Hi Duana,

I've re-read every name post you've ever written hoping a name (the name) would magically jump out at me. We are expecting baby #3 in early August and are stuck on a boy's name. There is a good chance the baby is a girl (we have two girls already) so it may not even be an issue but if it isn't, we are really stumped. We both have a list of names that we love but clearly very different tastes as there isn't a single name we agree on or is even close to being liked by the other person. Our first two daughters are Olivia Vera and Frances Eleanor. They are both family names or versions of family names and we love them and never had trouble picking them (yes, I know, Olivia, but it is after my grandmother whose name was Olga). If we have a girl, her name will most likely be Marion with Marnie for short.

We also have a super common last name so would like a first name that is not super common. Ie. No David, William, Jonathan, etc.

Here are my husband’s top picks: Alfred, Leroy, Ira, Cecil, Perry, Marion, Mungo, Leland, Errol. For real.

Names that I love that have not been used by friends/family so far: Liev, Sullivan, Gabriel, Marcus, August (is it odd to name a baby August when they will most likely be born in August?), Gordon, Kiefer.

The only names I don't hate on my husband's list are Leland and Cecil. But that's still a very long way from loving them. My question is do I just give in and hope somewhere down the road I will fall in love with the name? How do you name your child something that to you is just... Meh? (Which will also be the case for my husband if we go with any of my picks.)

Or... Is there a name that we're missing? I'm still hopeful that there is something we will both love. Or that it's a girl.

Thanks in advance! Any advice would be super appreciated.



First of all, I want to point out that I’m using a loose interpretation of ‘early’ August here, but maybe we’re lucky and you’re still waiting for your arrival. Though I will freely admit that luck is mostly on our part. 

And while I’m up, I just want to reiterate one of my usual drum-stumpings – there’s nothing wrong with the name Olivia…or William or Isabelle or etc. They are in themselves beautiful names. I only mention them because, knowing what we know now, parents who care about popularity may not want to use them since there are already many amazing Olivias. BUT ANYWAY, let’s get this show on the road, since you are having a baby any second (and I LOVE Marnie for Marion, so there). 

This is one of those things where I don’t think you and your husband are that far apart, and bless the man for actually being into names that make you go ‘for real?’ There are always names that can be pulled back from the point of ridiculousness. There’s fewer opportunity to push someone out of their comfort zone if their idea of ‘risky’ is Charlie.

Having said that, when there are this many possibilities, it’s about elimination first, and as such I’d vote to pull Marion out of contention. If you’re going to use it for a girl, let it be your girl’s name. I know it’s been used for boys before, but not usually, it sounds like it has “anne” at the end even though it doesn’t, and you’ve got a lot of awesome choices. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at ‘Marlon’ as an alternative though, and slap my wrist if that’s actually what you meant and this is just a typo. I’d probably vote to eliminate Mungo, too, since it’s got a number of unusual sounds, and relative to your daughters’ more linear names, it might sound like too much of a punchline.

Secondly, on your part I’d drop Gordon and Gabriel. I have nothing against the letter G, no, but those are about as far from your other half’s choices as you can get, and it doesn’t seem like they’re likely to be ones he comes around to, so those should go. 

Next up? August. (I hope you’ll forgive this businesslike pace of mine, but I am very aware that you might be having a baby even as we speak so I’m trying to move along here.) You have to make your own decision on whether ‘August’ is going to bother you. I’m going to bet it doesn’t, because you’ll have three kids and who can even remember who’s born in which month? Plus he gets to be August (or Augie, or Gus) 11 months out of the year when it’s not all about his name, and I don’t think it would bother him… but whether you feel the same way about it is another story.

That leaves Alfred, Leroy, Ira, Cecil, Perry, Leland, Errol, Liev, Sullivan, Marcus, and Kiefer.

Now we have a small enough sample size that we can see the problem. You like more complicated names, sound-wise, than he does. This is actually amazing, and extra-hard to see because it seems like your names are of a similar popularity vintage. But the issue is the complication of them…which is why you can’t abide ‘Perry’ even though it’s no shorter than “Liev”.

So, can I make you love them? I don’t know, I love Leland and Leroy very much, but there’s the assumption that they could both be foreshortened to Lee in a way that “Kiefer” won’t. Or, to appeal to your husband’s more simplistic side (lol) could you propose Leif, instead of Liev, both because it sounds like one syllable and because my word processor is more likely to recognize it and quit changing it to ‘Live’?

If he likes L names and you like unusual sounds, how about Linus, or maybe Lucian? Or what about Ezra, instead of Ira? Freddie or Frederick for Alfred? Gideon, or Simeon? Basil, maybe to pick up on Cecil? Your trick is to find the thing that’s both complicated and simple, and I hope you don’t feel bad about that, because it’s way harder when it’s closer together. That shouldn’t exactly make sense, but since our society has decided we’re going to rely on just one name to refer to each person, here we are.

Donahue? Heath? Crosby? Hamish?

Let me know, and/or say hi to daughter Marion for me!