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!
We are expecting a daughter in June, a sister for Adele and Hugh.
We are looking for a classic name with no nicknames outside of the top 100.
Some of the names on our list include Blair, Esther, Louise, Odette, and Sloane. I’ve seen some negative connections with the name Sloane and I’m not as sold as I was before. I love Odette, but wonder if it’s too close to Adele with the de_e.
Our other kids have 8 letters in their first and middle name (not on purpose) and we think it might be neat to have baby #3 with the same, although this is not mandatory. Our current front runners would make this difficult.
Please read on for my response, and leave your helpful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Monica –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
This makes for an interesting puzzle. Let’s take a look at your wish list:
Not in the Top 100 – This should be straightforward, and it usually is. Except. The current data we’re looking at dates to 2015. We won’t have 2016 numbers until May 2017. So we do need to look at trend lines, and rule out any name that’s moving up too fast.
No nicknames – There are a handful of nickname-proof names, and plenty of nickname-resistant names. I’d call Adele the latter, and I’m not quite sure which category best contains Hugh. Again, this is a fairly easy request to satisfy.
Classic – Now we come to the hard part. What makes a classic name? Adele and Hugh make the cut. Esther and Louise, too. But I’m less certain about Sloane, Blair, and Odette. They’re great names. And I think I understand the quality that appeals. I’d call them tailored but feminine names, names with a certain sophistication. But if I think about the most evergreen and traditional names – names like Elizabeth and Katherine – I suspect they wouldn’t appeal. (They also, of course, fail the no nicknames test in a big way!)
I’d describe your ideal name this way: spare and sophisticated, familiar but not common.
With this in mind, let’s look at the name on your list. I’d say every choice meets those criteria.
Odette – Perfect, except I agree it shares too many sounds with Adele. Plenty of sisters have survived with close names, like Lily and Lucy, so it’s only a deal breaker if it bothers you.
Sloane – From some other comments you made, I wonder if you’re bothered by the term Sloane Ranger? It’s roughly the equivalent of the 1980s-era term preppy in the US; the late Princess Diana was called a Sloane Ranger before she married Prince Charles. It’s a slightly snobbish connotation, but it’s also reasonably obscure in the US. My guess is most people would think of Ferris Bueller or Entourage before they think of London’s Sloane Square. Still, if it bothers you, it’s best to move on.
Blair – Blair makes a great substitute for Sloane. It’s every bit as tailored and sophisticated, but still on the right side of feminine.
Louise – A great sister name for Hugh and Adele. It’s traditional, familiar, outside of the current Top 1000, and requires no nickname.
Esther – More popular than Louise, but otherwise shares the same set of attributes. Another bonus? If Louise is nickname-resistant, Esther edges closer to nickname-proof.
Overall, I’d put Louise at the top of the list for you. But let’s look at some other options:
Daphne – Daphne combines history galore with a modern sound, in the key of Chloe and Penelope. It’s familiar, but far from common.
Edith – Esther reminds me of Edith. If one seems not-quite-right, the other might be.
Hadley – Like Sloane and Blair, Hadley feels more modern. But it also brings to mind Hadley Hemingway, the first wife of Ernest, profiled in The Paris Wife. The name shares Hugh’s first initial, and the d sound of Adele, but it still feels distinctive. One hesitation: it currently sits just outside of the US Top 100.
Helen – Like Louise, Helen makes for a traditional, tailored name long overlooked in the US.
Irene – Another name in the key of Louise and Helen.
Iris – A botanical alternative to the very popular Violet.
Jane – Jane seems every bit as spare as Sloane and Blair, but might be more of a style match for Adele.
Marie – Yes, Marie! It doesn’t even appear in the current US Top 500. Mary might seem terribly old-fashioned, but Marie seems like a sophisticated and slightly French possibility.
If not Louise, I love Edith, Helen, and Marie for your daughter. But let’s open this up, because I know there are many more possibilities.
Readers, what would you suggest to Monica for a sister for Adele and Hugh?