We need your help. I have a baby boy coming in December. While we are elated, I have been dreading naming him since we found out we were expecting again. A bit of background - when we had my daughter my husband and I could not decide on a name. At all. We finally named her with a nurse standing over us with the paperwork while we buckled her into the car seat to take her home from the hospital. We ended up naming her Charlotte (after my mother) and we call her Charlie. It was already getting popular and then the damn royals did what they did and here we are with a very popular name for our very cute daughter. Which I don’t mind in theory but we weren’t looking to go super popular. I also had MAJOR name regret for two days after we were home and cried myself to sleep after googling how to change the name on the birth certificate. I blame hormones. I quickly got over it and now can’t see Charlie as anything else.

But I would very much like to avoid the naming process we put ourselves through the first time. I promised myself this kid would have a name by my 7th month but here we are, month 7, and no name. So I have turned to you.

The top of my short list was Miles which my husband does not like. He has suggested Rockford and I still can’t tell if he is serious. Regardless, I cannot have a child named Rocky. In return I offered Hayes which I have grown to really like. He insists it’s not a real name. The names we both like, but don’t love, include the very traditional Benjamin, Matthew and Samuel. But again, we don’t really want an overly popular name, even though we only agree on very common names, and I also am not crazy about the inevitable Ben and Matt nicknames that will follow. We also like William and Thomas but they are family names and we have already done the namesake thing and again, so common. I've tried throwing out Barrett, Cameron, Elliott, Crosby... but nothing seems to stick.

The one thing we do both agree on is that in the end we don’t want to saddle our little boy with anything too crazy and it must pass the Supreme Court Justice test (especially since we are both lawyers).

I am putting my sanity, and the danger of yet another Benjamin running around the playground, in your hands. Please help!


Here’s where you guys are going both right and wrong. You don’t want something super popular (put aside ‘what the royals did’ for a second), but you’re worried about ‘another Benjamin running around the playground’.

I always allow for geographic variance, but I don’t hear of many young Benjamins and very, very few Matthews. Samuels, yes, a little more, but they’re mostly 9 and 10, not soon to be 9 months in-utero. 

In short, you’re thinking of names that are traditional (as opposed to common – Jaden is common but appears nowhere on your list), but they possibly were traditional when you and your husband were young, so they sound familiar to your ears, whereas Barrett and Crosby and etc. feel ‘new’, not necessarily in the way you want, although I think they might go with Charlie, which is part of why, I bet, they appeared on your radar.

So for you, I offer names that are traditional, but not popular right now. This is a hard distinction, because Elliot is popular, despite not being so when we were kids. William is popular. I’m not sure Thomas is popular, but sure. 

What about Phillip? How about Damon or Keith or Ivan or Clifford or Jeremy? All of these are known without being popular, very clearly names without being mistaken for surnames or parts of firms. Albert? Orson? Nolan, which I’m still not tired of?

One of my suspicions is that you’re into names like Hayes because you’re worried that a too-traditional boy’s name might make it sound to the casual observer like ‘Charlie’ is the older brother, so if you really feel yourself leaning away from ‘traditional’, how about Amos? Fox? Clive? Grover? Or hell, even Webster, which I just lit upon and am retroactively kicking myself for not recommending?

Sometimes, in their search for ‘modern’, people tend toward names that don’t seem like much more than syllables. I understand why, and some of those syllable sounds are legitimate names, but you don’t have to do that. Let me know if I helped you find any (un)common ground.

(Lainey: attached is Hayes Grier. He became popular on Vine and then went on to Dancing With The Stars. If that, um, makes it easier to take the name off your list.)