Name Help: girl version of JamesName 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!

Aimee writes:

My husband and I are (finally) expecting what will almost certainly be our only child, a daughter.

We haven’t talked about names in a long time. Now we are at 32 weeks and realize it’s time!

Happily, we almost agree on a name. My mom’s maiden name was Jamison, and she was the last in her family, so the name ended with her. My husband’s dad passed away recently, and his name was James “Jim.” And my husband is named for his dad, so he’s James “Jay.”

If this baby was a boy, we’d have named him James, and called him James.

But she’s a girl! We don’t like either of the options so far:

  • Jamie/Jaime – Because we’d be Jay, Aimee, and Jamie. Just no.
  • James as a middle name – Maybe … but we don’t really like any first name enough to make this feel like a better choice. Our list so far is Ava, Mila, Eliza, Penelope, Kyra, Sage, Daisy, and Rose/Rosalie.

I wouldn’t want to name her James, because I worry people would call her Jamie anyway, which is what I really want to avoid. (And I don’t think I’m the kind of person to name a girl Charlie or Ryan anyway.)

My sister keeps joking that we should name her Semaj, which I actually almost like better than Jamie/Jaime, but not really.

What are we missing? Is there a “girl” equivalent to James that I just don’t know?

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

Abby replies:


I completely understand waiting to talk about names. And how lucky that you and your husband are on the same page!

Now the hard part: there’s not really a feminine form of James.

In fact, I think that’s why we tend to use it for girls more readily. (It ranked in the US Top 1000 for girls from 1880 right through 1989.)

But if you’re willing to be creative, I think you do have a few options … without going quite as far as Semaj!



Legendary singer Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins. This name popped into my head almost immediately, and maybe it resonates that one of her biggest hits is the joyful “At Last.”


Stay with me here. Gemma is the Italian word for jewel, and has a long history as a feminine name. But, way back when, Jem was a go-to nickname for James. (And Jeremy, as in Scout’s brother in To Kill a Mockingbird.) So Gemma – or Jemma – feels like a reasonable feminine form.


In Italian, James is Giacoma, from the Latin Iacomus. (More on this in a minute.) I think that makes Gia an option.


Ask nearly anyone about Jacqueline, and they’d likely say it’s a feminine form of Jack. Or maybe of John, if they’re aware of Jack’s evolution as a short form of John. Except it’s not so. In French, Jacques is James. Think back to Iacomus and it makes much more sense. And so Jacqueline is – strictly speaking – probably the most popular feminine form of James in the US. Except that’s not obvious to anyone.


Here’s an option: name your daughter Jamison. Could it still be reduced to Jamie? Sure. But I’ve met plenty of girls who are Emerson-not-Emmy and Addison-not-Addie. I can also imagine another nickname emerging. Mimi maybe? Or Mia?


Okay, Jane is a feminine form of John. But if you’re playing off Jay, as in your husband’s nickname, Jane feels like a reasonably choice. Of course, Aimee, Jay, and Janie is also something I can’t say five times fast, so maybe it’s not an improvement.


As in Glee alum Jayma Mays. She was born Jamia, which is another option. But I like the way Jayma merges Jay and the “m” sound of James and Jamison. If this appeals to you, too, so many Jay- names are possibilities: Jayla, Jaycee, Jaylie, Jayda/Jada.


Here’s another one from the extended James family: if James becomes Giacoma in Italian, then Giacomina is an extended form. It’s Jacomina in Dutch, too, and possibly other European languages that add -mina to feminine names. And so Mina might be an option. I also like the way it picks up on the middle syllable of Jamison.

My favorites are the least expected: Etta, Gemma, Mina. If I were choosing, I like the way Gemma feels somewhat removed from James, but still connected. And you might even name her Gemma James, which feels like the best of all possible worlds. I’d put Mina James a close second.

Readers, over to you – how would you adapt family name James for a daughter?

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. Jacquetta and Jacquette would also be nice options. Jacquette should be pronounced as ja-KET. I would think then that Jacquetta would be pronounced as ja-KET-a. Maybe Kitty, Kitsy or Kizzy for nicknames?

  2. Maybe:

    Amelie James
    Avelina James
    Jamila Rose (Jamila means “beautiful” in Arabic)
    Maria James or Maria Jamison (nn Maisie)

  3. Shay or Shae or Shea as a feminine form of Seamus also, per one of the other suggestions. I’d also second Jemma since Jem could definitely be a nickname for James.

  4. I know of a woman named Jymette, pronounced ji-MET. She may or may not be named after someone named James/Jim.
    Jemma and Jasmine are lovely options.

  5. Just supporting Jamison nn Jem, Sunny, Missy, Mimi or Minnie. Jemima if no problematic associations. Or else Gemma as suggested.