Name Help: A Sister for Elam and Luisa

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!

Christy writes:

#namehelp please!! I am 4 weeks from my due date with baby number 3 and we are struggling to find a girls name that we both love.

Big brother is Elam and big sister is Luisa.

We are drawn to old names that have meaning and are not too popular. We love how Elam is an Old Testament name and sounds familiar (kind of like Liam) but is uncommon. Luisa (spelled the Spanish way to honor my husband’s Puerto Rican roots) is named after my late grandfather, Lewis, and goes by Lu or Lulu. Both kids have traditional, family middle names.

If this baby is a boy, he will be Simon James (again, an “old name” that, while more popular and familiar than Elam, is not overused).

But if it’s a girl, we are stuck! I’ve noticed that my husband loves names that start with “S.” Simone, Sylvie and Sybil are all on our list. And while I like all of these names, not one of them pops out at me and says “that’s it.” He is lukewarm on Susannah (which I love) and Lydia (which I also love, though it may be getting too popular for me). He has nixed my suggestions of Georgina (nn Georgie) and Helena (nn Nellie).

We both like Cecily but can’t agree on a nickname and are somewhat put off by the meaning. Do you have any name suggestions for Elam and Luisa’s (maybe) baby sister?

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

Dear Christy –

Congrats on baby #3! This is tough, because at first glance, you and your husband share the same style. And you’ve chosen gorgeous names for your son and daughter. So it seems like naming a third ought to be straightforward.

And yet, it often gets harder to name later children. It’s one of the few things in parenting where experience doesn’t help.

Here’s what stands out to me: your choices are slightly longer and the tiniest bit frillier. Both set of names feels feminine, but yours take it from tailored-feminine to flowing-feminine.

That makes for a tiny style disconnect, and I think it can be overcome.

Let’s start with three possible compromise that leap out from your current list:

Cecily, nicknamed Ceci or Cece – This seems like the obvious choice. Cecily hits the same familiar-but-not-common mark that your older children’s names share. And Ceci/Cece mirrors the Lulu nickname you use for big sister Luisa.

Elena – If you opted for Luisa over Louisa, would trading Elena for Helena work? You might also consider the nickname Laney/Leni instead of Nellie. The drawback? Elena continues to gain in popularity, thanks to our search for the next English-Spanish crossover in the key of Isabella. Credit also goes to a popular character from long-running television series The Vampire Diaries. Factor in about a dozen alternate spellings, and Elena might feel more common than you’d like. And, of course, it’s awfully close to Elam. Though if you call your kiddos Elam, Lulu, and Laney, that similarity fades.

Sylvia/Silvia or Silvana/Sylvana/Silvanna, nicknamed Sylvie – Since you’re open to shortening a daughter’s name, would you like Sylvie if it were the short form of a longer name? Sylvia especially reminds of Lydia from your list. I believe the Silvia spelling is, like Luisa, more common in Spanish. Another option might be Silvana – pick your spelling. Long and lovely, Silvana and company are heard occasionally, and remind me of your favorite Susannah.

If neither of these compromises pleases you both, let’s see if we can find some new names:

Aurelia – Aurelia means golden. It claims ancient roots, but feels nicely modern. I suspect this puts it somewhere between your more flowing favorites and his preference for slightly more tailored names. One challenge: I’m not sure how to nickname this one. Lia, maybe?

Calista – I looked for more soft-C names and felt like I couldn’t do better than Cecily. But what do you think of Calista? It means beautiful, comes with plenty of nickname options, and hits that familiar-but-not-too-popular mark.

Daphne – Daphne seems to come up on recommended lists all the time. If I don’t suggest, a reader almost always will! That’s because it satisfies the familiar-but-not-overused so well. Style-wise, Daphne feels closer to his Simone or Sylvie than your favorites, but the ‘ee’ ending reminds me of your Georgie and Nellie. The Spanish spelling, Dafne, might be another option.

Esme/Esmeralda – Okay, Esme and Esmeralda are not related. But he likes French names, like Sylvie and Simone. You love more elaborate choices, like Georgiana and Helena. Esmeralda shortened to Esme satisfies both. Neither name is common, but both are easily recognized.

Ramona – Ramona recently re-entered the US Top 1000 for girls, which puts it at a similarity popularity level to Louisa/Luisa. The adorable children’s book character keeps it accessible, and yet I think it feels every bit as sophisticated as Sophia. Nickname options include Romy and just Ro.

Rosa, Rose, Rosalie – Rosalie shares the same rhythm as Cecily. It shortens to Rosie or Ro. But, of course, Rosa reminds me very much of Luisa. And Rose makes a great given name, too.

Sabrina, Selena, Serena – All of these names rank between #250 and #500 in the US. They satisfy the S sound your husband prefers, but with a longer, flowing style you seem to like. All three work really well as sister names for Luisa and Elam, too.

Socorro, called Coco – Maybe it’s the Spanish-language connection. Or maybe Lulu reminds me so strongly of Coco. I realize this name is probably a little on the daring side, but, like Elam, it feels like it would wear well today.

My favorite of the compromises is probably Silvia or Silvana, nicknamed Sylvie. On new names, I’m torn, but I do think that Sabrina, Selena, and Serena all have potential. Or Rosalie! It’s sweetly vintage, nickname-rich, and shares an awful lot with the names you both like.

Readers, I know you’ll have some great suggestions! If their new baby is a girl, what would you name a sister for Elam and Luisa?

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. If your husband likes ‘S’ names how about Salome nicknames could be Sally or May.

    Other ideas:
    Nadine – Nadia

  2. I love the suggestion of Aurelia. My friend actually named her daughter that (now 1 years old), and they call her their golden plum. I like Relly or Ree are cute nicknames.

    My first suggestion was going to be Esme. LOVE this name.

    What about Savannah instead of Susannah?

    Or Juliet? Jules or Jett are super cute nicknames (we have a Juliet and love her name)

    Rose or Rosalie or Rosamund or Rosalind? We also have a Rose and she goes mostly by Rosie, but if you did Rosalie you could also use Rosa which is super cute and more unique. Rosamund or Rosalind give you a nn of Roz (I think this option, especially if you were going for spunky nn feel).

    What about Stella or Estelle?

    I really like the suggestion of using Simone. Mona… Sooo charming. Especially with your other kids.

    I LOVE Veda or Vada.

    I love the name Giselle but I don’t know if I can get over the potential for the nasty nickname that will most definitely come at some point in her childhood….)

    Good luck!!

  3. I love the suggestion of Aurelia! I’m hoping to work it in to a future daughter’s name. Would Reylie work as a nickname? I would add the y in to help with pronunciation.
    My infant daughter’s name is Gloria, and we sometimes call her Glo. Gloria is more common as a Spanish name, but common enough in English as well (at least for a currently unpopular name). I am obviously pretty partial, but it’s a beautiful name with a cute nickname, and people have consistently been delighted by it.

  4. Liking the set so far!

    I’d suggest:
    Rosa (nn Rosie)
    Viviana (nn Vivi)
    Sylviana (nn Sylvie)
    Mattea (nn Tea)

    My pick would have to be Elam, Luisa “Lulu” and Viviana “Vivi”.

  5. Oh, one more!

    Sabrina (nickname of Bree, Brina, Bina, or Sanna)

    Elam, Luisa, and Sabrina.

  6. Claudia Cecily (nickname of CeCe)

    Elam, Luisa, and Claudia.

    Miriam (nickname of Mimi)

    Elam, Luisa, and Miriam

    Giselle (nickname of Gigi)

    Elam, Luisa, and Giselle

    Selena (nickname of Sissy, Lena, Sally, or CeCe)

    Elam, Luisa, and Selena

    Best wishes!!

  7. We also love names with a meaning, and our first daughter is

    Johanna (God sends His grace)

    For our second daughter, we went with

    Lily (actually Lys, in French, but it does not work very well in the US) which is a symbol for purity, Mary, the Holy Spirit, it used to symbolize the Jewish people, French royalty and Quebec.

    For our 3rd girl we are a little stuck. I am considering

    Seraphine (means Angel)
    Annabelle (beautiful grace) amongst others,

    for their meaning, but DH is not on board so far. Suzanna was on my list because it means lily and has the “hanna”, so that would have been a good reminder of the two first ones but DH not liking this.

    Josephine is also cool (God adds). I like Esther or Estelle (both mean
    star) too.

    1. For what it’s worth, I really like Seraphine for you. Or Seraphina. I also really like Esther 🙂