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’re “those” people. We gave a super-popular boy name to our daughter. Even though we get some looks, I have no regrets. But it’s making it harder to name our next baby.
Here’s the story behind Liam’s name: we lost my husband’s dad right after we found out we were pregnant. His name was William, and we immediately knew that if the baby was a boy, we’d name him William.
But then, at the ultrasound, when we found out it was a girl, we weren’t sure what to do. Our last name is C0st@. I didn’t like the idea of Willa or Willow, as they run into our last name. Wilhelmina is too much. And Billie sounded too cute.
In the middle of the night, looking at names again, I saw Liam. And I just kind of knew. I had a sweet aunt called Leanne who passed away when I was in high school. The sound of Liam reminded me of her name, too. My husband is pretty traditional about these things, so I figured he’d shoot it down, but he loved it!
We went with Elizabeth for her middle name because we figured she could always write out her full name on her resume if it was confusing to have a boy name. Sometimes we call her LeeLee for short, but mostly she’s Liam.
We’re due in December with another girl, and we’re stuck. I like lots of names, but it feels like nothing sounds right with our daughter’s name.
Here are our ideas so far:
Ryan – My husband likes this, and he thinks it can be a girl name because he went to high school with a “girl Ryan.” But I know lots of Ryans, all men and boys, and I have a hard time seeing it for a sweet baby girl!
Lucy – My favorite girl name right now, and one my husband says he likes. Except when I hear Liam and Lucy, I wonder if it’s too mismatched?
Clare/Claire – The name I’m warming up to. It’s a name on my side of the family, and I like that it’s not super-girly. But just like Lucy, I think it doesn’t really go with Liam’s name.
And that’s all we’ve got! I know we have time, but I’m starting to worry, because nothing seems like it goes with big sister Liam.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Ashley –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
This is a tough one. You chose exactly the right name for your daughter at the moment, and it’s proved to be a choice that gives you joy. So there’s nothing but positive behind Liam Elizabeth’s name, and I’m so glad to hear that you still love it!
But it does set up an interesting set of choices for her sister’s name, because it sounds like Liam wouldn’t normally be your pick for a daughter’s name. The three suggestions you’ve listed illustrate those options nicely, so let’s talk about them a little more.
RYAN, OR ANOTHER BNOG
Some do give Boy Names On Girls a little bit of side-eye, but they remain very popular. Name your daughter Ryan Isabelle or Parker Caroline, and you’ve matched Liam’s name style perfectly. But it sounds like that’s not quite what you have in mind.
LUCY, OR ANOTHER FAVORITE NAME
There’s wisdom in choosing the name you love, every single time. Even if the resulting sibset sounds a little disjointed. Except there is something jarring about such different styles, and I can imagine Liam might resent being mistaken for Lucy’s brother at some point. Right now, you’re introducing “my daughter, Liam” and I suspect that’s easier for people to digest.
CLAIRE, OR ANOTHER COMPROMISE NAME
I’m not sure if Claire is sharply different from Lucy. I’d say they’re both traditionally feminine, compared to more conventionally masculine Liam. But I think this direction has promise. After all, you’d only be choosing Ryan to match Liam – not because you love the name. And you might feel a little pang of regret if Lucy feels too different from your older child’s name.
So while I see the appeal or Ryan or Lucy, let’s look for some more Claire-like names.
Strictly speaking, Briar counts as unisex. 420 girls and 277 boys received the name in 2018. But I think it leans feminine, but not so much that it feels like a mismatch with Liam.
Another unisex name, Eden is used overwhelmingly for girls in the US. It does sound rather similar to Liam, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
LANE or LAINE
Or maybe even Layne? If Lucy and Liam appeals to you, maybe another L name would work? Lane is used in much bigger numbers for boys; Laine is more common for girls. I love Liam and Lane together, for brothers or for sisters.
Liv is brief and complete, the kind of name that might be short for something – but isn’t. It’s Scandi, a name with Norse roots. It means protection, but it’s also the word for life.
If the possibility of Liam feeling like the odd one out really bothers you, I wonder if you’d call her sister Luca? It’s far more popular for boys, but in some languages, it is a feminine form of Luke/Lucas. And while I’d expect Liam and Luca to be brothers, I think it makes sense that they’d be sisters, too.
Maren is rising in popularity, maybe because it’s such a great compromise choice. It’s tailored, a surname-style choice. But Maren is actually a given name, a Scandinavian twist on Marina.
Another name that’s technically unisex, Quinn has appeared in the girls’ Top 1000 in recent years.
Like Briar, Rowan is used for boys and girls, another tree name with Irish style.
A spare surname name, Sloane is rising in popularity. And while it’s a surname, a history of female fictional characters – from Ferris Bueller to Entourage – have put this firmly in the girls’ camp.
My favorite name for Liam’s sister is Quinn. It splits the difference between names like Ryan, that are far more popular for boys, and Lucy, which feels traditionally feminine. Plus, I love the slight alliteration with your surname.
Would you consider a combination like Quinn Caroline or Quinn Lucille? I like Quinn Eleanor quite a bit, too.
And, of course, Luca is close to Lucy, and gives you two currently masculine names for your daughters.
But if you ultimately decide that Lucy is the right name, I don’t think the mismatch is a problem. Lots and lots of girls have “boy” names, and our definition of what makes an acceptable name for a son is – thankfully – expanding.
Plus, your story about how you chose Liam’s name is meaningful. Lots of children go through phases where they long for a different name, but having a great story to explain the choice helps.
Readers, your advice could really help here. What would you name a sister for Liam Elizabeth?
Let me be a voice from a different side…
Please keep in mind how the girls will go about once they are older…As much as I love the name Lucy, or another more girly name for baby 2, for a large part of their life their names will be said right next to each other. Having some kind of continuity between the two names is important. How will you explain to Liam why you thought a girly girl name would be more fitting for her little sis? In my opinion, you should go with a similar name theme with Baby 2 as with Liam. Here are a few names to consider:
Eddie(Stress on the e)
Shaun (Consider Shauna for a girly twist)
Camryn (Give her more of a girly twist on spelling, but keep the same theme going with the verbal part… Call her Cammy, Rynny, or even Cam)
Growing up, my brother and I had some difficulties with names. I would often be confused with my brother. I had a typical girly name, and my brother had an off the charts, ultra trendy girl name, even more popular than mine was. My parents had forgotten to check the girl list when looking for names. Please keep my experience in mind as you consider names.
Congrats on your bundle of joy!
I considered names a little bit more, and I think Ryan, and Logan might both be up your ally as well! If your name search ends up seeming fruitless, consider looking back in family history, or looking at important places, quotes, and philosophies in your life. I think you partly liked the unique style of Liam( a classic) on a little girl, but it seems from your story that you also liked the coincidental nature of the discovery of Liam. Keep in mind not yet deciding on a name before the birth, while untraditional, is NOT a defeat. The name will come, and in just a few moments the name you choose will become so much more than a name- a person. Good luck on your search and please give updates!
I like the suggestion of another Irish-sounding name that is unisex or boy but with some history of use on girls. I also think using a family middle is a good suggestion.
Clare Tyson says
I saw this post a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a very interesting one. I’ve been thinking on and off about a name that could work, one that’s popular like Liam and works for girls as well as boys. My suggestion would be the name Drew. The name has a strong history of female usage as well as a popularity similar to the name Liam among boys.
Hope this helps! Congratulations as well.
Lots of good suggestions here. I’m going to throw Dara into the mix – it’s a name that is used for both girls and boys in Ireland. It has a strong meaning (‘oak’) but can also mean ‘second’ in Irish. Dara C0st@ might be too repetitive though, if Willa was out for that reason?
Another idea is Ash – could be short for Irish girls’ name Aisling / Aislinn / Ashling, but as a standalone name it seems unisex. Ash Lucy C0st@.
The following are daughters of some of my friends. They love their names. I think any of the following would fit well as a sibling for Liam.
Other names I like for a sister for Liam are Shawn
I know a Quin Clementine and she is just a doll. Could be a cute sis name for Liam Elizabeth.
Jean C. says
I would personally use a more “trends unisex” name, as it doesn’t paint you in quite as much of a corner for possible future babies. My favorites are Reese and Sloane. I also like Emerson, Avery, Bennett.
Names I think are really traditional male and not unisex but work are: Holland, Austin, Elijah, Charley.
So many great suggestions!
I especially love Sinclair, Kit for Katherine, And Eden.
If you both love Lucy, I say go for it. And maybe balance with a more masculine middle? Your father’s name or middle? Or a surname?
Lucy James or Lucy Charles both charm me!
Same goes for Clare/Claire. Yes, they will be a sib set for a long time, but Eventually it won’t matter so much if their names match. As for feeling left out, I think I would want to make sure they both had meaningful names…if not both honor names, then at least one you both loved. Rather than the story being, we chose this name because it went with your sister’s.
Best of luck! We are struggling with our daughter’s name too, so I can empathize!
How about Li@m Eli@beth and ….
Nicknames – Lia and Annie
Li@m Eliz@beth and….
Jensen – Jen, Jenny
Lennon – Leno
Linden, Lyndon – Lin, Linnie
Marlow – Marley
Whitney – Whit
Tatum – Tate
Evan – Evie, Evvie (with short e sound)
I think a natural nickname for Liam could be Lia as your daughter grows up.
What about Charlotte nicknamed Charley?
Moll had so many great suggestions, I especially like flipping the pattern.
Quincy has probably been my favorite so far. I would also second Rowan, Quinn, Kit, Jules, Darcy, Kelly, Parker, Reese, Evan, August, Gale, and Hazel. I guess I’m saying 90s name WORK. Let’s ad Hunter to 90s names that work.
A note on Evan, I know it’s a boy name, but it reads feminine to me because my first thought is ALWAYS Evan Rachael Wood. Same with Reese, ALWAYS Reese Witherspoon.
Lewis to Lucy is BRILLIANT, an Sinclair and Clarence were good too.
I also think Augustine, Jackie, Jaime, and Laurie work well. There’s also Jesse and Josse. Is it too unique, there is a blogger whose daughter is Daivy.
Some name/nickname pairs I think work well:
Andreas or Andromeda/Andy
Thedosia or Theodora/Theo
I love the suggestions of Eden and Briar!
I’ll add Ever and Hazel.
Liam on a girl, especially with this story, is really wonderful!
A lot of really great ideas already here! For BNOG, I’ll throw in Blake and Laurence (who could easily be called Lucy!)
What about a word name?
Stefanie Hilliard says
I think just Lou would be cute. Liam & Lou!
Oh, I like Lou a lot! It also neatly avoids the issue I see of Luca running into the last name.
I’m not sure how the family pronounces their last name, whether short O or long. But the combination of Lou Lastname might sound like Lucasta, which is a name evidently meaning “pure light.”
Another way to think about bridging the gap between your daughters’ names is to find a name that connects back to your father-in-law. It doesn’t have to be William again but maybe something he loved…birds–Birdie or mountains–Sierra or cars–Porsha. Then the styles might be very different but they’d both have the story of being named for their grandfather.
We lost my father-in-law between my boys. We didn’t name either for him, but the oldest was my father-in-law’s favorite grandkid and my youngest (born after his death) was born on his birthday. It seems like a cool connection for me.
Lots of good suggestions! I would not pick another traditionally male name “just because,” but I do like the idea of a sort of gender neutral name to keep a bit of cohesion.
Instead of Claire —> Greer
Instead of Lucy —> Remy
Alexandra with an Allie/Alex/Al nickname
Ramona nn Romy or Mo or Roma
I’d stick with your current style and go with a feminine middle (preferably one with some special significance). From Abby’s list, my faves are Rowan, Quinn and Sloane.
With Liam Elizabeth:
Sarah Elizabeth says
I immediately thought of James – the of the moment boy name turned girl name. James Catherine is a fun match for Liam Elizabeth!
Sarah Elizabeth says
Reese/Rhys could be another option of a traditionally masculine name that would go well with Liam, especially with the Celtic feel of both.
I see the dilemma: using a boy’s name on a girl was a one time only situation for you, so it would feel forced to do this again just for the sake of coherence. But if you just pick a girl name you like, they won’t seem like a matched sibset.
So, you could choose something like Elliott for your 2nd daughter, and use Ellie sometimes as a nickname (or Emmett/Em), just to repeat the Liam/Leelee pattern.
Or you could choose Lucy and I don’t think it would be that mismatched, because at least you get a 2 syllable L name for each daughter, and that can be considered enough matching in a sibset.
Or you can do the opposite of what you did with daughter #1: formal name a girl name, nickname a boy’s name. Like the Obama’s did with Natasha/Sasha.
I think my favorite option is naming her Lucy. If you ever have another daughter and name her Leila/Lauren/Lena/Lottie, people will only see the pattern and it will be a non issue.
Zena Eve says
Clarkia (Which has the bonus of sounding masculine while also being a flower)
I like Claire best of your picks because while clearly feminine, it’s streamlined without a lot of frill (thought I like Sinclair even better, see below). I’d pair it with a masculine or unisex name, or a family surname, in the middle to flip the Liam Elizabeth pattern – like Claire Thomas or Claire Jackson. If you go with Lucy, I’d consider that route with the middle. Lucy Michael feels more ‘fair’ than Lucy Grace when sis is called Liam. Other ideas:
Inspired by Ryan, but more feminine:
Inspired by Claire, but less feminine:
Sinclair!! It’s from “St. Claire” so it’s related to Claire, like Liam is related to William. It feels unisex/boyish, but Sinclair was a great female character in Living Single.
Inspired by Lucy, but less feminine:
Lou (popular stand-alone name for girls in parts of Europe)
Luce/Luz (girl names from the Lucy family, minus some frill)
Established names that have male and female usage:
Frances (no need to go with Francis spelling)
If I loved the name Lucy, but the disparity between Liam and Lucy bothered me, I think I would definitely go with Abby’s suggestion of Luca and use Lucy as a nickname as you do with LeeLee for Liam. Or a previous commenter’s suggestion of Sinclair, which seems more unisex, with Clair as a short form. I might also look at other traditionally male names that sound like they could be female due to sound or that could be nicknamed to something more traditionally feminine-sounding. Other male names that end in “a” like Ezra, for example, or something like Reuben nicknamed Ruby. But I would only do this if you love the name on a girl.
C in DC says
I like Clare because of the family connection. Riley, Quinn/Quincy, Evan/Evynn, Cort/Courtney, Cavan (a county in Ireland; not used much as a name) could all work too. What about Jack or Jake? Both are wildly popular for the boys, like Liam. Jake Penelope. Jack Josephine. Riley Claire or Riley Christine could work too.
This is quite a tricky (but fun) one! One name in particular strikes me from your list: Clare, the spelling without the “i.” There are several men in my family who have it as a middle name, and I think it could strike a nice balance between Liam’s name and the more traditionally feminine picks you’re considering now.
Rory, Romy: Both of these names are more unisex, while still giving you similar sounds to Lucy. They strike me as a good alternative to Ryan.
Clover: Maybe this is too out-there, but Liam has an Irish feel to me, and so does this.
Haven: I don’t know if word names are your style, but Haven strikes me as a unisex, leans-feminine option that isn’t too popular or rare.
Love Romy and Remi, too!
This post reminds me of some celebrity families lately. First daughter ‘boy’ name on a girl (James, Wyatt) then something ‘different’ for the next kid (Ines, Dimitri.) Sure, other people may wonder at your choices if it doesn’t ‘fit’, but choose something you love cause that’s way more important than a set. But hey, it’s more fun to brainstorm ways to bridge the gap between your likes and a sister-sounding name for Liam, sometimes Leelee:
Sinclair nn Claire
Clarence nn Clare or Wren
Clooney nn Lucy
Lewis nn Lucy
Everett nn Evie
Crosby nn Roz or Beebee
I know of sisters named Declan and Riley and another set named Tyler and Quinn which I think could all work. My preference is usually GNOG and BNOB but I think I’m this instance I’d stick with the style so the siblings don’t have such a disparity in style.
Kirstin G says
I like Abby’s advice about choosing a name you love. It’s a different baby and a different moment, so a different name might be right, like Lucy if that’s what you love!
Another name that comes to mind is Rudy.
Rudy has the vintage charm of Lucy, it easily sounds feminine, and it has a traditional usage for boys making it a bit of a natural match for sister Liam.
If you want to split the difference, Clair is the traditional male spelling of the English/French version of Clarus, the original name. Clara the traditional female version which then morphed into Claire and Clare as the female versions.
I think Clair works well with Liam.
I’d also throw out there:
Reese/Reece/Rhys and Evan are wonderful ideas for Liam’s sister! And my favorite of Abby’s suggestions is Laine. Though some will think Kelly is dated, I still adore it and love the idea of it on a baby girl or boy, and I feel the same way about Darcy. Palmer could be very sweet, too, and Frankie on a girl is darling!
I think if you skew ultra feminine like Claire, someone is going feel left out, so I’m for something shorter that skews male in this case or a nature inspired name. What about:
I like Clare/Claire a LOT with Liam! It’s especially nice that it’s another family name, so both of your daughters would have a name of family significance.
Beyond that, though, I really like Abby’s suggestions of more unisex names for Liam’s sister. Quinn, Sloane, and Lane all sound wonderful next to Liam.
Might you also consider Katherine with the nn of Kit? Kit and Liam sound absolutely adorable together.
Best of luck!
Kit is wonderful!!