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 really struggled to name our son two years ago. Now we’re expecting another baby in a month, and we’re just as stuck.
Our son is Elliot “Eli” Asher. We have a short last name that sounds like truck-with-a-K. I like the name a lot, but it felt like torture to get there. Everything I suggested was a no from my husband, but he didn’t really have any ideas of his own. Elliot was finally the name that he didn’t reject, but that was two days after he was born.
The one thing I regret about the name is spelling. I’m Sara-without-an-h, and he’s Elliot-with-one-t. I wanted to avoid that kind of thing, because it gets old fast. Maybe that’s why he ended up being Eli, but it suits him really well.
This time, we agreed not to bring up names until we had our twenty-week ultrasound, but I’ve been putting it off … and off and off. But now I’m imagining being in the hospital with another nameless baby and I just cannot.
At the same time, starting a list feels pointless, because I know my picky husband won’t like anything! Help!
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Sara –
Congratulations on your daughter, and oh, I’m sorry you’re going through this!
As frustrating as your husband’s behavior must be, I want to give him a little grace. Choosing is hard, especially when it’s something we want to get right.
But choose we must, and I believe we make the best decisions when we start sooner rather than later.
So here’s the way forward.
If your husband doesn’t want to make a short list, that’s okay. But you can – and should! – start on a list of your own. (We’ll help!)
My suggestion: find a block of time when you and your husband can talk. (I know – easier said than done with a toddler!) Present your list, and make it clear that either your daughter’s name is on this list OR you’re going to have a conversation that results in a short list of possibilities you both like. Because it is unnecessarily stressful – at least to you – to not have this detail settled in advance.
Once you have the list – with or without his contributions – it’s not about crossing off names you don’t like. (Well, maybe a little bit of that is okay.) But it should be about picking out the names you both like best on the list.
Based on Elliot Asher, I’m guessing you’re drawn to names that feel current, but have traditional roots. The Sara/Elliot concern suggests we need a name with one clear and unambiguous spelling. And because your surname is short, we’re looking for something two syllables or more to balance everything out.
I keep coming back to this list of sweet spot names for girls, but options are plentiful.
If I were writing your short list, I’d start with these eight names:
Avery – It’s fairly popular, as is Ava. But it has a vowel-heavy sound that reminds me of Elliot, plus it’s straightforward to spell and pronounce.
Daphne – I feel like I suggest Daphne a lot, but I think it’s a good fit here. One spelling. And it’s unlikely to be shortened, right?
Georgia – Again, I think Georgia comes up pretty often on #namehelp lists, but that’s because of these qualities: easy to spell, not too popular, instantly familiar, easy to nickname or wear in full.
Lucy – Like Mary, Lucy is a straightforward girl name that’s been in use for ages. It’s simple and complete,
Maren – Like Elliot, there’s something surname-like about Maren. Though Maren actually evolved as a Scandi form of traditional feminine names. It’s more cousin to Karen than Madison. But I think it might hit the right note – easy to spell and familiar, but not invented.
Tessa – Strictly speaking, Tess is short for Theresa. But because many parents prefer nickname-proof choices – or names where the only nickname is obvious – Tessa now feels complete on its own.
Valerie – I think of Valerie as one of those not-quite-classic, but still solidly traditional choices for girls. It’s not as popular as chart-toppers like Evelyn, but it has much of the same appeal. If Avery strikes you as almost right, but a little too trendy, Valerie could be the perfect choice.
Willow – I love the sound of Elliot with Willow. They both share strong ‘o’ and ‘l’ sounds, and yet they feel quite distinct, too.
Overall, my favorites is Daphne, but I feel like Tessa might be closer to what you’re after.
I’m sure readers will have some great suggestions to add to your list. Please let us know how it goes!
Readers, what would you add to Sara’s list for a sister for Elliot “Eli” Asher? Any advice on working with a partner who tends to shoot down lots of names … but doesn’t make any suggestions?
Rachel, Liora, Melora, Talia, Amy, Adeline, Hadassah, Ronit, Miriam, Yael, Hila, Aviela, Jane, Rebecca, Shayla, Rhiannon, Raquel, Charlotte, Felicia, Delilah, Belen, Fahlen, Tamar/Tamara, Sorscha, Kira, Courtney, Constance, Guinevere, Nadine, Samara, Sophie, Sonia, Hailey, Bailey
Elliot Asher & Adelaide Ruth
Elliot & Adelaide
Eli & Ada
Jean C. says
I love the suggestions of Georgia and Lucy! I also wonder if any of the following will work (with or without middle names, which I added just for fun):
I know an Elliot and Alina sibling combo.
I think Abby has a pretty spot-on list. I love Daphne and I have a Lucy, so those are my faves.
A few others that I like for you:
My thoughts –
Phoebe – spunky, cute but not modern. One spelling
Caroline – top hundred, but somehow effortless and under the radar. Cute nicknames (I love Callie). As classic as Charlotte but rarer, fewer spelling shenanigans than Katherine/Catherine/Kathryn etc.
Violet – there’s Lilly and Lily and even Lillie, but there’s only Violet.
Veronica & Verity – one feels more stylish to me than Valerie, the other is rarer.
Octavia – uncommon but known. Regal, distinctive. Sounds great with Elliot. Tavy is cute with Eli. If you hate it use it as a threat to make your husband play ball but I legit love it.
Oh dear, I’m sorry your husband is doing this. The hard thing to remember when you are pregnant is that it isn’t your job to find the best/perfect/pre-ordained name. A good-enough name is fine! The name will become the child and will then seem perfect.
My suggestion is for you both to go through a printed list (not a 10000+ names website, maybe the top 200) and highlight any names you like the sound of. Take the list and any that you both highlighted becomes the short-list. You both have to be generous and open minded but that might break the stalemate.
Babyname Wizard lists sibs for Eli as: Emma, Ari, Ava, Clara, Eden, Anna, Zoe, sibs for Elliot: Alice, Audrey, Charlotte, Emma, Grace and Olivia. Good luck!
I would point blank tell him “We are not entering the hospital without a name again. ” If he knows the law he may be more likely to comply.
Guessing by Elliot Asher I’m guessing you like –
– Strong names that aren’t super masculine or feminine
– A decent meaning
– Well known but not top 25
– A name that is mostly spelt a certain way (Natalie not Isabel)
How about –
Erin (Is repeating initials ok?)
Esther (Same as Erin)
I’m leaning towards Erin , Naomi or Trinity
I feel like this is a bit of a “can’t steer a parked car” situation. Once you get moving, I bet you’ll find a direction you feel good about.
Could you propose a Baby Name Wizard “scavenger hunt” with your husband? No vetoes allowed, only favorites. For example, if you started with Avery, you’d go to one of the categories listed with that name (something like Unisex Girls Names, I’m guessing. I don’t have a copy with me), then he could pick his favorite from that list, then repeat the process with that name until you have a little list of possibilities. It might not yield THE name, but could be an exercise to get the ball/car rolling without asking him to trample on a list you’ve made on your own. If you could manage to so it on a date night with a Topo Chico with lime in a large wine glass, even better.
My nephew Elliot has a sister Aven and another Elliot I know has a brother Alden, so Avery/Auden/Audrey seems like a good route to me!
Erin Beth says
Abigail, Phoebe, and Lydia are great suggestions. Other names that might work for you:
I love Tessa and Lily (but, just so you know, there’s a pharmaceutical company named Eli Lilly).
You might like:
Abigail — Elliot and Abigail, Eli and Abby
Isla — Elliot and Isla, Eli and Isla Is that a good pairing or do the names sound too much alike?
Phoebe — Elliot and Phoebe, Eli and Phoebe
Piper — Elliot and Piper, Eli and Piper
Selah — Elliot and Selah, Eli and Selah I pronounce Selah as SAY luh.
Best wishes to you as you welcome a daughter to your family!
The Mrs. says
Daphne was my first thought, too! 😀
Otherwise, what about Iris? Iris “Truck”. She’s classic and underused. Eli & Iris sound smart together.
Or there’s Ivy. Eli & Ivy. Don’t they seem nicely balanced? She could have a longer middle name if Ivy feels too spare.
Congrats and best wishes!
The first name that came to mind was Julia. I agree with Abby that a name that sounds current but has history will be the best fit…
Gwendolyn nn Gwen
Matilda nn Tillie
love the suggestion of Lydia from above.
My husband also didn’t want to discuss names and just seemed to veto everything. I ended up narrowing my list down myself to two names and just telling him these are your two choices. That’s it. He choose my front runner, but had he not, I probably would have used it anyway 🙂 I’m of the mindset that if names mean more to one parent and the other isn’t being helpful, maybe they don’t get as much of a say. Especially since you are the one growing and birthing the baby! Good luck.
My husband was the exact same way with names and it was endlessly annoying. I’m so sorry. As I read your story I thought of the names Violet and Juliet. FWIW, my name is Rachel and people often ask me how to spell it or spell my name wrong. I’m not sure that there exists a name that people are certain of the spelling or always spell correctly?
Of Abby’s suggestions I really like Avery and Tessa. Eli and Ava or Eli and Tess complement each other. Elliot and Avery seem a perfect pair.
If not Avery, what about Emory or Emerson, nn Em/Emme/Emmie. Maybe the multiple spellings rule that out? Evelyn is always darling with Eva as an nn option. I know I seem to be on a E kick.
So for some reason also I really like Victoria for you. Older name but with the stylish V. Vicky seems the go-to nn… Elliot and Victoria. Eli and Vicky. Victoria “Truck”.
As for dealing with your husband’s indecision. The stress of picking a name for men **can be** derived from them coming to terms with the impending change. Inability to pick a name reminds them of how unprepared they are, hence the desire to delay the decision. Not because they don’t want a kid but any number of factors — he wanted to be more financially established, buy a bigger house/car to fit a bigger family, or feels he will need to stay in his current job longer than desired for stability, just to name a few. Stereotypically, women worry about capacity to love/care for another child while men worry about capacity to provide for another child. All of that gets compounded by the fact that last time you all struggled on a name and it stressed you both out.
Frustrating as it is, give him time. You do you, get your list ready. He’ll join you when he is able.
alex b says
I love your son’s name and nickname! And congrats on your coming baby!
Husband needs not to just veto and then offer no ideas. That’s unacceptable.
If you can both tolerate the list-culling conversation, do that. Otherwise, I would choose your top 3 and ask him to pick from them.
I didn’t get a clear read on what you want, but I will throw out some suggestions beyond Abby’s great list:
Good luck; I hope you update us!
Kirstin G says
Here’s a few more ideas for your list that might hit a similar sweet spot to Elliot.
Norah, Eden, Molly, Finley, Morgan, Fiona
(Also, the one “t” Elliot has been used more often than Elliott every year but one in the last 20 years, so maybe it won’t be a problem as he gets older. Last year they were ranked pretty close.)