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Friday, July 27, 2012

Middle Name Challenge: Phoebe ____ Hirsh, Sister to Jackson Kelley

Morgan writes:
I'm hoping you and your readers can help us. I'm 28 weeks along with baby number two and we're seriously stuck on a middle name. Here's a bit of background info: I'm Morgan, my husband is Jeremy, our son is Jackson Kelley (nn Jack) and our last name is Hirsh (with a different spelling). Jackson's name came easily. His first name is a place that has a special significance for us and his middle name is an honor name (Kelley was my great grandmother's maiden name and also happens to be my middle name as well as that of an uncle and a cousin). We love his name.

After narrowing our list of girl names down we have decided on Phoebe for this baby's first name. We are both in love with the name and plan to use Bee as a nickname. The problem we're having now is the middle name. We'd like to continue the tradition we began with our son of using an honor name for a middle name. The LONG list of potential middle honor name contenders has been whittled down to three. They are all from my husband's mother's side of the family. The contestants are:

Phoebe Lefebvre (pronounced Le FEV) Hirsh
Phoebe Adele Hirsh
Phoebe Pascale Hirsh

My mother-in-law is French and Lefebvre was her maiden name. Pascale was my husband's great grandmother's first name. Adele was his great great aunt's first name. Both were wonderful women and both lived to be over 100. I am somewhat partial to Phoebe Adele, while my husband is favoring Phoebe Lefebvre. My concern with Phoebe Lefebvre is the double "f" sound. Does that make it awkward to say? Does the "v" sound at the end blend into the "H" at the beginning of our last name? At this point we've said all three of these names so many times that they are starting to sound the same.

Any advice you and your readers can provide would be so greatly appreciated. Oh and I PROMISE to send a name update in October with a photo.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


I think all three are great choices. The up side: it doesn't really matter which one you choose, because any of the three will give her a very good name. The down side: that makes it hard to choose. We had a similar issue when naming our youngest child: three excellent, family-honoring middle names to choose from, and all of them seemed equally good. We finally just...picked one. I like the one we chose, and I think I would have liked either of the others, too.

I would lean toward Lefebvre, because the other two seem like more distant honors: your husband's mother is a much stronger connection than a great-great-aunt or a great-grandmother. Also, I love when it's possible to preserve maternal family names as well as paternal ones. Also-also, part of the joy in using an honor name is surprising/pleasing the person being honored, and your mother-in-law is the only one of the three who is alive. The repeating F sound doesn't bother me unless in your family you frequently use the first and middle names---and actually, if you DO, I like how that sounds: it's fun to say! And I don't find it blends with the surname: I find I naturally pause between them. But most people find their middle names all but disappear and are rarely said aloud, so in general I don't worry much about that.

This is a minor thing, but I like to think about the minor things: Pascale would give her P.P. initials which, along with I.P., I like to avoid for Pee-Related Teasing. But since it's first and middle instead of first and last, it's unlikely that other children would even know about it. And Pascale gives the cutest monogram, if you like monograms: a central H, bookended with two P's.

Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]





Name update! Morgan writes:
Just a quick note to thank you and your readers for the wonderful baby naming advice. Our daughter Phoebe Lefebvre H!rsh arrived on October 19th weighing 8lbs 2 oz and measuring 22 inches long. We were stuck on the middle name, but ultimately ended up going with my mother-in-law's maiden name of Lefebvre (as opposed to the other front runner Adele, which was the name of a great great aunt). Ultimately it felt more special to honor a close living relative as opposed to a more distant relative who has passed away. Mommy, Daddy and big brother Jackson are all completely in love with our little Phoebe and have taken to calling her Baby Bea.

26 comments:

gail said...

I know this is a bit off-topic, or off-request, but I really love Phoebe Morgan......for direct maternal lineage honoring.

Anonymous said...

Lefebvre!

If I knew your little girl, I'd probably find myself calling her Phoebe Lefebvre on a regular basis because it IS so fun to say!

Susan said...

I like all three choices a lot, and my favorite is "Phoebe Lefebvre," which is delightful. I LOVE the repeating "f" sound, consider it a plus and definitely not a minus. Like Anonymous, I'm quite sure I'd start calling her "Phoebe Lefebvre regularly. Starting during the pregnancy!

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of using mother's maiden names and Love Phoebe Lefebvre. It feels unique and pretty.

Anonymous said...

Personally I live pascal but Adel sounds so more suitable.

Anonymous said...

From the point of view of a former little girl who above all things prized names that were A)unique and B)exotic and foreign sounding, especially French, Phoebe Lefebvre sounds like something she will probably absolutely love.

M.Amanda said...

I'm leaning toward Phoebe Lefebvre. So fun to say. However, any of the three would serve her well.

Heidi J said...

My personal philosophy on middle names is that they are back up names just in case the first name becomes unusable for some reason or the child just doesn't like it. For that reason, I voted for Adele. However, if for you the honor name aspect is most important than I would go with Lefebvre for the reasons that Swistle gave.

Mj said...

I agree with honouring the woman who carried her for 9 months and gave birth to her....Phoebe Morgan Hirsh is fabulous!! Otherwise, all the others are good but prefer not to use P. P. together. Phoebe Lefebvre is best.

StephLove said...

I also think the repeating F sound is a point in Lefebvre's favor. It reminds me of the repeating K sound in Jackson Kelley. I like them all, though.

Crafty Beth said...

Well, I LIKE Adele the best--it was on my own list--but I agree that Lefebvre is the best for honoring, and it has a nice sound too.

Martha said...

My great-great grandmother's maiden name was LeFevre or Lefever, depending on where you look, and she gave the name to my great-grandmother as a middle name. I had never heard the proper French pronunciation before! I've always loved it and I definitely think you should use it for Phoebe. Honor names make a wonderful connection between the child and the person they honor.

Anonymous said...

I like the name Adele personally, but think it might be poised for popularity thanks to the singer. This isn't necessarily a problem, just an immediate association. Lefebvre is great! Its probably the most relevant honor name and it's so unique. The only issue would be having to spell it for people, but since it's not a first name I can't imagine this being a problem.

AirLand said...

I'm not contradicting how the LW pronounces Lefebvre- if that's how her family pronounces it, then that's what it is- but, the French pronunciation would be more like luh-fevr. The "r" is a back of the throat sound- not like anything we use in English.

I think it's nice that since you honored your family with your son's name, that you would honor your husband's family with your daughter's name.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that middle names should be just that... a name and not a last name. As a prior comment already mentioned sometimes children are called by their middle names when the first name cannot be used. My sister has a very common first name and was called by her middle name in college to avoid any confusion. She has a ridiculous middle name and my mother was horrified. She stated several times that she never intended for her middle name to be used as a first name, but it was. Also, this will be a name that this child will be having to write, print, etc on documents for the rest of her life. Sometimes a connection for the parent does not carry through to the daily life of a child. I cannot imagine writing a difficult name over and over again. I say stick with Adele.

Anonymous said...

It looks like this little girl will already have Bee as a back-up name if by some bizarre chance she ends up in a situation where Phoebe is too popular. I was called by my middle name in college too...but it never would have happened if I didn't really like my middle name and deliberately suggest it to people as an alternative. LeFebvre will be hard for some people to spell and pronounce...but for a little girl who grows up with it it'll be no more difficult than any other 8 letter name. And for anyone else who has trouble with it...it's a middle name, so it probably won't come up much.

Patricia said...

Since your son's mn is from your family, it does seem to balance things by choosing a middle name from your husband's side. Also since your son and you share a middle name, I can see why your first name isn't being considered as a mn for this baby.

Of your three "contestants", I love Phoebe Adele Hirsh. I also like the idea of using your MIL's maiden name ... except the pronunciation of Lefebvre will have to be explained again and again, and most likely Lefebvre often will be misspelled on records that include a middle name. I'm assuming your MIL's first name is not an option? If so, I would go with Adele, honoring not so much Phoebe's great-great-great-aunt but her grandmother's (your husband's mom's) French heritage/ancestry.

Anonymous said...

Phoebe Lefebvre sounds and looks very awkward. It also reminds me of "Phineas and Ferb," which is a strong cultural association from this current generation of children.

Phoebe Adele is gorgeous.

"Phoebe A. Hirsh"

Emily said...

I love maiden names in the first or middle spot, and therefore I love Phoebe Lefebvre.

Eva.G said...

Another vote for Phoebe Lefebvre. I was surprised to see Adele had so many votes, but I'm guessing that's because a lot of people vote without reading the post. At first glance, I would've chosen Adele as well, just because it's a pretty name and flows well. But if you read the background story, the honor name for your MIL is the swaying factor (plus it IS so fun to say!). I agree with using maiden names as honor names, to carry on a family name that otherwise may not be carried on. Plus, your MIL will be thrilled, and think how she'll feel when she hears the baby's named after her! :)

Allison said...

I like the idea of the middle name as a fall-back option, but I like it even better as a place to put a solid honor name, and I don't know many people who dislike their first names enough to go by their middle names. I voted for Phoebe Lefebvre.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Phoebe Lefebrve because I like the sound, but I just wanted to point that a great-grandmother or a great-great aunt, especially one that lived to over 100, isn't necessarily a "distant" connection like people are assuming. It sounds like these were very significant people in your husband's life, and almost definitely important to your mother-in-law too, so I'm sure everyone would understand the specialness of honoring one of them in your daughter's name.

Anonymous said...

There have been some comments in favor of Lefebrve as the middle name in order to pass along Phoebe's paternal grandmother's maiden name. But I'm wondering if that's even an issue: does she have brothers who are carrying on the name?

I voted for Phoebe Adele Hirsh. I think she may prefer to have that pretty combination -- which ties into her grandmother's French background, rather than the rather unwieldy Lefebvre. (I for one have to look at the spelling of it every time before typing it.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for your input!
-Morgan

MommyKate said...

I just adore Phoebe Lefebvre, It is simply timeless and lovely. Thats all!

Jessica said...

Baby Bea is such a cute nickname! I love her whole name, too.