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How many names is too many?

I really want to name our soon-to-be daughter after my grandmother or my husband's grandmother. But my husband is not a fan of either name. We finally agreed to go with Lyla, using both of their names as middle names. Is Lyla Clara Melanie too much for a little girl? People keep telling me to just pick one but i'd hate to hurt either side of the family. - Name Pleaser

You're not alone in wanting your baby's name to do double duty. Lot of parents today want to honor two (or even three or four) relatives with a single name. That's inevitable in this era of smaller families. When you have just one or two grandkids to carry on the traditions of two whole families, those kids' names have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

What's more, it's usually the middle name that carries the burden. Like your husband, most of us today are unwilling to give up first-name fashion to honor a relative -- and it's a rare, lucky family blessed with fashionably named grandmas. But what do you do when you have more grandmas than middle names to honor them with?

Some parents are turning to "mashup" names, merging all of their relatives into one. I get a lot of requests for attractive name ideas that combine, say, Joyce, Frances, Howard and Raymond. In your case, a mashup of Clara and Melanie might give you Carmela. That sure beats Joyfrowmand. Nonetheless, I like your more straightforward approach.

Yes, a second middle name can be a bother. I certainly wouldn't recommend it on style grounds alone. But think of it this way: wouldn't you rather have two middle names and two happy grandmas than just one of each?


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February 1, 2010 3:57 PM
By korriey (not verified)

I don't think so. I have given my children either 2 first names or two middle names.

Vaida Faye-Marie
Ethyn-Osean Amadeus

February 1, 2010 9:40 PM
By Katy (not verified)

I was given four names at birth and its definitely a blessing and a curse. My middle names come from my great grandmother and grandfather and they are not hyphenated, nor is one more important than the other. I hate forms that only give one space for a middle initial and I hate when paperwork gets mixed up or returned to me because my names or initials don't match as one form had two and another only had one. However I love my middle names because they're mine and they are meaningful to my family and love how impressive they all sound together. My sister has always been jealous of my brother and I both having four names and kept her maiden name to bring her total up. She named her son four names and fully expects me to do the same, AND to keep my maiden name to bring my total up to five. Far from it. I will probably only give my kids one middle name, although I'm not totally against two and I'm definitely not going to have FIVE names! Geez.

February 2, 2010 8:51 AM
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)

We gave our daughter three names (two middles) to honor multiple family members. Our son has just two names.

Something else to consider is the total number of syllables. Our son has six syllables from just two names; our daughter has three names, but just five syllables total. So it is sometimes true that the longer name isn't really longer.

February 3, 2010 7:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

i personally love longer names. I think they feel strong and impressive, and they can, of course, honor more than one person. but i agree with Abby@AppMtn that syllables must be taken into account.

February 4, 2010 11:43 AM
By Kristina (not verified)

My mom gave me and my brother three names, but the two "middle" names actually come before our "given" names. So, my birth certificate says Kerry Lynn Kristina, but my actual, legal, "first" name is Kristina. It's hell when you're trying to get fill out forms and stuff! If I get asked for my middle initial, I usually just say I don't have one. My driver's licence used to say K.L. Kristina, but I later got told that the government doesn't allow initials as a "first name." ARGH!
Of my three kids, only one has 2 middle names, and it hasn't been much of a problem yet.

February 4, 2010 11:59 AM
By Maranda (not verified)

My four kids each have four names, and I've never found it to be even notable never mind a problem. Two have three given names (or two "middle" names) and two have two given names and a hyphenated last name. I think four names is pretty common these days and not much of a discussion point.

February 4, 2010 12:15 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

the tradition around here is that a name can be considered to be after someone if it starts with the same initial - I hate the name Jacob (mostly because of its meaning) but my husband and I considered a few J names to honor his grandfather (though we decided in the end to leave that for the next child.)

In my mind you can also link a name by meaning - my grandmother's name is Helen, which means light, so I consider that my daughter's middle name (Eliora - God is my light) is in her honor, even though the names are otherwise unrelated

February 4, 2010 12:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have two middle names, and I love them, though I agree that sometimes it can be a hassle.

For me, though, the most important part is the overall sound of the name, so it's really a case-by-case decision. Some sequences of three names are beautiful - I love both of korriey's examples - but others are just... a sequence of three names. So my opinion is, if you can pull the former off, go for it, but try to avoid the latter.

February 4, 2010 12:44 PM
By Angela (not verified)

I fully support multiple middle names. :)

I have two middle names, and each of my brothers has three middle names. I love having both of my middle names, as they carry familial significance. And I think it's kind of fun and special to have more than one middle name. I use just the first of my middle names for documents where both won't fit, and I use the first initial of the first middle name on things that say "middle initial here". The middle names are hyphenated on my driver's license to make it easier for people to tell that I have two middle names, not two last names (legally, there is no hyphen). I've never had any trouble with it.

It seems to be pretty common in other countries to have multiple middle names. And I think it happens more often than you think, because I see multiple middle names ALL THE TIME on celebrities profiles on IMDb under "birth name". People from Lady Gaga (aka Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) to Prince Harry of England (aka Henry Charles Albert David Windsor) have multiple middle names, and seem to be doing just fine. :)

February 4, 2010 1:24 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My son has two middle names; as he has my husband's surname, I wanted his middle names to be from my side of the family, so one is my father's name and the other is the male form of my name (also appears further back in my family tree). I love it; heck, if I could have given him three middle names I would have! :)

Kristina-- how is your legal name not Kerry, as that is what is on your birth certificate as your first name?

February 4, 2010 1:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think 2 middle names is too many. A lot of people do two names together as one. I also like the idea of the 'mashup'. Although, Clara and Melanie seem hard to put together. Good luck. Maybe Mara? Or even Maura?

February 4, 2010 2:54 PM
By Kevin (not verified)

Our daughter (now two and a half) has seven names. It started so simply -- we decided to name her after my wife's great-grandmother (on her father's side) Agnes, a name we both loved. Just out of curiosity, I checked my great-grandmother's name on my father's side -- Josephine -- and we thought they went well together. Then my mother-in-law told us (we were keeping the name we'd chosen a secret) that it would mean a lot to her if we used the names "Anna Maria", which is a recurring name on her side of the family. And then Elin (pronounced just like "Ellen") is a recurring family name on my mother's side, so at that point we just figured, what the heck, let's include everyone -- and our daughter is named Agnes Elin Anna Maria Josephine, plus both our last names. The more the merrier, we figured.

February 4, 2010 3:11 PM
By Tanya (not verified)

@ Caitlyn =) My daughter's name is Eliora, glad to see you have used it as well.

February 4, 2010 3:40 PM
By Ann (not verified)

I have given my children one middle name each, we were considering more for our 2nd, but thought it would be better to be consisent and not give one child more names than the other. we are also "OK" with the fact that we are not European royalty, and no one will be forced to hear all these names during royal proclamations, etc.

February 4, 2010 4:43 PM
By Kerri (not verified)

We have 2 boys who each have 2 middle names. Each of them were born on a good friend's birthday (which is a miracle that it happened not only once, but with each of them!), who then became their godmother or godfather. So we gave Ian one middle name, and then the godfather's name, Thomas. When our Elliott was born on our friend Kurstin's birthday, we gave her the choice of his 2nd middle name (she chose Taylor, a translation of her german last name). It was funny because we chose Connor and Cole for the other middle names so they are very symmetrical: ICT (last name) and ECT (last name). Very fun!

I do get bummed out when there isn't enough room for both on forms though...

February 4, 2010 5:43 PM
By Steph (not verified)

I am not a fan of two middle names. My Sister-in-law has the same problem as mentioned by a PP with her two MNs, when it was time to name my girls I chose one MN I liked for each of them. A friend of mine went the 2 MN route with her boys, and now is pregnant for the 3rd time, with TWIN BOYS. She is seriously running out of names from her family or even just names that she likes. And this is after the second boy's first name is the same as her first boy's 2nd MN.

February 5, 2010 9:54 AM
By Diane (not verified)

Knowing that we were only going to have one child, my husband and I decided to give our daughter three names, her first name was chosen by her Daddy, and her second and third names were her grandmothers names -- today as an adult, she loves that she carries the continuity of generations before her.

February 5, 2010 1:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like the two names. If you are still confused on what to do, you should put the two names together.. Lyla Claranie.. I considered this for my son(putting two names together for the middle name), but my husband insisted on naming our son after him.

February 5, 2010 1:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like the two names. But if you are still confused on what to do, you should consider putting the two names together.. Claranie .. This idea was considered for my son for his middle name (putting my husbands and father-in-laws first name together) but my husband insisted on having a JR. so he was named after him.

February 5, 2010 1:11 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My daughter's name is Aryanna Maryellen Lynn. Everyone kept telling me to just pick the one but I couldn't. Mary was my grandmother,Ellen was my fiance's grandmother, and Lynn is my middle name. I know it's long but at least she has meaning to her name and I think that's the most important part of naming your baby.

February 5, 2010 1:55 PM
By Sletta (not verified)

I named my first daughter exactly after me making her a Jr. like I was. A lot of people think it's strange to name a gilr Jr, but once the girl is married she is no longer a Jr, but takes on the last name of her spouce.

My 2nd daughter I named after my three sisters' middle names thus Frances Mae Richelle, is her name. Turns out both my husband's and my grandmothers were both named Frances so it was a tribute to both sides of the family. Frances loves her name and it hasn't been too much to live up to. Follow your heart, remember you didn't have a choice as to what your parents named you and like most people you probably went thru a time in life where you either hated or loved your name, none the less it is yours and you learn to live up to it. Congrats on your new addition to your family.

February 5, 2010 4:24 PM
By Wendy (not verified)

I had this same question 17 years ago with my son, my husband wanted him named after his brother who passed on, Gregory, his father who passed on Stanley, and his last name which is also his side of the family Swieczkowski, I thought the name needed something that belonged to my son, so I named him Gregory Ryan Stanley Swieczkowski, which is more than a mouth full, but I registered him in school with Gregory Ryan Swieczkowski, but his legal name has 2 middle names, as to this day I have not had problems where there is to much name, and he is delighted to be named after his elders and considers it an honor.

February 6, 2010 5:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have two middle names(1 being my mothers maiden name, the other her middle name), but choose to use only the first(her middle name). It is nice to have some history to my full name though.

February 7, 2010 3:12 AM
By Claire (not verified)

This conversation helps. We are planning on giving our daughter (due in about three months) two middle names after our late maternal grandmothers, Esther and Yetta. They don't sound particularly nice together, but I realize that the sentiment is important to me. We probably won't use her middle names on a regular basis, but they will always be a part of her name, and a part of her.

February 7, 2010 6:32 PM
By Adria (not verified)

Oh I really like that idea! I never thought about that but that is is really cool!

February 9, 2010 6:22 PM
By GilaB (not verified)

I think two middle names is fine, but you might want to reverse the order - LyRA ClaRA is a little too rhyme-y for me (two-syllables, accent on first, ending in -ra). To me, Lyra Melanie Clara sounds much better.

February 10, 2010 2:55 PM
By Britthney (not verified)

I have two middle names and i love them. definitely not a problem.

February 10, 2010 3:44 PM
By Deb (not verified)

I have two middle names, because I was named directly after a deceased relative, so I acquired her first, middle, and last name, with my dad's last name tacked on. I am now married and I go only by first, first-middle, and married name, because having 5 names was cumbersome, especially since there would be 10 syllables in all. There were many times as a kid that I hated having two middle names but most of the time, and always once I became a late teen, I have loved it. It's special to me because it's my mom's maiden name and it helps me carry on the family name despite being a girl.

February 11, 2010 5:52 AM
By nedibes (not verified)

Does anyone else remember the Dick Van Dyke Show episode where they tell the story of how the son's middle name ended up being Rosebud--an acronym for Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David?

My oldest son has two middle names, one to honor my side of the family and my husband's "bachelor" name (he took my name when we got married). It's very occasionally a problem when filling out forms, forcing him to "favor" one, but it's a tiny annoyance in the grand scheme compared to the satisfaction of having the fully meaningful name.

One thing to consider is that whichever grandma's name you put first will almost inevitably get more play than the second.

February 11, 2010 7:50 PM
By Shanna (not verified)

I don't normally like double middle names, but in this case I think it's justifiable. True, too, the names aren't overly long or unattractive - I think, all together, it's a very pretty name just as you have imagined it, Name Pleaser. ^_^

February 11, 2010 7:56 PM
By Shanna (not verified)

I tend to agree. I remember reading in one of my (many) name books that you have to be careful of syllables when choosing full names; your syllables should not be the same for two names that sit together. Not only do you run the risk of them sounding too rhyme-y, as you mentioned, but they tend not to flow very well (there are exceptions, of course).

For example, Pamela Rufenstein wouldn't work because Pamela (3) and Rufenstein (3) have the same number of syllables (Pam-uh-luh Roo-fen-stine). But Pamela Simpson (3 & 2) would work and flow better, as would Pamela Brown (3 & 1).

It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but I've stuck to it when naming characters and I find it helps make better-sounding full names. ^_^

February 17, 2010 3:19 PM
By zaida (not verified)

My boys both have two middle names....I love names, and they both have mixture of family names and names we adore....

I think their names are strong, meaningful, and also, fun to talk about! :)

February 18, 2010 12:14 PM
By Camille (not verified)

Ahhh, I totally wish that I had been named with two middle names! The only problem is that I have four grandmothers (maternal gma, maternal gpa's wife--he remarried, late paternal gma, late paternal gpa's wife) ...and their names are Goldie (she goes by her middle name, Lorraine, though), Eleanor (Ellie), Doris H, and Doris H. (yup, two stepgrandmas with the same name and last initial. Heh.)
But I think that instead of Camille Lorraine, Camille Eleanor Lorraine could easily have worked.

February 18, 2010 5:30 PM
By Ingrid (not verified)

My mom's name is Cecilia Nan Cordie Neville, and when she was married she put my dad's last name on the end of all of that as well. Nan and Cordie were her grandmothers - I think it's lovely that she is named after both of them. My mom is very proud of all of her names.

It might be a lot for one little girl, but she will grow into the names and in all likeliness will love the connection she has to her grandmothers.

February 19, 2010 11:40 PM
By Kristin (not verified)

How about Lyla-Clara Melanie or LylaClara Melanie? I think two middle names are nice, though. I like Paget Emily Lexus as a name.

March 9, 2010 1:18 PM
By Rae (not verified)

What's wrong with four! I am now Rachel (Legal Forename) Sara (middle name after my Aunt) Helm (Maiden name) Booyens (Married Name). Most of the time I just go by my Fore and Surname although I fill out my middle names wherever I need to as they are a very important part of my heritage. I have a name from my Mum's side (Sara) and a name from my Dad's side (Helm) plus a name from my Husband and a name all of my own (not seen before in my family tree). I like the balance of these and they have all become my identity.

March 9, 2010 3:39 PM
By Gwen (not verified)

My triplets have 4 names. Their first name then two middle names and of course their last name. They are Wynter Ana-Marie --, Sumer Melanee-Grace -- and Autum Mary-Kate --. Having four names isnt a problem yet, its just their names dont fit on forms.

March 9, 2010 4:10 PM
By frani (not verified)

I love the thought of two middle names. My daughter originally hadn't had two picked out but was changed before she was born for a couple reasons but mostly because my husband has two middle names so it we thought it'd be a nice tradition to continue on. Her name is Lilliana Cady May last name. I'm currently pregnant with baby #2 and I definitely plan on doing it again. I feel its a great way to not only use names you like but also honor those you love.

March 9, 2010 8:01 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Very unique!

March 16, 2010 4:34 PM
By Mixi (not verified)

I have settled on Josh-Callen Joseph F. and Arabella Helen-Mae F.

March 19, 2010 2:34 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I wish I had more than just Abigail and my surname, even if my parents intended the -Gail parent to stand in for a middle name.

My grandmother however was Cynthia Pearl Victoria P---. She didn't wan't to be called Cyndy, and so used Pearl as her everyday name, and my grandfather's nickname for her was her initials.

I think the line is when you can't remember what order the names come in.

I read a story once, where a character with multiple middle names and only ever used one at a time,having a reason for each of them, to justify have so many. He labeled them his public, family and private names in order of preference, which I thought lovely. So on business cards he would, for example, be Luke Damian Matthews, to family Luke Adam Matthews and his "for-himself" name was Luke Nathaniel Matthews. I believe the order was LNADM.

March 20, 2010 4:20 AM
By phoebe (not verified)

I love long names I have 2 surnames as well as several middle names. Most people think its amusing and I havent really had too much of a problem. My full name is Phoebe Maria-Therese Immaculata Noelle

March 20, 2010 1:33 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Our baby boy was born just seven weeks before his dad was killed in a traffic accident.
I remarried a man who knew my first husband. He loved my little boy and wanted to adopt him before he started school.
The only question I had was my first husbands parents, because my son was named after his dad.
I decided the best way to keep everyone happy was to use his last name as a second middle name.
Everyone was happy with it.

March 2, 2011 6:25 PM
By Veronica (not verified)

These days people are trying to give their children the weirdest, longest, dummest names ever, which is why I went with older names for my children:
Eileen Marie,
Saige Joanne,
Lucas Thomas, and
Alexander James
With a first name that me and my husband chose out of our own liking (And not with the latest Hollywood trends!) and a middle name that both honors the fam AND goes well with the first name, our name choices are among the about 75 % of GOOD, classic, names left that aren't dying in the corner while all the mash-up names are floating around.

March 2, 2011 6:25 PM
By Veronica (not verified)

These days people are trying to give their children the weirdest, longest, dummest names ever, which is why I went with older names for my children:
Eileen Marie,
Saige Joanne,
Lucas Thomas, and
Alexander James
With a first name that me and my husband chose out of our own liking (And not with the latest Hollywood trends!) and a middle name that both honors the fam AND goes well with the first name, our name choices are among the about 75 % of GOOD, classic, names left that aren't dying in the corner while all the mash-up names are floating around.

March 28, 2013 9:03 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I quite like the idea of merging u could consider lyla carmlie then the surname then your combining both grandmothers.. I have chosen my daughters name although in not actually having a baby yet.. I ni in strange lol
my situation is Olivia has to be the middle name for family reasons and me and partner both like two names and we cant decide one just one so i suggested having it double barrelled. However our first child has both out surnames so my daughter will have 5 names.. Do you think its too many. The final name is ...
Lara-Skye Oliva Sacco-Herrity.? What do you all think?

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