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 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!
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.
NEW IDEAS FOR HENRY, KATHERINE, ISABELLE, and ANNA’S SISTER
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?
I love Louisa. I’ll also suggest Lydia
Elaine or Elaina to get the nickname Lainey! Ooh and you could add Louise as the middle name to get Lainey Lou!
Alison Doherty says
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…)
Magnolia. Nick names Maggie, Mags, Max,Nola, Lia.
Middle name: Rae or Reid.
Also: Louisa Tate-LucyTate, LucyT, LT, Elle (instead of just an L)
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
My first thought was Victoria (lots of nickname options) As I thought more, maybe Grace, Natalie, Lucy, Diana, Nora or Marie could work?
Felicity also comes to mind. I also think Genevieve would work nicely. Or Cecilia, Cecile, Cecily (Cece is very cute) or Claire or Clara,
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.
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…
Love Louisa so much! Also think Margaret is wonderful with siblings, and many, many nickname options!
Margaret Claire would be such a great name with your children. I love the often overlooked nickname Meg.
My first thought was Elizabeth. Are you certain you have explored all the nickname possibilities? Liese, Liesie, Zibby, Libby
Love the suggestion of Louisa Claire. I second Margaret, Caroline, Sarah, Madeline, Sophia. Maybe Sophie instead of Sophia. Perhaps Sophie Elizabeth
I was coming to suggest Eloise but it seems so obvious I feel like you’ve already ruled it out? Or Mary Louise because that seems like a great compromise. Malou is the sweetest nickname. (I wouldn’t use Mary alone, she’s your niece now.)
I love Abby’s suggestions of Josephine, Caroline, Eleanor! Francine seems more matched with her sisters and then it gets you Cici as well as Frankie (and Francy-pants 😉
Would Eliza suit you better than Elizabeth? It definitely feels fresher and maybe you would like Ellie and Liza or Liza-Lou (Eliza Louise!)
Felicity? That one is loaded with nicknames. And great meaning!
Claudia? Hmm… you could find some fun nicknames in there? Even Lottie like you were hoping for a Charlotte!
Dolores. Dolly! Lolly! Dory!
Genevieve. Evie. Neva. Gigi! Love this one for you!
Ooh just saw the comment that Tessa is 4th! How about Thessaly? Sure, not as traditional, but it gets your loved nickname and she could also be Sally!
I forgot to add — sometimes the meaning given for Tessa is “fourth daughter.” That is a perfect fit in your family order!
I like Louise and Louisa. Louisa Claire is a natural for the nickname Lucy; I also like Lulu and Lula.
From Abby’s suggestions I like:
As did others, I also thought of:
Christine, Christina — lots of nickname possibilities.
Lillian — Lia is different from the typical Lily/Lilly.
Margaret — nicknames galore with Margaret.
Martha — I think Marti/Martie is a cute nickname.
Sophia — a classic, albeit a popular choice.
Tessa — you’re not sold on Theresa/Teresa and, I assume, Therese, but maybe just Tessa would suit. You could still have the sweet nickname Tess. If she was Tessa Grace, her initials could lead to the peppy nickname Tiggy.
Christina, Christine, Christiana — Chris, Kit, Kitty, Tina
Dorothy or Dorothea — Dolly, Dottie, Thea
Eleanor, Elinor — Ellie, Nell
Emily, Emilia, Emeline, Emma — Em, Emmy, Mia, Millie
Esther — Essie, Estie, Hettie
Evangeline — Evie
Evelyn — Evie
Frances, Francesca, Francine — Francie, Frankie, Frannie
Flora, Florence — Flor, Florrie, Flossie
Gillian, Jillian — Gigi, Jilly
Gloria — Glo, Gigi
Grace — Gracie
Lavinia — Vivi, Vinnie
Lucia or Lucy — Lu, Lulu
Madeleine or Magdalena or Magdalen — Lanie or Maddie or Maggie
Margaret — Daisy, Greta, Maggie, Maisie, Margot, Meg,, Peggy, etc.
Martha or Marta — Marty, Mattie, Patty
Matilda, Mathilde — Mattie, Tillie
Miriam — Mimi, Miri
Rosalind/Rosalyn — Rosie
Rosemary —Mimi, Romy, Rosie
Sarah — Sadie, Sally
Susannah — Sue, Suzy, Zan, Zanna, Zuzu
Theresa, Therese — Tessa, Tess
Victoria — Vicky, Tori
Viola, Violet, Violette, Violetta — Letty, Vi, Vivi,
Virginia — Gigi, Ginny, Ginger
Vivian, Vivienne — Vivi
Winifred — Freddie, Winnie
I also thought Eloise could be that sweet spot between Elizabeth and Louise. Ella or Lulu are hard to beat.
Steering away from H, K, I, or A
Matilda Tilly, Milly, Tilda, Matty
Georgia or Georgina Georgie, Gina, Gee
Jacqueline Jacquie, Jay
Lucy is always a simple classic with Lulu
Lillian Lily, Lil
Madeline Maddie Lina
Olivia Olly, Livy Vie
Phillipa Pip, Pippa
Victoria Vi, Tori, Vicki, Ria
Esme Mae, Essy
Margaret Maggie, Meg, May, Daisy
Millicent Milly Milla
Vivienne Vie, Vee, Vivi Viv
For a middle go the super classic of Claire.
I rather like Claire as the first name however it’s more the name you extended rather than shorten. Eg Claire bear.
Erin Beth says
Louisa is fabulous! Caroline (nn Callie or Caro or Rory) also sounds great with the sibling names. I would add Miriam (nn Miri or Mimi) as another classic variation of Mary.
Dorothy nn Dot or Rory or Thea
Helena nn Nell or Lena or Lennie or Ellie
Love Louise and Louisa, but if these aren’t quite right for your husband, how about Lucinda? All the same nicknames, with the additional possibility of Lucy.
Or Eloise? Not quite as classic as the others but still fits in well. Also has similarities to Elizabeth, but without the nickname issues.
All the best!