Name Help: A Sister for NoraName 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!

Lindsay writes:

We have four beautiful children: daughter Nora Claire, plus three boys: Caleb William, Hunter James, and Wyatt David. We’re expecting our fifth child, and second daughter, soon.

Boy names come easy for us. But girl names feel like a struggle! I like lots of them, at least for other people. Somehow, none of them sound like our baby, if that makes sense.

We have a long Italian surname, that starts with an S, ends with an i. (We’re not especially Italian, though, which makes names like Gianna seem a little wrong, too, even though I love the sound.)

If this baby had been a boy, we’d talked about Beckett, Weston (though we’re trying not to repeat initials), Parker, or Holden (initial thing again).

At this point in our lives, we know about a million little kids, so it’s hard to find a name that isn’t shared by someone in our lives. We’re not worried about repeating necessarily, but some names do feel taken. The one name we like and definitely can’t use is Olivia, my niece. (But I’m not sure Olivia works with our last name anyway.) Clara is another one, but maybe we wouldn’t have used it because of Nora’s middle name anyway AND sharing an initial with Caleb.

We have talked about Elizabeth, which is my beloved grandmother’s name and a name in my husband’s family, too, but I like that none of our kids have nicknames so far, and I don’t know if I like Elizabeth enough to deal with that.

Can you help us come up with a list?

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

Dear Lindsay –

Congratulations! How exciting for Nora to have a sister!

It’s interesting that SO MANY things in parenting get easier with experience. But in many ways, a growing family makes naming tougher.

So we need to avoid C, H, N, and W names. We’re looking for a shorter name that won’t be reduced to a nickname. And we’re probably looking for a mainstream favorite, something that we’d all recognize – assuming it’s not already taken by someone in your circle. (Another reason naming gets harder as we become experienced parents, right?!)

Audrey – Simple and elegant – credit the enduring image of Audrey Hepburn – Audrey has ranked in the Top 100 since 2002. But it’s never quite hit the Ava-Olivia popularity point. And it’s complete and nickname-proof, too.

Elise, Eliza, Ella – I wonder if a shortened form of Elizabeth might appeal to you as a first name? It nods to your grandmother and the other women on your family tree, but gets you out of the nickname bind.

Evelyn – If you liked Olivia, I wonder if you’d like other names with a V in the middle? Evelyn and Nora sound exactly like sisters to me.

Greta – Greta started out as one of many Margot nicknames, but I suspect Margarets-called-Greta are pretty rare today. Instead, this is a traditional name that we all recognize, but aren’t using too terribly much.

Lucy – Like Audrey, Lucy has ranked in the US Top 100 for a while. (Since 2010, in Lucy’s case.) But it has many of the same qualities as Audrey – short, complete, nickname-proof.

Lydia – I often think of Eliza and Lydia as two great Olivia substitutes. If you’d like to keep Elizabeth as a middle name option, Lydia could be great.

Margot – Like Greta, Margot comes from Margaret. And again, it stands alone as an independent name, unlikely to be shortened further. Margot is also a name on the upswing, feeling fresh and stylish – while still traditional. I think that describes your older kids’ names, too!

Vivian – I tend to think of Vivian and Evelyn together, just like Lydia and Eliza. But I also think it’s wonderful with Nora. And while I often hear Vivians called Viv or Vivi, I’m not sure it’s enough to take Vivian off your list.

My favorite idea is to use Elise, Eliza, or Ella as a nod to your grandmother. I love the sound of Eliza Vivian. And if not as a first, then it could be a perfect middle – Audrey Elise, maybe.

But I’m having a tough time narrowing this list down to just one recommendation other than the Elizabeth names.

Readers, over to you – what would you suggest to Lindsay for her new daughter?

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What do you think?


  1. What about “Blair”? It’s short, and in keeping with the more surname-oriented boys’ names. Or even using Parker for a girl?

  2. Eliza, Lydia and Lily sound perfect.

    Other suggestions:
    Ella (except Ella and Nora might blend into Eleanor…which isn’t bad)


  3. Elspeth is my all-time favorite version of Elizabeth. I also thought of Lily, which is an Elizabeth nickname that hasn’t been mentioned so far. It’s super popular in my area, but I know that varies.

  4. I love Eliza. Fiona and Julia were also suggestions I think work well (I love my name!). Elizabeth is one of my middle names, and I think works well with Julia as a first.

    I think Stella is also very pretty and fits with your other kids’ names. Plus it’s nickname-proof. Stella Elizabeth is lovely.

  5. Elizabeth fits more in the middle name style in this sibset, so I suggest:
    Petra Elizabeth
    Isla Elizabeth
    Ada Elizabeth
    Luna Elizabeth
    Maya Elizabeth
    Ruby Elizabeth