How Millennial Parents Are Changing Middle Names

Here are Nameberry's favorite new directions for middle names.
Many parents are taking a "fun" approach with middle names.
Tatyana Tomsickova Photography via Getty Images
Many parents are taking a "fun" approach with middle names.

Modern millennial parents are transforming middle names for 2019 and beyond. It feels almost imperative these days that a baby’s middle name be meaningful ― whether it honors a relative, relates to a parent’s passion or reflects an important family value.

But middle names today should also be fun. Parents are taking advantage of the fact that middle names are seldom used in everyday life, and giving their children quirky, unexpected middles that may be deemed a bit too bold to be first names.

Within these two criteria, some trends have emerged. Here are the top 10 new directions for middle names in 2019 (and some of Nameberry’s favorite examples).

Single-Syllable Middle Names

Short and sweet names have always been popular as middle names, but today’s single-syllable middles come from many different cultures and can work with different styles. The freshest mini middles tend to be punchy and packed full of meaning.

Occupational Middle Names

Occupational names have great potential as honor names, providing a subtle way to pay tribute to Grandpa the pilot or Grandma the doctor. Occupational names can also be thought of as inspirational middle names, indicating your wish for your child’s future.

Adventurous Middle Names

Parents with an adventurous spirit are apt to seek out a brave, wayfaring middle name for their son or daughter. This could be the name of an exotic locale or favorite destination, or a more literal word name associated with travel and adventure.

Hero Middle Names

Contemporary parents are opting for the uncommon first names and sometimes-clunky surnames of authors, activists, modern celebrities and fictional heroes for their children’s middle names.

Virtue Middle Names

Virtue names are back ― with a contemporary twist. Modern virtue names reflect current values and have a charmingly positive bent (Obedience and Modesty, not so much). We want our children to grow up to be happy, honest, and kind adults, and so now we’re giving them middle names like Reverie, True, and Loyalty in hopes of imparting these coveted qualities.

Artistic Middle Names

Creative parents looking to reflect their passion in their child’s name are likely to opt for an artistic middle name for their child. Names related to music, dance, poetry, theater, and visual arts are all en vogue. Some parents are choosing to honor a favorite artist by using their surname as a middle name, while others favor more overt word names related to the arts.

Animal Middle Names

This trend was started by celebrities, with high-profile recent examples including Zooey Deschanel’s Elsie Otter and Macklemore’s Colette Koala. Bird names in particular are white-hot, with names like Lark, Hawk, and Wren soaring in popularity.

Inspirational Middle Names

When choosing a middle name to reflect spirituality, modern parents are expanding beyond saints’ names and Biblical names. Religious and spiritual word names like Sabbath, Cross, Bodhi and Zen are becoming more popular as middle names for babies.

Family Middle Names

In many families, a child’s middle name is used to honor a loved one. But today’s middle names move beyond first names to family surnames. Also a popular trend among first names, surnames are a great way to pay homage to beloved family members and keep family names alive through the generations. As a bonus, since most surnames aren’t tied to a particular gender, these can be used for a son or daughter. Of course, you’ll want to use surnames from your own family tree, but here are some we’ve heard that we think are appealing.

Mythical Middle Names

Ancient myths are one of the latest sources of inspiration for middle names. Mythical names have an air of valor and triumph behind them, and also a sense of curiosity and expedition. These middle names could be culled from a particular myth that inspires a parent or be more generally linked to mythology. Some of our favorite mythic middle names include these.

Need even more choices? Check out our master list of more than 900 amazing middle names for 2019 and beyond.

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