Name HelpName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, 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!

Emma writes:

My husband and I are stuck on the names Olivia or Camilla or Chloe for our next baby girl but can’t decide which!

Whichever name we choose I’d like it to also go well with our other daughter, Charlotte. To me that rules out unisex names and very modern names such as Addison, Harper, etc.

I guess vintage or more classic names go well with Charlotte and are more in line with our style.

My quick thoughts on the names we’ve got in mind are:

  • Olivia – I like the soft, flowy sound of this name, as Charlotte is also a softer sounding name. It’s just very popular which would be my main hesitation.
  • Camilla – Not sure how we stumbled across this one, but its stuck. You don’t hear much about the name Camilla so I’d be interested to hear opinions on it.
  • Chloe – My husband threw this one in. It’s probably my least favorite but I’m happy to consider it. Although the they have a different sound both girls names would start with “Ch.” Not sure if this seems a bit weird or if that’s just my imagination

Some other names we’ve considered but ruled out are Victoria, Elizabeth, Grace, Annabel, and Sophie.

I normally love names and have huge lists going so I’m not sure if I’ve also got a bit of a brain block and just bogged down between Olivia and Camilla and Chloe as I can’t seem to think of any other alternatives! Other suggestions are also welcome.

Please read on for my response – and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments!

Name Help: A Sister for CharlotteHi Emma –

Congratulations on baby #2!

I think these questions are the most difficult. You know your style, you’re got a great shortlist that meets all of your criteria, and yet … none of the names has felt like The Name.

Some parents are content to wait and meet their baby, confident that they’ll know she’s a Jane or a Susan or a Meg as soon as they see her face.

That’s not me at all. If we hadn’t had a name picked out already, I think I’d have gone into a full-on panic as I held my nameless child.

Assuming you, too, are in the let’s-avoid-a-maternity-ward-meltdown camp, let’s take another look at your shortlist.

Olivia – A great name, and a very popular name, too. I do think that Top Ten names get to the top of the charts for good reason, and there’s nothing wrong with using a name that you love – even if it’s #20 or #8 or #1.

More advantages for Olivia: it sounds nothing like Charlotte, but they’re still a style match. If you haven’t been bothered at how popular Charlotte has become, you might not be troubled by Olivia’s popularity, either. (Unless I’m wrong about this. You mentioned it as a concern with the name, so maybe Charlotte’s already been referred to as Emma’s Charlotte or little Charlotte by a friend or two?)

Both names could lead to nicknames – and if your daughters ever start a cupcake shop, how perfect a name would Lottie & Livvy’s Cupcakery be? But they’re often used in full.

In short, I think Olivia sounds like a sister for Charlotte, and you can’t go wrong with this combination – as long as you’re willing to accept that your Olivia will never be the only one with her name.

Camilla – Catherine and Camilla might be more of an issue than Charlotte and Camilla. As you point out, they share the same first initial, but not the same sound.

Here’s my (typical) question with two children with the same first initial: do you imagine that you’ll have lots of kids? If you’re hoping to fill up a mini-van, will you feel that daughters named Charlotte and Camilla commit you to naming future children Christopher, Charles, and Celeste?

If so, then I think you’re far better off with Olivia, or another name entirely.

Otherwise, Camilla is a lovely possibility. Spelled with just one L, Camila ranked #41 in the US in 2014. That’s much less popular than Olivia (#2) or Charlotte (#10), but still not crazy out-there. Camilla – with the double L – ranked #364 last year, so it’s less familiar. And yet no one would ever think that Camilla was a wacky, made-up name. It’s feminine and traditional, with ties to myth and literature.

Camilla is just flat-out lovely, and Camilla sounds like a sister for Charlotte, too.

Chloe  – The biggest advantage I see with Chloe is that it’s a nickname-proof name. Sure, some might shorten it to Chlo, rhymes with Joe. But I think that would be rare. Olivia might become Liv, and Camilla might be Millie or Cam. But Chloe is always, always, always Chloe.

Since Charlotte is rarely nicknamed, that seems like a potential advantage.

One concern about Chloe is popularity. If you’re willing to rule out Olivia on those grounds, Chloe is only fractionally better. The name ranked in the US Top Ten from 2008 through 2011. It is currently #18 in the US. In other words, she might be the only Chloe in her kindergarten, but there will probably be a third grader or fifth grader – or maybe a babysitter – by the name. We tend to focus on popularity in a single year, but often a name that has been popular in the decade prior to our child’s birth can feel more popular than a name that’s rising the year our child is born.

Alice in Wonderland (1988 film)

Other Names – I honestly don’t think you need any more, but I’m tempted to suggest royalist possibilities with traditional galore: Eleanor, Adelaide, Beatrice, or Alice. Or maybe Eloise or Violet?

I love Charlotte and Alice together. Alice ranked #97 in 2014 – familiar, but not quite heard everywhere. And they’d both have children’s books with their name on them – Charlotte’s Web and Alice in Wonderland.

From your choices, I tend to gravitate towards Olivia. Yes, it’s very popular. But it seems like it would be your frontrunner if only it wasn’t #2 on the charts. And you’ve sidestepped the whole question of whether a third baby would also have a C name with the choice.

Perhaps a poll will help narrow things down:

Readers, thank you so much for your insight! Emma popped in to tell us that Charlotte’s little sister is the gorgeously named Camilla Violet. Congrats to the family, and again, thanks to all for their comments.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Love your choices…other suggestions I might throw in would be Cecelia or Emmeline? Also I’m partial to Camille nn Millie over Camilla.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions ladies, Violet may now be a possible contender, however do you think Charlotte and Violet are too similar? just the ending of the names makes me wonder if they’re two similar to use together… Thoughts?

  3. I’m with the rest of the Camilla makes me think of Parker Bowles set, but if you’re ok with repeating the first initial, Camille is beautiful – seems fresh and traditional at the same time!

    I also love Eleanor for you and Beatrice and Frances!

    I think Violet would be a great choice, too – Maggie Smith has made that classic name quite spunky in Downton Abbey =)

    Maybe Ameila or Margaret or Matilda or Natalie or Hannah?

    Good luck! I know you’ll find the perfect name!!

  4. How about Annabeth or Bethany? Both feel like they would be lovely with Charlotte!

    Annabeth is also a nice balance between the Annabel and Elizabeth that you considered but ruled out, but has enough history and charm not to feel too much like a modern smoosh name.

  5. I may be alone in this one, but I immediately think of Camilla the Chicken from the Muppets when I hear that name… Gonzo’s pet/girlfriend? I’m sure I could get past it if I knew a person named Camilla, but at the moment, that’s my primary association.