Hi Duana,
My best friend is having a baby (gender will be a surprise) and wants to give it a middle name that reflects a (hopefully good) personality trait. For a girl there are lots of choices - joy, hope, faith, etc. - and they're leaning towards Grace as a middle name. But there are hardly any boy traits for middle names. We've thought of Hardy and Sage so far, and they're not great. She wants to get the middle name nailed down before the first name, so it's no use trying to match it with anything. Any advice? Is this idea doomed?


This is a new one. I’ve never heard of this in this form. I mean, I understand it – it’s a way to be different than choosing names based on their meaning (which, who are we kidding, can be dumb anyway, because who knows that Bridget means “high goddess”?), and it’s definitely not done before.  And virtue names are, as you point out, mostly the province of women – because men were too busy “carrying on” names like William and Charles, so women became descriptors: Mercy, Charity. 

I can think of a few suggestions: Hale, Brick, Royal (or Loyal), Prince. My friend T contributed Will and Truman. 

But I want to caution your friend about this. I’ve mentioned that not all Graces are graceful – likewise, what if your Hope is a pessimist? What if Truman’s a liar? I mean, they will be, at some points in their teenage years, by definition, but do you want to make such a point of it? I do realize this is the middle name you’re talking about, not the first, but in doing something like this, you’re setting up giantly high expectations for your kid, and maybe it will inspire them to be more and do more.   

But it can be a hard thing to bear a name that means so much. Names aren’t destiny, exactly, but they’re a factor – and certain names (“Chastity” falls into this category for me) seem like they’re way too much to carry, especially for a person who’s still trying to figure out who they are.

Maybe I’m wrong though, and I’d love to hear from readers – do you like this kind of a “meaning” name? Are there “trait” names I forgot?