When it comes to naming your baby, a lot of stock is put into the most popular names for that year, and how you want your child to fit into — or stand apart from — the crowd. But things tend to change when you get to middle names, with parents getting more adventurous, more classic, or sometimes, eschewing the process altogether.

Middle names were traditionally only given to British aristocracy, according to NameCandy.com, and North Americans adopted the practice in the mid-19th century. They were often given for religious reasons (like linking a child to a saint) or to honour a family name.

Today, middle names can vary from using a mother's maiden name (if she's changed it) to taking the opportunity to go for that out-there name you weren't fully committed to as a first name. Like naming your baby in the first place, there's no right or wrong, though BabyNameGenie.com does suggest picking a middle name that starts with a different letter or sound than the first name ends with for a smoother combination. They also recommend varying the number of syllables in each name just to make things easier.

Below, we've come up with some ways to find middle name inspiration for your child. Check out some options and let us know — did you know what your child's middle name was going to be right away? How did you choose it? Let us know in the comments below:

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  • Colours

    Not everyone wants to name their baby "Blue," but they might be inclined towards making it a middle name. <b>Options</b>: Gray, Teal, Mauve, Slate

  • Virtue Names

    Virtue names give some sort of characteristic along with the name — and yes, generally a positive one. <b>Options</b>: Joy, Hope, Justice, Royal, Patience

  • Family Name

    Whether it's a family member whose name you'd like to honour (or just plain old like), or a last name you want remembered, family names are easy inspiration for middle names. <b>Options</b>: That all depends on your family, but old-fashioned names like Thomas, Ethel, Samuel and Florence have all made a return recently

  • Ethereal Names

    Naming your child after a god or goddess might seem a little much to some, so if you're a bit modest, it's a beautiful option for a middle name. And don't just switch to Greek or Roman mythology — Nordic names are certainly inspired. <b>Options</b>: Athena, Freya, Delling, Ares, Isis

  • Street Names

    If there's a street that holds a special place in you and your partner's life, why not use that as a middle name for your child? It probably was named after someone anyway. <b>Options</b>: Waverly (New York), Melrose (Los Angeles), Sussex (Ottawa) ... or really, any of the many thousands of street names you've encountered in your life

  • Movie Or TV Characters

    Have a favourite movie or TV show, but not quite willing to have your child called Bueller their whole life? Make the character name your child's middle name, and let them decide later! <b>Options</b>: Ferris, Inigo, Marge, Rocky, Hermione

  • Literary Characters

    Or perhaps someone's name in a book once caught your fancy, but you aren't 100 per cent committed to it. Authors' names (and last names) tend to work too. <b>Options</b>: Gatsby, Fitzgerald, Poe, Eyre, Ramona, Humbert

  • Flowers And Greenery

    Flower and plant names are simply gorgeous, and can work as a beautiful link between your child's first and last names. <b>Options</b>: Aspen, Tulip, Peony, Elm, Azalea

  • Bodies Of Water

    We're not talking about putting "Atlantic" in your baby's name (but if you want to, go for it!), but instead, the general terms. They're surprisingly beautiful, if you hadn't noticed before. <b>Options</b>: Bay, Lake, River, Sea

  • A Letter

    Stay with us, here. If you can't find a particular name, but love a certain letter, why not just make that <i>into</i> a name? Your child can always pick an actual name with that letter once they're older. <b>Options</b>: Bee, Jay, Kay, Em, Vee

  • Spices

    Food names are in a category of their own, but spices in particular can make for a lovely sounding middle name. <b>Options</b>: Sage, Golpar, Anise, Neem

  • Video Game Characters

    Obviously, we're not talking about Pac-Man or Sackboy, but video game character names can be absolutely gorgeous. And if you're a gamer, it's one way to honour your passion. <b>Options</b>: Zelda, Ryo, Raziel, Sora, Ezio

  • Take On The Trend

    There's a reason why baby names become trendy and why people love them — it's because they're hitting something in the zeitgeist that just works. So if you love Ella, but don't want your daughter to be one of four in her class, make it her middle name. <b>Options</b>: Liam, Jacob, William, Emma, Olivia, Sophia

  • Maiden Name

    This is becoming an increasingly popular option for parents who have given the child the father's last name, but want to make the mother's last name a part of their life too. <b>Options</b>: Obviously, it's your last name, but look through your family's maiden names to see if there's anything else that inspires

  • Unisex Name

    Not everyone wants to have a definitively unisex name for their child's first name, even if they love what they sound like. So why not make that the middle name? <b>Options</b>: Ridley, Drew, Brett, Hayden, Payton

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