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Country Diary : Wren in frosted bramble bushHannah and James live in the United States, and they are expecting their third son in about a month’s time. He will be a younger brother to William and Griffin, and his middle name will be Michael, which is a family name. Hannah and James’ surname begins with M and ends with L eg Maxwell.

Hannah and James’ Name List

  • Wren – they really like this name, but worry it may be too different or perceived as feminine, although everything they’ve read said it is a boy’s name
  • Crosby – they keep changing their minds on this one, and going back and forth
  • Cannon
  • Gates
  • Henry
  • Oliver
  • River

Less Usable

  • Kenson – a family name, but James isn’t thrilled by it
  • Miller – love it, but Miller Michael Maxwell is just a little too much

Hannah and James want a name which sounds good with William and Griffin and doesn’t start with M. They like classic and original names, and don’t want anything trendy or with variant spelling. They aren’t concerned about popularity if the name is a classic.

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I have a disclaimer on my site saying if you’re from overseas I may not have a good grasp of name trends from your country, and some of the names on your name list are ones which are not often used in Australia, or even recognised as first names. However, I also promised to do my best, in the very Australian tradition of “having a go”.

YOUR NAME LIST

Wren

I’m sure this is a unisex name rather than a boy’s name, and according to the 2012 data from the US, it’s more commonly given to girls in America – 263 girls were called Wren or Wrenn, compared to 29 boys. That suggests that many people probably would perceive it as feminine, and it rose for girls and sank slightly for boys last year, so it’s becoming increasingly feminine by usage.

I really like this name as well (for either sex), but I don’t happen to love it for you. To me it sounds slightly odd with your surname, and is rather a clash with William and Griffin, especially Griffin. Both griffins and wrens are winged creatures, but of such wildly different types that they seem strange as a sibset – like two sisters named Lotus and Thistle.

Crosby

This name has recently joined the US Top 1000 and rose 77 places last year. It’s known from a character on popular TV show, Parenthood. I quite like it; I think it goes well with William and Griffin while sounding quite distinctive. However, you did say you didn’t want a trendy name, and a name that’s suddenly jumped onto the Top 1000 after appearing in a TV show and then risen almost a hundred places does seem pretty trendy to me. Maybe this is the reason why you keep changing your minds?

Cannon

This name is around the #500 mark on the US popularity charts. According to Nameberry, this is also a trendy name, as it had a big jump in popularity after Larry King chose this for his son. Although it didn’t rise last year, you might want to be careful with this one too.

Gates

This name is very rare in the US, given to just 10 boys last year, but it is on trend (not trendy) in the American South. I must say, a William and a Gates in one family seems like some weird tribute to Microsoft.

Henry

I think this name is great – a handsome classic name which goes perfectly with William and Griffin, and sounds awesome with your surname. I don’t know if this is an issue for you, but Prince William and Prince Henry of England are famous brothers with these names. At least this sibset has been royally road-tested.

Oliver

A fantastic choice – perfect match with surname, middle name and siblings, and very stylish, while still having that down-to-earth feel that William and Griffin do. I’d be hard-pressed to pick between Henry and Oliver, they both seem exactly right.

River

Like Wren, this is another unisex nature name, and it seems like a better fit for your family. I think it’s really handsome, and would make an excellent choice.

OTHER NAMES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Alexander

A classic like Henry and Oliver which is in the Top 10 like William and with Greek connotations like Griffin. This seems like a great match with both brothers.

Beck

This short simple nature name reminds me of Wren, and means “brook”, which is rather like River. According to US data, it is underused, and only given to boys.

Corbin

It means “raven”, so it’s another bird-related name, like Wren, but this is a very old name that’s almost entirely masculine. I like how it sounds with your two boys.

Frederick

Another classic name, but this one is in the lower half of the Top 1000. It has Henry’s royal background, but something of Oliver’s European style.

Gage

This surname name has a vaguely military feel, like Cannon, and sounds similar to Gates. I think it seems very cool and masculine with your surname.

Oscar

This has the slight “growly” sound of Crosby, and like Crosby, it goes well with William and Griffin while allowing each name to seem quite distinct from each other.

Rowan

A unisex nature name which sounds a bit like Wren, with a similar level of popularity to River. I like it with William and Griffin.

This blog consultation took me right out of my comfort zone, and I’m not sure if I was able to give you any real help, because of my deep unfamiliarity with some American-style names. However, from your list, my choices would be Henry, Oliver and River, and from my suggestions, I confess to finding Beck very appealing and usable.

Please write back in if you need more help with narrowing down your name list, and remember to let us know what name you eventually choose.

Note on the title: For the uninitiated, bird is British slang for woman

NOTE: The baby’s name was Henry Michael!

POLL RESULTS: Almost half of respondents voted for Wren being a girl’s name, with Oliver being the preferred name choice, gaining more than 20% of the vote. Henry came a very close second.

(Photo of wren from The Guardian)

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