Hi Duana, 

My fiancé and I are getting married in March, and then we're planning to start trying for a kid fairly soon after. 

Both of our names start with K, and while I'm taking my partner's last name (something very important for him), we've agreed that our progeny will have my last name as a middle name (something important for me).Since we're having so many conversations about our marriage and our future, we've started discussing hypothetical names for our hypothetical children.

The trick is, both of our names end with a hard "n," which is great for a middle/last name, but makes finding a good boy's name difficult. 

I'm drawn to boys names like Owen or Brendan - but it doesn't really work when the names end with N, N, and N.*

What recommendations do you have for more traditional names that don't end in a hard consonant? I also love Arlo, Peter, or Hugo but all three of those have been met with "no way."

For girl names he refuses to entertain the idea of Sylvia, but that's a whole other conversation!

Thanks for your help,

You guys know how much I love a chance to add in some pop culture in this column, which is a little bit my own preference and indulgence, but not totally, because culture, pop or otherwise, is where our preferences for names come from a lot of the time… like how I’ve been reading the L.M. Montgomery bio and suddenly the name Maud is completely appealing. 

So the letter writer’s asterisk above linked to a bracket that explained her last name and her partner’s, which reminded me of that show The Torkelsons – remember? First of all, that show was ALL ABOUT names – there was Dorothy Jane, of course – but then she had siblings, as follows: Stephen Floyd, Ruth Ann, Chuckie Lee, Mary Sue, and the mother was Millicent. Millicent! And then it was rebooted as Almost Home with Brittany Murphy and James Marsden, and both had great theme songs, but at least in The Torkelsons, in both series, Dorothy Jane was obsessed with The Man In The Moon, remember?  

All this to say, for the sake of argument, letter writer, we’re going to say your combined surnames are Moon-Torkelson, cool? 

So, I agree with you that you don’t want a name that ends in N, but the good news is there are so so so many that don’t. In fact, this may be a modern problem to have – a dozen years ago, a name that ends in ‘n’ would have barely been on the radar if you weren’t into names like Caeden or etc. 

If you want to go super-super classic, then, there are names like Phillip or Jacob or Anthony or Oliver or Samuel or Reginald or Nathaniel. It’s not an accident that I’ve chosen longer names – even though I suspect you’re planning to use your name as a middle name and not a hyphenated last, I think having a longer name to match ‘Torkelson’ is going to help it feel balanced. That said, you could also go with short, crisp names like Nate (clearly the Ns got into my head!) or Wade or Clint or James or Hugh…

I think, though, that you’ll have more fun and feel less hamstrung by choosing names that don’t involve an N if you go a little further afield. Darius or Tobias or Alistair or Evander or Bernard or Andreas or Dermot or Webster – God, let’s bring back Webster! – or Rafferty; you can feel like something is classic without being standard, you know? Or maybe something like Diego or Wolfgang or Bruno or Merrick…

Plus there are names that absolutely were not wearable a generation or even a decade ago that absolutely work in today’s context – names like Abraham or Lionel or Karim or Alphonso or Montague… yes, really. Who says you can’t?  

Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of the romantic sensibilities of Dorothy Jane or her mother Millicent, but I think you can feel free to stretch the horizons of what constitutes ‘classic’, because it seems to me you want something that feels important and that you like saying and that is a statement on its own, and having these surname considerations means you have to go further for something that has the weight and heft that you want, and that’s why our modern naming conventions have changed. 

That is, there’s nothing wrong with any of the names we ‘used to’ think of as classic, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with, say, Joseph (or Sylvia!), but now that our lives and family configurations and etc are different, there’s no reason our idea of ‘classic names’ can’t change as well. 

I can’t wait to find out what you choose, please update us when you can – especially since the natural rhythms of human gestation mean your opinions may change 50 times between now and then, which is part of what I love about this gig!