Name Help: Sibling for Charile and LaineyName 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!

Jennifer writes:

I’m pregnant with baby number three and need some names! I don’t know yet if it’s a boy or girl.

This baby will join Charles Walter “Charlie” and Elaina May “Lainey.”

Our last name rhymes with Barnes, but starts with St.

I am much more open than my husband who likes more traditional names, but we do tend to like unisex names, too. Any suggestions would be so appreciated!

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on baby number three!

You’ve landed on such an interesting way to compromise: more traditional firsts, paired with sparkier nicknames that lean unisex.

I’m guessing that your tastes might be slightly more classic for boys than girls – not because of anything you’ve written specifically, but because often feel a little freer naming a daughter than a son.


ANDREW/DREW – Andrew peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, it’s mellowed into a solid classic. While Drew Barrymore makes us see the possibilities for Drew as unisex – and Andy/Andie/Andi has long done double duty – today it feels more like a brother for Charles-called-Charlie.

CAMERON – Speaking of the 1990s, there’s a whole class of handsome boy names that reached the boys’ Top 100 three decades ago and then slowly rose for girls, too. But many of them – not only Cameron, but Dylan, Ryan, and Evan – remain mostly masculine. Charlie, Lainey, and Cam sound great together.

JESSE/JESS – Sometimes Jess is Jessica … other times, it’s Jesse. An Old Testament favorite with a cozy vibe, Jesse works beautifully for a son born today. It’s traditional, but a little bit surprising, too.

JULIAN/JULES – Julie names have had a good run for girls, but lately it’s Julian – for the boys – that ranks highest on the US popularity charts. And Jules, originally the French masculine form of Julius, works as a unisex nickname for them all.

CHRISTOPHER/KITGame of Thrones alum Kit Harington put this British nickname for Christopher on parents’ radar. It’s crisp, brief, and wears well in an age of Jack and Cole.

TATE – I’m not sure about a formal name for Tate. There’s Tatum, of course, but I’m not sure that quite matches Charles and Elaina. But I love the way it sounds with Charlie and Lainey, so I wonder if you’d consider just Tate, no formal name necessary?

QUINTON/QUINN – While Quinn ranks in the girls’ Top 100, the best formal names – like Quinton – tend to fall on the boys’ side of the charts.


GEORGIA/GEORGIE – This list of boyish nicknames for classic girl names might interest you! Georgie is one of my favorites. Georgia feels a lot like Elaina – feminine, but not a buttoned-up classic like Elizabeth.

JOSEPHINE/JO – If there’s a classic example of a feminine name with a boyish nickname, Little Women’s Jo March is it. While Jo sounds great with Charlie and Lainey, visually it seems a little brief, doesn’t it? Another potential Josephine nickname that might appeal is Finn – and, of course, there’s always Joey.

KATHERINE/KIT – Katherine might be a little too classic for you. But nickname Kit – yup, just like on the boys’ list – transforms Katherine from regal and saintly to adventurous and daring.

CLARICE/REESE – This might feel like a stretch, but the sound is there. Patrice works, too, as do even more obscure names, like Catrice, Cerise, and Caprice. But Clarice comes closest to sounding traditional.

ROSEMARY/ROMY – Americans usually shorten Rosemary to Rosie or Rose. But Germans contract the name to Romy, taking this classic, vintage name in a sparky direction.

AURORA/RORY – Or … Caroline-called-Rory, Marjorie-called-Rory, Lorelei-called-Rory … I could go on. But there’s a list here.

WILLA/BILLIE – Wilhelmina is long and dramatic; Willa seems compact and accessible. Both come from the evergreen boy name William, and they could also borrow built-in nickname Billie.


Hands down, my favorite name for a son is Julian-called-Jules. Except I’m not sure about Jules with your surname.

It sort of depends on how you use your child’s nickname. Is it mostly at-home and among friends? Or would you expect the nickname to be used in all sorts of semi-formal places – school assemblies, sports teams – where it’s more likely that his first and last will be said together?

Because in the case, my votes goes to Kit, as a nickname for Christopher. (Or even Christian.)

For a girl, Rory is my favorite nickname. But which formal name to choose?

Caroline is elegant and matches well with Elaina … but, strictly speaking, it’s another form of Charles. (Via the Latin Carolus.)

Dorothy is my next pick, because I like it with both Elaina and Charles.

But in terms of formal names and nicknames, I think Georgia-called-Georgie might be exactly right. It’s casual and fun to say, but still anchored by a traditional, feminine name.

Readers, what would you suggest as a sibling name for Charlie and Lainey?

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.

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What do you think?


  1. Wow. I came here for advice for my third, gender unknown. Sibling to Jack and Lane (nicknames). We pulled Lane out of Lorraine, proof you can do whatever you want! I’m adding Georgia and Kit (Christopher) to the tiptop on my list!!! Kit is sporty and clean, he belongs on a sailboat. If it’s a Georgia she might even get shortened down to Gigi. So many options! Love your site.

  2. Congratulations! Your first two have great names, and I’m sure that #3 will as well. While I am completely biased, my first thought for a girl was one of Abby’s suggestions (and also my daughter’s name), Rosemary/Romy. I also loved her suggestion of Georgia/Georgie. Another girl name that came to mind was Sylvia/Sylvie.

    For a boy, my first thoughts were all traditional, perhaps because Charles seems so to me. The names that popped into my head were Thomas/Tommy, Alexander/Alex, and James/Jamie. I also like how those boys names would add to your sibling set. Again, congratulations!

  3. Adela nicknamed Della or Addie
    Rosalie (maybe called Rosie, but I actually think Rosalie sounds right as is with your last name and the sibling set)
    Violet nn Lettie
    Jessamine nn Jess

    James nn Jamie or Jem
    Dominic nn Dom
    Peter nn Pete

  4. Louise nn Lou
    Adeline nn Ada/Addie
    Josephine nn Posie
    Gabrielle nn Bree
    Alicia nn Allie/Ace
    Alexandra nn Alex
    Gwendolyn nn Gwen

    Francis nn Finn
    Thomas nn Tommy
    Henry nn Harry/Hank
    Gabriel nn Gabe/Gil

  5. From Abby’s list I like Georgia/Georgie, Josephine/Joey or Katherine/Kit. And for the boys, Julian/Jules.

    But honestly, I feel like if this is your last kid you should keep the ie sound going. So Joseph/Joey would work too. Charles, Eliana and Joseph. Charlie, Lainey and Joey.

    But I was also wondering about flipping the pattern with Louis, pronounced Louie like child of Prince William. Then it would be Charles, Eliana, and Louis or Charlie, Lainey and Lou!

  6. Willam nn Billy
    Henry nn Hank
    Patrick nn Patch

    Genevieve nn Neve (also a cute tie-in to your name)
    Margot nn Mo
    Theresa nn Reese

  7. For a boy I think Nathaniel “Nate” sounds perfect alongside brother Charles “Charlie”. Or Calvin “Cal”

    For a girl maybe Anneliese “Annie” or Evelyn “Evie”

  8. I like Aurora/Rory, Rosemary/Romy, Josephine/Josie and Christopher/Kit with Charlie and Lainey. Kit could also work for Kirsten on a girl.

    Jack – short for John, James, Jackson, or on its own
    Harry – short for Henry, Harrison, or on its own
    Archie – Archer, Arthur

    Emmy – Emmeline or Emilia
    Evie – Evelyn, Genevieve, Evangeline, Eva
    Callie – Caroline, maybe Camilla?
    Maddy – Madeline

  9. My favorites are Christopher/Katherine called Kit. I like Cameron for any gender .

    Quincy/Quinlan nn Quin
    Christorpher/Chirstian/Christina nn Cricket
    Georgia/Georgina/Georgiana/George nn Jory
    Anthony/Antonia nn Tony
    Ambrose/Isabel/Isabeau/Ysabeau nn Bo/Beau
    Lionel/Leonille nn Lenny
    Joseph/Josephine/Josephina/Josefina nn Josse/Josey (Josse is technically masculine in it’s native Breton, but we think of it as more femme in the US)
    Jessamy is not technically unisex, but I like it for boy or girl, and Jessamy called Jesse/Jessy is cute.
    Mary-Kate nn Mikey (precedence Joanna Gaines sister) similarly Marianne/Marianna nn Manny

    If it matters for traditionality the most steadily used spellings of these names are Kathryn, Georgina, Anthony, Antonia, Marianna, Joseph, and Josefina.