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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Two Middle Names and a Hyphenated Surname

Bridie writes:
We are due in just a few weeks and wondered what you thought about giving a child multiple middle names when the last name is hyphenated and both of the middle and the first name are longish. Basically, if we included the names we'd like to, we'll end up with a little girl with a 16 syllable name! We are absolutely committed to our first name (Penelope) and the first second name (Alexandra) is a tribute both to my beloved and deeply missed BIL who died this year and to my husbands father, so we'd like to keep it, too. The wild card is the second middle name: Magnolia. This, we both loved and had originally wanted for a first name, but friends and family deemed it to weird... So. Our baby's full name would be Penelope Alexandra Magnolia Cotter-Taylor. Is that too long? Too over the top? What do you think?

As long as we're clear that this is purely a matter of opinion, I'd say that name is too much. It's long enough to start being a little bit funny. I think if I were you I would save Magnolia for a possible later daughter---perhaps as a middle name, or perhaps you'll decide you want to use it as a first name after all: I think it's a great first name, and a good sister name for Penelope.

I think we ought to put this question to the vote---there's a poll over to the right.

27 comments:

Jess said...

I like all the names individually, and I totally understand where you're coming from, but I think it's just too much. It's starting to verge on Tikki Tikki Tembo territory. I agree that Magnolia should be saved for a possible future child. (I also like it as a first name choice, by the way.)

Tracy H. said...

Agree, definitely save Magnolia for a future child.

Erin said...

I almost think Penelope Alexandra Cotter-Taylor is too long. What about just Penelope Alexandra Cotter-Taylor? Or Penelope Alexa Cotter-Taylor?

Agree that Magnolia would be a great sister name for Penelope.

Erin said...

Whoops that first suggestion was supposed to be Penelope Alex Cotter-Taylor

Anonymous said...

LOVE Magnolia! with Nola as nickname

Abby@AppMtn said...

It is a lot of name - almost royal! And yet, I think we tend to regret not using names that we love. How would you feel if you never had a second daughter and couldn't use Magnolia?

If you'd be heartbroken, then I might go for Penelope Alexandra Magnolia, and rest assured that your daughter will master the spelling. Maybe not in kindergarten. But she will.

Just like all those little European royals. :)

MelissaInk said...

Eh, if YOU love it, then I think it's fine. Who cares about long? Lots of options. It's short that annoys me.

If you are planning on another child, though, then I would save Magnolia. I think Penelope and Magnolia are great sister names!

Paula said...

I think it's fine. It's not as if she will be called that during conversation! I would point out that her first three initials could result in her being nicknamed "Pam" though.

Sarah said...

I think it's too long. With the inevitable legal documents that one encounters through life, it does matter, I think.

I'd save Magnolia for later. Don't want to gild the lily.

StephLove said...

My kids have a hyphenated last name-- five syllables total. We kept their first and middles short on purpose. Their full names have nine and seven syllables respectively. So, yeah, I do think it's too much, but I like the name without the second middle, even though it's pretty long.

Misty said...

We also have a three-syllable hyphenated last name and chose to give our kids shorter names to accomodate it. Even with that, the social security cards have to put the full name on two lines.

No opinions, just facts. :)

Anonymous said...

PACT are cool initials. I think Penelope Alexandra Magnolia Cotter-Taylor is way, way too long. I think generally, if you're going to do two middle names, at least one of the three first names should be a snappy one-syllable or super-classic two-syllable. Penelope, Alexandra, and Magnolia are all very long first names in their own right. I don't know that I would pick two long first names, let alone three.

Erin said...

WAAAAY too long. The beauty of names is you can only choose a few syllables to represent this person, some very simple, others more complex, but you can't have it all. It muddies the water too much when you try to fit everything you like into one name. I would second the posters that suggested shortening Alexandra to Alexa, Alexis, Alex, or something similar.

I love Magnolia too, and you have the nn Maggie built in, how fun! Poppy (or Penny) and Maggie would be adorable sisters....

Frazzled Mom said...

As someone with a 12 letter, 5 syllable last name that isn't even hyphenated, I have to agree it is too long for my tastes, but the names are all nice on their own.

If you think it wouldn't take away from the honoring, then I would even shorten Alexandra to Alexis or Alexa.

If you really love Magnolia, I wouldn't let other people's opinions sway you. Saving it for a future second daughter is risky--there are no guarantees of a second daughter. If I were you, I would ask myself if I would rather risk rude comments from family and friends or risk never using Magnolia if that second daughter never becomes a reality. Think of it this way, even if you have a second daughter and name her Magnolia, your family and friends will probably still feel the name is weird. I suggest ignoring your family and friends and using Magnolia if you really love it. They will come around.

Anne said...

I totally understand where you are coming from, wanting to use your favorite names and honor your family, but good gracious, her hand will cramp everytime she has to fill out any kind of paperwork! Beautiful names, but quite alot to carry around!

Anonymous said...

I know a little Magnolia. At first I thought it was odd, but she is just precious and I am used to it now. Plus, you have the bonus of the nn Maggie is so traditional and likeable. I think Magnolia Alexandra sounds a little redundanthaving the "a" sound at the end, though...what about Magnolia Alexis? Would Alexis still honor your family members?

My advice is to use Magnolia. Save Penelope for daughter #2!!

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I also think it's just too much. I like the ideas presented above -- use Magnolia as a first name anyway because you love it and it is awesome. OR, save Magnolia for the future. (Magnolia with the nickname Mags or Maggie would be awesome, those are totally known and acceptable nicknames so the family would accept them).

I think Penelope Alexandra sounds really beautiful together. One of my best friends is a "Stephanie Michelle Hyphenated-Lastname" and she's found that to be quite long her whole life, but it still works... I mean, she uses "Steph" for everything in an attempt to shorten it, but that's just her.

I do also like the idea of using Alexis or Alex or Alexa or Alexia or any other shorter form, just to lighten the load there a little more.

One more story... I think it's important to always remember that the name you choose is the legal name of a human being who is going to have to go through life filling in forms and in the end, she might decide to drop a middle name herself as an adult because it's just too much. My father never goes by both of his middle names, and he doesn't even have length to contend with. So perhaps you don't want to use Magnolia now, since it very well may get dropped by your daughter as she gets older anyway. Perhaps you'd rather save it to be a more important/used name with a possible second child.

Meg said...

As someone who was given 3 middle names (one first and one last) I'd say that it's much much too long. She'll be 12 before she can spell it all.

Personally I'd go with Magnolia no matter what the others say. I personally think it's adorable and the nickname Maggie would be very cute!!!

beyond said...

i have to agree that that's a lot of syllables. i too would save magnolia for a future sister.
however, don't let all these comments sway you if you really like these names. i know some families whose kids have four or five middle names (i think this may be a catholic thing?), and the kids will just use what they feel like. or what they remember. how many times are all names really used? not so often. Penelope Cotter-Taylor will be used the most, and it's lovely. and she can use Penelope A. M. Cotter-Taylor later on.

Anonymous said...

All such beautiful names, great choices. My personal story that might help you: I have three middle names, and it is definitely a problem on a frequent enough basis that I legally dropped two of my middle names.
Good luck with everything!

The Workman Family said...

Beautiful names, all of them. However, it's WAY too much name for one child. I'd definitely drop one of the middle names and use Magnolia or Penelope as the first name and save the other for potential future children.

Catherine said...

I am clearly in the minority here, but I think it could work. That is, you don't need to and probably won't use the entire name much anyway, so she would have an extra initial in there if she wanted (or she could skip it if she didn't). I can barely remember the last time I used my middle name.

That said, if you have a future daughter I agree that it would make a lovely sibling name. I don't think you can go wrong either name.

Anonymous said...

Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for the great feedback. Lots of thoughtful comments to consider here. And, I have to say that you've all got me swinging back toward Magnolia as a first name... My husband still wants to keep all three names, however I am thinking it is indeed a bit much. We'll have to discuss it some more, but I'll be sure to let you all know what we end up deciding on!

Warmly,

Bridie

Carolyn said...

I wonder if many forms actually have a space for second middle names? I only have the one, so I've never noticed, but usually forms want the middle initial, and that's it.

You may want to go with the one middle name and save Magnolia for another child so that the name gets prominence. Or, save Alexandra. If you know you'll have another child, boy or girl, you can easily honor the brother-in-law.

Penelope Magnolia is very cute.

Anonymous said...

They are all beautiful names, and I do not think that they are too much - middle names hardly ever get used, so it's not as if you'll be saying to other parents "Well, my Penelope Alexandra Magnolia Cotter-Taylor ..."; you will say "My Penelope/Penny/Poppy/Nellie etc. ...".

It is whether you love the names which is the important issue, and if you do then I see no reason not to go for it.

Libby said...

Personally I think that's too long, but since no one will be calling her by all those names anyways, I'd say that if you love it, do it.

That being said I think you should save it because Penelope and Magnolia are so perfect together. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Penny and Maggie :)

Libby

Fiona said...

Extra middle names can create confusion/hassles when filling in official documents,etc, so I'd say don't do it.