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 expecting a daughter in July. Our sons are Christopher “Chase” Edmund and Gareth “Gage” Francis.
Chase and Gage both have fun names that (as typical little boys) they love, but they also have formal names for if they prefer that when they’re older.
I’m struggling to name our little girl in a similar way! I like Charlotte or Scarlet shortened to Lottie, however my husband isn’t keen. He prefers Dorothy shortened to Dolly, but I don’t like this. Do you have any suggestions?
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Jo –
Congratulations! How exciting to be expecting your third.
There’s plenty of good news here. The style gap between Dolly and Lottie is tiny, and the same is true for Dorothy and Charlotte. (Though Scarlet has a slightly different vibe.) And since you’ve established a pattern that you both appreciate, this feels a little more straightforward than naming with a blank slate.
The challenges remain, though. First, it’s tough to pin down the point of disagreement. Beyond that, you have to like two names equally well – the formal name and the nickname. Plus, parents who find themselves miles apart on style know that they need to compromise. Since you’re basically on the same page, it can be difficult to explain why Dorothy is a better choice than Charlotte, or vice versa.
Let’s look at some traditional, feminine names with fun, modern nicknames and see if any of these feel like a better fit.
Cecilia or Cecily, called Cece – Cecilia charts between Charlotte and Dorothy in terms of popularity. Cecily falls outside of the current Top 1000, but feels like a familiar name. Chase, Gage, and Cece sound just right together.
Everly, called Evie – I’m taking a chance with a modern, not-at-all-traditional girls’ name. Dorothy belongs to a long list of three-syllable girls’ names ending in -y or -ie. So do modern possibilities, like Everly, Bellamy, and Romilly. Other Ev- names include familiar Evelyn, but also some rarities. If you like Evie – or are surprised that you don’t have Everly! – it’s a direction to explore.
Genevieve, called Gigi or Vivi – Genevieve qualifies as traditional and vintage, but it feels fresh and new, too. Vivi feels like a lively and unexpected nickname. Gen works, too. But Gigi might be my favorite, as French as Genevieve herself. Love Gigi but not sold on the formal name? Georgia – and Georgiana and Georgette – are options, too.
Josephine, called Josie or Posey – I’m not sure if your formal name is just Jo, or Joanna or Joelle or Josephine. But if it’s not Josephine – or, really, even if it is! – I wonder if you’d consider naming your daughter Josephine. It’s not quite like having a junior, but it might make for a sweet connection between your names. Because Josephine claims so many great nicknames, there’s plenty of opportunity to avoid confusion.
Louisa, Louise, or Luella, called Lulu or Lou – As with Evie, there’s more than one formal name that works for Lulu or Lou. Louisa and Louise lean traditional, while Luella feels more vintage. All of the options seem like possibilities.
Matilda, called Tilly or Millie – I can imagine Charlotte’s sister answering to Matilda. It works with Dorothy, too. Nicknames include Tilly and Millie. Are those too vintage with Chase and Gage? I’m not sure, but it’s worth consideration.
Scarlett or Susannah, called Scout – If there’s a downside to so many of these choices, it’s that they feel like nicknames – while Chase and Gage do not. Scout strikes me as a better equivalent, but it’s tough to pin down the best formal name. Would Scarlett called Scout overcome your husband’s dislike of Scarlett? Susannah, Samantha, and lots of other S names work, too.
Theodora, called Tori, Tess, or Dolly – Reversing the elements of Dorothy gives us Theodora, the Kansas farmgirl’s elegant aunt. Theodora comes with plenty of nicknames – Thea, Thora, Tori, Tess, Teddie, Dolly, Dot. Some feel more modern, while others carry a vintage vibe. I really like Chase, Gage, and Tess together.
I’m struggling to find a favorite on this list! I do wonder if you might do better to work backwards, choosing the everyday name first. Maybe something like:
- Bree, short for Briony
- Isla, short for Isabelle
- Lola, short for Eloise
- Mila, short for Millicent or Matilda or Margaret
But I’m going to turn this over to the readers now, because I know they’ll have fantastic ideas – and honestly, I could go on forever!
Readers, what would you suggest as a sister for Christopher “Chase” Edmund and Gareth “Gage” Francis?
I think I’m a bit late on the draw here, but I just finished having so much fun coming up with names to fit this that I’m just going to post them anyway! Great sibset and nicknames OP!
Amanda nn Amber
Lorelei, Elizabeth, Delilah nn Lily
Isobel nn Zoe
Jordana, Jasmine nn Jade
Felicia, Felicity nn Fay
Harper nn Hope
Katrina, Margaret, Katya, Keturah, Tabitha, Kallista, Katrin nn Kit
Magdalena, Eliana, Helena, Lillian nn Lane
Angelina, Valentina, Annika, Antonia, Clementina nn Nina
Jessamine, Jasmine nn Mina
Miriam nn Mila/Mira
Esmeralda, Emerald nn Esme
Rosemary/Rosemarie nn Remi
Vivienne/Vivian nn Ivy
Amara, Damaris, Mariam, Mariana, Marilyn, Marina, Marisol, Rosemary, Meredith, Samara nn Marley
Caroline nn Colette
Odilia, Odessa nn Odette
Ariana, Adriana nn Aria
Kirsten, Kimberly nn Kira
Calliope, Coralie nn Clio/Cleo
Clarabel nn Blair
Jocelyn nn Jolie
Kirsten nn Kia
Willoughby nn Willa
Lavinia nn Liv
Caroline nn Calla
Gwendolen nn Nola
Gwendolyn nn Gwyn
Esmeralda nn Mara
Calliope nn Lila
Emilia, Estella, Eloise nn Elle, Elsie, Elise, Elsa
Juliet, Julianne, Juliana, Julienne nn June
Malia, Marisol nn Molly
Madelyn, Madeleine, Malia, Matilda, Melina nn Milla
This is an AMAZING list – love, love, love!
Parilee Bijou says
How about the name Piper
I think it was JFK who had a family member named Katherine and they called her Kick. I think that would follow so well with your boys names. Cathriona is a beautiful formal name I think would flow well, and there are so many nickname options. Off of the suggestions, Theodora with a nickname of Teddy is great.
I think Margaret nn Daisy is perfect!
Amelia nn Mia
Georgia nn Gigi or Gia
Celeste nn Coco
Lucia nn Cece or Lulu or Lucy
Beverly nn Bex
Victoria nn Viv or Cora
Beatrice nn Trixie or Bex
Alexandra nn Xandie or Xan or Sandy
Frances nn Faye
Erin Beth says
I love nn Rory for you–Chase, Gage, and Rory. This could come from Dorothy, Caroline, Lorelei, Aurora, or maybe even Laura or Rosemary. I also like Dorothy, nn. Dottie or Doro or Thea.
Erin Beth says
I also like Kit with the sibset. Katherine or Kathleen could be the given name.
Erin Beth, that’s a BRILLIANT suggestion!
Anna — Annie, Nan, Nancy
Caroline — Callie, Carly, Caro
Eloise — Ella, Ellie, Lola, Lulu
Jacqueline — Jax, Jaxie
Jean — Scout
Jessamine — Jessie, Mina
Marjorie — Jorie, Maggie, Meg,
Mary — Mamie, Marlo/Marlowe, Mimi, Molly
Penelope — Nell, Nellie, Penny, Pippa, Polly, Poppy
Susannah — Anna, Annie, Suzy, Zan, Zanna, Zuzu
Victoria — Tori
Virginia — Gigi, Ginny
I’ve seen a few suggestions of Philippa nn Piper, but I think the nn Pippi would also be great! Especially if you’re in Lindgren fan.
C in DC says
You like a more formal sounding first name with a one syllable nickname, so I suggest:
There was a brief thought my niece Persephone might be called Pepper, but her parents changed their minds. I loved it – but not my child, not my choice. I don’t think Persephone is your style, but Pepper could work for Penelope or similar?
Also, we used to call our Susannah “sweet Susannah sunshine”, so Sunny could work.
Or Daisy for Margaret … long A sound and noun nn?
Oh, and if there’s been any mistake, a boy Michael nn “Miles” fits right in 😉
Not too much to add to all of the great suggestions, but Story seems like it would fit in well with Chase and Gage! There’s the obvious Astoria as a full name, but if Chase can work for Christopher, maybe Story could work for Scarlet or another S name?
If Dolly is the objection, then what about Doro? Or:
CAroline, nn Caro
Francesca, nn Chess
Fiona, nn Finn
Personally, I love Chess as a nn, although it is awfully close to Chase.
Great suggestions! I’ll add Imogen nn Immie or Mo or even Jenny.
C in DC says
Chase, Gage, and Pierce for Charles, Gary, and Peter are one of my dream name sets. My taste in girls’ names goes in a different direction: Elena, Cordelia, Flavia, Nadia, Patrice, May, Josepha/Josefa, Theresa, Meredith.
Chase and Gage are also active words. I wonder if something like Arrow, Tune, or Poem might be closer to the nickname you seek.
Arrow: Ariana, Arlene, Arabella, Ramona, any of the Rose names
Tune: Tallulah, Tuesday, Lunette
Poem: Pamela, Paloma, Phoebe, Pembroke
I would caution against Lunette, which means “glasses” in French. Might cause some undue hardship.
Ooooh, I like this. Three verbs, lol. This makes me lean towards “Scout” for the girl.
I think something about Chase, Gage, and Chloe just sounds right, tho. Charlotte could be shortened to Chloe if the husband would agree.
I also humbly submit the name we chose for our daughter — Hero Elizabeth. We call her by her first name, as she prefers, but Elizabeth is such an eminently nickable name that I can’t believe more people haven’t suggested it.
Elizabeth gives you:
Chase, Gage, and Lottie
Chase, Gage, and Liz
Chase, Gage, and Bess
Chase, Gage, and Bette
Chase, Gage, and Liza
Chase, Gage, and Zizi
Chase, Gage, and Izzy
And so many more…
I’d pair it with Lily or Rose, for the middle name for a feminine, vintage feel. JMHO.
The Dorothy –> Dotty (rhymes with Lottie) thing seems like such an obvious solution that I have to imagine that’s off the table for some reason.
Parents often have different styles/rules for boys names and girl names and it seems like you do too, but you didn’t address that. There is zero connection (traditional nn rule, I mean) between Christopher –> Chase and Gareth–> Gage except the first two letters match. You don’t seem to be wanting to do that for your daughter. I’m wondering if that is why you haven’t landed on The Name. Here are some combos That came to mind: (Chase, Gage and..)
– Winifred –> Willow
– Pauline –> Paige
– Regina –> (w)Ren
– Edith –> Eden
– Lavinia –> Lark
Could it be that you think that men get less leeway with looking serious as adults than girls when it comes to names? Perhaps it is hard to imagine a Judge Chase X, so you may think the kiddo may need/want a “traditional” name, even when you strongly prefer Chase. It’s possible that you can clearly picture a Judge Luna X and don’t feel the need to add a “traditional” Lucinda to the birth certificate. Are you feeling that this nickname –> birth certificate name is a ridiculous exercise for your daughter? Perhaps this is the reason. Our perceptions about baby names are so tied to our subconscious cultural understanding. I personally wouldn’t waste any time railing against our culture, unless that’s your thing. Is so, get down with your bad self. Otherwise decide if parity in kids’ names is important and name accordingly.
Dorothy nn. Dodie,
Alexandra nn Lana
Amelia nn. Milly,Molly, Mia
Babette nn. Bobbie
Casey nn. Cici
Eleanor nn. Lora
Felicity nn. Fay, Tilly, Lilly
Josephine nn. Joey, Posy,
What about Adelaide, nickname Laila?
Mable Marilla says
Margaret nn Margot or Mae
Clarissa nn Clara
Helena nn Lena
Annelise nn Anna or Elise
Maren nn Mary
Lorelei nn Lori
Amabel nn Amy
Cecelia nn Celia
So many great suggestions! Apologize if this one has been mentioned already:
Juliet, nn Jet or Jules
Katherine – Kat or Kitty
Alexandra – Lex or Lux
Audriana or Adriana – Andi
Josephine – Fi
Clarissa – Clarke
Scarlett – Skye
I love Susannah or Scarlet nicknamed Scout for you!
Bridget — Jet or Jetta
Alexandra — Sasha
Frances — Fern
Katherine — Kit
Renee — Wren
Rebecca — Bex
Julianna — Juno or Jules or Jill
Rosemary — Romy or Reese
Therese — Tess
The Mrs. says
Elizabeth with Bess as a nickname.
Irene or Corinne with Rina as a nickname.
Rosalind with Rosie or Lindy as a nickname.
Mirabel with Mira as a nickname.
Penelope with Pink as a nickname.
Amanda L. says
Love your boys’ names! We have a Gareth (nicknamed Bear), and also an Edmund (no nickname). I’m not sure where Christopher ranks right now, but Gareth is in that sweet spot of being completely outside the rankings without being unknown.
On those lines, I like the idea of Susannah nn Scout from the list. Both the “rare but familiar” first and the “unexpected but trendy nickname”. And I think Scout fits the style of Chase & Gage in terms of being a fun, active name.
If you want something more feminine, what about Daisy? It’s a cute stand alone name in its own right. There are a bunch of formal name options that work with it – Margaret and Marguerite of course, but you could also follow the pattern of your boys and pair it (unexpectedly) with a D name (Damaris, Deborah, Dierdre, Dorothy . . .). If your objection to Dorothy-called-Dolly is the Dolly part, maybe Dorothy-called-Daisy would be a good compromise.
kelsey D says
YES YES YES to Scarlet named Scout. Definitely fits in with Chase and Gage. What about using Etta?
I LOVE the name Theodora…but I would use Thea as shortened name.
I love the suggestions of using Dottie instead of Dolly.
Other options I love (sorry some are repeats:)
Margaret nn Margo, Maggie or Mae, which I think are all super sweet. Margo would fit great with the boys.
Rosamund/Rosalind Rosie, Rosa, Rose
Francesca, Frankie or Freya
Philipa, Piper –> great one Renee!!
Veronica, Vera (LOVE), Roni, Rooney (as in Rooney Mara), Nica,
Lucia or Lucienne, Lucy
Vivienne/Vivian, Vienne, Vienna or Viv
Ramona, Mona, Nina, Romy
Otilia or Othelia or Odelia, Tilly, Tia, Thea, Dia
kelsey D says
The suggestion of using Dottie instead of Dolly is actually a fabulous compromise for both you and your husband if you both like the name Dorothy. Or…going back to Theodora (which I prefer…just because I love it so much)… you could totally get away using Dottie as nn as well.
I WISH Abby could post updates, as I really want to see what you decide!!
Hi Kelsey – I do my best to post updates when I get them! And we do get some … but parents are often 3 or 4 months out when they write, so even if they send an update quickly, it’s still going to be a wait! 🙂 – Abby
I love that Chase and Gage are such solid nicknames. They aren’t cutesy, and they seem like they could easily be given names.
Ren – short for Renata, Renee, or Regina
Gwen – short for Gwendolen or Gwenyth
Nell – short for any of the Helen names. Helen, Helena, Ellen, Eleanor…
Jem – short for Jemima
Mae (or May) – short for Mary or Margaret
Yes to everything Renee said! Love the suggestion of Phillipa nn Piper, and Abby’s suggestion of choosing the everyday name first and finding a formal name to fit. If you like Lottie and he likes Dolly, I wonder if you both might like Dottie? Dottie could be short for Dorothea or Theodora if you like those better than Dorothy.
Some other suggestions:
Theresa nn Tess
Susanna nn Summer or Sunny (she is expected to come mid-summer, after all)
Good luck! Happy name hunting! 🙂
How about Margaret called Daisy or Maisie? Bridget (or any B-name, really) called Birdie?
I have a Georgia nn Gigi and a Harriet nn Hattie, and I (obviously) love them both! But My favorite for you is Josephine nn Posey! Love!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Christopher and Gareth, Chase and Gage, feel like names that NEVER come up as suggestions here. Their nicknames feel like a bit of a stretch ( I think we would have tried to sway you to Kit and Rhett), but somehow you’ve done something wonderful and unexpected! Their full names will never date them on a resume, and their nicknames have already arrived, they’re clearly the kids, the cool kids.
So it’s tough to suggest names that aren’t the names that we want to see people use, the ones that come up all the time that want to be revived! I feel like what you’re looking for is the next wave, or rather, the names hiding in plain sight that don’t have any sparkle on them yet. I like tons of Abby’s suggestions, but I feel like Susannah needs to be Susan nn Scout (love) and maybe Theodora is Dolores nn Dolly or Lola? I may be totally off-base here, but here are my suggestions…
Marlena nn Arlo
Phillipa nn Piper
Melanie nn Nelly
Beverly nn Vee
Regina nn Reese
Jacqueline nn Jett
Alannah nn Layla
Tiffany nn Finn
Kathleen nn Kiki
Gloria nn Lola
Belinda nn Bella
Danielle nn Ella
I really like the Christopher, Gareth, Phillipa / Chase, Gage, Piper set for you! Can’t wait to hear what you land on.
Love these suggestions! All of them; your unexpected nicknames are wonderful. 🙂 Christopher, Gareth and Kathleen / Chase, Gage and Kiki are my favorite pairing, but I would suggest Lena as a better fitting nickname for this exercise, since Kiki doesn’t really translate to adulthood as well as Chase and Gage.
Julie G says
I am focusing on the long A sounds of your sons’ nn’s.
I would go with a 2 or 3-syllable girl’s name that shortens to a 1 or 2 syllable long A nn.
Elayna/Elena nn Lane or Lanie
Marlena (there is a great song by the Wallflowers called Three Marlenas)
Adalia nn Dale
Victoria, nn Tori or Vicky
Winifred, nn Winnie
Francesca, nn Frannie, Frankie, or Chessie
Adele, nn Della
Susannah/Suzanna, nn Zan or Zannie
Rosalie/Rosamund, nn Rosie
I have a Ceridwen, nicknamed Cate. Your Gareth made me think you might like that kind of name.
Elaine or Lydia, nicknamed Lainie?
Esther, nicknamed Tess? Or Tessa?
Bridget, nicknamed Bea?
Meredith, nicknamed Mae or May?
Vanessa, nicknamed Nessie or Tess?