I doubt we’ll ever have a third child. There are dozens of practical reasons.

And one reason that’s trivial for him, dead serious for me: we could never agree on a name.

We do have a few candidates, scraps from the cutting room floor. I’ve mentioned them in comments from time to time, but I thought a round-up was in order.

Our girls’ list is first; I’ll post the boys’ list later.

1. The frontrunner: Rosemary, nicknamed Romy

My grandmother was born Maria Rosa and known as Rose Marie. I adored my grandmother and miss her constantly. Rosemary/Romy works with the kids’ names, too – Alexander, Claire Caroline and Rosemary. Alexei, Clio and Romy. Aly, Clio and Romy. Alex, Clio and Romy.

The only trouble? We’d have named two daughters after my female relatives, while Arthur’s side of the family is out in the cold.

2. Grace Genevieve, nicknamed Gigi

This was our long-time second name for a daughter. It mirrors the pattern of Clio’s formal name and honors Arthur’s mother, Grazyna. (It’s a Polish name that sounds something like this – grah JZIN ah. My mother still can’t say it. I’m not sure that I can, either.)

Trouble is? I don’t much care for Grace. Neither does my mother-in-law. When she first came to the US she actively resisted others’ attempts to Anglicize her name as Grace. I love Gigi, and instantly think of the musical with Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” But I can see it is the kind of diminutive that you’d want to shed before, say, clerking for a circuit court judge.

I’ve also toyed with Hanae or Hannelore on the theory that they mean grace, but that’s a stretch.

3. Helena, nicknamed Laney

This is another name plucked from Arthur’s family tree, but this time far enough back that we weren’t even aware of it until Arthur’s mother mentioned the name. It works nearly just as well as Romy with the other kids’ names – Aly, Clio and Laney. Alex, Clio and Laney. Alexander, Claire Caroline and Helena.

4. Penelope, nicknamed Polly

It’s a name I’ve long loved, and a way to connect to another family name – Paulina, Arthur’s cousin and Aly’s godmother. But somehow Clio and Polly don’t sound like sisters to me. There are also two little Pollys in our ‘hood already.

5. Georgia, Olwen

George is a family name on my dad’s side, as is Olwen. I’d probably reserve Olwen for the middle spot, and I don’t think Georgia pairs well with Clio.

6. Margaret, nicknamed Daisy or Marguerite, nicknamed Daisy

Arthur’s aunt is Małgorzata, the Polish form of Margaret. I like Marguerite much better than Margaret, partially because I had a Great Aunt Griet. (I assume she, too, was baptized Margaret.) So yes, I’m using a Polish formal name and a Dutch nickname (that I can’t explain, because no one in my family is Dutch, at all, though there was a pair of wooden shoes in my grandmother’s house) to arrive at a French name. Which we’d put aside in favor of a botanical nickname anyhow.

8. Diana, nicknamed Daisy or Anya

My eye-poppingly strange maiden name was Niadna, which can be anagramed to spell Dianna. Arthur wouldn’t go for a variant spelling, but he likes Diana. Neither nickname follows naturally, but I think both work well. Anya also reminds me of my great-grandmother Anna.

9. Cordelia, nicknamed Delia, Adelaide or Avalon

My nickname for Arthur is Del, and so I’ve long looked for feminine names that incorporate the element. Adelaide was an early front-runner, but could we really have an Abby and an Addie in the same house? Plus I’m convinced that Addie is going to supernova by 2012.

Cordelia is another option, one I like quite a bit, especially with the nickname Delia. Alexander, Claire Caroline and Cordelia. Aly, Clio and Delia. Alex, Clio and Delia – hmmm … it does raise the question of whatever happened to Baby B.

In Arthurian legend, Avalon is paradise. It’s a subtle connection to Dad’s given name, but one that I quite like, especially in the middle spot.

10. Isabeau

I’ve long loved this medieval variant of Elizabeth. My little sister answers to the nickname Bo, so Isabeau seems like a fitting choice.

Once upon a time, I toyed with incorporating Boadicea, the first century warrior queen of the Iceni, in a child’s name for the same reasons. But the more accurate spelling is probably Boudica, and there’s debate about whether the pronunciation begins with a boo rather than a bo.

11. Iris

For my grandmother Irene, though it doesn’t sound great with our last name. Too bad, because Clio and Iris sound like sisters, and I think she works with Aly and Clio nearly as well as Romy.

12. Ellery

For my stepgrandfather, Irene’s husband, a thoroughly good egg. I’ve considered it in the middle spot for a daughter or a son.

13. Noor/Nora/Elinor and Lucy/Lucia/Luca/Lucienne

Claire means light, so names that share a similar meaning have always appealed.

14. Veronica or Frederica

Do all name aficionados worry about naming twins, up until the ultrasound confirms that there’s only one baby on the way?

Had Alexander had a twin sister, two possible names were Veronica or Frederica, both to honor my dad, Eric, without poaching the name from my brother, Eric Jr. Erica was also a contender, but seemed a little too close – even though my brother answers to Rohn.

15. Sofia/Zofia/Sophie

My mother-in-law’s first middle name is Zofia. In Polish, it gets a two-syllable pronunciation – ZAWF yeh – but I’ve heard Polish-Americans say it more like Sophia with a Z. Zofia nicknamed Zoe was a contender for a while.

16. Josephine, Catharine

Both choices from my mother’s family tree – Joseph was her grandfather, Catharine her aunt. I don’t remember Joseph, but Great Aunt Catharine was one of my favorites. Because her Manhattan apartment overlooked the Hudson, her grandson nicknamed her Grandma Boat. Years later, Aly misunderstood Aunt Bo as Aunt Boat, so there’s a story there.

I’m fairly certain Catharine’s spelling is a nod to the Italian Catarina. In any case, it is my favorite spelling and the only one I would consider.

Both names offer nicknames aplenty, but none of them sing to me. That’s probably why they’re down here at #16.

17. Anna/Anya, Anneliese nicknamed Anya

For the great-grandmother mentioned in #8. But any of the Anna choices would make Clio the only family member without an A- name. Too bad, because Anneliese Olwen would honor three of my dad’s relatives in one swoop.

18. Linden and Sarai

For my aunts, Linda and Sarita. (Sarita was named after her maternal grandmother, my great-grandmother Sara.) I love both names, but again, there’s something awkward about skipping my husband’s family entirely.

Rosemary Linden Beau was long a favorite combination. But I’m not wild about Beau on a girl, and two nature names is far too botanical for a family that ventures no closer to camping than shopping REI.

19. Amalia, Kester

Amalia is from my husband’s family. It’s a great name, but again, we can’t settle on a nickname and she’d be the fourth A, leaving Clio out in the cold.

Kester is also – in a very roundabout fashion – from my husband. His mother’s maiden name translates to Christopherson. My husband’s middle name is Christopher. I don’t care for any of the feminine variants, though Christabeau is one that I’ve considered. Kester is a medieval diminutive for Christopher, and reminiscent of my beloved Hester. Of course, Kester also brings to mind Jester. So never in the first spot. But maybe in the middle.

20. Hermione nicknamed Minna, Octavia nicknamed Tavy, Harriet nicknamed Hattie

Three names we just plain like.

1300 words later, you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: yes, we could name a daughter, possibly three.

But there’s an equal chance we’d have a boy, that’s where we are truly at sea.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. I find it interesting when parents consider the nicknames, because I’ve always took it for granted that that’s the grandparent’s job. The nickname that my parents planned out for me never stuck, but the one that my grandpa gave me was what I was called for all of my life. So my mother has always told me that she is the one who will pick out nicknames for my children. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand it would be such a little thing to make her happy, but at the same time I love long names. If I wanted to call my daughter Polly, I would just name her Polly. You know what I mean?

    1. I know a lot of people feel that way about names, and there have been people named just Betty or just Dan for generations, so it certainly works fine. For me, Polly is way too informal to put on a birth certificate. Part of that is my personal experience – I was born with a super-short, nickname-proof name that just didn’t fit and it felt confining. And part of that is just my preference.

      As for grandparents choosing the nickname? I wouldn’t go for that. If they wanted to call the kids Sweetie or Lambchop or whatever, that’s fine. But ultimately, I want to choose how I introduce my children and have everyone else respect that – unless until they’re old enough to make their own decisions.

  2. Why didn’t I see this sooner? Anyway, my two favorites from the candidates are Marguerite (Daisy) and Veronica. Both are long-time favorites of mine; with Marguerite I have some reservations about it being “too French” for someone who isn’t though.