How to pick a middle name your kid will WANT to share

Guest post by Kelly Ward
Danger really IS his middle name.
Danger really IS his middle name.

Last December, my husband and I welcomed into this world our first born son: Lincoln. Lincoln Danger. Yep. As you might imagine, a typical conversation following Lincoln’s birth went as follows:

Us: It’s a boy!
Friend or Family member: Congratulations! What’s his name?
Us: Lincoln Danger.
Friend or Family: (blank stare) I’m sorry, did you say Danger?

After the initial surprise, said friend or family member either feigned indifference, pretended not to notice, or (our favorite) broke out into a “That. Is. Awesome. Why didn’t we think of that?!”

When you choose an atypical name (even a middle name) for your child, you must be prepared to answer the why’s…

First, though, it might be helpful to think about how middle names are typically chosen in the first place:

    1. Some people choose a name to honor a family member, usually the grandmother or grandfather. Sometimes the mother’s maiden name is used.
    2. Perhaps it “just sounds good” with whatever first name was selected.
    3. The middle name might actually be intended to be used as part of the first name (e.g., Mary Ann, John Paul)
    4. It could be part of a family tradition (e.g., My dad has 5 sisters. Every one of them has the middle name Ann).

When we were choosing Lincoln’s name, we fell somewhat into the family tradition category–not that Danger is family heritage. For 5 generations in my husband’s family, the initials L.D.W. have been given to the first born son (taking a slight detour with my husband’s uncle, who named his son Chris…my husband’s parents chose to carry-on the tradition instead).

So, we knew we needed an “L” name (done!) and a “D” name. Combing through baby name books at our local bookstore gave us a few front runners, but we still weren’t sold on anything. My husband was a bit sad that his number one choice actually started with a “P” so couldn’t be used (since I’m feeling generous, I’ll offer the name up to any takers out there: Pocket (I know…).

In fact, please use it. That way I can tell him it’s been done and I won’t have to consider it for baby #2.

One day as I was searching online, I came across a baby name list I hadn’t seen before. Going straight to the “D” names, I saw it: Danger. We loved it and never looked back.

But how to answer the inevitable “why” questions we were sure to get?

Really, for us, it boils down to the fact that the middle name (in America, at least) is rarely used. Sure, you’ll print it on your birth announcements, they’ll call it out on graduation day, it will probably make an appearance on your wedding invitations…but really, most people don’t go around everyday introducing yourself with your full name. [Editor’s note: unless you’re me. -AMS]

Think about it — other than close friends and family, do you know people’s middle names? On resumes and other paperwork in the business world, the middle initial is more often used that the full name. Keeping all that in mind, we decided to move forward with our name choice. Why did we pick it? Why not? If it is hardly ever going to get used, why not have fun with it?

Our one regret about choosing such a unique middle name for our son? The intense pressure we now have to come up with something equally unique when baby #2 comes along (I mean, really. How are we supposed to follow that??). We aren’t expecting yet, but I’m already writing down ideas. It is going to take a long time to come up with something that lives up to Danger.

Comments on How to pick a middle name your kid will WANT to share

  1. I love it. I know a couple of folks that have used Danger as the middle name for a boy. I like your answers… I usually hear the typical, "but his middle name IS Danger." Typically kids to parents who are extreme athletes and the like. I do love this name though!

    • Well, I am most definitely not in the extreme athlete camp, but I do wonder if we've set ourselves up for Lincoln having a bit of a dare devil streak…he is pretty fearless already : )

  2. My husband would have suggested Dagda…

    Of course, my ex gave our first born son the middle name Jubilation, so I guess I can't really say anything!

    • Oh, this is so totally true. My mom tells my sister all the time that she used her two favorite names on me, and so she got the female versions of the names she would have chosen for a boy. πŸ˜›

  3. A friend of mine named her son after his father when he was born. Years later, the father turned out to be absent/neglectful and even though her son had gone by his initials for his whole life, he wanted to legally change his name. So they officially changed his first name to his two initials he'd gone by his whole life and she let him pick his middle name. He picked Vader. Awesomeness.

  4. We had a hell of a time coming up with our first son's middle name… we were also looking for a D name, because the husband's grandfather's initials were JD, and we had settled on Jonah for first name. We eventually ended up going with the grandfather's middle name because it was the only unique D name we had any connection to (Donaciano.)

    We also had a really hard time coming up with our second's middle name, mostly because of me… I really wanted something connected to my roots since Jonah's name had my husband's grandfather's name in it and Joaquin (the baby's first name) was Benito and his mom's favorite name. Only a week or so before Joaquin came, I came across the name Rui and found out it is related to Rodrigues,my paternally-handed-down maiden name, and also related to Roy, my maternal grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle and cousin's names! So even though Joaquin Rui doesn't really flow well, I chose it because I don't think I could ever find anything else that manages to encompass both sides of my family.

  5. Danger is a pretty popular middle name where I live. I know at least five boys who are ____ Danger. It's interesting how name popularity varies by region.

    • YES! I can't go to any sort of "cool" parent hang out without crossing a _____ Danger. Its replaced the Marie or James. Its interesting but not original(Well not any more).

      P.s. Is this totally a west coast thing??

      • I love it too, but then I thought of all the hassle she might get in high school. *cringe* But it’s so cute!! I also love the name Apple (I think me and Gwyneth are the only two people in the world who do).

        My Dad’s name is Brian Richard and husband’s grandfather’s name is Brian Richard. Husband’s middle name is Richard and Brother-in-law’s middle name is Brian. So we’re gonna continue the Brian and Richard tradition. First name are up for grabs though!! (and as Church history nerds, we’ve got some AWESOME ideas already that I don’t want to share, but are AWESOME).

        • OMG! Pocket is super adorable, and Apple is too!!! And I’m reminded of an anime where the main character’s name was Paper… GAHH now I want to go name things adorably. Maybe I will get more cats…. πŸ˜‰

  6. I don't know how many of you know the story of my middle name — Meadow. It's my place of conception, named after a place called Lake of the Angels in Washington's Cascade Mountains where my parents totally DID IT and then had visions of a child coming to them and then TADA! Mom was pregnant. Ah, hippie parents.

    Anyway, I'm a huge fan of daring noun-based middle names. Danger! Action! Bear! Storm! Meadow! Bring 'em on!

    (Tavi got "Orion," which was going to be my name if I was a boy.)

    • my son got named what I was to be called if I were a boy too! His middle names are his bio-father's middle and last, however I never use them and for the first four years of his life he thought his middle name was Bear (his nickname)

    • I know Orion would have been your first name, but as far as "places of conception" go, I gotta think that one would be even cooler than "meadow." : )

    • I'd have been Disney World by that scheme. That, Ariel, is the difference between my parents and yours. I'm a first-gen offbeat person, obviously, lol.

    • My parents said they were originally going to call me Chesapeake, and I always wondered why they didn’t – Ches would be an awesome nickname! But then I learned why I would have been named that (they lived on a boat for awhile)… I dunno. Kinda glad they didn’t. Because think of always having to answer that question, “Oh, where did that name come from?”

  7. I am Lincoln's great-aunt, and love the name! My dad (the third L.D.W. loved that the tradition lives on! I went the route of one name sounding food with the first name, and bestowing my maiden name (the W of the L.D.W.) on another.

    I love your writing Kelly!

  8. Lincoln Danger? Yep, that's awesome. I know what you mean about the questions though – We named our son Bruin and no, it's not about any sports team, we just loved the name. But we gave him James for a middle name, because we thought if he ever decides he hates having an unusual name, he can use that instead. Best of both worlds!

      • I love Octavian! I hope more people return to classical names the are so awesome. I didn't know your little man has Orion as their middle name; it's one I'm considering for use in the future as a middle name too!

    • Ah! I have never considered ‘Bruin’ as a name until now… and I’m absolutely in love with it! But being from Boston, it might be more trouble than it’s worth…

    • I completely regretted telling people what we were going to name our son – next time we're waiting. I figure people won't give you wide eyes or "have you thought of…" or "ooooh I don't know if I like that name" when they are staring the named kid in the face? At least I hope I'm right about that…

      • You are right!

        My MIL is WAY picky [and mouthy too] so that’s the route we’re going to take with *every*one. πŸ˜€

        I have couple friends who had a boy and prepared two names for the surprise- boy and girl. When it was a boy and they introduced Ellis James, I reveled in its coolness and then asked, “What would he have been called if he were a she?” They said that they couldn’t tell us since it may be used for the next one! Brill!

    • This is actually a very strong tradition in the South so it’s strange to me that people find it odd. Heck, it’s not even limited to middle names; most family names started as someone’s maiden name. If I have a son he would definitely have my last name as his first or middle. I just don’t think it would work that well for a girl, though …

  9. That is seriously fantastic. My sister-in-law's father named both his children with his initials, so when she was pregnant they decided to keep the tradition. My brother being a junior, a boy would have been WPIII, but the family had great fun coming up with suggestions. My dad was pushing for Wilroy Pitchkettle or White Pine. They now have two girls named Willow Paige and Wren Penelope. (Although sis-in-law didn't find out about the Buffy character until it was too late, and I think she was less than thrilled about that. Ha.)

  10. It's funny to think about now but i remember considering my son's name during extensively. Five days before he was born, i was typing an email and the name "Talis" popped into my mind….as in talisman. A new first name was born which (to the best of my knowledge didn't exist elesewhere) and it worked with our already determined gender "approriate" middle names. If Talis had been a girl, the middle name would've been "Rose." Since he came out with a XY he has the middle name "Cyan" which is a nod to his dad who uses the name "Blue." My "little baby" is almost 12 and his name fits him to a T.

  11. Guessing middle names was a favorite game in grade school. Usually everyone's was pretty bland but I liked stumping people with mine (my mother's maiden name).

    These days I'm using my middle name a lot more because I changed my name when I got married and my new last name is very very common. It was also a way for me to "escape" the tedium of spelling my previous surname all. the. time. but still keep it in a sentimental way. If this had been my name from birth I probably wouldn't use my middle name much at all though.

  12. I love it! What a great name! We went through something similar, although it was with our daughter's first name (which is Raven). People seem especially confused about it when we tell them we got it from an X-men character. My nephew's name is Fox Z. (No joke!) which I also love.

  13. My dad was hell bent on giving us all historically famous names from folklore, or American Literature. He almost convinced my mom to name my brother, "Samuel Clemens" after Mark Twain.

    What's weird though is my entire family actually goes by their middle name. Both parents, and all three siblings. We never use our first name. Strange!

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