Hi Duana,

After a long period of losing hope, it was a big surprise to know that we are finally expecting our first baby in May 2017. I am lao/vietnamese background and my husband is german/ukrainian/hungarian/lebanese background. It will be one really mixed kid!

We believe it'll be a boy. I like a name that is not trendy and stands the test of time. A name that fits a baby, teenager and adult, as well as a name that sounds good in french and english.

I like Caleb and Gabriel, but my husband is not keen. Do you have other suggestions?

Thank you!


Well listen—congratulations! I am thrilled for you and excited for the wide-open
range of names I can suggest to you! I love the brevity of your letter, but in terms of what makes your husband not keen on Caleb and Gabriel, I can’t totally tell what he’s bumping against.

Do you think he thinks they are too trendy? Or is it the opposite old-fashioned? Because as we often discuss here, the name that used to be ‘traditional but underused’, including the names you mentioned which I might categorize as  ‘biblical-lite’, (that is, known to be from the bible but not as rooted there as Emmanuel, or Jeroboam) are now super in-vogue—but for some people it’s hard to swallow because they were firmly entrenched in many minds as ‘old man names’. And then, hilariously, there are people who think these same names are way too trendy and want to fade into something common, but lesser known.

Here are a few to try on, see what your initial reaction is—how do you feel about Isaiah (I’m also not sure how this would play in French)? Julian? Silas? Too much? Not clearly ‘standing the test of time’?  If we take a step to the right, we can get something like Benjamin or Sebastian—classic, yes, but a little more familiar for the uninitiated. Or maybe these feel suffocatingly traditional and you’re desperate for something that feels fresher. In that case, how about Jude or Micah or even something like Ike (yes, I wrote that)? Could you do Lucas?

Maybe not. Maybe all of these are far too buttoned up for you, or feel too old fashioned, or hit that button for your husband. In that case…

What do you think about names like Tate? Like Knox? Baxter? Leon? Quinton?  Do they feel amazing, and exciting and fresh? If the previous batch didn’t appeal to you, you’ll either say yes, these are the ones (consider also Sullivan, Ambrose, Declan) or you’ll want something that feels still modern, but less … modular. Which brings us to names like Callum. Orson. Levi? 

Or Wyatt, which I have sometimes resisted in the past, and which I now have to acknowledge is extremely useful for name choices like this, where the perfect choice wants to straddle almost all the categories. A lot of people for whom Wyatt is too cowboy-esque (or too Mila Kunis/Ashton Kutcher) are really starting to appreciate Wesley for this purpose, too. Griffin? Crispin?

As is becoming my favourite new theme, you can’t tell what constitutes ‘trendy’ anymore, but that’s kind of a gift. Please let us know where you land—and, when you get there, how you’d categorize the name you chose!