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 are struggling with a girl name that is unique, but easy to say and spell.
Big sister’s name is Afton Grace.
Love middle names that are faith based.
Thank you for your consideration!
Please read on for my response, and share your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Rene –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
Afton Grace hits it out of the park, doesn’t it? It’s unusual, but straightforward. And the middle name is richly meaningful, plus it balances out the unusual qualifies of the first name.
It’s a tough act to follow!
While Afton’s sister could be Anastasia or Gloriana, I wonder if you’d be more comfortable with names that feel a little more restrained. It’s not exactly unisex – while I can imagine a boy named Afton, it’s used almost exclusively for girls. But it’s not frilly and princess-y, either.
I can imagine a nature name working well with Afton. Or possibly a surname name?
And, of course, there’s the question of just how unusual. 89 girls (and 12 boys) were named Afton in 2018, which makes it quite unlikely you’ll ever meet another Afton. But it’s possible to choose a Top 1000 name and still feel like it’s distinctive and different.
A SISTER FOR AFTON
Blythe – An archaic word meaning “happy,” Blythe is every bit as tailored as Afton. It’s also equally unusual – just 97 girls (and 6 boys) were named Blythe in 2018.
Briar – A unisex nature name that’s just on the fringes of the mainstream, Briar succeeds names like Bryce and Brianna. It’s a little prickly, but still quite lovely. It ranked #687 for girls and #807 for boys in 2018.
Ember – At #209, Ember is the most popular suggestion on this list. But I think it sounds fresh and different – and absolutely perfect with Afton.
Harbor – Harbor was given to 80 girls (and 39 boys) last year. It’s a nature name, but there’s something of a virtue vibe to Harbor, too. Oh, and if this is close-but-not-quite, I almost suggested leafy Arbor.
Lavender – With Violet topping the charts, and Harry Potter using the name for a minor (but much-mentioned) character, Lavender could’ve taken off. 101 girls were named Lavender in 2018 – a new high, but still nicely uncommon.
Meadow – Fictional mobster Tony Soprano gave this gentle nature name to his daughter on early 2000s television hit The Sopranos. While it’s gained steadily in use since then, at #516, it’s still fairly uncommon. The ‘o’ ending seems quite stylish, putting this name midway between Margot and Prairie.
Sylvie – The French form of ancient name Sylvia, it comes from the Latin silva – woods. At #897, it’s a good stands-out/fits-in kind of choice.
Vale – Savannah Guthrie gave this poetic nature name – it means valley – to her daughter in 2014. There’s also Vail, as in Colorado. Both are spare, nature-informed names that would pair beautifully with Afton.
And now, the conundrum: I think any name on this list would pair beautifully with Afton!
Let’s look at middles for a minute. If you chose Grace for the spiritual aspect, I wonder if you’d consider Glory, Hope, Pax/Peace, Praise, Psalm, or Sunday?
With middle names factored in, I think my favorites are Briar Hope and Sylvie Praise. I think they’re both perfect paired with Afton Grace, and nicely balanced between the familiar and the rare.
My daughter was born in April of 2018 and she is also Afton Grace! How funny! And 11ms later in March we welcomed a little boy that we named Ronan Jage. I think Afton and Rowan/Rowyn Faith would have made a wonderful little sister name.
Leanne, those names are great together! Thank you for sharing. Afton is one of those names that just grows on me more with every year that passes …
How about Elowen? Afton and Elowen makes a great sibset.
I love so many of the suggestions in the comments. It has the same ending as Afton but the first name that came to mind was Larkin, it’s not nature based but ‘lark’ reminds me of a bird. I also think Clover would be lovely as a sister for Afton.
I’ve been thinking of some longer faith based middle names for you 🙂
My daughter suggested Charity. There’s also Evangeline or Hosanna.
I’m sure this is the last you’ll here from me now … can’t wait to hear what you choose, though!!
The Mrs. says
Please forgive any repeats! I’m commenting before reading what everyone else write.
How about Maren Hope?
Afton and Maren have the same tailored, feminine vibe. And hope is definitely spiritual!
Congrats and best wishes!
The Mrs. says
*I’m commenting before reading what everyone else WROTE. (Why, autocorrect? Why?!)
Hello to all & thank you so much for all the lovely and gorgeous name suggestions that I never thought of before! Abby is right on, we chose Afton for its rarity/nature background. Afton is a Swedish word meaning “afternoon or evening” and our sweet girl was born in the evening. Additionally the Robert Burns poem “Sweet Afton” sealed the deal, as it refers to the Scottish Afton River. I have played & sang this very poem turned song many times. It’s a great lullaby!
We are nature lovers and seem to gravitate towards surnames. So far, Sylvie, Darcy, Greer, Brighton, Ellery, Delia are definite contenders! We have a friend who recently named her little girl Blythe. Another interesting fact is that we considered Greer and then it popped up on here!
All gorgeous names & amazing help with the middles, they are hard! Faith, Mercy, Patience Joy. Please keep them coming and thank you to all for your consideration and responses. We are very grateful!
That makes me so happy! Greer is a family name from the Scottish branch of my family, used primarily as a female middle name. I have a soft spot for this name, but wasn’t able to use it myself.
Love all of these gorgeous suggestions! I’ll add a few more:
I love the middle names Hope, Faith, Mercy, Joy, and Patience.
Such amazing name choices, thank you all for responding and for your help with this process! We greatly appreciate it!
I like Freya (or Freja) Hope
So many lovely suggestions. I especially like Hollis and Greer. I also love Carson for a girl and that seems to fit your style. Carson Mary or Carson Mercy.
My first thought with Afton was Cambria. Cambria Mercy or Cambria Hope would both be lovely.
My next thought was Greer, but it’s harder to find a faith based middle name that flows. Greer Felicity is nice, but not sure if that’s enough. Perhaps Greer Rejoice??
Either way, I love the combinations of:
Afton & Cambria
Afton & Greer
Thank you so much for your reply! We kid you not, considered Greer, but didn’t know what the ratio was boy/girl & yes, middle names are tough! Thanks again.
Here is where Abby talks about Greer, including the male/female break down. It seems to be similar to Afton. https://appellationmountain.net/greer-baby-name-of-the-day/
Side note, I’d like to suggest the middle name Mercy. 🙂
Love Afton! From Abby’s suggestions, I like Vale best.
A few others:
For some reason Cassidy Vera popped into my mind. Vera means faith in Slavic languages. And Cassidy has the same strength as Afton with a side order of moxie.
Afton Grace and Cassidy Vera. Afton and Cassidy.
Kirstin G says
As Abby mentions, Afton has a nice unique, unisex feel for a girl. Here’s a few more suggestion:
They’re all two-syllable names that would go nicely with one-syllable, faith-associated middle names like Faith, Joy, or Hope.
Alison Doherty says
I loved Blythe – I think that is the perfect sister for Afton.
Maybe Blythe Mercy, Blythe Meadow, or Blythe Felicity?
Afton Grace is a beautiful name!
For Afton’s little sister I like:
Zara — I really like the A to Z aspect of Afton and Zara.
For middle names:
Verily — I prefer Verily to Verity
I completely agree about Verily over Verity!
Zena Eve says
One of my favorite virtue names is Mercy.
Afton Grace is a great name! I’m sure she’s also a great girl. Congrats on her sister! I suggest
Oakland / Oakley
Ryland / Ryley
Reese (ardor, passion, zeal)
Sullivan, nn Liv or Livvy
Brighton (if you don’t mind repeating ending sounds)
Peridot, nn Perry or Dotty
Callista (check into mythology story first)
Felicity (happiness; also a solid choice for a middle)
Vivienne (from the word for Life)
Blakeley / Blake
And for middles, I say continue the theme. It’s a cute tie in between the girls, and it’s meaningful.
I agree with Abby on Pax and Peace. If we name children Reese/Rhys/Reece, why not Peace? [Now I’m adding Reese to the first name suggestions. But I’d steer clear of using Reese Peace. 🙂 However, Sullivan “Liv” Peace is kinda cool! Or any of the positive word middles.]
Brielle (from Gabrielle: God is my Might)
Sullivan “Liv” Hope
Blakeley Pearl [just not Black Pearl ;)]
I’ll offer River Verity 🙂