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Can a Middle Name Save Us?

My husband and I are a few weeks away from having a little boy named Asher. Our last name is also two syllables ending in -er. We both agree that we need a middle name that separates the two names. My husband is partial to Elliot, but I've got a soft spot for the name Gabriel (I'm Gabrielle). Any suggestions? - Asher's Mom

Hold on, let's take a step back. You've decided that your son's first and last name need "separating"? That's a mighty big red flag, don't you think?

Unless you expect your son to introduce himself as "Asher Gabriel" for the rest of his life, I doubt any middle name can fix this. It's like choosing an attractive pair of underpants to solve the problem that your shirt and pants clash. You may know it's there, but nobody else will.

I think it's time to circle back and make peace with your first-name selection. It sounds like you and your husband are both sold on Asher. I can see why. It's a tremendously appealing name, a biblical classic with the rhythm of a trendy tradesman surname.

Now, pretending middle names don't exist, do you love the name Asher enough to stick with it despite the awkward match with your surname?

If so, great! It sounds like you're on the right track with middle names. The rhythm of Gabriel and Elliot is a good fit for your first/last pair. Other classic names with that rhythm include Nicholas and Gideon. I'd also take a long look at sleek little names like Reid and Graham, which make for a tidy full name package.

But if you're not happy with "just Asher" -- if you feel that a middle name is essential as a buffer -- then I'm afraid you're in the market for a new first name.


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

February 28, 2011 10:13 AM
By Deborah (not verified)

I have a friend with a little boy named Asher and their last name also is two syllables ending in -er. It works for them because they love the name Asher. I agree with Laura, if you love your choice of name, don't worry about it! I love the name Asher by the way!!

February 28, 2011 10:17 AM
By Allison (not verified)

I knew someone who's name was Mason XXX-on (two syll also ending with -on). It sounded terrible. They ran together and just sounded clunky.

That said - if you LOVE Asher XXX-er (Asher Carter, Asher Conner, Asher Baker, etc), use it. But don't if you feel it MUST have the bumper name.

February 28, 2011 11:01 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"It's like choosing an attractive pair of underpants to solve the problem that your shirt and pants clash. You may know it's there, but nobody else will." - HA! Exactly.

You have to try names in every possible combination and common situation ... teacher taking roll the beginning of the year, you yelling out the backdoor, him saying wedding vows years from now, etc. Then decide if you can live with it, but more importantly will he be able to live with it his whole life.

February 28, 2011 4:35 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

A good friend of mine has a name like this, first name -er, last name -er, and in everyday use, it's really not as awkward to say as you might think, and he works in journalism, so his name is said outloud and in writing a lot.

As long as the two names don't rhyme more than that (e.g., Mason Dixon, vs. Mason Harmon), I think it's fine.

February 28, 2011 6:15 PM
By Missy (not verified)

I think as long as they don't rhyme or come close to rhyming it won't sound bad. Like the example above, Asher Baker sounds fine.

February 28, 2011 8:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that the middle name won't work as a buffer- it's most likely that people will still just call him Asher.

On the other hand, I don't think it's that big of a deal unless your last name is Escher.

March 1, 2011 1:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We ran into that problem with Honor -- Loved it (even before Jessica Alba's baby girl! lol), but not only does our last name also end in an "er" sound, it's also another verb. Enough to make me very reluctantly say goodbye to a name DH and I both loved. We still refer to our potential second child as Honor. Sigh. :)

It does seem like if you're trying to separate your child's first and last names, you should maybe consider another name. Or ask friends what they think - if you're prepared for their honest opinions. Without knowing the actual last name, it's tough to judge: as the previous posters said, some names are worse matches than others.

March 1, 2011 2:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love the name Nancy but I nixed it for my daughter because my husband's surname is two syllables ending in -y. I thought Nancy ----y sounded cutesy and silly.

March 1, 2011 3:02 PM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

I wouldn't worry about it. Asher probably sounds just fine with your last name -- running hypothetical combos through my mind, they pretty much all sound fine. If your last name ends in -sher, you might reconsider, but otherwise I think you're okay. A middle name, though, can really make a full name boring or exquisite, so I agree with you that you'll want something to separate the names in the full combination. Asher Elliot Parker or Asher Gabriel Carver have wonderful flow, and Asher Parker or Asher Carver sound perfectly nice as well. And who knows? Maybe in his professional life, your son will want to use all three names (a la Michael Ian Black or Ashley Parker Angel).

March 1, 2011 4:41 PM
By Marbles (not verified)

Well, actually, I'd say Asher Baker is likely to get the kid picked on once the kids learn the word masturbater.

The rest sound fine to me, though.

March 1, 2011 6:40 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


March 2, 2011 1:03 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm interested in a similar situation, though mine is purely hypothetical.

My partner and I love the name Archer - it is the only boy's name we can agree on.
His last name is also a two syllable name ending in "er", however, in his name it is pronounced as "air" as it is of French origin.
Does Archer Xxxxer "look" okay. It sounds fine, but that's only half of the story, isn't it? FYI - the last name has only 1 other letter in common with Archer and it isn't in the same spot.

Also - hypothetical future son with have my maiden name as a middle name. It is a "-on" surname that has been used as a first name for a long time, and there is even a character on a popular 20 year running show who has it as a first name.

My partner has his mother's maiden name as his middle name, so when I suggested it (as I have no brothers to carry on the name) he was all for it.

Are three "surnames" too many though?

March 2, 2011 5:02 AM
By julie (not verified)

Rhyming names just call out for teasing in the school yard. I would move on and find a different name that doesnt lead to teasing

March 2, 2011 9:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Why not move Asher or any other conflicting name (in all the comments) to the mn spot? That way you get ot keep the name you love somewhere and your child is burdened with an unruly combo.

March 2, 2011 11:43 AM
By Mrs. Treanor (not verified)

We're having our little boy ANY DAY now. His first name is an -er ending and our last name has an -er sound even though it's an -or ending. We're perfectly okay with it and as long as he doesn't have a major speech problem with his r's, we think he'll do fine. :-)

March 8, 2011 1:43 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You should never use a middle name to "save" a first and last name combo.
There are a load of names that I like ending in "er" (i.e. Oliver, Fletcher, Archer,etc.). I will not use any of them because my name ends in "er" also.

To me the names sound funny together and sometimes sing-songy, which I would never do to a boy , let alone a girl.

April 6, 2011 12:43 AM
By Elle (not verified)

My older sons begged me to name our fourth child Mason Jason, they all really believed that was the coolest name ever! We declined of

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