Hi Duana,

I am desperate for your insight and perspective... and am being induced to have my baby tomorrow! This is my third boy, and I feel like all I have left are rejected names from already having to name two boys:

The TL, DR version:

My top name is Rupert. My husband likes it but thinks "Rupert Ryder (more or less our last name)" sounds kind of nerdy. Does the alliteration kill the name? I don't mind it at all, but when I asked people, they all love Rupert as a standalone but kind of cringe when I ask about how it sounds with Ryder. I know I'm not supposed to tell people but these are my best friends who I trust and are not planning to ever have children of their own. My (close) second favourite name is Hugh. What do you think is better? Rupert or Hugh? Please please answer this-- if I randomly meet you in Toronto for some reason I will buy you all the social distanced drinks and snacks but leave you alone and not fawn over you like a weirdo. 


2. The longer version! 

Hi Duana,

I am due to be induced in 24 hours and am desperate for your help. This will be baby boy number three. Before I named my first two boys I read through every single one of your archived name nerd columns, and found them to be so helpful that I didn't need to write in myself. This time around, I feel like I am left with a list of rejects from already having to name two boys -- and my husband and I are totally butting heads this time around. However, I have two standouts that I still love. These are Rupert and Hugh. I love Rupert, but his last name will start with "R" and my husband is having trouble getting beyond the alliteration. I kind of like alliteration. Does this matter? Will it sound nerdy? He likes my #2, Hugh, but it is not high on his list of favourites. Can he be convinced? Does pulling the "they have your last name so my names trump yours" make me an asshole?

My long list also includes Gavin (hard no from husband), Sebastien (also a no... I once dated a guy named Sebastien so he doesn't like it. The makeouts were NOT worth eliminating this name but oh well), Felix because Road to Avonlea (no from husband) and Oliver (have loved this since I played Fagin in a camp musical but we know too many kids named Oliver). These were all rejects when naming boy #1 and #2. 

My husband's top names, which were also rejects in the past, are hard no's from me. He is seriously pushing for Thomas (we have like five close friends named Tom, I associate it with all of them), William but called Billy (I have a bad association with the name William), Winston (I like it but not enough), or Frederick called Freddy (I like Freddy but not Frederick or Alfred).

I prefer a name not in the top 50, he doesn't care about that. I have a common name and do not like that everyone I meet calls me by the common nickname rather than my full name. You can only go around correcting co-workers and clients so much before it gets a bit "it's pronounced ONDREA from 90210". I know this will happen if we name him Thomas but try to get people to not call him Tom. Eventually I gave up and I answer to the nickname I dislike. 

Please help. We only have 24 hours. I feel really connected to the name Rupert, but how do I convince my husband? Are there names we are forgetting that you think we would love? 


Can we just talk about the beauty of the human condition? Because maybe you’re this amusing as a writer all the time, or maybe there’s something in the mechanics of knowing it’s less than 24 hours before your life changes, but this is GOLD.  


(Also, let us pour one out for the mediocre makeouts of Sebastien. If that’s your name and you’re worried this was you, please up your game.) 

So – I love the avenues of the names you’re considering. [N.B. the letter writer asked me to redact the names of her older sons, but put it this way – they would all fit right in at a British boys’ school in a storybook] But, brass tacks, because we gotta move here:

The reason your husband is having a problem with Rupert isn’t the alliteration with Ryder, it’s the sing-songiness of “TWO-syllable TWO-syllable”… or rather, the combination of the two. You could call him Reginald Ryder or Rex Ryder or even Renauld Ryder and the alliteration would work a treat, but Riley Ryder or Rowan Ryder don’t, right? What’s happening here is that the two together make it sound a bit cutesy, or like a character (Junie B. Jones comes to mind). 

Which is not enough of a reason to reject the name if you both love it – but your husband doesn’t, and he’s clearly getting into your brain a bit. So, onto Hugh. I really LOVE this name, and it is of a particular style that means it’s not for everyone and never going to be super popular. Plus, it looks damn good written, and it’s never going to be shortened. All good things! 


There are people who could tell you negative things about the name, I guess, but what? “It’s short?” You already knew that. “I don’t know anyone by that name”? So what? Plus, “Hugh Ryder” is just fundamentally a great name – and you get the amusement of a possible nickname, like Hughie or Hugo, actually being longer than the true name, which never fails to make me giggle. 

I like your considered-but-rejected pile a lot – GOD, I love Felix – though I would argue that Oliver would never have flown anyway, because ‘Oliverryder’ blends together in a way that I suspect will bother you both. But when it comes to other names that you might have missed, I think what we need to look at is that your tastes are ever-so-slightly more offbeat or even just less well-travelled than your husband’s. So to walk that line, and avoid that ‘r’ ending, I would look at Louis or Angus or Ewan or Simon or – hey, what about Rhys? 

If the idea of walking away from a name that has a U in it pains you, you could think about Callum or Edmund (beware Cal and Eddie, though, I suppose) or Duncan… but I think Hugh is better than all of them. 

And if, at the end of all this, you want to stay with Rupert after all, then that is a BLAZING LIT-UP SIGN saying you should go with Rupert, embrace the cartoon bear, and let him move into the alliteration and character of it all knowing he’ll wind up owning it! 

Now go! Run! Have that baby – and definitely let us know!