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’m having a hard time choosing a name for my fifth daughter, due this January.
She will join her sisters, Taylor Siobhan, Laurel Elizabeth, McKenna Breanne, and Kendall Claire.
Taylor was not my choice and I still don’t love the name, but I do love the names McKenna Breanne (Kenna) and Kendall Claire (Kacey/Kace). After Kendall Claire, I feel like any name would be a step down!
We know that her middle name will be Charlize, after my brother Charles who died earlier this year. It’s the only variant of Charles that I am okay with.
Her last name will start with a V and end with an ‘s’ sound.
I want a name that is versatile and could work for an artist, CEO, or anything – except a stripper!
Since our last name is hard to pronounce and spell, I’d like an easier name – no Saorise, Grainne, or Caiome.
I don’t want a popular name, but at the same time, I don’t want anything too out there. Definitely nothing in the Top Ten or 20, preferably nothing in the Top 100. I like Addison, Adeline, and Madison but they are too popular.
I also like Sophia and Aubrey, but again, they are too popular – maybe a variant like Aubriana or Aubrielle?
I like Hailey and Riley, but they are cuter on a baby than an adult. I don’t want anything that can be easily made fun of. I like Bria, but it’s so close to McKenna’s middle name.
Until my brother died, we were going to use Gabrielle as a middle name, but I don’t care for it as a first name as I hate the nicknames Gabby, Elle, and Ella and Gabrielle is too long not to have a nickname.
Names we haven’t ruled out:
- Aurelia – would Aurelia be teased because it sounds like areola?
- Morgan – this was our top pick but I’m not loving it
- Zosia – with a long “o”
Names we’ve already rejected:
- Caroline, Genevieve, Arianna, Matilda, and Violet
- Anastasia – Pretty, but not since Fifty Shades of Grey
- Kenleigh, Kennedy – no more Ken names
- Regan – Like it, but it makes me think of The Exorcist
- Shanley – A family surname we thought about but it doesn’t sound quite right
Read on for my response, and please leave your helpful suggestions in the comments!
Between mothering four daughters and mourning your brother, it seems like your life is full with emotion right now, challenges both happy and heart-breaking. And after naming four daughters, no wonder it feels like you’ve used up all of the best names!
And yet, when I look at your shortlist, it looks like you have some great possibilities already.
A few observations:
- It sounds like your style has changed over the years, and that’s perfectly natural. Families with two children close in age often coordinate perfectly. It’s much rarer for bigger families, with children born over a decade or more, to seem quite as consistent in terms of style.
- All of your daughters’ names tend towards the tailored, and it seems like you generally prefer names that we call unisex, but are more frequently used for girls. Morgan is a great example of that style – but if it doesn’t feel quite right, I wonder if that’s a good signal that your style really has evolved.
- Since Kendall Claire is your favorite name, it makes me wonder if you prefer names with harder sounds. Some of the possibilities you’ve suggested, like Aubrielle and Aurelia, are feminine – even feminissa! – and have soft, flowing sounds. Maybe that’s the mismatch?
From your shortlist, I think Aveline and Bryony are the two strongest contenders, and here’s why:
- They’re both nature-related names like Laurel.
- Aveline’s ‘v’ sound and Bryony’s ‘br’ are stronger sounds, more like Kendall Claire.
- While Aveline and Bryony are conventionally feminine names, they’re tailored choices that seem in step with your daughters’ names.
But since none of them are The Name, would you consider:
- Briar – It sounds like Bria could be the name, but you’re worried it’s too close to Breanne? Briar is a nature name that’s relatively rare, and be unisex. But it tends to be familiar and feminine thanks to Briar Rose – one of Sleeping Beauty’s names in some versions of the tale.
- Maren – Maren reminds me of Morgan, but is more traditionally feminine – a direct it seems like you’re leaning.
- Everly – Could you be leaning towards longer names lately? Aveline’s ‘v’ made me think of Everly, a surname name that feels like a good fit with sisters named Taylor and McKenna.
- Justine – Another conventionally feminine name, but not too frilly. And while it’s relatively uncommon, it’s not the kind of name that anyone would find strange.
- Sage/Saige – I’m not sure why, but I kept thinking that Saige would be a great name for your family. It’s a nature name like Laurel, and while it’s shorter than your older girls’ names, I think it still feels like a fit. A note on spelling: Sage is currently more popular for boys and girls, but Saige is gaining quickly, and used almost exclusively for girls.
- Aria – You’ve ruled out Arianna, but how about Aria? It ranked #31 in the US last year, so it might be too popular to consider.
- Quinn – Another surname name possibility.
- Tenley – I’m intrigued by the names you’ve ruled out for fear they won’t age well, like Hailey and Riley. I do think ends-in-ley names can work for adults, and a generation of Ashleys probably agrees. Still, it might help to find something a little different. Tenley Albright won an Olympic gold medal in figure skating in 1956, went on to Harvard Medical School, became a surgeon, and then a faculty member at her alma mater. Maybe that’s why I think Tenley is such a graceful choice for a girl or a grown-up! Or maybe Finley? Hadley is another one, as in Hadley Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, profiled in the fictionalized bestseller The Paris Wife.
- Willow – Another nature name with a different sound, but the right vibe.
- Isla – It’s not exactly a nature name – though Isla comes from the name of a Scottish island, and isla means island in Spanish. (But in Spanish, it’s pronounced eeslah. The name is typically pronounced eye-lah in English.) And yet I think Isla could hit the right note if you’re after a more feminine name for your new arrival. Bonus? I think Isla Charlize sounds gorgeous!
Overall, I’m still most drawn to Aveline from your list. It’s close to Adeline, but much less popular. Though Bryony Charlize sounds slightly better than Aveline Charlize.
From my suggestions, Everly leaps out as a name that shares characteristics with names you’ve considered, but isn’t on your list yet. And I do think Everly Charlize is a lovely combination.
Update: Welcome, Brownen Charlize! See the comment below for her favorites should they welcome another daughter.