Name Help: Slightly Different Girl NamesName 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!

Meagan writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first daughter in May, and we can’t agree on a name.

I grew up one of many Meagan/Megan/Meghans. There was almost always another girl with the same name in my class. (In high school, my softball team had four, with three different spellings.)

It’s very important to me that there be only one way to spell my child’s name.

In a perfect world, I’d like her name to be a little bit different, without sounding like a Kardashian. But my husband – who has never minded being one of many Andrews – shoots down anything that he hasn’t heard before.

It would be great if there were nickname choices, too. I went through a call-me-Maggie phase, but no one thought it was a “real” nickname for Meagan and it didn’t really stick. But if I find a great name without a nickname, that’s fine.

Names that Andrew has rejected so far: Evangeline, Octavia, Antonella, Bellamy, Alina, Coraline, Aurelia, and more that I’m forgetting.

Her last name will be Burrow-with-an-M, and we’d like either Jane or Joan, both family names, as the middle name. Because of this, I think the first name has to be three syllables or longer. It also rules out most M or J names.

Andrew’s only suggestion so far is Amanda, which was the name of the chief mean girl in my high school, so … no.

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

Dear Meagan –

Quick – make some friends with cool names!

Just kidding. (Sort of.)

Congratulations on your new daughter. For some reason, dads – maybe some moms, too, but this feels like a dad thing – sometimes get stuck like this. “Real” names belong to the kids who shared the same craft table in kindergarten. And “wacky” names are anything from the current US Top 100.

The trouble is, of course, that Jessica and Stephanie are now mom names. Choose those names for your children in 2020, and they’re the odd ones out.

So your husband’s inclinations to choose names he knows? Could totally backfire.

I’m hoping that what he means is something timeless. Because if that’s the case, I think there might be plenty of common ground between your list and his idea of a good name.


A queen and an Australian city, Adelaide fits in with all of the Addie names, but stands out by virtue of the distinctive -laide ending sound. Your daughter might be one among several Addies, but Adelaide tends to be uncommon. #298 in the US.


A lovely name with a tailored sound that still feels thoroughly feminine and romantic, Celeste has a handful of pop culture associations. But it feels more timeless than trending. Odds are your husband has heard of it – but your daughter wouldn’t have to share it. #441 in the US.


The names you love tend to be long and flowing, so I’m wondering if something shorter might appeal to your husband? Mythological Daphne has a spirited, upbeat sound. It fits right in with Penelope, but feels just a little different. #383 in the US.


It’s possible you’re hyper-aware of names that are in vogue right now – especially if you’ve been reading up on name options – while your husband is blissfully unaware. This is the one of the more popular names I’ve suggested for you, and yet, it’s not exactly Emma. Plus, I can’t imagine your husband hasn’t heard of Genevieve … #172 in the US.


Okay, Josephine ranks in the US Top 100. But nothing really sounds like Josephine. It comes up with so many great nicknames I can’t ever think of them all. And it’s a good balance between classic names of the past, and stylish choices for 2020 children. #91 in the US.


Gossip Girl debuted in 2007, featuring Blake Lively as the wealthy, privileged Serena van der Woodsen. But the name has history to spare. Edmund Spenser used it for The Faerie Queen way back in 1590. I feel like it’s almost your style, but could satisfy your husband’s concerns. #392 in the US.


Back in 1940 or so, Tabitha would’ve been a weird name. But then came a handful of pop culture uses – especially supernatural sitcom Bewitched in the 1960s – and this name went mainstream. You might even know – or know of – a Tabitha if you really give it some thought. But it doesn’t feel stuck in a particular decade, and it’s not really being given to girls today. Outside of the current US Top 1000.


There’s a quirky, bouncy sound to Veronica. Elvis Costello has a quirky little song about a grandmotherly Veronica, but it’s not exactly a vintage name. And there’s the Veronica from the Archie comics, but it doesn’t feel mid-century. Technically, it peaked in the 1970s. And Riverdale could bring it back today. But I think it’s the perfect timeless, but not exactly classic, kind of name. #357 in the US.

Readers, what would you suggest to Meagan?

Slightly Different Girl Names

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. Off of this list I like Veronica the best. I think there are some other more well-known but not overused names that could fit here too like Rosalie, Rosemary, Meredith, Georgina, Henrietta, Marianne, Rebecca, Dianna, Eloise, Gillian. I also liked the suggestion of Jane or Joan as a first name. They both aren’t super common right now and don’t have multiple spellings. Jane Octavia and Joan Aurelia stand out to me as unique and gorgeous! Good luck narrowing something down!

  2. I second Felicity and Verity and add Marigold (nn Maggie!). Other ideas: Fiona, Petra, Lydia.

  3. Congratulations, Meghan! Here are a couple of options that came to my mind after reading your post: Marcella, Julienne (Jules or JJ if her middle name is going to be Jane), Alexandra (Lexi), Giselle (Gigi), Danika (Dani) and Cassidy (Cass).

    I know from experience how hard it is to find a name that both you and your husband can agree on – I wish you all the best, and I’m sure whatever name you both choose is going to be perfect for your baby girl 🙂

  4. I actually get your husbands fear. Is the fact that you pick an unusual name going to put your child in the same boat you felt as a Meghan. Yes True and Stormy might be unusual. But they also fit the moment in time and you can see the girls in the class with names like Poetry, Lyric, True, Apple almost have the same feeling you had about your own name. They may on the surface be unique but are they really?

    I like the unexpected classic names.

    My favorite suggestions is Francis Jane/Joan M.

    One spelling


    Super nick names.

    1. I was coming to suggest this! I’m biased as this is my daughter’s name (but we spell it Mariel, so I guess it has a couple spelling variations). She is 13 now and loves her name – gets lots of compliments! It’s uncommon, but feels familiar thanks to Mary. We’ve only met 3 other Mariel’s, each in a different generation. I think the alliteration of Mariel M-last name sounds very nice.

  5. Anthea Jane
    Celia Jane
    Elissa Jane
    Eliza Jane
    Helena Jane
    Lavinia Jane
    Oriana Jane
    Penelope Jane
    Rosalind Jane
    Rowena Jane
    Selina Jane
    Verity Jane