Name Help: A Brother for Mae Elinor

Name Help: A Brother for Mae ElinorName 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!

Kate writes:

We love our daughter’s name, Mae Elinor. I like the way it’s strong but sweet. And I love that everyone knows the name, but she’s the only Mae we’ve ever met.

Now we are expecting our second and last baby. It’s a boy! My husband loves the name Max. And I do, too!

But I’m not convinced that Mae and Max go together.

It it helps, our last name sounds like Tennessee-with-an-H. We both have short names, and we’d like to stick with one-syllable names for our kids, too. If this baby was a girl, we were thinking about Rose. The only middle name we’re seriously considering is Wallace, a family name on my husband’s side.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

A name can break lots of rules and still be the perfect choice.

I’d re-frame the question.

Imagine you couldn’t use the name Max for some very specific and insurmountable reason.

If that were true, what names would you consider instead?

Because Max is your clear frontrunner, right?

It’s perfect with your surname, and fits the style of names you clearly prefer – brief, traditional-ish, maybe a tiny bit vintage but perfectly familiar today.

What other names check the same boxes?

Let’s come up with a list. It’s possible that some name will make you pause and say “ooh … I like that a lot … maybe more than Max.”

If that happens, then you have a decision to make.

And if not?

Then you can move forward with naming your new son Max.

Because – this is the question I think you’re really asking – while they’re visually close, they’re not that close when spoken.

And they’re similar in a way that might be kind of fun: Mae and Max.

Is it a bit of a matched set? Sure.

Would naming be a challenge if you welcomed surprise twins in two years? Maybe.

But Mae and Max seem to be on the right side of problematic, even if their kindergarten signatures on artwork could be tough to decipher years later.

Moving on to names that might substitute for Max!



The names share the same long A sound, but Mae and Chase still sound nicely distinct.


Finn reads daring and a little bit carefree. It matches Mae in an unexpected way.


Just as Mae is a gentle nature name, bringing to mind all things Spring, Heath also nods to the natural world.


A high-energy mini name, with a vintage vibe.


A strong sound that pairs nicely with Mae.


Luke shares many of the same qualities with Jude, though it’s a much more popular choice.


Okay, Theo is two syllables – but maybe that’s just fine? The bright O ending is a plus.


An edgy, cool sound with deep roots.


Overall, I like Theo Wallace or Finn Wallace with Mae Elinor. But I’m not sure I’d rule out Max!

Readers, I can’t wait to hear what you think: is Max too close to Mae? What names would you suggest for Mae Elinor’s brother?

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Name Help: A Brother for Mae Elinor