What, to you, is the point of middle names?

Sometimes I feel like I don’t get the point, other than using it as an excuse to throw another shred of identity in there. I really have never used my middle name and neither has hubby. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who uses theirs, outside of facebook :roll:

My name list includes middles but only because it’s what I’m accustomed to, I often feel like I should leave them out entirely - and actually plan to with the first names I have that are three syllables or more. Our last name is only two syllables and, for some reason, three or four in an entire name doesn’t feel like “enough,” but more than five or six feels like too much - I know, dumb.

Anyway, if you really sit down and think about it, what is the true PURPOSE of middle names?
Taking it further, I’m sure we can all think of reasons to give a middle name (honoring a loved one, using ‘that other name we also love’) - but what are the reasons to have a middle name? Is it all for that extra “shred of identity?” Then why do so many use filler middles, is it purely tradition at that point?


Middle names are secret names unless you actually use your middle name. Which is what I do.
Middle names are also back-up names, plan “B” just in case you don’t like your first name.
Middle names can be lovely, gentle bridges of sound between the first name and the last name. Or they can be a long dashing splash of sound that in most cases is usually not spoken or written but known well by the closest family members and friends.
Middle names can honor a relative, a dear friend, a favorite author, or a hero.
A middle name can be the favorite name of the parent who didn’t get to choose the first name.
Middle names can be the maiden names of mothers, grandmothers, or even great grandmothers.
I just love middle names!

My middle name is absolutely pointless. I am one of a million zillion females born in the 70s with the middle name of [name]Ann[/name] (no e, I totally get you [name]Anne[/name] of [name]Green[/name] Gables). My sister’s middle name was equally boring - [name]Maree[/name]. They are so pedestrian, and there is no interesting family reason.

My first daughter’s name is [name]Frederique[/name]. To us this was such a perfect, wonderful, resonant, poetic name that we both felt there was no need for a middle name. It’s a malleable name (she can be tomboyish [name]Fred[/name], cute girly [name]Freddie[/name] or more sensible [name]Freddy[/name], or elegant [name]Frederique[/name]).

My second daughter is [name]Una[/name] [name]Pearl[/name]. We called her [name]Pearl[/name] when she was in utero (it started as a joke), and then fell in love with the name, but really loved [name]Una[/name]. To me it is, like [name]Susan[/name] suggested, her secret name (though occasionally we still use it with her as a nickname). It also gives her name a certain poetry, and I think three syllables flows better with their double-barrel surname (my name and my husband’s name).

With the baby boy (supposedly) I am having now we might use my husband’s father’s name as a middle name as he died last year (which was part of the reason we both suddenly felt very committed to having a third baby) and I know it would be very much appreciated by family.

To me a middle name for the sake of it, with no narrative history, is pointless, and I wouldn’t bother. It needs to either be wicked cool or meaningful and contribute to the rhythm and poetry of the name, or I’d just skip it.

Middle names are useful for identification purposes, to distinguish you from another person with the same name. This is especially true if you have a common last name, which in my case I don’t but I can still Google or Facebook search myself and find other girls and women with the same first AND last name as mine.

Unfortunately for me, like the PP with the MN [name]Ann[/name], I got a filler middle name when my mom chose “[name]Marie[/name]” for mine. To make matters worse, my sister’s MN is “[name]Mary[/name]”. Obviously my mother cared little for middle names and only chose them for our baptism. The only place my middle name appeared was on my Baptism certificate, and [name]SI[/name] card. All of my other official documents did not have it on there, so I never even KNEW my middle name until I was 6 or 7 years old.

Having such a boring and not well-thought-out middle name made me wish for one that was more interesting for my own children. I was also influenced by my in-laws, to whom middle names are very important and always chosen with family meanings. Because of their importance in his family, they are actually used more often and so I felt I wanted to put some thought into them. [name]Even[/name] though, in our case, we chose not to honour family members so as not to leave anybody out. We chose different “versions” of family names. My first DD ([name]Claire[/name])'s MN is [name]Elise[/name], a form of [name]Elisabeth[/name], my grandma’s name. My second DD ([name]Sophie[/name])‘s MN is [name]Elinor[/name], sometimes interpreted as a form of [name]Helen[/name], DH’s [name]Nana[/name]. Once I chose those two MNs, now that I am pregnant with #3[name]Steph[/name], I am again choosing an “e” middle name. It helps that I [name]LOVE[/name] so many “e” names, but it makes for a subtle link between my kids’ names.

I love my girls’ middle names, I think they add even more to their first names. [name]Elise[/name] softens [name]Claire[/name], just as [name]Elinor[/name] makes [name]Sophie[/name]'s name stronger-sounding.


I may be wrong about this, but I believe middle names originated as “[name]Christian[/name]” names – that is, it was an extra name given to you when you were baptized as a baby to show that you had been baptized.

Currently middle names are very useful for identification purposes since there are so many people in the world and since information we as a planet are so much more connected to one another via the internet. My husband has a very common last name, and without his middle name he is easily confused with literally hundreds of other people. [name]Add[/name] his middle name, and there is only him (at least as far as I can tell). This helps for legal reasons, and also for issues of publication (he is a scientist).

Another useful feature of a middle name is to give you an initial. Having three initials makes it easier for multiple people to quickly review a document and sign their initials that they have seen it. With only two initials, this really doesn’t work as well.

I’m sure there are other reasons I haven’t thought of as well . . .

I may be wrong about this, but I believe middle names originated as “Christian” names – that is, it was an extra name given to you when you were baptized as a baby to show that you had been baptized.

I’m not sure if this is true, but I know of a few older Catholic women who were born [name]Mary[/name] Something and only use the middle name. The [name]Mary[/name] is because they never used to baptize babies unless they had a saint’s name. If the parents wanted to name the kid something else, they’d have to put a saint name in there too.

But returning to your question, I think most of it is tradition. I know a few people with no middle name (one being my sister) and they all say they wish they had one. I think middle names are kind of cool, especially really unique ones. But they serve other purposes as well- they distinguish you from other people, honor family members, and to serve as a “back up” in case you hate your first name. I know someone who switched from their first to middle name because she prefered her middle.

Personally, I think there are two main reasons:

  1. To honour someone important to you.
  2. As a back-up. If the child does not like their first name, it’s good to have a name to fall back on.

Of course, it could just be that you like the name(s). :wink:

In my opinion, middle names a great for the following reasons:

Gives you a way to honor heroes, friends, and family members.
Gives you a way to honor something else that may be significant for you (a place, your faith, music, etc)
Gives you an opportunity to use a name that you may not be bold enough to use as a first name.
A maiden name or other important family name may be placed in the middle spot.
Give your child another option if they don’t like their first name.

My grandmother didn’t have a middle name. She always wished she had one, so she gave herself one ([name]Victoria[/name]) and started calling herself [name]Vicky[/name]. If I ever have a daughter, I will give her the middle name [name]Victoria[/name] because of this. I think it will be a cool story to tell my little girl one day.

There have been tons of great practical and sentimental reasons listed, so I just want to add that I agree with the poster who said that it is a “secret” name, often not known to those that aren’t close to you. And, who doesn’t love a secret? It is an ancient feeling that knowing a name of someone gives you some kind of power over them-- if you don’t know my middle name, you don’t know all of me?

I guess I see middle names as part back up and a way to give their names more meaning. We haven’t used family names so much as names of favorite saints ([name]Stephen[/name], [name]Joseph[/name], [name]Michelle[/name] (for [name]Michael[/name]), and [name]Rose[/name] (okay that was family but it’s a local saint too).

I hate my middle name - [name]Antoinette[/name]. I always wished I had had the more normal [name]Ann[/name] as a middle name. That experience has kept me very conservative on the middle name front.

To make a pretty monogram?
[name]Every[/name] girl I knew who didnt have a middle name wanted one, and either legally adopted one in their teens or kept their maiden in the middle upon marriage.

I feel like I would like this even better as a tradition.

Children are given one name at birth, and they inherit one surname (or two, if it’s a hyphenate) from their parents. Once they are of age, they choose a middle name for themselves that is to their own taste and suits their own sense of individuality.

If I didn’t know how doggone hard (and expensive) it is to legally change your name in some areas, I might be fully behind this.

I felt like every girl my age (I’m 30) had the middle name [name]Marie[/name]. Nowadays, every other baby girl seems to have the middle name [name]Grace[/name] or [name]Elizabeth[/name]. For boys, everyone’s middle name lately is [name]James[/name].

My middle name is [name]Kae[/name] ([name]Rose[/name] is not really my first name). It was my aunt’s middle name and she died the year before I was born. I have a cousin named [name]Olivia[/name] [name]Kae[/name] and one named [name]Amanda[/name] [name]Kay[/name]. When [name]Amanda[/name] had a baby girl, she chose [name]Kaylen[/name] as a middle name. I actually wish middle names were used more often. I love them! If I have a girl (I’ll find out in three weeks!) I want to name her [name]Ava[/name] [name]Caroline[/name] and call her [name]Ava[/name] [name]Caroline[/name], but my husband doesn’t like [name]Ava[/name] :frowning:

I’m pretty sure that middle names originated as the saint’s name that a person took on as their second name upon their first communion. I feel that middle names can be really important to a person, if they’re not filler names. Mine is my mother’s maiden name, so it connects me even more to her side of the family.