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!
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.
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!
GIRL NAMES INSPIRED BY JAMES
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.
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?
Jamila Rose (Jamila means “beautiful” in Arabic)
Maria James or Maria Jamison (nn Maisie)
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.
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.
Just supporting Jamison nn Jem, Sunny, Missy, Mimi or Minnie. Jemima if no problematic associations. Or else Gemma as suggested.
My immediate thought was — “Jemima” with the nickname, “Jem”.
Jay, Aimee, & Jemima (“Jem”)
The Mrs. says
Jamesina with the nickname of Jemma!
She’s classic, unmistakable, and extremely cool. If you Google Jamesina, there are loads of creative, successful, interesting women who come up.
Jay, Aimee, and Jemma.
THAT sounds like a family.
Congratulations and best wishes to you all!
I know in the US Jemima can be problematic but in the UK it is cool. Perhaps it would work for you?
In the category of names that are distinct but related, James mean supplanter. So what about Victoria? The idea of thriving in someone’s footsteps…
Ooh, what a lovely family legacy… on both sides!
I think Jamison is a strong contender. I love that it restores your mother’s maiden name to the family line, fully intact but in a different position. And the meaning is “son of James” – if you stretch it to mean “child of James”, it’s quite fitting!
I also love the idea of Jacqueline. The short-A sound at the beginning would add some variety to your and your husband’s long-A names. And the connection to James is centuries-old, which feels solid. Even if most Americans aren’t aware that Jacques = James, I can imagine your daughter proudly telling people that “My name is the female version of my dad’s name in French.”
Both Jamison and Jacqueline would also work beautifully as middle names with any of the names on your “maybe” list:
Ava Jamison or Ava Jacqueline
Mila Jamison or Mila Jacqueline
Eliza Jamison or Eliza Jacqueline
As another commenter pointed out, Jasmine has all the same letters as James (and almost the same as Jamison). It fits the botanical theme of your “maybes” Sage, Daisy, and Rose. There’s also the variants Jessamine and Jessamyn.
Joy stands out to me as another possibility. It’s classic and uplifting. Maybe it doesn’t have an obvious connection to James, but its simplicity feels close enough. It’s only one letter away from your husband’s nickname… and if that’s a downside, it makes a lovely middle name, as well.
Finally, if you’re up for blazing your own trail, you could consider combining James with a common feminine ending:
Hope you’ll share an update after your daughter is born!
What about Jamila? It is a name meaning “beautiful, elegant, graceful”. It combines the beginning of James and the name Mila which you mentioned that you like. You could call her Jamila or nickname Mila.
Keira Mackey says
How about Jemsa? It’s an anagram of James, and reminds me of Daisy/ Eliza. She could have tonnes of nicknames too; Jem, Jemmie/ Jemmy, Jemma, Jemsy etc 🙂
I can also thing of Jasme as another anagram, perhaps pronounced like a mix of Jasmin and Esme, JAZ-may?
Or a J name, like Juliet, Josephine/Josie, Juno, Jessamine, Jessamy… with the middle name Ames, to create J. Ames in that way.
Good luck! And congrats on your new baby 🙂
I agree with PPs. Jamison nn Sunny. Jemma/Jem is also a top contender.
Erin Beth says
My first thought for you was Jacobina nn Coco, Nina, or Gina but I think the suggestions of Gia, Giacoma, and Jacqueline nn Lina all hit the mark.
What about Jimi/Jimmie/Jimmy? I especially love it with a big ol’ middle like Jimi Séverine or Jimmie Leonora. Another option is to use a James-from-another-language like Seamus which I think could be really cool for a girl especially with a pretty traditional feminine name. Seamus Anna, Seamus Eliza. She could go by Shay!
I think Jemma is my favorite suggestion. I also like the idea of using James or Jamison as a middle name.
Congrats on your baby girl! It’s great that you guys already have a perfect name base to start from.
Abby’s suggestion of Jemma / Gemma is so creative! And a great name choice.
Jacoby called Coby / Cobie
James is a form of Jacob. Jacoby is another form of Jacob.
@Renee’s suggestion of naming her Jamison and calling her Sunny ☀️ is soooo cute (but also perfectly respectable for an adult name)!
Another PP said James called Jem, like in the past. I like that, too.
Name your daughter Jamison and use nickname of Sunny. That way she’ll be named after everyone in the family with her full name and I think that is cute.
Name her Jamison and call her Sunny or Missy right from the start? That gives her the ultimate version of the honour but distances from your names!
Or a double barrel which I love! Daisy-James or Mila-James, which could also go by DJ or MJ? I know three people with double barrel names – one used LJ in adolescence and college then enjoys her full form in adulthood; one is always full name with her moms side and MJ at her dads; the last dropped the second part of the barrel when she hit double digits, but it was kinda cutesy so I understand.
I think anything with a strong A start or Jay will just end up too close to your names, and the more creative it gets the farther away it gets from
an honour so if I were you I’d stick Jamison or James right up front.
Congrats on your finally baby 🙂
There are somewhat obscure feminine versions of James. Jacques is actually the French equivalent of James or Jacob and Yakov is the Russian, Jakob the Dutch or German, Giacomo an Italian version. So you have Jacqueline or Jacquenetta, which might be shortened to Etta and was a medieval variant. Or Jacobina or Jakomina/Giacomina, which could become Mina. Jamesetta has been used in Scotland. I rather like Jakomina or Giacomina.
I know a James (male) nicknamed Jem so Abby’s suggestion of Gemma but use a J… Jemma. Nn Jem or Jemmi. Similar to Jim.
Possibly…Jamison nn Jem
I also feel Jasmine has many letters from Jamison and James in it. Might be worth considering that name. Nn Jem?
Jade sounds similar to James too
I vote for Jamison in the middle. Eliza Jamison is gorgeous, I like Daisy Jamison too!
Agree with Abby that Jemma feels like a great choice or maybe Jemima called Jem?
I went to school with a female Jamasyn! Probably not your style, but still interesting
My mum, born in England the 50s, is Jane. Her nickname growing up and now has been James – never Janie.
How about Jamesina? it’s not common but it is the closest feminization for James I know.
I am thinking of the shared roots of James and Jacob and wondering if there’s something for you there…the actress Cobie Smulders’ full name is Jacoba – would that appeal? It wouldn’t be recognizably an homage to James for most people, but perhaps the meaning would still be there for you.
What about Amice? Ames is James without the letter J and comes from the name Amice. Amice also is close to Aimee so it’s clearly an honor name.