Hi Duana,

I’m desperate for your help. Having our fourth boy in a couple of weeks (that was our last chance of having a daughter ;)) and am stumped for a name! I’ve set my mind on a unique, original name to make him extra special as the fourth boy but this has generated weird, out there names that I’m afraid we’ll regret. 

We need a name that is pronounced and spelled the same in French and English. Two of our kids have common names (Julian and Liam) and one has a unique name (Caius) and he wears it well! This one, my kids are keen on Nova but the people we’ve told it to have had strange reactions (my parents: No.) any ideas?? I also like Micah or Mika, Felix, Quentin but only if we decide on something more common.

Thank you for your advice! 

Mom of Boys


I read a ton of advice columns in addition to writing this one, and one of the things I love about them is that since you have so little to go on, each word has much more intent – obviously if you read AmITheAsshole, you already know this – and you have to make your assessment of what they’ve written with only a few clues… which is not always accurate but also, let’s be honest, where part of the fun comes in. 

In the case of this letter, what I’m most interested in is whether the names you’ve included here as possibilities are the ‘wild and out there’ ones – I’m going to suspect not, because they seem pretty in line with some names you’ve already chosen, but I wonder what would constitute a name you might later regret? 

I guess it depends on what kind of a ‘unique and special’ name you think would make this youngest child stand out. On the one hand, I understand that philosophy – I am always the one stumping for names that all feel of a particular genre or style to avoid favouritism, but in your case, I can see how being ‘one of the LastName boys’ might feel like #4 is just an also-ran. At the same time, if it’s different for the sake of being different, then I understand the fears you might have about the name having an outsized ‘hey look over here’ effect. 

Nova, in particular, raises this question because it’s definitely being used more for girls these days. I received a letter from someone recently asking whether it was getting too popular, and I don’t think it’s ‘popular’ by any stretch, but it has definitely made a jump from being never heard at all to being considered in the general mix. However, it’s much more coded as a girls’ name right now (though not 100% -- I was surprised to find it was given to 251 boys in the US in 2018), and while you know I’m all for breaking down gender stereotypes, choosing that name for boy #4 in comparison to all of his older brothers is going to seem, at best, unnecessarily outside the box. 

That said, if you loved it and your parents’ opinion didn’t matter, I’d say you should think about using it, but I think you included it more as a benchmark of what isn’t going to happen, which I appreciate. That said, similar-feeling names could be Noam, if people wouldn’t mistake it for Noah, or Ezra, or Akiva, or Olin – Nameberry’s algorithm also thought a similar name to Nova was ‘Maine’, which, okay, sure. Never would have suggested it, but if it suits your purposes, I’m not mad at it, either. 

Your other choices, Micah and Felix and Quentin, definitely come from the category of names that would once have been called ‘quirky’ but are most definitely now Quirky- lite – the question is whether the names that have risen up to take their places are appealing to you, first of all, and whether they fit with the rest of the family…

Names like Orson or Zane or Elan or Laszlo have the same lyrical, light-hearted and slightly whimsical qualities as your older kids’ names without being too far outside of the ‘names we use in this family’ box. I think any of them fit in, but if they fit in too well, you might also think about names like Otto or Phineas or Rupert or Ezekiel – just that one step more unusual and fun, since he’s the last one. You might also like something like August or Sebastian, that has a little more old-world romantic charm, or Bruno or Milo or any of the other names that, ending in a vowel, somehow feel that much more fun-loving? Jude or Luca or Cruz, even? 

I think the key here, of course, is to have a name that sounds like the end of an era, because it is, but also one that stands alone. I also get the impression your older boys are weighing in on the name, and by all means find something that you love, but that they can all get behind; he’s going to be ‘one of them’, after all, and I love that they get a substantial vote about what to call the new member of their team.

Let us know!