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Is It Too Late For a Junior?

Is it acceptable to name our third boy after his father? Would he be a junior? Or would his older, non-junior siblings make him something else?

- Junior Perplexed

This question only sounds complicated. The answer is actually quite simple: Yes, your third son will be a "junior" if you give him his father's exact name. Any son named after his father is considered a junior, regardless of the order in which he appeared in his family.

You're right that juniors are typically first-born sons, but that's not a requirement. It's just the common practice, since most American families with the inclination to have a junior go for it right off the bat. Not all traditions approach namesakes that way, though. For instance, certain cultures have a set order for family names in which the first son is named after his paternal grandfather, the second after his maternal grandfather, and the third after his dad.

Making a younger son the junior can even offer advantages. The first-born son is, well, first. He's the oldest, the biggest, the first to be granted the privileges and responsibilities of growing up. If he's also dad's namesake, that can contribute to the impression that he's in the power seat. A younger junior helps even the brotherly playing field.

On the downside, as your sons grow up, acquaintances may well assume junior is the eldest. That needn't be a source of strife as long as you can satisfactorily answer the question: Why junior now?

Perhaps your older sons bear the names of their grandfathers or other important figures in your lives. Or perhaps the experience of being a father inspired your husband to want to pass on even more of his traditions to his sons. There are plenty of valid reasons to name a younger son after his father, and you should be prepared to offer one.

A final consideration is the way your three boys' names will fit together. Your son's name shouldn't set him apart from his siblings, regardless of namesakes. Will Junior be an Edward? Then I hope his siblings are Robert and James, rather than Braxton and Jace. If you keep the idea of sibling fairness in mind—that each brother's name has equal love and deliberation behind it and a similar kind of style—there shouldn't be a problem with brother number three taking what's usually the top name slot.


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June 9, 2014 10:19 AM
By J. (not verified)

Will one of the children have your full name, with junior appended? How come women do all the work of childbirth and most of the work of childcare and yet men not only get to pass down their surname, they also get their entire name passed down?

Name the baby a male version of your name, with your husband's first name as the middle name.

June 9, 2014 10:42 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

While your way is not a bad way to name a child, J, there is nothing wrong with a Jr. named after the father, whether or not there is another child that has the mother's full name. Yes, mothers are incredible people and are very important people in a child's life, but so are fathers. The way to lift women up is not to put men down. Besides, it sounds like this is something this couple has discussed and agreed on.

June 9, 2014 11:21 AM
By Kathryn (not verified)

My husband is the third son in his family. He is named for his father, but he is not a junior: Same first name, different middle name, and my husband has always been known by his middle name. (The first son got the paternal grandfather's first name and the father's middle name {which in turn was a hand-me-down from his own maternal grandfather} and the second son got a non-family-name-but-with-similar-style first name and a middle name that is a deriavative of their maternal grandfather's name. My husband's middle-name-that-he-is-known-by is not a family name but also fits the style.)

June 9, 2014 12:51 PM
By J. (not verified)

To 10:42 Anonymous, how is it putting men down to say that women should be honored in baby naming at an equal rate?

June 9, 2014 5:26 PM
By Anon (not verified)

J: I know several women named after their mothers, and a few guys who were given the male version of their mother's name. Not everyone wants that, and that's their choice. But that wasn't the question this person was asked.

June 10, 2014 11:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

my grandfather was john francis. he went by jack. he had five children-- three boys. the first was richard francis, the second was francis john, and the third was john francis jr.

on my father's side, my grandparents were joseph and frances. their first born was joseph, with a different middle name, and he goes by jody. their second was named frances, again with a different middle name, and she goes by penny.

so i have all of these scenarios in my family. they happen!

June 10, 2014 1:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If it helps, my sister's second son is a junior (He's actually a 3rd, since the name was his father's and grandfather's). When their first son was born, her husband wanted to hand down the family name, but she wasn't convinced. Plus, she had another name she really wanted. They compromised by agreeing that if/when they had a second son, they would use the family name.

At the time, I thought it was a little odd to have a second born son bearing his father/grandfather's name, while the oldest son has a completely random first and middle name chosen only because his mother liked it. But it actually works. They now have four kids and everyone is happy. =)

June 10, 2014 2:08 PM
By Canterbury Lady (not verified)

My son-in-law is actually an IV (the Fourth), and the fourth and final son.
So, no, birth order has nothing to do with it.

June 14, 2014 7:58 AM
By Heather A. (not verified)

I love the Name Lady, but sometimes I think she's a bit of a style-nazi. Siblings Braxton, Jace and Edward, why not? Non name enthusiasts (most people) would either not notice, or shrug it off. Each family is different, and entitled to a little style mix-up/variety when naming their kids, even if one's a junior.

June 17, 2014 2:15 PM
By Allison (not verified)

I wouldn't do it. When we had our first son I said he had to be Junior or there wouldn't be one. Hubby agreed. Son #1 is Junior and Son #2 was named for his grandfathers.

If your previous 2 sons have non-family names, and you suddenly do a Junior, it might make the first two think you didn't care enough to give them that name.

June 17, 2014 3:22 PM
By Ron (not verified)

There's no hard-and-fast rule on who's a Junior and who isn't. Is Ron Reagan one? (He has a different middle name from Ronald's.) Some would say yes, some no. In the 18th century, Junior was any man who shared his name with an older man nearby, even if unrelated. And when Senior passed on, Junior then became Senior to yet another.

Speaking of the 18th century, Juniors were almost always third sons-- the first two were named for their grandfathers. Why "the greatest generation" felt compelled to name their first sons after themselves is a question someone should explore. Almost all the eldest boys in my "boomer" classes were Juniors. (I was spared the indignity by an older half-brother.) I haven't met any born after 1970.

The only inspiring Junior story I've ever heard was of a boy whose parents planned to name him something else. But when he was born with badly crippled legs, they named him for his father to let him know he was just as cherished as any other. The kid actually got quite good at tennis, so maybe it worked.

June 23, 2014 3:58 PM
By Christi with an I (not verified)

It's not exactly the same but I am the third daughter and was named after my grandmothers (And I hate my middle name) I always wanted to know why neither of my older sisters got saddled with it. But it really isn't a big deal. I have cousins where the oldest son was given his fathers middle name with a different first name and the second son is a jr.

June 30, 2014 10:32 AM
By Juli (not verified)

My family tree is riddled with second or third children named after parents -- both girls and boys. Often, the first child is named for a godparent, who is almost always one of the witnesses at the parents' wedding.

October 4, 2014 9:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

grandpa has John L.,his sons name John L.,his sons name Gregory, his sons name John L.and his sons name is John L. does that make the last John L. a 4th? Wondering.

November 11, 2015 11:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

She never said it was a bad thing.

November 11, 2015 11:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

She never said it was a bad thing.

March 29, 2017 10:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Can I name my son a junior even though my husband has a son with his name from a previous relationship? Step son is named jr. i want to name my son after his father but the father refuses to change step sons name so our son will have his name.

July 10, 2017 1:36 PM
By Celeste Tullock (not verified)

My daughter is named after me Celeste Lillian Rose but she has her father's last name.My son is a junior. My first name and last are the same as my mother's there are 4 Celeste's in our family.

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