Name Help: Sister for Walter AlexanderName 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!

Lauren writes:

We are expecting a baby girl in March. Her brother is Walter (sometimes Wally) Alexander, soon to be 4 years old.

We are having such trouble with a name for the little girl because we had a daughter who was 2 years older than Walter, but she passed away. Her name was Maura Carolyn and her name was absolutely perfect.

Our last name starts with a W, sounds like WILL cox inn.

Names we like are:

  • Winifred (Winnie) – so cute, but is that too much W?
  • Madeline (Maddie) – my husband likes it, but I feel it’s too popular.
  • Corinne (Cora) – is the Cora nn sounding too much like Maura? Is that weird? I don’t mind it. I don’t prefer Cori.
  • Julia/Juliette – kind of meh on this one because we know so many Julies.
  • Sylvia (Sylvie) – I like this name, but my husband isn’t a huge fan.
  • Greta – I like this a lot, but wonder if Walter and Greta sound a little too German powerhouse next to mom and dad’s early 1980’s names (Lauren and Kyle)

Please help! We hope to find something that is strong, feminine, and fits with Walter.

Thank you so much!

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

And I’m so sorry for your loss. Maura Carolyn is a truly beautiful name.

This daughter needs something, as you say, feminine and strong. And it has to have that same feeling as Walter. It’s traditional, but still unexpected. Instantly familiar, but still probably prompts a lot of “oh, you never hear that name anymore!” kind of responses.

In light of those criteria, let’s rank your current options.



Such a lovely, classic name! But you’re right, it is so very popular, and has very been popular for ages. Tally up all the girls named Madelyn, Madison, and so on, and Maddie is absolutely everywhere. It’s one of the few names that has repeated consistently during my kids’ childhoods. I think you might need to let this one go.


It could be perfect, but it sounds like it doesn’t thrill you, so I’ll rank it here.


Corinne hits the same mark as Walter and Maura, at least to my ear.

But how strongly do you dislike the nickname Cori? Because while Cora is a great, stylish nickname, I can easily imagine a Corinne becoming Cori. On the soccer field. Because an older cousin says her name that way. Or because she herself prefers it. While I don’t see a probably with Cora sounding so much like Maura, I do wonder if the potential for Cori should be a red flag.


This is so adorable! And yes, a little quirky, too – but in the best possible way.

I’m imagining reading the names on the back of a book jacket in the middle grade section:

Wally and Winnie WILL cox inn live above the museum with their great uncle Gerald. One day, the mummy from the new Egyptian exhibit goes missing. Can the siblings solve the mystery and save the day?

I mean … it’s perfection.

It will also make it difficult to name a future sibling. Wellington, Worthington, Winthrop, Wilhelmina, maybe? It wouldn’t stop me from using it, but it’s a definite choice.


I’m not getting a super German vibe from Walter and Greta, probably because both are used across so many European languages. And your surname isn’t particularly German, either. I might’ve suggested Greta if you hadn’t mentioned it – I think it’s exactly right. But I’ll be curious to hear what others say.


Sylvia/Sylvie and Walter/Wally feel both timeless and from the same moment in the past – a nicely matched pair. But if your husband isn’t on board, I’m not sure my vote makes a difference!

One note: Sylvia remains in hibernation, ranking around the 400s/500s in recent years. But Sylvie is shooting up the charts, doubling in use over the last few years. That still doesn’t make it particularly popular – especially compared to a name like Maddie – but it might make it more familiar by the time your daughter is kindergarten-aged. So if your husband’s hesitation is that Sylvie is too different? It won’t be.



As classic as Walter, an antique name with sparky, fun nicknames.


Another traditional choice, Harriet is a much less expected alternative to Juliette.


The downside to Helena is pronunciation. There are at least three major choices. But shorten it to Lena, and it simplifies everything.


Like Walter, Loretta is enjoying the smallest uptick in popularity in recent years. And Loretta-called-Etta feels like a Greta alternative that’s not so Germanic(ish).


I know – Mary doesn’t feel surprising! But on a baby born in 2023? I promise it is.


Despite the pop culture powerhouse Downton Abbey lifting Cora and Violet, Sybil remains surprisingly rare. Nicknames like Billie and Sibby are options, but I don’t think Sybil requires any shortening.

Overall, my favorites are probably Sylvia/Sylvie and Sybil, with Greta and Loretta close seconds. And I’m still so, so tempted by the whimsy of Winfred “Winnie” WILL cox in.

As far as middle names go, I wonder if you’d consider Corinne? Sybil Corinne, Sylvia Corinne, Greta Corinne, Loretta Corinne, Winifred Corinne … it’s so versatile!

But let’s open it up to the readers:

What would you name a sister for Walter Alexander?

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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  1. Thank you all for your wonderful, heartfelt thoughts and name suggestions. We have some really great ideas here, and I will be sure to update in March! Gratefully, Lauren