Hi Duana!

I am pregnant with baby #2, due late spring. We are not finding out the sex. We are again stuck on a boy name after having no trouble picking our girl name. I wrote into you for guidance with this same problem the first go around. You helped us decide on Ezra for our son.

I would prefer that the name is not super popular. I also dislike nicknames. I want the name that is chosen for the baby to be the one that is used all of the time. My husband and I do not seem to share similar tastes at all on boy names. I absolutely love Deacon. He shrugs and at best says he might be able to learn to like it. I want both of us to love our son’s name. Other names that I like, but don’t love, are Griffin (he says makes him think of Gryffindor) and Levi (too popular for me, makes him think of jeans). We both like Isaiah and Dominic but feel they are too popular (plus I associate Dominic with Dominic the donkey). 

His top choice is Julian. Not only is it too popular for me, but he always uses Jules as a nickname and I just can’t. He associates the name with Julian Edelman (of NE Patriots) and I’m not naming my kid after a football player. He also really likes Nico. I don’t hate it, but for some reason I always hear it with an Italian accent. Despite immediately dismissing your recommendation of Lucien last time, he really likes it this time around. It just doesn’t sound like my kid’s name though. 

Have we already found our son’s name in the options listed above? Are we missing something? I would love any boy name suggestions for Ezra’s (potential) brother.


Welcome back! The only thing better than a name update is someone coming back for a second round. I briefly thought I should start offering some sort of prize for repeat letter-writers, but that may sound kind of Duggar-esque of me so we’ll stand down on that front. Still, I’m happy to see you! 

I’m also happy because I’m pretty sure I still stand by everything I wrote to you back in 2015, and I love, I love, that you chose Ezra for your son. It’s fantastic and beautiful and I bet you love it every time you say it. 

I’ll get to some suggestions for his brother, but first I have to point out something about your feelings on popularity. 

I was all set to tell you that Julian wasn’t that popular, and that you shouldn’t always trust the popularity charts as much as you should trust what happens in your own city, and my usual rigmarole – but I have to admit that looking at the United States popularity lists from 2017, I was really, really surprised to find it was all the way up at #36 (one number ahead of Levi), and one number lower in Canada, though it doesn’t rate in the top 100 in the UK. Still, that’s more Julians than I was expecting! 

It shouldn’t be a surprise, because the boys’ names ending in ‘n’ trend is still super super hot, but it’s right up there. And then as I scanned the rest of the top 100, I found Levi, of course, and also Dominic (PS, had to google to discover the origins of Dominick the Donkey, so thanks for that) and, on one list (don’t kill me) I even found Ezra. 

This is not in any way to say your name choices are common or anything like that. 

Instead, what I wonder with that annoying optimism that comes over me sometimes is… 

Are we naming our babies better these days? 

Or, in another version of the question, are Name Nerds finally at a point of triumph? 

Because I know that the names you and I love are, for the most part, names you always loved and didn’t hear enough of. Now they’re having their day in the sun! That’s good, isn’t it? 

Still, I know the inclination is to go to the mid 300s or 400s to find that perfect, undiscovered name. But when I looked at the most recent list (again, this is US data because that’s what’s most readily available) here are some names I found between 350-360:


And in the 450ish range? A selection includes:


Look, those kids are going to be less likely to know someone else with their name, which, don’t get me wrong, is a huge benefit in my personal opinion. But it doesn’t make you love those names any more, right? They’re not suddenly jumping out at you as a brother for Ezra? 

Anyway. That’s just some context, not meant to be a lecture. And since Julian has come up twice in a row as a name you don’t love, it’s off the table, no questions asked, OK? 

That said, I want him to love the name too, so that eliminates Deacon and Griffin (and for what it’s worth, I think Griffin gets shortened to Griff a lot!). If the only strike against Isaiah, which I have LOVED since I was a teenager, is the popularity factor, I’d give it another look… because I don’t think it’s going to ever feel run of the mill, but if you’re going for ‘nobody else has this name’, let’s look a little further afield. 

I am immediately attracted to Ezekiel, but even I know that’s going to be shortened to Zeke all the time, and you might not want the same initial even if the sounds at the front aren’t the same. If you’re attracted to the Hebrew origins of Ezra, maybe Malachi would fit here? (Also, not that I’m counting, but I don’t think anyone has ever taken me up on that one, so feel free to be the first.) 

Would you ever choose Judah? Same feel as Julian, but totally fresh and less popular? Or my beloved Enoch (there’s that E again) or the charming and totally not-nicknameable Simon? You know what else you’d love? Dashiell. Or Darius. 

I do also like Dominic, and I really didn’t know the donkey – so if you both feel it, maybe give it another look? If it’s untenable, though, what about Donovan? Or Desmond?  Or something that ends in a consonant but feels as airy as Ezra like August? Nico doesn’t necessarily sound Italian to me but it does seem like the kind of name that could be stealth nicknamed ‘Nick’, so… you could always go with Bruno…

I’m not just shoehorning a second favourite name in the suggestions above, I also think Ezra is unusual because it ends in a vowel when a lot of boys’ names these days don’t – which led me that way, and is also why I think Malachi and Isaiah and Judah would be such great choices. Other names that might fall in this category? Maybe Beau, or Jeremiah, or the prime choice for a sensitive lead in middle-grade novels in the late 80s and early 90s, Jonah. 

I can’t wait to hear what you choose!