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Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: Two Middle Names

Amy writes:
I am due with my third child on March 27th. My husband and I prefer classic names and I think we have settled on James for a first name. I have boy/girl twins whose names are Stella and Thomas. I like the way Stella, Thomas and James sound together. However, the reason I am writing is because of the middle name. I want James Francis and my husband likes James Xavier. The only compromise that we have reached is to name the baby James Francis Xavier. I wanted to get you and your readers opinion about having two middle names. My twins do not have two middle names: Stella Audrey and Thomas Richard. Will it be too confusing to have two middle names? What do you think?

Oh! I can offer personal experience on the two middle names thing! It's a little confusing, but only occasionally, and only mildly. Some forms allow only one middle name, and in those cases you just have in mind which middle name you want to use as the default. When filling out forms, you get used to making a little arrow to the second middle name with "second middle name" written nearby, so that people don't think it's the first half of a hyphenated surname. It comes up maybe once or twice a year, and for me it hasn't been a hassle that would keep me from recommending it.

A bigger issue might be Francis Xavier. But "seeming to be named for a saint" is not exactly a negative, is it? And James Francis Xavier is a glorious name.

Let's have a poll over to the right with the three choices: James Francis, James Xavier, or James Francis Xavier. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (248 votes total):
James Francis: 83 votes, roughly 33%
James Xavier: 58 votes, roughly 23%
James Francis Xavier: 107 votes, roughly 43%

Name update 03-31-2009! Amy writes:
Hello!! I just wanted to thank you and your readers for all the great input with our new beautiful son's name. James Francis was born on March 27th at 9:36 am. My husband changed his mind last minute and we went with one middle name. It fits him:-) Thank you again for all the great discussion!!


mayhem said...

My kids both have two middle names and it works out great, rarely confusing. I have two middle names myself (my maiden name became a second middle name rather than hyphenate with my husband's last name).

Caitlin B said...

I love Francis Xavier. I'll be using that combination if I ever get the chance to use Francis.

However, where I'm concerned, Francis Xavier wouldn't "seem to be named for a saint," he would be named for the saint!

I personally wouldn't use a double middle name, but I understand why people like it. I think James Francis Xavier is a fabulous name, and I think you can definitely use it. The major drawback for me is that only James will have the double middle name, and not the twins. But, I suppose it's not that big of a deal.

If you do end up only choosing one name, I vote for James Francis rather than James Xavier.

Good luck!

Patricia said...

I'm wondering how the parents are pronouncing Xavier. According to Xavier is pronounced:ZAY-vee-ər (English), ZAY-vyər (English), ig-ZAY-vee-ər (English). Now I'm hearing Xavier pronounced as X-avier. My standard English dictionary doesn't give that pronunciation for Xavier.

I like James Xavier (first pronunciation), but not with the X in the Xavier pronounced like Xray. I prefer James Xavier (ZAY-vee-ər) to James Francis, but if the intent is to pronounce Xavier as it was (mis-)pronounced in "X-men", then I would go with Francis as the middle name.

As for two middle names, I don't think it matters if this boy has two while his siblings have only one. As Swistle said, a bigger concern might be giving James the combined middle names Francis Xavier, the name of a well-known Catholic saint. There may be the assumption that James Francis Xavier was named for the saint, when apparently that wouldn't be the case. However, I find the name James Francis Xavier especially appealing because of the connection with the saint's name.

I just googled "X-men" and read that the founder of the fictional X-men is named Charles Francis Xavier which is very similar to James Francis Xavier -- which might be something else for the parents to consider.

Patricia said...

The correct English pronunciation of Xavier (as in St. Francis Xavier) can be heard on this website:

Sarah said...

Just to point out, using both names gives "FX" as the middle initials. Not a deal breaker, but kind of funny.

Kimberly said...

I am another double-middle namer, as is my sister and my son.

I always liked it. I LOVED my middle names (much better than my 1st name!) and always liked having two names. I just chose to use the 1st middle name as my default when I had to only have 1.

jen said...

I'm not sure why but I am not a fan of two middle names unless there is a specific reason for it, as in honoring two family members from the different sides or keeping a maiden name. It just seems like too much. I do really like the way James Francis Xavier flows but I would not personally pick it because I just don't care for two middle names. The forms would annoy me to no end, which is why I didn't keep my maiden name.

Peace said...

My oldest has a double middle name because it just sounded good, the syllables flow nicely. Her first 2 names are the ones we chose, the 3rd is an honorific. She just uses the first middle name on any forms, it's never really been a problem. When we were adopting for our 2nd child we did the same thing. First name (birthparents choice), 2nd name our choice for flow, 3rd name honorific, and then last name. Besides it gives you something really satisfying to say when you are exasperated, an extra second to calm yourself down. :-)

Lara Jane said...

I love it. I think it's a rockin' name that any boy would be proud of.

btw, James Francis was on my list, so I might be slightly biased. :)

Frazzled Mom said...

While I personally wouldn't pick two middle names, I think the flow of James Francis Xavier is great. It sounds like you and your husband are at an impasse, and at least you both like names that flow well together. But for what it’s worth, I’m with you, James Francis is better than James Xavier.

Stella and Thomas said...

I am so happy to hear from people who have two middle names and like having them. I think it will be James Francis Xavier but I am going to bring it up one more time....during my c-section...and see if my husband will give in:-)

One of the reasons I am hesitant, it b/c of what Caitlin B said...the twins do not have two middle names. My husband says they are twins and that is what makes them special...this is what will make James special. Hmmmmm, I will keep you posted!

Joceline said...

All of the men in my family (dad, brother, son, etc.) have two middle names, and it never causes an issue for anyone! I like it, especially as a family tradition, or to honor someone.

I also like James Francis Xavier!

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of double middle names; however, I love Francis Xavier. But, I am Catholic. St. Francis Xavier is one of my favorite Saints. If you are not Catholic, you may find yourself over the years correcting some giddy grandmotherly type who beams after hearing the Francis Xavier put together.
I think it sounds lovely together with James and lovely with your other children's names.

Joanne said...

I think it sounds great together, Francis Xavier, and I would totally do it. I have a middle and a confirmation name which I use and I love it.

Bunny said...

Just my 2 cents:
Francis Xavier seems to run together in my mouth with all the "sss" sounds:
Jamesss Fan-sss-i-sss XZsss-avier

Otherwise lovely names, I don't care for all the extra sss sounds.

Nowheymama said...

I have friends who used two middle names for their son but not their daughters. They have a very common last name and gave their son a very common first name, so they wanted to spice his name up a bit. Also, they thought it might help down the road with identity confusion/theft issues. (The girls have more unusual first names, BTW.)

Heather said...

I have two middle names, I'm 'Heather Elizabeth Irene' and this creates a problem that you may also run into if you call your child James Francis Xavier. When I fill out forms, there sometimes isnt enough room for 'Irene' and it gets shortened to 'I' as in 'Heather Elizabeth I' which is fine if it's a letter addressed to you but when I'm called out loud, it comes out like this because they think it's roman numerals: "HEATHER ELIZABETH THE FIRST?" which is so stupid, if I was the first, wouldnt I just be 'Heather Elizabeth'?

I wonder if he is going to get "JAMES FRANCIS THE TENTH?" Really though, that's just something to consider, over all I love having two middle names(I'm the only one of us ten children with two) and I love the name you've chosen.

Kaye said...

My son has two middle names, he is nearly 25 and loves it! If you notice there are many people who do.

Anonymous said...

Having the middle initial of "X" would be unfortunate. "James X. Surname" makes it sound like 1) he's trying to be some kind of superhero, very flippant and unprofessional and distracting 2) his middle name is somehow obscene? or unworthy of being written down? Avoid "X" if you can. "James F.X. Surname" is equally ridiculous. Having 2 middle names makes you sound pretentious, and, dude, FX is the name of a TV station. I'd tell your husband to get over Xavier, and if he can't settle on Francis, go back to the drawing board.

James F. X. ... said...

Just reading this, about 2 two years late, but my name is James Francis Xavier and love it. I usually just go with the F for forms, but it makes for an interesting conversation.