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, and would love some help coming up with more names to consider.
Our daughter is Sophina.
For a girl, I like Lenori. For a boy, maybe Gideon.
I would love some more names to consider. Ideally, they should be a fresh twist on a classic name, something that relates to a saint’s name but doesn’t sound made up. I prefer three syllables.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear C –
This is such a fun challenge. It’s also harder than I thought it would be! For girls, I kept running into twists that sounded too much like Sophina, mostly because they ended with another -ina sound. Other names crossed the line from twist to invented.
And for boys? I found twists harder to come by, but I hope these spark some ideas.
A SISTER FOR SOPHINA
Carlotta – My first thought was Carina, but, well, two -ina names feels like too many. But how ’bout Carlotta? It’s traditional, a twist on so many Caroline and Charlotte names. But it’s out of use today, and has never been especially common.
Eleni – Strictly speaking, Eleni is the modern Greek form of Helen. Maybe that puts it on the same family tree as Lenori? (Eleni – Helen – Elena – Eleanor – Lenori.) Or maybe not. Either way, I think it’s worth consideration.
Lileas, Lilias, Lillias – Strictly speaking, Lily probably evolved from Elizabeth. But Lilias – pick your spelling – is typically listed as a Scottish form of Lillian. So it could be a take on either a long-time favorite flower name, or one of the most enduring of choices for girls.
Lucina – I nearly went with Luella here, but Lucina seems like more of a Lucy/Lucille twist, with the added bonus of a great meaning – light.
Mariel, Marielle – One of my favorite Mary elaborations, Mariel remains quite rare in the US.
Valeska – Is this too far out there? Valeska comes from Valerie and Valeria; -eska is a German diminutive form. There’s lots to love about this name, but I wonder if Valerie feels traditional enough, and, of course, if Valeska goes too far to the different category.
A BROTHER FOR SOPHINA
Arkady – The problem with “traditional” is that you first have to ask traditional to who? Arkadios is an ancient Greek name, borrowed from a region. Versions of the name exist in Polish and Russian, Italian and Spanish. But English? Not so much. Still, I think Arkady has potential.
Augusten – Lots of August names are having a moment, but Augusten – a rare form in nearly any language – strikes me as the best fit with Sophia.
Finnian – As with the August names, there are lots of Finns. Finnian mimics the sound of popular choices like Julian and Adrian, but it’s far more rare. And I think it sounds perfect with Sophina.
Malachi – No twist here, just an underused Biblical boy name with a cool sound.
Jericho – There’s so Saint Jericho, but I think there are enough saints associated with the ancient city to make it work. It also sounds wearable because it’s so close to Jeremiah and Joe and lots of other more familiar choices.
Tobiah – Toby peaked in the 1970s, and Tobias feels like a more recent favorite. But the Old Testament Tobiah seems like an intriguing rarity.
Overall, I love Lenori so much I can’t imagine trying to talk you into a different name. But oh, the boys’ choices are tough!I lvoe Finnian, because of the repeating f/ph sound. It’s the kind of subtle thing that can link siblings’ names together nicely. But I wonder if Augusten is more of the style you had in mind. Plus there’s something about Saint Augustine and Saint Sophia – both wise, knowing choices.
Let’s turn it over to the readers: what would you name a sibling for Sophina?
JK Garrisin says
Saints names that sound like a twist on a more common name:
3 syllable saints or variations
Similar sound to Lileas – Lalia
Bellinus ( I think with Bellamy being popular this could fit nicely)
I loved Lileas and Augustine.
Sara L. Uckelman says
I can’t help but think Leandra/Leandro/Leander. Though I see someone else has suggested Leonidas, and now I want to second that rec!
This list surprisingly has a decent collection of twist names:
For boys, I’d never heard of Kix, but it’s cool. If Brooks, Parks, Max, and Dez, why not Kix?
Ooh … great find, thank you!
Inessa (variant of Agnes)
Rosetta or Rosalind
And I love the Nikolai suggestion
Hendrickson, Roderick, Clarissa, Anita, Mariette, Marisa
Sabina — where I live the name is pronounce suh BYN uh rather than suh BEEN uh
Violette — pronounced vee oh LET
Zena Eve says
Erin Beth says
I love Sybilla/Sybella as a sister to Sophina. Great suggestion!
If it’s saints you are after have you visited Sancta nomina? It’s a treasure trove.
I have a Mariel and a Nikolai, so similar in the “twist on a classic” theme 🙂
I’ve always really liked Sybella, and I’ll second the suggestions of Eleni, Sidonie, Kateri,Rafael, and Evander.
I’d add Elisabetta, Bellamy (I love it for a boy, but can see it on either), Ania, Violetta, and Sinclaire, Mathias,
I think they could find some great options by looking in lists of German, Slavic, Italian, etc. names. I think that might reveal just the right spin on traditional (in English) names they’re looking for!
I agree that Lenori is great with Sophina but I also quite like Marielle. I could also see Sybella or Sidonie/Sidonia or even Sunniva. Valeska is intriguing. I also like Varya. Maybe Devorah or Delancey? Eudora or Thessaly? Or Xanthia, Romilly, Cosima or Cressida?
Love Gideon. I also think Finnian or Finnegan would work well. Others: Merrick, Rafferty or Tarquin.
What about Kateri after the first Native American saint?
Dana M. says
Twists on saint’s names. . . perhaps Veronique or Nikolai? Lenori is very sweet, and I adore Eleni, Carlotta and Valeska, too. I also really like Augusten and Erin Beth’s suggestion of Evander. Though not twists, Raphael and Frederick would sound wonderful with Sophina.
Dana M. says
Erin Beth says
I love Lenori—gorgeous! Other ideas: