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 have an almost three year old daughter named Lily Alexandra and are our second child is due near the end of this year.
I picked out our daughter’s name when I was about seven. But it turned out to be the perfect name! My husband is Alex, and he really liked the name Lily as soon as I suggested it.
Choosing her name was so easy that we never really talked about other names.
It turns out we don’t agree on anything!
I guess there’s lots of time still, and we will find out the baby’s gender later this summer.
Names I’ve suggested that he dislikes: Cora, Clara, Madeline/Maddie, Isaac, Ezra, Oliver
Names he’s suggested that I don’t like: Caleb, Taylor, Zoe/Zoey, Leah, Faith
The baby’s last name will be similar to Harrison, but with a ‘d’ sound in the middle.
Where do we begin?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
How exciting to be expecting your second!
Does it help to know that this is a super-common dilemma? Often that first name is set in stone. And the second name? It takes us by surprise. Naming is the rare parenting responsibility that seems to increase in difficulty even as we become more experienced at everything else.
Instead of talking about specific names, you might try:
- Discuss what you like (or dislike) about your names – in this case, include your child’s name, too. It might not get you to a list, but it can help you with the next suggestion.
- Make a wish list of qualities in an ideal name. It’s not a punch list for a construction project, or a list of must-dos. Instead, knowing that you’d love a name that’s familiar, not too popular, doesn’t repeat the initial L (or definitely begins with an L), and so on gives you something to start evaluating names against.
- Trade your lists. Some parents do well by making individual lists and then trading then to see if there’s any common ground. I think this works especially well when one parent dislikes being the suggester … and the other is much too enthusiastic about rejecting those ideas.
- Consider using a mathematical rating system. Does this sound bananas? If you have a long list and you can’t seem to get past lots of maybes, this spreadsheet developed by Nancy can help. You don’t need to treat the outcome as a directive. But it’s a good way to test your decision. Does it feel right?
But you’ve already got some maybe names, so let’s see take a look at those, too.
A BROTHER FOR LILY ALEXANDRA
You’ve considered Isaac, Ezra, Oliver, and Caleb – all great names for Lily’s brother. I’m not sure if Taylor is a preferred for a daughter or a son? I’m going to take it as a signal that you’ll consider at least some surname names.
It sounds like your favorites are likely to be around the Top 100, though maybe not the very top of the list. They’re traditional choices with roots, but not quite as classic as Charles or David. And while it’s tempting to delve into more Old Testament names, I’m guessing that simply reflects some of the choices in favor right now. So we’re mainly looking for a current name. That’s a broad definition, so no surprise you’re struggling to narrow it down!
CARTER #33 – Sound-wise, it’s sort of midway between Caleb and Oliver. I started out with Carson, but with a -son ending surname, that’s not ideal.
CHASE #123 – The ‘s’ ending reminds me a little of Ezra’s ‘z’ sound. And Chase’s long ‘a’ is shared with Caleb. It’s a polished kind of name, and I like it a lot as a brother for Lily.
JUDE #154 – Another Old Testament possibility, with a modern sound.
LUKE #31 – With Lucas in the Top Ten, Luke might be too popular. And how do you feel about Lily and Luke? Is the shared initial a bonus or a problem? Still, I think I can imagine this working really well.
OWEN #22 – A modern favorite with just enough history, I think Owen has the same complete, brief appeal as Lily.
SILAS #100 – A New Testament name, but I think it’s similar to Isaac and Caleb.
THEO #172 – Theodore ranks #23, so that’s an option, too. But Theo sounds bright and upbeat, a logical brother for Lily, whether it’s a nickname or a formal name.
I’m also tempted to suggest the middle name Julian, which rules out Jude – which is too bad, because it’s great! So my favorites are probably Theo Julian or Chase Julian.
A SISTER FOR LILY ALEXANDRA
Maybe there’s a slightly broader range in your favorite girls’ names, but I think there’s still plenty of overlap – and the same basic brief as your boys’ names. Your current list is Cora, Clara, Madeline/Maddie, Zoe/Zoey, Leah, Faith, and possibly Taylor.
ADA #184 – Ava is a glamorous Top Ten name, while Ada is a little different – more of old-fashioned name, maybe a little homespun and just slightly under the radar.
EDEN #130 – A modern favorite, Eden and Lily feel subtly connected. After all, Eden is a garden.
GEORGIA #176 – George feels buttoned-down and classic. Georgia is equally classic, but with a little bit of kick.
JUNE #182 – Sweet and straightforward, with the same gentle, seasonal vibe as Lily.
MAYA #61 – Global-spanning Maya shares some of Lily’s best qualities. Both names feel timeless, and while they’re short names, they offer plenty of style and rich meaning.
RUBY #66 – A sparkly name, Ruby seems like an intriguing option for Lily’s sister. Though if you plan on adding to your family, you might feel like future daughters’ names also have to be nouns.
SOPHIE #86 – Sophia (and Sofia) are wildly popular, but Sophie seems just different enough.
THEA #293 – I know you’re not wild about Leah, but would Thea be just different enough?
I’m going to suggest Juliet or Juliette as a middle name here, or maybe Julianne? My favorites are Maya Juliette and Eden Juliette – at least right now!
I know the readers will have more great suggestions, but let me leave you with one last thought. It’s always so difficult to compare a name that’s just on paper to one fully occupied by your beloved daughter. Chances are that any name you choose will be transformed the moment your new child is in your arms.
Silas and Nora
What about Nora? Lily and Nora. You could go full steam with Eleanor and use the nickname Nora too. Meaning light, it has a sweet meaning, sounds like your Cora but had elements of Leah, Taylor and Zoe too. Nora Juliet “Harrison”
For a boy. what about Victor? Somewhere between Ezra and Oliver, and the same masculinity of Caleb. Victor Julian “Harrison”
I really like the idea of incorporating your name into this child’s middle name. Seems like a sweet tradition to carry on. Congratulations on number 2!
What a fun story about your first child’s name! Given your style and your husband’s, I wonder if Carys, Mara, Anna, or Phoebe bridges your taste. For boys, maybe Graham, Peter, August, or Cole?
I love the idea of incorporating your name into this child’s first or middle; Julianna (maybe called Anna), Juliet/te/ta (maybe called Etta), or Julian could all be wonderful choices! Maybe there’s also a surname you use/used that is different from the baby’s and you could pass that along? One final idea for incorporating your name: since your husband likes Leah, I wonder if you would consider Julia called Lia for a daughter?
Almost everything sounds perfectly matched to Lily, so whatever you love will go great with your firstborn’s name! Best wishes!
Elliot, Declan, George, Henry, Arthur, Leo, Calvin, Callum
Aria, Darcey, Margot, Pearl, Violet, Phoebe, Elise, Eliza
And I like Micah, Otto, Chloe and Mae, which have already been suggested.
Just came back to suggest Clay (or Clayton?) as I think Clay Julian sounds good!
Cameron Juliette/ Cameron Jules
-You both seem to like hard c names
-top 100 choice like most of the names on your list
-surname like Taylor
-vowel forward biblical style you favor
-harder consonant sounds your husband prefers
-same vintage feel as Lily
Faith with the vintage vibes of Lily, Cora and Clara
For a boy: Milo, Micah, Evan, Elias, Emmett, Colin
For a girl: Chloe, Isla, Mae, Eve, Alice, Hannah
I 100% support the idea of honoring Julie with the middle name!
We are in a similar situation (well, sort of). We are having our 3rd, a girl, and her older sister is Lillian (Lily) Frances, her brother is Vincent (Vinny) James. We are kinda stuck on deciding on a name for her but are leaning towards Sophie Marianne, so I like your suggestion of Sophie and would also throw Vincent into the mix for a boy
Oh, I love both Sophie and Vincent for a sibling for Lily!
And congrats on your third, Jen!