How to choose a middle name

Some parents have so much trouble agreeing on a first name that they don’t give the middle name much thought until it’s time to fill out the baby’s birth certificate. 

However, it can be a lot of pressure and stress to choose the “perfect” name for a baby you haven’t met yet, so brainstorming the middle name may be an easier place to start. 

Whether you have an idea of what you want the baby’s middle name to be, or you’re just looking for some good options that will flow with the majority of first names, you’re in the right place! 

If you want your baby to have a middle name that is unique and sentimental to you and your partner, there are a few strategies you can use to select the right one. 

In this post, we’re sharing a few recommendations on how to choose a name with the intention that both parents are happy with and feel connected to. 

Keep reading for all the middle name ideas you’ll need to properly name your baby! 

How to Pick a Meaningful Middle Name

If you are sentimental about naming your baby and want to use their name as an opportunity to honor your family, heritage, an important life experience, or memory, here are a few ways you can do so. 

Choose a Family Name

If you want to pay homage to a branch of your family tree, using a family name is an easy and honorable way to do so.

Whether that means using Mom’s maiden name as the middle name or a grandparent’s first name as the middle name, there are so many ways you can honor family through your child’s middle name. 

For example, if the baby’s paternal grandfather is named Thomas, the baby can take this as his middle name.  You can also get creative here. If you are having a girl, consider Thomasina or Tamsin, which are both feminine forms of Thomas.

Or if the mother’s maiden name is Broderick, the baby can take Broderick or Brody as their middle name, to carry on the mother’s family name. 

Family members are often vocal about their opinion of what you should or shouldn’t name your child. If you honor the family in the process, they will likely have less to say and will be supportive of the name because it includes them. 

Use a First Name Runner-Up 

If you and your partner had trouble deciding between several names for the baby’s first name, you can use a runner-up as the middle name. 

This often works out and the names flow together nicely. 

Be cautious of using names that are repetitive or that end with the same sound, as they may be harder to pronounce when your child learns to say their full name. Avoid tongue twisters if you can! 

For example, if you love the first name Lena for your daughter, avoid middle names that sound the same, like Adena or Sheena. 

Did you not select a certain first name because it was a on the wild side, had an unusual spelling, or was uncommon? This could make a great middle name!

Honor a Special Memory or Location 

If you and your partner share a special location or memory (a place you love to travel to, the location where you met, or a significant place in your family), you can incorporate these into your baby’s middle name.

For example, if you got married in Austin, Texas, you could use Austin as your baby’s middle name. Or say you met your partner during the month of April, your baby could take April as a middle name. 

There are so many ways to make a middle name special; including a sentimental location or memory is a creative way to honor your relationship and welcome your baby into the family. 

Consider the Meaning of the Name

You can Google almost any name and find its meaning and origin. That’s the beauty of the internet! 

If you want to give your daughter a name that symbolizes beauty and joy, Grace is a popular choice. 

To symbolize your son’s strength and bravery, Andrew, Ethan, and Liam are great representations of power. 

For gender-neutral names that symbolize a blessing or miracle, opt for Jesse, Bennett, or Asher.

Names with symbolic meaning can be inspirational throughout a person’s life. When your child becomes a teenager or young adult and faces adversity, their name can serve as a reminder of the positive attributes their parents wanted them to have.  

Many people draw strength and purpose from the names they are given, so keep this in mind as you choose a symbolic or significant name. 

Find names with specific meanings

Here are some of our top posts on names with special meanings

Or use a website like Behind the Name to research name meanings

Middle Name Ideas

If you don’t want to overthink your baby’s middle name and would rather choose from a list of popular names from the last few years, you’re in the right place. 

The process of choosing a name can be overwhelming and stressful for many parents. Having a list of middle names to choose from often makes the experience easier and more enjoyable.

Here are the most popular middle names in the last ten years, and their symbolic meanings and origins.

Popular Middle Names for Girls: 

  • Marie: from the name Mary, meaning star of the sea 
  • Grace: meanings include charm, goodness, generosity, beauty
  • Rose: can be traced back to the Old English meaning famous type
  • Ann: from the name Anna. Meaning: favor, grace
  • Elizabeth: of Hebrew origin, its biblical meaning is God is my oath
  • Faith: meaning complete trust or devotion
  • Mae: various meanings include: wished-for child, warmth, mother
  • Lynn: of Welsh origin, meaning lake
  • Renee: of French origin, meaning reborn 
  • Jane: of English origin, meaning God is gracious

You might also enjoy reading through unique girl names.

Popular Middle Names for Boys: 

  • James: a timeless and gender-neutral name, meaning supplanter 
  • Lee: of English origin, meaning clearing or meadow
  • Michael: of Hebrew origin, meaning gift from God
  • Joseph: a biblical name, meaning “he will add”
  • Alexander: of Latin roots, meaning defender of men 
  • David: a biblical name, meaning beloved 
  • William: of English origin, meaning strong-willed warrior 
  • Andrew: of Greek origin, meaning strong and manly 
  • Matthew: of Hebrew origin, meaning gift of god
  • Robert: of German origin, meaning bright fame

Related posts: Rare and unique boy names and exotic short boy names

How to pick a middle name that flows

Choosing a middle name that flows well with the first name is the easiest way to narrow down a list of name ideas and find the best choice for your baby.

Speak the Name Out Loud

The most effective way to determine if a name flows is by saying it out loud before you commit and start announcing the name to family and friends.  

If the name sounds melodious, flows well, and you both like the sound, go for it! 

Naming experts recommend avoiding using a similar-sounding consonant at the end of the first name and beginning of the middle name. 

By that recommendation, you’d avoid a name like Katrina Ann or Mary Emily because the two names flow into each other when spoken out loud. 

Consider Using a Nickname

If you like the idea of using a nickname for your child, consider the initials that would make up their monogram. 

If your son’s first name will be Ryan, a middle name like Joseph or Jeffrey would be the perfect combination for the adorable nickname “RJ”.

Don’t Over-Complicate It

Like so many other things about having a baby, simplicity is often the best route. 

If you have a first and middle name combination that is special to you, by all means, that’s the name you should choose. 

These are merely suggestions and guidelines to follow; they are certainly not rules you must abide by. 

Your baby will feel more connected and appreciative towards a name that their parents both loved and chose together versus a name that society deems most popular or suitable.

How many middle names can my child have?

The number of middle names your child has is entirely up to you and your partner. Middle names are totally optional on a birth certificate, so don’t stress if you can’t come up with one that you both love. 

Using two middle names is common practice, particularly in the UK, and can also be a convenient way to compromise if both parents can’t agree on one name.

If you are contemplating giving your child multiple middle names, be sure to take into account all the forms and paperwork they will fill out in their lives… sometimes less is more.

Don’t overcomplicate your baby’s given name just for the sake of doing so.

Related post: Have you said “I can’t find a baby name I like?” Find more ideas here!

More resources for choosing a middle name

Here are just a few of the posts on My Mom’s a Nerd for choosing middle names!


how to choose a middle name infographic

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on how to choose a middle name! Naming your baby may seem like a stressful or daunting task, but try to enjoy the process of finding the perfect name. Laugh about the silly ones, cringe over the bad ones, and imagine your future child in the world with whatever name you think is right for them. 

There’s no wrong choice; whatever you choose will be the perfect fit. And the good news is: you have 9 months to test it out before you have to decide! 

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