Name Help: Sister for LilyName 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!

Kayla writes:

We named our daughter Lily after my husband’s grandmother. His grandma was very important to both of us, even though I only knew her briefly. As soon as we knew we were expecting, we knew we’d name a girl Lily.

Now we’re pregnant with another daughter and we agree on nothing.

There are no other family names on his side that he’d like to use, and I don’t have enough of a relationship with my family to even consider it.

My sister keeps pushing for me to use something from our side to be “fair,” but I feel like any of the names we’d use are people I don’t want our daughter to be like anyway, even if I liked their names.

But that leaves us with names we just kind of like, and that doesn’t seem like enough either.

Names we’ve discussed: Maya, Mila, Scarlett (but is it too different compared to Lily?), Eliana (I think this is too long and I don’t want Lily and Ellie), Emmaline/Emmalynn (not sure how to spell it), Aurora (he likes, I’m not on board).

Her full name is Lily Haven, and our last name sounds like Tom-plus-son. Haven sort of popped into my head a few weeks before she was born when we realized we hadn’t figured out a middle name, and it clicked. Exactly like with Lily!

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

Dear Kayla –

Congratulations on your new daughter!

I think there are two separate ways to look at this.


First, it sounds like you’d be open to finding a family name … there just aren’t any family names (or family members) that inspire you. (And that’s completely fine!) But maybe there’s something from your personal history, or your relationship with your husband?

The name of a favorite restaurant, the street where you lived when you were first married, a song/movie/book that means something to you both? Or maybe, if there’s no obvious name waiting, there’s something that could inspire a name: the season of your wedding, maybe? Or a place you visited together?

Because if you can make the name about your life together? Then it’s an instant family name, no extra layer of generation required.

If there are some ideas, but they feel too bold as a first, tuck them away as possible middle name options.


If all of that seems artificial – or if you’ve already ruled out naming your daughter for 43rd Avenue or Applebee’s or Thor: Ragnarok – then there’s another, equally valid, path.

Let’s find a name that you just plain love.

Because while Lily resonates with meaning, it sounds like you love the name, too. Right?

Even if it wasn’t the name of a loved one, Lily might’ve made it on to your list anyway. That’s the best case scenario, but it’s tough to repeat.

So let’s look for some names like Lily – feminine, traditional, nearly classic but not quite, and vintage without feeling too antique.

ALICE – A storybook name with plenty of strength.

CLARA – Undeniably pretty, with the same vibe as Lily – but a completely different sound.

ELIZA – Eliana does seem a) too long and b) likely to cause spelling headaches. Elena sidesteps the first issue, but maybe not the second. That brings us to Eliza, which I think substitutes beautifully for Eliana.

EVELYN – Emmeline and Emmalynn do raise questions about spelling and pronunciation, but how about Evelyn?

GEMMA – An Italian name meaning jewel, relatively uncommon in the US, but very compatible with Lily.

MAE – A sweet, springtime mini name that reminds me of Maya and Mila, but feels like an even better match with Lily.

NORA – Like Lily, a vintage name completely at home in the twenty-first century, feminine and strong.

STELLA – There’s something sparky about Stella. And if Lily is a flower, well, Stella is a star.

I’m particularly drawn to Stella, as it seems like it might substitute for Aurora, and Evelyn because it fixes the spelling problems of Emmeline/Emmalynn.

But Clara is my favorite with Lily, as well as with your surname.

If no creative middle names come to mind, may I suggest:

  • Austen – Lily Haven + Clara Austen
  • Blaze – Lily Haven + Clara Blaze
  • Blue – Lily Haven + Clara Blue
  • Dove – Lily Haven + Clara Dove
  • Juniper – Lily Haven + Clara Juniper
  • River – Lily Haven + Clara River
  • Scout – Lily Haven + Clara Scout
  • Winter – Lily Haven + Clara Winter

But I feel like I’m missing lots of great combinations. That’s where you come in!

Readers, what would you name a sister for Lily Haven?

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. I think there is the obvious choice of Kayla! It fits the preferred sound and it’s a family name.
    Other options are Amelia, Chloe, Isla and Emma.

  2. Emma Kate!
    Lily and Emma
    Lily Haven and Emma Kate

    I love the idea of passing your name by association (Kay —> Kate) and Emma-no-line seems a perfect sweet spot. You both like it, short and feminine, and a sweet sister to lively Lily.