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 baby girl to join our toddler, Luke. Naming Luke was easy. Luke has always been my favorite boy name, as it is pronounceable and I thought it was unique, having never known a Luke.
While I like having a unique name in ‘Linnea,’ people pronounce it wrong more often than not. And even though my husband Rob and I found that Luke is now popular, we decided to stick with it. Rob wanted Lucas on the birth certificate, and I agreed so long as it was Lukas, wanting consistency with the ‘K’ as the plan was to call him Luke.
For our girl’s name, we are less decided. My favorites for many years are:
- Romy – which Rob also loves
- Clementine (Cleo), which sadly he is not fond of
- Calliope (Calli), and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t say what?! when they hear it
Names that Rob has suggested include:
- Sophia (Sophie) – I like this a lot, even though it is common
- Clara – very nice
- Sara – as a child of the early 80s, I don’t think I could settle here
We might also use my mother’s name, Helena.
We believe that we will ultimately land on Romy, but would love to hear suggestions of Romy-like names that we are not thinking of!
And we are wondering how you and your readers feel about Romy vs. Rosemary (Romy)? With Romy as a given name, our daughter’s life could be made easier, but Rosemary could also open future name doors for her. We’ve ruled out Romilly, Romona, Rosamund, etc.
Our current short list is:
Many thanks in advance, and I truly appreciate any thought that you and your readers are willing to give our name!
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Linnea –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
I love Luke and Romy together. Since Luke is really Lukas, it’s extra-tempting to choose a formal name for Romy. And I agree with Rob – Rosemary is my personal favorite, too. I think it’s both sweetly vintage and timeless at once; a strong name with ties to the natural world, but also traditional in style.
A formal name will give your daughter options; and it will grow and change with her. (For more on reasons to embrace nickname-rich names, see this post.)
In other words? I’d choose Rosemary.
But others see it differently, and they raise good points. Life might be more straightforward when the name on your birth certificate matches the name you use in everyday life. And if you’re not wild about Rosemary, then it might make sense to skip the formal name.
So if there’s no right answer, how do you decide?
Shortening Lukas to Luke is easy and obvious; but Rosemary called Romy might surprise some people. I’d guess the default nickname for Rosemary is probably Rosie or Rose. Will you mind correcting those who assume incorrectly, and even explaining the nickname, from time to time?
Does it bother you when others get your son’s name wrong? Unusual names and less common nicknames are great, but they do require a little more patience.
I also wonder how important it is to honor your mother. Does Lukas have a family middle? If so, it might be even more important to use Helena for your daughter’s middle – or even first. If that’s the case, it might change the names you consider, too.
Let’s have a poll about Rosemary or Romy, because sometimes it’s helpful to see how others react.
Now, let’s talk about other names like Rosemary/Romy.
Theodora, called Thora, Thea, or Tess – The easiest option would be Theodora called Thea; it’s reasonably expected. They’re both names with ancient roots, very much at home in the modern world.
Helena, called Nell, Lena or Laney – Helena has multiple possible pronunciations, and that can be a little bit of a headache. But Helena also has some great built-in nicknames. I’m partial to Laney, but it really depends on how you’re pronouncing the name.
Eleni – Is reinventing Helena an option? There are lots of Helen names that might appeal. I think Eleni works especially well with Luke.
Esme – Or maybe you’d prefer to sidestep the formal name? In that case, I’d suggest Esme. More mainstream than Calliope; not as wildly common as Sara.
Vera – Might Vera be an alternative to Clara? It’s similar, but not quite as popular. Plus, it’s got two great meanings – faith, as well as truth.
Georgia – I feel like Georgia should be the perfect compromise name. It’s traditional but not too buttoned-down, familiar without being common. It might shorten to something like Georgie or Gigi, but it doesn’t need a nickname at all.
To be honest, I can’t find anything I like better than Romy. And yet, there are dozens of names that I do think work well with Lukas “Luke.”
Readers, what would you suggest for a sister for Lukas “Luke”?
I love Romy Helena. A sweet match to your Lukas.
Our oldest is Lukas. We called him Luke when he was younger, but as an adult he’s mostly Lukas. Our daughter is Lindsay. Her brothers call her Linny. Just another idea!
I think Luke and Romy are lovely together. And personally, I love Rosemary as the formal name (especially since Luke is Lukas). And I would vote for Helena in the middle regardless of the first name chosen.
I suggest Aurora with the nickname Rory.
Linnea, you’ve got some wonderful possibilities here! We have similar tastes- I have a Luke too. 🙂 and a couple names on your list are also the names of my daughters.
I love Rosemary called Romy!! Have you had considered Rosemarie called Romy??? Rosemary/Rosemarie get to Romy equally well, but I wondered if the more French vibe of Rosemarie might appeal to you…
I’m in the longer formal name with nickname camp bc I like more options. I think of it like a wedding dress- who wouldn’t like a beautiful formal gown for the ceremony that could be transformed into something fun for the party later? 😉
If you introduce her and call her by Romy, I don’t think people would have any trouble just doing the same. 🙂 Rosemary Helena sounds unique, classic, and sophisticated all at once to me. 🙂
Happy naming and Congrats!!
Whoops- I also meant to suggest Penelope nn Penny as one combo you might like as well if you’re not quite sold on Romy/Rosemary.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Renée! That’s too funny, my dog of ten years is a Penelope (Penny). Otherwise, that would totally be on the list! At 24, I was not considering my dog taking my future daughter’s name. Although, I do joke that Miss 2018 will be Penny Jr.
I am a big fan of traditional/long names with nicknames, but as others have mentioned, making a big leap for a nickname can cause practical drawbacks.
My mom has an unexpected nickname from a traditional name, and it has caused her problems over the years with airport security (the ticket HAS to be booked under her formal name so it matches her DL or else she can’t get through) among other things.
My name, on the other hand, is more akin to Lukas -> Luke and I never have problems because people are fairly quick to make the lap.
Alana W. says
Rosemary Helena is a lovely name. I’d vote for Rosemary nn Romy. Seems like a natural nn to me. Rose- Ro; Mary- my. Very sweet and gives her daughter a little distinction.
I adore Rosemary nn Romy. Rosemary and Lukas, Romy and Luke = I am so in love!
You love Romy, so I’d say that’s a slam dunk. The only question is Romy or Rosemary on the birth certificate. I’m of the name-them-what-you’ll-call-them camp. Having used a nickname name on my youngest, I went through some anecdotal research with friends who have nickname names and those who go by their middles or never use their formal names. What I found was there is such a variety of feelings here. (We ended up changing my daughter’s middle names when she was 9 months old to give her a fall-back formal name in the sidle.)
So it’s what’s you want to do and what you’re comfortable giving your kid in terms of the small inconveniences in life down the road. I will also add that a friend named her kid a formal name with many nicknames only to get to a certain nickname they had predetermined and announced, and both sides of their family hated the nickname and call her by another nickname 4 years on. Infuriating. Good luck!
(Put my vote down for Romy Helena!)
This one is tough. My usual inclination is a formal name, but in this case, it’s got some drawbacks. My daughter is firmly a Julie, not a Julia. She goes to a small school, there’s a space in her reg papers that asks what she goes by… three years running, her desk and name tags have said Julia. Doctor offices and insurance will call her Rosemary, or not find her until you call her that. Romy is a big, rather unfamiliar jump from Rosemary, so if you really intend to call her Romy all the time, it might simplify things to start there.
What tipped me over, though, was that I wanted options for my kids. My little could very well have been someone who chose Julia and hated Julie. But Romy is so tailored and modern that I think it’s unlikely that your daughter would ultimately prefer Rosemary.
I like it a lot, and don’t think you can go wrong, really.
Laura Powell says
I think you’ll give her more choice if you give Rosemary as her full name, it is a wonderful name you could even consider Florence that goes well with Lucas and gives you plenty of nickname possibilities or even Josephine.