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’m pregnant with baby number three. This is the first time we’re Team Green so we have the additional challenge of needing both a boy and a girl name. We easily decided the names of our previous children but this one has us totally stumped!
Our son is Lorenzo “Enzo” Vicente and our daughter is Carolina “Lina” Isabel.
We love our kids’ names and are having a hard time finding one that we love as much for this baby.
We’d want the names to:
- Work in English and Spanish
- Not rank in the Top 100 (Love Matteo, Santiago & Camila but they are a bit too common)
- Have an easy nickname (We usually call the kids by their nicknames, Enzo and Lina)
- Be longer romantic names, like old European royalty.
Names we like but don’t feel like they are THE one:
- For boys, Victor (Vee), Ignacio (Iggy), Alvaro (Alvi), Matias (Mat). We love Rafael but it’s taken.
- For girls, Mariana (Mara), Cecelia (Cece), Ileana (Illy) & Beatriz (Bea) are all close, but not quite right.
Our last name is 7 letters ending in -arro.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your third!
Also a confession: I love this style. Old European royalty puts a just slightly extravagant spin on the classics. It also reminds us that lots of names are familiar in a great many languages, except English – and that’s always a delight, too.
Still, I can see the one complication: you have to love the formal name and the nickname, plus you have to match TWICE. Lots of names were ruled out, I’m sure, because it fits perfectly with the formal versions, but the nickname conflicts … or vice versa.
Does it go without saying that my first thought was Rafael? Too bad it’s taken! Likewise, Alvaro and Mariana were ones the leapt to mind.
Let’s think of some more options.
A BROTHER FOR LORENZO and CAROLINA
August is fairly common; Augustine and Agustin, much less so. I think it’s the longer versions that feel like matches for Lorenzo and Carolina. Gus is the obvious nickname in English, but I’m not sure about Spanish. In Italian, Dino is sometimes used for Agostino.
This name appears across Europe – it’s Cajetan and Gaetano and Gaetan, too. It’s from an ancient Roman name meaning “from Caieta,” a town in Italy. Cayetano is the Spanish form. I’d probably shorten it to Kai, but I’m sure there are other options.
FERDINAND OR FERNANDO
Another name that immediately came to mind, Ferdinand is regal and storied. Fernando feels just a little more accessible. (Plus it has an ABBA song built-in!) Nando and Ferdy are the go-to nicknames.
Is this too much like your own name? It’s an impeccable classic by way of Spain, and the nicknames are plentiful. Would Chico be too cute, though? I think there are other options, even if they’re less traditional, like Cisco that would work, too – and maybe provide some distance between his name and your own.
I hesitated to include Javier, because I suspect it feels too common. And yet … if you like Alvi, wouldn’t Javi be just as appealing?
Again, Julian ranks in the US Top 50 at the moment. But somehow, I don’t think it feels that popular. The nickname Lian is probably way too close to Lina, but I love Jules with Enzo and Lina.
Is it too close to Lorenzo? I think it’s such a great, underused gem that I’m adding it to the list anyhow.
This is a big name, quite the grand choice. And yet, it shortens nicely to Max and Maxi. I think it’s the perfect brother name for Lorenzo, especially because Enzo, Lina, and Maxi are so perfectly balanced.
A SISTER FOR LORENZO and CAROLINA
Amelia and Emilia are chart-toppers, but Amalia is under-the-radar, a more European cousin to the American favorites. There’s also Emelina, but I think Amalia might be the strong choice. It can share nicknames with Amelia, too, opening the door to Mimi or Mila.
Bianca is Italian, rather than Spanish, but crossover between romance language names is common. (And the Spanish form, Blanca, seems a little less dramatic – though certainly storied.) Plus, the nickname Bebe works beautifully.
Obscure and unexpected, Casilda is the patron saint of Toledo, Spain; she lived during the eleventh century.
Leonor is the Spanish form, but Eleanora or Eleonora feel more similar to your older kids’ names. Nicknames like Ella, Elly, and Nora might be too popular to consider, but you might borrow any of these Eleanor nicknames.
LOUISA or LUISA
Luis and Luisa are mainstays amongst aristocratic families in Spain; I think Luisa feels like the less-expected choice. It’s also rich with nicknames, like Lulu, Luli, and Lula.
A nicely European spin on Magdalene, which ultimately became Madeline in English, Magdalena would be perfect. Except … is there another nickname besides Lena/Leni? Maggie is an obvious alternative, but Magdalena and Carolina would still share an ending sound.
Yes, Tatiana is Slavic. But it’s a big name amongst Russian royals and plenty of other European houses, too. Tania/Tanya is the go-to short form.
A venerable classic, Teodora is the rare, romance language feminine form of chart-topping Theodore. It’s easily shortened, too. Tea sounds like the Spanish word for aunt, but maybe it’s different enough? If not, options abound. I’d consider Tess, if it’s not too American with Enzo and Lina.
I’m not sure I have a clear favorite, but if I have to pick, I’ll say Maximiliano and Luisa, if only because I think Maxi/Max and Luli are such great nicknames.
The Mrs. says
Has anyone suggested Almedina? Enzo, Luna, and Ali (or Alma)?
The Mrs. says
What about Agnetta? Nettie as a nickname?
Love Javier! Javi is a nice addition to your set of well-named children.
What about Santiago, nickname Santi, for a boy & Genoveva, nickname, Veva, for a girl? Also, Eulalia, not sure if the exact nickname, but maybe could research this. I love this style of names!
C in DC says
Anastasia / Ani
Katerina / Katya / Teri
Cordelia / Dilly / Cora
Johanna / Hani
Ottilie / Tillie
Stefania / Stef / Steffie
Flavia / Via / Fia / Vivi
Georgina or Georgette / Gigi
Adrianna / Dree
Guinevere / Vera
Nicoletta / Nix
Elisabetta / Betty
Frederica / Rica / Ricki
Etienne / Tien
Enrique / Rico
Josephus / Seph
Eduardo / Ward
Oswald / Waldo
Darius / Dax / Dash
Alberto / Beto
Alfred / Freddie
Malachi / Kai
Boniface / Bono
Luciano called Luchi
Hilaria or Ilaria nicknamed Lara
And for boys…
What about Romola nn Lola or Romy?
Love this suggestion!
I love Francisco. I know a few—some good be Chico, some by Siku.
I love the suggestions of Antonio/Antonia, Thiago, Dolores, and Renata. Apolonia is a nice surprise too.
Delfina “Fina” “Dea”
Esmeralda Esme / Essie
Isidora/Isidoro Isi/Izzy Ora/Dora/Doro
Maceo or Matías instead of overly popular Mateo
Johana Jo / Hana
I have a Lorenzo, Sebastian, and Raphael and would have named a girl Valentina. I’m surprised Valentina hasn’t already been mentioned!
Reuben “Ben” or “Rue”
I’m not Spanish but I’ve tried to look up names that I feel have history and cross to English well.
Sebastian Bas Seb
Leandro Leo Andy
My middle name suggestion is Leon
Sofia Elena Sofi meaning wise and brightly shining
Susanna Anna or Sanna
Teresa Tess, Tessie Tessa
Luciana Anna or Lucy
Ooh, I love this family’s taste in names! Both their children’s full names are just beautiful.
Abby’s suggestion of Magdalena seems like an especially good fit for a daughter, if you’re okay with the similar endings for your girls. I’d suggest “Magda” as a nickname. Enzo, Lina, and Magda sounds perfect to me!
I notice that the “Ma-” beginning shows up in your lists of almost-right names for both boys and girls, so here are some additional possibilities along those lines:
Manuel, Manuelo, or Manolo (“Mani” or “Manu”)
Marcelo or Marcello (“Maro”, “Marci”, or “Celo”)
Mauricio or Maurizio (“Mauro”)
And some others that might be in the right ballpark:
Apolonia (“Lola”, “Lia”, or “Nia”)
Leonor or Leonora (“Nora”)
Lucrecia or Lucrezia (“Luz”, “Lucia”, “Luci”, “Luca”, or “Zia”)
Patricia or Patrizia (“Zia”)
Rafaela (“Rafi” or “Ella”)
Valencia (“Val” or “Vivia”)
Totally agree with Paloma as suggested above! Paloma called Lola is so nice. Or what about Rosalba called Alba? For boys, Tiago? I suppose you could go with Santiago in full but I think Tiago has more of a romantic feel.
Less popular (but not sure if still too popular for your tastes):
Paloma “Lola” for a girl
Miranda “Mira, Mimi, Miri” for a girl
Emiliano “Lio” for a boy
Xavier “Xavi” (Zavi) for a boy
Probably too popular but also want to suggest:
Emilia “Mila” for a girl
Oscar “Oz” for a boy
I love how the nicknames are from the last syllables of their names and the fact that those could be names on their own, so I’ll stick with that.
Margarita nn Rita
Gabriela nn Ella
Violetta nn Etta
Luciana nn Ana
Beatriz nn Izzy
Victor nn Thor
Rodrigo nn Iggy
Sebastian nn Ian
Santiago nn Tiago
Enrique nn Rick
Matteo nn Theo
Casimiro is cool and unexpected ! I Like the nickname Cas or Miro.
Eduardo “Edu” or “Eddie” or “Lalo”
Leonel or Leonardo “Leo”
Tadeo “Tad” or “Teo”
Antonella “Nella” or “Nell”
Julieta “Etta” or “Juli”
Love Francisco to partly honour you! Yes! Or Francisca! From your list I love Ignacio nn Iggy!
Marcelo or Marcela?
Dolores nn Lolo (maybe this doesn’t sound romantic to you but I think it’s such a lovely underused name!)
Eloisa nn Isa
Eulalia nn Lally
Genoveva nn Vivi
Salome nn Mae
Federico nn Rico
Tulio nn Lio (too close to Lina?)
Olegario nn Rio (oh wow I LOVE the sound of this name and the awesome nickname!)
Also, I know it’s Spanish you need, but my favourite Italian name is Fiorella and I wonder if it might work in Spanish too? Little Fio or Ellie?
Christina Fonseca says
Magda is another possible nickname for Magdalena.
I have no knowledge of or experience with, Spanish, so take this as you may.
My first thought for a girls name (as it is so often) was Susanna. I have a strong preference for the spelling Susannah, but I suspect Susanna may be more in keeping?
Lorenzo, Carolina and Susanna …. Enzo, Lina & Zanna (or Sanna / Anna / Annie / Sunny / Suki)
I have no thoughts on boys names, but actually really like the suggestion of Ferdinand … I’m not much of a nicknamer, and maybe it’s a bit tame, but I’d go with Andy.
I’d like to suggest Casimiro “Cas” for a boy and Euphemia “Fifi” for a girl