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!
I’m completely exhausted and confused trying to name my baby girl due this May. We only have a few weeks left!
We have a son named Nicolas Alexander, called Nico, and if we have another boy we would name him Oscar.
Ideally, I would love to find a name that works in both English and Spanish as we have a double-barreled last name. We’re also Greek and Italian.
I like classic names with a bit of an edgy/vintage feel.
Most of the names on our list are family names, which would be nice to include but not totally necessary: Josephine, Penelope, Alexandra, Beatrice, nickname Bizzy, Alice, Sofia, Emma, Zoe, Naomi, Simone, India, Francesca or Frances with the nickname Frankie, Fiona, Florence, Sara called Sadie, Chloe, Constance, Madeline, and Eleni.
My husband and I both have N names, as does our son. Is it a mistake to drop the N theme? It wasn’t intentional.
Right now Beatrice, Frances, Constance, and Penelope are my top first names. (At least today!) I still like Alice, too!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Nancy –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
Let’s address the N question first. I think Naomi works well with your criteria, but I do think it’s smart to worry about the shared initial. There is absolutely no rule that says Nico + Naomi can’t have a brother named Oscar. But how would you feel about it? Do you think you might feel compelled to keep going with the Ns? If the answer is yes, then you’re wise to move on now.
It sounds like your ideal name will be:
- Classic, strong, and sophisticated.
- Vintage in style, with plenty of history.
- Slightly longer names, sometimes with spunky nicknames, tend to be your favorites.
Of course, vintage is a big category, spanning elaborate, romantic names, like Francesca, as well as more tailored choices, like Frances. From the names on your current favorites list, I’d say that the latter seems like the better bet, at least for this child.
Because you’ve got lots of great name options, let’s dive right into combinations and see if we kind something that clicks when it’s said together:
Alice India – You’ve mentioned that you love Alice, but might find it a little predictable, while India seems rather bold. Could they be perfect together? It almost sounds like one long, flowing name smooshed together: Alisindia. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
Beatrice Zoe, called Bizzy – This is just plain fun! Zoe has a great meaning, it’s a family name, and it helps reinforce the nickname Bizzy. (Though, really, Beatrice could just as easily be Bizzy with or without the middle initial Z.) Zoe is Greek; Beatrice is Italian. And they absolutely work in English and Spanish. It hits all the notes!
Constance Chloe, called Coco – Could Coco be just the nickname to spice up traditional Constance? Constance Chloe appeals to me, because, like Beatrice Zoe, the middle name serves to reinforce the unconventional nickname. But Nico and Coco do share a lot of sound, so maybe that’s a non-starter?
Fiona Constance – A set of two familiar, but relatively unexpected choices – especially when combined.
Frances Eleni, called Frankie – Frances is such an international name that it can be imported into Spanish and Italian without difficulty. Eleni is delightfully Greek, but also has the same ability to cross linguistic borders. And Frankie is a spunky, upbeat nickname name that’s quite current for girls today without feeling at all common. I feel like the next high-end children’s boutique I visit is going to be called “Nico + Frankie.”
Penelope Frances, called Polly – The challenge of Penelope is which nickname to use, right? There’s no shortage of options, but I wonder if Polly appeals? I know Poppy probably isn’t an option because it’s too close to the Spanish for father – papi.
I love so many of these, I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. If Coco weren’t so close to Nico, I think Constance Chloe might top my list. And if there were a Penelope nickname you loved, that might move up the list, too. But I keep coming back to Beatrice Zoe, Bizzy for short.
Readers, I know you’ll have some great suggestions. From Nancy’s long shorlist, what would you combine for a girl’s name. Nickname suggestions welcome, too!
Penelope Sofia Rose !
Beatrice Izabella Zoe “Bizzy”
Penelope Sofia Zoe
Sofia Penelope Rosa
Maybe two middles will help you feel like you can get more of your favorites for your little girl in one name??… There are so many great names here, you really can’t go wrong! 🙂
I’m Italian, and I have a Greek name! Have you thought about Arianna?
I like Penelope, Chloe and Zoe too. Sofia kind of has it all 🙂
Some other Greek-Italian-sounds nice both in Spanish and English suggestions are:
Nancy Barros says
My best friend is Adriana and although I love your name, I feel it’s too close. I love Penelope, Zoe and Sofia. Probably Sofia the most however, my husband’s cousin just had a Sophia. Thank you for your great suggestions. So hard! I need to pick one!
I love Florence for you!! You seem to like girl names that end in the S sound and I totally think you should go for one! (Beatrice, Constance, Alice). I think Florence has a lot of flair. Plus I love the nicknames Flor, Florrie, and Flora. Flora and Nick are perfect together! Constance is also serene and lovely. I’d also suggest Celeste for you. Also, all of these middles will most likely work for Alice, Beatrice and Constance as well because they’re all similar in rhythm.
Whoops, Nico* autocorrect!
Oh, and Frances is another one of those S enders. All these names are so lovely and distinctive, you can’t go wrong with any!
Florence Josephine is really nice as well as Frances Josephine 🙂
C in DC says
I love Josephine and Naomi from your list. I would probably use Josefina Naomi, nn Fia or Fina.
I’ll also suggest Lydia as a culture spanning name. Lydia Naomi, nn Lydie or Lina. Lydia Josephine, Lisi.
Would you do Josephine Naomi?
I’m so tempted to say Natalia with any of your family names…but then if you have more babies that would you would feel more pressure than now to choose a N name.
As for names that work well in English and Spanish, I’d say.. any of the names you have mentioned are great. Are you looking for which to choose or more suggestions? Maybe one of these with your favorite family name? Maybe when you see her you will know. Hubby and I decided on the middle name before she was born, and we chose 3-4 favorite first names. They all sounded nice with the first name choices.
I like these suggestions for a 1st name…
Sina pronounced See-na usually short for Thomasina or Seraphina
Xioly pronounced cee-ol-ie
Naomi Delia or any D middle name nn Indy based on initials N.D.
Another vote for Penelope! I think it sounds terrific with the brother name and it seems to hit everything you’re looking for. I love the suggestions of Nell and Polly. Maybe you could wait and see which suits her?
I’m going to take the non-N-name-with-an-n-nickname idea and run with it cause I like it.
Ok that last one may not be your style!
Posie is my favourite nn for Josephine.
Love your list and Abby’s suggestions!
Francesca Naomi (called Frankie)
Beatice Izabella (called Bizzy)
Lucia Alice (this one sounds so sweet)
Josephine Alice (called Josie)
Frances Louisa (called Frankie-lou at home) 🙂
Hope this helps!! Congrats on your baby girl!!
The minute I saw Beatrice (nn Bizzy) that was my favorite! And I think Abby’s suggestion of Beatrice Zoe is inspired. Best of luck with your little girl!
If you imagine you’ll have more kids, I’d avoid N names. It’s one thing for one kid of three to have a different initial than the others. It’s another when your initial is different from everyone else in the family. My $0.02.
I really love Beatrice Zoe…I ran this past my Spanish speaking father today and he said, “but Zoe Beatrice sounds much better.” Thinking about it now, I do think he has a point. I’m wondering what other middle name may sound better with Beatrice. I thought about Sophia but then her initials would be BS
Beatrice Zoe and Sofia don’t really work in my opinion because the end of Beatrice runs into the beginning of Zoe and Sofia. To my ears, it’s like Beatrizoey and Beatrisofia. It takes effort to make them sound distinctive, although it is possible. Overall, the flow isn’t that great to me. Josephine Naomi does not work for that reason as well. I think Beatrice Josephine is really nice!
Francesca Simone / Simone Francesca
If you like Naomi in the middle, I really like the sound of Sofia Naomi.
Nancy Barros says
you make some really good points! Is there a middle name you would recommend for Beatrice? So my sister, who is still having children, told me she will use Simone if she has a daughter. Now I feel like I should avoid that name. I feel like half the battle is avoiding names that people near you have already “taken.”
Still no baby! Beatrice Josephine is beautiful but her initials would be BJ lol
Well, Sofia is spelled Zofia in Polish. Beatrice Zofia?
Poles pronounce Zofia differently – more like zawf-yah. BUT I’ve heard Polish-Americans pronounce it like Sofia with a Z. And in our age of Zadie + Zora, it seems perfectly ordinary …
Though I still like Beatrice Zoe best of all. And FWIW, when I suggested it, it turned out it was already near the top of their list!
Nancy Barros says
yes, Beatrice Zoe was at the top!
I love Penelope nicknamed Nell/Nela/Nelly – that way you aren’t locked into an N name if you have another, but she still has the N connection in her nickname 🙂
I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s a great point! Penelope NN Nell is both and neither, which might be perfect.
That’s exactly what I first thought of looking through the list! Not left out, but not locked in either.
Nell could also work as a nickname for Eleni!
Good point, Eva!