Baby Names Home > Middle Name Meanings

When choosing a baby's middle name, many couples choose names that are more sentimental than the first name. There are several ways to look at middle name meanings, such as what the name means to you and the literal meaning of the name. Although every name has a literal meaning, you may decide to choose a name in honor of another person who has been influential in your life.


An Overview of Middle Name Meanings

It's an exciting time to find out you are pregnant and that there is going to be a new addition to your family! And of course, as soon as everyone else hears the good news, one of the first questions they will ask you is what you are going to name the baby. It can be a little daunting to try to determine the perfect name that your child will have for the rest of his or her life…but try to relax -- this is one of the fun steps along this journey.
Once you have gotten over the hurdle of choosing a first name, it is time to take the next step in naming your baby -- deciding on a middle name. As you start thinking about the right middle name for your baby, it may seem even more difficult than the first name, because it has to "go" with the first name. Middle names have different meanings for different people -- it is definitely in the "eye of the beholder." Whether you look at it sentimentally or literally (by looking at the translation and origin of the name), the meaning is there.

Choosing the "Right" Middle Name and Meanings

Although the middle name may not be used as often as the first (most often when the child is in trouble and the mother firmly says the full name to get the child's attention), the middle name will have some meaning -- one way or another.
In some cases, the parents-to-be will choose a middle name that is more sentimental than the first name to honor someone who was inspirational to them. On the other hand, couples may want to choose a name based on its literal meaning so that it will define how they envision their child -- maybe they see their child as "strong," as "a gift," or "full of joy." Regardless of the reason, there is a meaning behind every middle name.
What is in the meaning of a middle name? There are a number of ways to look at middle name meanings. These include:
  • The literal meaning of the name
  • The sentimental meaning.
The Literal Meaning of a Middle Name
Many middle names have a literal meaning associated with them. The study of words and their meanings is known as etymology. Etymology involves studying:
  • When a word entered a language
  • What source the word came from
  • How the word's form and meaning have changed over time.
These factors can affect how a middle name is spelled, how it sounds, and what it means.
Many names have a literal meaning (translation and origin of the name) associated with them.
Literal name meanings can be based on the origin of the name (i.e., what country it originated in) and what that word or combination of words meant in their particular language. For example, the first name meaning of Alexander is "helper of mankind." Etymologically, the name derives from alex-, the compound form of alexis meaning "refuge, protection, defense," together with -andros, the compound form of aner, the Greek word for "man." Thus, it may be roughly translated as "helper or protector of mankind."
Some people may choose to give their child a middle name based on the literal meaning. For example, some couples may have endured a tough road to have this child or the unborn child may have faced complications during pregnancy. In this case, a couple may want to choose a name that means "fighter" for their baby. In looking at the eMedTV Babybuilder tool, they could search the meaning "fighter," and come up with a few names, such as Dustin and Palladin. These names could start the couple off with a literal middle name that truly characterizes what their child has already gone through.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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