Hi Duana,

I am very close to delivering my 4th (yes fourth) child!!  He was a surprise and while I thought I was done with the whole baby naming thing, I have now found myself dealing with it again and no better than I did the first 3 times. 

The siblings are Hazel, Leo and Phoebe. I hope you don't tell me those names don't go together because its too late!! Our last name is one syllable, sounds like “Lang” which is why in general I think two syllable names sound better with our last name but its not a requirement. My husband likes strong boy names (in his head, Leo was named after Leonidas, King of Sparta). In reality, his birth certificate just says Leo. I also would prefer a "boy name" not a unisex name.

Our loose list for boy names are Dean, Duke, Mason, Beau and Troy. (I know, mostly one syllable.) I liked the way Mason sounded but wasn't sure if it went with the other siblings plus I've noticed there are 3 other [local] families with sons with this name so it's kind of turned me away from it. I think Beau Lang sounds weird? My husband likes Xavier but I don't think it goes with the siblings right? I'm also open for the middle name. We've already honored my late in-laws in my other children's middle names so we are free with this one. 

Also, all our kids will have my maiden name as a second middle because I'm a feminist like that. Lol

We also live in Southern California, not sure why that would matter but I feel inclined to tell you. :)

 I am going to deliver in the next couple weeks (no pressure hahah) but any insight or suggestions would be great.  I feel like I need a professional because naming your baby is such a daunting task!  


(N.B.  - I try to make the titles relevant to the articles, but realized this could make readers look for some sort of ‘feminist’ angle to the names I ultimately suggest, and while this kid is clearly being named by feminists, there’s no ‘hidden meaning’ in the names, per se – I just loved the line in the letter and figured it could use a signal boost!)

In my professional opinion, the first thing you need to do is give yourself a little credit! The phrase ‘no better than I did the first three times’ would apply if you’d named your kids Zip, Zap, and Zop, and thought you’d go with Zoup for the fourth (lollipop to anyone who remembers where those were from!). Instead, you have three lovely names that are distinctive, stylish, and that go well together – so I have all the faith in the world that you can do it another time. 

I suspect the issue is that most of the names you considered the last time you had a son are now off the table either because they’re too close to your current son’s name, or because of popularity changes or people in your social group. It never fails to amaze me how people who have never met before are likely to have chosen similar names, or names you wish you’d been able to convince your partner of. If you don’t believe me, check out the looks of envy at the dog park when someone introduces their cockapoo ‘Calrissian’. No joke. 

That said, I think some of the names on your short list seem a little more modern/trendy than the names of your kids. That is, Leo is certainly popular right now, but it didn’t just come out of nowhere – as you point out, Leonidas (or Leonard, or Lionel) isn’t exactly new. Whereas names like Duke and Beau (and maybe Troy… I’m on the fence on that one) are obviously words and titles that have been around a long time, but seem newer and trendier as names…at least, this century. Mason sits on the fence in this regard, since it’s an occupational name… (and I’m still not over 'The Tiffany Problem'– fascinating and schooled me!) 

I’m not sure I agree that Xavier doesn’t go, but it maybe seems more decorative, and possibly less simple and obvious-to-pronounce, relative to the other three. But you know what wouldn’t? Felix. Felix Lang? That’s pretty sharp. Simon? I know it’s my go-to two-syllable, but it’s because it’s so good and works in so many contexts, including in your family. Or what about Byron? So cool, so unfavourably compared to and overshadowed by the dated ‘Brian’, Byron is awesome! You know what else is neglected? Conrad. You know what’s amazing? Yeah, Conrad. Conrad Lang? Come on! 

I’m eliminating Linus because I suspect you don’t want to replicate an initial and have them referred to as ‘the L-boys’ or anything like that, but what about Cyrus? Hazel, Leo, Phoebe, and Cyrus? They all end differently, they all play together… thoughts? I had fully intended to go on a Greek/Roman/Latin tip, but I keep coming up with surprisingly German choices – Rupert? Ansel? Okay, maybe that one’s a bit modern in style, but it seems to fit with the Troy and Duke of it all. Or how about Edgar? Colin? On the outsides of your style, how about August or Damon? Phoebe & Hazel & Leo & Damon! Or Duncan? Jonah? 

The more I think about it, though, the more I think you’re attracted to one-syllable names because this surprise baby is for sure your last (probably?) and you’re looking for the name equivalent to the period at the end of a sentence. Like those Helvetica list shirts. Hazel & Leo & Phoebe & NAME. So if you keep coming back to shorter names against your own counsel, I don’t dislike Dean at all, and it’s supposedly a 60s name, but feels fresh and clean to me. Or you could go with Drake (yes I know, but it’s a good name and SOMEONE has to use it) or George or Jude or Zane - that last one is marching full-force toward modern again, where your three definitely aren’t so if you find yourself having a really adverse reaction to it (or a really pronounced attraction) you know it’s because there’s a difference in style. 

I love this letter, love your first three names, and can’t wait to hear what you choose! Let us know!