Hi Duana,
Looking for some name help and due in 3 months!! My hubs loves the name Frank....and I just can't. All I think of is frank the tank or a kind of chubby / weirdo kid. To be fair, I love that the name is super classic but not popular. He likes that it ends with a K sound (and everything else about it). Is Frank a good name and I'm being harsh? My neighbor just named her kid Bert, and I LOVE how usual but classic it is so I wish I could get on board with Frank. I really love the name Austin and he likes it too but still wants a Frank one day  - could Frank and Austin be brothers - sounds like a hot dog stand to me. Any middle ground names you could think of? I've noticed I am into names that start with A but also kind of like Ray (not Raymond), Wade, Augustus, Adam. For a girl I really like Rayla, Abigail, he likes Margaret. Could Austin be a girl? No Francis!!!!


I often joke about the way that I make up titles, but in this case I ripped it straight from the subject heading of the email. My only regret is that there are not more occasions to use the descriptor ‘names that sound like a hot dog stand’.

I know what you mean, though. Frank and Austin (putting aside your concerns about Frank for a second) sounds a little like “Dave and Buster’s”(which is a grown up Chuck E. Cheese that people go to out by the airport for some reason) or “Nate & Al’s” which, I was discussing with some colleagues, is a very overrated place. Sorry, L.A. dwellers. Part of the reason I feel this way is because the incongruity of the names is what makes you remember both names. Like if it was “Mike & Steve’s”, it’s just a bar in a college town. Frank & Austin are an unusual combination, almost anachronistic.

Let’s see why. First of all, I can’t say I share your feelings about Frank, but I can understand them. It’s very much a name that belonged to people’s dads and grandfathers. But while I’ve never gotten into name meanings, I can’t deny a homonym, and I love that Franks tend to be frank. Straightforward. I’m thinking of a 5 year old and a 55 year old in equal measure right now. So if that’s not your game, the unusual but still-a-real-name category brings us to Fred. Clark. Roy. Ross? Ross and Austin are a little rhymey, but they seem like they’re in a similar stage of the game, if that makes any sense. I’ve preached enough on Fred that I won’t anymore, but how about Bart? Walt? Wesley? 

As for Austin – yeah, I guess you could go with Austen and use it for a girl and be all “No it’s NOT a spelling mistake, it’s JANE AUSTEN” but the fundamental problem, which is that it doesn’t line up with Frank, still remains. Whereas Frank and Margaret? Sure. Frank and Abigail? Absolutely. Frank and Rayla – is this because you like Ray? I’m going to need more information on Rayla before I comment, I think. I’m not sold. But still…

Instead, I need to sell you on Frank. Make it less hot-doggy. And I totally got the message about how Francis was not on the table. But…Frankie, though? Which is so great for little boys, but also which people totally use for girls named Francesca? Or Franco, or Franc, the Slavic variation? Is any of this speaking to you?

If it’s any comfort to you, I’ve never once thought of a hot dog as ‘frank’, and in fact used to think that was a joke on people NAMED Frank. So it’s not everyone’s immediate reaction…!

(Lainey: and if that doesn’t sell you, how about…Frank Farmer. The Bodyguard!?!? Come on!)

Let me know, and please, please, feel free to write in with more titles. You are gold.

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!