Name Help: First DaughterName 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!

Marianne writes:

My husband and I both came up with lists on our own for our daughter, due at the end of November. Our plan was to make a list, then trade, and circle the ones we liked on the other person’s list. You’d think that we’d have some names in common, or at least would be open to names on the other list.

Instead we have NOTHING. Exactly zero names that I would consider on his list. Zero names that he would consider from mine.

Now what?!

Here are our lists. Help!

HIS LIST: Joanna, Eliane/Aliane/Eliana, Jayla, Alexia/Alexis, Melissa, Meadow, Briella, Reina

MY LIST: Poppy, Maisie, Esme, Juniper

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your daughter!

Almost always, I look at a pair of lists and I think: okay, they feel like they’re far apart. But I see plenty of overlap!

This time? It’s definitely much, much harder to find common ground!

Your husband’s list strikes me as pretty, feminine names. And maybe slightly past their moment. Alexis peaked in the late 1990s; Joanna in the 1980s; Melissa in the late 1970s.

In contrast, your list is quite current. Those names are all rising in use or at peak popularity right about now. They’re energetic names, with an upbeat bounce to their sounds. It’s almost impossible to know how high they’ll climb, but Maisie, Juniper, Poppy, and Esme are all current favorites, the kinds of names people hear and say “Oh I love that!”

The only name on your husband’s list that feels like it could be on yours?


But, but, but … you didn’t see it and think “Okay, we can make that work.”

You read his list and thought “Nope.”

So now I’m a little stumped.

Possibility A: You were so stunned at how little overlap there was that you automatically rejected Meadow.

Possibility B: You first noticed Meadow way back when The Sopranos was peak pop culture, and that was twenty years ago, so it’s not current for you.

Possibility C: Meadow would almost kind-of, sort-of work, but it’s not quite there for whatever reason you can’t identify. (And that’s fine!)

If it’s C, that’s good news! That means there’s definitely some overlap in your styles, and we just need to nail down another name like Meadow that you can both appreciate.

And maybe if it’s A or B, that’s okay, too. Because hearing that others (or at least one other person) puts Meadow in the same category as Juniper and Esme might get you there.

For now, I’ll try to find some middle ground between your two lists, inspired by Meadow … but also all the other names that don’t seem to overlap.


Would you agree on a name/nickname combination? Particularly one that falls into the pretty, romantic category that he favors, but with a nickname that feels more like a spirited, upbeat choice from your list? Aurora, nickname Rory, is the one that comes to mind – but there are plenty of options in this general category.


There’s a lot of EL sound on his list. Would a name like Bellamy, particularly if it’s shortened to Bella or Belle, check the boxes for you both?


Another EL option, this time with more of a vintage vibe.


The first name that came to mind, probably because it feels like a midpoint between Joanna and Juniper, plus Jo reminds me of Meadow’s strong O sound. Shorten it to Josie or use it in full.


Lainey feels like a midway point between Maisie and Eliane/Aliane.  You could even opt for something like Elaine/Alaina on her birth certificate and use Lainey as a nickname, but I do think Lainey might be the obvious compromise.


Maisie is vintage; Meadow reads modern. But Maya is more of a pan-global choice, with plenty of history, but at its more popular now. It’s pretty, a little bit like Jayla. But while Jayla is a novel name, Maya has more meaning and story connected.


My original thought was Rosemary, called Romy – but that feels a little too far from your husband’s list. Would Rosalie appeal to you both? It’s pretty and feminine, but with plenty of energy, too.


Susanna sounds like a sister for Melissa and an alternative to Joanna. But nicknames like Sukie and Zuzu are more in keeping with Maisie.

Overall, Josephine is still my favorite for you both. It’s not clearly your style or his, but that’s probably what it will take to get to agreement.

I’m also in love with the idea of Lainey, either as a nickname for Elaina/Alaina or as a standalone name.

For some combinations, maybe … Josephine Meadow? Alaina “Lainey” Josephine? Meadow Josephine?

Readers, what would you suggest for Kara and her husband?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I agree with previous posters that you really need to widen your list of options. I’m sure there are more names you like than the four you’ve listed. I would re-do your lists with, say, 20 names each – even if they’re not your absolute favourites, it might be worthwhile seeing if there’s any overlap with a wider pool of names.

    You’ve had some great suggestions already. I’ll add Piper, Philippa, May or Mae, Geneva or Genevieve, Celeste, Esther or Estella, Frances or Francesca, Amber, Harper or Harlow.

  2. Delaney
    Prairie nickname airie
    Penelope nickname Poppy
    Mallory nickname Rory
    Arielle nickname airie

  3. Love the suggestions of Phoebe and Eloise. Other ideas…..
    Eliza, Elise

  4. Since nature names might be an overlap, what about Linnea? Sylvie also comes to mind. You both have vowel heavy names too, so what about Viola or Iona? Georgia?