Name 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!

Sofia writes:

I have a baby girl due in July. I have four boys already, so this is an exciting time! I finally get to name a girl. Now that it is a reality, i think naming my boys was so much easier.

My husband gave my full permission to name our girl which is so exciting!! H@yes is the last name.

Here are my boys:

Felix James H@yes
Theodore Henry H@yes
Julian Jack H@yes
Sawyer Alexander H@yes

Potential girl names:

Ophelia Moon – This is my number one. I have been obsessed with this name since I was a little girl. The only draw back is the whole Ophelia being a tragic heroine in Hamlet. I think the name is romantic, and the truth is i don’t think many kids know about Hamlet. 🙂  By the time they do, Ophelia will be old enough to not really care. Any other middle name suggestions?

Uma Rose– I think this name sounds so beautiful.

Lucia– I love the meaning


Anouk – I worry that it is too harsh sounding, but I think it is beautiful.

Anais – I have also been obsessed with this name forever but I feel like it would forever be a spelling and pronunciation problem.


Marigold– I think its pretty, and Goldie as a nickname is so cute!

Fiona – I think this is a sweet name.

Read on for my response, and please add your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Hi Sofia –

Congratulations on your first girl!

Since you’re not asking for new suggestions, I’m not going to add to your list – you’ve got great possibilities already!

It seems like one of your big questions is whether Ophelia would be a burdensome name for a daughter. I don’t think so; in fact, I’ve been watching Ophelia recently. It was more commonly used in the past, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the tragic fate on Hamlet’s Ophelia doesn’t make the name unwearable in 2016. But let’s have a poll, because I’d love to get a broader range of opinions on this one:

I’m curious to see the outcome of the poll, but even without seeing the results, I think it’s a great choice. First, it’s been your longtime favorite – and you’ve been naming babies for a while! Second, it fits with Felix, Theodore, Julian, and Sawyer – gently old-fashioned, a little bit literary and romantic.

If you’re still on the fence, one thought is to choose a more conventional middle name. I like Ophelia Moon – okay, I love it! – but Moon is a bolder middle name choice than you’ve made before. (Sidenote: there is a moon of Uranus called Ophelia.) James, Henry, Jack, and Alexander are all pretty traditional middles – fallback names, if you will. Something like Ophelia Mae, Ophelia Louise, or Ophelia Jane might be a safer choice. And, of course, Ophelia Rose is an obvious choice since you already have Rose on your list.

Just in case my cheerleading for Ophelia hasn’t convinced you, let’s take a look at the other possibilities.

Fiona and Lucia strike me as safer, more conventional options. Fiona and Lucia were both in the US Top 250 in 2014 – not super popular choices, but the kind of names that you’ll hear from time to time. I think they’re lovely choices for a daughter that hit that sweet spot: familiar, but not too common.


Anouk, Anais, and even Fleur are gorgeous name, but I agree with your assessment – they can be tough to pronounce and spell for native English speakers. Some parents shrug this off; others find it frustrating. You have to love the name enough to overlook the occasional headaches.

Marigold, Lula, and Uma are all great names, but they’re all pretty rare. In other words, they’re not any more mainstream than Ophelia, and so I wouldn’t trade your favorite for one of these three names, thinking they’d be easier to wear. (Though I suspect Marigold is going to get a nice little bump from the Downton Abbey storyline involving Edith’s secret daughter.)

Oh wait – I said I wouldn’t add any more names to your list, but Marigold and Ophelia make me think of Magnolia. It’s a gorgeous garden name (like Fleur and Marigold), but shares the -lia ending of so many lovely names for girls – including Ophelia.

And yet, overall I think you should stick with your favorite name, and the only question is whether to keep your bold middle name choice, or opt for something more conventional. If you hesitate to use Ophelia, I think a more conventional middle name like Rose might be a reassuring choice. But if I’ve talked you into using Ophelia without reservation, then by all means, go with Ophelia Moon!

What would you suggest to Sofia? Is Ophelia Moon the right choice, Ophelia Rose, or is there another name you think the family should consider for their first girl? 

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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  1. just wanted to write an update for anyone thinking about the name ophelia for their baby girl. i indeed ended up going with my heart and naming her Ophelia Moon. It has fit her since day one. Every time someone asks what her name is and i tell them Ophelia, i have yet to get anything but wow! that is a beautiful name. over and over again people tell me how sweet and beautiful it is. Not once has anyone mentioned Shakespeare. So if its in your heart go for it! i always feel so proud and happy calling her name in public places. She is 2.5 now and its so cute, because when people call her Ophelia, she corrects them and says with conviction no i am Ophelia Moon! 🙂 so far we haven’t nick named her and i like calling her Ophelia. Sometimes her brothers call her feelie which is sweet. Also sometimes my husband and i call her O when we are talking about her. mostly it has just been Ophelia or Ophelia Moon.
    anyways still love it as much as i did when i was a little girl.
    thank you for listening

  2. wow i just saw this post, i hadn’t checked in a while to see if she had posted it yet. pregnant brain. thank you all so much for your feedback, it is so helpful. so i am still really really attached to Ophelia. some of you mentioned the “i feel ya” teasing. i am not so worried about that. my name is Sofia and in junior high everyone called me SOFA. “can i sit on you sofa” it was so stupid, but it never even made me feel bad, or upset. it was usually coming from boys that had a crush. hehe 🙂
    about the middle name moon- before i got pregnant with my third boy, i had a very vivid dream about giving birth, and when the baby was born it was a boy and i named him moon. i was so moved by this dream and couldn’t stop thinking about the dream or the name forever. i obviously couldn’t name my third boy “moon” but because i never left me.. i figured why not give it to one of my children as a middle.
    the reason my boys have more “traditional middle names” is because for me it feels important for a boy to have an option of something traditional. the names also just worked with the first names. for me i think naming girls in general has a tiny bit more flexibility in terms of being traditional or not. this is why i choose “moon” .
    i love all the other suggestions for middles and have been giving so much thought to all of these names. recently i got obsessed with Marigold and started saying it out loud a lot, somehow it just doesn’t flow as well as ophelia to me.
    about the starbucks test, i have been doing it for many years actually. i was always trying to call her in and manifest her. So i have been using her name for lots of things for years.
    my main concern was the tragic association, so i am glad to hear many of you don’t find it that important.
    anyways, thanks so much for all the suggestions. i said my husband is giving me full power to choose, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any say. i want him to have a say, and he tell me if he HATES or LOVES something. we got lucky bc we have the same taste. for the boys, i said the name He loved it and that was that. so i will go over all these suggestions with him.

  3. I love Ophelia as well – wondering about nicknames though, what would you shorten that to? I find with my dog I end up using a one syllable shortened version, and a one syllable plus y. Thoughts?

  4. You have some beautiful options…congrats on your girl! I’ve found naming girls is so much fun 🙂

    I love Marigold…still trying to convince my hubby to earmark it if we ever have another girl. I like Anais too, but as a middle so as to lessen the pronunciation issues.

    I like Ophelia, but I wonder if you could find an alternative for the middle that is a name rather than a word. Luna, Diana/Artemis, Selena and Stella come to mind. I quite like Ophelia Rose though. The Shakespeare influence is really strong to me, but may not be for others. Here are some related names that are similar to Ophelia in my opinion, but a bit more “wearable”: Juliet, Aurora/Aurelia, Helena, Rosalind/Rosalie, Isadora, Evangeline

    If you like Lula, I wonder if you would like Tallulah? Lovely meaning, and you can use Lulu, Lula or even Tallie as a nickname.

    Fiona makes me think of Phoebe. Uma makes me think of Oona, which I prefer.

    Okay, a few combos:
    Felix James, Theodore Henry, Julian Jack, Sawyer Alexander and baby sister:

    Tallulah Rose
    Stella Juliet
    Aurora Anais-Rose
    Aurelia Marigold
    Fiona Diane
    Marigold Evangeline
    Oona Rosalind

  5. Felix, Theodore, Julian, Sawyer, and…

    Cecily Luna
    Junia Rose
    Estelle Moon
    Maisie Elune (full name of Marisol, Melody, etc.)
    Thisbe June
    Ariadne True
    Cordelia Anouk
    Delphine Sakura (nickname of Fee)

    The sound of Ophelia Moon is like that of a lullabye, soothing and charming at the same time. Upon saying it aloud, “I feel your moon” is what I heard…which is tragic. Such beauty ought not to be subject to something so base. You are a superb namer, and I think you have all the right sounds going for you with this name, too. But perhaps a slight shift is the easiest way to make her life simpler.

    Best wishes as you await your darling daughter’s arrival!