Name Help: Our Favorite Name is TakenName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, 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!

Kelley writes:

My husband and I are struggling with naming our next baby girl because we used our top two names for our first daughter!

I was pretty adamant that our 2 1/2 year old daughter was destined to be an Izzy. We finally named her Izabella Alanna when she was three days old because I wanted Izabella/Izzy and my husband wanted Alanna for her first name.

He finally agreed that Izzy fit her well and we settled on my first choice for her first name and his first choice for her middle name. We felt strongly that we’d have a boy next and never thought using Alanna as a middle name would be a problem.

Well, we’re having another baby girl in early 2016 and the only name we both LOVE is Alanna!

I’m tempted to just name this baby girl Alanna, since we both adore the name. But, of course, we have naysayers who say we would be unjustly taking Izzy’s name from her. We’re so torn!

We really want our second daughter’s name to go well with her big sister’s. Yet not be too common.

My husband also likes the name Natalia, which I don’t love or hate, although I do dislike the nicknames Nat or Nattie.

I like the names Gianna or Kayla, but neither seems as perfect as Alanna.

The other name we are both considering is Fiona. But again, it doesn’t seem quite right and doesn’t have appealing nicknames. Maybe good for a middle name?

I love the idea of calling this little girl Alanna, or Allie or Lana or Lan for short. And what would be a suitable middle name?

I’d really like to hear people’s thoughts on using one child’s middle name as the next child’s first name … and permission to do so!

Other suggestions are also welcome. We tend to like lyrical names, like Keilani or Leilani or Alanna. We also both have Irish and Italian heritage, if that makes a difference.

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

Hi Kelley –

Oh, I’ve had this conversation!

We initially planned to use our second favorite name as our son’s middle. Except. If we had another boy, I knew we might want to use it as a first. And so we didn’t use it. But we had a girl instead. So now the name is likely to languish unused – and we absolutely could have stuck with it!

But enough about me.

I am completely torn on your question.

If I were the younger sibling, I think I would dislike having a hand-me-down name. Maybe quite a bit!

But I do think there’s something to be said for using the name that you love, and you do love Alanna.

Another reason to use the name Alanna? It sounds like a sister name for Izabella, doesn’t it?

Let’s have a poll:

My guess is that the results will favor choosing a different name for your new daughter. And I do think it’s worth exhausting every possibility before you use Alanna again.

So let’s see what we can come up with:

Delilah – As lovely as Izabella and Alanna, but just different enough.

Alaina – Izabella Alanna and Alaina MiddleName might be very close, but it’s not actually the same name. If Alaina doesn’t seem like enough of a departure, you could spell it Elaina or Elena.

Liana – Alaina makes me think of Liana.

Susannah – It seems like you’ve considered lots of other ends-in-anna names and they’re not quite for you. But Susannah popped into my head for two reasons. First, it’s a long, lovely ends-in-anna name that no one ever considers. But second, just like Izabella is a spin on Isabella, you could easily use a ‘z’ form of Susannah – Suzanne, or even Suzanna, maybe?

Elianna, Lilianna – Elaborations of names listed earlier.

Alena, Alina – Another not-quite-Alanna name that I think might work well.

Louisa – Fiona reminds me of Louisa, only with nicknames galore – Lou, Lulu, and Lucy are the obvious possibilities. There’s also Lucia, which I think would work beautifully, too.

Kaia – I’ve saved my favorites for last! First, you mentioned Kayla, but said it doesn’t feel quite right. That might be because Kayla has been around for a while – it started catching on in the 1980s, boosted by a popular soap opera character and the rise of Kaitlyn. But Kaia is fresh and interesting, and has roots in Hawaiian. You’ve probably heard of Kai, meaning ocean.

Alani – But here’s my most favoritest of them all! Alani is another Hawaiian name, meaning orange tree. It’s midway between Alanna and Leilani, and seems like a logical fit. If you think it’s still too close to Alanna, there’s also Eleni, the Greek form of Helen, cousin to Elena – which takes us back to an earlier suggestion.

I think any of these would be a great substitute for Alanna, but if none of them grab you, I have one more thought.

It’s a little wacky, but what if you used Alanna as the middle for your second daughter, too? Only instead of calling her Kaia or Natalia or Fiona or whatever you settle on for her first name, you could call her Alanna instead.

Wacky, right? But it’s a possibility if you still want to use Alanna, but worry that it would take away something from your older daughter’s name.

Overall? It’s not the end of the world to repeat Alanna. But I honestly would exhaust every name possibility to make sure that there’s not an alternative before I duplicated my firstborn’s middle name.

Readers, what would you say to Kelley? Do you think they should just use Alanna again? Or can you think of some names that might appeal instead?

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. My youngest brother’s first name is my other brother’s middle name. It doesn’t bother him at all. I say, use Alanna if it’s your favorite. I think most people use middle names so rarely it’s not an issue…

  2. I really do think you can use the name Alanna. Middles just don’t seem that important to me that repetition is verboten.
    Or why not just Lana? I think I just have a soft spot for that exact iteration of the name. Lana Elizabetta.
    Elizabetta is another suggestion for you. Of course then you might get a Lizzie which seems like too much with Izzy.
    Just in case she’s born and you think, “no she just really isn’t Alana or Alani or any of the others,” how about:
    I love this name. Nicknames might be a bit less natural (than Izabella to Izzy) but I think they’re there (Mia, Gia, Ana, Mora) but a beautiful name with great history and a perfect match with your older daughter’s name, I think.
    Actually I think there are a lot of names of this variety that could work for you. Henrietta I love but also Harriet, Thomasina, Whilemina (spelling?), Bernadette. You said you thought you were having a boy next. What boy names do you love? Are there versions of any of those that feminine and lyrical?

  3. I had great aunts who had the same first and middle only switched around for each one (think Ava Elisabeth and Elisabeth Ava). More than likely most people in their lives will never know they share a name. And more than likely if they are not taught to hate it then they will have no problem with it. Even if they are influenced or come to hate it on their own later in life one of them can change it. If your instincts tell you to use the name Alanna and nothing else seems to work for you and your husband then I say go for it. Only official documents and family will ever know.

  4. I know a toddler Natalia who goes by the nickname Nalia, it sounds lovely.

    I’ll also add upvotes to the suggestions Delilah and Kaia.

    Izzy and Nalia
    Izzy and Didi / Izzy and Lilah
    Izzy and Kaia

  5. Use it! I know two sets of sisters where the name was re-used: Antonia and her little sister Eva Antonia; Teresa and her younger sister Carmen Teresa. This is addition to a lot of people of Portuguese and Mexican descent where multiple sisters have the middle name Maria – in addition to the one who actually goes by Maria.

    Because I’ve seen it done so often with no confusion or hurt feelings, I see no problem with re-using it. The explanation is simple: we liked it so much we had to use it again.

  6. I’ve thought about this before too. If we ever happened to have a 3rd son, I would want to name him Frederick nn. “Fred”…but we already used Frederick as our 2nd son’s middle name. Because my husband picked his first name and I picked Frederick for his middle name, since that was my favourite name.

    I really don’t think I could reuse his middle name for a first name on another son. So I thought I’d have to do something like name him Alfred, but then call him Fred anyway, instead of Alfie. (Though then you’d probably end up with his friends calling him Alfie and then he’d want to be Alfie and not Fred anyway!)

    So I like the idea of naming your 2nd daughter something very similar to Alanna that would still let you call her Allie or Lana or Lan – but would be just a little different from your first daughter’s middle name. Alani or Leilana from Abby’s suggestions would work for me. 🙂 Do you like Alice?

  7. Why not Layla, like the Clapton song? I think Izzy and Layla sound great together. Also spelled Laila and Leila.

  8. I don’t see any problem with using Alanna. My sisters and I all have the same middle name and we loved the connection. A good friend of mine and her sister are Victoria Anne (called Tori) and Anne Elizabeth (called Liza). They love their names and are the best of friends. It can be such a sweet sentiment between sisters and besides each child will be called her own unique name/nickname. I say go for what you love!