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 eight months pregnant with my second child, and my husband and I are struggling to come up with a name.
We have a 2 year old daughter, Finley Josephine. We normally don’t like boy-names-for-girls, and we didn’t name her with future siblings in mind, so we’re kind of stuck, stylistically.
Our current contenders are Rhiannon Violet and Madrigal Kate for a girl (I’m worried that Finley sounds too masculine besides those) and Conan Benjamin, Lucas River, and Eliot Nathan for a boy. My husband and I agree that we at least don’t hate any of these, but I honestly think that “Lucas and Finley” sounds kind of like two little boys, which is not what I want.
Other names that we love (but can’t use) are Daisy, Sadie, Georgia, Layla, Juliette, and Alice.
Help would be greatly appreciated!!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your second!
First things first: Finley Josephine is a great name.
I know what you mean about feeling stylistically stuck. But honestly? My kids’ names aren’t especially similar in terms of style. They’re miles apart in terms of popularity.
It just so happens that names can feel connected lots of different ways.
And even if it feels the tiniest bit awkward in the beginning, say their names together a hundred dozen times and suddenly? They’re a pair.
Now let’s discuss potential gender confusion:
Do you find it’s an issue with Finley now? By the numbers, Finley is pretty strongly unisex. That’s different than, say, Harper or Avery, names that are unisex in style but given almost exclusively to girls, or Mason and Jackson, which are given almost exclusively to boys, despite their unisex potential.
You can’t really move the needle on this by naming your next child. If you think about it, that’s actually good news! It’s freeing.
Your choices are:
- Pick a name that’s equally unisex. Rowan or River, maybe? Charlie or Blake? There’s one name on your list that fits this category: Eliot.
- Pick a name that is more strongly gendered. I’d say that definitely includes Conan and Lucas, and probably Rhiannon. Madrigal is different enough that others might not immediately consider it masculine or feminine.
The reality, though, is that lots of kids have names that are ambiguous in terms of gender. And that’s not new. 1990s favorites like Jordan and Taylor are now all grown-up. And we’ve had decades of names like Riley and Peyton ranking on both girls’ and boys’ lists.
You can either choose another deliberately unisex name – in which case, Eliot (or Elliot or Elliott) is the clear front-runner – or accept that you’ll have occasional moments of confusion.
Also worth noting: those occasional moments of confusion will pass – and probably quickly! Even the most unusual names that surprise everyone on the first day of kindergarten are completely unremarkable by Halloween.
Let’s look at your current list in a little more detail.
A SIBLING FOR FINLEY JOSEPHINE
If you’d like to stick with gender neutral names, Eliot is the top choice – for a daughter or a son, really, though I know it’s only on your boys’ list. Eliot Nathan is great, but Eliot Kate is equally appealing. I’m inclined to make Eliot my top pick from your current list. A note on spellings: Elliot is most popular for boys; Elliott for girls. But that could easily change and the margin isn’t significant. Eliot does not rank in the current US Top 1000 for either gender. And while it’s most popular for boys in every spelling now, it feels potentially unisex.
A rock solid classic of a name for a son, currently ranked in the US Top Ten. If I heard Lucas and Finley, I would probably guess that Finley is a daughter, if only because it’s a slightly more daring name. Lucas River is a great combination.
Again, Conan is so strongly masculine that it makes me read Finley as more feminine. Though mostly I hear these names as Irish heritage choices. I love Conan Benjamin together.
With this name, I just hear it as musical, surprising, different. It probably makes me guess that Finley is your son, if only because Finley is a more mainstream choice – and parents often giving the more daring name to their daughter. But I don’t think they’re mismatched at all. Rhiannon Violet is lovely.
The same thing applies with Madrigal. I just hear it as a surprising name that suggests you’re looking for something a little bit bolder. It might make me guess that Finley is a boy, for the same reasons as with Rhiannon. But I think it works nicely overall. Madrigal Kate is a great blend of the novel and the traditional.
IF THIS BABY IS A BOY …
I suspect you don’t want to choose another unisex name, based on what you mentioned earlier about not loving boy-names-for-girls. That leaves Lucas and Conan. And the clear split is popularity. Name your son Lucas and he’ll go to school with a handful of other boys named Lucas (and Luke and Luca), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Call him Conan, and he’ll probably be one-of-one, but it’s a broadly familiar name with a great mix of strength and style.
For something in-between those two extremes, I would suggest:
- Callum – A softer alternative to Conan.
- Ronan – another Irish heritage choice, though one that gets confused with equally popular Rowan and Roman.
- Tate – I’m not sure how this would sound with your surname, but since you have both Nathan and Kate on your middle name lists, I wonder if you would like Tate as a first? Tatum is reliably unisex, but just Tate tends to be masculine.
IF THIS BABY IS A GIRL …
The thing that’s great about Madrigal and Rhiannon is that they’re not particularly frilly choices. Finley and Contessa or Finley and Donatella feel mismatched in a way that Finley and Madrigal or Finley and Rhiannon do not.
Between the two, I’m inclined to choose Madrigal. While it’s the rarest name on your list, it feels familiar thanks to so many girls named Madelyn, Madeline, and Madison.
For something in-between the more familiar Finley and the rarer Madrigal/Rhiannon, would you consider:
- Laurel – A word name that feels like a softer take on Madrigal, maybe.
- Scout – Probably what I would’ve suggested for Finley’s sister without any other context, and I still think it’s worth consideration.
So to sum up: Eliot is the most unisex possibility; for something more clearly feminine, Madrigal or Marlo/Marlowe gets my vote. and for a more masculine option, I’m torn between Lucas and Conan, but would heartily endorse Tate or Callum.