Dear Duana,

We are days away from meeting our second child and despite a very focused effort on choosing a name over the last 8.5 months, nothing is sticking for us. And we [read “I”] am desperate not to settle on a name.

A little bit about us: our first born is Harvey. Turns out it was quite a polarizing choice amongst family and friends, but we love the full sound and especially how the V underscores the first sound of his three-syllable Portuguese last name V*****. 

While this baby’s gender is unknown, our hunch is that we are having a boy and we are at a loss for anything that feels equally as strong, classic and independent next to Harvey! 

The male names on our “like-em” list are: Matthew, Lucas, Dean, Noah, Simon.

For what it’s worth, we are smitten with the name Georgia for a girl. And while I’ve always envisioned being a mother of three boys, we’d like to keep our girl name on the table! 
Please help our baby not have a lackluster name next to his sibling(s?)!
Eagerly anticipating your reply!!


You know, people have mentioned, and I’ve debated myself, whether I should be answering letters that are further out – i.e. running letters in August where the to-be-named are arriving in January.  But there are a couple of reasons why I don’t and why a ‘due any day’ letter makes me feel like I’m at my best. 

One is, of course, that people who have more time to make that One Big Decision will continue to debate and turn things over and over in their heads, even if they’re happy. You know, that thing where ‘Perfect’ is the enemy of ‘Good’, and where if you arrive at a decision too soon, you have time to second-guess yourself. 

The second (related) reason is that I firmly believe most of us do our best work under pressure. I certainly do, and when someone has a time crunch like this, I know there’s no time to do anything but go with my gut - which hopefully helps the letter writers to go with theirs. 

So on that front, I’m going to lay it out for you straight, because we don’t have time to be super gentle about this topic if the baby is announcing their arrival any minute now. 

You like somewhat unusual or lesser used names, but the reason you only ‘like’, rather than love, your current list of choices for a boy? Neither of them has what Harvey and Georgia effortlessly do – strong and unusual consonant sounds. 

Harvey. Hear that R and that V? Georgia. It’s all about those double-Gs, and an R for good measure! Whereas Matthew, Noah, Simon – even though they’re all great names and I totally get why you like the style and trend of them -- you’re not as fond of the sounds as you wish you were. Notice too how you reference the V in Harvey echoing the V in his last name (a concept that Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep taught me is called ‘assonance’). You like that, and the reason you’re not overly fond of the names you have on the docket is because they don’t ‘dig in’ as much as the harder consonants do. 

Lucas and Dean are a little closer, with consonants, but what keeps them from falling right into your pocket, I think, is that they’re not quite unusual sounds, even if the names themselves are on the rarer side. Dean in particular lands in the perfect place, popularity-wise, but wants a bit more of something to stand beside Harvey. 

So here we go: 

Again, I love your affection for the  ‘V in both names’ thing, and actually thought you could get a lot of mileage out of a V first name. Victor? Vincent? I mean, Virgil might be a bit out there, but I include it because it’s got the V sound and the G sound you like in Georgia.  

Or, to go another way, what about something like Desmond? Harvey & Desmond. Or Donovan. Harvey and Donovan aren’t similar on their surface, but have a lot of the same ‘mouth-feel’ DNA. Or, if neither of these are satisfying, maybe you’d like something like Walter, or the we-want-something-more-modern version, Wyatt. I even toyed with the idea of suggesting Wolf (or Wolfgang) here – it’s outside your style for sure, but the sounds are definitely what you’re looking for. 

If you’re hoping I’ll get out of the sidelines and try something closer to home, how about Malcolm? It’s similar to Matthew but has a bit more chew and those repeating sounds. Or even something like Malachy or Murphy, if you don’t mind the same ending as Harvey. Oscar is an oft-suggested name in this column, but for good reason – especially for you as it has the combination of soft and hard, vowels and consonants, that I think you’ll really like. 

Other contenders? Calvin walks a great line of hard and soft, as does the not-for-everyone but charming Rupert.  If you feel like that’s too hard, it’s an easy walk back to August or Caleb – or even Colin, which has shades of Simon with just a bit more hard C to match with Harvey. 

I’m so charmed by your description of wanting an ‘independent’ name, and can’t wait to find out what you choose – hopefully any minute now! 

Let us know!