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Monday, March 5, 2012

Middle Name Challenge: Ellery ____ Montgomery

A. writes:
My husband and I are expecting our firstborn Oct 2 2012 and while we already have a boy name picked out, we think we have a girl name picked out but cannot come up with a good middle name. We are 99% sure that if we have a girl, we will name her Ellery and call her "Elle" at times. We like the middle name Gray because we both love that color and thought that a middle name ending in the long "A" sound would flow the best. However, several people have told us that Gray sounds too gloomy to go with Ellery. We can't use Mae as that is our niece's middle name is Mae and we don't like Rae. We would like a shorter middle name because our last name is Montgomery. My twin sister's name is Skye and while I like that for a middle name, my husband doesn't want to have any part of the name named after someone we know or are related to. Can you please suggest middle names to go with Ellery Montgomery?!

P.S., if our baby is a boy, we will name him Stellan Ford Montgomery as Ford is my maiden name.

Thank you!

I can see how the name Grey/Gray could sound gloomy, but it doesn't ring that way for me. I think more of handsome grey business suits, sweet grey mares, pretty grey skies (which I like, but I know not everyone does), unusual/attractive grey eyes, dove grey gloves, and the fashionable wall color. And I think "We both love that color" is enough to reassure anyone who might wonder about gloominess. My mind immediately turns to the fun of finding pretty grey things for her nursery and wardrobe, and to maybe sometimes using the nickname Ella Grey.

My own personal preference is for the spelling Grey. For me it evokes all those more positive feelings about the word, while Gray makes me think of Gary.

I also think the sound of Ellery Grey is wonderful. My only hesitation is that Ellery Grey Montgomery has a lot of ery/rey endings for one name.

If you like the color aspect of Grey/Gray, you could go with Blue or Rose or Jade. Blue would give you a sneaky secret wink to Skye. So would Grey, for that matter, but Blue is a more positive-sounding wink---which is odd, now that I think of it, since "blue" is a synonym for sad. Well, there it is, though: blue skies mean cheeriness and grey skies don't.

I think it would be fine to re-use a niece's middle name if you love it, and could even be a sweet tie between the girls. But if you'd rather not or you suspect it wouldn't fly with your niece's parents, and if Rae is out, there's also the vintage charm of Faye and Kay. Day would also be cute: Ellery Day. Or Ellery Eve is pretty, or Ellery Joy. Or Ellery June/Jane/Jean/Joan/Jo. Or Ellery Paige/Sage/Raine/Laine/Faith.

I think I like a 2-syllable middle name even better, rhythm-wise, especially if the emphasis is on the first syllable: Ellery LA-la Montgomery instead of Ellery la Montgomery. Other two-syllable examples: Ellery Eva, Ellery Iris, Ellery Nina, Ellery Hannah, Ellery Briar, Ellery Violet, Ellery Meadow.

Would you like Ellery Sterling Montgomery, or is that too much? Sterling evokes some of the same feelings as Grey for me, but with less potential perceived gloominess. On the other hand, that's three names in a row with -er-, and Sterling's traditional use for boys may tip the boyishness of Ellery further than you'd like. Ellery Silver Montgomery tones down the name a bit, but still has the -er- issue.

I hesitate to call a 99% favorite into question, but I think part of the challenge here is that Ellery and Montgomery have matching -ery endings and almost rhyme. As with all repeating name-sounds, this can be a positive or a negative: it can tie the name together pleasingly, or it can give it a stuttery or singsongy sound.

A name like Elena would eliminate the rhyminess while still leaving you with Elle. Elena Montgomery.

Or for something a little lacier, Eliana Montgomery.

Or for something a little less lacy, Ellis Montgomery. I'd go very feminine with the middle name, then; I probably wouldn't use Grey. I like Joy or Jane: Ellis Joy Montgomery; Ellis Jane Montgomery.

Even less lacy: Ellison Montgomery. Again, I'd use a distinctively feminine middle name.

Or Elsa Montgomery. Very similar to Ella, but much less common.

I'm not sure Eliza would be your style, but it's my style so it springs to my mind. Eliza Montgomery. That's a name I'd like to have myself.

Reading over your letter again, I notice Stellan is your boy-name pick. Is this a name you would still like to use if you have a girl now and a boy later, or is it a matter of first-come-first-serve for the -ella- sound? If you'd like to use it later, that might affect which girl names I'd suggest: Elena and Stellan seem fine for sibling names, but Ella and Stellan would not work as well.

And since this is your first child, I'll include a link to a more general post: Baby naming advice for first-time parents.

Name update! A. writes:
Just writing to update you that our daughter was born weighing 7 lbs 3 ounces, 19 inches long! The night before we found out the gender we had changed the boy's name from Stellan to Lawson and at that point were up in the air about a girls name even though we were 99% sure beforehand that we would name her Ellery. We had received some mixed feedback about her name so we had been looking for other options and were considering the name Ayla. As soon as we found out we were having a girl we walked out of the sonogram knowing her name would absolutely be Ellery! We took your suggestion and spelled the middle name Grey vs Gray. Thanks for the help, we'll be coming back when it's time for our second child!! P.S. I still enjoy reading your blog and have referred several friends who are expecting!

Here's a picture of our sweet Ellery and her beautiful lips!


Rayne of Terror said...

What about Lane/Layne or Rainn/Rayne?

liz said...

As soon as you said "Day" as a middle name, I thought of a song by Pianosaurus, "Eleanor Day"

Ellery Grey is beautiful.

kristin said...

I don't find the ery/rey endings to be too much.

Ellery Grey is beautiful. Ella Grey as a nickname is sweet. And Elle is classy.

Fran said...

I think Ellery Grey is beautiful!! Please don't change it

Ali said...

Ellery Gray is lovely! I really don't think it sounds gloomy at all, and I think that you are absolutely right about the nice flow of the single-syllable long-A sound.

bunnyslippers said...

I like Ellery Grey, but Ellery Rue also makes me happy.

AirLand said...

I love the name Ellery! I think it sounds great with Gray/Grey.

Other middle suggestions:
Gray is very close to Grace (although that seems to be a reeeeeally popular middle name). Maybe spelled Grayce?

Or Gracin/Greyson/Grayson/Graycin/Gracyn.

Or Freya?

Or Bay?

Sarah said...

Ellery Grey/Gray is an AWESOME name!! I just love it. If flows so beautifully, too. I've only recently heard the name Ellery and I'm such a fan. And Grey has been a long favorite of mine. I used my maiden name for my daughter, but if we had had two girls, Grey would have been my #1 pick

Brittany said...

Ellery Gray is beautiful, and although I noticed the ending repetition, I think it makes for a lovely name. Since you and your husband both love the color, I wouldn't worry about it being too gloomy, especially since I don't think of Ellery/Elle as being gloomy.

That said, you've already gotten many alternative suggestions that I would definitely second: Faith, Faye, Jade, Rainn, Lane, Grace, Jane.

I think she's going to have a wonderful name - your original pick is beautiful, and you have some other great options as well, if you choose to change it. Good luck!

StephLove said...

If the only thing holding you back from a name you like and agree on is that a couple people didn't like it, I'd stick with it. That's my first advice.

But if you want more ideas, Ellery's a somewhat unusual name that I think pairs well with fairly common middles: Anne, Grace, Rose, etc. And as someone already mentioned, Grace does sound a lot like Gray. I also like Ellery Ruth, or if you're willing to go to two syllables Ellery Louise.

Brittany said...

Back again - Shae and Kate are two other short names with long a sounds that you may like for Ellery's middle name.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this sits well with you, but if you like the idea of using your maiden name as a boy's middle name, might you also be open to using it for a girl's? Ellery Ford Montgomery?

And even though you're 99% sure about Ellery as the first name, I just wanted to point out the loveliness of Stella Montgomery. I'm assuming based on your plan to use Stellan for a boy that Stella wouldn't be out of the question for a girl. Stella Montgomery is so lovely, and the two names don't have the same endings. Just a thought.

Nicole Trager said...

As I read this, Day was the first middle name that I thought of for you. I love the sound of Ellery Day, it sounds so bright and cheery. I also think Paige is a wonderful name that almost has that -a end sound and is short as per your preference. I do think that a 2 syllable middle would work fine too and not make her name too long. I really like Ellery Iris and Ellery Briar from swistles list. I would also suggest Asha because Ash is synonym for Grey and it ends in -a like you prefer.. Ellery Asha Montgomery. Good luck

Anonymous said...

I think Ellery Grey/Gray is lovely & not at all gloomy. The endings of first, middle, last are just a tiny bit too singsong-y for my taste-but something I'd get over once I got used to it I think. Going with the color, I used the ole' thesaurus and found a a few synonyms that bring the color too mind & would work as names for a girl: Ash, Dove, Silver, Heather, Pearl. I like Ellery Pearl & Ellery Dove the best. Using one syllable, long A names-Kate, Faith, Tate, Grace all come to mind. Grace give you a hint of Grey too. I also agree with Swistle that using Ellery now would eliminate Stellan later (or vice versa) so if you plan on more children you should probably decide which you want to use more.

The Mrs. said...

Ellery Grey Montgomery is like a fantastic set of lyrics... musical, catchy, and elegant.

Please stick with your impecible instincts. This name is a keeper!

Candice said...

If you are set against Gray but still want the long "a" sound, and Mae is used and Rae isn't quite right, how about Shea? I knew a girl in high school named Shea, and I was insanely jealous of her name. :) Ellery Shea Montgomery flows quite nicely.

Renee would be a two-syllable choice that would also give you a long "a" sound. Ellery Renee Montgomery.

Portia said...

I think Ellery Grey is beautiful. I agree that the long-a sound is lovely with Ellery. Ellery Paige Montgomery is gorgeous.

Rain might be a cute nod to your sister's name.

Or Ellery Kay?

Anonymous said...

Just as a reference, on the TV show Grey's Anatomy there is a character named Ellis Grey, also another named Addison Montgomery. Just something to keep in mind, but certainly not something that would bother me. I love LOVE Grey on a girl. Go for it!

Anonymous said...

I think Ellery Gray Montgomery is perfect.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Ellery Grey!

gail said...

This name actually kept me awake at one point last night. I think Ellery Gray/Grey is absolutely beautiful. The problem to me is that next to no one will even know her middle name, so the name we're really discussing is Ellery Montgomery.....and that's where I'm stumbling. I'm not a fan of the rhyme, even though a previous poster said she rather liked it. I think you should simply go with Elle Montgomery. Now that's both classic and on trend. Anything could go in the middle, even Grey/Gray, although something with two syllables would provide better rhythm.

You have an absolutely wonderful problem and ample time to solve it! (I'd maybe not share so much with the relatives, you two choose. My mother-in-law talked us out of a name we loved and we always regretted it. She would have adjusted just fine).

Trudee said...

I agree with Gail. Although I think Ellery is a fabulous name (and Ellery Grey is very sophisticated to me, not dreary), it seems awkward with your last name. If the first name was only two syllables, I think it would work a lot better. (I like the flow of actress Poppy Montgomery's name even with the rhyming.) It's quite a mouthful as suggested. In the big picture, my opinion doesn't matter if you're set on Ellery (just as the opinion of those people who criticized Grey shouldn't matter if you love Grey), but I would encourage you to make sure that will work for you and your daughter (if your baby is girl). I really like the suggestions of Ellis and Stella. Good luck and congratulations!

Laura said...

Ellery Gray is beautiful and not at all gloomy. Gray is a common name in my family for boys and girls, and I think it's wonderful.
I agree though that I am hesitant on the Ellery Montgomery. The "ery" rhyme just doesn't work for me. What if you just went with Elle Montgomery? I also like Ella (Gray) Montgomery.

Anonymous said...

How about Ellery June?

Anonymous said...

I just suggested Ellery June (above). I know of a little girl named Ellery June and find it to be such a cheerful and sunny combination.

Nikki said...

I love the name Ellery Grey but agree that with your last name only it sounds kinda rhymey... I immediately thought of Ellison and was glad to see that Swistle did too! Ellison Gray Montgomery.... Love it!

Anonymous said...

Eleri is a Welsh name, pronounced el-AIR-ree, and it might sound less sing-song with your surname: Eleri Montgomery. Ellery Montgomery. The cadence is just a little different.

the hills said...

i was so excited when i read this post. i have an ellery renée (middle after my MIL) & absolutely adore her name!! we get such a reaction every single time people hear it. (bytheby- the husby & i have been set on the name ford for a boy since day one, so... GREAT taste! hahaha)

i will say that people are not always sure of her gender in just hearing the name. & not even renée is enough to clear it up for them so just something to be aware of with gray. that being said: PLEASE use ellery gray montgomery! it is so elegant & fresh!! just beautiful! best of luck>>

Anonymous said...

Elle Gray reminds me of Earl Grey tea.

(If you were thinking of changing to Elle Montgomery instead of Ellery)

mary said...

would Elodie be an idea? elodie or Elowen Gray? it would resolve the repeating 'ery' sound.

carrie said...

Oh my goodness! My daughter is named Ellery Grey (last name rhymes with Creek). She is four and a half, is perfectly Ellery, and we still completely adore our choice. It consistently gets great feedback from folks, but I do have to say that people often hear "Valerie", "Hillary", or "Mallory" when we introduce her. We wouldn't change a thing, though. We loved it in particular for the way it flowed and counterbalanced our monosyllabic last name. We also liked the connection to pseudonymous author Ellery Queen and Ellery Lake in California.

(Apologies for the double post if it happens--I tried to post yesterday and it appears Blogger ate my comment.)