Name Help: Classic Girl NamesName 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!

Jill writes:

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?

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. 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.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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.

    Best wishes!