Name Help: Should Her Name Be Elizabeth?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!

Liz writes:

My husband and I have a son named George Daniel, after my father-in-law and my husband. We call him Geordie, which I love so much.

Part of the reason we used family names for our son is that I always sort of thought I’d name my daughter Elizabeth. I’m the fourth Elizabeth in four generations. It’s not my mom’s name, though. Her older sister, Elizabeth “Beth” passed away before I was born, and so I’m named for her. (And my grandmother and great-grandmother, who went by Liz and Betty. I was Lizzie when I was little.)

But now that we’re expecting a daughter, I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do. This is probably our last baby, and so it’s my last chance to choose a name. But while I see mostly upsides to having a family name, I never actually lived in the same house with someone with the same first/last name as me. Would I resent having to explain that I wasn’t that Elizabeth all the time?

There isn’t necessarily another name I’d like to use, but I feel like I need some outside perspective on whether there’s another name out there.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your daughter!

It’s funny … men rarely say that they worry about naming a child after themselves. But women really do hesitate. And because women have traditionally given up our surnames at marriage, a daughter with a family name is often not going to share a full name, like a junior will.

There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s worth reflecting on that difference, I think.

Because it sounds like you’ve always planned to continue a long-standing family tradition. You don’t have to, of course! But I also don’t hear any other names that you’re considering.

So let’s assume your daughter’s name is meant to be Elizabeth – or maybe some form of Elizabeth? – and our task is to figure out exactly how to work with this lovely, classic, and significant name.


There’s already an Elizabeth-called-Betty in your family, but it’s been a few generations. This sweetly retro nickname name is ready for a comeback.


Boyish Billie might come from Wilhelmina. But Lily likely originated as a nickname for Elizabeth. And so Billie – with that strong middle B – seems like a contender, too.


Take the “bet” from Elizabeth, and Birdie emerges as a nickname option. It has the same retro, kicky spirit of Geordie.


Eliza can stand on its own, a spirited update to elegant Elizabeth.


The first syllable of Elizabeth naturally leads to nicknames – or names – like Ellie and Ella.


The sound Elsie is right there, if you slur all the syllables of Elizabeth together. It has a delightfully vintage vibe.


A long-time Elizabeth nickname, Libby isn’t especially common right now … but it’s also not out of favor, either. If Abby can be a Top 100 favorite, but not Libby?


A German nickname for Elizabeth, made famous by The Sound of Music.

Some of these names – like Eliza and Liesel – might stand on their own as formal names. And, of course, if you find another name you really love, Elizabeth could always be your daughter’s name.

But my suggestion is Elizabeth called Birdie. Geordie and Birdie are beyond adorable together, and George and Elizabeth feel strong and substantial.

Also: if you do decide to stick with Elizabeth for your daughter’s first name, I’d suggest you choose a daring, bold middle name that you just plain love. It might satisfy that urge to choose a name that’s just for you – and, in a way, that’s a time-honored custom, too.

Readers, over to you! Would you stick with Elizabeth for this child’s name? If so, what nickname would you choose?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Elizabeth is a great name to pass on!
    If I was the daughter in that situation, I would feel excluded if I wasn’t named Elizabeth.
    I would do Elizabeth called Elise.
    2 elegant and traditional names.

  2. I just remembered that a dear friend of mine growing up was Elizabeth, nicknamed Tess. It could be a nice option for this family!

  3. I recently came across another variant for Elizabeth: Elsabeth. I’ve been pronouncing it like “Elsa” and “Beth” together. I think it’s really pretty. I like the nicknames Elsie, Elsa, Ellie and Beth for it. I guess I do worry that it would be easily confused for Elisabeth though. I also like Lilibeth and Lisbeth.

    I like Zibby as a nickname for Elizabeth. I also like Bessie and Buffy as well. I think Tibby and Tabby could also work at a stretch, though they’re usually nicknames for Tabitha. I had a schoolmate whose sister was named Elizabeth and her nickname was “Ipsy”. I remember being told that when she was learning to pronounce her name, she ended up saying “Ipsy”.

  4. I had a similar issue when naming my daughter, except my husband is Jewish and it is not considered appropriate to name children after living relatives in that tradition. We ended up compromising by using it in the middle spot. Neither tradition was exactly followed, but neither was fully broken either.

    It’s OK to find creative solutions so it works for your family!

    Even if you can’t get excited about Elizabeth as a first name, strongly consider using it or a variant as the middle, so the connection is still there.

    I love Elizabeth called Libby.
    An Elspeth called Elsie is so sweet too.

  5. You could consider a name that’s “Elizabeth adjacent” but would give you different nn options.

    Eg Anneliese – nn Annie or Nellie
    or Liselotte nn Lottie

  6. First of all. It is okay not too continue the family tradition. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

    But it does sound like you have wanted to for some time and maybe you just feel sad the decision is made so fast?

    Elizabeth is an excellent name . I adore Betsy. Maybe focus your creativity on the middle name instead ?

  7. I was the third generation to receive the same middle name. When our oldest daughter was born, I didn’t use the name.
    She has been exasperated about it her whole life, and now that she and her husband are choosing names, she told me she plans to use the family name.

    I guess I do regret not using it but thrill at the idea of a granddaughter having it.