Hey Duana,

Writing to you for again! The first time I wrote for advice back in 2015 about my mentor’s second child; today, I’m writing about my best friend. 

Her daughter’s name is Lane, which was a family name, and which suited my friend’s desire for something relatively gender-neutral, clean, and non-trendy. Now she’s expecting a son, and is struggling a bit. 

She is currently hung up on the nickname “Ro,” and thinking about what names could work with that, thinking about everything from Rowan (which she loves, but worries is too popular) to Arrow (which her husband did not particularly care for…and in fact, in making fun of “noun” names, he’s started calling the baby “Barge"). She would consider Rowe or Rho or something like that.

Other names that have come up are Ash, Arthur (family name), Gray (which she loves but feels “Gray” and “Lane” are too similar). 

Last name begins with a hard C, is Italian, and has three syllables; she’s really into the one-syllable names paired with that, though I think not limited to that. She’d like to avoid names ending in “m” or starting with “z” because of nieces and nephews of similar ages.

Any other suggestions?? Please help or this kid might just get named Barge!!

Thank you thank you,



Barge is A: Kind of amusing, and B: to the husband’s point, doesn’t exactly conflict with a lot of the names out there. They should go with it and be trendsetters. Done, thanks for calling! 

Okay, obviously I’m kidding. But this is one of those letters where the answer popped into my head so obviously that I wanted to make it only about five words long. 

Or more precisely, three letters long. Because the answer to her problem, to go with Lane and in line with Ash, Gray, and Rowe, is… Rio. 

Rio! Rio & Lane. Do not come at me with your comparisons to Jerrica Benton’s purple-haired boyfriend, you will be summarily dismissed from this page. Rio is short, it sounds like “Ro”, it has the punch and slight neutrality that they clearly have a preference for, and it’s unusual but not difficult, in exactly the same brand as Lane. 

I really do think it’s case closed, but I’m trying not to shirk my duty here, so… other options? 

They could go with Roland -  while it’s more of a traditional ‘name-name’, they can both get the nickname Ro and the ‘land’ part is slightly in line with Lane, in a way that isn’t overly obvious or cutesy. 

Or they could go with Arlo – no, of course it’s not overtly a name that gets to ‘Ro’, but you and I both know that parents mix and match the syllables of all their children’s names into a hundred thousand nonsensical nicknames, so Ro from Arlo doesn’t trip me up at all. “Ro, come on honey! We have to leave! Arlo, I mean it!” Similarly, there’s Miro – it’s mostly used in families with Eastern European roots, but I think there’s so much room for it to be more widely adopted – it’s great and bouncy and isn’t too similar to Lane. 

If neither of these appeal, they might like the ambiguity of Robin; it’s almost completely faded out of usage but at this point, feels exponentially more fresh than Rowan, plus Ro is right there (though they might have to work harder to make the kid prefer it and therefore fight off ‘Rob’ as the default nickname). 

Then, in the ‘nothing-to-do-with-Ro’ file, there are names like Kai – it’s so short but packs such a style punch. Or they might like something like Reed, or the increasingly popular Beau – all the names that have style and lyrical flow and charm, but no negative connotation, or too much nature or ‘noun’ connotation either. 

I really, really think the first choice is the slam dunk though. Because you’re technically going to be the messenger here, I’m trusting you to deploy these suggestions appropriately. If you think they’re the type to reject the first thing they hear, make sure to lay these out in an appropriate order! You’re up to this, I know you are and make sure to let us know!