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!
My husband and I are expecting our sixth child, and fifth daughter. We like traditional names, but after four girls, we’ve run out of names we agree on and could use some new perspective.
Our son is William Andrew, mostly called Will.
He’s followed by four sisters:
Anna Elizabeth, called Annie, Annabeth, Anniebee, and AnnaBanana at home, but mostly Anna by everyone else.
Katherine Jane, sometimes called KayJay, but mostly Katie or Kate.
Sarah Veronica, always Sarah. Her middle name was Rose until the very last minute, when we decided we might use Rose for a future daughter.
Eleanor Grace, mostly known as Ellie.
Our last name is long, Polish, starts with a N, ends with a -ski. No one ever says it right, so we want our kids’ first names to be easy. Family names aren’t our thing, unless it’s an accident from a few generations back.
The only name that has been on our maybe list for all this time is Rose. Sarah was almost Sarah Rose; Ellie was almost Rose Eleanor.
If we’d had another boy, we’d planned to use James Henry or James Anthony. Since it’s possible we’ll see use it in the future, we probably want to avoid J names. (So Jane was never a first name option.)
We also like the idea of Elizabeth, except it’s already Anna’s middle name, and we have an Ellie. So that seems confusing.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Jill –
Name her Mary!
Wait, did I just blurt that out? Let me back up.
Congratulations on your daughter! It does get tougher as you use your favorite names. But in this case, I’m wondering if you’ve ever considered Mary? It seems like such an obvious sister name for Anna, Kate, Sarah, and Ellie. And you could easily use Rose as her middle name. There’s something very sweet and timeless about Mary Rose, whether you use it as a double name sometimes, like Annabeth, or not.
Except you must have considered Mary already, right? Or Maria or Marie? So I’m going to (try very hard to) move on. Would you consider:
Claire/Clare – Clara almost rhymes with Sarah, so that’s out, but how about classic Claire? The French spelling, with the ‘i’ added – is far more popular in the US today, but you might like the sparer Clare instead. (And I know women and girls with both spellings.)
Louisa/Louise – I feel like Louise is more your style, a tailored name in the key of Katherine and Eleanor. And nicknames? Oh my, do these two names have nicknames! Lou, Lulu, Lucy, Lula …
Lucy – Of course, Lucy isn’t a nickname at all. It’s the typical English form of Lucia just as Mary is to Maria. Or Lucy could be short for Lucille, too, which seems like it might sound right at home with your older girls’ names.
Margaret – I’m having the same reaction to Margaret than I have to Mary. Surely you’ve talked about traditional Margaret already, right? With forms and nicknames galore, it’s easy to imagine Maggie or Meg or Margo fitting in with your family.
Ruth – Ruth carries the same simple elegance as Rose, but it feels a little different, too. And it’s slightly distinctive, I think, a name that’s just different enough.
Teresa/Theresa/Therese – I know a bunch of girls who answer to Tess – or Tessa or Tessie – but they’re actually Theresa, Therese, or Teresa. So it seems like a logical name to suggest.
Okay, I know our readers will have opinions, so I’ll end with this: I love the idea of something like Mary Lucille or Margaret Ruth – two traditional names, but one a little more evergreen, and the other slightly less so.
Readers, what names would you suggest for William, Anna, Katherine, Sarah & Eleanor’s new sister?
My mother is Theresa, and I’m almost mad at her, because that means it’s off the list for any of MY children. It’s a lovely name, solid meaning, a three syllable girl’s name, and very few ways to misspell. Rose Theresa and Theresa Rose are both lovely!
(Rose is also off the table, due to my boyfriend’s last name, I’m noticing a trend in names I suggest to people….)
I like the suggestions other posters have given, so I’ll just repeat my fondness for both longer Rose names, and the name Beatrice.
Courtney Janssen-Grieve says
Betty- this ones my personal favourite because it’s cute and definitely needs a revival!
Carolyn- Another favourite because it’s a classic spin on Caroline, and in my opinion “Lynn” sounds softer than “Line”
Louise- Could call her Lulu or even Lola for short
Beverly- Sophisticated yet cute for all ages. “Bev” or “Bevvie” for nicknames
Bridget- It’s not exactly “old” per se, but not you hear often
Ingrid- Another one you don’t hear much
Jane- Short and sweet, nickname Janie or just Jay
Marilyn- Another cute “Lynn” name that I find adorable, also it’s good for if you do end up naming her a Mary name
Agatha- This ones pretty, and Aggie as a nickname is precious!
Barbara- This one I’m not so sure about, but Barbie and BeBe are good nicknames
Theodora- Teddy or Thea for nicknames
Victoria- Classic with a lot of history behind it
And that’s all I can think of right now! I absolutely LOVE classic names too 🙂
There are so many lovely suggestions here! Avoiding initials already held by older siblings, some ideas:
May or Mae
Cora (could be a nn for Corinna or Cordelia)
Matilda nn Mattie
Henrietta nn Hattie
Dorothea nn Thea or Dorie
Truly, though, Mary Rose is wonderful with this sibling set and I can’t think of anything to top it.
Cathy Fingeman says
Jacqueline Rose (nn, Jackie)
My immediate thought, before I had even read the suggestions, was Margaret.
The Mary Rose is a very famous ship from the Tudor era, Henry VIII’s battle fleet. She has a fascinating history and can be seen in a specially built museum in the UK. A really cool and unusual namesake! 🙂
Julie G says
Do LOVE Mary for you. Also love Alice.
Like Georgia a lot, too.
Here are some combos I was playing around with. Maybe you’ll like one or two. 🙂
I think the recommendations of Mary, Teresa, Helena and Victoria are spot on. As for other names with different letters that others haven’t mentioned, how about:
Philippa (Pip, Pippa)
Georgia (Georgie, Gigi)
and a little girl in my son’s class has the name Octavia. I don’t think she has any nn’s, but Tavi would be adorable!
I love Mary for you. A beautiful, currently under-used classic. There’s an adorable 6-year-old Mary in my building. She’s the only kid Mary I know.
Lots of other great suggestions too. Some of my favorites are Beatrix, Edith, and Petra.
Cathy Fingeman says
Julia Rose would be pretty, classic and sweet. It’s familiar but not overused.
I feel like I missed something… why not Rose? Rose is a classic, wonderful name. Rosemary or Rosemarie perhaps?
Helen Mary (Nellie-May!)
For this set of siblings I would like to reiterate on some the previous suggestions –
(If went the Mary route) perhaps a slight variation, Marion, Marilyn, Marybeth?
Barbara — This may be out of style in the U.S., but it’s a very classic name and stylish in other countries.
Caroline — Classic, less common than Charlotte. Carly or Carrie are cute.
Frances — Classic, Francie or Frannie or Frankie.
Grace — a little less common now. Gracie is cute.
Julia — goes nicely with the other girls, has Jules as the nickname.
Susannah — Sue, Susie, Zan, Zanna
Irene Rose or Edith Rose.
I have several classically named girls/women in my family.
My daughters: Catherine Rebecca, Julianne Patricia, Jennifer Elizabeth, Susanna Jean.
Catrina Jane “Cate” — her daughters:
Camilla Rose, sometimes called “Milla”
Emma Elizabeth —- her daughter:
Sophia Anne —Sophie as a young girl
Miranda Elizabeth “Mira”
(Among my sons and grandsons are a William “Will” and a James in both generations.)
There are so many excellent suggestions already. I would like to add Phoebe. I would also suggest that you read through the website British Baby Names. And I agree that Rose would be perfect for this fifth daughter, as either her first or middle name.
Catherine’s daughters are Sarah, Catrina, Emma, and Sophia. (Indentations to show generations did not come through above.)
I see a British Royal cluster, which is why Mary and Margaret fit so well! There are two other names besides Victoria that fit: Charlotte and Alice. I like both and prefer Charlotte for you. Charlotte. I know it’s the name of a current royal baby, but given that she joins a big sibset I wouldn’t be worried. I also like Alice but since you have an Anna and an Ellie, I think it smushes in too much.
C in DC says
I’m sort of with Abby on Mary, maybe called Maisie.
Helen or Helena Rose
I could spend all day on these types of names!
I wouldn’t repeat an initial. I think Abby’s suggestions were spot on. Mary Rose would be lovely. I also love Maisie and Meg as a nn for Margaret and Tess for Theresa. I love Rosemary, nn Romy or Rosalie, nn Rose.
A few others: Lydia (Lydi) or Sybil (Sybi) or Helen (Nell) or Cecelia (Cece) or Beatrice (Bea).
Mandie L says
Will, Anna, Katie, Sarah, Eleanor, and . . . Harriet, Caroline, Beatrix, Grace, Violet, Martha.
But honestly, I think Rose would be perfect. Or Rosemary, Rosa, Rosalind, Rosalie, Rosaline, etc.
Sometimes when a name has been on the list for a long time I start second guessing it for no better reason than that I haven’t used it yet, so there must be something better. But if I have loved it a long time it may just be that it was waiting for the right kid. 🙂 (I’m saying this from experience. My 4th has a name that we had on the shortlist for three previous pregnancies, but never seriously considered for him until the moment he was born.)
Mary and Tessa/Tess are both SUCH great suggestions. I love them both with those lovely sibling names. I also really like the suggestions in the comments, especially Rosemary, Caroline, Victoria, and Cecilia.
Here are a few additional suggestions:
The Mrs. says
Florence Rose N_____ski
William, Anna, Katherine, Sarah, Eleanor, and Florence.
If you were considering ‘J’ names, I’d suggest June.
What about Beatrice? She’s royal, classic, and elegant. Bea makes THE most adorable nickname, too.
Beatrice Rose N____ski.
Rosaline Marie would be lovely
I like Claire
I also really like Alexandra
What about Meredith? I actually am not a huge fan of the name but maybe it’s a fit?
I like Louisa, Lucy, & Margaret from Abby’s suggestions; they all sound perfect with the five older sibling’s names. Plus, they’d all work with Rose as a middle name, though I’m kind of favoring Rose on its own. You might even consider Rosemary.
Already having a Sarah would make me hesitate with Clare and Mary, but they are great options if the similar sounds don’t bother you.
Overall, I think my favorite would be just Rose. William, Anna, Katherine, Sarah, Eleanor, & Rose sound so classy together!
I’m guessing Rose just isn’t feeling right? And you’re trying to avoid another W, A, K, S, E (and J for future possibility James)?
I love the idea of Mary and Claire and Charlotte. How would you like Fiona? Lila? Naomi?
Mary is perfection!! Also like Victoria, Caroline and Julia.
Mary is perfection with this sibling set. Love it. I also think Victoria, Caroline and Julia pair nicely.
*Rose or a longer form seems perfect. Rosemary, Rosalie, Rosalind. I know a little Rosie, short for Rosalind, and it’s adorable for a little girl.
*Lydia. My grandmother came from a family with seven girls, born in the early 1900s. Their names were Anna, Elisabeth, Amanda, Elma, Lydia, Eva and Rosella. I think Lydia would go very well with your sibset.
I really like the names suggested here. Though I have a name pairing suggestion of my own: Victoria Rose!
Millicent Rose nn Millie
Emily Frances nn Emmie
Mary Agnes nn Maggie
Love the names you have so far! Here’s my top faves for you-
Obviously voting for Rose in middle spot. 🙂
Congrats on baby number 6!! 🙂
Why not Rose as a first name? I also like the suggestion of Lucy or Margaret
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestion of Mary for you, with Molly as possible nickname. Margaret nn Maggie would also work nicely and I also quite like Rose. A few suggestions:
Rosemary nn Rosie
Caroline Rose nn Carrie
Cecilia Rose nn Cece