Hello Duana,

I'll be delivering a baby boy in September as a single mum. The circumstances around the situation are delicate at best, let's just say I have no confirmation if the father wants any involvement in this child's life.

With that in mind I feel that naming could go one of two ways. Given that the father is a III in a line of very Irish names, I'm not quite sure if I want to add a fourth to that line or go my own way...

There are no male heirs to carry on my family name, and I am rather partial to my deceased father's middle name Langley and a family male middle name Resolute, and given the circumstances they seem appropriate.

Aside from these names I have stalled... I love my surname and seek strong names to match it. I also don't want to burden my child with a litany of lengthy names as my parents gave me three. My sister has five beautiful children all with unique and delicious names: Cody Benjamin, Sarah Brooke but we call her Maisy, Tamsin Freya, Callum Henry & Jamie Harrison.

I've always loved unusual names and am at a complete loss now that it's time for me to start with naming this little person. What once seemed lovely and strong (Emmett, Everett, Darcy, Frederick, Hammond, Ward, Maclean, Pascoe, Hugo, and Finn) now seem over thought and pretentious. Sigh...

Am I being too lackadaisical with only going so far in this naming process? I really do love Langley Resolute, or are there better names I just haven't considered? Thanks,



First of all, I wanted to say congratulations. There’s a lot in your letter that seems to be focused on the dilemmas you’re facing, both in the micro sense with the name and the macro, with the delicate circumstances. I get all that and I’m sure it feels overwhelming – so I just want to first say, hooray! Regardless of what that other person decides to do, you’re going to be a parent! You’re going to have a little boy!

This isn’t to suggest for a minute that you aren’t feeling excited about it, just that you’re just as entitled to the giddy and the fluctuations and the curiosities about names as everyone else. I think sometimes for two-parent situations, some of the conflict over names comes from ‘Well I like it and you hate it’, which brings you towards new ideas in names. You may feel that because you’re not in active opposition with someone that you’re not fighting as hard for the names you love, if that makes any sense.

So there’s no reason not to go with your first instinct, and go with Langley Resolute. If you were going with a word name out of nowhere, I might wonder if ‘Resolute’ was a little too firm, given that your son will want to hear the story of where the name came from. But since it’s a family name, I don’t see why not – especially since you can point to other ‘Resolutes’ along the way.

I definitely don’t think you should name him ‘the fourth’, but I would feel that way even if the father was by your side reading this—there are so many reasons why having the same name as other people is exhausting and not necessarily worth it. I was talking to a guy on the weekend who’s always getting hit with his dad’s bank charges because they share the same relatively unusual name. 

Plus I think your ideas are great—I don’t think that your names are overwrought (or over thought) or pretentious. I’m a particular fan of Darcy, Frederick, Hugo, and Everett, but I do notice that you have a lot of ‘surname names’ in the mix, Hammond, Ward, Maclean (though I’ve heard of a lot of little Mac-variouses lately), and Pascoe in addition to Langley. Could it be that you’re trying extra-hard to give the kid a sense of gravitas? Not to go all Marie Kondo on you (I also can’t, as I haven’t read it yet), but you should still feel a sense of happiness when you read the name. I know you don’t want something long, but I think there’s something to be said for a name that is attractive for its own sake, something that feels slightly more decorative than, say, Ward.

I like your sisters’ kids names too, so along the lines that fit with both your style and hers, what about Edgar or Conrad, Ross or Gareth or Anton? Darius may feel too fancy for you, but you might get something exciting from Damon or Reuben or Dalton, Thatcher or Jonas or Forrest? Any of these would pair nicely with Langley or Resolute (or both, if you decide to go with a tradition your parents started after all), and feel like they can be both unusual and singular without having to be devoid of emotion.

But I offer these because you said you were stalled—if you decide to go with Langley, I think that’s going to be a great choice too—as long as it makes you feel happy, and not just, pardon the pun, resolute. After all, this is a name you’re going to be saying more than almost anything else – trust me. You should love it. Likewise, if you find yourself in a two-parent situation down the line, don’t think your choices made solo deserve any less credence—the name choices you made stand up, and your little boy is going to love the amount of thought you put into them.

You’ll let me know, right?