Naming a baby is tough—naming a baby boy is tougher. Once a first name is settled upon, which can months upon months in and of itself, parents still have to decide on a middle name for their child. There are some strategies out there can help narrow down the choices, and employing these strategies, we have made a list of 20 perfect middle names.
First off, what are the things to look at when considering a middle name? Parents will want to consider how it sounds sandwiched between the first and last names that you have chosen; a middle should tie them all together. For example, if a strong name like Alexander has been chosen as his first, something soft and subtle should be placed next to balance out of the length and hardness.
Second, just because it is a middle name does not mean that it should be chosen lightly. Take time and make every portion of the name count. Often middle names are throw backs to family members past or friends lost. To help further this journey and get perspective parents on their way, start by browsing the following gorgeous names and see if any jump out or inspire.
Aiden is of Irish origin and means “little and fiery”. Aiden is very popular (#9 in 2017) as a first name and is beginning to ascend in popuarity when used as a middle.
Almost every woman swoons over the name Aiden; it soft, light and yet meaningful. Also, if you have ever watched “Sex and the City” you will feel a certain pull to this one. (I mean come on; Aiden was the best character on that show. We all deserve an Aiden. Sigh.)
Aiden makes an astounding middle name because of its vowel content; there are very few names that do not pair well with it. If you have chosen a really strong first name and your last is equally as strident, this would be a good choice for you.
Ari comes from the name Ariel which in Hebrew means “lion of God”. Many parents dislike the full version of the name because in the United States, Ariel is usually a name for a female. (Thanks a lot, “Little Mermaid”.) Its meaning is strong and significant and yet the name itself rolls off of the tongue. It another one of those names that works well sandwiched between two big, longer ones.
There are famous Ari’s of our time—press Secretary Ari Fleischer under President George W. Bush (who, fun fact, is now a media consultant for the NFL!). Also Ari Emanuel, who is rumored to be the inspiration for the “Entourage” character of Ari Gold. “Entourage” fans loved to hate Ari Gold for seven seasons and one feature length film.
Bay is of Latin origin and it means “berry”. Most of us know if for its use as a modern descriptor for a body of water, which is something nice to think of when you are saying someone’s name.
Bay is a sweet choice for a boy’s middle name because it is unique but also really trendy. Today’s parents love to use common words that signify objects or places that we know but have never heard them used as names before.
(Also, for any Beyonce fans out there, it is a slight nod. Her biggest fans are referred to as the “Bey Hive” and her nickname is “Bey”, spelled differently, of course. But what a cool way to pay tribute to one of music’s biggest superstars in classy, understate sort of way!)
The name Beck is of English origin and it means “one living beside a small stream”. Most of who grew up in the 1990’s are reminded of the musician Beck Hansen, known simply as “Beck”, who rose to fame with his experimental style of soul, hip hop, country, and rock. His song “Loser” set the stage for a decade’s worth of performers and Beck is a legend in his own right. We will all bow down to a parent who gives this name to their child.
This middle name is trendy among hipsters and music junkies alike. For many parents whose son’s first name is a family name, they use a strong middle one like Beck and will actually refer to him by his middle name to signify the difference of him from his father, grandfather, etc.
Birch calls to mind the tree it is named after; a white barked, tall sapling that stands vivid among the landscape. Parents who want their child’s name to give a visual image tend to choose names like Birch that bring people to a certain image. It also helps people remember a person if they have an intense association with a name and Birch will definitely stick in people’s minds.
Birch is a great middle name for parents who have chosen a traditional first name but want their son’s entire name to stand out. For example, many people who choose a family name like John will give their child a middle name such as Birch to create a trendy, unique combination. I love the idea of mixing conventional and progressive names together!
Parents these days are loving the shortened form of more traditional names and Chan is no exception. Chan is short for “Channing”, which means “people of Cana or wolf cub”. I am fairly sure that every woman who hears this name is probably thinking about People Magazine’s Sexiest Man, Channing Tatum, who danced his way into our hearts and has never left.
Chan’s strong, concise sound pairs really well with soft first and last names. If you are looking for a slightly exotic but solid middle name for your son, than this is a great choice for you! It is currently trending with millennial parents who want to set their children apart from the crowd with a name that invokes strength and masculinity. (And the association with Channing Tatum ain’t hurting, either!)
Dane is a fabulous name that most of us have forgotten about. According to Nameberry, “Dane has been on the US Top 1000 for more than seventy years, having entered the list in 1945, but it's been on a downward slide for the last decade. It reached its lowest point since it first entered the list in 2016, at Number 699.”
But worry not. Parents are starting to bring Dane back in a big way and using it as a middle name is one such route. It is a nice way to pay tribute to a name that is classic in popularity but has become understated in recent years. Plus—it is easy to spell and easy to pronounce!
(Fun fact: actress January Jones used this as a middle name for her son, Xander Dane.)
You may have heard of the name Dax from the famous Dax Shepard—whom I adore, by the way. He is super funny, hot, and has married everyone’s favorite “Frozen” actress, Kristen Bell. It is also the name of one of the Power Rangers—a throwback to any parents out there who grew in the 1990’s.
Dax works delightfully well for a middle name to spice things up. It is sharp, it is unusual sounding and it is distinct—probably why it is trending right now for modern day parents.
Dax is rising in popularity in the United States, but there is one hilarious thing to note: it will probably not gain as much attention for you Australians out there because it sounds much like word “dacks”, which refers to male underwear.
Dune pulls its meaning from nature; its literal definition is “a mound or ridge of sand or other loose sediment formed by the wind, especially on the sea coast or in a desert.” This name is trending in the extreme sports community, as many train on the sand dunes in preparation for major events.
Dune is also huge in the old-school gamer community, as it is one of the classic strategy games of the 1990’s and is called the same. There were not many male children that made it out of that decade without playing this computer simulated video game.
Dune is a great middle name because it pays tribute to days of yore while also adding a little intrigue. It is unusual without being too out there which is probably why is climbing the charts.
Flynn is a beautiful Irish name that means “son of the red-haired one”. Don’t fret, even if red hair does not run in your family, this is a great name for you and yours. Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom named their son Flynn, which only helped to catapult this name’s popularity (and both of them are dark haired, just for the record).
For those of you who have older children as well, this name might also sound familiar because of Disney’s movie “Tangled”, which stars the character of Flynn Rider as Rapunzel’s love interest.
Flynn is a wonderful middle name because of its soft syllables and easy pronunciation. It would go well with either a first name or a last name that started with a vowel to make the others really pop.
Many parents have considered using Gray as a first name, but it is starting to trend as a middle name as well. I like it because of its simplicity; it is short and is a word we have all heard before and yet it really kicks it up when placed between the right first and a last name.
Gray originates from “Grayson”, which means “the son of the bailiff”. While its meaning may not be something you want to discuss over drinks with your friends, the coolness of the name needs no history and no introduction. The beauty of a middle name is that it is supposed to elevate the other two; and Gray does just that. It adds some spice while maintaining a dignified, strong stance syllabically.
I wish I had thought about this one for my own sons!
Ah, the classic. I am not sure if you can get any more timeless with a name than James. It has been the name of kings, castle, actors, musicians, explorers, and astronauts. When you give this middle name to your son, you are bestowing on him the history that goes along with it—the countless other men who have held this name.
James is the English version of “Jacob”, which is Hebrew and means “supplanter”. “Supplanter” has various definitions throughout languages, but in Hebrew from which this name is derived it refers to the government, or people who rule a country.
If you want to choose a unique first name, James is a great name to pair with it to give it some relevance and throw back to the past.
Jude comes from Latin and is a derivative of “Judah”, meaning “praised”. It has risen in popularity as both a first and a middle name. There are many famous Jude’s, including Saint Jude and Jude Law. There is even a song with Jude in the title—a little diddy from a songwriter duo you may have heard of by the name of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. (I love throwbacks to music in names, and this one is a classic!)
I may be a little biased since this is my son’s middle name, but I think it is absolutely beautiful. My son’s first name has the harsh sound of an “x”, and I was looking for something that would mellow that out. Clearly, I found that in Jude, as have many other modern parents.
Hayes has everything that a boy’s middle name should—it is solid, masculine, and it is easy to pronounce. It goes well with almost anything because of the soft vowel sounds, so this a great find for parents who have picked a first name that is unusual or have a last name with harsh consonants.
Hayes is of English origin and means “hedged area”. It is climbing the popularity charts as both a first and middle name, especially among millennial parents. I think that there is something really classic sounding about this name but I also love that it is distinct; there are not Hayes in every kindergarten class (yet). Pick this name up and put it to good use. Pair it with basically any first or last name to complete your son’s title.
Knox started rising in popularity as a first name after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their youngest son this. We seem to like boy names that have an “x” sound as of late, so this one makes sense. I love hearing middles names that make you think, “Wow that’s really original!” and Knox really does that for me. It is trending among young parents but I have yet to meet anyone in my kids’ age ranges who have this as a middle name.
Knox is of Scottish heritage and it means “round hill”—exciting right? For the Jolie-Pitt’s it had familial value, as it appeared way back in Pitt’s heritage. I like because it has that short syllabic kick that can really make a soft first or last name come to life.
Paz is from Hebrew and means “peace”. Origin-wise, I think it is a powerful message to bestow on a child, especially a son—to bless him with a noble notion like “peace”. Purely from a linguistic stand, it sounds both masculine and soft at the same time, which I think is intriguing.
Paz would work as a middle name really well with a classic, two-syllabled, soft first name like Edward, Elliot, Issac, or Andrew.
Historically, there was a Spanish poet and diplomat named Octavio Paz who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in the 1990’s. If any parents out there are writers and want to do a subtle shout out to an amazing poet, this could be a neat way for you to do so. Plus, it would make a great story.
Pine is another one of those trending names that really takes you to a place—for me it was growing up in the foothills of California, surrounded by pine trees. For those of who have a connection to beauty of pine forests, you will find this middle name especially appealing.
I think Pine is growing in popularity because parents are trying out new versions of names that we have all come to love, like Juniper and Elm. This is a great addition as a middle name if your son’s first name is really strong and fierce, and you are looking for something to bring it down a notch; something to soften it up.
Pine would pair well with first and last names that start with vowels like Albert, Edward, Abraham, Adrian, Abel etc.
I am sure the first thing that pops into most our minds when we hear this name is the famous American writer Edger Allen Poe—and who can blame us! The guy was an influential author who wrote science fiction before the genre even really existed. For parents who are fans of either his work or just literature in general, this is an excellent choice for you.
The use of it as a middle name is trending right now with new parents. I love a middle name that holds real significance and Poe just screams LITERARY HISTORY to me. I also think it is a great way to expose your children early to older works of fiction; a way to open the door to them getting into books and poetry.
Reed is trending right as a middle name right now and it should come as no surprise. The name holds many qualities that parents are looking for: it is easy to spell, easy to pronounce, distinctive, and also goes with a variety of first and last names.
If you are looking for something that is simple and timeless, than this is a great choice for a middle name. It will give your son a distinctive but trendy name piece.
Reed is originated from English and means “red-haired”, although none of the most famous Reeds have this particular physical quality. This name belonged to Lou Reed, who was a well-known American musician best known for his role in the band “Velvet Underground”. There is also Edward Reed who is an up-and-coming American football safety.
Sage is an herb but it is also Latin in origin and means “wise and knowing”. It is popular among modern parents due to the fact that is short and sweet. (Side note: it is one of the best herb –based names, much more fashionable than others like Saffron, Thyme, or Parsley. You can probably see why…)
I like Sage as a middle name because it is a word that we all know and yet I am not used to hearing it in a name. It resonates for many parents out there who want to bestow good qualities on their children.
Sage is harder to pair than many of the other names on this list, but when placed with the perfect first and last, it helps to create the perfect name.
Sources: Baby Center, Nameberry, Dictionary.com
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