Name Help: Not MargaretName 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!

Elissa writes:

We’re due with our fourth child, and third daughter, in January, and I’m embarrassed to admit that we can’t come up with a name.

We knew our son would be Michael Charles Jr. and we’d call him Charlie. (That’s also his grandpa’s name, so it’s doubly special.)

For girls, I’ve always suggested my favorite, and my husband has pretty much agreed. Our daughters are Natalie Claire and Amelia Grace. We mostly call them Natalie and Amelia, no nicknames.

This time, my husband doesn’t like anything I’ve suggested. My favorites are Annabelle, Tessa, Penelope, Evelyn, and Lily/Lillian. I’m not sure if that’s a style or not? I just like the names I like, and it’s always worked out fine.

This is our last baby, and he’s suggesting that we use a family name: Margaret. I don’t hate the name, but I feel like it’s weird that half of our kids would have family names (from his side) and half wouldn’t. Also, I don’t really like the sound of Margaret, and while our son has a nickname, it’s not really my thing. (I find it annoying when someone calls him Michael, and I have to explain.) Plus, while I think Charlie is sweet, I don’t really like Maggie.

I’d really like to find a name I like that my husband agrees to, too, but it seems like everything I suggest – and I’ve suggested probably another two dozen names besides the ones I’ve listed – just gets rejected.


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

Abby writes:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

Naming is that rare parenting responsibility that gets harder with experience.

This is a tough one, because I almost want to argue that it’s only fair that each parent names two out of four children.

Except …

That’s not exactly what’s happening here, right?

For your son, you agreed to a family name that isn’t really your favorite because it felt meaningful – presumably to both of you.

Now your husband is suggesting a name that feels significant to him, but leaves you unmoved. There’s just not enough reason – for you, at least – to overcome your objections.

That means it’s time to find a compromise. It’s tempting to suggest more names that sound like sisters for Natalie and Amelia, but that’s not really the issue, right?


Let’s find some options that start with your husband’s favorite name, but incorporate your style and preferences, too.


The logical place for honor names that don’t feel like firsts? It’s the middle, of course. Tessa Margaret sounds perfect, as does Lily Margaret – a slightly shorter first to compensate for the longer middle. But dozens of first names would work.


If the middle won’t work, how about a Margaret-adjacent name?

Greta – It sounds just a little bit like Tessa. Natalie, Amelia, Charlie, and Greta are perfect together.

Margot – Originally a French nickname for Margaret, Margot has been around for centuries. It sounds current and stylish, and it’s nicely nickname-proof.

Pearl – Margaret means pearl – or at least that’s one of the name’s meanings. I’m not sure if Pearl appeals to you. It might be a perfect middle, of course.

Daisy – Another meaning attached to Margaret is Daisy, via Marguerite. It’s both the French form of Margaret and the French word for the flower.

Maisie – A Margaret nickname, less expected than Maggie, but with the same casual vibe.


Maren – As tailored as Evelyn, but with the Mar- sound.

Mariel – Like many Mar- names, Mariel comes from Mary, not Margaret. But it’s close enough to work, and Mariel sounds like a sister for Natalie and Amelia.

Marlo or Marlowe – I’m not sure either of these are quite your style, but both the sparky mid-century nickname and the surname name do share the Mar- sound.


Sometimes life events prompt families to honor a loved one – even when it was never their plan before they started a family.

It’s not clear if that’s what explains your husband’s change of heart. But if it is, maybe there’s another name that you’d both love, one that serves as an honor name and feels like a fit for your family.

The bottom line: you don’t have to use a family name that just feels like a mismatch for your children. But you do have to work through any possible compromises that might satisfy you both. I gravitate towards Greta or Margot, as they’re clearly derived from Margaret – but feel like better fits with Natalie and Amelia.

Readers, I know I’ve overlooked some possibilities. What would you suggest to Elissa and her family?

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. Your children’s names are lovely and work well together. It looks like you gravitate to names which have an L syllable (even Charlie). Your girls also have longer elegant yet classic names. Possible contenders

    Congratulations and best wishes.

  2. I’m chiming in again to suggest Gretel or Gretchen, both of which I find quite charming as elaborations on Greta.

  3. It seems worth it to look at a few names similar to Natalie and Amelia since you mention that your husband hasn’t been moved by this round of suggestions:


    I love the suggestion of Meg as a nod to Margaret, mostly because I love the name Meg and also because it could fit nicely with your one-syllable middle name trend.

    Charlotte Meg?

  4. If you don’t like Margaret or any of the nicknames, I think it’s fair for both of you to go back to brainstorming. Both parents should like the name. And I thinkle Margaret is a lovely middle name.

    With Amelia, Natalie, and Charlie, I like:


  5. I can’t help but think Eleanor might work. Similar to Evelyn, not a dissimilar style to Margaret, a slight nod to mom’s name. Sounds good with Charlie, Amelia and Natalie.

  6. Charlie, Natalie, Amelia, and…

    Cecily Margaret

    Beatrice Margaux

    Verity Margaret

    Noemi Margot

    Ellery Margaret (nod to Mom’s name)

    Emery Margaret

    Delphine Margaret

    Simone Margaret

    Congrats and best wishes!

  7. Your list of loved names is beautiful! Since your family already has one junior in it, how would you feel about sharing your name (or a close variant) with your daughter? Elise sounds like a sister to Amelia and Natalie to me. Or maybe you could name her Elissa and call her Ellis, or just name her Ellis if you really can’t get into the idea of a nickname? Because the rhythm of Elise or Ellis is different from your name, I don’t think they’d be too confusing said aloud with your name, but they obviously have a strong connection.