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Will This Name Come to a Bad End?

Is it a bad idea to have a first name end in the same letter that the last name begins? For example, our last name starts with S and I like the first name Ellis for a boy, but I'm worried it would be a tongue twister.
- S-Scared

You're smart to zero in on the point where first and last names meet. Like intersections in a roadway or joints in a body, name junctions are natural trouble spots. The key is to recognize possible sources of friction.

As you suspected, some names twist the tongue when they bump up against each other. Trying to pronounce a name junction like Herb Frumkin puts your mouth through its paces. Other junctions can lead to letter transfers, in which the listener mistakes where one name ends and the other begins. Kent Racey, for instance, will frequently be heard as Ken Tracey.

When the two sounds at the juncture are the same, watch out for "disappearing letter syndrome." One of the matched pair of letters may vanish -- especially if either sounds perfectly natural without that letter. Philip Palomar is set up for a disappearing P, because Philip Alomar is such a natural sounding name. And yes, Ellis Smith will see an S vanish as he's mistaken for a girl named Ella Smith, again and again. With 20 Ellas born for every Ellis today, it's an all too natural mistake. (And in case you're tempted...nope, you can't fix this with a middle name.)

The S collision isn't necessarily a death knell to your favorite name. On an everyday basis, first names spend most of their time on their own. When a teacher calls on Ellis in class, or a friend shouts to him across the playground, he'll just be Ellis. But if you know that having to say "no it's Ellis, with an s" is going to drive you crazy -- or if you suspect it will drive your son crazy -- you may have to look elsewhere.


December 3, 2013 1:41 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a first name ending in N going into a last name beginning with M, and I have to be very careful about pronouncing both and having a break between them when I am introducing myself to others. People get it wrong all the time, so I frequently end up saying my first name twice to avoid that: "I'm ----n. -----n M-----."

December 3, 2013 4:00 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't have this problem, but I do have a long, multi-syllabic name that occasionally gets divided into a first and last name. It only annoys me when people who have no idea who I am try to act friendly with this "shortened name."

December 3, 2013 5:00 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Why not go for Elliston or Ellison?

December 3, 2013 8:20 PM
By Debbie S. (not verified)

My Dad clued me in to watching for this because he said his whole life he's referred to as Mike Herbie, rather than Mike Kirby. His full name is Michael, but the nickname is what sets him up for disaster. We also have a last name starting with S and I love many names that end with S (or, the even sneakier X, since it makes the same sound) but we've chosen to completely bypass that. It's not impossible, though. My husband's grandmother's name ended in S and she told us she had never had problems marrying into a last name that starts with an S. Go with your gut on this one, but the Name Lady is right that Ella will be the first thought of most people.

December 3, 2013 8:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have the same issues. I love the names Thaddeus and Matthias, for instance, but combined with the last name (think Sanderson), it's just a big hiss where they meet. :-\

December 3, 2013 10:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the Name Lady: your son will constantly be correcting people. I love the name, though. What about Ellis as a middle name? It's less likely to be blurred that way.

December 9, 2013 12:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My first name runs into my last name. A bit of a pain growing up, but I've just learned to enunciate real well and make pause between names. Michelle Lowe

December 13, 2013 8:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

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By Mandra (not verified)

I agree with the Name Lady: your son will constantly be correcting people. I love the name, though. What about Ellis as a middle name? It's less likely to be blurred that way Credit Repair Secret

December 24, 2013 4:18 AM
By Alina (not verified)

With 20 Ellas born for every Ellis today, it's an all too natural mistake. Make Him Desire You

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