Hi Duana,

I have followed your column since the very beginning. We are less than three weeks away from meeting our baby boy and we have made zero progress in naming him. Our daughter, Mathilda, took a few days to name after she arrived, but at least we had a short list heading to the hospital. This time around we can't make headway or agree on anything. We have so much left to do before we welcome this little guy and I am worried that we won't be prepared!

The name must pass the Supreme Court Justice test, can't be too popular (or be invented this decade), have a cute nick name, and be pronounceable by my Chinese grandmother.

His middle name will be after my husband's grandfather, Harold, but we can't use it as a first name because Harry is rhyme-y and terrible with our last name.

Coming from Newfoundland, we have run through some classic Irish and biblical names, some highlights include Cormac, Fergus (Gus), Isaac (Ike), and Elias (Eli) - unfortunately my siblings have gotten to some great Celtic names ahead of me (Finn, Levi, Eamonn).

Some other names that I have considered include Rupert, Gilbert, Walter (Waldo), Hugh, Franklin, and Alfred (Alfie). But none of them resonate with my husband. I really like Sebastian and Lachlan, but my husband has strongly vetoed them, due to past negative connotations.

If it helps, if it were a girl her name would be Ruth or Audrey. 

Awaiting your wisdom and suggestions to save us from this confusion.

Thank you!



So here’s another letter with an email subject heading so great I’ve ripped it off wholesale – I love it because Call The Midwife is so specific in both time and place, and extremely specific with names as a result. That is, yes, our (original) main character is called Jenny, but soon we meet people with glorious and era-appropriate names like Shirley and Ronald and Evangelina and CHUMMY. 

But I understand, too, that your interests aren’t as straightforward as that, or you’d just scan a list of popular names from before the show was made, land on Robert or, you know, Donald, and call it a day. 

Instead I think what we’re looking for lives in a wider category of, say, ‘quirky posh’, names of characters who we might have seen or read in formal or otherwise unfamiliar environments, but who are quirky within those walls anyway. For example, I just discovered the Betsy-Tacy books, and my favourite character is a bro-about-town called ‘Cab’, whose formal name is Caleb – totally in step for the time period but also a bit unusual among his peers called, like, Joe and Tony. 

I also think some of the names that might wind up appropriate in this context are names that we knew on the occasional kid in the 1970s and 80s, not realizing at the time that they were maybe of a different vintage. I’d encourage you to look for names that go beyond just a straight-up two syllable, not because there’s anything wrong with two syllables, but because it might make you remember names hiding in your subconscious somewhere… 

A few that come to mind right away, especially when linked with Mathilda, include some others that would be popular young parents in the ‘Midwife’ era – Raymond is one I’ve long thought was ready for a revival, as is Vincent, or Victor; I go back and forth on which one is my favourite, or Lawrence (which should already be getting a boost from Insecure because have you met Lawrence? I mean…) or Eugene or Frederick or Clifford. Ohhh, you know what you might really like? What fits the bill of being Supreme Court-y and all but also unusual and has actual Celtic roots? Gavin! Why aren’t there more Gavins? 

Looking at that list, I like all of the names, but I mostly fell down on my own recommendation to look into names that weren’t just two syllables. So on that tip – what about something like Gregory, or Jeremiah? I love it with Mathilda even though they end in the same sound. Or Sullivan, or Damian? 

Or, if Sullivan and that range of surname-y choices do appeal – Griffin, Spencer, even Garrett – there are a lot of people who feel they have ‘claim’ to them choosing names for boys these days like MacGregor or McLean… feel free to go that route if it suits you. Donnelly? Barnaby? Phineas?

Other names that strike me as being up your alley, that could have wandered around in a Kit Pearson ‘war guests’ book or in the next season of CTM… I think you could go with Quincy or Magnus or Winslow or Graham, Oscar or Hugo or even the faithful Ronan also seem like they’d fit the bill. 

I love your name choices and the way you describe them – please be sure to let us know!