Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. 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 third, and probably last, child, in a few weeks. We have two sons: 7 y.o. Henry Brian and 3 y.o. Maxwell Luke. This baby is a girl, and my favorite girl name is the same as since we first had Henry: Charlotte.
Henry is always Henry; Maxwell is always Max. When I say Henry, Max, and Charlotte together, they sound just fine. But I’ve always imagined Charlotte called Charlie. Henry, Max, and Charlie sound like three adorable little boys, not two sweet boys and their darling sister.
I just plain like this style of name for girls – Francesca called Frankie, Alexandra called Alex, Samantha called Sam, Michaela called Mickey.
But all of those names lead to the same problem – all sound like little brothers for Henry and Max. Not sure why this bothers me – a girl Charlie or Alex or Frankie would always be mistaken for a boy some of the time, no matter what.
But I can’t stop thinking about it, so maybe I should just move on? But move on to what?
Dear Heather –
Congratulations on baby #3!
You’ve raised so many fascinating points. Let me run through just a few before we get to your question:
- In the name community, we can get a bit obsessive about sibsets. But there’s a real argument that matching – or not – doesn’t much matter. And I do believe you should use the name you love, if at all possible.
- I do think that siblings tend to notice if their names are wildly different – brothers James and Octavius, sisters Hunter and Rafaela. It’s not wrong, but it does invite questions from your kids.
- While I know many people who object to boy-names-for-girls, this isn’t anything like naming a girl Mason. (Though I don’t think a girl Mason signals the apocalypse.) Her legal name is conventionally feminine; it’s just her nickname that makes thing ambiguous.
- It’s really unknowable how your daughter will feel about her name being boyish. Some girls love it; others are indifferent; and still others long for a girlier, frillier name. But that’s not really a problem here. Your daughter can always decide to go by Charlotte later in life – a benefit of formal names!
It strikes me that Henry, Maxwell, and Charlotte are almost perfectly matched. They’re traditional names that feel especially current today. So do the nicknames you prefer – Max and Charlie. It also helps that there are a great many girl Charlies today – many named just Charlie, some as nicknames.
You could very easily shrug off any objections you encounter. But I wonder if this is only partly about Charlie feeling boyish. It may also be that after eight years of pondering baby names, the shine has worn off Charlotte. Or maybe it just feels too easy – like you ought to think about it a little more before deciding?
Let’s take a look at some other possible names, and see if any of them feel like a better fit. If the answer is no, then I think you can move forward and use Charlotte called Charlie.
Lottie – I wonder if you like the idea of Charlotte called Lottie? It’s definitely not the most familiar nickname today, but it has plenty of history. Lottie sidesteps the gender question, while still letting you use your favorite name.
Georgia, called Georgie – Names like Alex and Charlie feel boyish. Georgie shares the same style, but I expect Georgie to be a girl. (At least in the US.) And Georgia strikes me as a name that might fit very well with Henry and Max.
Juliet, called Jules – Or Julia, Julianne, or Juliana called Jules. The thinking is the same as above.
Louisa, called Lou – A third in the mostly-feminine, but slightly-masculine camp. Of course, Louisa also offers Lulu and Lucy, so there’s plenty of reason to love this traditional name.
Violet – No nickname required for Violet, though I’ve heard Violets called Vee. It’s as tailored as Charlotte, and nearly as popular.
Amelia, called Millie – It’s clear you really like names like Alex and Sam and Charlie for girls, but I wonder if you’d like a nickname that’s most conventionally feminine, but still short and sassy.
Any of the Ev- names, called Evie or Eve – There are dozens of Ev- names for girls, from mega-popular Evelyn to obscure Evanthe. It might just work.
Katherine, Katharine, called Kate – There’s something crisp about Kate. Is it conventional? Sure. But it’s an enduring name with a no-nonsense appeal. Catherine/Cate also presents an option.
Overall, my favorite is Georgia called Georgie.
But would it topple Charlotte from the name’s long-time #1 perch? Please tell us! And I’d love to hear from parents who have struggled with this type of question.
I say stick with Charlotte it’s timeless! I also love coco as the nickname which is clearly feminine, however I love Charlie as well. I always feel like children become their names and as soon as you have a sweet little face to put with Charlie it won’t feel masculine anymore.
According to Nameberry, Charlie ranked higher for girls than boys in the USA 2015 (ranked at 207 for girls and 229 for boys, though those rankings are only for Charlie as a full name, and don’t take nicknames into account).
I think it’s unlikely to cause serious confusion – like Alex or Sam, people quickly figure it out. As others have pointed out, you’ll likely signal her gender to others quite quickly if she’s not there, either by calling her “my daughter” or using the pronoun “she”. Or you can always refer to her as Charlotte the first time you say her name, and Charlie after that.
And, yep, she might also decide she’s more of a Lotte, or a Char, or a Chuck, anyway.
I like the spelling you’ve chosen best, but if you like using spelling to signal gender, I see Charli for girls sometimes. I’ve haven’t come across a Charley/Charlee/Charleigh, but they’d also “read” as feminine (as with Kelsey D.’s friend).
Good luck with the decision, and Congratulations.
Kelsey D says
I think no matter what Charlie would be fine, especially since you clearly love it (I mean, it’s your baby after all!) but the fact that you are giving her Charlotte as a formal name and using Charlie as a shortened name, 100% totally works, I wouldn’t even give it another negative thought. Honestly.
I have a girlfriend who’s given name is Charlee (this spelling) and she has said this spelling seems to lend others to realize she is a female vs. male (she’s 31). Just a thought. Really, I’m not sure why and I don’t see -lee being more feminine than -lie ??? but either way, just thought I’d put that out there.
Go for it!! Ps. Love all three of your kids names. 🙂
I definitely agree with Abby’s first point- I think we usually put a lot more weight in sibling matching. You clearly love Charlotte/Charlie- go for it!
The Mrs. says
This is a list of nicknames from the Baby Name Wizard website for Charlotte:
Maybe one of them catches your heart…maybe not. If you ONLY like Charlie, some thing to consider is that your daughter might choose one (or more!) of these names instead.
Best wishes as you welcome your sweet girl!
Laura Powell says
Also thought of:
I think they all sound lovely with your sibset personally if you where to consider another name other than Charlotte I think Bryony is a lovely choice it’s not a common choice.
Laura Powell says
You could also consider Bryony, a lovely refined name that’s not too girly.
Hello, I agree with commenterTiffany. Also, when talking about your children you are likely to clarify the gender automatically by saying, for eg “my daughter Charlie” or “I have 2 boys and a girl: Henry, Max and Charlie”.
I have two boys, ages 6 and 3, and a six month old baby named Charlotte. Like you, I felt that using Charloe skewed it to seeming like three boys. We planned to use Lottie as a nickname, but now that she is here we almost exclusively call her Charlotte in full. I don’t really ever feel the need for a nickname beyond pet names just I use, like Squeaks (she’s a pretty vocal, squeaky baby) or Lottie-Love. Just two cents from another mom who loves Charlotte.
If Charlotte is your favorite, use it. It’s rare that you would introduce your children while they weren’t present. Unless she’s dressed like a boy and has a boy haircut, calling her Charlie isn’t a problem. I do like that her formal name is decidedly feminine, though. I say use the name and nickname you love. One possibility is to spell Charlie Charlee or Charleigh to feminize it. Although it doesn’t seem entirely necessary.
Another thought is if Charlie bothers you, what would you think about something sinlar but not distinctively masculine like Sharlie or Arlie?
By that, I was thinking of the famous sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild.
However, I wanted to say, if you love Charlie, go with it.
I don’t know that this would help with saying the names, but at least with writing, some traditional boy nicknames for girl longer names traditionally have a feminine form such as Dani for Danielle or Andi for Andrea/Alexandra or Jo for Josephine/Joanna (could also go with Joey, but then we’re back to the same problem).