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!
(Another) Abby writes:
We are expecting our fourth child and are running into a wall with naming the baby girl on the way!
With our older three, we have created a naming pattern that we would like to follow but are having a hard time selecting a first name that checks all the boxes.
Our older children’s names are: Oliver Joseph (Ollie), Evelyn Merridith (Evie), and Theodore Stephen (Theo).
We prefer a more traditional name that we can shorten when they are children. It should be a classic name that most everyone is familiar with, but not names that there will be multiple of in their classes.
We use family names for the middle spot, and will probably go with Elizabeth, Charlotte, or Anne this time.
Names that we have considered and thrown out are Edith and Genevieve (nicknames too similar to Evie). We have seriously thought about Cecilia, Eleanor, and Juliana but don’t know if any of those is The One.
Our last name is versatile, starts with C and is only two syllables, but we wouldn’t want more than for our formal first name.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new baby!
Nearly everything in parenting gets easier with experience. Somehow naming isn’t one of those things!
Sometimes it’s because we’ve already used our favorite names. But sometimes it’s because the world catches up to us. All the great, distinctive names we brainstormed five or seven or ten years ago? Everyone else has discovered them, too.
Plus avoiding names that are too close to our older children – that’s a challenge, isn’t it?
So while Cecilia, Eleanor, and Juliana could all be great choices, I’m going to start fresh and see if we can brainstorm some names that might be off your radar.
FORMAL NAMES WITH GREAT NICKNAMES
Americans have named our daughters Addison and Adeline in steady numbers – and so many spellings! But regal, saintly Adelaide has remained just beyond the mainstream. Addie serves as the default nickname, but you could also use Della.
Just like Addie and Della, Annabelle shortens to Annie and Bella. But I also suggest it because it just plain sounds like a sister for Evelyn – feminine, but slightly more tailored.
On the downside, Emilia isn’t quite undiscovered. Especially when the sound-alike Amelia is factored in, it’s quite popular. But Emilia comes with some great built-in nicknames. Millie would top my list, though maybe it’s a little similar to Ollie? Mia and Emme are great choices, too, or maybe even Mimi or Lia.
Yes, Gwendolyn and Evelyn both end with -lyn. And yet, I don’t think they’re too close at all. Instead, they’re both feminine, but not frilly; traditional, but not Elizabeth/Mary level classic. Nothing sounds quite like Gwen. Ollie, Evie, Theo, and Gwen are perfection together.
Pronounce it loo-shah, loo-see-uh, or loo-chee-uh, it’s the more elaborate form of Lucy. It can, of course, be reduced to Lucy/Lucie, or Lou, Lulu, Lula, or any of the many affectionate and sweet Lou names.
I think of Miriam as traditional and familiar, but it’s also quite unusual. Nicknames include Miri and Mimi, and – especially if you’re fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Midge.
Rose names abound, and many of them straddle that instantly-familiar/not-too-common line. Rosalie is one of the best!
Theresa fails to rank in the current US Top 1000, but Teresa does. And nicknames Tess, Tessa, and Tessie could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Overall, I keep coming back to Gwendolyn – unless repeating the -lyn ending gives you pause? In that case, I wonder if you’d consider Miriam? Oliver, Evelyn, Theodore, and Miriam are quite stunning together, and the nickname options for Miriam are rich and varied, too.
I love the suggestion of Theresa, but if your husband vetoed, maybe we can find a similar name he might go for…
Madonna (Maddie, Donna)
Victoria(Tori, Rory, I also kind of like Ria)
Cordelia Louise(Delia, Lia, Delia Lou, Lulu)
Just one more name to consider:
This may be the best fit. I might be wrong, but Maeve seems familiar, but not too common, like you want. It isn’t terribly popular, so she won’t be confused with Maeve L. and Maeve H. She will just be: Maeve. This leaves her room to grow into. Call her Eve, or Mae. Sure, it isn’t 3 letters, and doesn’t fall “perfectly” in line with the sib set because of the nickname, but that’ll be okay. If you can’t get past this, Avie would be adorable. This may be too close to Evie? Or maybe the girls will enjoy having that connection. It isn’t a terribly traditional nickname, but it’s a solid name to grow old with. If Maeve seems to stoic for your style, try Mavis. Don’t stress to much about this, as you never know what you will call her once she makes her debut, and being the youngest, she could end up as Sis for all you know! All you can do is give her a solid name, choose a nickname in advance, and sit back to enjoy the ride. Congratulations, and good luck on finding the perfect name!
Amelia nn Millie
Penelope nn Penny
Matilda nn Mattie or Tilly
Aurora nn Rory
Abby C says
Oh these are all great suggestions!! I especially love Miriam, Rosalie and Gwendolyn! I also had loved Tess but my husband vetoed Teresa Thank you all this has helped a lot with giving us more direction.
Sadie / Sarah
Tori / Victoria
Carly / Caroline
Izzie / IsabellA
Josie / Josephine
Kat / Katy/ Katherine
Ellie / Eloise
Lulu / Louisa / Louise
Vi / Violet
Ginny / Virginia
I think my daughters’ names fit the bill perfectly – Margaret called Maisy and Harriet called Hattie. I also know a Millicent called Millie & an Elizabeth called Betsy & a Dorothy called Dot (but that’s probably too close to Theodore). Alexandra called Lexi? Katherine called Kate? Susannah called Suzie? Annabelle called Annie? We also considered Helen called Nell and Louisa, which could shorten to Lou or Lulu. Magdalena or Magnolia (or Margaret of course) called Maggie?
Also just thought of Virginia called Ginny, since you like Genevieve. And I know a super cute Georgiana called Georgie.
Lynette Lyddane says
I like the idea of this little one’s nickname ends in an a. Ollie and Theo and Evie and ?
Nora – Eleonora or Lenora
Lia/Mia – Camilla or Amelia
Mira – Miriam
I love Miriam for you!
So many great options!
From Abby’s suggestions, Gwendolyn is my favorite. I also love Annabelle (prefer Annabel spelling) and Adelaide (Ada is a great nickname option) and Miriam. From yours, I like Cecelia (Cece) and Vivian (Vivi) best.
I’d avoid using another O, E or T name. A few additional suggestions that I like for you all:
Margaret (Meg or Maisie)
Susannah (Susie or Sosie)
Lucinda (Lucy, Lulu)
Lots of great suggestions. Love Adelaide (though my fave nn is Lady), Rosalie, Josephine and Juliet (Jules!)
You seem to like Ls in your kind-like-but-not-love names, so…
Lucille nn Lucy
Marlena nn Marley or Lainy
Paulina nn Polly
Caroline nn Coco or Callie
My fave is Marlena – Oliver, Evelyn, Theodore & Marlena / Ollie, Evie, Theo & Lainy
Good luck! Such a sweet set you have!
oh dear. Of course you can’t have a Polly and an Ollie. Cancel Paulina. How about Beatrice nn Bess?
Since Theo is not a Teddy, I would avoid another -ee sound ending.
Juliet nn Jet
Katherine nn Kate
Lucianna nn Lulu
Veronica nn Vera
Since Oliver is #118, Evelyn is #54, and Theodore is #295, I’d look in the 50-500ish range.
Tabitha Anne (Tabbi) #591
Sylvia Charlotte (Sylvie) #559
Margaret Elizabeth (Maggie, Maisie, Meg, Daisy) #180
Camille Anne (Cammy) #300
Vivian Charlotte (Annie) (It’s a 2 honor names in one!) #207 (Also, this is a formerly masculine name bestowed on mostly females now, just like Evelyn)
Anneliese Charlotte (Annie, Nella, Nellie, Lisa) (All 3 honor names in one) Not in top 1000 closest spelling is Annalise at #702
Harriet Elizabeth (Hattie) Not in the top 1000
Zena Eve says
My daughter is Julianna and we call her Annie for short. What about Abigail (Abbey)? I know it’s popular but so classic and goes well with your other name.
Another Emily says
I love so many of Abby’s suggestions! We have an Annabelle and there are so many nickname options for it. Also loving Miriam (Miri) and Rosalie (Rosie, Sally, or LeeLee).
Emmeline (Emmy) would be great too!
Brenna Rabel says
Rosalie is PERFECT. Rosie and Evie, yes please!
Annabelle is also nice, since it borrows from your family middle name list. She could be a little Annie!
For one more to add to the list, maybe Phillipa nn Pippa?
I’m partial to Queenie.