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!
We are expecting our third child in December, and realized we have a fun – but hard to repeat! – pattern. Both of our children have three-syllable, five-letter names. Elias is a family name. Lydia was my favorite girl name since forever. I like that old world feel.
We’ve been brainstorming since before we knew we were pregnant, but nothing stands out to us. Can you and the community help?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Sara –
Congratulations on your third!
Before we dive into three-syllable, five-letter names, let’s start here: do you really want to continue this pattern?
It’s one of those things that you notice, but probably only you. I mean … maybe me. And a handful of other people. But I’d happily overlook it in service of finding a name your family can love.
Because there really only are a handful of boy names that fit this pattern … and maybe a slightly bigger pool of possibilities for girls. Let’s take a look at your options.
Emory – A unisex surname name, Emery feels more like a brother for Elias than a sister for Lydia. Similar names include Amory and Emery. I should note that Emery is in the girls’ Top 100, and Emory is also more popular for girls. I don’t think that’s necessarily a dealbreaker, but it’s good to know up front.
Giani – The thing about this pattern is that it can start to feel a little tortured. Gianni is an Italian form of John; in Italian, it sounds very close to Johnny. But Americans tend to say it with three syllables, so it fits your pattern. If – of course – you’re willing to spell it with a single ‘n’ instead of two.
Mateo – At first glance, Mateo is the same case. The Italians spell it with two ‘t’s. Except Mateo is the Spanish language spelling, and it’s actually in the current US Top 50, more popular than Matteo. So it could work well for your family, regardless of your background. Like Luca, it’s a romance language name that has gone mainstream.
Orion – Maybe the obvious choice, Orion sounds different than Elias and Lydia, but could still fit right in. And it continues the pattern without compromising on spelling.
Ariel – Long before this name belonged to the world’s most famous mermaid, Ariel was a Hebrew name meaning “lion of God.” it can be masculine – and is, in much of the world – but Americans tend to give it to their daughters.
Amara – Another imported name, with roots in multiple languages.
Aviva – A Hebrew name meaning spring. It could fit right in with Ava and Vivian and Evelyn and Olivia, but it’s pretty rare.
Diana – An obvious choice, Diana completes the pattern but sounds like the kind of name you might have chosen for Elias and Lydia’s sibling without counting letters or syllables.
Fiona – Another name in the key of Diana, a lovely name with a traditional vibe.
Julia – And one more! Julia shares five-letter, 3-syllable structure of your older kids’ names, plus the ‘l’ of Elias and Lydia. It might be the name to beat!
Naomi – Another name that feels distinctively different, even though it continues the pattern precisely.
Overall, I’m most drawn to Emory for a boy. And yet, I think that might prove frustrating if you’re bothered by others hearing it as Emily … or just generally a girl’s name.
For girls, I’m torn. I like the way Julia completes the pattern perfectly, but feels different. But I’m more drawn to Amara or Naomi.
Readers, over to you. What would you name a sibling for Elias and Lydia?
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I think you could totally get away with not using another 5 letter name or one with biblical history. But, here are few 5 letter names that I do think work nicely with your sibset.
For a girl, I think Sybil, Julia or Naomi would be lovely. Or Diana or Diane.
For a boy:
I think it’s cool you want to stick with your pattern, and I can’t help but stick to biblical names now that it’s been pointed out. Ariel is also masculine, and a variant is Areli. I love Giani and Mateo. Expanding on Mateo I love the rare feminine Matea. I don’t think I saw Maria mentioned. I love Adlai (which I have usually heard pronounced add-a-lie). There’s also Ozias for a boy and Tabea for a girl.
Like several other people that have commented I did not really notice the whole five letter three syllable pattern. However I did notice that both names had an L in them and both are biblical. Both names are also known without being common, not heard all the time. That said if you are willing to miss the mark on the whole five letter thing Samuel seems perfect for a boy. Uriah, while lacking the L of Lydia and Elias is also a great underused but still known choice. As for a girls name, as much as I am not a fan of the name, for rather personal reasons, I think Naomi, while also lacking the L is a great choice. While it has more than five letters Drusilla is a great underused name that is also biblical, and it has an L, well two, and is three syllables. Julia is also a great choice if you want to stick to ever possible pattern. It is biblical, five letters, three syllables, has the ia both Lydia and Elias have and has an L in it. Another boys option would be Abiel, though it is much more obscure than Samuel, Uriah, and Elias. There is also Uriel to consider, it ticks all the marks, but like Abiel might be too obscure. Personally if it were my I would ignore the five letters and go with either Samuel for a boy or Drusilla for a girl.
I think Uriel feels familiar thanks to Ariel.
I definitely wouldn’t notice the pattern in your children’s names, even though I’m hugely into names (but perhaps because I’m not quite as much into counting anything, I never do if I don’t have to 😉 ). Instead I almost immediately saw what some other commenters have already mentioned – the Biblical pattern. – If you really do want some pattern and structure in your children’s names, I’d rather go with that, unless you really can find a 5 letters and 3 syllables name that you genuinely like, but if you’d have a fourth child it’ll probably start to feel like a stiff and not flexible rule. So, I’d either suggest you to go in the direction of Biblical-themed names (even loosely if you prefer), and then you can also narrow your choices down to those that have either 5 letters or 3 syllables if that feels nicer, or look for only 3 syllables names/only 5 letters names – those that fulfill only one of those criteria. I think this way your choices can expand but you still have a nice pattern to your kids’ names that will be easier to repeat in case there’d be more children in your family. 🙂
Like several of the other commenters, the similarity in the letters/sounds sticks out to me much more than the number of letters or syllables.
The first names to come to my mind were, for girls:
While finding other names to fit your “pattern” makes for a fun thought exercise for me, I really think that this isn’t something you need to stick with. You’ve picked wonderful names for your kids so far without a rule. Just pick a name you love (or at least like) (Third kid name was hard for me. I didn’t LOVE his name at first, but I LOVE him and I couldn’t imagine him being named something else now.)
But because I like puzzles:
I love names and I wouldn’t notice this pattern. I think that’s because you see the five letters if it is written and hear the three syllables spoken so you wouldn’t have a situation where you notice both at the same time? If you asked me the link I would have said biblical. Is that what you want? If so I vote Naomi or Tabitha as 3 syllable girls and Samuel as a three syllable boy.
The Mrs. says
Naomi is also biblical… just as Lydia and Elias! This feels like an obvious theme. Love it!
Uriah would work well for another son! He, too, is biblical.
Congrats and best wishes!
Your pattern is fun, but was also unintentional. And you have noticed two parts of the pattern, but if you dig deeper there are more parts to the ‘theme’. Both names contain an L. Both have the letter sequence ‘ia’ … for that matter both have an L, I and A. I’m not trying to make things harder, but rather highlight that your ‘pattern’ has a lot of flexibility. There’s a good chance that you can find a name yoy love that ties in to more than one aspect of your other children’s names, without the rigid (and perhaps forced?) pattern of “5 letters, 3 syllables”.
Some examples of what I mean:
Clara – 5 letters, contains L and A
Flynn – 5 letters, contains L
Sophia – 3 syllables, contains IA
Julian – 3 syllables, contains L & IA
That also gives you flexibility, if you were to have another child, to drop an aspect of the pattern and still have a secret theme tying the names together.
I really think Julia is perfect for a girl. And Diana is just great too. I agree that the 5 letter 3 syllable constraints limit boy names too much. I may notice that sibling names are the same number of syllables, but not the letters. There are some beautiful 3 syllable boy names that sound great, Adrian and Julian came to mind first.
Erin Beth says
I love the suggestions of Celia, Eliza, and Naomi with the sibset. I would add Alina and Adela– and Miriam if you were willing to go with six letters. I’m afraid I can’t come up with any boys’ names that fit the bill, but I would enjoy Zachary, Josiah, or Jeremy if you went with more letters.
I agree that it’s not necessary to stick with this pattern, but here are some ideas. I wrote the list before reading the post and comments, so sorry for repeats.
Atina / Atena
Alisa / Elisa (same letters as Elias)
Abby offers some great suggestions!
Definitely a challenge!
I agree that the pattern, while sweet and fun, is not noticeable enough to feel like you need to stick with it. I second Laura’s idea that another name with “L” in there somewhere will be an equally, and easier, sweet and fun way to tie the kiddos names together.
Girls: Coralie, Noel, Rosalie, Valerie
Boys: Gabriel, Samuel
A few more ideas…
You could also keep the syllable length to three and change the letter count.
For example, Oliver has six letters, but doesn’t look too much longer than Elias or Lydia.
This pattern seems to be one that only you notice, so if you didn’t keep it, that would be fine.
Otherwise, for a girl…
I immediately thought of Emily and Julia. I think Naomi is a terrific suggestion. I don’t think any of the boy names work well at all. If I had to pick one I’d go with Mateo but I would recommend finding a boy name that you really love and sounds nicely with the others and not worry about matching all the patterns. You can easily pick another name with three syllables OR five letters OR is Biblical Or contains an L.
Julie G says
Opening up to 5+ letters and keeping 3 syllables still makes a nice sibset pattern but opens up SO MANY more names for you. I would do that, i feel like you’re really limiting yourself.