A reader writes: “I am a 17-year-old FTM. I know my first and last name choices to change, but I am having a hard time on a middle name. I wanted to know how you decided on yours, and do you have any suggestions for me?”
Middle names are interesting, and they can be just as important as first names, depending on how you intend to use them. I chose my middle name (and my first name) based solely on what my parents were going to name me if I had been born a boy. But there are plenty of other ways to choose a middle name.
If you have one name that you absolutely love, then go with it. But you sent me a list of several that you were considering, which I’m not printing because it could identify you. However, here are some things I would suggest thinking about when choosing a middle name:
1. Preference: When you give your friends a list of the names you are considering, is there one that you secretly hope they will not choose? If so, eliminate that one, then give them the list of remaining names. Is there another one that you secretly hope that they will not choose? Then eliminate that one, and so on. If there is always one name that you secretly hope they will choose, then there’s your middle name.
2. Timelessness: Will your middle name stand the test of time? For example, Kanye West is huge right now, and maybe he is your favorite artist. But in twenty years, will you still want the middle name of Kanye? (Kanye will likely be happy with his name for the rest of his life, but he is Kanye West.) Think about how your name will stand up in twenty, thirty, or fifty years. Of course, your tastes will probably change, and you don’t know right now what they might be, but try to project yourself into the future. What name might you want? I would recommend avoiding “fads.”
3. Roll-off-the-tongue-ness (aka ease of pronunciation): There are certain names that just work together based on how they flow off the tongue. How do you think you might be using your middle name in the future? If you might be in a position to have your first, middle, and last name spoken together often, look at the syllable combinations and how they sound together: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King.
If you plan to use your first initial and middle name, once again, think about how it all sounds together: F. Scott Fitzgerald, J. Edgar Hoover, L. Ron Hubbard, C. Thomas Howell.
The same thing applies if you plan to use your middle initial along with your first and last name: George W. Bush, Michael J. Fox, Samuel L. Jackson.
In addition, there are some catchy things you might do, depending on your last name. Years ago in Nebraska, there was a famous college football player named Isiah Moses Walter Hipp. He went by I.M. Hipp. It was actually pretty cool. If I recall, he even had a personalized license plate that said that. Most people don’t get that lucky, but if you’re choosing your entire name from start to finish, you can do whatever you want. Once again, though, you probably don’t want to be too “cutesy” or “faddish.” You will be living with this for a while.
4. Combinations: What do your initials look like when placed in a row of three (such as on your luggage)? Are they FUK, DOG, PIG, KKK? Now, I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have these initials and they get along just fine, but if you are selecting between several names and can’t decide, this could certainly figure into your choice.
Once again, if you’ve got a name you love, then none of this applies. Pick that one. But if you’re undecided, one or more of these thoughts might help you make that choice.
Readers, what do you think? How did you pick your middle name?