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Is This Name Too Dog-gone Bad?

My husband and I have had the boy's name Fox picked out for years. We are now trying to conceive and I just realized this name doesn't go with our last name, which is Terry. Fox terriers were originally bred to hunt foxes. Would this name combination evoke the dog breed?

–Hooked on Fox

It's a sad realization, isn't it? The first name you've been dreaming about for years suddenly bumps up against an immovable force: The surname. Some surnames are just more challenging than others to work with. And although Terry might seem innocuous, it can pose a problem because it resembles a first name (or nickname). So pairing it with a nontraditional first name—one that could also be a surname—is tricky.

That's because to many ears, Fox Terry will sound reversed, like it should be Terry Fox. You might face a similar problem with a surname like Jeffrey or John or even Rose. Try pairing those with a surname-y first name like Fox, and you get confusion: Riley John (or is it John Riley?); Quinn Jeffrey (or should that be Jeffrey Quinn?).

With Fox Terry, you have the extra challenge of there already being a real-world Terry Fox, a young man who ran across Canada to raise money for research after he lost his own leg to cancer. Though he died in 1980, Fox remains a well-known and beloved figure, especially in Canada. His foundation has raised tens of millions of dollars in his name in the years since his death.

And then, of course, there's the dog breed. Sadly, this is another strike against the name Fox Terry for your son. I do think it will spark thoughts of fox terriers for those who hear it. While that's not the end of the world, it is something to consider when choosing your boy's name.

Other names that might offer some of the same feel as Fox include:


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

November 9, 2015 11:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't hear fox terrier at all. However, I think Fox Terry is in for a life of being Terry Fox.

Perhaps it would work to give him a more common given name (like Frederick or Francis), and then use Fox as a nickname. IMO, if someone questions "why would you ever name a kid after a fox terrier?", the question is moot by saying, "it's a nickname".

November 9, 2015 12:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I second the suggestion of a name beginning with 'F' and the nickname Fox. Felix is a nice name and has two of the three letters in Fox.

November 9, 2015 3:50 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am not Canadian, but was aware of Terry Fox. He causes Fox Terry to sound even more "backwards" than I think it already does. And I also think of Fox Terriers.

I like the suggestion of Fox has a nickname. Felix is fantastic. You could also do something with the middle initial X. For example, Franklin Xander=FX-Fox. However, Fox as a nickname seems like it should be in the same category as Tiger. They don't have to have anything to do with the given name, but are just fun nicknames.

Another option might be to use Fox as the middle name instead.

November 10, 2015 12:02 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

I immediately thought of a dog and chuckled a little. I do not recommend this name at all. I would pick a name that it's clearly a first name since your last name sounds like a nickname. Fox as a random nickname sounds good, or as a middle name.

November 10, 2015 3:28 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am Canadian. Terry Fox is extremely well known here, every October people (and practically every elementary school) do "Terry Fox runs" to raise money for cancer research. Trust me, going with Fox Terry would be a terrible idea.

November 11, 2015 12:45 PM
By Beth (not verified)

I immediately thought of the dog, too. Sorry!

November 11, 2015 5:33 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

How about Fennec Terry? Fennec is a type of fox.

November 11, 2015 5:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Fox is slang for a sexy lady, so it may not be advisable anyway. And with the wrong accent, it could even sound like the "F" word. These were pointed out to me when I once considered the name.

November 11, 2015 6:39 PM
By Mo (not verified)

I didn't think of Fox Terrier or Terry Fox (which is not be a bad association) until it was suggested.
As far as first/last mix ups: How many people under the age of 45 do you know named Terry? This situation reminds me of a little boy in our neighborhood named Jackson Bradley. 35-45 years ago this name might have created confusion but today today it sounds perfectly normal just like Fox Terry. I think it sounds like a strong name.
If you still feel nervous do what others have suggested and use Fox as a nn for another name you can love but not just a random "F" name because you think you have to.

November 12, 2015 11:18 AM
By Juli (not verified)

Fox Terry sounds and looks like it's either missing a comma or someone's autocorrect went wonky on the dog breed.

Maybe go with Reynard, nicknamed Fox? Reynard or Renard have never made the US top 1000, but neither has Fox.

(Reynard the sly fox was a popular hero in medieval fables; he's the origin of the French word renard meaning 'fox'.)

November 12, 2015 3:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I do think it sounds like a joke name a bit. I actually think the worst part though is it sounds inside out. A Terry Fox would be much more likely than a Fox Terry, so I think people would get his name mixed up on job interviews, school, and at the Dr when you use first and last name.

November 12, 2015 8:37 PM
By Alexia Mae (not verified)

I grew up around hunters and dogs, and I didn't even think of fox terriers when I read the name. I think it's okay to use, because isn't see how that's necessarily a bad association either. If North West can fly, Fox Terry certainly can.

November 13, 2015 5:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My surname is a guy's name, and you'd be surprised at the number of times I am addressed as 'Dear Sir' despite the fact that I'm female. I tend to use my initial and my surname with no title and that really throws people off.

I like the idea of a single syllable first name for your son, with a nickname of Fox. Here in the UK we have a footballer called John Terry, and the single-double syllables really work.

At least you will find that few people will misspell your surname, unlike many others.

November 13, 2015 5:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a last name that is two common words put together and just for my three childrens' sakes, I tried to avoid any names that could be looked up in a dictionary as another word, like Terry can. This means I vetoed my hub's favorite name three times (Amber) as I wasn't keen on it anyway. Thinking currently in full swing of class pictures, sports forms, etc. I'm glad I didn't go that route! My favorite is Frederick O. or X. Terry. (or both!) That sounds really classy and genuinely strong to my ear. It's up to you but to cut to the chase-- find something else that has multiple syllables. The upside is that your last name is so straight forward and charming! Compliment that.

November 15, 2015 3:08 AM
By muhammad muneeb (not verified)

I also grew up around hunters and dogs, and I didn't even think of fox terriers when I read the name.

November 15, 2015 4:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I do think of a fox terrier, and I think it would be a common mix-up that he would be Terry Fox.

I had a great uncle whose first name was a bit different, "Ferrell" and his last name was Sandy. He was constantly getting letters for "Mrs. Sandy Ferrell" and there were a lot of mix-ups with his name for his entire life. I agree that if you have a last name that is also a first name, using a common last name or a word name would add some potential problems.

November 15, 2015 9:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a good friend named Fox so I wish you could use it, but I hope you'll nicknaming him Fox as someone suggested above.

November 16, 2015 3:21 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a friend whose middle name is Fox and last name is a noun that also means "burrow". His parents liked Fox but was concerned for obvious reasons...since it'd sound like they named him fox burrow. So, they just put it into the middle slot and gave him a name-name. He loves it and although he goes by his first name, his uses his middle name in usernames and all that. I.e., "Adam Fox Terry" sounds better than Fox Adam Terry. And if you decide to call him Fox and people inquire after it, you can just say that it's his middle name and when he gets older, he can decide if he wants to go by his first name, like my friend did.

November 20, 2015 9:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I live in Croatia and Terry Fox is well known even there. I think the Fox as a nickname suggestion is an excellent one.

December 4, 2017 9:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with other posters. I did not think of dogs but of Terry Fox. In Canada we have an annual Terry Fox day where funds are raised for cancer and thousands run in honor of Terry Fox who died of cancer.

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