Name Help: A Sister for Barret, August & SullivanName 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!

Meredith writes:

I’m due with my first girl after three boys and I’m struggling!

Our boys are Barrett Wolfe (occasionally goes by Bear), August Fox (goes exclusively by Augie), and Sullivan Rockett (goes exclusively by Van).

Clearly I like surnames as first names and nicknames!

I also think anything that ends in -er unfortunately doesn’t go well with our last name.

Ideas, please!

Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Dear Meredith –

Congratulations on your daughter – what exciting news!

Let’s begin with the question that confronts every family who has two or more children of one gender first: is your boy name style the same as your girl name style?

It’s perfectly fine for the answer to be no, or not really, or maybe. And really, it’s the process of sorting through potential names that clarifies your answer.

I’m going to assume the answer is, for our purposes, at least kind-of, sort-of.

Which leads to my next question: do you want a unisex name for your daughter?

Names run on a continuum. Harper, Blair, Sloane, and Quinn sound gender neutral, but are used more commonly for girls; Rowan and Parker fall somewhere in the middle; and names like Barrett and Sullivan tend to be almost exclusive to boys.

Of course, that’s a snapshot based on 2018 data. Usage shifts all the time.

All of that said, I’m going to assume you’d like a surname-style name with nickname potential, but I’m going to choose names with slightly different profiles when it comes to unisex/gendered.


Adair – Bright and adventurous, Adair is a name that leaps off the tongue. It blends in with so many girls nickname Addie, but could easily shorten to Dar or Dare, too. One hesitation: Addie is awfully close to Augie, though I don’t think it’s too close.

Bellamy – After years of growing interest, Bellamy has recently debuted in the US Top 1000. Credit likely goes to a (male) character on sci fi television series The 100. (It also boosted Octavia, as well as Clarke for a girl.)

Ellison – It sounds a bit like Allison, but Ellison feels fresh and new.

Hadley – A name that sits just outside the current Top 100, Hadley caught on after The Paris Wife became a bestseller. The work of historic fiction imagined the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in – where else? – Paris.

Laine/Lane Gilmore Girls fans have no problem thinking of Lane as feminine, thanks to Rory’s BFF Lane Kim. Laine also brings to mind 1940s favorite Elaine. It’s far more popular for boys, but nickname Lainey is clearly feminine.

Marlowe – We love o ending boy names, like Leo and Arlo. But we’re also big on Willow and Margot for girls. So Marlowe could go either way, though the numbers give it to girls at the moment. It’s bright, upbeat, and doesn’t anything like your older kids’ names.

Quinlan – I mentioned Quinn above, and that’s an option. But if you prefer a formal name/nickname combination, Quinlan called Quinn works nicely.

Teagan – An Irish surname name, Teagan is almost mainstream for girls, a potential successor to Kelly and Kennedy.

Some of these names, like Adair and even Marlowe, fall more outside of the mainstream than your boys’ names. My favorite is Laine, with the nickname Lainey. But, of course, that assumes you’re comfortable with the same surname style for a daughter.

Readers, over to you – what would you name a sister for Barrett, August, and Sullivan?

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. There are a lot of great suggestions here. I might be duplicating but

    Monroe or Sutton

    But maybe not great nickname options.


  2. I really could hear a less unisex name with your sibling set, like:
    Cecilia (Cece)
    Juliet (Jet)
    Louisa (Lou)

    Or, if more unisex is your girl-name style:
    Holland (Holly—a nature nickname!)
    Glennon (Lenny)
    Marlowe (Marley)

  3. Carson is one of my all time favorites for a girl, no nick name though. Others that are nice but no nickname Bell and Clarke.

    It might be a bit dated, but I love Addison nn Addie.

    More male leaning Hunter is also a personal favorite for girls.

    Devlin or Devereaux nn Dev are nice too.

  4. I love the suggestion of Bellamy. A few other ideas:
    Kirby nn Bee

  5. What jumps out at me about your boys’ names is not the surname thing (although now that you point it out, I see it). What I noticed is the older 2 have animal names (bear, wolf, fox) and in that context, Rockett immediately makes me think of Racoon.

    So for a girl, have you considered something like Sparrow, Lark, or Wren? Or a woodsy botanical name like Fern, Willow, Ivy, Juniper . . .

    Thinking along those lines but also the nickname thing, I know an Adrienne who goes by Wren.

    1. I agree that the surname style doesn’t feel as dominate as the animal/object/noun part of these lovely names (bear, August, wolf, fox, rocket). The short, retro feeling nicknames also feel like a big part of your naming style. I love the suggestion of Fern! I’d also suggest for the nature vibe:
      Or for the short nickname vibe:
      Katherine (nn Kit or Kick)
      OR something to get to the nn Bright, which I love and think would be a good match for your boys’ names (Bridget? Brinkley?)

      I think I like Fern best followers by Kit

  6. Hadley is one of my favorite names and it sounds great with Barrett, August, and Sullivan.

    I also like:
    Addison — Addie, Addy, Andi
    Averie — Ava, Vera
    Bronwen — Wendy
    Cassidy — Cass, Cassie
    Eden — Edie
    Emery/Emerie — Em, Emi, Emme, Emmie, Emmy, Mercy. I love Mercy as a nickname.
    Haven — Ava
    Kendall — Kenna, Nella
    Quinne — a feminine ending for Quinn

  7. My personal favorites are Darcy, Collins, Grey, Laine, and Vaughn for surnames for a girl. I think the spelling of Grey with an “e” makes it more feminine somehow. If you are learning toward another surname, might I suggest using a strongly feminine middle name choice? Something like Collins Elizabeth or Grey Katharine to distinguish her name from your sons’ names.

    Sidenote: We recently used the surname Dougray for our son. I love the nn Gray!

  8. I’d avoid another B, A, S or V name.


  9. I must give a shout out to my favorite girls name Finley. I think it goes perfectly! Also ripe with lots of cute nicknames, not just Fin. Some others: Hayden, Abbott, Lyra, Quincy, Vaughn. Whatever you pick will be awesome, you are a great namer!