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Middle Names: License To Get Funky?

By Monica Bielanko |

Monica Danielle, Henry David and Violet Avelaine Bielanko.

Everyone knows the first name is important. It’s our handle, it’s what people call us, it’s what we hear all day long. If our first name sucks it’s a big deal. In fact, when first names blow, folks often default to their middle name – if it doesn’t blow too.

But if you’re naming your kid a very solid first name – at least you think so, anyway – does that mean the middle name is a license to get funky? Or toss a relative whose name you don’t like enough for the first name a bone? Or are middle names traditionally mom or dad’s name, depending on the gender?

In my daughter’s case, her first name was all our own doing. Neither of our moms has a name we’d inflict on a child. Not that they’re bad names, they’re just not right for us. But we wanted to toss one of our moms a bone and we chose mine. Except my mom hates her name. Elaine. So we got funky. Our theory: what the hell, it’s a middle name, right? And we actually like the middle name, obviously, or we wouldn’t have chosen it. But it’s not necessarily a name everyone might like. Avelaine. (Av-uh-lane) Our daughter’s name is Violet Avelaine Bielanko. Lotta vowels, I know. But see how we did that? We got Elaine in there but the name is totally different. Grandma was pleased, we were pleased, everything worked out.

We really like the idea of middle names for relatives. My brothers’ names are Brandon, Jordan and Shaun. Brandon named his first son Shaun Jordan. My middle name is Danielle and my brother Jordan named his daughter Jaicee Danielle. When we had Henry we decided his middle name would be David, after Serge’s only brother David. Nothing funky about David.

A lot of women give their child their maiden name as a middle name, which can be cool or weird, obviously, depending on the name. Jackson? Okay. Lichensteinburger? Eh.

Heather and Whitney wrote about weird middle names over on their Momformation Blog and say their friend Amanda gave her son the middle name of “Bean” because that’s what she had called him in the womb. I’m not so sure about that. Is cute now, but not exactly business card material later. But I guess that’s the point of middle names, or is it?

Heather and Whitney say they’ve heard of Silver, Blue, Grey as choices for middle names. They think the folks who chose those names “might not be quite bold enough to use those as first names. The middle name seems a safe place to insert a dose of wacky, should you have those instincts.”

Some women don’t give their daughters middle names at all because they want the girls to use their maiden names as middle names in adulthood.

What about you? How did you go about choosing a middle name? Was it as a result of throwing a relative a bone, was it a license to get funky, was it a name you love but didn’t dare choose it for the first name?

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About Monica Bielanko

monica-bielanko

Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Middle Names: License To Get Funky?

  1. Grace says:

    One of my good friends gave her son the middle name Danger. Yep, Danger is his middle name. It’s funny, but it’s not weird at all when you meet the kid. It fits him perfectly somehow. :)

  2. MonicaBielanko says:

    I actually love that! What the hell, why not?

  3. Grace says:

    By the way, I love Avelaine! Lovely middle name for little Violet.

  4. Christina L. says:

    My husband and I both have “animal” nicknames for each other. I met him on Halloween dressed as a penguin and call him that now. My nickname is tiger and i have tiger tattoo etc. We’ve considered rocking an animal middle name for our kids to continue it on! :)

  5. Megan says:

    With my son, we threw my mother-in-law a bone and gave Julien her Maiden name, Fischer as his middle name. We kind of regret it a little now, as we’re one short step away from estranged with her, but at least the 2 names sound good together. We named my daughter completely after my side of the family. Her first name Audrey was my grandmother’s name, and her middle name Frances was my dad’s middle name and my Great-Ma-Baz’s(greatgrandma) first name. We decided on the middle name before we even found out the sex since the name is boy’s name when spelled Francis. She was due almost exactly 2 years after my dad died, so I wasn’t ready to use his first name yet.

  6. tameka says:

    Although I don’t have children yet like some I have my names picked out. I kinda of choose names based on what I cal the Angelina Jolie effect. My theory is that all children have the potential to be superstars (as their potential is endless). Why not give them their potential stage name at birth. The middle can act as a last name, hence the Angelina Jolie effect. I believe I read somewhere that her mother gave her and her brother names for future stardom.

  7. DeathMetalMommy says:

    @Tameka, I’m with you.

    My kid’s names are William Connor, Sullivan Ford, and Lillian Victoria.

  8. Angelica says:

    Okay, so there’s about 8 generations of ‘Mae’ in my family, so my first daughter got that for a midlle name. I don’t really know if I like it, but I do love the traditional feeling of having it around for more generations and she (my 5 year old) LOVES the name Mae, so it worked out! My second daughter got Dianne for a middle name, after her aunt, my sister, Dianna, and I’m cool with it too. My third daughter isnat named after anyone, except me, but not by my name, by my syllables and letter count, if that isn’t confusing. Angelica Nicole–Isabella Noelle. I love it!! It’s the first time I really tried to find something I really liked, and I feel like she’s completely named after me! Idk, it was an interesting take, I think….

  9. Stacia says:

    We also are giving the baby, if a boy, the middle name Danger. Daddy is seriously tickled over it. We are talking about another boy having the middle name Captain, but aren’t sure what it would go with as a first name. Hubs also wanted a kid with the first or middle name Extreme. Yeah, Extreme and Danger. *sigh* I LOVE the name Avelaine!! So pretty!

  10. Kirstin says:

    Well, my daughter is due to be born in 4 days, so there is always the possibility we’ll change her name (doubtful, though) … I’ve always liked having a family tie in the middle name (my own middle name is my grandmother’s first name) but most of the familial names in both my husband’s and my families – to be totally honest – are HORRIBLE. We do, indeed, have a Bertha in the family. So we decided to keep “familial” but take a not-loving-it name and change it up, much like you did – and so, from Lisa (not a bad name at all! Just not one we wanted to use) we got Elyse – which has enough similarity, but is a name we can live with and love :)

  11. ASB says:

    My brother’s middle name is D. My parents couldn’t agree between my mother’s maiden name and my father’s father’s first name but both begin with D so there it was. My brother has told people it stood for all sorts of things over the years, Danger, Dragon and my personal favorite Dynomite.

  12. Catherine says:

    I’m named after my great-great grandmother Catherine Naomi, and I love it. If we had a little girl (just had a little boy in January), her middle name would be Dove (Catherine Naomi’s maiden name). But we had a boy so his middle name is the same as my dad and grandpa’s: Malcolm.

  13. Melissa says:

    My 6 month old daughters name is Eliana Raine. I love raine because I thought it was a little funky and creative without being odd. My husband and my father both have first names that start with an “R” and the most important reason we picked raine is because she is our rainbow baby!

  14. abbies_mommy says:

    We gave my daughter my grandmas name as her middle name. We love it little Miss Abbigail Rose

  15. Db says:

    We named both of our sons after soldiers my husband served with (but are no longer with us) as a way to honor and keep their memory alive. My older son has a “different” first name-and a very traditional middle name (Callum Joseph) and our younger son has two moderately normal names (Cole Walker.) we figured they could go by first name, initials, or if they wanted middle…but man deciding names was HARD!!

  16. Maria says:

    Our oldest was named in honour of my father whose name was Manuel. I had a dream with his first name in it. I didn’t even know it existed but we looked it up and there it was! We changed the spelling a little. He is Ezaias (eh-zay-us) Emmanuel. Then for our second I thought it would be clever to stick with the double letter theme. We went with Moses which also stuck with the super biblical theme but that was mostly a coincidence. His name is Micaiah (mi-kye

  17. Maria says:

    Oops!

    Micaiah (mi-kye-ah) Moses. We also carried on the necessity for a pronunciation guide as well – also unintended! We went with Moses because it was a difficult pregnancy (lost my Dad, lost an ovary) and thought the story of Moses really suited all this baby survived to get here.

  18. Voice Of Reason says:

    For years I’ve regretted not having been more whimsical with our children’s middle names. If I were to to it again, I’d have gone with Adventure and Danger for sure. So much fun, great conversation piece and fully reflects our family sense of humour.

  19. chanda healton says:

    My first daughter was named Sadie Lyn. Sadie because I liked it and Lynn is my sister’s middle name. My daughter due in October will be named Savannah Rayne. Savannah is a breed of cat. I love my four cats like they are other children (they all have human names Kimiko Tasmine, Zarek Davyn, Mayayna Marie, and Kameron Tanner.) Since we know my daughter will have Spina Bifida, it is my hope that she will live up to her name, the Savannah is known for it’s speed and agilitiy and it is my hope for Savannah that someday she will be the fastest kid on two legs! Her middle name Rayne was picked in honor of my silver Bengal who is no longer with us, Kianna Rayne. Had she been a boy, I would have named her Zaidyn in honor of Kaidyn, my beloved Bengal who passed away on Christmas day. I truly believe Savannah is my gift from Kaidyn who loved his baby stroller and would never want the new stroller he got for Christmas to go unused.

  20. ILOVELINDASUCKSATSPELLING says:

    Todd actually is Todd’s middle name. His first name is… Stanley. I laugh everytime I say/write/think about it. Sorry, Todd. Love you. Anyway, I love the name Todd and we tossed that around and Roman’s middle. But of course, my catholic guilt got to me and I insisted on Patrick as Roman’s middle name – after my father, his father, and his grandfather. I regret that decision now. My father and I haven’t spoken in almost two years. The lesson I learned with this was: don’t use the name of anyone alive that might piss you off when naming your child.

    SO – Bea comes along. We understand that we’ve given her an old lady first name (my DECEASED grandmother… lesson learned and applied) with a horrible last name (again, sorry Todd) so we decide was want to go the cool route for the middle name. Before we ever even conceived her, we picked “White” as the middle name if we were to have a girl, after Todd’s (deceased – boom!) grandmother’s surname. Then we got pregnant. Then we found out it was indeed a girl. Then about 2 months before she was born I got cold feet. (White? What the hell am I thinking?) So, we looked again through the list of Todd’s non-breathing relatives and there it was, as perfect as could be…”Jewel”. His beloved grandmother passed when he was 21 which broke his heart. Her name was Hazel, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to accepting a “Beatrice Hazel”….however, she had a younger sister who passed sadly and suddenly at a very young age, and her name was Jewel. Beatrice Jewel. Betty J. And we love it. We hope she loves it, too.

  21. Katie says:

    We went meaningful with my daughter’s middle name. My husband and I met in June, got married in June, and have a bunch of other significant events that occur in the month… but, June just doesn’t sound great with our last name – so we used it for her middle.

  22. Shannon says:

    We actually went the opposite. Our children’s first names are a little out there (but not too crazy) and their middle names are totally traditional. My daughter has the same middle name as my mother and I, she’s Talena Marie. My son’s middle name is a family name on both sides. My husband and his father are Kenneth William, and my father and grandfather are both William as well, so he is Kaibyn William.

  23. Kim Q says:

    My husband is Irish, so we went with traditional Irish names for the middle names. He would have preferred them as first names, but I figured my children would go through life with having to pronounce their names for everyone after having their names butchered first. So my kids are Zoe Siobhan (Shu VONNE) and Sunny Saoirse (SEER sha).

  24. Teres says:

    My husband’s grandmother is Grace so he begged to use that middle name after she passed. It is like the most popular middle name on the planet, and I still don’t like it, but sometimes you have to throw your husband a bone. =/

  25. R says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’m telling you right now that one of them (regardless of sex) will have the middle name Starbuck, after my favorite (male) character in Moby Dick and my favorite (female) character on Battlestar Galactica.

  26. gina says:

    Bea White? Betty White? I’ve never heard of the name “White” as a middle name…ah, but as you say to each his own! Bea Black would be a riot. That comment just cracked me up. I met a youngster yesterday who told me her father’s middle name was CHESTER. Buster. Seems Like there could be a connection.. Bea Jewel is a nice name. More colorful than White.

  27. gina says:

    Bea white? That’s daring.

  28. Bec says:

    My eldest son’s middle name is my last name. I didn’t change my name when we got married, so I wanted to get me/my family history in there. My second son’s middle name is my dad & brother’s middle name, which is an old family surname.

  29. Jenna says:

    We used names that were special to us but we didn’t have the balls to use as first names. Our first daughter’s middle name is Rahab, she’s my all time favorite Biblical character but let’s face it, that’s a weird name and we didn’t want to inflict it on her. Middle name it is! We’re pregnant again and if it was a girl her middle name was going to be Strawberry cause that’s what we’ve been calling it in utero (it’s a boy though so we’ll come up with something different.)

  30. Nik says:

    Our daughters both have family middle names. Oldest is Lucia (pronounced Loo-SEE-uh) Kay after my mom, who’s middle name is just K (odd but cool). Second daughter is Leah (pronounced Lay-uh) Josephine after my husband’s brother Joe. Third baby due in the fall… Names are still up in the air (no L first name this time–too matchy for me). Maybe Eugene as the middle name if it’s a boy, after my grandfather (and also the name of the city where my husband was born). That way both sides are represented.

  31. Annie says:

    I named my son Lennon Daniel John. His middle names are after my Grandfather, his name was Daniel John. My son’s father’s first name is also Daniel. If we have another son, his middle names will be after Dan’s Grandfather, William Eugene. And if we have a girl, one of her middle names will be Juline, after Dan’s twin sister, and the other middle middle name will possibly be Danielle, after Daddy, Anna, after Mommy, or Elise, also after Mommy. Since I was about 15 I KNEW my first son’s name was going to be Lennon Daniel John, after my favorite musician. It’s a little unique but not too weird that people have trouble pronouncing it or spelling it. I liked having the traditional, good, solid middle names to go along with my Lennon <3

  32. SaraKrystin says:

    Coming from a group of siblings with odd and/or interesting names I picked an interesting name for my eldest son Nicholai Henri, and now for my soon to be born son Bishop Roswell. With my second son we struggled most with the Middle name. My hubby wanted to go with Xavier but my brothers son is Xavier and well I just wanted something that was all our own. We are both big scifi nuts so we kept looking and decided Roswell not only sounded respectable but that it added some funk to his name. We think Roswell is a place of mystery and of possibilities and since this lil boy is my late in life baby (first son is 17) then that just fits!!

  33. Brigette says:

    My MIL is still reeling that we didn’t use her name as our daughters middle one.
    Apparently we ‘had to’ because both her daughters had her name as their middle…

  34. laura says:

    Well, My granddaughters name is Ava Riian. Riian is spelled this way because her mothers name is Liisa spelled this way. I came up with the spelling, she’s named after my son’s best friend Ryan. I also have a friend who named her son Tyler Stone. I guess she just liked the ring to it.

  35. Ruth says:

    I think a middle name can be more unique but I don’t agree with silly names just because you want to. My son’s names are based on family initials. My husband’s initials are CCC, so our first born got the same initials. My father in law’s initials are CWC, so our second born got the same! My husband wanted to honor his dad but I didn’t want to use his name, so that was our compromise! It worked out great for us and allowed us to also choose a unique name. Colton Carter and Corbin Walker; I love them!

  36. fitvsfiction says:

    We went meaningful with my first son’s middle name..My mother’s name was Shirley..a name she did NOT like. She’d always say, “call me Sam, it sounds sexier” Sadly, I lost her while I was pregnant with my oldest, so we gave him SAM as a his middle name. I love it.

    For my younger son…we just picked a name that sounded good with his first name..Logan James (but his hebrew name is in honor of another relative)

  37. Tabatha says:

    My daughters name is Trinity Ray. I chose to spell her middle name because its different. Most people I know spell it R-a-e, for a girl. I got alot of conflict from the family, but they all got over it, and I.still love it!

  38. BATMAMA says:

    our sons middle name is Bruce Wayne, dad is a huge batman fan and i would have being happy for it to be his full name we decided for it to be a middle name, most people dont believe us!

  39. Megan says:

    My middle name in Quintessa and we named our daughter Olivia Alexzandra Grace just to make it have a nice ring……. she will probably hate me later for the name but we liked it

  40. Charli says:

    We went the family route, my daughter’s is my paternal grandmother’s first name, and our sons are his dad’s middle name, and my DH’s middle name. So they’re Rossilyn MERCEDES, Jackson LEE, and Weston MICHAEL. We picked our own names and got to pay tribute to a few people, win-win-win.

  41. Rachelle says:

    We named our little girl Gabrielle Runka(icelandic) after her g-g grandma whose name was Ragenheidur (Runka for short), our little man is Anson Jack, after no one in particular. I know some people at work who middle named their little men danger and their little girl lightning. Thought it was super cute.

  42. Catherine says:

    My oldest son’s middle name is Wolfgang for no other reason than my husband thought it was awesome. Jack Wolfgang. The kid’s a rock star.

  43. Sarah says:

    We gave our daughter two middle names one that we combined from family names and then my middle name since it is a family tradition. This way everyone was happy and we both really like the names.

  44. Amanda says:

    My daughter’s middle name is Leigh. As is all of the oldest girls on my mom’s side of the family back to my great- grandmother and her dad’s mom’s side of the family. She and I though are the only ones that spell it Leigh, everyone else is Lee

  45. Heidi says:

    With our first two kids we followed family tradition and gave them our middle names, with the third we had free rein, and gave him my brother’s first name, if he had been a girl it would have been my husband’s sister’s first name. Jason Ray, Abigail Lynn, Aiden John.

  46. Kim says:

    With my frst son I had a name all picked out and after my emergeny C my now ex said what are we naming him. I was so out of it I said I don’t care you pick. So he chose Austin Tyler. Both texas names because he loves TX. We my ittle guy my husband is third generation Giovanni Carlo. I really don’t like Jrs and he really wanted to carry the name on so we compromised and went with John (English for Giovanni) Carlo. He got to carry his name on but without using Jr and my grandfather was named Carl so I felt like I was honoring him as well. We still really want a girl. If that happens her name will be Anna Frances. Anna his grandmother’s name. Frances my grandmother’s name.

  47. dava says:

    I named my first son after 2 people that were close to me that had passed away; my friend Aaron Jay and my husband’s little sister Amber Shane my son’s name is spelled Ehren Shaine. With our second boy we named him after my husband’s grandpa and his middle name is a twist on his uncle’s name; Edwurd Mickei, but our daughter I heard her name on the tv while I was in labor at home. Ehriel Uriya.

  48. carla says:

    I love coming up with my childrens names while i was pregnant with them. my oldest is ramiro after his dad and his middle name douglas after his uncle who passed. i love unique names ramiro isnt really something you heart to often. my youngest is edwin (which his uncle actually came up with.)sebastian is his middle name

  49. Ashley Dunning says:

    We gave our daughter the middle name Love. My husband picked out her name ( I gave him th ok because with his job he wasn’t around a lot through my pregnancy and now he is deployed!) and he always wanted the name Jasmine and he said he already has a tattoo of Love so it fits lol his tattoo is an ambigram of Love and Pain! So her name is Jasmine Love :)

  50. Jaime says:

    I went with Rowean (Rowan) Aleckzander. I love my son’s name because I do not know anyone with the name Rowean. Plus my ex and I fought about naming him after his friend, him, and his side of the family that I just said forget it I will name him and thats what I did.

    My son is an oddball and very headstrong at 2, his name seems to fit him to a tee

  51. Jamie says:

    When my husband and I decided to have kids we knew we wanted to use our family members name for their middle names. Before I even met my husband I knew that my first boy would have the middle name Arthur. My grandpa’s first name was Arthur and before him in every generation there was an Arthur. Oddly enough my grandpa hated the name and didnt name any of his own kids Arthur, so the tradition stopped there. My aunt named my cousin Christopher Arthur but he later changed his name when his step dad adopted him. So in the end Logan got lucky and is a Logan Arthur. With Evan I gave him my Dads middle name, Michael. If we ever have another baby the middle name will most likely be steven after my husbands step dad for a boy. If we have a girl I have a name picked out and its insanely long, Prudence Kathleen-Marie. Kathleen Marie was my mothers first and middle and it just seems to fit to me.

  52. Kaye says:

    My husband and I have yet to have kids but have discussed future kids names. For a girl, I have had a name picked out that I love since I was a teenager: Kyla Grace. Fortunately, my husband likes it too. When discussing boys names (I love the idea of a Jr. but my husband was totally against the idea), I mentioned to my husband that if I had been a boy I would have been Benjamin. He loved it and it has stuck so far. For a middle name, we had an interesting discussion. Our last name starts with M so we thought it would be cool to have a middle name that starts with A (so that his initials will spell BAM and we can call him BAM BAM, like from the Flintstones). So after going over several A names, we determined Andrew would sound really good with Benjamin.

  53. Megan says:

    I am named after my Aunt, “Michelle”. My parents changed it up a bit and gave me the middle name “Lachelle”.

  54. Kathleen says:

    I agree that middle names are a place where parents can be a little more daring. With my first son, we went with my grandfather’s name, Joseph, but spelled it in the more European way, Josef (my grandfather was Polish, and that’s how it is spelled in Poland). He has an unusual first name, Soren, from the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

    My second son, Jude, has a funkier middle name, Rainer, which comes from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, a favorite of mine and my husbands. I like that both of my boys have one name that comes from a writer.

  55. Sam D says:

    My sons name is Thomas William Danger, Thomas william after my husbands late father and Danger because we’re awesome like that. It was so exciting when we got his birth certificate and there it was :)

  56. Al_Pal says:

    IDK…I like some funky middle names, but not sure if I’d use one. I do know a young boy whose middle name is Bear. ;p

    My husband kind of wants a “Junior” if we have kids, but I’m not willing–first & last, okay, but not middle. His middle name is his dad’s first, and IMO, it’s too common & I’m not so into the meaning of it. If he really wants to honor his dad, his dad’s middle name is fine. ;p

  57. Courtney says:

    Our son is Dylan Fox. We saw Fox in a baby book and laughed over it’s potential as a first name, then realized it’d be a great middle name. For a boy. If we had another girl we felt we’d probably have to get her a set of clear heels to match that name.

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