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 have two daughters, Mia Isabelle and Zoe Katherine. Mia is 9 and Zoe is 7. Mia was the name I’d always wanted for a daughter, and when we found out our second baby was a girl, I loved the idea that they’d both have three-letter names. When they were little, I sometimes called them Mia Belle and Zoe Kate.
If you’d asked me two years ago, I would’ve said our family was complete. But that changed over the last year or so, and we’re now expecting our third! If it was a boy, we’d pretty much settled on Ian Alexander.
But it’s a girl! And as excited as I am, I feel like we’ve committed to a style and I don’t know if we want to stick with it. But it feels weird to stop now, especially because there’s already a big gap in ages and I don’t want this baby to feel like she’s the odd one out in any way.
The obvious choice, I guess, is Ava, but somehow I can’t excited about it.
My husband doesn’t think we have to stick with the three-letter thing.
Other names I like are Lila(h)/Lyla – not sure how to spell? – and Eden.
Middle name is up in the air. Our last name is like Meyers-with-a-B. (So no word names, like Lily, because it sounds like a shopping trip!!!)
Not even sure exactly what I’m asking, but would love some feedback!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
How exciting to be expecting another daughter – congratulations!
From where I sit, it’s always tempting to convince you to follow the pattern. If Ava’s not right, how ’bout Ivy? Or Ada?
But that’s about me, isn’t it? There’s something tempting about three sisters with three-letter, two-syllable names. It’s a puzzle to be solved, a set to collect.
And yet, if you moved in next door and introduced me to your daughters Mia, Zoe, and Eden, I wouldn’t hear that as a mismatch – or even a missed opportunity! – at all. And that’s coming from someone who really, really, really notices names.
Brief, complete, and nickname-proof names is a style. But three-letter, two-syllable names? I think that’s almost more of a gimmick than a style. It might be worth sticking to – especially if you’re down to two names and completing the pattern helps you decide! But I wouldn’t feel like you have to keep going.
Okay, with that out of the way, what works with Mia and Zoe?
THREE-LETTER GIRL NAMES
Ada – A logical alternative to Ava.
Eva – Another possibility that’s just one letter away from the name that’s not quite right.
Ivy – My favorite Ava alternative, except I wonder if this violates your noun name rule? I suppose it must, and yet I don’t hear it as problematic.
SHORT & COMPLETE GIRL NAMES
Cora – A name that’s brief and complete, but with a strong, distinctive sound, too – just like Mia and Zoe.
Eden – Like Mia and Zoe, it’s more popular than ever before in the twenty-first century, but it’s not quite a new name, either. My favorite from your list.
Ella – Powerfully popular and tremendously appealing.
June – I love the idea of a one-syllable name to go with Mia and Zoe. June, maybe? It’s summery and straightforward, a little bit vintage but also plenty current.
Lyla – It is hard to spell Lila/h, isn’t it? Lyla is currently the most popular version in the US, and so might be the most straightforward choice.
Vera – I almost suggested Kira (or Kyra or Keira or … yeah), but worried it’s just more of the Lyla/Lilah challenge. But then I thought of vintage Vera, which that sharp and appealing V sound.
A SISTER FOR MIA & ZOE
The more i think about it, the more I keep coming back to Eden. It’s close to Ian, which you already agreed on, so I suspect you’ll both like it.
And I think it’s a great style match for Mia and Zoe: modern, but with roots.
Plus, all three girls would have a slightly different ending sound to their names: Mia, Zoe, and Eden. That seems appealing, too.
I might even suggest Eden Alexandra – it sounds just right with Mia Isabelle and Zoe Katherine.
“Middle name is up in the air. Our last name is like Meyers-with-a-B. (So no word names, like Lily, because it sounds like a shopping trip!!!)”
My future surname is Meyers-with-a-B, and Lily is his favorite for a girl, and Jasper is my favorite for a boy, and I love names like Magnolia, don’t do this to me Ashley! Don’t point out these things! XD
I think you are asking great questions… what about finding a way for the names to “match” or be a set, without making them match exactly? For me, this brings to mind a 3 letter name that is only one syllable, or a matching, vowel centric 2 syllable name even if it has 4-5 letters. I also loved Abby’s thought about the different endings: Each daughter could have her own 1st initial, and name ending sound! Here are some ideas:
Mae or May
I noticed that Mia, Zoe, and Ian all have vowel-to-vowel sound pairs, with no consonants between them. I wonder if that vowel-centric pattern, not three letters, is your style? Lila kind of fits because that internal L is so effortless as the mouth moves from saying “eye” to “uh.” Gioia (pronounced Joy-uh), Thais, Kaia, Leia, Aida, etc. could work well for you, or even Naomi if you don’t mind something longer. (Chloe and Lia are great, but rhyme with your older girls’ names, which might not be what you want). Or maybe you like Nina, Ina, Isla, etc. with strong vowels + easy internal consonants? I also wonder if Maisie appeals; it blends some sounds from your other daughters’ names with new sounds: Mia, Zoe, Maisie sound like a sibling set to me and you will be saying them together much more often than writing them out.
I love the idea of another trim, familiar name that is NOT 3 letters. If you decide to have more, it’s easier to find another short, graceful name than a 4th 3-letter-2-syllable name. Eden, June, and Lila are perfect, or Cora, Nora, Bea, Joan, Alice, Jane, etc.
I would stick to 3 letters en 2 syllables. 4 Letters or more feels out of place for me. But that’s just me ;). I suggest : Noa • Ona • Yva • Ula • Ida • Ela • Uma • Oda • Evi • Amy / Emi
Ooooooh Noa….. I LOVE Noa!
I like Eva best! Eva Josephine?
Eden Alexandra is super cute and I love it as a play off of Ian Alexander – except I personally wouldn’t love that naming story as the 3rd girl (like you wished I was a boy).
I love the combination of Eden Alexandra, and that it is a play on Ian Alexander. I think it goes perfectly with sisters Mia and Zoe.
Another idea for something short/punchy yet complete, and very compatible with your sibset : Brynn/Bryn. It has a different ending yet similar vibe to your other children’s names. I also like the suggestions of Ruth, Rose, MayMae, and Ivy. Truly, the idea of “brief and complete names” will be much more significant in the long run than the number of letters. The naming “rules” are for you to decide – what do you like and fits your new daughter? Did you ever think about how many letters your name had compared to other family members? We think about these things so much when children are born, but they often don’t matter at all as time goes on. Congratulations on your new addition!
I personally like Eden as well.
Some other three-letter, two-syllable names:
Lea (or Léa)
Love Liv so much, more than longer forms. Also Ivy, Joy, Eve, Bea! How about Kit, Noa, Téa, Liz?
Maybe flip the pattern and give her a 3-letter nickname?
Beatrice Ivy nn Bix or Bea
Felicity Rae nn Lit
Louisa Joy nn Lou
Delilah Lou nn Lil
Meredith Eve nn Red
I feel like maybe this situation is one where you can have a short list and pick once you meet her – so many good options! I’d add Ari to the mix, if it’s not too unisex for you. I encourage you to go with the name you love best and/or suits the baby and not worry about the pattern, unless that makes it more fun!
Nola Juniper…Nola June
Eden is perfect. I also like Lyla for you.
I enthusiastically endorse the suggestion of Liv, because it’s just so perfect! I hear a perfect “click” when I list out Mia, Zoe, and Liv as sister names. Like Mia and Zoe, Liv has a modern, casual vibe, but also has roots in history.
Other ideas: Kate, Lucy, Wren, Esme, Sadie, Maeve, Luna, Lara, Stella, Piper, Leah, Nova, Thea
Liv is the first name that came to mind. Liv Juliet? Liv Charlotte? Or Bea, Ines, Isla, Lena, Erin? I like Lilah and June too.
I have both Eden and Zoe on my short list so of course I’m gonna throw in another vote for Eden! I do really like Ava along with Mia and Zoe as well. Kind of fun to have the A-Z thing going on.
I also want to suggest Tessa and maybe even Violet? Violet is definitely not 3 letters but it has a sparky vibe to it that fits just right with Mia and Zoe. Mia, Zoe, Violet. Or same goes for Quinn. Mia, Zoe, and Quinn.
Alison Doherty says
Definitely agree with Abby about Eden being a perfect fit!
For the three letter challenge, I also liked Ivy! A few others that I think are sweet that would match your kiddos are Eve, Joy, and Fay.
For some reason I also keep coming back to Clio or Cleo as a really nice match. It is four letters, but it sounds so great with Mia & Zoe!
Ada is great, and I am currently obsessed with Ida. Adi, Amy and Téa would also work nicely.
Ida is my favorite. Ida Alexandra surprisingly doesn’t run into its self, and it’s gorgeous.Though I think Adi or Amy go ever so slightly better with Mia and Zoe, probably because they are more current.
If spelling is an issue for Lyla,Lila perhaps Lyra would suit. Its similar with only one spelling.
Echo/Ecco seems up your ally. They are pronounced the same, but Ecco is German and means sharp sword blade. Ecco Alexandra = ‘sharp sword, defender of man’ a badass warrior princess name.
I also like Kira, Kyla, Orla and Orli.
3 letters I think you should go with Ida, four letters Eden or Ecco.
I think Eden might be the one with what Abby said about Ian! And of her suggestions, June is my favorite and I hope you go with it! Mia, Zoe, and June. So cute But let me try to suggest some too!
Mia, Zoe and Claire. Mia, Zoe, and Sage. Mia, Zoe and Luna. Mia, Zoe and Ruth. Mia, Zoe, and Faye. Kate? Paige? Nora?
If you really want to stick to your theme, what about Uma? But I think the other names fit your style and taste more.