Name Help: A Sister for Mary SophiaName 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!

Allie writes:

We are expecting our second daughter early in 2021, and I feel like we’re having a naming crisis.

Our daughter is Mary Sophia, always called Sophie. I’m Mary Allison, always called Allie. My mom is Mary Anne, called Annie as a child but pretty much Mary Anne for as long as I can remember. And her mom, the one who started it all, is Mary Jeanne, called Jeannie, named after two grandmothers of her own.

I always thought I’d continue the pattern, and I’m so happy that we did.

My husband has no strong opinions about names, but he liked the idea of using family names in general. If Sophie had been a boy, she’d have been George Allison. (George is for his grandfather; Allison is my dad’s mother’s maiden name and my name, too. We had a little hesitation about using Allison as a boy’s middle name, but got over it pretty quickly.) So if this baby is a boy, we’re all set.

But how do we handle naming a second girl?

My mom’s sister is named for another grandmother, and my great-aunts were also given family names. But I’m not sure we have anything I love as much as Sophie for another girl.

My (younger) sister has a name my mom “just liked” and while Megan likes her name, she has admitted that it sometimes feels like less than my super-special name.

Open to any and all ideas!

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

Abby replies:

Congrats on your second baby!

Your daughter is so lucky to be part of a great family naming tradition, one that mixes tradition with space for her own individual identity, too.

Before we dive into possible names, I have to ask: is this child likely to complete your family?

I know, I know. It’s often hard to say, and really, no matter how you answer, life surprises.

But it’s worth contemplating, because I think the exactly right name might be in front of you:

Georgia Allison

It’s a family name, rich with significance. If you’re eager for the nickname equivalent of Sophie, Georgie is a great option.

But let’s say more children are absolutely in your future, and you really want to save George for a son.


ALICE – Saving George for a son wouldn’t necessarily rule out Alice for a daughter, necessarily. While I love the sound of George Allison, there must be other potential family middles. And Sophie and Alice are great together.

ANNA – If your mom is Mary Anne, and your daughter is Mary Sophia, could her sister be Anna?

JANE or JEANNE – The same logic holds here. Jeanne feels like it comes from a different era, but Jane feels classic and current.

MARGOT – Maybe my favorite idea. You mentioned your sister Megan always felt a little left out because she didn’t have a family name. Could you name a daughter after her? Margot and Megan are both forms of Margaret. Of course, so are Greta, Maisie, Daisy, Maggie, and lots of other choices.

PEARL – Speaking of Margaret names, Margaret means “pearl.” That might be a sweet tribute to your sister, too.

Much as I love Alice, it might feel a little close to your name. So I think my favorite option from this list might be Margot Allison, with Anna Jeanne a close second.

If none of these feels like the right combination, it might be time to think about other sources of inspiration.


If you’ve hit a brick wall brainstorming actual family names, consider:

  • Your hometown, or the place your parents or grandparents are from.
  • The street you grew up on, or another significant street name from your life.
  • Symbols related to your wedding – the flowers in your bouquet, the place you were married or honeymooned, the song you danced to first.
  • Also, check out this list of ways to honor a loved one without using their (actual) name.

I think the key is to acknowledge that finding a name rich with meaning matters, and to think deeply and creatively about what that might mean for you and your husband.

It’s tough to top the history behind Sophie’s name. But that doesn’t mean your second daughter’s name can’t have an equally compelling story.

Readers, any advice for Allie? How would you go about naming a sister for Mary “Sophie” Sophia?

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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What do you think?


  1. If you are close to your sister, it would be a meaningful way to give your sister’s name more meaning while also giving your daughter’s name more meaning. I would personally choose a middle you like, and have her go by that (like her sister) while keeping the honor in the first name spot.
    Megan Eloise
    Megan Annabel (kind of a double honor??)
    Megan Paloma
    Megan Frances (Sophie and Frances! Francie! Frankie!)
    Megan Eleanor
    Megan Grace
    Megan Juliet

    These are just names that I like that I think sound good with Sophie. It is just such a meaningful idea that I’m just in love with the idea…but there are other equally great suggestions and Abby has so many great ideas about where to find meaningful names outside of honor names too. Good luck, mama!

  2. I love the idea of honoring your sister with this baby’s name. If it were me, I would feel like the strongest nod to her would come from using her actual name, but also using a nickname if Megan* isn’t your style.

    Ex., Megan Jane/Jeanne called MJ, or Meg, or Megi, or Maggie, or Mae, or Emme (like “M”-ee — a stretch, but still cute!), or Birdie or Scout or whatever you like!

    I think you have a nice amount of wiggle room since your firstborn goes by a nickname for her middle name, so it feels like the sky is the limit!

    *Side note – remember in Father of the Bride II when George Banks is flabbergasted that the doctor delivering their baby is named Megan! He couldn’t imagine someone named Megan being old enough to be a physician, but now it’s totally a grown up name 😉

  3. I love the suggestion of using a version of your sister’s name. That would make both names special!

    I do think that kids might just want to see that same level of meaning and intention in the naming process, but their names can be special in different ways.

    Since you seemed to choose one name you liked (Sophia/Sophie) and your traditional family name, would you consider doing that again or in reverse? Here’s some suggestions

    Josephine Anne or Anne Josephine (Sophie and Josie)
    Penelope Jeanne or Jeanne Penelope (Sophie and Penny)
    Sadie Meg or Sarah Meg (Sophie and Sadie)