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!
I’m a 40-something newlywed, thrilled to be expecting for the first, and, given our ages, probably the only time. Even better? We’re having boy-girl twins.
Before we knew we were expecting two, we’d planned on naming a boy Guthrie. It’s a family surname on my side, with lots of meaning for us. (And for my mom.)
We’d still like to name our son Guthrie.
But there’s no similarly meaningful name for his sister.
Here are our best options:
Edie/Edith – A friend suggested this idea from my first name, and I love it. Except then there are two names from my family and none from my husband’s side. Does that matter? Also, he likes Edie but not Edith, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Kirby – His mother’s maiden name. I love that the names would have similar weight, and kind of the same style. But somehow Kirby sounds very 80s to me? I can’t exactly explain why, but it just doesn’t feel exactly right. I want to get over this, though, because it’s the best equivalent of Guthrie from his side.
Lou/Luna – My father-in-law is named Lou. (It’s not short for anything.) We thought about Guthrie Louis for our son’s name. But now I’m wondering if a name like Luna is enough of an honor name? I don’t like the “weeze” in Louise/Louisa, but I’m also not sure about how popular Luna is right now. It’s also my sister’s bulldog’s name. Is that a problem?
Mary – There are Marys on both sides of our families, with lots of Mary Annes, etc. I just don’t love it.
Olivia – My husband’s favorite right now. The only other family name on his side that has meaning is Oliva, so Olivia could be great. But I don’t like that it’s the #1 name, especially when Guthrie’s name would be so different.
Because we both have short last names, we’re (all) hyphenating. It sounds sort of like Kane-Smith. We really haven’t thought about middle names, except maybe Louis with Guthrie.
Read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your twins!
I often want to reassure parents that it won’t be the end of the world if one child’s name is more significant than the others. For lots of reasons, we often use That Big Honor Name on our firstborn and then feel like we’re able to name our younger children more freely.
But the stakes feel a little higher with twins, don’t they?
And I do think it’s not quite fair to give one twin a super significant, meaningful name and the other one that you just like – especially when it’s likely to come up. (Since Guthrie is, as you say, a little bit on the unusual side, chances are that people will ask.)
Let’s look at your current list.
I agree this is a great choice! It’s not obviously taken from Meredith, and yet … it’s obviously taken from Meredith. The Edie/Edith divide is interesting. I think either works as a sister name for Guthrie, but Edith might feel like the better choice with certain middle names. Back to that in a minute.
I got the exact same ill-defined 80s vibe from Kirby, but couldn’t figure out why. My first thought was St. Elmo’s Fire, but the numbers didn’t add up. (Though Emilio Estevez did play a character named Kirby.) Nope, instead it was Dynasty. The era-defining prime time soap introduced Kirby Anders in 1982. The name quickly spiked in use for girls. And yes, the character returned in the recent CW reboot. While I hear what you’re saying about the name balancing so well with Guthrie, it also sounds like you don’t love it as a first.
Is Luna an honor name for Lou? I can’t see why not. That applies to Lula, Tallulah, and maybe a dozen other names with a strong Lou sound, hold the weeze. The bulldog factor isn’t ideal, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker if this was your absolute #1 favorite name. (Though it depends on how close you and your sister are, and whether kid Luna and canine Luna would spend time together. And, of course, how your sister might feel about the duplication.)
We don’t use Mary nearly enough, which makes it a great, classic name that’s surprisingly uncommon. And yet, it doesn’t sound like this is a fit for you.
I agree with you both: Olivia is a brilliant play on Oliva. And it’s wildly popular, too. While that wouldn’t matter if it really were your favorite, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. Would you feel differently if you use the name Olive? Or even Olivine/Olivette as middles?
I wonder if the best solution is to use Kirby as a middle name?
I’m wild about Edith “Edie” Kirby and Guthrie Louis. It feels like a great mix of family names, but also names that please you. And while honor names are great, it’s important to find something that pleases you, too.
Olive Kirby could be great, too, as I do like Luna Kirby – though the canine cousin is a potential challenge to consider.
And Edie Olivine or Edie Olivette could have possibilities.
But the first idea is a my favorite. Edie Kirby sounds a little sing-songy, but Edith Kirby called Edie is great.
Julie G says
LOVE Edith nn Edie or just plain Edie is wonderful, too.
Do not care for Kirby at all.
If you love the name Luna, use it. I would not care if it was my sis’s dog’s name.
Love Mary, too. It’s beautiful and underused. How about
Mary Luna or
Mary Lucia ?
One reason why you might have been thinking of the 80’s is because of Kirby, the Nintendo game character. For this reason ( Mario party is still quite popular), I would suggest nixing the ideanof Kirby as a first bane.
One idea: Lovisa. It has all the letters of Oliva, plus as a form of Louisa it gives you the connection to Lou.
I actually think Kirby is very usable, and probably the best match you can make to Guthrie. Kirby Lovisa?
I also think Edith nn Edie is a good option, or even just Edie on its own.
My first thought was Marion/Marian Olivia. You get the Mary honor name and the Olivia honor name. I personally prefer the on spelling, I think it is very chic like Marion Cotillard. And I love the repetition of the ri sounds between Guthrie and Marion, but that is very subjective.
So Guthrie Louis and Marion Olivia.
I like Edith “Edie” Luna, Luanna, Luella, or Lucia. I also like Edith Kirby, or Luna Kirby. Also, I know it’s not part of Meredith, but if your husband really doesn’t like Edith, Eden with the nickname, “Edie” is also cute, if you prefer to have a longer form of Edie. I like Eden Olivia. Maybe you like Luan(n)a for Lou and Maryann? I also like Lucy Olivette. And maybe look into the many, many forms if Mary. Molly, May, you could even make a case for Marley. (Short form of Marlene), but kind of sounds like Mary-Lee smooshed together. I also love Guthrie Louis, if you don’t use the Lou/Lu prefix. Okay. I’m done, I promise.
My favorite pair is Guthrie Lou and Olive Kirby.
But Guthrie Lou and Edith Kirby is more balanced.
Someone pointed out that two firsts from your side and two middles from his feels balanced, and I agree. Especially since you have a hyphenated name! Maternal Paternal Mother-Father or Maternal Paternal Father-Mother both have such a nice honor flow in my eyes.
I happen to _adore_ the name Edith. And I think it matches Guthrie with that notable “th” sound, without rhyming.
Guthrie Louis. How about Guthrie Luis, is it too sing-songy with that “ee” sound? I really like it.
…Guthrie Olivier???? Toss that female honor name on your son?
Edith Oliva! Absolute swoon. Edith Kirby trips me up because of the rhythm, but I love how fun it is! Olivette is _so_ nice, Olivette Edith is so good I want to steal it for myself.
I want to use a name for a future daughter that is a my-name-is-there-but-it’s-not-obvious myself, so I think that it’s a fantastic way to have a “junior”-type situation without going hardcore into actually having a junior.
Congratulations! Since Guthrie is unambiguously Scottish I’d be tempted to go with a Scottish girl name with Lucille or Tallulah or Kirby or Olivia as the middle:
Arabella (like Flora, historically associated with Scotland)
Catriona (pron. Katrina, which may not appeal in view of the hurricane)
Hazel (included here, since before its recent revival elsewhere it was still steadily used in Scotland)
Maisie (a Scottish pet form of Margaret)
Marion (traditionally popular in Scotland)
Morag or Moira
Violet (used in Scotland by certain French-influenced aristocratic families since the 16th century)
The Mrs. says
I know an amazing lady named Merritt. This might give a familiar balance to Guthrie.
Guthrie and Merritt.
Merritt gives a nice homage to you (and possibly a Mary on your husband’s side). “Merry” also works as a nickname.
Maren is swinging up the popularity charts, but she’s tailored, feminine, and feels neatly paced with Guthrie. She could carry off the nickname of Wren, too!
Maren and Guthrie
Merritt Oliva or Maren Oliva give my ears a pleasant tingle… especially alongside Guthrie.
Congratulations on your recent wedding and double blessing of TWINS!
Congratulations!! B/G twins – so lucky!! would not use your sisters dogs name. I love just Lou! I think it matches Guthrie better and I just love it. Talullah nn Lu is also sweet. I also like Edie better than Edith and no I don’t think it is problematic to have both firsts from your side if middles are from his.
Congrats on getting two-for-one on the first go! And on your marriage. Very exciting!
Guthrie is great because it’s underused, yet recognizable: That coveted sweet spot.
Nameberry says Guthrie is Scottish. Might Sister want a Scottish name as well? (Another avenue to honoring his side of the family, if this continues to be important, could be to choose a name from his family’s heritage.)
Bryce (sort of) uses the letters from Kirby (switching the K to a C and the I to an E)
Edie Bryce or Guthrie Bryce
Eilidh (AY-lee) is only one letter off from Edith.
Eilidh Lou (cute nickname Lilou included!)
Ferelith looks like it almost rhymes with Meredith.
Ferelith Bee / Bea (using the -By from Kirby)
Oliva could become simply Liv. Could use nickname Livvy. Or, you could rearrange the letters to get Viola (or stretch that to get Violet?). I’ve seen Olivet used as a name, like the place in the Bible. Olivet Lumi or Lumina (loo-MEE-nuh) or Luminara.
Or, since Olive connotes peace, could a name meaning or connoting Peace work?
Dove, Paloma, Shiloh, Salem, Pax.
Edie Pax (but does this sound like “Edie packs?”)
Is there some way to modify your husband’s name to make it feminine?
Kirby means “church settlement” (possibly Norse or English). Could we use that meaning to find a name that you like?
I once met a girl named Temple. Templer gets the “church” meaning from Kirby and the “m…er” from Meredith.
Lou means “renowned warrior.” Could you use another name meaning warrior? Apparently Meredith means “great chief” or “great ruler.” If one child gets some version of “Lou” and one gets some version of “Meredith,” they’ll share similar meanings.
Or Edie Lou is cute on its own. Guthrie Loucas
Could you break Kirby into two names?
Kirsten Trilby / Ashby / Shelby / Libby / Colby
A “Kir” beginning name with Liv or Livvy or Olive would incorporate two “his side” names. And then you could choose another “your side” middle for Guthrie (if any of this is important to you).
Kirrily Olive and Guthrie Mariano or Guthrie Meredith
You could use Guthrie Oliver, thereby honoring both sides. And forget trying to honor anybody with Sister’s name. What’s the name you would use if you didn’t feel like you have to match Brother’s name?
Eden is another way to get to Edie, though I recognize it doesn’t as clearly mirror the Edith of Meredith.
You could use a middle for Guthrie that includes the Mer from Meredith.
Or the “edi” from Meredith:
Here’s a useful name: Willoughby. It includes the “Lou” and the “-by,” honoring both of his parents. It could be a middle for either child. I read of a girl named Willoughby who went by “Bee.” You could use Edith or Edie with Willoughby and call her Edie Bee as a nickname at home. She’d also have the option of nicknames Willow or Willa.
I think a Lou name you both like would be the winner! The others seem meh for one of you. I do love the pairing of Edith Edie Kirby & Guthrie Louis, but an everyday Edie & Guthrie feels a bit too singsong. Maybe for you it’s perfection, that’s all that counts.
Here are some Lou alternatives that IMHO work an a nod to Grandpa Lou, and stand up with less common Guthrie:
Mary Lu-something called Malou
I want to see Edith in the middle! It’s such a sweet nod to you that I feel like you must use it 😉
Or maybe Guthrie Meredith cause it’s traditionally a unisex name right? Or a tweak to a tweak to something like Merrick to match the tweaking of Lou for a girl?
Guthrie Merrick & Tallulah Kirby!
I probably would not give your daughter the same name as your sister’s dog.
Kirby was the first name of my male junior high math teacher and the school wrestling coach. I don’t think it sounds particularly 80s. It’s a surname that has been in occasional use as a first name for at least 70 years and probably longer. On the other hand, I probably would think Guthrie and Kirby were both boys. I might make it a middle name for the girl. If Guthrie is your mom’s maiden name, it would be best to have his mother’s name in their somewhere. Edith would be nice as a first name. So would Olivia. I don’t think popularity is a huge issue when fewer kids get the top names.
Just wanted to add that I love Edith Kirby, “Edie”! I think Enid would also be adorable with Guthrie. Congratulations!!
Alison Doherty says
I was going to suggest the same thing as Abby. Edith Kirby and Guthrie Louis sound perfect together! Olive Kirby is also very cute and a nice spin on the more popular Olivia.
Congratulations! I love the suggestion of Edith “Edie” Kirby. That’s just such a cool name packed full of meaning!
I also second the idea of a Mary variant. We have a Mariel and funny enough my dad kept mistakenly calling her Meredith for the first weeks of her life. I know a Mery, which could work great in connection with your name as well!
Since Guthrie is used as a place name (in Oklahoma, it was the original capital… until someone stole the state seal and moved it to OKC, such a story!), is there another place name that could be meaningful to you? Names from the map would be a cool connection for the twins names (even if Guthrie isn’t referring to the town).
I love the ideas of Edith “Edie” or a name with Lu/Lou. Lucia? Lucy? Maybe the Welsh Llewella in honor of both the Welsh roots of Meredith and sounds from Lou? I do think Luna is problematic, especially if you are close or see each other frequently. Or maybe consider a more exciting version of Mary? Marion? Marietta? Molly?