partner is not on the same wavelength. He is decidedly normcore. As one of his friends stated (whom he wholeheartedly agrees with) the name should be something that you could use for a trading company i.e. John Smith Trading as John Smith Pty Ltd. He and his wife are having a baby and their naming choices are Jonathan, Leo and Edward.

I've come to terms with this somewhat and have thrown away some names that I had been holding onto such as Saxon, Soren, Demetri, Malachi, Sawyer, Marlon, Bodhi. I should also point out that we live in Aus and the names that are popular here are mirroring American and Canadian trends.

I have some things that I cannot change about this little boy to be's name. The paternal tradition is that all first born boy's have the same middle name of Ross. His surname is also fairly short, 'Adams'. I am not in disagreement with Ross being his middle name but so far the name is fairly pedestrian to me and I am conscious of not having short first name, short middle name and short surname. I feel that the commonness of his surname means that I can have a longer first name and be more inventive than John. Not that there is anything wrong with John but I have a family of nothing but Johns, Davids, James and Roberts and I can't say that any of these are inspiring to me.

So at the moment the shortlist is as follows:
- Victor (only I and my partner seem to like this one and others have reactions ranging from 'huh' to 'ugh');
- Malcolm (I am not as keen on this one but it is one that partner likes a lot);
- Hunter (I am American and the accent here means that I would be in a position where Hunter would be pronounced very differently and I don't want my kid to be like 'jeez why can't you say it like everyone else'. When I say Hunter the vowels are deeper and run together more);
- Samson (I hear what you are saying about Sam being one of a gang and not standing out but I like that he can choose what level he stands out. I also like the phonetics of it.
- Marcus (this is also a strong likelihood); and
- Luther (I really like this one as well).

What I am wondering is if there is any other suggestions that you can make? I am due at the end of November (30 November) and understand that I have not given you much time to engage with this email or respond. Again apologies. But I am hoping that you can see something that I am missing and/or help me be okay with the options that I have up above. I am quite keen to hear other suggestions. I am going to be saying this name for the rest of my life and don't want to wish that I had been more daring or chosen something that has better nick name potential. The other issue that I have is that I don't want him to have a name that three other kids in the class have. My own name is one where there is no easy nickname, four other girls in every school I went to had the same name or a slightly different version and I want him to have a name that conveys character.

I know this is a lot to ask for. At the moment the boy names that our family and friends who are pregnant or giving birth sound like Leo, Thomas, Allan, Edgar, Arlo, Willoughby, Otto, Wyatt, Gabriel. The names that I keep getting suggested are Solomon (not a fan, don't know why, but can't get into it), Jack (too short I think with the middle and surname), and other top ten names from 2016.

I would be grateful for any insights/suggestions/advice. 



Just when you think you’ve heard it all before, a rule about names comes at you that you couldn’t possibly have anticipated. I love this so much:

As one of his friends stated (whom he wholeheartedly agrees with) the name should be something that you could use for a trading company i.e. John Smith Trading as John Smith Pty Ltd

Okay. First of all, I have never heard of this rule at all, not once. It is so hilariously specific—also are there particular rules about what you have to call the trading company, like does it have to be a maximum two syllable name? Can you not be the Bartholomew Foxworth Sheffield Trading Company?

Second of all, how much do I love that he and his friend are talking about this? Like sure, I get the idea that they were both having this conversation in front of you, and their respective spouses who are with child, but I love that somewhere along the line they were together and heard some name, and one of them nodded, “Huh. Good Trading Company Name.” And the other one said, "You know what? Yeah.”

Regardless, good news for your husband and great news for you—there is an already effortless amazing trading company name that is non-negotiable: Ross Adams. 

Yeah. See that? The beauty of it is that he’s the one who wants this middle name, and you don’t mind, but! It allows for a lot more leeway with the name up front, and in the name that he is a self-named trader of furs or stocks, whichever, he can also be, like, B. Ross Adams. For Bartholomew. (I know, I know, that’s not your style. But part of the reason we don’t love Bartholomew is because it’s only either associated with The Simpsons or trashy VC Andrews. We have to get it out of the closet!)

But it does open up the world for some of the names you have above – I love Marcus, of course, and I like Luther too—not only is it unusual, but it shares a lot of sounds with Victor, which I wouldn’t eliminate just because other people sniff at it. They just haven’t heard it that much, but once they do they’ll realize how attractive it is. 

Your style, in case you don’t know it, has a real sort of puritanical elders-of-the-church way, and I think you have a pretty decent line on your own kind of preferences (except I would totally suggest Solomon, so I agree it’s funny you’re not into it) and I also agree that Gabriel and Arlo and Leo and Wyatt are much more hipster than the rest of your choices (and to be honest, I think Hunter fits in there as well).

All that said, I do think there are names that are both highbrow/mainstream enough to suit your husband’s hilarious business-minded rules and interesting enough to suit your tastes – Gideon and Nolan fall under this umbrella. There are others, too – Magnus or Enoch or Ansel, or Gregor or maybe something like Ambrose? A. Ross Adams Trading Company, Ambrose Ross Trading Company. 

Taking both your point and mine about Samson, which is that yeah it will get shortened but yeah, it’s a great name, I often wonder if anyone has found a way to extend “Maximilian”? The Maximilian Adams Pty Ltd? This is also an argument for some of the other longer names you’ve felt like you have to walk away from, like Demetre or Malachy. Soren and Bodhi might feel like they’re a bridge too far for your husband, but I think you’re well within your rights to advocate for Sawyer or Marlon, or maybe Desmond or Walter, which is so straight it’s subversive?

Please advise regarding your name choices and the career plans/subsidiary investments/offshoot companies of your progeny!