Should I give my baby a middle name?
June 5, 2016 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Just had a beautiful and healthy baby boy a bit earlier than expected, and my husband and I are still trying to decide IF we'd like to give him a middle name. Thoughts on if? (Followup extra credit question: if yes, then what?)

One day post-labor (omg, what an insane experience!), and the three of us are chilling happily at the hospital. :)

Baby's first name is Cyrus, and last name is from dad: two syllables, starts with B, ends with -skis. Dad is from an Eastern European country (not Poland, but the last name sounds Polish to American ears), and does not have a middle name, and was fine with that growing up & now. I'm American, with a single syllable non-common last name that doesn't sound like a first name (so not, like, Taylor). Baby will most likely grow up in the US - we're currently in the Bay Area with no plans to move.

Options on the table:
1) no middle name. Dad didn't have one growing up, doesn't really see the point. I have one, liked it as a kid, don't think about it much as an adult, am a bit worried about the kiddo feeling left out if we don't give him a middle name, but not too worried.
2) my last as a middle. Pro is that it's short, adds on a connection to mom. Con is that it definitely doesn't sound like a first name, more like a sound. Think... "Bah", although that's not it.
3) a middle name that incorporates my last name my tacking on a couple of letters and adding "-son" and is a real boy's name but somewhat uncommon name. Think something like "Jameson". Pros: it's a good name on its own, incorporates something from mom, works with first name pretty well. Cons: what about future kids, particularly daughters? (Theoretically I'd be open to all of them, even girls, getting this as a middle name, but maybe that'd be weird?)
4) Something else as a middle name???? We got to Cyrus as a first name pretty easily, but don't have many backup boy names, and don't want to use another one up in case we have another boy in the future. I'm open to offbeat middle names (like Trouble), but nothing seems to particularly stand out as the right middle name.

Did you grow up without a middle name, and wish you had one? Or were glad to not have one? Did you get Mom's last as a middle, and appreciate that? Thoughts in general?
posted by Jaclyn to Grab Bag (70 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My husband doesn't have a middle name. He's mostly okay with it except when it comes to email address: Incredibly common first name and incredible common last name = first name + last name + date of birth year email address. or first name + last name + 2 email address
posted by moiraine at 8:19 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Having a middle name gives your kid options later if they don't like their first name.

But I wanted to add that if you don't want a middle name but want a connection to mom, you can give your kid two surnames. (I.e. use mom's surname as a second or first surname). Lots of people have two surnames. So it would be


He can go by Mr. Jame B*skis/ Mr. B*skis Jame or Mr. Jame or Mr. B*skis.

You could obviously add a middle name to that if decide you want both a middle name and connection to mom.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love having a middle name, even though I don't love MY middle name. (Lynn) The only reason I don't really like it is because it seems like filler, although my name sounds nice and substantial. My family is Jewish, so both my first and middle names honor family members who are long gone. I think your idea to give your son your last name as his middle name is great. It doesn't matter if it doesn't sound like a first name at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

I (female) had my mom's last name as a middle name, as does my sibling. I've always liked it, except for a brief period from 9-10 years old when I wished I had something super girly like Rose, or Elizabeth. It was a standard sounding last name (think Smith).

So I'd vote Cyrus Bah Broski for this baby, and Edwina Bah Broski for the next. I like having a name connection to both my parents that I share with my sibling, without having a hyphenated name.
posted by mercredi at 8:21 AM on June 5, 2016 [19 favorites]

One of my brothers has my mother's family name as a middle name, and it in no way sounds like a "first" name. It absolutely works just fine and he is proud to carry it.
posted by miss patrish at 8:23 AM on June 5, 2016

If monogramming of stuff is too fusty and old-school a consideration to make, then ignore this, but just remember that you need three letters for the traditional monogram.
I am also pro middle name in general.
That said, my family has a tradition of using a grandmother's maiden name as a middle name for her grandchildren. It helps that they are some kick-ass names, but that can be another source of names if you don't care to use yours.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:24 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Grew up with a middle name I never cared for, and a unique enough first and last name that it's never required for identity. But I'm slightly annoyed when governments force me to write it down.

But, I'm having a hard time seeing an argument against #2. Growing up knowing your parents think mom's history is important is a good thing. (Even if it's only the history of mom's dad. . . it's still a message worth learning early.)
posted by eotvos at 8:24 AM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

A close friend of mine doesn't have a middle name, and I don't think he ever truly cared, but it seems like not having one was sometimes an inconvenience to him. Occasionally he'd get accused of lying on a form that asked for a full name, or he'd feel awkward if someone casually asked him what his middle name was.

Generally, if you're white and in a western country, it's gonna be a little weird to not have a middle name. Not life shattering or anything, but a little odd.

In my opinion the coolest middle names are the ones that are family member's names, my parents gave my brother an "heirloom name" as his middle name and I wish I had gotten that. It makes for a more interesting middle name than just something random.

Another good option would be to just hyphenate your two last names if you want to forgo a middle name but still want your kid to have 3 initials.
posted by InkDrinker at 8:29 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

We gave our kids two middle names: one is a regular first name, the other is my last name.
So something like:
Mary Elena Flourpotlastname Dadlastname
Benjamin Henry Flourpotlastname Dadslastname

Since "Flourpotlastname" is a second middle name, not part of the last name, in everyday use they are quite conveniently Mary Dadlastname and Benjamin Dadslastname. I'm happy we did this.
posted by flourpot at 8:31 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mother was "Anna" and decided to put Ann somewhere in all of her daughter's names. I like having that connection to my mother and my sisters, especially now that my mother has passed away. I think I would have liked even more having her last name as a middle name - even though it would be a very weird name in the US.

I knew someone who disliked his middle name and never used it. He was always fielding questions from corporations and the government about his middle name and middle initial and dealing with people telling him he had to use it. In this computerized world, there tend to be slots of middle initials. Having once had a hyphenated last name, I can tell you that it's a major pain to have to deal with a name that doesn't fit into data expectations (also, a surprising number of people don't know what a hyphen is and put down an apostrophe). On preview, the double surname could be a problem in that sort of way. I work in publishing, and people with double surnames have their names alphabetized incorrectly all the time. It's hard to find them in databases, and they have to write letters to us after they've been published to try to get their names corrected in international databases. When people search for their papers, they either have to search on several variations or some of the papers don't come up. This matters especially in a "publish or perish" career.

I knew one girl in school who didn't have a middle name. We thought it was a bit weird, but I it didn't seem like a big deal. I think the idea was that she would be able to use her last name as a middle name when she got married, but she ended up keeping her own name.

I vote your last name as a middle name.
posted by FencingGal at 8:32 AM on June 5, 2016

Another perspective: my parents didn't give me a middle name and let me choose when I was around 7-8.
posted by beyond_pink at 8:33 AM on June 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

Seconding "Grew up with a middle name I never cared for"

So my solution was… when I got married, I took my wife's very cool last name, simultaneously dropped my middle name, and now I have "...a unique enough first and last name that it's never required for identity."
posted by turbogeezer at 8:34 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

In HS I had a boyfriend without a middle name and I thought it was the weirdest thing ever; it made me wonder what his parents were thinking -- who doesn't have a middle name? Weird!

So there might be a little judgment here and there, especially when he's young...

I can't see any disadvantages. I am not a huge fan of my middle name but I like monogramming my tote bags and would be ticked if I couldn't do this with three letters. Silly, yes, but I can't see any disadvantages to a middle name, and I can't see any advantages to not having one.
posted by kmennie at 8:35 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! Now where's the babby pictures? They're required, you know.

Count me as another vote for option #2, your last name as Cyrus' (and any future kids') middle name. It's a classic usage, and a nice nod to his maternal side. Another option would be your mother's (Cyrus' maternal grandmother's) maiden name.

As for anecdata: my father had a middle name at birth, but dropped it when he became a US citizen --- special circumstances: his middle name was Adolf, it was 1943, dropping it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time..... Anyhow, he spent the rest of his life middle-nameless, and other than some government paperwork problems ("whaddya mean, ya don't got a middle name?!? EVVERbody's got a middle name!") it was fine.
posted by easily confused at 8:36 AM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Family-name-as-middle-name is common in the southern US. Don't do what my father did: give his first name as the middle name of all three sons. Although I am grateful, as the oldest, that he didn't name me [Dad], Jr.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:40 AM on June 5, 2016

I don't have a middle name, nor does my next sister. At various points in my childhood we made some up for ourselves, but they never stuck. As an adult I don't care, but I also have a pretty unusual first name and a very unusual last name (as it sounds like your son will have) so I don't need it for ID purposes. If I did have one, I would like it to be my mother's maiden name.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2016

I like the idea of your last name being used as a middle name for all of your children, regardless of sex at birth.

Plus, how are the kids gonna know you're super duper seriously mad if you don't give them middle names? I knew I had some serious explaining to do if my mom hollered "Candace Marie Lastname!!" up the stairs at me.
posted by cooker girl at 8:57 AM on June 5, 2016 [18 favorites]

Yeah, we went Untypical first name, wife's last name-my last name. Untypical first name has lots of flexibility though. It has always been shortened, but can be longer and more 'grown up' if needed. The shortened version isn't even all that 'kiddish,' but the option is there for him down the line.

I would only go with a real middle name if the first name and your last names were pretty common.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:02 AM on June 5, 2016

I (female) have pretty much that 'Buh' middle name, although mine is a homophone for a (usually male) first name. It's a family name, and I share it with my uncle, at least two cousins, and my son. I like and use it quite a bit. I can't really think of a downside. There was maybe five minutes where I didn't like it, but I've disliked pretty much everything for five minutes, so it wasn't a big deal.

My best friend does not have a middle name because her family is from China, and she wasn't too happy about it. She even made one up for a while. Her siblings all had Chinese names, and chose their own American names, leaving their original first names as middles. And they all ended up giving their kids middle names. So while that's a small, isolated sample group, it points to people sort of liking having that extra name around.

It also sometimes helps to have that extra identifier to distinguish yourself from other people with the same first and last.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:08 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I (male) have my mother's last name as a middle name. No, I don't 'use' it for anything, but it's part of my name and a connection to my mother and I'm glad to have it.

I have a younger brother, he doesn't have this middle name. I don't think he minds at all. My parents named him so that he has the same initials as my father, which he thinks is cool in a different way.

So, I vote your last name as a middle name. If your son doesn't like it, he can just ignore that he has a middle name. When you have another child, you can figure out if you want to make a tradition of it, but if you don't it's not going to scar your younger kids or anything.
posted by _Silky_ at 9:10 AM on June 5, 2016

#2 for sure. No downside, connects to mom's family, good stuff.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:11 AM on June 5, 2016

A classmate of mine was allowed to choose his own middle name when he was 5. He was standing next to the fabric softener and chose Snuggles. This is now part of his legal name. I don't recommend this (though my university classmate enjoyed it and we all called him Snuggles).

Have you considered connecting to the maternal family using the first/middle names of father, grandfather, etc. We have a family middle name that I would have passed down if I had a boy. I used my grandmother's name for my daughter.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd do it just for purposes of distinguishing him from whatever other Firstname Lastnames there are in the world. Even if that combo is relatively unusual, there will probably be someone else who shares it, and having a middle name will help keep his credit report, etc from getting confused with anyone else's. I think your last name as a middle name is a great way to go, and you could use that on any future kids as well so they all have something in common.
posted by MsMolly at 9:25 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like a family last name for a middle name. Mine is my maternal great-grandmother's maiden name. And I think it's easier on the kid to give them one. If only to avoid the "why don't you have a middle name?" conversation over and over throughout their lives.
posted by cecic at 9:28 AM on June 5, 2016

I like the idea of using your maiden name as a middle name. Go with that.

My brothers and I all have the same initials as my father, which was really cool growing up, made us feel like a team. I ended up with a completely made-up middle name, so I only use my middle initial, but I think of my dad every time I initial anything.

My three children ended up being MJB, MKB, and MLB (notice the j,k,l). I joke that I did that so that they would all feel planned. The middle child goes by her middle name. My children love having middle names and have always enjoyed it when I call out their full names. It makes them feel important, I think.
posted by myselfasme at 9:32 AM on June 5, 2016

I think giving a child a middle name is a good idea - most importantly, I think, because it gives him more options to choose from. I've known a few people who prefer to go by their middle name instead of their first.

There are naming traditions that don't use middle names - but I would venture that most kids in the US get a middle name, so, if Cyrus doesn't have one, he might feel left out or like you just didn't want to bother.

I had a friend in high school whose parents didn't give her a middle name because they figured she'd take her birth surname as a middle name when she married - but she wound up keeping her birth name when she got married! I don't think that argument holds water any more.

I think the idea of giving Cyrus your surname or a derivative as a middle name is great. If you don't want to do that, how about choosing another name or surname from your side of the family so he grows up feeling that connection? I have my (maternal) grandmother's name as a middle name and I like having that connection to her and her side of my family.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:39 AM on June 5, 2016

I have a middle name, and like it, although I rarely use it. If I ever finish/publish this book I'm working on I'd probably publish under my middle name.

If you go with option #3, and would like to do the same for any future kids, including daughters, you could follow the Scandinavian tradition and add "-dottir" to your last name. So while sons would have something like "Jameson," your daughters would have a name likes "Jamesdottir."
posted by lharmon at 9:55 AM on June 5, 2016

Just had a kid a couple of months ago and we ended up a family first name for his middle name. Since people don't really share their middle names publicly all that much, I like the idea of choosing a name that has meaning to you/your husband even if it doesn't entirely fit with the flow of Cyrus B**skies. Choose a hero of yours. The name of the town you spent your summer vacations at as a kid.

Or go for random suggestions that sound good: if you're going to be in the hospital for a couple of days after having Cyrus, I vote for asking every nurse who comes in the door what s/he thinks. You'll be seeing a lot of hospital staff, maybe one of them has a really great suggestion for a middle name.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:56 AM on June 5, 2016

(-dottir is exclusively an Icelandic tradition, not a Scandinavian one as Iceland is not part of Scandinavia. I don't know how comfortable I would be using that naming tradition even if I'm Nordic - or maybe because I'm Nordic, I wouldn't feel comfortable?)

Also, I don't have a middle name and I've always wanted to have one.
posted by kariebookish at 10:03 AM on June 5, 2016

If being really weird is on the table, you could write a secret message to your child, then make their middle name the md5 hash of the message.

Cyrus 7010d78a55ca40886a6f15d810546418 B...skis (Cyrus 7 B...skis for short)

"Your middle name is 7?"
"No, actually that's short for 7010d78a55ca40886a6f15d810546418."
posted by ctmf at 10:07 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I never had a middle name and in half century of use it has never given me any bother. I have several friends from Eastern Europe though that follow the tradition of adding "ova" to the last name (or in your case, your last name used as a middle name) for females, so that is one option if you add "son" for the boy and later have a girl.
posted by saucysault at 10:12 AM on June 5, 2016

To answer the primary question (sort of): I have a middle name and I don't like it. I don't like it, I don't like any of the common 'short names' for it, I've never used it and likely never will. It makes me unhappy to be reminded of it when I have to sign my "full name" for legal documents, because it feels like "firstname lastname" is more "who I am" than "firstname middlename lastname." I'd be happier going without.
posted by ctmf at 10:12 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

At any point in the name-picking process, was there a name you really liked but couldn't imagine on a real-world kid? Like, names more suited to fantasy novel characters or common words/last names/place names that don't quite sound first-namey? Those make excellent middle names.

Otherwise, all of your middle name options sound good. Other options could be Dad's first name or the first name of one of his grandfathers/uncles.

I don't love my middle name, but I like that it's there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:27 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go with a middle name, but if you aren't wild about your maiden surname then mine your family tree for other options. My middle name was my maternal grandmother's middle name. Look at your father and grandfather's first names and middle names, or grandmothers' surnames, or male versions of your mother or grandmother's first/middle names, etc.

Don't worry about what you'll name future kids, just name the one that you have now. We used completely different naming conventions for our two kids that are each special to us in their own ways; if the kids are pissed off about being named for different people in different ways when they are older... oh well, thems the breaks.
posted by gatorae at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2016

My middle name is my mother's maiden name; it doesn't sound at all like a first name. As a kid, I wished I had a "normal" middle name like Anne, but as an adult, I really like that connection to my mom and her family.
posted by epj at 10:46 AM on June 5, 2016

It used to be common to give the mother's maiden name as the first son's given name, for example, Susannah Featherston married Burrell Wells and their first son had the awesome name of Featherston Wells.

I agree with epj that this is an opportunity to have a nice familial connection. If using your maiden name isn't an option, what about other names from your family tree?
posted by mulcahy at 10:56 AM on June 5, 2016

I had a middle name *and* a hyphenated last name, and then I got married and moved part of that last name to the middle, then added my husband's name to the hyphen, for a grand total of five names. I love it. I want to hoard names like British kings. So I guess what I am saying is, why not have a million names? There is no downside!
posted by dame at 11:14 AM on June 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

He doesn't need one. If this was a John Smith, he'd need a couple of middle initials to distinguish him from other John Smiths, but Cyrus B...skis will be one of a kind.
posted by zadcat at 11:23 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

While he does not technically need a middle name, in this day and age (post 9-11, and in the identity theft era) and in this country it is kind of expected that he will have one, even if it never gets used, and it can be kind of a pain to fill out forms if he doesn't.

You really can't go wrong with honoring relatives up the family trees for a middle name, either by using a last name of yours or a relative's as a middle name, or by using some other name as a middle name. Mr. gudrun, the eldest, has his mother's maiden name as a middle name. The second son has his father's first name as a middle name. My father was named after a great great grandfather, with the first name as his first name and the last name as his middle name. Girls in our family tend to get middle names honoring female relatives, somewhat randomly going back up the family tree (though my middle name is my maternal aunt's first name, and my niece's middle name is my first name, i.e. also her maternal aunt). My mother-in-law did not have a middle name, but when she got married she found it enough of a pain not to have one that she just started using her maiden name as a middle name.

With all that said, middle names can be unique, and an archaeologist I know gave his sons the middles names of Clovis and Folsom.
posted by gudrun at 11:53 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've got my mother's last name as my middle name, and it's worked out great for me.
posted by JiBB at 12:13 PM on June 5, 2016

My middle name comes from my grandfather and I have always identified with it way more than my last name. So I vote yes to giving a middle name that has meaning behind it. You can't go wrong paying tribute to someone who is special to you.
posted by Blissful at 12:18 PM on June 5, 2016

Congratulations! Having a middle name is our convention and might be confusing for bureaucratic and social reasons without it.

I wouldn't worry that your last name doesn't sound like a first name. I say use that. Lots of people have middle names that are traditionally last names. It's very common.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:58 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

As someone whose parents gave him names that were essentially picked from a baby name book, mother's maiden name is a totally good option that includes familial continuity and meaning.

However, the best middle name to choose when the parents are in doubt is "Danger."
posted by rhizome at 1:03 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes to having a middle name, any middle name! My mom has a hyphenated first name and no middle name and it's been nothing but a bureaucratic nightmare her entire life.
posted by jesourie at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have known at least one person who has acquired a nickname of "Just X" because when they were asked "What's your middle name?", replied, "Nothing, I'm just X". Avoiding that is probably a good enough reason to provide a middle name.
posted by Jabberwocky at 1:13 PM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Slightly surprised by the number of, frankly rude, responses to people without middle names!

I don't have one, nor does my sister - we have reasonably unusual first names and fairly uncommon surname (google either of us and we are there on the first page); I've never had a negative reaction to the absence of a middle name - but we are in the UK, where the John K Smith or John K Smith Jr naming conventions are less common (people have middle names, but don't use them socommonly, especially in the inital form.).

I love not having one; my mum's rationale was simple - her kids would spend less of their life filing in forms. I've never, ever, had a problem with any form, hardcopy or online, because I don't have one. Unless you actively want your baby to have another name, or there's some pressing family reason to add one, they'll do fine without.
posted by AFII at 1:53 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Names can resonate.

My parents gave me a middle, someone who was close to them when I was born. Mom told me stories about him. It's cool. I gave my son a middle name, the first name of one of my uncles. I told him stories about his Great Uncle T.
posted by mule98J at 1:54 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

We gave our kids two middle names

Speaking as somebody with two middle names, I advise against giving more than one middle name, absent a specific reason to do so. (There was a specific reason to do so in my case; I don't blame my parents for this.) It is a royal pain in this age of standardized forms.

(At one point, I'd succeeded in keeping both off of just about all my official documentation, including IDs in three successive states, but then a DMV worker in the fourth insisted on including one [and only one; nobody ever has an option for including both], and now everything's a mess again.)

As regards whether to have one middle name or none, I am agnostic.
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:04 PM on June 5, 2016

My experience:

1. I changed my last name because I didn't like the one I was born with. But I kept both my middle name and my original last name as middle names (so now I have two) and appended a made-up last name. I like this, because having my original (Dad's) last name in the middle connects me with my parents (Mom took Dad's last name, so they share it). I like having two middle names.

2. When my daughter was born, she took my last name (the one I made up) and we gave her her father's last name as a middle name. This is super convenient legally, for, e.g., crossing borders with him but not me. It shows that he is her father, not some creepster taking her to Canada for illegal purposes.

3. That said, she hates having his last name as her middle name, as it is also a man's first name, and a clunky one at that. She is also really angry at him for having cheated on me and left the family, so now she's thinking of changing her middle name. She's pondering changing it to my parents' last name, so she and I would share one middle name and my last name, and her father would be kicked out entirely.

In conclusion: it's so incredibly family-specific that you and your husband will have many things to ponder. The legal advantages have been even more important since the divorce, so there's that. The emotional baggage of carrying his last name with her may fade over time. Or not.
posted by Capri at 2:26 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are exactly three situations in which my middle name has come up in my life:

- My great grandmother who insisted on calling me [firstname] [middle name] my entire life, because despite being a girl I shared my first name with my uncle and she like to differentiate us/make mine sound more feminine.
- Usernames that use initials
- School role playing that require fake names where they say "take your middle name for your first name and the name of your street for your last name." (This plan didn't account for the high percentage of kids from wealthy families so you ended up with lots of weird blue-blood surnames as first names in this exercise)

I've never been particularly fond of my middle name, never used it, usually can't remember how to spell it (it has two common spellings), and my life would not be in any way different if I did not have a middle name, except that my great grandmother would have had to come up with some other option. I really don't think it matters unless you decide it matters.

Our daughter's middle name we picked just because we liked the flow of it with her first name, and the diminutives of both together make for a cute nickname. No rhyme or reason is needed when it comes to middle names, or the lack thereof.
posted by olinerd at 4:04 PM on June 5, 2016

I have a friend who I met in college who had a multi word sort of crazy middle name, and I always loved it. When I had my girls I took the opportunity to give them middle names that I loved and symbolized something to me, they each have one of their grandmother's names, and they both have the name of a different flower. I knew from my friend that they wouldn't need to use their middle names on official documents- and we didn't include them on their social security cards or their passports- they are more special secret names that they can choose to share or not. They both love all of their names.
posted by momochan at 4:11 PM on June 5, 2016

I like having a middle name. As a writer, I wish my initials and middle name were just a bit better, though. "PN North" wouldn't sound great on a book cover, nor would "P. Nicole North," if I ever needed a related pen name for, say, books in a slightly different genre (this is actually a thing; see writer Victoria Schwab, who writes as VE Schwab for her adult scifi titles).

I generally think you can't go wrong with coming up with a name that would look great on a book cover in all permutations.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:23 PM on June 5, 2016

Email addresses at work or school sometimes/often use your three initials. If you don't have a middle name, you get an X, they can't handle "". That's annoying. But not the end of the world. In a business, because of the email thing, they often use your initials for all sorts of things, including casual references like "Can you believe what ABC said in that meeting???". Initials go on the bottoms of letters. Also, having an initial just looks more official for certain situations. "John A. Smith, Attorney at Law" sounds a little more official/sophisticated than "John Smith, Attorney at Law". Or, "Chief Justice John A. Smith". (Hey, you never know!) Just a couple small considerations in favor of SOME sort of middle name.
posted by bluesky78987 at 4:48 PM on June 5, 2016

Nthing everyone else saying middle names don't have to sound like first names/given names. I have a given name as my middle name; my brother has a surname from our family tree as his.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 4:56 PM on June 5, 2016

One of my best friends in highschool had her mom's last name as her middle name, and it was nothing like a first name. In fact, it was Benders, which is a pretty hilarious middle name. I liked it though, and so did she.

A practical benefit to a middle name, is that almost all forms ask for one. As someone who has recently moved to a hyphenated last name, everything that isn't 100% standard normcore is kind of a pain for the bureaucracy of your whole life. I'd give a kid a middle name just so they don't have to explain that they don't have one and have internet forms refuse to accept answers because something they don't have is required.
posted by euphoria066 at 5:20 PM on June 5, 2016

My father did not have a middle name, and it was a mild irritant to him all his life (87 years). Particularly when official paperwork insisted on listing him as Fred Nmn Duncan. And they did, over and over.
Yes: NoMiddleName
posted by kestralwing at 6:39 PM on June 5, 2016

My father doesn't have a middle name.

It can be one of those weird-cool things. Jenna has a pet snake, Cyrus doesn't have a middle name, Avery had six toes.
posted by meemzi at 10:00 PM on June 5, 2016

Firstly, congratulations on the new addition to your family!

To answer your question, either (2) or (3) sound good.

(2) is not uncommon in some places in the US. It's also, I believe, the standard spanish / hispanic approach to names. If you're not double-barreling, then this is a really nice way of connecting your son to both sides of his family.

If you go with (3), is there a way you could easily make the name male or female? (i.e. other than sticking "dottir" on the end instead of "son", Icelandic-style) I don't know where your husband's family is from - the example I'd give are the tennis player siblings Marat Safin and Dinara Safina - is there a similar approach to surnames (or even first names) where his family is from? There may be a way of applying that to your surname too? Feel free to improvise...

(I have a middle name that I don't use. Ever. It's my maternal grandmother's name, and it was very much of its time, and is not one of the names from that time that has been resurrected and become cool. It's not Gertrude, but it's the same level of uncool. But it's win win. I don't have to use it, except on official paperwork (and that just helps to identify me as me). And it connects me to a woman that I didn't have the chance to really get to know, but who contributed to making me who I am today. So I'm glad it's part of my name.)
posted by finding.perdita at 1:03 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Definitely put a middle name. My mom's never had one and it just seems...weird. Plus I don't know how may B-ski's are where you live, but it never hurts to have another distinguisher in the mix.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:40 AM on June 6, 2016

I'd advise a middle name, because in the age of the Internet, there are probably more Cyrus B*skis out there than you might think! My surname is not very common, yet there are several other people out there who share my first and last names. My middle name differentiates me from them.

My dad chose my middle name; it's the name of a childhood friend of his who died young.
posted by brianogilvie at 5:48 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

A middle name is nice because you can use it a few different ways: as a first name if you prefer it to your given name; as an initial to seem more professional or grown up; or as a sort of secret that only those closest to you get to know.
posted by soelo at 7:45 AM on June 6, 2016

My middle name is my mother's last name. Her last name is very rare and doesn't sound like a first name, but my college roommates saw it on a piece of mail, thought it was cool, and fast forward 15 years and half my friends call me it. I love it!

Plus, even before then, I liked having maternal representation in my name.
posted by benbenson at 7:48 AM on June 6, 2016

Having, or giving, a middle name is a good way to honor a special family member or dear friend. I had a middle name growing up, and that's all it was, a name. It wasn't until I was almost 30 that I learned that it was my paternal grandmother's maiden name. Knowing that made it much more special to me. I'd never met her, but in learning about her I grew to love the person she was. I just wish I'd known the reason for my middle name as soon as I was able to comprehend and appreciate it. I would have 'honored' it and enjoyed it more than I ever did... But, that was because my parents were very "old-school" and rarely if NEVER discussed anything of any true sentimental value. I've learned more about my family since the passing of my parents than I ever knew while they were alive, and that's just sad. But, I digress.... Yes. Give your child a middle name and when the time is right, tell them why you chose it.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I didn't have a middle name when I was a kid, and I liked being unusual in that way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2016

I love having a middle name that is a family name (in my case the first name of two different relatives, one from each side of the family -- just happened that they both had the same name, so I got named after both of them!). I love the idea of using your maiden name or some other connection to your side of the family.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:52 AM on June 6, 2016

What happens when you google Cyrus's full name? Are there any/many others with his name? He may want to use a middle name or initial to distinguish himself when he's older, if so. I have a very common name so I use my middle initial and/or middle name professionally to distinguish myself from others with my name.

My middle name isn't terribly modern and I don't think I'd ever go by it but it's a family name and I really love it as a middle name because of that. I definitely vote for your surname or the a name of someone you'd like to honor.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:51 AM on June 6, 2016

I legally changed my first name many years ago (was nicknamed Missy at birth, and never used the official "Michelle") and at the same time, I dropped my middle name, which for me was a useless chunk of dead weight that I never felt any connection to whatsoever. In the resulting 20 middle-name-free years, I've only had a couple of instances where a form required me to put something in that field, so I always just use the letter X.

I dated a guy once whose middle name was just the letter J. His parents wanted to give him the freedom to choose whatever J-starting name he wanted. By the time I knew him (early 20s) he was so used to it just being J, that was the name he chose to go by. (But boy, did he pitch a fit if you spelled it "Jay.")
posted by themissy at 9:05 AM on June 7, 2016

Thanks all for the input and personal experiences. We went with mom's last name as a middle. No best answers because everyone was great - and I have a sleeping three-day-old on me. :)
posted by Jaclyn at 8:49 AM on June 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

We still need those baby pictures.....
posted by easily confused at 5:21 AM on June 9, 2016

Have we forgotten the fellow with no middle or first names? He had only letters (J and B). When he filled out forms he had to write "J (only) B (only) Jones. I have only inititials."

Of course, when he joined the Army he was called Jonely Bonely Jones.
posted by mule98J at 7:34 AM on July 6, 2016

« Older Negotiating Salary at a New Business   |   Identify this Plant Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.