Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, 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!
I’ve got a lot of disjointed concepts running around my brain for what to name our second child (gender still unknown).
Ideally, we’d like to find a name that goes well with our son’s name and that similarly references both sides of our families without being too literal. Our first son’s name is Luca Aslan and references (through sound) both sides (my dad is Haluk, my great-grandfather-in-law is Liko).
We like Aslan because it references my Turkish heritage and is also literary.
I’d love to find something metallurgical as my last name means essence of iron and my mother-in-law’s maiden name is Steele.
Another consideration might be something floral or plant/tree-based as our families include a Holly and a Rosa.
Another commonality we have is the sound Car- or Carl-; there are multiple generations of Carlo on my side. It’s my grandfather-in-law ‘s first name, and my husband’s middle name is Carlton.
Our backgrounds are Turkish, Spanish and Italian, although my husband is also a Francophile. Our last name is one syllable. We prefer names that are not overly common.
Read on for my response – and please add your thoughtful comments and suggestions!
Hi Perrin –
Congratulations on baby #2! Luca Aslan is a great name, and it sounds like it perfectly captures your heritage and your family ties. When you’ve found such a great name for your firstborn, it can make it even harder to settle on a second child’s name.
First, let’s collect all of the possible sources of inspiration for this kiddo’s name:
- Languages: Turkish, Spanish, Italian, French
- Car-, Carl-, and Carlo- names
- Floral/botanical names
- Steel/iron/metal names
- Literary names
Okay, that’s a lot. But it’s not too much to work with, and I think there’s lot of potential here. I have a bunch of ideas, but let’s leap right into the name suggestions.
Names for Boys
Carlo Demir – Carlo seems like a good match for the romance language Luca. A bonus? While Carlos is still used frequently in the US, Carlo is seldom heard. And yet it’s perfectly on trend – after all, Arlo was one of the fastest rising names for boys in 2014!
Because Luca’s middle name is Turkish, I’m tempted to suggest Turkish middle names for a second child, too. Demir is the Turkish word for iron, and it appears to be used as a given name, too.
Tarik Ferris – Some Turkish names seem like natural crossovers, don’t they? Tarik is one that I’ve heard more and more often. My understanding is that it means “morning star” in Arabic, though I feel like there’s more to the story that I’m missing.
In this case, I’m flipping the Turkish name to the first spot. I know a few families of mixed heritages who have done this – first child has a first name that reflects the mom’s background and a middle from dad; the second child has the same influences, but reversed.
Ferris is another iron-inspired baby name, this time with a healthy dose of Americana thanks to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and, of course, ferris wheels. On the plus side, it’s definitely tied to metal.
You’ve mentioned that you prefer uncommon names, but I wonder if this combination goes too far? Carlo Ferris would work, too, as would Tarik with another middle name.
Taylan Steele – When I went looking for Turkish names, Taylan leapt right out at me! If it didn’t exist in Turkish, we would have invented it in English. It’s a mix of Taylor and Tristan, with a dash of Jaylon, too.
The downside of that is that Taylan doesn’t scream “heritage choice.” But I do think there’s some appeal to having an easy crossover name with a great story.
I’m not sure if Steele – just Steele – is too much as a middle name. I think plenty of families would embrace the oh-so-masculine vibe. It doesn’t quite seem to match with the gentler, more literary appeal of Luca Aslan – but then again, Aslan means lion, which is pretty darn fierce.
Emre Eisen – Emre is another Turkish name with great crossover potential. The downside: it could easily be confused for Emory. The positive? It feels decidedly Turkish, without being difficult to say or spell in English. And Luca and Emre sound like brothers, don’t they?
Eisen is another metal-inspired possibility, but it comes from a German surname, ultimately from a German word meaning iron.
Acero Ender, Ferro Ender – Carlo and Emre strike me as different, but not too out-there. Ferro and Acero are definitely different – maybe too different. Acero is the Spanish word for steel, and Ferro is the Italian word for iron.
Ender is a Turkish given name that means rare. It’s also associated with Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. It’s not quite as classic a literary choice as Aslan, but I think it has similar appeal.
Rowan Acero, Rowan Gray – Holly and Rosa could inspire lots of botanical names for girls, but there are plenty of nature names that work for boys, too. It doesn’t look like Turkey has ever adopted a national tree, but there are plenty of great tree names that work for boys: Rowan, Alder, Cedar, Linden, and Hawthorn all come to mind.
Luca and Rowan sound great together. And I think they hit the right note in terms of current popularity. In 2014, Luca ranked #185, while Rowan came in at #239.
If Acero feels bold as a given name, I think it’s a great middle name choice.
Another option: the very stylish Gray, inspired by the color of iron and steel.
Names for Girls
Adalet Holly – I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing Adelet correctly, but I think it could make a wonderful Turkish-English crossover name. It could shorten to Addie or even Ada if your daughter prefers a more conventional nickname. But Adalet is a legitimate Turkish name.
You’ve mentioned that you’d like a botanical name, citing Holly and Rosa from your family trees. Holly could be great in the middle spot, but Adalet Rose or Adalet Lily might work beautifully, too, and surely there are more.
Caroline Bahar, Carolina Bahar – There are many forms of Carl- that could work beautifully for a girl, including the very popular Charlotte, the slightly less popular Caroline, or some true rarities: Carla or Carlotta, maybe? Carolina is a another possibility that’s particularly appealing in Spanish.
If you use something more conventional in the first place, I think you could use a really bold name in the middle. Bahar is from the Turkish word for spring. If we can name girls Winter and Summer, why not Bahar? Spring isn’t exactly a botanical name, but I do think we associate flowers with the season.
Anthea Ceren – Anthea comes from the Greek word anthos – flowers. One of the goddess Hera’s titles was Hera Anthea – Hera of the Flowers. That makes it a pan-botanical name, a category that might work well if you’re hoping to honor women named Holly and Rosa. Antha is another form of the name, sometimes seen. It’s rare, but with Thea on the rise, I think it would wear well. Luca and Anthea; Luca and Thea.
Confession: I had no idea how to pronounce Ceren, even though I’ve loved the look of this name ever since I heard of actress-model Ceren Alkaç, married to actor Jason Lee. Listening to it on Forvo, it seems like a phonetic spelling in English might be Jeran. Which is … confusing. I think most American English speakers would default to Karen, though some might say Seren. So even though I love tailored Ceren, I’ve moved it to the middle spot.
Carys Evren, Evren Carys – Carys comes form a Welsh name meaning beloved. It’s rare, but not unknown – Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones used the name for their daughter. While your heritage isn’t Welsh, Carys picks up on the Car- from all of those men with Car- names, including your husband’s middle.
Evren is, like Ceren, a lovely tailored name possibility. I think it works equally well as a given name. It’s the Turkish word for universe, and I believe it is used as a given name.
Layla Frances – I’m not sure which spelling of this name would most appeal, but Layla is one of the ultimate crossover names of our time. I know a Turkish dad who chose this for his daughter.
Frances is one of many given names that could be a nod to your husband’s ties to France. There’s also Fransa, the Turkish word for France. (I think – I relied on Google Translate for that one!)
This would probably be my top suggestion, except that Luca and Layla are a little bit singsongy when said together. And is it just me, or does it sound too close to “Luke and Leia,” as in Star Wars? Still, I think it deserves a mention.
Mina Lale – Mina is currently a popular name for girls in Turkey. I couldn’t unravel the meaning or origins in Turkish, but I think it’s a perfect crossover name from Turkish to English. Mina is nicely portable – I think it would work in many languages. And Luca and Mina sound great together.
Lale is a second Turkish name, meaning tulip – definitely a botanical option. English speakers would want to rhyme this one with kale or sail, but it’s actually closer to lah LAY – which might take some repetition, but doesn’t seem impossible to say. I think it’s gorgeous paired with Mina.
Writing this made me fall completely in love with Turkish names, but, of course, a native speaker will probably have all sorts of associations with my suggestions – and it’s very possible that I’ve gotten some of these not-quite-right, since I haven’t ever been to Turkey.
My favorites for a girl are Mina Lale and Carys Evren. And I love Carlo Demir and Rowan Acero or Rowan Gray for a boy.
Readers, what would you suggest for Luca Aslan’s sister or brother? If you speak Turkish, I’d especially love to hear from you! And since I worry that I’ve been MUCH too literal, I’d love to hear all of your crazy, creative ideas, too.
GOODWILL NYONG says
I love all of Abby’s suggestions.
Since you like Aslan (Turkish for Lion), how about Orson (derived from the French for Bear)? Orson is a literary choice like Aslan as well. Canterbury Tales.
I’ve seen the name Karzan. The folks with the name on Wiki may be Kurdish, not Turkish. I don’t know. It seems like an unexpected, heritage KAR or CAR choice for you.
For crossover heritage names for girls, I like Roxanne/Roxana. It is more unexpected than Layla (which I LOVE) and has a punchy nickname. It could also be an honor name for Rosa.
I also love Yasamin and it is a botanical reference.
According to nameberry, Cala is an Arabic name meaning “castle, fortress.” Is it pronounced the same as Calla, like the lily? If so, this would be perfect. Plus it could be an honor name for all of the Carl names.
I forgot to mention Absalom and Jabril. What nice names.
My husband suggested Ferenc (fe is the symbol for steel, so any name beginning with fe could work) for a boy and Fleur for a girl.
Taylan is awesome, and I love the list of moon names from Isadora’s comment…. Esmeray is gorgeous.
Carys has long been one of my favorite names. It’s off our list because my partner and I can’t agree on a pronunciation (I like it to have the “a” from “car”. He wants to rhyme it with Paris. He also wants to spell it with a K.) But it’s a gorgeous name.
Sara, I used to work with a Karris! She was around my age, born in the 1970s. She was so smart and capable, that I have a soft spot for Carys-with-a-K. I say Carys to rhyme with Paris, which is the way Karris said her name.
But Carys like car would be gorgeous – if it would work where you live. I do think ‘a’ sounds are tricky, especially with regional accents. I still have the tiniest trace of a Philadelphia accent, even after years and years living elsewhere. I can’t imagine my family who still lives in eastern Pennsylvania saying Carys like car. But that might be different in other parts of the country.
Sierra Noelle says
This may be my favorite post yet. I am enamored with Luca Aslan, and all of these suggestions are delightful. Evren is going on my growing list for possible girl names. <3
Isadora Vega says
Turkey has a lot of great moon names. For girls there’s Dilay (“beautiful moon”), Esmeray (“dark moon”), Feray (“radiance of the moon”), Nuray (“bright moon”), Senay (“merry moon”), and Tulay (“tulle moon”). For boys there’s Koray (“ember moon”) and Tunkay (“bronze moon”). Ilkay could be used for either (“new moon”).
Oooh, Esmeray, so pretty! Love this one.
Honesty Isambard says
On Behind the Name, Tariq means one who knocks at the door in Arabic. Tarik being the Turkish variant.
Brooke Cussans says
Since it seems Similar sound names are OK, maybe Stella (inspired by Steel) or Calla (inspired by Carl) would also be girl possibilities. They also have the added bonus of being nature names, although Stella isn’t floral/botanical. Or maybe Cielo or Ciel? Less rhyme-y with Luca, but hits a few of the different languages and looks reminiscent of Carl, despite not having a very similar sound. Cielo Adalet and Luca Aslan perhaps?
I also like Abby’s suggestion of Ferris for a boy name, or maybe Ferrer? And instead of Carlo I’ll suggest Arlo, which would be a great brother to Luca. Plus it’s Spanish and botanical. Arlo Ferrer and Luca Aslan?
My favorite metallurgic name for a son is Niello, which is actually an inlay technique. It’s definitely one of my guilty-pleasure names! Abby’s suggestion of Ferris is another favorite or mine.
Luca Aslan is a fantastic name! From Abby’s list I like Adalet, Ender and Taylan. Some combo suggestions include:
Feel free to mix and match. My favorites are Seda Frances, Safiye Holly and Emre Tigris. I also like Tolunay meaning “full moon”.
Hope this helps! x
Christina Fonseca says
I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions, but my faves from Abby’s list with your son’s name are: Tarik, Taylan, Anthea, Carys and Mina.
You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Abby. Also, I love love love Luka Aslan.