Name Help: Baby FiveName 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!

R writes:

It’s time to name baby number five! Gender will be a surprise.

This baby will join Braden Wallace, Samantha Jean (called Sam or Sami), Alexandria Han (called Allie), and Rylan John.

Middle names are family names, so we’re looking for first names only. It would be ideal to not repeat a first initial.

Matilda, called Mati/Mattie is one possibility for girls. Right now, there are no boy options!

Help! Please!

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

Dear R –

First, congratulations on baby five!

Here’s what leaps out at me: like lots of families, the boys’ names feel like a different style than the girls’ names. That’s completely fine – and fairly common! But it means we’re looking for two different kinds of lists.

The boys’ list needs names that are modern, masculine, and nickname-proof.

For girls, we’re after something slightly more traditional and elaborate, but with a spunky, maybe boyish nickname. Matilda called Mattie – or Tilly or Millie? – could be perfect, but there are lots of options

In both cases, we’re avoiding names that start with A, B, R, or S.


Charlotte called Charlie – Is Charlotte too popular? I think Charlotte called Charlie works perfectly – unless you already know three girls with the name. (And in my neighborhood, that would be true.) Another option might be Caroline called Charlie – both Charlotte and Caroline are feminine forms of Charles, Caroline via the Latin Carolus. But … it feels like maybe you prefer your nicknames a little more obvious, so I’m sticking with Charlotte for this list.

Cordelia called Cory, Cordy – Cordelia could shorten to lots of things – Cora, Della, Delia. But Cory feels like the kind of upbeat, boyish nickname that goes with Sam/Sami and Allie.

Francesca called Frankie – Frances might lean a little more traditional, but Francesca has the same elaborate, romantic feel as Alexandria and Samantha. Plus it’s slightly more mainstream than Matilda, so maybe it will appeal more?

Giovanna called Gia, Gio, or Gigi – I suppose Giovanna might seem very Italian – possibly too Italian if your roots don’t correspond? But I hear it more and more on girls whose families don’t necessarily traces their families to Naples and Rome and Milan. Plus the nicknames are spectacular!

Josephine called Josie, Joey, or Jo – My very first thought! It seems like the logical choice to complete this set of sister names.

Louisa, Lucinda, or Lucia called Lulu, Lou, or Lucie – There are plenty of lovely Lou/Lu names for girls, and several nickname options that feel like they’re from the same category as the older girls’ names.

Nicola called Nikki – Okay, Nicole has firmly entered mom name territory. I get it. It’s the name of my friends. But how ’bout Nicola? It’s just different enough that it might appeal for a twenty-first century girl.

Victoria called Vica or Tori – Victoria is a powerful, classic name that’s quite popular now – but it’s not nearly as much of a chart-topper as Charlotte. Vicky strikes me as belonging to an earlier generation, but Vica and Tori feel more current. My other favorite? Victoria called Rory! But I wonder if that’s too much of a stretch?


Camden – I noticed you haven’t used a C name yet! I’m tempted to suggest lots of options, like Cameron and Cash. But I Camden seems like the obvious two-syllable, ends-with-n option to go with Braden and Rylan.

Donovan – Or maybe the reason nothing is sticking is that it’s time for something just slightly different. In that case, one approach might be the three-syllable Donovan.

Everett – Or maybe a different ending? Everett sounds current and cool, doesn’t repeat a syllable, and is just a little bit different than Rylan and Braden, but still sounds like it belongs to the same family. I’d likely suggest it with Alexandria and Samantha, too, which feels like a bonus.

Holden – Like C, I can think of lots of appealing H names. Hayes would be something just a little different, but Holden – and Hudson! – seem like good options that are more faithful to Rylan and Braden’s style.

Kieran – Like Everett, I can imagine suggesting Kieran as a brother for all four of your older children – I think it splits the difference, style-wise. One thing that makes me hesitate about Kieran: it might be a little more subject to misspellings. (It’s Irish originally; Ciaran is the original spelling and Kieran the Anglicized one. But I can imagine lots of possible options. Does it bother you if Braden is written Brayden? If so, I might not consider Kieran.) But that consideration aside, I think it’s a great choice.

Parker – I like the idea of an r-ending name with Braden and Rylan, too. There are SO many options, but Parker stands out as a letter you haven’t used, and something that doesn’t sound anything like your older kids’ names, while still fitting right in.

Walton – Lots of two-syllable, ends-with-n boy names are wildly popular, like Mason and Jackson and Logan, too. But Walton doesn’t even make the current US Top 1000. (Which is crazy, right?) So if you’d like to find something that your son will never have to share, this might be it. There are lots of W surname to consider, too. This is my favorite for you, but there’s more on this list.

Wyatt – Wyatt isn’t exactly a surname, and again, it’s more popular – closer to Braden than Walton. But I think it’s perfect with all four older kids’ names.

Overall, I like Everett for a name that pairs well with Braden, Sami, Allie, and Rylan. Or maybe Wyatt? And for a girl, I’m still stuck on Josephine called Josie (or Joey or Jo) as the obvious choice.

But I know there will be some great suggestions from the readers, so let’s open it up!

What would you name a sister or brother for Braden, Samantha (Sami), Alexandria (Allie), and Rylan?

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. For girls, I’d say Gabriella called Gabi, Veronica called Ronnie, or Juliana called Jules. Despite its popularity, I also think Olivia would be a good fit in this group of gals.

    For boys, i suggest Eamon, Fintan, or Cillian/Killian. But my favorite suggestion is Camden.

  2. I’m at a loss for more boy names. For girls:


  3. So fun! I know a Cassandra who goes by Casey (not Cassie) and that reminds me a bit of your other girls’ names. I also love Miranda called Andie, if that doesn’t violate your same initial preference. If you like Corey but Cordelia feels too heavy, Corinna? Outlier: what about Jane? Sami, Allie, and Janie feel like sisters to me.

    Other girl ideas:
    Elizabeth with one of the punchy nicknames: Liza, Eliza, I’ve even heard Zuzu on Elizabeth.
    Georgeanne called Georgie
    Philippa called Pippi or Pippa or just Pip
    Florence called Wren
    Christina or Katherine called Kit
    Virginia or Geneva called Ginnie
    Mary called Molly

    Eamon reminds me of your other boy names.

    Congratulations on Baby #5!

  4. So many good suggestions already!

    Here are a few more to consider for a boy with the same feel as Braden and Rylan but some different sounds: Colson/Colton/Cason

    And some longer names for girls with an abundance of nicknames:

  5. I know a family with sisters Samantha and Alexandra, and their brother is Keaton, which I think works quite well here! Braden, Rylan, Keaton. Or how about Quinlan?

    So, maybe it’s just me and being fairly obsessed with SATC, but I’d vote no to Charlotte, Miranda or Carrie with this set 😉 How about Meredith (Merry Or Edie) or Vanessa (Vanny or Ness) or Genevieve (Genny or Vee)?

  6. For boys, how about something like Callum or Lachlan or Curtis or Lewis.

    With your girls I love Katerina ‘Kit’.

    All the best … five kids is fun!