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!
We are Team Green for our first baby, due on Mother’s Day!
If it is a boy, he’ll be John David III, called Jack. (My husband is Jay or JD; his dad is John.)
If it’s a girl, I feel a little lost. Part of it is knowing that even if this baby is a girl, any future son would still be named John David III, so it’s we’re almost naming our second kid.
Because I agreed to Jack for a son, my husband says that I can (mostly) choose the girl’s name.
- I’ve always liked Caroline, but it feels WAY too Kennedy with Jack!
- Josephine is another name I like, but I don’t want to be a family of all Js. (Well, except me.)
- I love the sound of Everly, but I’ve always been frustrated at how 1990s/time-stamped my name is, so I really don’t want that for my daughter.
- Victoria is great, but I don’t like any of the nicknames, and I’m not the kind of person who would want to use that long name in full for a little baby. It’s not my husband’s favorite, either.
Names we can’t use because of cousins/close friends’ kids include Hazel, Hannah, Sophia, Lily, Naomi, Genevieve, and Amelia.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your first! How exciting to be due on Mother’s Day.
The first question I have to ask: are there any family names from your side that feel worth considering? Maybe a grandmother’s name, or even something less specific. Even something that reflects your side of the family’s heritage in broadest terms? If not as a first, then possibly as a middle?
While it’s not necessary, if there is something that feels significant, it might help narrow your name list – and make any name you choose feel more significant, too.
For now, I’m going to assume the answer is “not really” and move on to some fresh ideas. From Victoria, Caroline and Josephine, I assume we’re looking for something traditional but current, feminine but not too elaborate, and possibly nickname-proof. (Though I suppose it depends on how you feel about the nickname!) I’m also going to avoid Js.
I think of Beatrice in the same category as Caroline and Josephine. It’s traditional, with a long history of use. Like Victoria, nicknames abound. But also like Victoria, there’s no requirement to shorten this name.
Another spare, tailored name with plenty of elegance.
Eleanor sounds like a sister for John David. And Ellie – or Nora – could be the perfect sister name for Jack.
Of course, if you’re not sure about nicknames, Eliza is a classic that works well without any shortening at all.
Katharine – with the double A – feels sophisticated. (It’s the spelling used by Katharine Hepburn, among others.) But Katherine is every bit as lovely, or maybe even just Kate?
Marie has been stuck in the middle spot time and time again. But choose this as a first name and it manages to be immediately familiar and surprisingly refreshing.
Vivian is an obvious alternative to Evelyn, not quite as popular. And Vivienne feels like the oh-so-French Josephine and Genevieve.
If there’s no family/personal name you hope to pass down, I think it’s worth sitting with the idea of nicknames for a while. I love Marie or Evelyn if you’d prefer to avoid shortening your daughter’s name. But if you’re open to nicknames? That’s a tougher decision. I think I’d be more inclined to suggest Beatrice in that case, though that’s mostly because Beatrice “Betty” or Beatrice “Birdie” appeals so much as a sister for John David “Jack.”
Oh, and Avalon and Avonlea!
I just thought of Verily as a sounds-like-Everly name, but definitely without a timestamp. Verity is not uncommon where I am (Australia) and could be another option.
The Mrs. says
She’s classic, without a time stamp, and has lots of nicknames but is great on her own, too.
Geneva and Jack
Jack and Geneva
what would you name a second BOY? Are there honor names on YOUR side for a second son? Could any of those honor names be used in feminine form for Jack’s sister?
Congratulations and best wishes!
You are wise to be considering your opinions before any baby arrives.
Elise definitely works. I’m tempted to suggest Elsie, but rhyming names within families is not ideal … however first middle initials L.C would be okay! Lucinda Claire, perhaps … Jack & Lucy …? It would be a very subtle honour, you’d know it’s there!
I like the sound of Everly too, without it feeling like a name “for us” somehow. I’m trying to follow the feeling of the sounds, and come up with Harlow, Larkin, Beverly, Devon, Clarity, Evangeline, Elodie, Elena. I have no idea if any of those are useful.
Other names that come to mind from your larger list:
Cordelia, (Cora or Delia)
I’m tempted to come up with a girl name after the letter writer since they want to name a son after his father! Maybe something that shares some of the letters and sounds of Kelsey? I think Elise fits.
I love the suggestion of Katherine and you could give her the same initials as her mom.
I agree with Abby, love to hear some names from your side! And a definite nod to you for your daughter. Can you use your middle name? Or another K name? Katherine is so lovely – Kit & Jack would be adorable. Or maybe Kathleen with a more surprising nickname like Lina or Lilou?
What if you end up with only girls? Will you forego the tradition or will you have a Joan / Johanna? It might be sad to think you’ll never have a son, but let’s say you want two kids and they’re both girls. I’d use Caroline now (as others say it’s not TOO tied to the Kennedys) and Josephine if the next is a girl. Such a lovely pair of sister names – Caro & Josie, Carly & Jojo, Cici & Posey…
Lynn Anderson says
Amber Leigh Brandi Lynn Zoey Zola
Alison Doherty says
I love the suggestions of Vivian and Beatrice! So cute!
I also think if you love Caroline, have your thought of Cora? It’s similar and classic, with a shorter name for a sweet baby.
I don’t see a problem with Jack and Caroline. I wouldn’t have thought “Kennedy” at all. Go for it, if that’s your favorite!
Alice and Jack
Tessa and Jack
Lucy and Jack
Molly and Jack
Eva and Jack
Ivy and Jack
Violet and Jack
Catherine and Jack
What about Lillian with a nn of Lily? Lily and Jack are darling. And Lillian seems to fit with Josephine, and Caroline.
You’ve had so many great suggestions already – there are so many timeless, classic girls’ names to choose from, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
I’m echoing the idea of checking your own family tree for names you might like, since a son would automatically get a family name.
I also had the idea of using the same initials as John David, but perhaps flipped: Daphne Josephine, Delphine Julia, Delilah Joelle, Daisy Juniper, Daniela Jane, Daria Jessamy, Danica Juliet … I really like Delphine for you as an alternative to Josephine. Or perhaps Seraphine?
Everly makes me think of Evelyn (already suggested by others – and I’ll add the option of Eveline which has more of a Caroline/Josephine feel) but also Beverly. It’s time-stamped in different way, but I actually think it has potential.
Adeline or Madeline might also appeal. Or Adelaide, or just Adele?
Other ideas: Elodie, Imogen, Bernadette, Adrienne, Harriet, Rosalie, Charlotte, Alice, Celeste, Bianca, Natalie, Fiona, Coralie, Georgina, Sabine, Therese?
Caroline is beautiful, maybe it can work with a nickname
I just wanted to reassure that I don’t get a strong Kennedy association from siblings named Caroline and Jack. They just sound like timeless names that go together well. Now, if his nickname was to be JonJon, that would be another story. Though, still, a reference only adults would get, and even then, probably only those Gen X/older millennials and older. I don’t think Caroline Kennedy looms large for Gen Z, and her brother and parents have been dead so long now, while most will know of JFK, and Jackie, and might recognize the iconic photo of JonJon saluting his father’s casket, and some younger folks may have heard of JonJon thanks to recent conspiracy theories, I doubt they could name JFKs daughter, or even say whether he had any. Caroline K and her family are not going to be the first thing people think of when they hear the names, either together or separately. And once the kids are here (assuming you have one son and one daughter, which is a big assumption, you may have all girls, or all boys, or a child that comes between Caroline and Jack) the association will quickly fade for you, too.
TLDR: use Caroline, if it is your favorite, while resting assured that it won’t read political dynasty.
C in DC says
Other V names that might appeal that aren’t tied to an era: Vera, Veronica, Siobhan (bh=v), Viveca, Olive, Waverly, Vesper, Eva, Ava, Evangeline, Virginia.
Emmy Yage says
I agree with Abby on looking at your side for possible inspiration. We went back to a great great great grandmother for my daughter’s middle name and love to explain where it originated with her.
Katherine was one of my thoughts too as Kate or Katie feel like a classic with Jack but also a nod towards Kelsey. She could share an initial with you. However, you do need to consider if there will ever be 3 children as that sets up a challenge naming a third child.
Eliza is a great choice as it’s shorter and classic.
Evelyn nn Evie seems like the obvious choice as it’s similar to Everly.
Thinking about your love of Everly…. It’s actually still pretty popular on current charts. If you like it then use it. Don’t let perceived popularity prevent you from using a name that feels right to you.
Some similar alternatives….Sylvie or Ivy have the v. Other short but classic names that end with ee sound are Emily, Lucy, Audrey, Daisy or Zoe. All of which sound great with Jack.
I personally don’t think you have to stick with classic though. Just because you might have a Jack which is a family name shouldn’t bind you to a classic tradition for another child. If you prefer something different feel confident choosing that.
Perhaps the nickname Jack was your compromise in following your husband’s naming tradition and it’s a name you love … it does seem the next logical nickname to distinguish him from the previous generations of John Davids, while being traditional and current. Just a thought, though, based on your girl name possibilities … you like Josephine, would you consider John David III, nn Joe? It’s not conventional, but I think it works and it would put Caroline back on the table for a daughter. It also leaves Jack available for a future generation to follow tradition if they so choose 😉
Otherwise, I like the idea of an L name to loop you in. Not necessary but could be fun … and the are so many lovely L names:
What about Genevieve? It reminds me of Josephine, but gets you away from the “J” issue, and brings in the V sound from Everly and Victoria. There are also lots of possibilities for nicknames!
Evelyn or Vivian were my first thoughts after reading that you love Everly but don’t want something that will eventually feel time stamped. Evelyn and Jack, Vivian and Jack. Yes! I love Abby’s suggestion if Katherine “Kate” as well (or Catherine “Cate” if you prefer that spelling)
Victoria, Josephine, and Caroline all feel very evergreen and timeless to me so I also want to throw in Audrey as a suggestion. She is timeless and elegant, yet modern feeling all at once; like the little black dress of girl names. Audrey Caroline perhaps? Audrey Josephine?
Jack and Audrey! Perfection.