Matilda Plum, anyone?
Since I've been reading a lot about "filler" middle names lately, I thought this post was right on time. "Filler" middle names are the ones we end up using for lack of a better name. They are the safe, overused, short names we stick between first and last names just because we "know" a child should have a middle name. It just sounds nice is the main reason they're chosen. They do work very well - they definitely get the job done, especially for parents who put more emphasis on the meaning of the first name and for those who choose a very long or unusual first name. The prime examples are Lynn, Rose, Marie, Jane, Anne, Grace, May and Claire. As for longer "fillers," Katherine/Catherine and Elizabeth are usually prime suspects. There are others, but I'll keep this shorter than it could be. Not every name qualifies as a "filler." Initials definitely qualify (99.999% of the time) but unusual, exotic, international, unisex names do not. I keep hoping that one day the Social Security Administration will release a separate list of middle name popularity (seeing as they've already done so for twin names). The "fillers" listed above do not count, of course, if those are family names or names you truly love. Meaning, such as saying you love roses so you chose Rose, has little to do with a middle name qualifying as a "filler." This is only in the case of "I couldn't think of anything." You might get some people that suspect they're fillers anyway, but that will be rare.
Anyway, how do the above "filler" middle names rank as first names on the charts? Would it be better to just use them up front?
Lynn - not in top 1000
Rose - #291
Marie - #599 (Mary was #112)
Jane - #368
Anne - #593 (but Anna was #38)
Grace - #16
May - not in top 1000
Claire - #50
Katherine - #61
Catherine - #161, still quite popular
Elizabeth - this "only sometimes" filler ranks at #11
I would suggest using one of these as a first name only if a) you love it more, or b) it is less popular than what you would use as the first name. For example, if you love both May and Elizabeth equally, use May up front and Elizabeth as the middle name. This way you get to use both names but a little May won't share her name with as many others as a little Elizabeth would.
There is a new generation of filler names coming about. These are still short, usually one syllable names, that are a little more creative or unusual. Plum, Lark, Winter, June, Pearl, Fay, Lane and Wren are the ones I've seen more often. Out of these, June is the only name in the top 1000 for girls, currently at #470, and Lane, for boys, ranks at #270. I'll post back in ten years and let you know how they're faring. =)
My advice is to use your chance to pick a stunning middle name that will set your child apart from the next, especially if she or he has a common first name. It would be one thing to meet someone else with your first name, possibly even first and last name, but it would be too much to meet someone with both your first and middle name. The parent would feel bummed out, but the child might immediately consider a name change.