Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

Do These Baby Names Go with the Flow?

My sons are Hunter and Tanner. I am having a third son soon and would like the baby's name to flow with theirs and not be very popular (in the top 100). What do you suggest I choose?

–My Three Sons

The idea of sibling name "flow" is a new one for me. Name flow typically applies to a single name's different components—to the smooth sound pattern of first-middle-last name combinations rather than to an easy verbal transition between three sibling names. But whether you're worried about the three brothers' names falling trippingly on your tongue or have the more common concern of wanting your kids' names to "go together"—to sound like a matched set—you've got the same major issue at stake: To –er or not to –er?

Your sons' names have such strong style and sound similarities. Both are two-syllable surnames of English origin that end in –er. Each also describes a rather manly and Medieval profession: hunting for game or tanning hides. There's not much growth expected for either occupation, but the names are another story. With their straightforward familiarity and no-nonsense feel, both have become popular over the decades. Hunter is a current top-50 choice for boys while Tanner was a top-100 name in the '90s.

I can draft a long list of English surnames that would fit a similar bill: for instance, Archer, Chandler, Cooper, Miller, Sawyer. Cooper is a top-100 choice but the rest are more rare. Any of those would sound like a matched set with the names of your sons.

But … maybe too matched? A third –er name could trigger the "butcher, baker, candlestick maker" effect, the idea that a group of occupation names that sound so alike, as these do, can risk nursery-rhyme sing-song. Or at the very least, signal an incredibly strong naming consistency, possibly veering on parody.

To unite your trio with less repetition, consider occupational names with different endings. Bowman meets many of your requirements and also brings a fresh conclusion to the grouping. The name clearly fits with the parameters of your sibling set but varies up the pattern just enough to keep things interesting. Similarly, a crisp, one-syllable surname like Tate links to your other kids' names without echoing too directly. Other possibilities along these lines include Abbott, Chase, Corwin, Sexton, and Reeve.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

April 17, 2017 10:11 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'd stay away from "er" endings, especially if you think you might have more kids. 2 is a coincidence, 3 becomes a pattern-and it might be hard to break that pattern, even if there aren't really anymore "er" names you like.

I do agree that occupational type names would keep a nice "flow." But really, I think anything with more modern use as a first name would likely work. Cole, Coleman, Cameron, Brady, Finley, Jax/Jackson, Bodhi, Orion, Oakley, Mason

April 17, 2017 1:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If #3 is definitely your last, I think another -er is ok if you like the "matched set" feel. I personally find 3 boys with -er to be cute, but not 4.

If you want names that will work as a set without being super matchy, I suggest Deacon.

April 23, 2017 9:33 PM
By Juli (not verified)

Can I be snide and suggest Cordwainer? (Hunter to obtain the hide, Tanner to prepare it for use, Cordwainer to make something out of it.)

And still along the same line of thought, but without the -er: Crispin, the patron saint of cobblers.

April 24, 2017 3:02 PM
By L. (not verified)

How about Arlo? It nearly repeats the "er" sound, just at the beginning? I think a third "profession" name would be a bit much. Is there another surname you like?

Here are more ideas: Auden, Cormac, Calvin, Adrian, Dillon... A name that ends in N could provide the crisp 2-syllable style you like, and it would repeat the N in Hunter and Tanner so they would sound good together.

April 25, 2017 10:15 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

I think the -er sound is better than doing another job name, like Bowman. However Cooper fits both bills.

I also like Chase or Aiden.

April 26, 2017 11:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Occupation Names:
Cooper, Taylor, Archer

Ones that don't end in er:

Something Western?
Wyatt, Colt, Garrett

May 6, 2017 10:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Pick one that nobody remembers what the occupation is for and you can avoid the theme. But maybe you want names that conjure up an image, in that case go for some nature and destination names.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.