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Is This Baby Name Too Tongue-Twisting?

My husband and I are stuck on boy names. I love the name Clark. But my husband is worried because of our last name, Markley. I think it sounds great, but I love the name so much I may not be thinking clearly. Do you think it's too rhyme-y? Does it sound like another Marky Mark? Or would it work?

–Crazy for Clark

I hate to break it to you, but in my opinion Clark Markley is a non-starter. It's often pleasing to the ear when names share some sounds, like a first initial: Think Jessica Jones or Vince Vaughn. Even repeating internal sounds can work, as in Jay Delaney or Megan Gallagher or even Oscar Markley. These repetitions tie the first and last names together in a positive, satisfying way.

The "ark" sound in Clark and Mark, however, is so strong and distinctive that it takes over the whole name, pushing everything else aside. And unfortunately there's little to push aside—just the initial sounds and the "lee" at the end. If there were more syllables to your surname, you might be able to make a case for it: Clark Tarkinton or Clark LeMarcus, say.

But with only three syllables all together, the name just suffers too much from the burden of the rhyme. Plus, it's a spectacular tongue-twister. Try saying it aloud three times fast.

It’s sad when we have to set our favorite names aside because of a surname mismatch. Happily, there are lots of other choices out there. You might start with this list of "timeless boy names." It includes none other than your favorite, Clark—along with some other charming choices, like Calvin, Jules, Rocco, and Thaddeus.


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November 27, 2017 12:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, Clark is too much with your surname. It's very sing-song and actually has the feel of a "joke" name for me. It is also very tongue twisty.

I like the suggestion of Calvin. Others that have the "feel" of Clark, but not the sound include Curt, Cole, Luke, Grant, Dean, Reed, and Ty.

November 27, 2017 1:28 PM
By Lucy (not verified)

My first thought was that it was a no, but then two things changed my mind- 1-love the name Clark (we have one, in fact!) and 2) I have a little girl named Harriet and our last name is Harris- probably worse than your situation...she was named after someone very important to us. At first it bothered me a little and now I love it. So- do what you love!

November 28, 2017 11:37 AM
By Juli (not verified)

Lucy, your daughter's name isn't a tongue-twister. Clark Markley very much _is_. Mark Markley would actually be easier to say, because it doesn't add another L on the other side of the 'ark'.

To the letter-writer: any interest in Clarence?

November 28, 2017 12:29 PM
By Anon (not verified)

Putting Clark before Markley makes me *very* inclined to say the last name as Malarkey, I suppose because I want the "lark" letter sequence to be the same in the first and last names. Please don't do that to your child, no matter how much you love the name.

November 29, 2017 1:42 AM
By Sally Odgers (not verified)

How about Kent? For obvious reasons... Kent Markley sounds good to me.

December 1, 2017 2:49 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe you like Clark because it’s safe since you also like your last name...? Actually I know a few males named Kenneth. Test it. If you like also try on Kenneth Clark Markley to compromise as well as pace yourself. Best wishes!

December 4, 2017 4:17 PM
By Marie (not verified)

I would usually agree with this response, but I am actually in favor of this name. I think Clark Markley is cute. Yes, he will be called Clark Mark or Clarky Marky. When he is young think that will be cute. I had a student named Lilly Miller and I called her Lilly Milly affectionately. I think every child will go through a phase of hating their name, regardless of what it is. He will hopefully grow to be strong and confident, no matter what his name is.

The real issue here, though, is that your spouse doesn't like it. That is probably the deal breaker.

December 7, 2017 12:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Bark Bark, Clark, Mark, Lee, Bark Bark

Sorry, you asked, the sound of your dog is not beautiful/handsome, it's harsh and loud.

clurk. bee. merk. lee. beep.

Nope, neither does a robot

I know, it stinks. Think of it as a gift to your child. Be holistic in your choice.

Could you try Kent Merkley?

December 20, 2017 11:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I knew a girl named Kelly Belli. The last name was pronounced Bell-eye but everyone said Belly. I thought it was a very poor choice of a first name with that last name. Same goes for you. Sorry.

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