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Monday, August 1, 2011

Baby Name to Consider: Miller

J. writes:
We are considering the name Miller for our first son. I'd like to get some reactions to the name. Is Miller "trying too hard" or too last name-y? It has no family connection, we just like it. The lack of a nickname is the biggest downside.

I checked and it's just a few spots away from the top 1,000 last year. Maybe next year it will break through?

I wish I had a list of other finalists, but we are both extremely picky. We've both read the entire Baby Name Wizard for goodness sake!

Baby isn't coming til November, so we aren't in a hurry but I'm eager to get reactions to Miller in case they are negative and we need to go back to square one.

Last name is two syllables and ends in "man" which rules out a ton of cute names because they sound super rhyme-y.

I remember the first time I encountered the name Miller: it was when Stella McCartney had her first son in 2005. I had an immediate positive reaction to the name, and I wonder why it isn't being used more. It seems like a great fit with current styles.

For me, the one downside is the beer brand---but it doesn't factor into it enough to rule it out: when I hear the name, the first association is with a strong friendly man milling grain.

So let's find out what we as a group think of it: I'll put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]


Poll results for "What do you think of the name Miller?" (403 votes total):

I love it! I'd use it! - 58 votes (14%)
I like it! I'd consider it! - 92 votes (23%)
I like it for someone else's child - 144 votes (36%)
No particular opinion - 24 votes (6%)
Slight dislike - 66 votes (16%)
Strong dislike - 19 votes (5%)

39 comments:

Frazzled Mom said...

I'll comment on Miller later, but I have to ask: Where do people find name stats for names outside the top 1000? I use ssa.gov, and that site stops tracking names once they are out of the top 1000.

About Miller: I think it could grow on me. I'm hesitant to form an opinion right away. I need to say it to myself over and over and picture it on a real person before I will know how I feel about it.

Generally, I'm not a huge fan of last names as first names, unless they are established. For example, I sort of like the name Fletcher. It is familiar to me as a first name and seems established, but doesn't get used all that often.

Someone I know named his son a name similar to Fletcher, which was Thatcher. My first reaction was that Thatcher was trying too hard. However, I discovered the similarity to Fletcher, and Thatcher sort of grew on me. The kid is called T-Man, which also seemed contrived to me at first, but T-Man has sort of grown on me too, at least on a little kid. I can't picture T-Man on a grown man, unless he's like an athlete or a musician. Since the father is a musician, little T-Man very well could become one too. Maybe the name was meant to be.

Swistle said...

Frazzled Mom- In the lefthand menu on the Social Security site, choose "Background information." Then choose "Beyond the Top 1000 names." Then download the files.

Sally said...

The only Miller I know is a girl. She's about 18 now and it suits her. Because she's the only one I know with the name, I immediately think "girl". But that's just me!

Kas said...

I love the name Miller its a lovely name but i also know a little girl named Miller its spelt Milla but pronounced Miller so i also associate it with girl and Milla (Miller) is a name my partner and I have on our list for our next baby girl, but i think it could work really well on a boy too!

Im all for last names as first names I have a son Lincoln and I love his name and i think names like Miller, Cooper, Mason etc are great names! I think if you love it go for it!! all the best and congrats xx

Joanne said...

I think Miller is nice, and maybe Mills would be a good nickname? Best of luck!

crystal said...

I agree with Switsle, I think the name sounds very friendly. I don't know any Millers but I know a little boy named Milling. I assume it is a family name. When I first heard the name I was a little thrown but it seems to fit this child as I am sure Miller will fit your little boy.

Anonymous said...

Miller makes me think of other occupation names that seem to be becoming very popular, like Archer. That may be why, like Swistle, I also get a positive reaction. (I imagine I would use Mills as a nickname.)

It also reminds me of a name I came across on a boy about 10 years ago in the UK -- Monroe. I know Mariah Carey recently used that for her daughter, but, at the time, I'd never encountered it before and I thought it was so fabulous for a boy. Still do.

Kacie said...

Does the OP like Miles? That's a name that came to mind when I heard Miller.

jc. said...

I know a couple that used Miller for their first son. It was her maiden name and they call him Mills for short. He is an adorable little guy and Miller totally fits him. I love it although I would never think of it for a girl.

beyond said...

I like Miller very much, and I think it's fine that it's not a family name. Like others, Mills came to mind as a great nn. Miller __man; little baby Mills. Cute.
If you're not certain about it being too surname-y, or 'trying too hard', you could always give him a non-surname middle name to fall back on if he should ever choose to...
Good luck!

Abbe said...

Miller is a name my husband and I considered briefly. It had a sentimental connection for us (part of the name of the place where we shared our first kiss! and in no way related to beer!), but when we were naming our boys, Miller seemed too out there for us. Styles have changed enough that I think it now seems like a believable boy name. If we were having another baby (which, no, sadly), I would strongly consider it. In fact, just hearing that someone else is considering it and that it has been used as a first name makes it seem that much more plausible to me.

I agree that Mills would be a natural and very cute nickname for it.

Good luck!

J's Husband said...

Hi guys, this is J's husband. We really appreciate all of the honest and helpful feedback.

One more question for all of you. What are your thoughts on Henry and the middle name after Miller?

J's Husband said...

oops, type: What are your thoughts on Henry *AS* the middle name after Miller?

Rayne of Terror said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Miller as a first name. But Miller Henry I don't love for some reason (even though I have a Henry).

Miller James
Miller Charles
Miller Theodore

are all combos I like better. Maybe it's a syllable issue for me. I like different syllables between the first and middle name. Just personal preference because Henry is a GREAT name. The BEST name :D

bkm said...

I love the name Miller and wish I could use it for a future son. However, my fiance actually works at a brewery for that beer brand Swistle mentioned as a possible donwside, so I think it would be a little strange.

I'm with all of the previous posters in saying that Mills is an excellent nickname for Miller. And I do like Miller Henry ____man.

beyond said...

I really like Miller Henry __man. Of course, it will sound vaguely familiar to most people because of Henry Miller, the novelist. Don't know if that would be a good or not so good association for you? (I see no problem with it.)

P. Gardiner said...

We used Miller as a second middle name for our daughter. We used it to honor a good friend that had recently died. Our daughter is a teenager now and thinks it is the coolest name and told us we should have used it as a first name. So it has teenager "cool" appeal. I think it's adorable and a great boy name. I had to laugh a little at the earlier comment about Monroe, another name I used!

Leslie said...

I would love to meet a baby (or later a child/young man/adult) named Miller! It seems like a very charming, affable name to me, not "trying too hard" at all. As Swistle mentioned, the ONLY downside I can see might be the beer brand, but that wouldn't be my first association (like Swistle, I would tend to group it with occupation names rather than brand names), and I think meeting a little Miller would be enough to dispel that association immediately. If you love the name, I think you should go for it!

Mills is a cute nickname (though I think Miller is great without a nickname, too). Miller Henry is also nice. If the surname is also 2 syllables I might prefer an either longer or shorter middle name to vary the rhythm a little bit, but that's a minor quibble; Miller Henry is a handsome name.

sara m said...

I like Miller a lot as a first name. I like it with Henry too. Do it!

Guinevere said...

I'm not a huge fan of the surname-as-first-names genre in general, but I think Miller is certainly a very reasonable representative, and I think with a bit of exposure it would start to feel first-namey to me in a way that it does not at present (since I don't know any Millers, at least not first-name Millers). But other similar surnames have made the transition for me when worn by children, so if you truly love it, I don't have objections.

There is the beer association, but then, I also know a little boy middle-named Porter "after the beer", which I thought was sort of charming and certainly non-objectionable. However, porter is a STYLE of beer whereas Miller is a BRAND and to me that's a bit different. Also, even as a nondrinker, I'm familiar with the ongoing jokes of the beer-snobs around me about Miller being a *bad* beer and to me that is a bigger problem.

I think Miller Henry definitely rings major Henry Miller bells for me. I think because it's one of those names that we're very used to hearing in that order, the reverse is a bit jarring. That's perhaps less than ideal, but I do think that surnamey first names are hard to find middle names for. I do like the idea of a non-surnamey middle name, though. Perhaps a one-syllable middle name would break up the rhythm a bit and would make it sound a bit less like roll-call (e.g. Miller James ___man?)? Or in any case, a name that's not famously the first name of a last-name Miller.

Kate said...

Oh, I love Miller, especially Miller Henry. My mother's maiden name is Miller, and I really would like to name a son after her in that way. I've always thought it made such a soft, but sturdy boy name... once I got over the word association from my mother and her sisters, "the Miller sisters," that is. :)

Kate said...

ETA but I hope it doesn't explode someday! This has always been my "secret" boys name!

vanessa steck said...

So I first heard Miller when, for various absurd reasons, I happened to be on a beach with the actress Tea Leoni and her son, Kyd Miller, who is called Miller. I remember thinking how great the name was. I don't love love surname names the way some folks do, but I do LIKE them, and Miller doesn't feel contrived or trying too hard or anything. Go for it, is my vote.
Miller Henry sounds a bit funny to me, but not enough to be a deal breaker. Also, if he decides later that he doesnt like Miller (not that I think he WOULD, but just in case!) that gives him a very classic fall back.

Patricia said...

I don't care for Miller at all as a given name. Miller is a tradesman name/classification (Miller, Baker, Butcher, etc.) and has very little history as a first name. Miller reminds me of the girls' names Millie -- currently very popular in England/Wales, ranking #32, and may catch on in the USA too (presently #868).

I don't find the name Miller strongly masculine and see it as yet another result of parents searching for a "unique" or "different" name. If Miller is a family name, then maybe, but otherwise, I'd look for another name.

Anonymous said...

I really like Miller for a boy. It would be in my top seven if my last name didn't start with M. I would have never thought of the beer, and can think of no reason no to use it. It has a great flow and sounds sophisticated. Henry sounds good paired with Miller.

The Mrs. said...

On one hand, I really like the name Miller; it sounds strong, stable, affable, and reliable. Miller Henry seems downright classic.

On the other hand, I did think of the beer brand, too... which made me think of another beer brand: Rainier. Google tells me that there is a wonderful mountain with that name in the Pacific Northwest. And while you weren't requesting other name ideas, I'm going put Rainier out there. (Which, for the record, is pronounced 'Rain-ear' instead of 'Rainy-ear').

But back to Miller. If you're not drinkers, I'd say use it. No one will bring it up. If you are drinkers, I'd steer away from it. The comments could be rather tactless.

Whichever way you decide to go, best wishes to you and your growing family!

TG said...

I knew a guy named Miller growing up, and now I know a 2-year-old boy named Miller at the preschool where I teach. He's an adorable, sweet boy, so I have a positive association with Miller as a boy's name!

Chaya said...

I like Miller; it fits nicely into the current baby name trends, but not *too* trendy that it's annoying or overdone. The only thing I hate about it (and I'm picky in this way) is the meaning. I realize that a boy is probably less likely to care about the meaning of his name than a girl, but still, it would bother me. Miller means "Mill Worker," obviously, and while that's plenty manly, it's still not particularly inspiring.
Other than that, I think it's perfectly fine.

Allison said...

I love the name Miller. I think it's a surname name that hasn't been used as much as it should be. Mason and Carter and Tyler and Taylor and Hunter and Parker Carson are all over the place and seem completely normal. I think maybe some people just aren't used to Miller yet, especially older people.

Unknown said...

I knew a Miller from a young age, younger brother to Margaret, known as Molly. I always liked it and it has always seemed normal to me!

Emily S. said...

I didn't like the name when I first read the post, but after seeing all the positive comments, it makes me think I should reconsider.

British American said...

Growing up, there was a boy in our class with the last name of Miller. And people would call him by his last name, as a 'nickname'. So it does seem somewhat 'normal' as a name.

It's not really my style. I'm not especially keen on last names as first names or 'tradesmans' names. But I don't 'hate the name'. It does strike me a little as 'looking for something more unusual', but that's fair enough.

And if it's the name you love the most, I think you should go with it. :)

Anonymous said...

I certainly like Miller better than the more "traditional" last-name-names, like Hunter or Cooper (the latter of which makes my teeth grind when I hear it). Miller seems like a natural name to use as a first name, and I DON'T think it's trying too hard. I know a little boy with the middle name Miller, and although it was his mom's maiden name, I remember loving it even without the family connection.

Miller Henry is... nice. I don't love it but something about it is off to me. I didn't pick up on th aforementioned Henry Miller thing so it's not that... I think for me it sounds like a ballpark or law firm name? Anyway, the trouble is, I can't shake the "it is nice but it doesn't flow perfectly" feeling with any middle names I come up with! They ALL sort of sound like businesses to me:

Miller James
Miller Donovan
Miller Reed

All handsome names... all sound... off? Not that this is something I'd let worry me if Miller was THE NAME; middle names are so rarely used, and I wouldn't want some Internet stranger's "huh?" reaction to a silly middle name flow problem deter you from using a wonderful name you have both (gasp!) agreed on!

In short, go with Miller.

newmummy said...

I think Miller is a great name too! So if it's your first pick, then go for it. I know how hard it is to find the perfect name for baby!

Miller Henry (or any other middle name) doesn't seem to have as much flow because it sounds a bit backwards and maybe a bit like you are filling in paperwork: Miller, Henry. Being that we seldom use middle names, i dont see this being a huge problem. Especially since Miller goes well with your last name, and that's what counts most.

Karen L said...

It's hard for me to believe that Miller isn't used as a first name more often. It fits right in with Taylor and Cooper without being Taylor or Cooper. It's lovely for you that you've "stumbled" onto a name that is surprisingly rare and that you both like. I say go for it!

The middle name may be a challenge, depending on what you look for in a middle name. A previous commenter pointed out that surname firstnames will often sound backwards or like a lawfirm with the middle - but do you care?

I quite like Miller Henry ----man. But I had an immediate association with Henry Miller, which is fine fine fine but something that, in your shoes, I'd have wanted to thought of myself going in rather than to have it pointed out to me after the fact. Especially if I'd been forced to read some Henry Miller in high school and hated it or something.

If those middle name issues do bother you, to get something un-surnamey, I'd suggest a newer first name for a middle or a traditional/older/classic that you could hardly imagine ever being a surname also. I have no idea of your tastes but maybe something like Kevin or Noah or Kenneth. A nice way to honour a friend or sibling, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm going to echo several things mentioned already.

I quite like Miller as a first name and, like others, am surprised it's not used more often. I didn't think of the brand of beer at all, perhaps because I'm not American. I wouldn't consider that connotation a deterrent but, again, my mind didn't go there.

As for Miller Henry, my mind did immediately go to Henry Miller. If this is what you too are going for, then by all means. I'd make sure you admire Henry Miller's work & reputation because the connotation will always be there in the name, I believe. If you do, by all means! I know a family who named their boy Edison Thomas & did so because (a) they liked Edison as a first name & (b) like the connection with Thomas Edison.

If you're not sure about the connection with Henry Miller, I'd consider a one or three-plus syllable name (as has already been suggested) like Miller James or Miller Alexander.

Congratulations & good luck!

Jo said...

My son is called Miller. We chose it as it was my grandads middle name. He was Scottish and it was popular to give your child the mothers maiden name. It really suits him and he loves that he has an unusual name. He is 4 now and started school, the kids don't really give him a nickname, we've had Mills a bit but people tend to stick with his full name. I think it is a strong solid and memorable name for a little boy and my family love the fact it has family history.

miller stevens said...

My first name is Miller. I get "really?" sometimes and have had to whip out the licence to prove it. But most people respond favorably and there are few out there, it stands out.

Anonymous said...

MY grandson was born yesterday. he is named Miller Andrew. i love the name. one of the reasons for the name is, the place where they lived and the street they lived on. also, a family name way back. love it. i think Mills will be the nickname.
M.G.