My co-worker/friend is having a baby (due late August), and recently moaned that coming up with names was "so hard." To which I replied, "OMG that's the most fun part of having a baby! I don't want a kid, but I desperately want to name one!" Long story short, she agreed to let me (help) name her baby boy.

As a jumping off point, she and her partner prefer a name that starts with "J."  She said if they can't find one they like and agree on, they'll go from there, but they'd like to explore those options first. I asked if there were any particular meanings, cultural preference (they are both Mexican-American), or religious or sentimental associations they would like to have or avoid, and she said no. The baby's middle name will be Brian (for family reasons), and he will have a fairly common Spanish last name. I, personally, would like him to have a name that could feel familiar-ish on the tongue for both Spanish and English speakers, yet still be unique. Based on their favorites thus far, I'm getting a sense they feel the same.

I gave them an initial list just to get a feel of what they like/don't like, to see where to explore from there. (Full list: James, Justin, Jackson, Jacob, Jules (I love this name so much), Julio, Javier, Joaquin, Jove, Joshua, Jonas, Jeremiah.) Their favorites: Javier, Jove, Joaquin, and the dad added Josiah. I thought, "great, we're done, those are awesome names, pick one!" But they want more. Any suggestions? I/They welcome names from around the globe. I am thrilled to be a part of their naming process, and I want this kiddo to have a truly awesome name!

Many thanks for your help. Adore your column and clearly want your job one day.


I’m going to stop calling this the name nerd column and start referring to it as the Unicorn Column. Because you guys come up with things I’ve never heard of. These people are letting you suggest the names for their baby, and they already know which letter they want? I am jealous in the extreme.

I do not want to give away my job, I like my job – but I will say you did a great job in terms of offering them a range of J names to see where their tastes lie, and I’m impressed at the inclusion of things like Jove. I also like that they have (or you have!) incorporated all the various J sounds, so well done.

But I mean, dude. If we’re opening the floodgates? Even keeping in mind the names they’ve already respectfully passed on, here are a few thoughts.

Julian is the immediate that comes to mind, which seems possibly fresher than Julio – and Julius, which I might like even better. Then I thought of Jabbar, which I have such affection for since Parenthood. Then something Latin-esque, like Janus. Then I spent time wandering in Japheth and Jarlath trying to find something wearable, but I’m not sure I’ve done it quite yet, stand by…

There’s Jorah, of course, but don’t tell Lainey I said so, or Junot if they’re so inclined and fans of the writer Diaz – actually, why isn’t Junot being more used? The rare unisex-ish name that will work on a boy… or they might want to look into Judah or Joel (kind of sounds like Jove) or Joachim or Johannes.

No wonder people like J-names, they’re incredibly versatile.

Take these names, and use them wisely. Offer sage counsel, thoughtful options deployed in a timely manner, and let us know how to be as chill as these people so clearly are! Let us know!