Picking a first name for your child can be difficult enough for you and your partner/husband to do, can’t it? (still unsure, read out guide to choose a baby name)
From personal favourites to family traditions, the choosing of your child’s name can be a bit of a minefield, so the thought of deciding on a second or middle name may be a step you’re not willing to take.
First of all, you need to know that you don’t HAVE to have a middle name, so don’t be stressing out if your child doesn’t have one. They are entirely optional, so it’s purely a matter of personal choice as to whether or not you give your child a third name.
But here’s the exciting news about middle names…
Choosing your child’s middle name can give you an opportunity to be a bit more daring and to have a bit of fun with the name game….
Why we have middle names
It’s probably true to say that the majority of us have at least one middle name, but do you actually know WHY we have middle names?
Well, middle names are given for a lot of varying reasons, primarily because of family tradition or lineage. Regardless of the reason, they definitely add a unique angle to your overall name.
They can be useful too…..
In the States, in particular, they’re often used in abbreviated form to differentiate you from someone else of the same name.
Think about the actor, Craig Nelson, for example. In order to differentiate himself from the many other Craig Nelsons out there, the actor renamed himself, Craig T Nelson, as a means of ‘standing out from the crowd’.
What is the point of a middle name?
Middle names actually have some good uses.
For a start, they can be a means of paying tribute to – or honoring – a family member – particularly an older member of the family. If your grandfather’s name was, for example, George, then that would be an excellent middle name for a son.
You could also honor your mom’s maiden name by using it as your daughter’s middle name. Most moms will be delighted that their maiden name lives on in generations to come – particularly since it has effectively disappeared from her own life!
While one of the most famous examples of this tradition would appear to be that of the former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Rodham was Mrs Clinton’s maiden name), the simple fact is that she just chose to retain it following her marriage to the then Bill Clinton. Her middle name is actually Diane and so her full name is Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.
If you and your partner/husband had to make a difficult decision between two potential first names for a child, then the middle name can be the one that lost out in the battle between the two!
Benefits of having a middle name
Amazingly – and you may not know this – research has shown that there are actually benefits to having a middle name (or two, or three….!)
For a start, a middle name is an easy way to make your child’s even more special.
Also, the right middle name between your child’s first name and surname can make the whole name sound even more pleasant.
If you’re looking for really practical benefits, research by CNBC reported that people with middle names are actually more intelligent!
So those are the benefits, and we’ll look at how you actually go about choosing a middle name later in this feature, but do you know where middle names actually originated?
Origins of middle names
Middle names are certainly nothing new! In fact, they’ve been around for centuries.
It’s often thought middle names first appeared in the era of the Roman Empire, when the tradition of having three or more names developed. The practice was particularly popular among the wealthy, who gave their child their first name, which was personal choice, a second name, which was the name of their father, and the third name, which was obviously the family name.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, middle names gradually became more popular in Europe. In fact, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was estimated that more than 50% of French boys had just one first name, while a whopping 37% had a middle name as well. Just under 10% also had TWO MIDDLE names!
Eventually, the tradition of having a middle name made its way across the Atlantic to America. It’s thought that this was primarily because more people were emigrating to the US and also because many Americans had started to adopt what they viewed as the ‘European tradition’ of having all three names.
Since the migration to the US was on the increase, many used middle names as a means of honoring their former homeland.
As regards US presidents, many didn’t have middle names, but, by the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the precedent and, since then, almost every US president has had a middle name.
It’s thought that the idea of having a middle name began in the United Kingdom in the Middle Ages, when people couldn’t choose between giving their child a saint’s name or family name, and so the option of having a third name enabled them to do both.
Even though many people were emigrating to the US from the United Kingdom, prior to the 19th century the practice of using middle names wasn’t particularly popular in England and Scotland. In fact, in 1605, the British historian William Camden wrote that having two Christian names was rare in England, while almost two hundred years later, in 1800, it was estimated that only 10% of the UK population had a middle name.
In Far Eastern countries, such as China, there tend to be no middle names. The Chinese usually have two characters in their surname and use their last name first (such as the Prime Minister, Xi Jin Ping). You’ve probably noticed that sometimes his name is written Xi Jinping and at other times Jinping Xi. This is designed to make it easier for English readers to understand.
So, now that we’ve looked at all the reasons why some people have middle names and where they originated, let’s look at how you choose the perfect middle name for your child….
Choosing the perfect middle name
If you’re looking for the perfect middle name for your little baby, then try out some of our suggestions….and remember, keep it simple – and fun!
Consider one of the top baby names!
Okay, so you’ve chosen your baby’s first name and want to give him or her a middle name, but aren’t sure where to start…
Here’s a great tip – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel…
Every year, the Social Security Administration prints the list of the most popular baby names in the US. Why not just go for one of those? After all, if they’re on this list, then you know they must be popular and well-liked.
At the moment the top names (from the 2021 list) were Olivia, Emma, Ava, Charlotte and Sophia for girls, and Liam, Noah, Oliver, Elijah and William for boys.
The names also have staying power….the top 10 girls’ names list is exactly the same as 2020’s list, while for the boys, Henry and Alexander entered the top 10, pushing Mason and Ethan down the list.
If you look at the Social Security Administration list, you’ll also see which names have increased most in popularity over the last twelve months. This can be very handy if you’re still in the early stages of pregnancy and just thinking casually about names, as it will give you ideas of what’s going to be ‘in’ by the time your baby arrives.
In 2021, the girls’ names that rose most in popularity were Avayah, Denisse, Jianna, Capri and Rosalia, while, when it came to the boys, it was Zyair, Jaxtyn, Jakobe, Kylo and Aziel.
What’s very obvious is that alternate spellings and twists on popular names are making a major comeback (Denisse for Denise, for example).
Jaxtyn is an alternative spelling to the popular Jackson, which appears at no. 17 in the 2021 list and Jaxon (no. 48).
Prefer to go in a different direction?
While choosing from the list of top baby names is probably one of the least complicated and simplest options, you may prefer to go for something completely different. This is especially true if you’ve given your baby a traditional name, such as Henry or Emma as their first name. The middle name gives you the opportunity to have a little fun….
You may consider pairing a classic name such as Emma with a totally modern option such as Moxie. Similarly, if you’ve given your baby an innovative and somewhat off-the-wall first name like Skye or Rainbow, then you might decide to go for something more conservative for the middle name.
The combinations are endless….
Go with the flow…
Whichever combination of names you decide to go with, it’s really important that you try the name out by saying it out loudly and working out if sounds ‘right’ when the various names are put together.
Where possible, try to avoid flowing the names together too well. You don’t, for example, want the consonant at the end of the first name joining up with the first letter of the middle name, such as in Emma Anne or Jack Kelly.
It can also be a good idea to pair a longer first name with a shorter middle one – or vice versa.
It takes two….
Just as it can be difficult to choose the definitive ‘first name’, it can be equally difficult to settle on the one middle name. If you find yourself battling with various options, remember you can give your child two – or more – middle names. Having said that, keep things in proportion…..even the UK’s royal family only have two middle names. You don’t want to burden your child with a name that takes them five minutes to write out!
Have fun with choosing a middle name
Whichever option you choose for deciding on a middle name, the main thing is that you have fun with it!
Make your starting point working out what your intention is in giving your baby a middle name.
It is to honor a family member or your heritage? If so, then you need to go for something completely personal and perhaps more on the traditional side.
Wanting a name that just connects your baby’s first name and last name? Then you need to find a name that ‘flows’ between the two and adds unity.
Also remember, don’t fall out with your partner. Read our guide on how to not fight with husband over baby names. Don’t panic, you can always choose the name after your baby is born, you don’t have to name your baby at the hospital, read our guide on how long do you have to name a baby.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy!
Middle Names Database
Names Beginning with A
Names Beginning with B
Names Beginning with C
Names Beginning with D
Names Beginning with E
Names Beginning with F
Names Beginning with G
Names Beginning with H
Names Beginning with I
Names Beginning with J
Names Beginning with K
Names Beginning with L
Names Beginning with M
Names Beginning with N
Names Beginning with O
Names Beginning with P
Names Beginning with Q
|Quentin||Good middle names for Quentin|
|Quincy||Good middle names for Quincy|
|Quinn-boy||Good middle names for quinn-boy|
|Quinn-girl||Good middle names for Quinn-girl|
Names Beginning with R
Names Beginning with S
Names Beginning with T
Names Beginning with U
Names Beginning with V
Names Beginning with W
Names Beginning with X
|Xander||Good middle names for Xander|
|Xavier||Good middle names for Xavier|
|Ximena||Good middle names for Ximena|