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Popular Baby NamesName Help: A Brother for Theo and Oliver

Name Help: A Brother for Theo and Oliver

Name Help: A Brother for Theo and OliverName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Macy writes:

We have two boys, Theodore James and Oliver Michael. We call Theodore just Theo 99% of the time. Oliver is Ollie and Oliver equal amounts in our house, but Oliver everywhere else (so far). James and Michael were just names we thought flowed with their first names.

Our third and final baby will be here soon. If it was a girl, I had a list of names to use: Marigold, Elinor, Caroline, Hadley, Cecilia. A little all over the place, maybe, but a long list.

But it’s a boy!  Oliver was the only thing we could agree on for our second son. I really wanted Everett. I don’t think we can have Oliver and Everett, so that leaves us with four names.

  • Ezekiel “Zeke” – my husband’s favorite, but our last name sounds like Lawrence and I don’t really like the way the L sounds run together. We have it with Oliver’s middle name already, but it’s only his middle, so it’s not so bad. I do like Zeke a lot, and agree it needs a “real” name.
  • Matthew – I want to love this name, but I feel like it’s kind of boring. (Sorry to all the Matts out there!! But we just know so many.) Still, we definitely agree on it, and it’s always been kind of near the bottom of our list.
  • Conrad – a new name on the list, and yes, it’s from The Summer I Turned Pretty. I think we can overlook that, but … will everyone else know?!
  • Frederick – I don’t think I’m brave enough to use this name, even though I love it. And Freddie!! I’m all heart eyes for Freddie! But then Fred is … just not my style at all.

Which one of our names would you choose? Can you suggest anything that we haven’t thought about that goes with Theo and Oliver?

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your third son!

I think the tough thing about your third kiddo – especially your third of the same gender – is that you’ve probably used your favorite names already. And, of course, you can’t come too close to your older kids’ names and you just know so many more children. It makes the search even more complicated, right?

Let’s start by talking through your four finalists. It doesn’t feel like you’re in love with any of them, but I think there are two stand-outs.

I’m going to rank them, in this order:


Classic, enduring Matthew is a great choice for a son. But maybe not for your son. Because yes – I feel like Matt is the Bob of a younger generation. Friendly, accessible – and kind of everywhere, too.


What is it about Fred? Even after the engaging Weasley twin wore the name, Fred still feels very Flinstone to me. Or Mr. Rogers. Not a child’s name! But what if Fred could be Freddie forever? That seems plausible, doesn’t it? I mean, I’ve known men who never stopped being Charlie, Danny, Matty, even Joey. Still, it’s a strike against this choice.


So I don’t hear the conflict between Ezekiel and sounds-like-Lawrence. Since I don’t know your exact surname, maybe I’m missing it. But it sounds like your son would be Zeke 99% of the time, just like Theodore is pretty much always Theo. And Zeke sounds-like-Lawrence is smashing. Still, I’m ranking this one second instead of first because if you hear a conflict, then no amount of me saying I don’t will really matter, right?


I’ve had my eye on Conrad forever as an underused classic. It’s just been waiting for a little nudge. The Summer I Turned Pretty might be exactly what Conrad needed to feel rediscovered once more. Make no mistake – it’s a successful book/series, but it’s not exactly Game of Thrones. Have I seen #TeamConrad and #TeamJeremiah tee shirts? Yes. But I also have a daughter in the YA demographic, so this is far more on my radar than most people. I’m guessing that almost no one will ask if you found the name there … and by the time your Conrad heads to kindergarten? It will be a memory.

Which is a very long way of saying that I’m putting Conrad at #1. It has the same style as Theo and Oliver, and seems like it’s on the precipice of rediscovery – perfection.

Let me add just a few more names, because you did mention fresh ideas:


Technically, Graham is rising in use – it’s been in the Top 200 since 2014, and is generally moving upward. But it’s slow, steady gains. I think that makes Graham an underused classic, and a strong choice for a son.


Joseph is too much like Matthew, right? But Jonah shares some of the style of chart-topping Noah while still feeling a little bit different.


A Top 100 staple, Julian shares the same gentlemanly vibe as Oliver and Theodore.


Maybe this is too similar to Ezekiel called Zeke? But Nathaniel is maybe a little more mainstream than Ezekiel – a perfect brother name for Oliver and Theodore. And Theo, Oliver, and Nate sound exactly right to my ear.

Overall, I’d keep Conrad and Ezekiel called “Zeke” from your original list, but I’d add Jonah into the mix, and possibly Nathaniel called “Nate” or Graham, too. I just think they sound so good together as brother names, but also hit the sweet spot – still your style, but not nearly as common.

Readers, over to you! What would you name a brother for Theodore “Theo” James and Oliver Michael? What do you think of Matthew, Conrad, Ezekiel “Zeke,” and Frederick?

More names you might like:

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