Monday, November 4

Third Human

I'm mostly posting this as an entry in a virtual baby book, but Ottilie and Cosima have a brand new baby brother, and I thought I should post about how we chose his name.

This was the list of first names that was on the fridge during my pregnancy— Ambrose, Levon, Lucius, Marlon, Ulysses, Winston. I made pros/cons for every one. Marlon (made-up) and Ulysses (“to hate”) had bad meanings. I got tired of Ambrose and Levon after a while. Lucius and Winston were our favorites towards the end, but I worried about the rising popularity of Winston. Lucius had the best meaning (“light”) and was Ottilie’s favorite.

Lucius is also my father-in-law's name. I always said I wouldn’t use family names for my children, but Lucius had been on my long list for as long as I’ve kept one— since before my husband Brian and I even met. Still, it didn’t come up as a short list contender until I was pregnant. Marlon, our long-time boy favorite, suddenly didn’t feel quite right. I’m still not sure why, but it lost a bit of its luster once a real boy was on the horizon. 

Two of my favorites that got eliminated by Brian and Ottilie were Raphael and Salvador, and two that got far but didn’t make it to the fridge list were Ptolemy and Severin— I really loved Raphael “Rafe” and Brian really liked Ptolemy, but we ultimately vetoed each other. Balthasar and Peregrine were two others that we floated around for a while. 

His name wasn’t decided until the morning after he was born, but I did secretly buy two Lucius-personalized things while I was pregnant. During a period of alertness right after his birth, I spoke each name to the baby to see his reaction— he responded most to Lucius and Levon. 

His middle name was a real search. Our girls both have the middle names of writers we love-- Valentine, for Henry Miller, and Kindred, for Philip K. Dick. We wanted to stick to the theme, but were open to something complementary as well. The list on the fridge paired first names with Atwood, Constant, Makepeace and Somerset. Makepeace and Somerset fit our theme although neither of us have read any Maugham, so that felt a bit poser-y. Vanity Fair and Thackeray were an early bonding thing for Brian and me, so Makepeace felt perfect, if a little… big

I liked Constant, especially with Lucius, for the “constant light” meaning. Constant is also the surname of a character in a Philip K. Dick novel, so there is still a literary connection, and as a word, I liked that "valentine," "kindred" and "constant" could all be associated with love. Brian came up with Atwood, which is obviously literary but not a middle name. I did like that it honored a female writer, since the girls have such masculine namesakes. At the very end I finally found a woman writer’s middle name that we loved— St. Vincent, for the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, but it was too new to the list when he was born. I also really wanted Future as a middle name, and think I could have convinced Brian, but Lucius Future sounds terrible, and his surname also has a long U-sound.

In the end, for our third kid, last-ever name decision, we decided to go big or go home, and I couldn’t resist completing the theme. So Lucius Makepeace he is. 🌞


  1. Congratulations, his name is wonderful and the sibling set goes together nicely!

  2. Congratulations! What a lovely little guy, and a great name. Thanks for sharing his name story.

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