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!
I hope you can help me with my name dilemma!
We have almost fully agreed to the name Neve (pronounce the Portuguese way, Nev). Neve is a name I’ve loved since I was a little girl, and the meaning – snow – is special to us.
But, we have a few problems. One is the pronunciation. It’s always been my assumption that people would know it’s Nev, but my mother pointed out she always thought it was Neeve (like Niamh). Do you think we will deal with that her whole life? Aside from Neve Campbell, I’ve never met a Neve (or Niamh for that matter) in real life, so I have no idea what the general consensus is on pronunciation of our chosen spelling. Should that be a deal breaker?
The second problem we have is that we have a long Dutch last name that starts with Van. Now I’m thinking there’s too much V sound (is this a deal breaker too? How does it sound to you?), and we are also having issues finding a good middle name that fits with Neve and our last name. I’d love it if you and your readers could help me with middle name options. I can’t decide if the middle name should be long and more feminine, or shorter and more the style of Neve.
Our list so far:
- Neve Matilda
- Neve Josephine
- Neve Magnolia
- Neve Alma
- Neve Fiona
- Neve Felicity
- Neve Amelia
- Neve Selene
- Neve Rosalie
Hope you can help us! Part of me feels like if I’m overthinking it this much, then maybe it’s not THE name for us, but the thought of not using it makes me very sad. Thanks for your help!
Dear Cristina –
How exciting! Neve is all kinds of lovely, and it sounds like it’s both your favorite name, and a name rich with meaning. I can’t think of a good reason not to use it.
Well, wait. There is potential for confusion about pronunciation.
I am sure that some people will rhyme Neve with Eve. In the US, that’s not because they’re familiar with Niamh, but because they are familiar with Eve and Steve and such. That said, we’re also aware of Evelyn. So, yes, some people will say it incorrectly. Maybe every single time! But most people will get it right, even if they have to be reminded initially.
So it doesn’t seem like reason enough to choose a different name – unless, of course, you personally find the idea of pronunciation hassles deeply frustrating.
As for the repeating V sounds? That’s a matter of personal preference. But I know a family with a strong ‘v’ sound in their surname, and their kids also have strong ‘v’ sounds in their first names. A little bit of repetition makes a name pleasing to say, and easy to remember. In this case, I think it works just fine. (Note: I can see their surname from Cristina’s email address, but I generally don’t share them.) I suppose, if someone read her name quickly, it might sound like Nevan LastName instead of Neve VanLastName. But I’d say your strong attachment to the name outweighs the occasional mishearing.
Now, on to the fun part: middle names!
I’m most drawn to Neve Josephine, followed by Neve Rosalie, Neve Fiona, and Neve Felicity. There’s something memorable about a short first followed by a three-syllable (or longer) middle, especially when that middle isn’t the staple Elizabeth.
And I’m inclined to avoid the ones that start with softer sounds, like Amelia, because they do run together in a way that seems less appealing. Likewise, the M middles might seem a little too harsh. But those aren’t rules – just my reaction, and I’m sure others will make a convincing case for Neve Magnolia or Neve Amelia.
A few other suggestions:
- Neve Adelaide – I know, I just ruled out a bunch of other A names. But Adelaide’s strong Ad- sound makes me feel differently about it.
- Neve Alexandra – Alexandra is every bit as traditional as Elizabeth, Margaret, or Katherine, but is much less common as a middle. The strong sounds of Alexandra stand up nicely to Neve. (Though perhaps it shares too many sounds with your surname?)
- Neve Beatrice – Beatrice comes from the Latin viator – voyager, but the spelling changed to reflect the word beatus – happy or blessed. Both seem like very appropriate meanings for this child!
- Neve Katerina, Neve Catalina – Does one of the more elaborate forms of Katherine appeal?
- Neve Lucinda – We tend to associate Lucinda and other Luc- names with the Latin lux – light. As with Beatrice, it’s the meaning that makes me consider this name. Other long Luc- options include Luciana, Lucienne, and Lucia. I like Neve Lucia at least as much as Neve Lucinda.
- Neve Rosamund – I love Neve Rosalie, but just wanted to point out that there are lots of longer Rose names to consider if Rosalie seems close but not quite the right fit.
- Neve Tourmaline – I feel like most of the longer middles I’ve suggested – and that you’ve considered – are fairly mainstream. But you might choose something even bolder, a gemstone name like Tourmanline; an edible one, like Clementine; or a color-inspired one, like Isabelline.
Overall, I still don’t think anything can top Neve Josephine!
But readers, over to you. Would you use Neve with a surname starting with Van? And what kind of middle names sound best?