Welcome Frances RosemaryUPDATE: She’s here! Meredith writes, Frances Rosemary is here! So far she’s mostly “Sissy” to big brother Max and family, but we plan to also use Frannie!

Meredith writes:

We are naming Max’s baby sister and I couldn’t resist reaching out for your thoughts.

My heart has always been set on a sweet -ie nickname for a girl. I’ve read your Sadie’s sisters list so many times!

Mamie is probably my favorite but my husband doesn’t like it. I also like Lottie and Nellie – you get the idea.

Here’s our current list:


It’s a very old family name for me and I love that it’s classic without being super popular. It also doesn’t feel tied to one particular era. Finally, I like that it’s one of the few classic gender neutral names.

I’m really loving Frannie. Is this too out there? Too old lady? We also like Frankie but it feels a little trendy, and Francie sounds too fussy for my ear.

But I’m having a bit of a crisis of confidence, because I made the mistake of mentioning Frances/Frannie to a family member at Thanksgiving and, well, you know how that goes!


I’ve gone way too deep into popularity analyses. Is Margot just the next Peggy?

Also, I feel a little self conscious picking another M name – I don’t want to give the impression that both kids are named for me in some way.

Plus, Max and Mae – too close? Mae is a special family name and is checking a lot of my boxes.


Rose/Rosie is rock solid but just seems very done to me, probably because of ALL the middle names.


Obviously Amelia is ridiculously popular, but Millie is on a stratospheric rise, too.

Her middle name will probably be Rosemary. Other family names are Nancy and Edith.

I’d like to avoid a name too tied to her generation, if possible. I’m open to thoughts and suggestions.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

Let’s begin with a few general thoughts:

  • I’m so sorry you had a top name tarnished by a loved one’s comments! It’s possible you won’t be able to brush it off, but I do want to say this: when our parents (or aunts, grandmothers, other older relatives) dislike a name, it’s often a signal that we’re on the right track for OUR generationThis isn’t just me being disrespectful. It’s an honest acknowledgement that names are subject to trends. Stephanie, Lauren, Chelsea, and Jasmine were big in the late 1980s/early 90s, while Frances, Margot, and the other names on your list were stuck in style limbo. Today it’s the opposite. So if you’re asking 60-something relatives for input? Chances are they’d approve of a name like Erica, but balk at Hazel … even though Hazel would be the name that fits in today, and Erica the rarity.
  • Whether or not Mae and Max are too close comes down to two factors: potential family size, and personal preference. Family size first: if you are confident that this child completes your family, then Max and Mae are close, but in a sweetly storybook way. On the other hand, if you can imagine adding a third child to your family in the future? You might not need another three-letter M name. But surely you’d feel far more pressure to match at least some aspect of your older children’s names. Max, Mae, and … Mel? Moe? Nel? While it’s rather unfair to ask parents to think about future children when they’re focused on their current pregnancy, the fact remains – Max and Mae are charming together, but naming a sibling for Max and Mae could prove challenging.

Let me suggest a few possible additions to your list:


If Frannie is close, but not quite, could an Annie name work? This list is packed with Annie options, from the obvious – and fairly common – Anna – to some far less expected possibilities.


Lottie makes me think of Hattie. Hattie could be short for other names – I’ve always toyed with the idea of Catharine called Hattie – but Harriet is the original, and most traditional, source.


Nell can be short for lots of name, including the very popular Eleanor. But if avoiding a too-common name matters, then perhaps Helen called Nellie or Nell is the perfect alternative?


I know, I know. What’s the possible difference? Maisie opens the door to two things: first, it’s longer. Max and Maisie are sweet together, but not so matched that they couldn’t have a future sibling called Arlo or Hattie or Jake. But secondly, you could still call her Mae as a nickname, without being locked in to Max and Mae. Oh, and it nudges just a little bit closer to Mamie, too!

Overall, I’m still stuck on Max and Frannie. I think it’s endlessly sweet, but with formal names that grow up nicely.

But if Frances feels like it’s off the table, I do think Mae is a tempting nickname – though Margaret/Maisie/Mae might be my choice, to create just a little bit of space between Max and his sister’s nickname. Unless, of course, you’re fairly confident that this child completes your family, in which I’d be all for leaning in to the similarities of Max + Mae.

Readers, over to you! What would you name a sister for Max?  And what do we think of Frances called Frannie? Of Max and Mae as siblings?

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. Love Frances Rosemary. We were considering the same name, but ultimately went with the reverse: Rosemary Frances called Romy!

  2. I honestly think FRANCES would be unexpected for a girl but perfect with Max. In my eyes, “Frannie” is definitely familiar but not trendy as Meredith was thinking too.

    You could also do ELEANOR with nickname, “Lennie”.

    LAUREN or LAURENCE with nickname “Laurie”.

    Take these and do what you will! I hope you find what feels right soon. All the best!

  3. I wonder if lengthening Frances to Francesca might work? You lose the gender neutral aspect, but you gain more nickname options, like Cesca, Chessie or Essie. Of course, you could still use Frannie.

    If you like Amelia and Mamie, could you do Amelia nn Mamie? It’s a little stretch, but easy when you see Amelia – Amie – Mamie. It solves the popularity issue of Millie. If your husband doesn’t like it, he can always call her Millie, Amie, Mel, Lia, Mia … it’s a flexible name with lots of options. Mimi is also an alternative to Mamie or Millie.

    Margaret could be Meg or Maggie? Or how about Mairead? It’s a Scottish Gaelic form of Margaret and rhymes with “parade”. You could use Maisie or Mae as a nn, or perhaps Maddie.

    Perhaps Mabel as an elaboration of Mae? You could use Mae as a nn but it means it’s not so matchy with Max. There’s also Maeve which could work too.

    Rosemary could be nn Romy or Remy instead of Rosie. You could also consider Romilly – nn Romy or Milly.

  4. I did the same jump to Annie as Abby did. You can use any name with “An” at the start or end to jump easily to Annie.
    My other thought was Bonnie as a standalone name.
    Edith nicknamed Edie if you preferred a family name
    Rose is a popular middle name which means Rosie is still fresh. Rosemary as Rosie. Rosanna could be Rosie, Annie, Rose or Anna
    Joie or Josie from Josephine
    Olivia with the more gender neutral nickname Ollie, yes it’s been popular but it seems to go well with Max
    Miranda or Andrea nn Andie

    If you love Frances nicknamed Frannie then just use it. There is never going to be one name that all relatives like.

    BTW when I saw Abby’s comment on Erica I immediately thought Erica nicknamed Rickie would be familiar yet unexpected as Rickie has that gender neutral feel.

  5. Oh goodness. I saw Edith on the possible middle list and your name is Meredith and to me that’s a slam dunk for Edith Rosemary nn Edie. Max & Edie are swoon worthy.

    I wonder if you’d tweak Frances nn Frannie to Francine nn Frannie or Cici? Does the name / nickname have to be spelled with an -ie, cause I find Penny and Mimi to be Sadie-like but not as common?

  6. Nellie is adorable!
    Penelope, Cornelia, Finella, Janelle, Onella, and Chanel could serve as a longer option.
    Max and Nellie

    Essie is all kinds of cute.
    Esther, Estelle, Esme
    Max and Essie

    Matilda, Camille, and Miliana all could be a longer form of Millie
    Max and Millie

    Rosamond, Rosella, and Primrose easily shorten to Rosie.
    Max and Rosie

    Frannie is charming! Francesca, Francine, Francisca all lend themselves to Frannie.
    Max and Frannie

  7. I am named Frances Amelia and my granddaughter is Margaret, called Maggie. I like the direction you are going with your possible names. Frannie is cute, I was Francy when younger, but now I prefer the more elegant and classic, Frances.