Ah, the middle name. Sandwiched between a person’s first and last name, the middle moniker is completely optional and often overlooked. The task of choosing the perfect middle name can be overwhelming — and sometimes even harder than settling on a first name — but there are some tried-and-true methods that can help.
If you’ve already set aside a traditional first name for your little one, Parents suggests picking something a little more “fun” for the middle name. After all, it’s not a name your child will have to use every day. If that’s not for you, you can instead pick a middle name that has some sort of personal meaning, like the name of a relative or someone else with whom you’re close. Of course, you can always play it safe and consult a list of some of the more popular middle names. While you have almost complete freedom to choose your child’s middle name, there are some ones you — or your little one — will definitely come to regret. Here are just a few examples.
If you’ve decided that coming up with a first name is hard enough, you might be tempted to forgo a middle name altogether. It is true that your child doesn’t actually need one, but the absence of a middle name could lead to your child having to use a placeholder instead. When Americans haven’t been given a middle name, official documents often use, or require the person to use, the acronym “NMI,” meaning “No Middle Initial.”
Middle names have also been proven to be beneficial. Eric R. Igou of the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick in Ireland conducted a study on the impact of middle names. In the end, Igou and his team found that people without a middle initial were perceived to be of lower status than those with a middle initial. “Importantly, however, these person perceptions are limited to contexts where intellectual achievements are central,” the psychologist noted to The Journal.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, for example, is incredibly successful, but she doesn’t actually have a middle initial because she wasn’t given a middle name. Hmm, do you think J.N.M.I Rowling would’ve had quite the same success?
The mighty monogram
What’s worse than having no middle initial? Having a middle initial that completes an embarrassing monogram. You may have found the best middle name in the entire world, but Parents advised making sure your child’s middle name won’t make for an “inappropriate” monogram.
If you do happen to accidentally give your child a cringey monogram, researchers discovered that it won’t necessarily spell trouble. A study of people with “bad’ initials including SIN, RAT, SOB, GAS, ZIT, and, fittingly, even BAD, found that it had no impact on a person’s lifespan. But that doesn’t mean you should actively seek to give your newborn a distasteful monogram. Baby name expert and baby-name book author Pamela Satran said in a news release (via WebMD) that even though “having bad initials is not going to shorten your life span,” it could “make what there is of your life less pleasant.” She added, “And who wants to foist that on innocent children?” No one, we hope!
Being able to say “Danger is my middle name” à la Austin Powers does make for a good laugh, but is it really a good idea for a joke to be part of a person’s name? Some parents think so. Dean and Telita James named their little one Stephen Danger James. The reason? Telita told the Australian newspaper NT News (via Metro Parent) that it was “just so he could say it’s his middle name.” She added, “It’s something different.”
British street performers Sam and Felicity Wills also assigned their son the middle name Danger, citing pretty much the same reason. “We thought it would be great if he could actually say, ‘Danger is my middle name.’ That is just for us,” the couple told Stuff.
In 2019, violent names — including Danger — have become increasingly popular. Although Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert and founder of babynamewizard.com, told Today’s Parent that these names prove “there’s no longer a limit on how hyper-macho we’ll go with boys names,” you might later regret joining in on this disturbing trend — even if done in the name of good fun.
Middle names that aren't so super
Some of the top baby names for boys and girls in 2018 were directly inspired by superheroes and popular films. From X’Men‘s Aurora to Iron Man‘s Pepper to even Star Wars‘ Rey, there was plenty of name inspo all around. For boys, names like Cain, Logan, and Wade — from Batgirl, Wolverine, and Black Scorpion, respectively — became very popular picks. But, just how will parents feel about their trendy choices once their kids get a little older?
While you certainly have quite a bit more flexibility when choosing a middle name as opposed to a first name, your child is probably still going to want to know why you chose a middle name like Jubilee or Thor. And, unless you’re a huge comic book fan, you might not be able to come up with a good answer. Unfortunately, you could end up regretting bestowing something so permanent as a middle name on your kiddo simply because you kind of enjoyed a Blockbuster film from the 2010s.
Game of Thrones-inspired monikers
In the same vein as naming your child after an ever-popular superhero, you may want to think long and hard before naming your child anything inspired by Game of Thrones. With the hit HBO show entering its final season in 2019, names used throughout the series may only become more popular, but will they still hold up in a decade or two?
One parent took to the Nameberry forums for advice on using the middle name Daenerys, which happens to be the name of one of the main characters on the show. “I’ve loved this name since I first heard it on Game of Thrones,” the site member wrote, “It also works [perfectly] with the first name I have picked out. I don’t even mind the Game of Thrones connection.” Instead, her hangup was that the name had actually become too popular. Other GoT-inspired names, like Arya and Sansa, have also become more desirable as baby names in recent years.
Nevertheless, one commenter made the astute observation: “I would hope people would at least wait until the books are done before naming your daughter this. What if the character turns out horribly?” Eek.
Names fit for a president
If your family subscribes to the philosophy of not talking politics at the dinner table, you might have a hard time explaining why you choose a presidential middle name for your baby. While a president can serve for just two terms, your child’s name is intended to be permanent. Nevertheless, Nameberry revealed that presidential names were on the rise in the United States throughout 2018. Names like Reagan and Kennedy were already popular at the outset of the year, but the site predicted other presidential names — including older presidents like Jefferson and Lincoln — to become increasingly common.
Clinton, too, was thought to become a more mainstream choice and the name Barack might just follow suit. However, Nameberry speculated that Donald would “definitely not” increase in popularity. If you’re thinking of using a middle name to pay homage to a recent or current United States president, it’s important to remember that not all children grow up to adopt their parents’ political beliefs — regardless of their name.
Parents aren’t just using presidential surnames in 2019, Nameberry cofounder and baby name expert Pam Satran told Global News: “You’re not going to see people naming their babies Kanye but you will see West, not Abraham but Lincoln,” she explained. “This practice breaks down gender boundaries so you see the surnames of [Tom] Landry and [John] Lennon used predominantly for girls.”
If you choose a star-studded middle name for your newborn, though, it might just give off a certain vibe. Maryannna Korwitts, founder of thebabynamingexperience.com, told Parents, “I suspect that many who name their child after a celebrity are speaking to their own desire for optimal fame.” She continued, saying, “For instance, Mariah Carey has struggled a great deal during her career with her self-image, etc.” The expert speculated that by naming her daughter Monroe, she was demonstrating her veneration for the star. And, by choosing Monroe as opposed to Marilyn, Korwitts claimed that this further proves Carey’s need to “make a public statement with her children’s names.” Picking a celerity’s surname as your child’s middle name won’t be as obvious, but it could still raise some eyebrows.
Sometimes, a first and middle name can combine to make a witty pun. Actor Hugh Grant, for example, has the middle name Mungo. Well, technically he has two middle names, John and Mungo, but still. Aside from making the hilarious combination of Hugh Mungo, the star’s middle name is indeed a real name. It’s of Scottish origin and is a term of endearment meaning “my pet.” As of this writing, the name is even increasing in popularity. Whether people are pairing it with the first name Hugh, however, remains a mystery.
Parents took to the BabyCenter forums to discuss some of the funniest combinations they’d ever heard, which ranged from names like Justin Time to Heaven Lee. One user chimed in that she’d even heard of a pun that relied on the child’s first, middle, and last name: Crystal Shanda Leer.
As is the case with assigning your baby a middle name like Danger, you may end up realizing that you made your child the butt of a joke, thus coming to regret bestowing a punny name on them. Plus, a name like Crystal Shanda Leer might not work so well if she gets married and chooses her spouse’s surname.
"Default" middle names
What could possibly be wrong with the middle name Grace? Well, nothing, per say. However, it has become this generation’s Marie. According to data complied by the genealogy site MooseRoots (via Fox8), Grace became the second-most common middle name in the United States by 2010. It followed closely behind the ever-popular Marie, which has been one of the top middle names since the early 1900s. Yes, Marie has had a very, very long run. Statistically speaking, there’s a good chance your middle name is Marie. And your mom’s. And your grandma’s. And so on and so on.
Parents referred to these popular monikers as “default” middle names. And isn’t that what they are, really? “Are you really honoring Grandma,” urged the site, “or did you just run out of creative options?” Defaulting to an über popular middle name pretty much guarantees that your child will share a name with pretty much all of her classmates — a decision you, and she, might one day regret.
Not all trends are dictated by pop culture. Em-names have been popular for many years, but Nameberry experts (via Today) predict that the reign of Em is finally going to end in 2019. Unfortunately, Em-names also happen to flow nicely with many first names. From Emmy to Emma to Emily, these may have worked as a replacement for Grace, Marie, Ann, or any other “default” middle name.
That’s not to say you have to break up with Em-names in 2019 and beyond, but if parents and experts are sick of them already, it might just be a matter of time before you begin to feel that way too. And who wants to regret their child’s name, especially so soon after they’ve chosen it? So, even if you do love this particular letter combination, it’s probably in your best interest to put the Em-trend behind you, or else you’ll be embarrassed for continuing to embrace the trend — see what we did there? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Lion, Tiger, Bear, oh my
Ahead of 2019, Nameberry experts revealed what they dubbed the “wildest middle name trend” (via Today). And boy, is it really. Animalistic middle names are expected to become increasingly popular. Not only that, but the options are pretty much endless. The site provided the following names from which to choose: Bear, Falcon, Fox, Hawk, Koala, Lion, Lynx, Otter, Tiger, and Wolf. Hmm, these sure make simple names like Grace and Marie sound nice now, don’t they? At least you won’t have trouble explaining what your child’s middle name means.
As of March 2019, some of these names have already started taking off. Lion charged through 970 places since 2018 and the Australian marsupial-inspired name Koala has already surpassed 8,600 other names. And, with about a million more species in the animal kingdom, you won’t exactly run out of ideas for an animal-based middle name. Still, what sounds like a fun name in 2019 may not sound so awesome in ten years’ time.
The "coolest middle name of all time"
If you were a fan of the long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother, you might just be tempted to use the show for some baby naming inspo. While Robin or Marshall could make a great middle name for your little one, one episode provided a particularly hilarious gem of a middle name. What is it? Wait For It. Or, if you prefer, Waitforit.
In the season 7 episode “The Magician’s Code,” Barney got Marshall to the hospital just in time for his child’s birth. In exchange, the expecting father promised Barney he would use his classic catchphrase as a middle name. When Marshall broke the news to Lily, who was in labor, she exclaimed, “That is the coolest middle name of all time!” Soon afterward, the couple introduced their newborn son to their friends as “Marvin Wait For It Eriksen,” which prompted Ted to remark, “That is the coolest middle name of all time.” Is it? Is it, though?
Baby Girl or Baby Boy
In just one week, more than 45 million Netflix accounts watched Bird Box. According to the streaming service, it had the “best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film.” If you streamed the frightening flick, then you no doubt heard Sandra Bullock’s character call her children Girl and Boy numerous times. The video team at Cinema Blend speculated that “this is done to create a bit of emotional distance between her and them, avoiding getting too attached and potentially hurt.” Still, hit movies tend to spawn, or at least popularize, baby names — even strange ones.
According to Time, newborns are actually assigned the name “Babygirl” or “Babyboy” if parents don’t have a name at the ready. Some four million children across the United States were given this placeholder in 2012, so it’s not exactly uncommon. That said, you can actually choose to give your child the first name Baby and the Bird Box-inspired middle name Girl or Boy. But, should you? We’ll let your conscience be your guide.
Colorful baby names are on trend in 2019, and one in particular is proving to become not only a well-liked first name, but also a popular middle name. According to Nameberry (via Today), Gray, or its British cousin Grey, is well on its way to usurp the once popular color-inspired name, Blue. Gray/Grey may be trending now, but some moms and dads have long been questioning its longevity.
When one parent took to the BabyCenter forums to ask for feedback about using the middle name Gray for her child, others were quick to offer replies. “I don’t know what the heck is up with the ‘Gray for a girl middle name’ trend all of a sudden, but I don’t like it.” Another parent chimed in, “Gray is awful for a name, especially for a girl.” While some admitted they liked the name, there were definitely some strong feelings about using the muted hue as a middle name.
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