Hi Duana

My due date is fast approaching on May 17.  My husband and I are expecting a boy and having a hard time agreeing on a name.  I initially didn't want to know the sex, but picking names turned out to be so difficult that I needed to cut our choices in half!

We are Jewish and committed to picking a name which fits our culture (with an old testament name, or something else Jewish), and in an ideal world honouring a grandparent (initials S, R, M or A would be ideal). The only name we could settle on in this vein was Simon but I nixed that because I really want to save Simone if we have a girl next.

I think we have likely settled on Meyer for a middle name (my late grandfather's name), but my husband thought it was too out there for a first name.  This is a theme, he thinks all my top picks (Micah, Judah) are too weird, and prefers more "normal" names (Michael, Jacob etc), but we both have very common names and I don't want our child to be one of 3 in his class.  My husband on the other hand says names that are popular are so because they are nice.

So far the only thing we can settle on is Gabriel. I like the sound of Gabriel Meyer but now as D-day approaches I am worrying it is too common (I feel like I am starting to see other facebook posts about little baby Gabriels).  Am I over-thinking it?  Can you suggest some other options.... if we keep Meyer as the middle then we are open to any letters for the first name.



You’re both right! I love when I can write that. Yes, Michael and Jacob are very popular – and also very likely to be the names of the dads of your son’s friends. I know one six year old Michael, but he’s very much the exception, not the rule. And he’s right – names are popular because they’re good. There is a reason that for all we love the character, the name Hermione is not Jennifer. There really are names that sound good to the ear – it’s just up to us to use them judiciously and not excessively.

All this to say I don’t think your name choices are too popular.  In general, there are still a lot of people heading in the Preston Thurman Nolan corridor than the names you’re talking about – ironically, Simon fits squarely in both places (but I hear you, Simone is very special).

Gabriel is beautiful. I know one personally, but I do think there’s probably a few people who have realized how lovely and charming this name is. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unusable. It does, however, render it fairly popular. Nobody will ever raise their eyebrows at a Gabe, but they also won’t wonder in admiration where it came from. It came from Gabriel being a great name – full stop. 

Now, if you want some other options, I have to confess I’m more in like with where you are. I love Micah and Judah. I asked for an opinion on Judah just now (not that I’m in the market) and was told “It sounds like two thirds of a name”. But I love where it lives. If you can’t get it by, how about Ephraim or Abel? I hesitate to recommend Asher because it also has a popularity problem, but what about Gideon? For obvious reasons, am not suggesting Seth, but what about Levi? 

Lastly, if none of these lands, what about a child called Meyer Gabriel? Meyer is unusual but kind of great, and I can totally see him holding his own in the schoolyard and later on.

Let me know, I’m very curious about this one!

A note to name-nerd letter writers,

I love getting your letters. In order to give them the best chance of being answered in a timely fashion, could I please trouble you to include the due date in the subject line of your email? Also, please send only one email – duplicates are deleted and may result in your email not being answered. Thanks!