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How Far Can I Go With a Middle Name?

Recently I've fallen in love with unusual nature names. I'd never use them as first names, but are they okay as middles? A few of the ideas that I had are Ramona Bluebird, Amelia Wildflower, and Elias Harbor. Are they too weird for a child, or are unusual middle names fine because they're rarely used?

--Magical Middle-Seeker

How far can you go with middle names? I’d say out into the garden – or the Harbor – is just fine.

Most of us approach middle-name choices like a second first-name choice, which is perfectly natural. Yet the two names are not created equal. One is your everyday identity, and the other is…what? Sometimes a family homage, sometimes an understudy if the first name doesn’t suit, and often simply an afterthought.

The middle’s low profile gives the namer more freedom. A middle name can be a safe space to use a name that’s special to you, but perhaps too far-out to serve as your child’s actual identity. It’s almost like a secret message you’re sharing with your child, one that celebrates what you find beautiful and valuable in the world.

Be sure to check in with your common sense to avoid names that would downright embarrassing if your child did have to reveal them in public. (Call your little one “Snugglebunny” or “Giggles” all you want in your own home—but don’t put it on his birth certificate.) But go ahead with Bluebird or Harbor -- or Earhart or Mandela, or Brave or Lyric. Any word or name that’s meaningful to you is likely to mean a lot to your child, too. And if it doesn’t? He can keep it to himself, with no one the wiser.


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August 19, 2013 12:45 PM
By BL (not verified)

I like Harbor a lot. Definitely unusual but strikes me as a more masculine take on Haven.

August 19, 2013 4:09 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

I totally agree, and I think all three of those names are beautiful!

August 21, 2013 12:51 AM
By M (not verified)

My mom's coworker's granddaughter's middle name is Ladybug, and my mom thinks it's a little weird. So, you know, if you care what your parent's coworkers think, maybe avoid it. But please don't care what your parent's coworkers think. :)

August 21, 2013 12:38 PM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

As someone who hates their middle name I would disagree. Forms always ask for middle names as it is part of your legal name. Consider this, your child is graduating from high school or college. The announcer says Ramona Bluebird whatever. Do you still like the name? Do you think your child will be proudly walking across that stage or wishing it would open up and swallow her? If you can answer those two questions and still like the name go for it.

August 22, 2013 10:35 AM
By carbon wheelset (not verified)

we don't have middle name in Chian

August 23, 2013 11:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I've never been crazy about my middle name. On forms, degrees & events like graduations I've always been asked how I want my name to appear/be read. I just opt for only my middle initial. It's never been a big deal.

I'll admit Bluebird & Wildflower are a bit too much as 1st names for my taste, but I think they'd be fine as middles. Harbor I quite like and could even see it working as a 1st name.

August 23, 2013 12:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

They aren't my taste but I think they are fine as middle names.

Forms and such ask for middle names but you don't have to list it. There are very few cases where you absolutely have to list your middle name. It's not a big deal. Every graduation I attended asked me how I wanted my name to appear on my diploma plus what I wanted to have announced (and the pronunciation), so Ramona Bluebird can easily go with Ramona B or just Ramona if she chooses.

August 25, 2013 5:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree. I DO like my middle name, but opt not to include it on forms, diplomas, etc. My parents didn't use it when they registered me at school, so it was never on class lists. (I always felt bad for the kids who had their full names read on the first day of school, even if there was nothing wrong with the names.) If a kid loves the distinctive middle name, there is always the option of choosing to include it on forms and diplomas later on.

August 28, 2013 1:14 PM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

Or there's the option of more than one middle name. (I knew someone whose name was FirstName MiddleName *WEIRDNAME* LastName. -- And I believe the weird name was something like "Espionagineer" in his case, but I might be spelling that wrong.)

I have two middle names (and I *love* that!). But the second one is rarely seen. Most legal forms only require a middle initial. At graduation, they default to one middle name (although I put in a special request for both of mine to be said). When I was younger, I found my second middle name (Ferrante, a family name) weird, but I never had to own up to it, because my other middle name (a common first name) was just fine.

Anyway, my point is, there is always the option of naming a kid something like Amanda Grace Teapot Masquerade Jones, and most people will only ever find out that she is Amanda Grace Jones or Amanda G. Jones, unless she totally digs "Teapot Masquerade" and wants them to know about her full unconventional name.

August 28, 2013 3:31 PM
By Teddy (not verified)

A friend's friend gave her daughter the middle name Junebug a few years ago. It first I thought it was a little weird, but it has grown on me.

My great-grandmother's first and middle names were Martha Washington and she hated her middle name, so she rarely disclosed it to anyone.

My middle name is a repeat of my mother's middle name and I love it as a special bond we share.

I often advise people who want to give their child a very wild or creatively/uniquely spelled or difficult to pronounce name to move it to the middle.

For example, Mykayla or Mykel might be better suited as a first than middle. It allows the parent room for creativity without dooming the child to misspellings. Nobody is going to blink twice at Alexander Mykel because most people will never know how his middle name is spelled.

All of the examples above are fine I think, and in fact, would make beautiful middle names. :)

August 31, 2013 2:00 AM
By Faye (not verified)

I totally approve of all these choices, both first and middle, for whatever that's worth.

Harbor would make a pretty beautiful first name too, in that same Harper vein.

February 12, 2014 8:11 AM
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March 1, 2014 6:07 AM
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