Name 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!
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.
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:
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.
NAMES FOR MARY “SOPHIE” SOPHIA’S SISTER
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.
SOURCES OF MEANINGFUL NAMES
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.
Jean C. says
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 Annabel (kind of a double honor??)
Megan Frances (Sophie and Frances! Francie! Frankie!)
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!
I vote Mary Georgia called Georgie or Allison Georgia called Georgie, both keep your pattern nicely.
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 😉
Kirstin G. says
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)
There is a ranch called Five Marys with both Mom and four daughters all having Mary XX names. I would lean hard into that! With Mary Sofia I’d do Mary Margaret nn Maisie. Sophie and Maisie, and perhaps a future George. Done done and DONE!
If I were the second daughter, I’d like to be another Mary something even if “something” isn’t a family name.
Mary Lucille nn Lucy
Mary Rose nn Rosie
Mary Clara nn Claire
Mary Grace nn Gracie
Mary Ellen nn Ellie
Mary Camilla nn Camille
Mary Evelyn nn Eve
Or maybe name her after dad, since a boy would get mom’s name?
I really like the suggestion on Georgia Allison, but would probably switch it to Allison Georgia or Allison xxx. It seems like the women in your family use their middle names. (And I love the matrilineal recognition.) To prevent a second daughter from feeling left out, why not continue the middle-as-first tradition but with a new first name that is sentimental to both huddy and you? Allison does that. So be it Allison Georgia or Allison (something else), they would both have a first name that ties them to dear family members. And then you can use George for a future boy if that is in the cards.
This is what I came to say. I know a family where all the girls are Mary X and go by their middle names. One is Mary Britt and goes by Britt which I always thought was lovely.
I agree Georgia Allison is perfect if you don’t want to save George for a boy!
More tweaks to honour family:
Meg Allison – nn Molly
Allison Anne – nn Sunny or Annie
Mary Megan – nn Maggie or Margot (I agree with above poster – why stop at DD1?)
A name from the dad’s side — his mom or grandma’s name as the first or middle.
Anna Margaret “Meg” – after your mom and your sister!!
I don’t know if you used both your surnames for Sophie, but if you didn’t, you have a possible honor name left. Maybe as a first name or a middle?
What about a Mary variation and a honor name? Polly Megan, Mariah Anne, Mara Jeanne/Jeannie, Miriam Jeanne.
Why not continue with Mary Something? If I were the second+ daughter I would feel left out not being Mary+, as it sounds like her aunt did. Why should it only be the first daughter? It doesn’t have to be an exclusive club.
Also a Megan says
I almost suggested Mary Margaret instead of Margot Marie because big agree. I was worried the association to Once Upon a Time might not be appealing though.
My first thought was to use Megan. It will be a sentimental family name for your daughter and lend validation to the name for your sister. A name doesn’t need to be used a half dozen times over generations to become a family name – once a family member has the name it’s a family name. In the tradition of using a nickname baby Megan could be Maggie.
I love your advice for Allie! There are so many rich ideas here I know it will spark something. Georgia Allison is my favorite It’s a lovely way to honor the other side of the family (and I love that Allison is your name as well!) and Georgia Allison is just a lovely name besides.
i think Anne with the nickname Annie after your mom could be special too. Sophie and Annie. Georgia Anne could also be an option. If none of that works I think going through abbys advice at the end, combing through meaningful street names, wedding symbolism, hometowns, will be a fruitful exercise.
(Speaking of towns, I thought of Antonia for San Antonio, but realized it could be an honor name for Anne as well.)
Also a Megan says
Georgia Allison IS perfect. I do love the idea of including your sister in family tradition by naming for her. Margot Marie nn Meggie Mae instead of the more traditional Maggie Mae would do the Job well. Though Maggie Mae would work well. Also Anna Jeanne called AJ would be cute.