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Monday, July 4, 2011

Plural Sounding Baby Names / Names Ending in S

Jenni writes:
This is not a specific name same request as I already named my baby. I still enjoy reading your blog and wonder if some other readers might benefit from this request. When I was pregnant, I gravitated toward names ending in "S" that are "plural-sounding." A few examples would be Brooks, Jackson nn Jacks/Jax, Collins, Wells. Many of these are surnames. I find that the plural sound gives a unique quality to a more common name without making it too unfamiliar. I just found it extremely difficult to come up with realistic names that sounded pleasing with the plural-sounding criteria. I would love to hear suggestions for these type of names. Maybe your readers will, too.

At first I thought this was going to be a matter of entering "names that end in S" into one of those irritating baby name sites that only gives search results ten names at a time---but it quickly turned out that wouldn't work at all. Names like Carys and Atticus end in S, but they're not plural-sounding in the same way as your examples.

...Well, or maybe they are. No, wait, they're not, and I think I know why: I think to be "plural-sounding," there needs to be a "singular" form (even if that singular is not used as a name, as in Wells/Well). So Collins is plural-sounding because Collin sounds singular; Jacks/Jax is plural-sounding because Jack sounds singular. Atticus is not plural-sounding because there's nothing that seems like the singular form. Carys could go either way: Cara would be a singular-sounding version, but that still doesn't make Carys sound plural to me.

What about names such as Miles and Charles and James? I mention them in my post explaining how to make names ending in S possessive (don't be like my old co-worker who labeled a daycare cubby "Jame's Cubby"), but I'm not sure they're the sort of names you mean.

A name I recently thought of is Roberts. We were working on a post where Roberts was the mother's maiden name, but she was going to use Robert for her son; it occurred to me that Roberts might be a pleasingly fresher version (as well as being her actual name), and fit in well with other current surname names.

I think Williams would work, too: it takes the fairly common traditional first name William and turns it into an unusual surname name.

Jacobs, too. In fact, as I go down the list of boy names, I see a lot of possibilities:

Isaacs (nickname Zax)
Marks (though I might avoid, because of Marx)
Michaels (the craft store eliminates this one for me)
Phillips (the screwdriver might put me off of this one)

It seems to me that one key is finding names that are actual surnames: Andrews works, but Joshuas doesn't. Daniels works; Dylans doesn't. I think such names are particularly charming when they in fact ARE a family surname.

Names that are not quite what I was looking for but thought might have a similar appeal:

Baxter (Bax)
Dexter (Dex)
Paxton (Pax)

Can you think of more names like these to add to our list?


Lauren said...

I like these names very much and yet I can't help picturing English butlers (Jacobs, Peters). Maybe it's because they are last names and I imagine that only butlers are called by their last names? But last names that don't end in S have no butler-ish connotations in my mind (Harrison, Connor, etc). Inexplicable.

The Mrs. said...


It isn't plural, but the name 'Jones' sounds good to me . There's a television show called 'White Collar' that has a character who is called only by his last name, Jones, and it gives a modern face to this super common surname.

'Franks' has this same appeal for some reason I can't pin down.

And one that doesn't end with 's' but has the same sibilant sound is 'Royce'. It feels old and southern and practically begs to be used on a boy with a roguish twinkle in his eye.

Interesting topic... I can't say I've been much help, but it's been fun thinking over!

Jodi said...

I went to college with a Sims. I'm not sure if it was a nickname or even just his own surname that he went by, but it stayed with me, and I've often thought it would be a fun nickname for Simon or Simeon or even Simpson, which is a family surname for me. Shame about the computer gane association, but I don't think I'd let it be a dealbreaker.

Similarly, we've always loved Barnaby with Barnes as the nickname to side-step Barney.

SM said...

In high school I worked with a boy named Eriks and his father was Latvian. I remember he told me that most Latvian boys names end with "s". If someone is interested in using a plural sounding name, try googling Latvian boys names.

Ms. Key said...

I agree with the above commenter who said it reminds them of English butlers... I was going to also comment that most names of this style seem very British to me. Could be because of the wide-known nickname for Prince William being "Wills", so I hear a British accent in my head whenever I hear a name similar to that. Haha!

It's not my personal style, but there does seem to be a good number of names that suit this idea. Especially those surname names that Swistle pointed out! I think that it makes for cute nicknaming (like "Wills" for William), but I'm not sure I'd be a fan of a name like this as a full first name. Just my personal preference of course!

Tracy H. said...

So, I'm curious! What did the OP name her son? Did you use a plural sounding name?

Anonymous said...

Our son's name is Jonah & we often call him Jones. As noted above, this doesn't really fit the criteria, but something about adding an "s" to the end of the name makes it such an endearment to me!

Jenni said...

So thanks for asking what I chose, I chose Carl as his name. A name often recommended here but seemingly seldom chosen ;). This is just my first, so I may need all those plural suggestions--I don't think they sound butler-ish; I think they sound like an open, friendly person. (Wills sounds so much warmer-as his 'mum' Princess Diana, rather than William which is more like the aloof Charles.)

liz said...

My husband's first name is Stevens. It was a last name somewhere in the family tree, was his dad's middle name, and is now his first name.

I think it works pretty well for him, but people misspell it all the time or think it's his last name.

Not a big deal over all.

Elizabeth said...

I know a five-year-old whose given name is Wills. I thought it was strange at first, but it's grown on me. Probably helps that he's a little cutie.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

My favorite "plural sounding" boy's name is Wells.

Jenni said...

What a great list! I think many of these names go well for boys or girls. And so many I didn't come close to thinking of! Kind of makes me want to go do some research on say, & see if there are any family names that fit these guidelines that would make the name especially meaningful. I really like Abrams, Williams, Zax, Anders, Adams, Owens, Roberts, & Hayes. Swistle--haha on the Michaels & Marks!! Even though Michael's is one of my all-time favorite stores, I don't think I'll name a child after it! :-)

And all the names ending in -"x" sound so fresh--I've always been a fan of Max. I just saw a movie--Kate Hudson, John Krasinski. Something Borrowed? I can't remember. The guy's name was Dexter, nn Dex.

I really liked Liz & Anonymous's suggestions of Jones & Stevens.

Jodi--I think I went to school with a Sims, too. haha I love the idea of Sims as a nn for Simpson. So approachable.

I even thought of Wils/Wills as a nn for Wilson. I definitely like the idea of the plural as the nickname version.

Thanks for all the ideas & comments! I am printing this out for the future & going to put in a safe place. NOW...I just have to make sure it's not "too" safe of a place & I hide it from myself :).

vanessa steck said...

I don't really like them as given names, but I think the "s" is a nice nickname option. Megs, Mags, Jules, Sars, Wills, Jos, etc for Megan, Margaret, Juliet, Sarah, William, Joseph. Great nicknames but not sure I'd want them as a given name.

Joanne said...

I've actually thought about Becks for Beck. My kids' last name is Beck and I thought maybe if my girls ever took someone else's name but wanted to use their original name, they could use Beck OR Becks. I like the sound of them, I think they sound fancy but not obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

I recently heard "kates." I can't decide if I like it or not? Thoughts anyone?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the last name Cates. I don't mind, but not my favorite either. Wonder how they chose Kates. It's starting to grow on me as we speak!