A tank top for no one

Lainey Posted by Lainey at April 14, 2014 20:16:01 April 14, 2014 20:16:01

Hi Duana,

As crazy as this sounds, I am expecting our fourth child in April. We already have 3 little boys and I love love love all their names. We have Emmett (from way before 'Emmett' was a thing), Andrew and Patrick. As you can see, we are not flashy or into 'new names'. We have English/Irish and Scottish heritage (our last name reflects this as well) and a bit of French thrown in for fun. So far we've leaned into the Irish/English side and now I feel like we are obligated to keep going in that direction... or are we?  

We are hunting for that perfect boy name that we love and that fits with the other three and we are totally stuck. This has never happened to us before. Our other boys were named without argument or discussion on the night I realized I was pregnant.  The names just 'appeared.' But this time we have been through months of texting and spitballing and seeking out ideas (for what it's worth our youngest is pushing for Tarzan, or, Shaggy, in a nod to Scooby-Doo).  

Names we *like* and or have floated: Robert (nixed by my husband for poor associations with a grump of an Uncle); George, John, Henry and Frederick. We are *okay* with these and from a 'matching' perspective I know they 'go' with the other boys names... but there is no clear winner. Middle name will probably be Richard, which I *LOVE* but for complicated family reasons, it can't be the first name....

And then there's this: my husband loves Rhys. I see the logic and good sense behind Rhys. And I am really trying to get there and I *think* I like it but honestly, the image of Rhys Ifans in his tight-y white-ies in Notting Hill is literally cock blocking me on the name. Do I need to get over it? Is Rhys the perfect name to go with Emmett, Andrew and Patrick? What about Dominick? Is that all wrong? It's in the back of my head. See? I've lost perspective. Any guidance would be much appreciated.


There’s a lot to love in this letter, not least the idea of ‘believe it or not’ where a fourth child is concerned. Yes, I believe it – and maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like there are more bigger families these days than, say, a decade ago? Is this based in truth, or have I just been spending too much time focused on Jools Oliver?

Regardless, I think you’ve got your work cut out for you, and I like where you’ve come from, and understand why you don’t have the name lined up just yet. For what it’s worth, given Andrew, Emmett, and Patrick, I think George, John, and Henry come off as too Ann as the nose on Plain’s face, you know? In a different family, say a Sarai and Ethan, ‘John’ is almost straight-up subversive, but not in yours. If you were looking for a name that ‘matches’ and yet has that one step away from the utterly popular, I would immediately think of Stuart, which I know is not for everyone, or Duncan or Calvin or Sidney or even Thomas, if that’s not the name of a very popular toy in your house. I want to suggest Timothy, but that feels a little bit vintage still – so what about Terrence? What about Vincent?

I have to point out one thing about Rhys, and that is that depending on where you live, there is so little chance that anyone will ever actually spell it ‘Rhys’. In Wales, yes. In the UK, 50/50. But elsewhere, I think it’s most definitely going to be ‘Reese’, (whether that irritates you or not is a different story), so the association with Rhys Ifans and the aforementioned tighty-whities, well… I get it, but it’s a stretch. I would be more inclined to think of Jonathan Rhys Myers, which is another association altogether, but less so since you’re talking about his middle name, you know?

Still and all, ‘trying to get there’ doesn’t bode super well for this name, especially if what I’ve said about potential spelling problems annoys you. Yes of course Dominic(k) is always an option, and a charming, underused, underheard one. You would do very well to choose it, though, full disclosure, in an English-Irish-Scottish continuum I always lean towards Donovan (and Damian!) first. There’s also Desmond, if you feel so inclined, or Colin or even Malcolm or Keegan?

One sort of obvious low-hanging fruit seems to be Ian, which might not seem like a perfect fit visually, but has the two syllable slightly-timeless thing going on that Patrick and Emmett and Andrew boast. Iain, of course, is one of the few exceptions to the ‘nobody knows how to deal with a Gaelic spelling’ idea, if that feels better to you.

And that’s really where the buck has to stop, here. What do you feel like you want to choose? I get a hint of feeling like perhaps you’ve boxed yourself into a corner and don’t want to, and no, of course you don’t have to stay there; having said that, which direction you expand into—whether it’s something modern-ish like Dashiell, or something overtly biblical like Solomon, or whether you just want to know if you can choose Kurt given that the other three, well, aren’t, that’s on you and how you really feel about the options I’ve given. The following applies to everyone, but just to say it outright:

If you feel like my letter has raised more questions than answers or if it’s made you think of names a whole new way, I’m always happy to go a second round and re-triangulate on choices! We can even have a day devoted to lightning rounds!

Look forward to hearing what wins out over Tarzan Shaggy – though, really, maybe nothing can! Let us know!


Sharpshooter Images/ Splash

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