Since I grew up without one myself, you'd think that I would have been over-the-top creative when it came to giving my kids their middle names. True, the ones my hub and I chose are beautiful and go well with their first names, but we still went with two of the most popular middle names for children. My kids haven't raised any objections yet, but I'm still bracing myself for the day when they gripe, "Couldn't you have been just a little more original?"
Or maybe they never will. After all, certain names make such a perfect filler between first names and surnames that people take it for granted that new parents will pick from that list. What's really interesting is that most of these names have stood the test of generations. As reported by Cleveland TV station Fox8, the genealogy site MooseRoots researched the millions of middle names from the Social Security Death Index and put together a comprehensive list of the top 10 boys' and girls' middle names of the last 115 years. While some in-betweeners have seen a drop in popularity (Louise, Francis, and Irene were hot back in the early 1900s; not so much today), others are still as frequently used as they were in our great-grandparents' day.
As Time recently reported, the history of middle names goes back to ancient Rome, but the custom became increasingly popular starting in 13th-century Italy. Today, we use middle names to honor relatives, to give a nod to a second-choice name, or just because we like the way it sounds in the center. Take a look and see whether your own children's middle names are on this list. (Bet they are.)
Whether you prefer to add or drop the "e" (Anne Shirley of Green Gables fame had a definite preference), this monosyllabic middle name goes especially well with a longer first name. According to The Bump, the definition of Anne is for "God has favored me" and is of Hebrew origin.
Another well-loved name, Joseph means "Jehovah increases," per Nameberry. Because it belongs to important figures in both the Old and New Testaments of the bible, it suits both Christian and Jewish families equally.
This lovely floral name made BabyCenter's list of "short and sweet" names. It's experiencing a slight resurgence as a first name, but most parents prefer to drop it into the second-place slot.
"The most enduring of the Biblical names," according to Baby Name Wizard, John means "God is gracious," and like most one-syllable names, makes a simple and strong addition to a first name.
The MooseRoots study found that Grace jumped onto the top 10 girls' middle name list beginning in 2000, and as of 2015, it was holding strong at the #2 spot.
A Celtic name meaning "handsome," according to Nameberry, Allen has been a favorite middle name since the '40s. Oddly, the alternate spelling of Alan doesn't seem to be as much of a hit.
From the Greek for "victory of the people," per Baby Center, Nicole has been a middle-name winner since the '80s.
Behind the Name reported that James is the English form of the Greek and Latin variants of the Hebrew name Jacob (confused yet?), and has the distinction of being the name of two of Jesus's apostles. It's also another classy one-syllable middle-name choice that hasn't left the top 10 in more than 100 years.
Nameberry noted that Faith is one of those trendy "Middle Names With Meaning." The pretty Latin-derived name is a way to show the world the value you want to pass on to your daughter.
Not every middle name has to be super-short. Alexander, meaning "warrior," is a perfect example. Alexander pairs well with shorter first names such as Noah, Liam, Mason, and Logan, according to Baby Name Science.
The same holds true for longer girls' names, such as Elizabeth. The Hebrew name meaning "pledged to God" is a great middle name for shorter first names like Tess, reported Baby Gaga.
From the Hebrew for "beloved," David is #23 as a boys' first name, according to Nameberry, but MooseRoots reported that it's also been a favorite middle name since the '70s.
This pretty French name meaning "rebirth" has plummeted in popularity as a first name, according to The Bump, but has held steady as a middle name for nearly 60 years.
The MooseRoots report found that this name, which is English for "meadow," has been popular as a middle name with both boys and girls for the last 12 decades. A cool trend? Definite-lee!
It may have a "plain" rep, but maybe that's the appeal of this female variant of John. You can match it with a fancier first name like Arabella, Madeleine, Sophie, or Olivia, for a solid combination that doesn't go over-the-top.
From the Germanic words for "will" and "helmet," per Behind the Name, William is super-hot as a first name right now, but has been right up there as a middle name for decades.
BabyCenter noted that this Anglo-Saxon name meaning "cascade" has come to take on a distinctive Southern identity (think of Steel Magnolias' M'Lynn, a nickname for Mary Lynn). But Lynn has been a common middle name since the '50s, so it must appeal to Northern families as well.
Holding the #16 spot on Nameberry's popular first-name boy list, Matthew zoomed onto the middle-name charts in 2010 and shows no sign of dropping off. Either way, it's a solid name meaning "gift of God," the site explained.
Consistently at or near the top of the girls' middle-name list in every generation, Marie is a classic middle name that shows no sign of ever falling out of favor. In English-speaking countries, this French variant of Mary became popular in the late 1800s, according to Nameberry. The religious association with the Virgin Mary likely has a lot to do with it, not to mention the fact that it just sounds pretty when paired with just about any first name.