Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Most Saturdays, 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 expecting boy-girl twins in early 2017, and are having a hard time finding names that sync with their older sisters, as well as each other.
Our daughters are Kezia Iris and Beatrix Louisa. Iris and Lou are family names.
For a girl, we like Colletta, Georgine, and Alvera – all family names, as well as Florence. For a boy, we like Norris, Ralph, Harlan, and Henry – all are family names. I think Henry is too common, but still love it. Ansel is also on our list, and maybe Ambrose.
Our last name sounds like Doll. Thank you for your help!
Please read on for my reply, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Rachel –
How exciting to be expecting twins!
At first, finding names flummoxed me. Nothing seemed quite right. But then I realized something. You just plain love your daughter’s first names. Most of your current list consists of family names.
Nothing wrong with that, of course. Good reasons abound to choose family names. But since you’re stuck, let’s take a step back, and focus on names that you like.
Based on Kezia and Beatrix, we’re looking for a rare name with vintage appeal, something feminine, but maybe a hint of an edge, too. I’ll also throw Florence into the mix. since that makes the list just because you love it.
Names for a Daughter
Agatha/Agnes – Parents are starting to rethink Agnes, thanks to the adorable little sister in Despicable Me. That might just open the door to using Agatha, too. If you prefer to skip nicknames, I’d suggest Agnes. If the idea of using Aggie as a short form appeals, I think Agatha might pair better with Kezia and Beatrix.
Harriet – I used to consider Harriet sort of solid and reliable, but a reader mentioned that she saw Harriet as light, pretty, even frilly – and suddenly, I found myself rethinking this name. Juliet makes the list of modern favorites, a name as romantic as they come. Harriet feels a smidge more serious, thanks to the many accomplished women by the name – Tubman, Beecher Stowe, Jacobs, the Spy.
Eugenie – The French form of Eugenia, Eugenie is familiar thanks to Princess Eugenie of York, cousin to Will, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s never been common in the US, but it shares sounds with very current names. Think of Lucy and Genevieve. And three-syllable, ends-in-y or -ie names for girls appeal, generation after generation.
Millicent – Sweet and strong, Millicent comes from the Germanic Amalswintha. We’ve reserved the name for fictional mice and such in recent decades, but if Matilda, Millie, Molly, and Madeline today, why not Millicent?
Sylvie – I’ve saved the best for last! Kezia and Beatrix both possess show-stopping letters – z and v. This makes me wonder if their sister should also get a high-value Scrabble letter name? Sylvia might be an option – though it ranks in the current Top 500. Sylvie, the French form of the name, remains outside of the current rankings. Kezia, Beatrix, and Sylvie sound exactly right together.
Names for a Son
Let’s pause for a minute before we talk specific names. It’s worth noting that parents often have slightly – or totally – different naming styles for sons and daughters.
Avoiding extremes is typically best, though I suppose somewhere out there a sibset consisting of William Archibald Lawrence and Fifi Mae is doing just fine.
But here’s the thing: parents often cheerfully venture beyond the Top 1000 for their daughters’ names, but are reluctant to go so far when naming a son. Your shortlist mostly consists of relatively rare names, like Ansel and Ambrose. But that lingering love for Henry makes me wonder – might you prefer something a little more mainstream for a son?
George – George remains less popular than the equally regal Henry. The name hovers just outside the Top 100 in the US. And yet, you could never call George fleeting or trendy. It’s a rock solid name for a son, one that works well with Beatrix and Kezia.
Harold – You couldn’t choose both Harriet and Harold. But either one works! Maybe I’m looking for cousins to your beloved Henry. But I do think Harold has the same so-far-out-it’s-in vibe as Kezia and Beatrix. The name is teetering on the edge of rediscovery.
Alasdair – I love Alasdair, even more because it’s seldom heard in the US. Spelling might present a hurdle, and Alistair is an option, too.
Lionel – Have you considered the longer Leo- names? While Lionel doesn’t quite sound like Leo, something like Leopold or even Leonidas does. Lionel hits that antique, just ready-for-revival note of Kezia and Beatrix.
Barnaby – I suggested Eugenie for a girl, which makes me wonder if you might like a three-syllable, ends-in-y name for a son? Barnaby combines a long history of use and an edgy, unexpected sound. The only downside to Barnaby, is that your son would share a first initial with an older sister – but since you’ll have four children, and two of them won’t have B names, I think that’s less of a concern.
Overall, I love the sound of Sylvie with Kezia and Beatrix. Boys’ names are so much harder in this case, maybe because it’s the first time you’re choosing one! I am, truly tempted to encourage you to use Henry. Yes, it’s very popular – but that’s because it’s a great name! And there’s something to be said for using a popular name regardless of what the data says.
Sylvie Georgine and Henry Norris, maybe?
Readers, now it’s your turn! What would you suggest to Rachel for her twins on the way?
Felix Jay and Freya Joann were born this morning. Thanks for the help!
Oops …forgot the newest edition 🙁 Freya also has a younger brother, Angus. Another great name! (Sorry Angus)
Just checked by to see if there’s an update. I have a niece Freya. Her brother is Ewan if that’s any help. Not sure what to advise re Felix. .. the name fits well, but I’d have the same niggles. Hope the delivery, recovery and all necessary adjustments go really well …and of course love to hear final decisions when you get to it!
Thank you for all of the great advice so far. With four days until our scheduled c-section we have almost decided on names. The girl is 99% sure to be named Freya Joann.
My top choice for a boy is Ralph Jay but my husband is not on board. Recently we’ve settled on Felix Ralph. My concerns are:
1. Freya and Felix too “cute” together?
2.Beatrix and Felix too rhyme-y? (Minor concern because she mostly goes be Bea)
Thanks again for your thoughtful advice and suggestions!
Thinking again about the ‘show stopping’ letters … what other ones haven’t been used – V has been mentioned, so what about Q?
How about boys names Harvey or Quentin? Girls, you have Alvera …there’s also sure to be some great names containing Q… without being exhaustive, how about:
Kezia, Beatrix, Harvey & Enriqua
Kezia, Beatrix, Quentin & Alvera
I like Vera or Florence and Ambrose or Ansel.
If not Barnaby, how about Willoughby?
Kezia, Beatrix, Willoughby and ???
Can be spelled using the letters of Colletta + Georgine + Alvera, has 5+ letters, on 1912 SSA “girl” list, not on 2015 SSA “girl” list:
Alene, Alice, Aline, Alline, Alvina, Angelita, Anita, Arlene, Arlie, Arline, Artie, Carol, Carrie, Ceola, Cleora, Cleta, Colleen, Corene, Corine, Cornelia, Corrie, Corrine, Earlene, Earline, Eleanora, Eleanore, Elenor, Elenora, Elinor, Elnora, Elvina, Elvira, Eveline, Garnet, Geneva, Georgiana, Georgie, Georgina, Gertie, Glenna, Gregoria, Ilene, Laverna, Laverne, Lavina, Lelia, Lenora, Lenore, Leola, Leone, Leonor, Leonora, Lettie, Lonie, Loraine, Lorena, Lorene, Loretta, Lorine, Lorna, Lorraine, Lottie, Lovie, Nella, Nelle, Nellie, Nettie, Octavia, Ollie, Renee, Vallie, Vergie, Verna, Vernice, Vernie, Verona, Viola, Violette
Can be spelled using the letters of Norris + Ralph + Harlan + Henry, has 5+ letters, on 1912 SSA “boy” list, not on 2015 SSA “boy” list [*on “girl” side of the list]:
Alois, Alphonse, ANSEL, Arlie, Ashley*, Elroy, Harris, Hilary, Hollis, Hosea, Loren, Lorin, Ollie, Orrin, Paris*, Pearl*, Shirley
[1912 seemed a nice mid-point between the peak popularity years of several of the listed names, as a way of choosing names of a similar style.]
Of those I listed, I’d suggest Lenore and Alphonse as given names.
Neutral one syllable surname ‘sounds like Doll’ pairs perfectly with longer and more distinctive names, exactly like Kezia, Beatrix, Florence, Ambrose, Harlan.. I feel Henry Doll is maybe too plain. Timeless and flows off the tongue yes, but missing pizazz?
Girls I think you are sorted, with an already great list and Abby’s spot on suggestions.
For more boy options
British heritage vibe – Rupert, Humphrey, Otis, Bartholomew, Malcolm, Chester, Wesley, Jasper, Bernard, Clarence, Sebastian..
High scrabble value – Xavier, Gustav, Lorenzo, Everest, Jedidiah, Quintus, Malachi
Some combos I love
Kezia Beatrix Agnes Gustav
Kezia Beatrix Jemima Malachi
Kezia Beatrix Florence Rufus
I also like Zohra for this family!
Kezia, Beatrix, Zohra, and Ambrose
Kezia, Beatrix, Zohra, and Ansel
What about Henrietta for a girl …
Kezia, Beatrix, Henrietta and …?
Your letter made me think of Cosima and Desmond.
I wouldn’t use Henry Norris but I’m a bit of a history buff.
I like the idea of the V completing the high-value scrabble sister set. So tweak Alvera to just Vera? I love it with the sisters. Vera Florence?
I really love your boy name choices. Vera & Ambrose is wonderful.
Kezia, Beatrix, Vera & Ambrose
Although. The name nerd in me sees the shared A, E and I. It seems unlikely to keep that going, but…
Or… Probably totally off in left field, but how about the twin names using only the other vowels?
Kezia, Beatrix, Zadie & Roux
I like your style – can’t wait to hear what you pick.
I like your names and think they go. I would pick your non family names for firsts and then family names for middles.
Ansel Harlan Doll
Florence Coletta Doll
I love Sylvie and I paused at Henry, but then I remembered a Henry nn Huck. Sylvie and Huck. . .<3
I have a son named Ambrose. He is seven. We still get compliments on his name. We have six kids and it was the only name that my husband and I both loved. It has that snazzy Z sound on the end. It is short enough that it doesn’t have a nickname although our family joked about Bro as a nickname, which I secretly thought was kinda cool.
Sylvie Georgine and Harlan Norris are my vote.
I know a young Ansel and his brother is Silvan which could be a contender if you didn’t go with Sylvie. (And I also know a Sylvie whose brother is Ezra, which might also work.)
Sylvie and Ansel!
Florence and Ambrose are my vote!