Name Help: a sister for Mia and ZoeName 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!

Ashley writes:

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.

Abby replies:

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?


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.


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.


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.

Readers, what would you name a sister for Mia and Zoe?

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. “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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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).

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. I personally like Eden as well.

    Some other three-letter, two-syllable names:
    Lea (or Léa)