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!
You and your readers were such a huge help in naming our son, but now I’m back for help naming our third!
We are expecting a little girl who will join big sister Phoebe and big brother Isaac, who is almost exclusively called Ike.
We like names that are hard to pinpoint to a specific time period, and I prefer names with a special meaning.
I can’t decide how much I care about a name’s popularity. While Isaac is certainly high on the charts, I do like that he goes by a name that I don’t hear often.
Matching a name with Phoebe and Isaac feels daunting. Between all of those vowels and the Biblical origins, the only name that seems to match is Naomi which has the bonus of a sweet meaning. Unfortunately my husband has vetoed that choice.
If I look at matching Phoebe and Ike to a sister‘s name, I feel like there are more possibilities. Our favorites thus far, though none feel perfect, are Bridget, Georgia, Natalie, and Margot.
To me, Georgia feels less quirky than Phoebe and Ike, but Bridget feels less timeless. Is Margot too trendy with the recent rise of Margaret? Is Natalie timeless or just tired? Of course, if I bring meanings into the mix, Bridget is the only one that seems “special” enough. I just don’t know if any of them feel right!
I know I’m overthinking this, so please write some sense into me. Am I overlooking a perfect name for our girl or do I already have one on our list?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new daughter!
Naming our children is the one parenting responsibility that seems to get harder as our families grow.
Sometimes, it’s because we’ve created a pattern. Or have used up our favorites. In this case, it sounds like you’ve chosen two great names already, and there’s just lots of pressure to do the same for this child.
The good news is that Bridget, Georgia, Margot, and Natalie all seem like good matches for Phoebe and Isaac/Ike in lots of ways.
A few things leap out at me:
Quirkiness is in the eye of the beholder. I think I’ve probably called Georgia quirky. Or at least spirited? Georgette is more obviously offbeat, but I’m not sure you have to (or should!) go that route.
Ditto timelessness. For everyone who thinks Bridget is trending, someone else will exclaim that it’s an old-fashioned name you don’t hear much these days.
And classic names DO trend. This observation tends to raise protests. But it’s true! Henry is as classic as they come, but it’s a classic boys’ name that’s considered quite stylish today. Margot/Margaret are rising in use, so they are trending … but they could never be trendy, not in quite the way that a name like Harper or even Luna might be.
So let’s look at your current list.
BRIDGET “exalted one; goddess of fire”
Bridget soared in the early 1970s, thanks to the short-lived but successful sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. In many ways, Bridget is like Phoebe – a name everyone knows, but relatively few people are choosing. Phoebe currently ranks #256. At #747, Bridget is even less common.
There’s something sparky and high-energy about Georgia. The name just bounces with that double-G energy. At #176, it’s comparable to Phoebe in terms of popularity.
Do you remember 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums? Gwyneth Paltrow played Margot. It took a few years, but Margot eventually started climbing, along with other ends-in-o names for girls, like Harlow and Willow. Today it ranks #234. It’s almost the definition of a smart, traditional girl’s name with a breezy, modern sensibility.
A century ago, Natalie was about as common as Phoebe, Margot, or Georgia are today. But Natalie entered the US Top 100 back in 1976. By 1996, it was a Top 50 choice. And it stayed in the Top 50 through 2019, peaking at #13 in 2008. That makes it almost exactly like Isaac … but probably without the easy, unexpected nickname Ike. (After all, Nat/Nate are shared by a generation of boys answering to Nathaniel and Nathan.)
All four names have big, consonant-rich sounds that stand up well the -bee of Phoebe and the strong K sound in Isaac/Ike. And despite some differences, I think they all match well.
I’ll add just a few more names to consider:
As vowel-forward as Naomi. At #138, it splits the difference between Phoebe and Isaac in terms of popularity.
Yes, in some ways, this is Emma-with-a-G. But Gemma means jewel, which could be perfect. And, at #207, it hits a popularity sweet spot.
JUNIPER “from the juniper tree”
At #172, it’s around the same spot as Gemma. Like Gemma, Juniper feels quite modern – but there’s a case to be made that this name has centuries of history.
Originally short for Adelaide (via the older form Adelheid), Heidi is a storybook name that feels nicely vintage and very at-home in the twenty-first century. Ranking #381, it’s immediately familiar but not at all common.
Sylvie may be a rising style star, following other middle-V names like Ava and Ivy up the charts. But at #776, it remains quite rare.
VERONICA “bringing victory”/”true image”
A traditional name with a spirited sound, Veronica ranks #380 – again, not too popular, not too rare.
From your list, I’d still put Margot at the very top, followed by Georgia.
But right behind Georgia, I’d like Sylvie, Eloise, and maybe Gemma.
In fact, Gemma seems like a great alternative to Georgia. There’s a similar sound, but with a distinctive, even glittering, meaning.
Hmmm. I like Georgia and Bridget best with Phoebe and Ike. Seconding also the suggestions of Eloise, Lydia, and Miranda “Mira”. Oh! and Gemma. I’d be wary though of the “ee” ending, otherwise I’d also suggest Daphne. I like Natalie (it’s always felt very timeless and elegant to me) but I think it might be a bit too popular without a nickname, and I feel like Margot doesn’t quite click. Maybe Margaret “Margot” (or Daisy, or Meg…)
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike”, and Talia
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike” and Vivienne (nn Viv, Vivi, Evie?)
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike” and Lyra
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike” and Jane (not as popular as one would think! maybe nn Jenny or Janie)
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike” and Estelle
Phoebe, Isaac “Ike” and Esther
I have a Phoebe myself and the sister names with the same quirk level I chose were Matilda, Eloise (nn Lulu), Eliza (her middle name) or Imogen.
Phoebe, Isaac and June!
I love this name style and there have been so many great suggestions so far. You can’t go wrong with any your ideas.
One idea I had was Margot (or Margaret) nn Maggie or Meg, which fit in nicely with your older kids’ names.
Phoebe, Ike and Maggie
Phoebe, Ike and Meg
My favourite off your list is Bridget. It’s a perfect match in popularity/familiarity to Phoebe and sounds good with Ike or Isaac.
I’ve heard Tillie used as a nickname for Natalie if that helps sway you. Although out of all the suggestions I think Natalie is the worst fit for a matching sibset.
Love Abby’s suggestion of Eloise and the readers suggestion of Tabitha.
Have you thought about Georgia with the nickname Gigi? It reflects the double E sound of Phoebe, while still being its own name. You seem open to nicknames with Ike, so I thought I’d throw that out there.
I LOVE the nickname Gigi and have considered names with the nickname for all 3 of my girls
I wanted to throw one more classic but timeless name into the mix – Ellen. I know a couple of toddler Ellens and it’s so fresh. But I think Bridget is perfect too.
I would like to suggest with Phoebe and Isaac (Ike), these Biblical names;
I also think “Daphne” when I hear Phoebe, so I think that’s a great choice. I personally like Georgia the best and she could have the nn Gigi. Also like the suggestions of Stella and Tessa. To throw something new into the mix, what about Virginia? It has a similar vibe to Georgia with the soft ‘g’ sound and she could be nicknamed Ginia or even Vinnie.
I was coming here to advocate for Lydia, so I’m pleased to see it among the suggestions. Biblical origin, lots of vowel sounds, has history and is familiar but not heard often. I love Lydia, and love it with Phoebe and Isaac and with Phoebe and Ike.
Another couple that might fit what you are looking for are Miriam and Abigail, though this last one might be more common than you’d like.
Would Meg as a possible nickname for Margot help, or would that increase the connection to Margaret? I’ve also heard Tilly used as a nickname for Natalie.
I do like Bridget, and the suggestion of Eloise.
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestion of Lydia! It seems perfect to me. Bridget is great too.
I like Margot, because it offers a strong O sound. Phoebe give a strong E sound and With Isaac I hear a strong I sound. All long vowel sounds.
Though I do like Bridget and Georgia they don’t seem to match Phoebe and Isaac/ Ike, because they are softer sounding. Margot feels as strong as the other two.
Margot is lovely with this set.
I like the suggestion of Eloise.
I’ll throw in these thoughts:
Stella (star in Latin)
Vera (faith in Russian, sometimes associated with the Latin for “true”)
Do you like Evangeline, Greta, or Judith? Those were my first thoughts. You originally liked Hugo for Ike, right? So I wonder if that strong U sound might be right for this child. If not Judith (which I LOVE with Phoebe & Ike, really makes the set more timeless / vintage) then how about Juno, Tallulah or Lucille?
I notice your list of four names only has one ending in EE sound, and that’s a different syllable length than Phoebe, so wondered if you are avoiding EE-endings with Phoebe? I would also lean to giving this child a different ending sound, and maybe stay away from the EE sound entirely considering it’s repeated in Phoebe. But maybe that’s one rule too many since you’re already looking for a good meaning, quirky, timeless…. but hey, I like a challenge 😉 so here are some I think might be delightful with your set?
Of your top 4, I like Bridget best. They are all lovely (and I’ve had them all on my list) but that’s the only one I hear almost never. I only know one who is 18 and a spitfire.
I love Bridget. To me it has great nicknames and I love it with Phoebe and Isaac. I also love the name itself. It feels fresh to me.
Sylvie or Veronica are my favorites from Abby’s suggestions, and I think either one would work well with her siblings.
What about Miranda? Phoebe, Isaac/Ike, and Miranda sound like a solid set. Miranda feels substantial like Georgia, shares some sounds with Margo, is familiar but not overused like Bridget, and sounds like a sister to Natalie. Plus it has a fantastic meaning of “wonderful, to be admired” and it’s nickname rich (Mira, Miri, Andy, Randa) if you want to go that route. Such a lovely Shakespearean choice; I’d be delighted to meet a little Miranda.
My other suggestion would be Lydia. Another familiar yet not overused gem that sounds lovely alongside Phoebe and Isaac/Ike. Nickname Liddy is very cute.
Alison Doherty says
I personally love Bridget with Phoebe and Isaac/Ike (and Margot too!!), and I love Abby’s suggestions of Eloise and Juniper. If you are looking for more suggestions (which I don’t think you need because Bridget and Margot are both great), I also thought of Tessa or Thea which I think would go with your style well! Good luck!! Whatever you choose will be perfect!
Other female Bible names that come to mind for me include Anna, Hannah, Julia, Keziah, Rhoda, Ruth, Susanna, Tabitha.
From your list, Georgia and Margot are my favorites, but they’re all nice. Sounds like you like the ‘g’ sound, so I’d suggest Greta as another option. Maybe Ginny? Althea comes to mind. Sabine? Oona? Sibyl?
I think Heidi is perfect! It hits all the spots for traditional, not overly popular, lots vowels.
For Natalie, what about the nn of Talia? Makes it more unexpected like Ike.
Whenever I hear Phoebe I think Daphne. Perhaps both is too much, but to me they go together. I also like Delilah. Nn of Della if needed.