Name Help: Sister for Henry, Katherine, Isabelle, AnnaName 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!

Amie writes:

We are expecting our fifth in September! I’d tell you it was our last kiddo, but I’ve said that before and been wrong.

Our children are:

  • Henry Charles (Hank, Henro, Hench)
  • Katherine Mary (Katie, KayKay, Kiki)
  • Isabelle Rose (Bella, Belle, Bells)
  • Anna Jane (Annie, AnnaJane, AJ)

Nicknames are big in our family, and while they do sort of change over time, we can’t really imagine choosing a name that doesn’t have some options for shortening it.

Repeating initials is a big NO for me. I’m sure we could make it work, but I like labeling things with just an H, K, I, or A!

Names we’ve considered but can’t/won’t use:

  • Elizabeth – It doesn’t bother me that it’s almost the same name as Isabelle, but it does bother me that I don’t really like any of the nicknames.
  • Charlotte – My sister’s daughter. Might’ve been our last daughter’s name, with the nickname Charlie/Lottie, but my niece was born a few months before Anna Jane.
  • Rose, Jane – I don’t want to repeat middle names. Except … maybe Mary?
  • Theresa, Teresa – Comes up every time, and we’re just not fans, even though I think Tess is sweet.

Names that our sort of on our maybe list:

  • Mary – We’d probably use it as a double name, something to help with nickname potential. But it is also my husband’s older brother’s daughter. Love the name, but it’s always felt taken. Except she’s 19 now, so maybe that’s a big enough gap that it doesn’t matter or it would be cool to have the oldest cousin share a name with (maybe) the youngest? Also, I don’t think I want to repeat Katherine’s middle name.
  • Louise – Or Louisa? LOVE the nicknames. My husband isn’t sold on it, but it’s been on my list since we were pregnant with Henry! I’ve always liked Lucas/Luke for a boy, so I was content to drop this from our girls’ list, but now that it looks really unlikely that we’ll ever have another son, isn’t this the time?

We’ve looked at so many traditional names, I think maybe we just need a different perspective. Thank you in advance!

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

I’ve said it before: naming is that weird thing that gets harder as we become more experienced parents.

We don’t want to match too much. But we want the name to sound like it belongs in our family. And, of course, many of our favorites are already in use – or ruled out by another name.

So it’s a puzzle.

Whenever I talk to families with very traditional names, it feels even harder. After all, the list of traditional names is, by definition, limited. It seems unlikely that I’ll think of That One Name you’ve never thought about before.

And yet, you’ve made a good point. Sometimes we overlook a great choice for no obvious reason … until someone else brings it up.

So let’s get started!

I think Louise/Louisa is the name to beat.

Yes, your husband is lukewarm. But it’s an impeccable classic, and a new initial, and there’s so much nickname potential. I’m sure you’d call her Lulu – at least some of the time, right?

I’m much less certain about Mary. It’s amazing with your older kids’ names. I can come up with fun nicknames and combinations for days. But it does feel like it’s already part of your older daughter’s name.

And while I agree – cousins sharing names has always appealed to me – I’m not sure it would really overcome any of the logistical complexities. I mean, obviously if you were talking about college graduations, well, that would be for the older Mary. But I can think of lots of times when you might find yourself clarifying which Mary you mean, which I’m assuming is part of why you haven’t used it previously, right?

Let’s see if we can come up with some new possibilities.



A classic that’s rich with nickname options.


Like Charlotte, this is also a feminine form of Charles. But it’s different enough that cousins could easily answer to Charlotte and Caroline without any confusion.


A logical substitute for Elizabeth, every bit as classic, but maybe with short forms that will appeal? Nell is my personal favorite.


Frances is sophisticated and lady-like. Nickname Franny is sparky and retro. And Frankie just explodes with upbeat energy.


Longer names do tend to have more short forms, and Josephine is no exception.


If Mary is out – and I think it probably is – could Marian be in? Marianne/Marianna comes a little too close to Anna Jane’s name, but Marian might not. I’d call her Mimi for short, but Mia and Mari and Mae and Mare are all options, too.


Theodore is a white hot classic for our sons. No surprise that Theodora is slowly catching on, too. I think you might even use Tess as a nickname.


I’d call Veronica a quirky classic. It’s plenty of traditional, but the sound is distinctive and just plain fun to say.

If your husband can’t be talked into, say, Louisa Claire, then I wonder if something like Josephine Ruth would appeal?

Readers, over to you! What are your favorite classic girl names with fun nicknames, to go with Henry, Katherine, Isabelle, and Anna Jane?

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. Elaine or Elaina to get the nickname Lainey! Ooh and you could add Louise as the middle name to get Lainey Lou!

  2. I love Louise as an option for you all. Lulu is so cute and there are plenty of other nickname options too. Caroline and Frances also seem perfect fits .

    I wondered about Julia or Juliet (Julie, Jules, Jude, Lia) or Margaret (Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Daisy, Margot…)

  3. Magnolia. Nick names Maggie, Mags, Max,Nola, Lia.
    Middle name: Rae or Reid.
    Maggie Rae
    Maggie Reid

    Also: Louisa Tate-LucyTate, LucyT, LT, Elle (instead of just an L)

  4. My favourites have already been mentioned:
    Caroline – Callie/Cali, Carrie/Cari, Cal, Caro, Rollie, Cele

    Louise/Louisa – Lu/Lou, Lulu, Lee, Lilou, Lise, Luz

    Margaret – Maggie, Meg, Peggy, Maisie, Daisy, Greta, Reta, Aggie

    I also like:
    Miriam – Miri, Mimi, Mim, Ria, Mia, Mira

    Amelia – Ami, Minnie, Mia, Lia, Millie

    Penelope – Penny, Nell, Nellie

  5. My first thought was Victoria (lots of nickname options) As I thought more, maybe Grace, Natalie, Lucy, Diana, Nora or Marie could work?

  6. Felicity also comes to mind. I also think Genevieve would work nicely. Or Cecilia, Cecile, Cecily (Cece is very cute) or Claire or Clara,

  7. Louisa/Louise seems perfect. Maybe your husband might favor Lucille?

    But the first name that jumped out to me was Margaret fits so perfectly with Henry, Isabelle, Katherine, and Anna, is a new initial, and is a great alternative to Mary. She arguably has the best diminutives of all time… Meg, Mae, Maggie, Margo, Megan, Maisie, Greta, Daisy, Rett, even Pearl for its meaning.

    If we want to play up that your daughters all end in E, then maybe Madeleine! Or Josephine, Genevieve, Vivienne, or Alice.

    Or maybe an ends in Y like brother Henry. Audrey is a lovely classic pick. Or Dorothy. Love Dot and look Dottie as a diminutive.


  8. Genevieve! It might not be as classic as Anna/Katherine, but it has so many nicknames!
    Ginny, Evie, Geneva, Gigi, Vivi…
    Perfect for a family who loves to nickname!

    Or Madeline! Maddie, Mae, Mimi.

    Victoria, nn Vicky, Tori, Cora, Vivi, Tora…