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’ve always loved names, and my husband and I have always agreed easily, but with our third child it’s becoming a struggle.
We have two favorite boys’ names: Edward “Ned” and Maxwell “Max.” We also have two favorite girls’ names, which we’ve used for our daughters, Beatrice and Eleanor. We call them Bea and Ella.
All of our children have my last name as their middle name, M!ller, and share my husband’s last name, which sounds like Carrie, but is spelled differently.
Our list of maybes:
ESTHER – A friend suggested it, and much as I like it for someone else, I wonder if it sounds like we’re just trying too hard?
KATHERINE – My sister is Katelyn, and she’s sometimes Katie at home. This would be my first choice, but I’ve always felt a little awkward about it. None of our kids have family names, and I don’t want to steal my sister’s name or make it feel as though I’m singling her out for an honor. (I love my sister, but I feel like it would open questions about why we honored this sibling and not another, or not our parents, etc.)
LUCILLE – I like Lucy, but it’s not great with Carrie as a last name. Lucille feels very old lady to me, but maybe that’s wrong.
MARIA – I love the name Mary, and I really liked the idea after Downton Abbey. But Mary rhymes with our last name. My husband suggested Maria and I’m thinking about it. But does it sound too Italian/Spanish? Are there nicknames I’m not thinking of?
RUTH – Another friend suggestion, and I like it, but maybe it’s not really us?
I’m not sure if the name is on our list already and I just can’t see it, or if we need some new ideas.
Names we cannot use include Elizabeth, Julia, and Margaret, as well as names we probably wouldn’t consider, like Willow and Sloane.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new daughter!
From your current list, I was ready to push for Maria. It’s a classic, used across many countries and languages. While I know plenty of women with Latina or Italian heritage named Maria, it’s truly universal. And it can be nicknamed, to Mia, Mimi, or Mae.
Except … with your last name, I say Maria sounds-like-Carrie and it’s very close to Mariah Carey. Not unthinkably close, but probably closer than I’d like. Since this isn’t a front-runner name for you, I’d probably move on.
That leaves me thinking hard about Katherine. Would you consider calling her Kit instead? Katherine-called-Kit isn’t too close to Katelyn-sometimes-Katie at all. And it fits nicely with Bea and Ella, too.
I’m inclined to drop Esther, Lucille, and Ruth. It feels like those are names you’d like to like, but aren’t quite working.
Let’s see if we can think of some more tailored classics with easy nicknames.
There are lots of girls out there answering to Addie, but most of them are some spelling of Addison or Adeline/Adelyn. Among the crowd, Adelaide stands out. It’s a substantial name with a bright, strong sound, one that sounds just right with Beatrice and Eleanor. Shorten it to Ada, and it’s perfect with Bea and Ella, too.
Cecilia is more popular, but the restrained, French style of Cecile seems like a better match. Either way, the nickname Ceci is an obvious, wearable option.
Frances is buttoned-up and lady-like; Frannie is high- spirited and all-girl.
I agree that Lucille isn’t my favorite, even though it seems like it ought to be just right for your family. Would you consider Louise instead? It’s every bit as traditional – probably a little more – and nickname Lou, Lula, and Lulu are all good choices. Lucy, too, could work.
Maria sounds-like-Carrie might not work, but Marianne could be perfect. Nicknames are all the same – Mia, Mimi, Mae – plus maybe Anna/Anne/Annie.
If Maria feels traditional, the related Miriam feels like more of an antique. The Old Testament form of Mary shortens nicely to Miri or Mimi. (Or, if you’re a fan of television series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, possibly even Midge.)
While there’s no question that this name is an unassailable classic, it’s surprisingly rare by 2023 standards. Nickname Tessa ranks hundreds of spaces ahead of Teresa. But that’s not bad news, really – and Tess is very much a sister name for Bea and Ella.
All those sharp, sophisticated V sounds! Vivian is a timeless name, and Vivi or Viv an appealing short form.
As I look at the list, I’m stuck on Cecile – the very first name that came to mind. But I wonder if Marianne or even Miriam might be more your speed?
My first thought was Juliette called Jules
Annabel (nn Anna, Bella)
Lucinda (nn Lulu, Lula)
Liliana (nn Lily)
Consider any repeats seconding! From Abby’s list, I love Adelaide.
Rosalie/Rosemary or even just Rose
My suggestion is Audrey.
Beatrice, Eleanor and Audrey sound like sisters.
Perhaps you could use Miller as the first name? Millie
As also suggested Millicent
Or even Amelia nn Millie
(Unrelated to your current query: Max Carey is the name of a Baseball Hall-of-Famer! He played and managed for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He’s not exactly a household name, even among baseball fans, but if your family enjoys the sport, it could be a cool connection for a future son.)
Oh, I just *adore* your naming style! Beatrice and Eleanor are two of my very favorite names. Feminine but not frilly, classic but not plain, traditional but not stuffy.
Katherine is a beautiful name, and I think it’s far enough away from Katelyn. However, Katherine Carrie reminds me of Cash and Carry, which used to be the name of a big warehouse grocery chain in the U.S. They rebranded a few years ago so the old name will fade over time, and maybe you live in a region where people wouldn’t make that association in the first place.
I love Abby’s recommendations of Adelaide (“Addie”), Frances (“Frannie”), Louise (“Lou”).
I find it interesting that Miriam is so popular in the comments as an alternative to Maria. To me, Miriam is a more “ethnic” name than Maria: nearly every Miriam I’ve ever met is Jewish. It’s the second most popular girls’ name in Israel at the moment. If your family isn’t Jewish, it might seem like an unusual choice to some.
A name that could combine the appeal of Mary and Katherine is Madeline or Madeleine.
Madeleine M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Madeleine
Bea, Ella, and Mimi
I also love the idea of Josephine, which several other commenters mentioned. It has the same literary-historical feel as your other daughters’ names.
Josephine M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Josephine
Bea, Ella, and Jo
Some other possibilities:
Amelia M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Amelia
Bea, Ella, and Mia
Aurelie M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Aurelie
Bea, Ella, and Aura
Cassandra M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Cassandra
Bea, Ella, and Cass
Delphine M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Delphine
Bea, Ella, and Dede
Lucia M!ller Carrie (pronounced “lu-SEE-ah”)
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Matilda
Bea, Ella, and Luce
Matilda M!ller Carrie
Beatrice, Eleanor, and Matilda
Bea, Ella, and Tilda
Beatrice, Eleanor and…..
Antonia…..Bea, Ella and Annie
Margaret…..Bea, Ella and Meg or Mae
Margot…..Bea, Ella and Meg or Mae
Margaux…..Bea, Ella and Meg or Mae
Penelope…..Bea, Ella and Nellie
We have a Beatrice who was very nearly an Eleanor and our other daughter is named Charlotte. How about Alice, Violet, or Hazel?
Amelie (pronounced Aah-mel-ee) (nn. Mel)
Amelia (Mia, Lia)
Alice (nn. Allie)
Charlotte (Lola, Ari)
My first thought was Charlotte. Beatrice, Eleanor and Charlotte.
My favorite Mary name is Marion. I prefer the on to an, but whatever suits! With Maid Marion and Marion Cotillard, it feels chic, strong and elegant, like your other girls.
Anastasia ‘Carrie’ or Alexandra ‘Carrie’ are lovely. And nn of Anna or Sasha respectively work well with Bea and Ella.
Last thought was Genevieve, nn Eve. It matches the style of your other names well.
MARIANNE and KATHERINE are my favorite suggestions via this post.
I’m also going to suggest MEREDITH and I see other commenters immediately thought of this name too!
GWENDOLINE/GWENDOLYN — “Gwen”
LOUISE/LOUISA — “Lou”, “Isa”, “Izzie”
MADELEINE — “Maddie”
Hope we’re helping and not overwhelming you!
Best of luck! x
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestion of Shakespeare names! Some of my favorite options for you:
E,B, & Rosalind or Rosamund nn Rose
E,B, & Virginia nn Ginger
E,B, & Dorothea nn Dot
E, B, & Lucinda nn Lulu
E, B, and Philippa nn Pippa
E,B, and Adriana
E, B, & Mirabel
E,B, & Lydia
I love your daughters’ names. I have an Eleanor of my own, and Beatrice would have been on my list if it hadn’t already been taken in my family.
My first thought for you was Lucinda, which sounds fresher than Lucille and gives you the nn Lucy (or Cindy, Indy, Lindy …). Lucia could work too, of course.
I also thought of Maxine, which I see has been suggested.
How about Daria instead of Maria – Dia or Didi for short?
Or Marcia – nn Marcy, Mia, Mimi?
Mercedes nn Mercy, or just Mercy on its own?
I know you said you can’t use Margaret, but perhaps another variation? One I like is Mairead (rhymes with parade) which shares sounds with Mary/Maria. I’ve seen it used with Maisie as a nn, which would be very sweet.
I like Jacqueline for you – it shares the same rhythm (to my ears) as Katherine.
Lydia (nn Lia or Dia) or Hannah (nn Hannie) seem like they could work as you have the also-Biblical Esther, Ruth and Mary on your list.
Millicent nn Millie may be another possibility.
C in DC says
I feel like we should be digging through Shakespeare names here.
Some that I think work: Marina, Miranda (Miri or Mira), Cordelia (Delia, Dilly, Del), Audrey, Celia, Imogen (Jeni or Genie), Juliet (Jet), Luciana (Lulu or CiCi or Lucia (loo-sha)), Paulina, Rosaline/Rosalina, Viola/Violet, or Silvia.
I really love Miriam. It goes great with Beatrice and Eleanor. I know Julia is out but how about Juliette? Or maybe a different variation of Katherine…Katerina, Katya or Katinka?
Maxwell made me think of Maxine! It’s beautiful and a bit spunky!
Christina Fonseca says
Marian instead of Mary.
Kathleen Smith says
How about Marie in place of Mary or Mariah?
I was coming here to say Catherine instead of Katherine. I know a little Cate and it’s always fascinated me how even though they sound the same, i never lump her in with the Kates I know. Although Kit is darling. But if it’s the whole association with your sister over anyone else, perhaps it’s just not the right name.
I thought of Rosemary (or Rosemarie)! Rosemary Carrie is still a bit rhyming but in a charming way (to my ear.) Rosie, Bea & Ella is the sweetest set. Marigold likewise could work with nickname Goldie! But maybe the possibility of Mary Carrie is just not in your cards.
I know a 7 year old Lucille who is Lu, never Lucy, and it’s definitely made the name feel fresh to me. Though Louise is also amazing for you.
I do really like Meredith for you. With M1ller in the middle, Mimi is a natural nickname. Or Mer, Edie, Red… Josephine, Theresa, Vivian, Felicity are also pretty sweet.
How about Genevieve – it kinda gives a nod to you, but you could call her Neve or Nevie or Evie? Ooh or Imogen! Little Mo or Immy…
Other longer names that I’d love to see in your set:
Dolores – Dolly, Lolly
Penelope – Penny, Poppy
Tallulah – Lulu
Another Emily says
Vote for Miriam here!
Also Susannah, Anne-Marie, or Cordelia
Harriet with nickname Hattie.
Meredith, Meredith, Meredith!!!
This name aligns with your preferred style if names and is great with Beatrice and Eleanor. You could also use Mary, a name that you love, as a nickname.
And one more — Constance. I think this one could be nicknamed Cici or Coco or Tani, etc., if Connie doesn’t suit. The names ending in -nce might go pretty nicely with her big sister. I also like Francie as a nickname for a Frances or Francine, a la the girl in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Also some of the French ette names that are probably coming back in style — Antoinette, Claudette, Georgette
Others: Bettina, Blanche, Francine, Grace, Irene, Juliette, Mavis, Patricia, Susan, Therese, Yvette, Yvonne
Alberta, Albertine — Birdie
Annalise, Anneliese — Annie
Anne, Annette — Annie
Barbara — Barra, Basha, Bobbie, Varya, etc.
Bernadette — Birdie
Christine — Kit
Cynthia — Cindy, Sia, Thea
Deborah — Bo was suggested as a nickname for this on this blog if you dislike Debbie
Deirdre — Dee, Didi
Edwina — Wynn as a nickname if pronounced like Edwin with an a on the end
Emmeline — Emmy
Florence — nickname Flora or Florrie
Genevieve — Evie, Jenny
Georgia or Georgiana — Georgie, Gia, Giana, Gigi
Harriet — Hallie, Hattie, Hetty
Helen, Helena, Helene
Henrietta, Henriette — Etta, Hallie, Hattie, Hetty, Henny
Isadora — Izzy or Dora
Josephine — Josie
Judith — Dita, Jude, Judy
Katerina — Katya
Kathleen — Kit
Lorraine — Raine
Marta, Martha — Marty, Mattie, Muffy, Patty
Matilda — Tillie
Mirabelle Belle, Mira, Miri
Ottilie — Tillie
Philippa — Pippa
Rosa, Rosabel, Rosalba, Rosalind, Rosamund, Rosanna, Rose, Rosemary — Rosa or Rosie
Victoria, Victorine — Tori, Toria, Thora, Vicky, Vita
Virginia — Gigi, Ginger, Ginny
Wilhelmina or Willemina — Willa, Mina, Minka, Minnie
Madeline nn Maddie or Mae
Rosalie nn Rose
Congratulations! And your daughters have beautiful names.
What if you spell Katherine with a C? Catharine or Catherine Nn Cate/Kit/Rin seems different enough than Katelyn.
Maxine seems to fit right in, however you’d have to part with a future Maxwell.
I also love Abbys suggestion of Adalaide “Ada”, Louise, and Frances.
I forgot to add-
Colette NN Etta or Cole
My first thought was Adelaide. I love it! Beatrice, Eleanor & Adelaide
Josephine, Susanna(h) , Felicity, Georgina
Lillian comes to mind