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 helped me name my son Caius back in 2019. We already had sons Sebastien, Nikolai and Torin.
I’m pregnant again, this time with a girl. Everyone says it’s easier to name girls because of all of the options but I’m finding the opposite to be true for the same reason – too many options!
I’m guessing this may be the last time I get to name a baby so I’m just trying to find something perfect. So far I’ve liked more traditionally feminine and strong names with potential nicknames that lean more masculine.
Names I like so far:
- Emrys – I know this is typically masculine but think it could work for a girl
- Evadne – “Denny”
- Evanthe – “Van” or “Vannie”
- Ferryn/Ferron – “Ronny” or “Ren”
- Marielle – but I’m not sure about a nickname; my husband likes this more than I do.
- Talise – “Tala”
- Rune – mostly for the meaning “secret” and probably a middle name
I’m literally keeping myself up at night trying to find the perfect for us name. Any help you can provide would be MUCH appreciated!
Please read on for my reply and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on baby five! And how exciting to be expecting a daughter!
I do think that naming the opposite gendered child can throw us for a loop, especially if we have a good style and strategy already. It’s completely normal to want something slightly different for a daughter than a son.
And, of course, naming is that rare parenting task that doesn’t really get easier with experience. In fact, it can get harder! (I was on the final draft of this post before I realized I couldn’t suggest Corin as a sister name for Torin …)
So I think it’s amazing that you’ve got such a strong start.
Your kids’ name lean a little European, have rich meaning and history, and are rare but accessible.
It’s a very specific combination. Throw in the need for a pleasing nickname, and there’s a lot to consider. Though I agree – the issue here is how MANY names could potentially work.
A few other things jump out at me:
- First, you’re shying away from A-ending names. I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or not, but I won’t suggest any.
- Second, your preferred nicknames aren’t necessarily the obvious ones. I’m all for making unconventional nicknames stick. But it’s worth considering what will happen if your child prefers something different. Do Evanthe/Evadne seem less appealing if your 10 year old comes from school one day and announces that she’d like to be called Evie?
- Lastly, we’re probably not looking for a surname or a word name. It seems like you’re firmly (and consistently) settled on real names that are currently rare.
Let’s look at your current list.
I’m inclined to agree about Rune – great name, but as a middle.
Ferron/Ferryn might belong as a middle, too. I’m only familiar with Ferron as a short form of Ferdinand. (Though Ferron, the singer-songwriter, pushes this in a more unisex direction.)
Marielle might be a little too frilly for your style, maybe? Though I wonder if nickname Miri would save it for you? I do think it’s a great match with your sons’ names.
Emrys, Evadne, and Evanthe seem perfect. But does the potential for your daughter to blend in as Emmy or Evie give you pause?
That leaves Talise/Tala, but I think it’s worth looking farther afield.
A SISTER FOR SEBASTIEN, NIKOLAI, TORIN, and CAIUS
AMORET or AMORETTE
It’s a little frilly, but could be Morie for short – or Ret/Rette?
I’d suggest Avi for short. Aveline means hazelnut. It’s feminine but not frilly, shares the V of Evadne and Evanthe, but edges a little closer – maybe – to Marielle in terms of style.
Dominic is a masculine name traditionally given to boys born on Sunday. Dominique and Dominetta are among the feminine forms. And Domino emerged as a nickname for those feminine forms. Of course, it’s also a game piece. But I’m not sure that lessens the name’s appeal.
An uncommon form of Elizabeth used in the Middle Ages, Isabeau has history aplenty. It also offers boyish nickname Beau.
Briefly mentioned as a feminine name in the New Testament, Persis means “from Persia.” But it’s a tailored, surprising name for a daughter than shortens to Percy or maybe Perry.
This one comes from Edgar Allan Poe. C in DC mentioned that Tamerlane might be a male character, but it has potential as a girl’s name. I’d short it to Laney or Lane.
Another rare name from the Bible, this time the Old Testament. Vashti offers no obvious nicknames except for Vee, but it does sound terribly appealing.
While Yvaine is a newer name, it has deep roots. Neil Gaiman made it famous as the name of Stardust’s heroine. It’s based on Yvain, a name from the legends of King Arthur.
I keep coming back to combinations like Vashti Ferryn Rune and Isabeau Emrys. From your original list, though, I do love Marielle and Evadne. I wonder if Evadne Marielle Rune is a contender?
Let’s hear what others have to say, though.
Marcelle or Marcella instead of Marielle? Maybe even Mariette or Maretta, which would give the potential for Etta as a nickname?
Oh, I like those tweaks to Marielle …
Love your boys names. Emory or Amery would be a great alternative to Emrys. All the best for your family.
I looked back at your last letter and I love that Cassius got a form of your name for his middle!
The name on your current list that love best is Talise – but with five kiddos maybe repeating an initial isn’t ideal? I like that a few of your boys have unisex nicknames, this makes your preference for traditional feminine with masculine leaning nicknames, feel like a pattern. I do agree those awesome E names you have might eventually become Emmy / Evie as she chooses / her peers choose a nickname?
You’ve obviously thought a lot already about names! And so many great ideas from everyone. Throwing a few more out in case they strike your fancy. Didn’t rule out word names or A names, and to make a masculine leaning nickname without an obvious angle, I suggested a full name with initial nickname! Thanks for the fun challenge!
Friday Isabeau Garnet ‘Fig’
Liberty Astrid Rune ‘Lars’ or ‘Bert’
Verona, ‘Ronnie’, Victorine ‘Vic’, Vesper Evadne Rune ‘Vern’ (V for 5th child would be a bonus!)
Maude Apolline Crane ‘Mac’
Leonie ‘Leo’ or ‘Len’
Equinox ‘Quinn’ or ‘Knox’
I like the suggestions of Sabine, Artemis, Merritt
Olympia, Sybil, Honor, Honora, Althea, Meagara, Merrill, Merrin
The name that first came to my mind was Alethea. I like the combo of Alethea Rune. The meanings work well together…secret truth.
I like Petra that has been suggested.
Silvinia gets you to a Vinnie nn.
Selah. I like Selah Talise, Selah Rune, Selah Ferron.
Abilene nn Billy.
First, Kudos to Abby for coming up with some truly unique, historied names!
Congrats on your girl! I bet her big brothers are excited!
In looking for other names meaning “secret,” I came across Raziela. Nameberry says it’s Hebrew for “the Lord’s secret.” It called out to me for you because your husband likes Marielle and you like the meaning “secret.” There was also short form Raz listed, in case the single syllable flows better with your ultimate choice.
Of Abby’s suggestions, Persis seems likely: It’s an established name, yet rare. It ends with S, which is a desirable surnamey quality in the vein of Hollis and Ellis. Also Emrys, like you like, but without the potential for the very popular nickname Emmy. It seems unisex enough that you wouldn’t even need a nickname. It’s already only 2 syllables.
Ferron and Talise could combine to become Talon. Though in French, it literally means “heel,” in English it refers to the claw of a bird of prey, indicating strength, as you hope this girl’s name will do. As with Persis, it’s already 2 syllables, so no nickname seems necessary.
Callanthe, Callahan, or Callaway could shorten to Cal or Callie / Cali.
Averil means “boar battle” and shortens to Avi.
Meliora means “better” in Latin and “honey” in Cornish. It could shorten to Leo / Lio, Meli, Mela>Mila or (stretching here) Milo. It incorporates some of the sounds of Marielle.
Lucretia could be Luca.
Caedmon (evidently the first English poet (male)), depending on pronunciation could be Cade or Katy or Mona. Or Ed. It means “warrior.”
Cassidy has history as a boy’s name, but has been used for girls, giving it a unisex flair. Cass or Sid.
Innogen / Imogen / Imogene (wife of the first king of Britain) – Gene or Gena.
There’s also a Nameberry list of rare full names by nickname: https://nameberry.com/blog/unusual-names-with-popular-nicknames
Emrys, Evadne, and Evanthe all seem like great options to me! And Rune seems like a perfect middle name.
Love Abby’s suggestion of Yvaine.
Tamerlane has some lovely sounds to our Anglophone ears, but be aware that it’s the (Westernized) name of a notoriously brutal Turko-Mongol military commander, Timur. In Russia and surrounding countries, it’s not unheard of for folks to name their sons Tamerlane. However, it’s a bit like naming your kid Attila. Definitely a fierce, warrior connotation.
As far as additional suggestions, I wonder if Arthurian legend might offer some sweet-spot names:
Igraine or Ygraine
Isolde, Iseult, or Yseult
Brangien or Brangaine
I have a Nikolai and a Mariel, so Marielle has my vote. Love the suggestions of Aveline and Isabeau. I think all three of those names would be perfection with your boys!
Livia – Liv
Theodora – Thea/Theo
Bernadette – Bernie
Wilhelmina – Willie
Calliope – Cal
Salome – Sal
Antonia – Toni
Augusta – Augie
I know you didn’t add in any ends in -a names but I can’t helping thinking Fiorella could be a very sweet sister choice here. Nickname, Fio or Fi.
Fiorella Talise is my favorite.
Myrene is another that popped up in my thoughts. Nickname, Ren or Rene.
Or one more, instead of Evanthe what about Ianthe, nickname Ian?
Ianthe Rune sounds lovely to me.
Oops yes, I missed this!
My favorites from the list is
I might be way off base with my suggestions but what about:
Annika… Annie, Nika, Nikki
Gwendolyn… Winnie, Lennie
Miranda… Miri, Mimi, Mandy, Mindy, Andie, Randie
Odessa… Des, Dessa, Dessie
Soraya… Sonny, Raya, Ray
Artemis… Artie, Missy, Timmy
Ari might be too repetitive, with the mother being Arianna. Unless they want an honor name!
I love Isabeu with this sibset!
I also like:
Verity – nn Vera
Persephone – Percy
Imogen – Mo
Viola – Vi
Winnifred – Freddie
Tallullah – Louie
I thought I’d add that Silke (Pronounced Zilka) is a German diminutive of Cecilia but it would probably be Silk or Silky in American English.
Vash would be the Vashti nickname. There is a fairly memorable Star Trek The Next Generation character called Vash, though it is obscure enough that I doubt people would make the connection.
My suggestions: Anouk (diminutive of Anne), Axelle, Bertille (French name, could be called Birdie or Tillie or Till), Bethsabé (Variant of Bathsheba), Briony (nature name), Celestine (the one I know of is called Sally but it could be Sal), Charis, Cyrille (Cy), Elke (actually an Alice variant), Evaine (less confusing than Yvaine and also a legitimate medieval spelling), Ildiko (Hungarian version of Hilda. The one I knew in college was called Ildi), Jehanne (original French form of Joan or Jane), Ludivine (French, could be Lu or Lulu), Odette, Ottillie (both French or German feminine forms of Otto), Pomeline (obscure French Saint), Rhetice, Selene, Silke, Sunniva (Sunny), Tamsin (Condensed form of Thomasin), Thais, Verena (German, could be shortened to Vere), Xanthe (Greek, means blonde, could be Zan), Zenaida (Greek or Russian, could be shortened to Zen or Russian diminutive Zina)
I also like Evadne. Have you considered Ariadne which gives you similar Denny-style nicknames but others my default to the nickname Ari rather than Evie. I think Ari sounds sweet, and also unisex.
Throwing out some more options – Isolde, Imogen, Adair, Rhiannon, Marion, Romilly, Thisbe
Evadne really stands out to me here. I wonder if she’d be called Andi by classmates? Calanthe and Nephele are two others that you might like. What about Petra? Or Phaedra? Delphi? Anouk? Manon? Ronja? Tilde?