Hi there, this one is for Duana-

We recently made some life changes and moved back to a town to look for a home. Because I don't want to rent in the interim, we are living with my husband's parents (never thought I'd be 33 and living with my in-laws)!!!  I just found out that we are expecting another baby. We already have three, and thought we were done, but nice life surprise!  I was hoping you could use your expertise to figure out a name that goes with the other three kids- Owen, Madilynn and Weston.  I'm worried that being hormonal and living with my in-laws will really affect my judgment, and if I have a boy I might name him for both of our dads, resulting in Jerry Gary.  Which. Would. Be. Awful.

Thanks, I love this blog and I've never written in before! 


I mean, but let’s be honest, would any of your kids have a better name of how they came to be than Jerry Gary?

I know. I know, and I don’t think I’m being nice to you by saying so, but I’ve been giggling about Jerry Gary since this letter came in. 

I notice all three of your children have ‘n’ names, and I’m going to both lean into and out of that in the same go, you know? Byron was the first name that came to mind, and though Byron’s biggest problem is that people mispronounce it and think it’s Brian, is that reason enough not to go for it? That’s up to you, but if it doesn’t work, how about Elliot? I know, it doesn’t end in N, but somehow it matches seamlessly nonetheless. I’m in favor of it. Other names that fit? Ian. Rodney. Julian? Even Jerome, if you need to give a nod to grandpa Jerry after all? Actually, I thought at length about Gerald and Jerome, and while it might be too early to go back to Gerald this round, you wait and see if your kids don’t think it’s the best.

For a girl, of course, your avenues are even more wide open. I think you should turn the ‘n’ trend on its ear and go with Nora. Or Ilana? If that sounds like it has too many sounds that are similar to Madilynn, What about Anna? Xanthe? Genevieve? I know I said above that Gerald might not be ready for a return to the limelight, but Geraldine is. Think I’m wrong? Josephine is very trendy, if you go beyond the top 10, so why shouldn’t Geraldine be right behind? All of you boy-nicknames-for-girls lovers should be dying to call your daughter Geri – right? Plus a long name kind of balances Madilynn. I know you’re not actually looking for a dad-in-law homage, but it could work. If not, other names that keep your ‘n’ theme while not being exactly the same are Annaliese, Natalie, and Nadia. God, I love Nadia. Any of these ring your bell?

Overall, breathe. This is going to be a great story even if it wasn’t what you pictured for the arrival of your fourth child, who will fit into your family even though you never knew you were about to be a crew this big.

Let me know!

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!