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!
My husband and I are expecting our first baby, a daughter, this May. It is my name-loving dream to get to name a girl, and we have a list of names that I think I could love. I just don’t love them yet.
I think for me to fall in love with a name, I need to see it in completion — meaning I need to love the entire first-middle-last combo.
I am looking for a balanced, complementary, striking, birth-announcement/hashtag-worthy first-middle combination that flows well with our last name: Nav@rro (accent on the second syllable).
I am hoping that you and your readers can help me uncover a hidden gem combination buried somewhere within our style or lists.
First names we like include (but are not limited to):
Lucy (Current front-runner)
*Probably too popular for me to love.
Middle names are less defined. Some I’ve considered include:
Rose (My mother and I share this middle name, but it’s become so expected in the middle spot. I would like to explore substituting other flower, nature, color, or word names here.)
Elizabeth (my name)
Alexandra/Alessandra/Alessia (my husband is Alexander)
Florence (This is the city where my husband and I met, but I don’t love the sound. I’d consider other variants, Italian cities, or Italian words or names.)
Wilder (I just like the spunk and the sound and the literary connection. Any and all literary influence is welcome.)
I’d like whatever middle name we choose to balance or even juxtapose the first name. For example, if the first name is short, I prefer a longer middle. If the first name is popular, I’d like to balance it with an unexpected middle. I also enjoy surprising contrast in sounds or tone. (Some of my Instagram baby name crushes include Lucca Valentine, Goldie Isabel, Rooney Jane, and Francesca Rose.) I’d like to avoid filler middles (no Lucy May or Hazel Ann) or overused combinations. Since our last name starts with “N,” middles like Quinn and Wren, though I love them, don’t sound right to me.
I appreciate any feedback or suggestions you or your readers may have.
Read on for my response – and please leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments!
Hi Liz –
I know exactly what you’re talking about! But it is hard to describe, isn’t it? Some combinations are just sparky. I might not notice the first name or the middle name on their own, but when paired together? I find myself saying “Ooooh …” when I hear it.
There are definitely Ooooh-worthy combinations to made from your list. But it’s a long list, isn’t it? I wonder if we should narrow it down a little more.
Popularity can be a good way to eliminate possibilities, but it seems like you’ve already identified Zoe, Isabel, and Harper as a little too familiar – and I think you’re right.
Instead, I’ll choose three names from your list to work with, and trust that the community will have other combinations to suggest!
First Names: Three Strong Candidates
Lucy – I would have kept it because it’s your frontrunner.
But then you mentioned that you and your husband met in Florence. Maybe you already know this, but if not, you need to drop everything and watch 1985’s A Room with a View. Or you could read it, but I think the gorgeousness and romance of Florence comes through in the movie. (Okay – I’ve never read the book!) Anyway, it’s all about young Lucy Honeychurch – played by a young Helena Bonham Carter – falling in love in Florence! EM Forster wrote the novel in 1908, and the story takes place around the same time. This makes me think that Lucy is your Florence name.
Phoebe – I think Phoebe hits the right note in terms of popularity – it’s in the current US Top 300, and rising – but it’s far less common than Zoe.
Georgia – So many of the names on your list are rich with potential. But many of them are around/near the US Top 100. I don’t think that should be a deal breaker. But Georgia is around the 250 mark, making it a great name that’s still relatively uncommon.
Combinations: 21 Ideas
Let’s start with Phoebe:
- Phoebe Jewel – I think this name sparkles! I find the initials PJ pleasing, but I wonder if Jewel is too out there for you?
- Phoebe Elliot – It’s a very feminine first with a more conventionally masculine middle – a combination that wears well, I think. One other thought: go with Phoebe Eliot, and it’s a nod to writer George Eliot.
- Phoebe Leonore – The lion is the symbol of Florence, so nearly any Leo- name could work in the middle. Leonore appealed to me because you have Nora on your longer list. I also think the repeating ‘r’ sound in Leonore and your surname works well.
- Phoebe Delphine – Maybe it’s the repeating ‘ph’ that makes this such an intriguing combination. Delphine means from Delphi, as in the Greek oracle, but in English it also means “of dolphins.” The dolphin was the symbol of a powerful Florentine family, who ultimately lost a powerful struggle with Lorenzo de Medici. Dolphins can still be found throughout the city. Probably a stretch, but still an appealing combination! PS – I think the n-N conflict between middle and last names works here, probably because it’s del FEEN.
- Phoebe Adair – Dare is a rare name for girls, and a surname, too – but I think I prefer Phoebe Adair. Adair is another surname, but contains the same sound as dare – making it a bold choice.
- Phoebe Sage – Another nature name possibility, since Sage is an herb. But it also means wise, which makes it a doubly appealing possibility. And I have a soft spot for the initials PS.
- Phoebe Valentine – You mentioned loving this name on Pinterest. It’s one of my favorites, too – a middle name that’s a little bit frilly and romantic, but still tailored and sharp.
Now, on to Lucy:
- Lucy Fiore – Lucy already has ties to Florence, but here’s another: the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore – Mary of the Flowers – is the city’s cathedral. Fiore sounds fiery, but it actually botanical. And, of course, Florence and flower share etymological roots. One drawback: I say it fee ohr AY, which feels more Italian, but it might be tough to say in English.
- Lucy Wilder – Pairing the more traditional Lucy with the unexpected Wilder makes for a great combination.
- Lucy Isabetta – I’ve seen Elisabetta and Isabella listed as Italian forms of Elizabeth, but I wonder if Isabetta works better with Lucy? I’ve found Isabetta in more than one place in medieval Italy, so it seems like a possibility.
- Lucy Emerald – The birthstone for May is the Emerald.
- Lucy Briar – If Rose is a family middle name, how about Briar? It brings to mind Briar Rose, of fairytale fame, but also wild rose bushes.
- Lucy Primrose – Just a little twist on Rose, but one that makes the name much bolder.
- Lucy Alexine – There are so many options presented by your husband’s name – including gorgeous Italian choices like Alessia and Alessandra. Alexine is more traditionally Scottish, and yet I wonder if it’s the not the better Alex- name for Lucy Nav@rro. There’s also Lucy Alexis, which could be great – but I wonder if Alexis feels too dated and Dynasty?
And lastly, Georgia:
- Georgia Bess – I wonder if you’d consider a different form of Elizabeth as a middle name? There are oodles, of course, but I like the retro, unexpected feel of Bess.
- Georgia Vale – You don’t mention if you’re due in early or late May, and this suggestion might not be ideal if your daughter arrives on April 30th or June 2nd! But the birth flower for May is the lily of the valley. Georgia Lily sounds like a type of flower, but I think Georgia Vale is an Ooooh-worthy pick. Vale is a poetic word for valley, but it’s not a super-obvious nature name. One more reason to love a reference to the flower? In the Victorian era, including lilies of the valley in a bouquet meant “you have made my life complete.”
- Georgia Zenobia – Is this too much name? It seems like you might prefer something a little more spare. But here’s why I have Zenobia on this list: one of the patron saints of Florence is Saint Zenobius, the first bishop, so it’s a nod to Florence. But Zenobia is also a gorgeously literary name, thanks to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance. And the name’s roots are ancient – it refers to the Greek god Zeus, and was worn by a third century queen who took on the Roman Empire.
- Georgia Blythe – Speaking of blithe, how about Georgia Blythe? It means happy.
- Georgia Swift – So many word names sound wrong with Georgia! But I wonder if Georgia Swift works? It’s a bird, of course, but also brings to mind Jonathan Swift, making it literary. And, okay, Taylor Swift. Still, it’s an energetic and unexpected middle.
- Georgia Bloom – One more floral-esque possibility, though it’s pretty bold: Georgia Bloom!
- Georgia Hawthorn – I think this might be my favorite with Georgia! Hawthorn is often called the may blossom, making it a nature name. But it also brings to mind Nathaniel Hawthorne, which makes it literary. It’s not actually the name of a plant, and I don’t think it feels like one – at least, not in the way that Georgia Rose or Georgia Lily might.
It’s hard for me to choose my favorites – there are just so many Ooooh-inspiring choices! I like Georgia Hawthorn and Georgia Vale quite a bit, but also Phoebe Delphine. And it’s hard to resist the idea of Lucy as your daughter’s name, what with the Florentine connection. Lucy Wilder and Lucy Fiore are my favorites from that list.
Okay, readers – this is a big, fun challenge! Can you dream up some more swoonworthy combinations for Liz and her husband to consider?
I think that Olive, Alexis, or Maisie, Mae, Myrtle, Jade would fit well in the middle name slot, though I love the idea of using your family’s shared middle name, Rose.
As for the first, I think that Eliana nicknamed Ellie would be really cute!
Or, Phoebe Delphine is simply divine!
I love the idea of using the place you met as a middle for your daughter, I also second using Firenze – very unexpected but has a great meaning behind it, if you don’t like Florence. I suppose you can be glad you didn’t meet in Capracotta (it means ‘cooked goat’).
Other middle names from the lists that stood out were Primrose, Ambrose and Bloom.
It also made me laugh when you said you didn’t want any filler names like May (my daughter’s middle – named after her great-grandmother) or Ann (my middle – named after my great-grandmother) 🙂
Good luck – I’d love to hear the update on this baby! 🙂
Consider this another vote for Phoebe Valentine! I’m really fond of unusual names, and you really don’t see people named Phoebe that often.
I like Lucy a lot. The mom’s name in the Little House books was Caroline – that would be a very nice homage to a great literary mom. Lucy Caroline.
What a fun list! My favorite combinations from Abby’s suggestions are Lucy Wilder and Phoebe Adair. Not sure if I saw this combo somewhere else, but Sage Adair is really popping out to me as well. Here are a few other suggestions:
Milan is another Italian city that could make a chic, gender-neutral middle and has a very similar sound to your list name Mila– I could see either Lucy Milan or Phoebe Milan working. Milan could maybe even be a first? Milan Rose N___ I feel like the unexpected first name counters the sweetness of Rose nicely.
You seem to favor a lot of shorter names and I thought of Iona–Iona Isabel has a nice flow to it or maybe Iona Rosalie or even Iona Wilder
Firenze (pronounced, roughly, firENtse) is the Italian name for Florence and has a more edgy sound than Florence as a middle: Lucy Firenze?
Other potential middles: Xan (pronounced Zan) as a take on Alexandra/der could make for a funky, sassy, middle name with a lot of zip and a cool initial to boot although it does run into the ends in n issue with your last name. Lilac, is an alternate color and flower name with a similar sound to Lila. Carmine is more often a boy’s name, but it’s also a color name and you have a few gender-neutralish names on your list–Phoebe Carmine? There’s also Carmina if you preferred a more feminine sound. Fox, is another name that more often goes to the boys, but I don’t see any particular reason it couldn’t be a girl’s name too especially as a middle– Lucy Fox N____
And finally, Alder and Hyacinth are two other nature names I could see working. Best of luck! There are so many great names on your lists and Abby’s and in all the suggestions!
Flora could reference the family name of Rose and also the Florence connection- which is lovely. I have seen the name Florabella in the middle spot as well (meaning beautiful flower- how nice!). Lucy Florabella Nav@rro is a great name.
The Mrs. says
Cara is Italian for ‘heart’. Bijoux means ‘jewel’. Cara Bijoux definitely has some sparkle to her.
Gemma Miren feels full of Hollywood glamour.
Estelle Rosso (‘rosso’ is Italian for ‘red’) has refined sass.
Ivy Amore might ring true for you. A botanical, a color, AND Italian love. Ivy has beauty, backbone, and brevity…sounds lovely with your surname, too.
I love a lot of these! Phoebe Valentine, Lucy Primrose, and Georgia Vale (or Georgia Bloom!) are the stand out combination in my opinion.
What do you think of Lucy Fiorella? Similar to Fiore, but maybe a bit more balanced?
Other thoughts: Juno Frances, Mila Isobel, Lucy Cosima, Violet Alexandra, Isla Josephine, Nora Juliette, Lucy Marigold, Hazel Athena
More Suggestions: Hadley Juniper, Eleanor Lark, Esme Josephine, Olive Alessandra, Willa Pearl, Iris Genevieve, Rosalie Sloan, Emmy Adeline
I can tell I’m going to be the lone Scrooge here, but Valentine for girls is my *biggest* name pet peeve lately. Why not Lucy Nicholas while you’re at it *grumble* That said, I find Vale and Wilder striking. Neither strikes me as gender specific, which works to achieve that special, hashtag-ready sound that you’re going for. My favorite combination of Abby’s is Georgia Vale followed by Lucy Wilder. Both are punchy and mellifluous all at once. Perfection!
I had Lucy Fiammetta on my list, which I think is quite striking!
Juno Alexandria (or Alessandra)
The Room with a View reference is pretty perfect; I’ll suggest Lucy Isobel as a combination – Isobel/Isabel and Elizabeth are variants of the same name, so it’s like naming your daughter after yourself in a sly sort of way. Fiora is a rare name I’ve come across a few times – I don’t think it works well as a first name because it would be constantly mistaken for Fiona, but as a middle name it’s fine. There’s also Flora, of course.
Rose names are on the rise but Rose on its own is lovely and classic, and you can pair almost any middle name with it. I will also suggest Gemma for the Italian connection and because it’s a great name. If you’re a little more adventurous you could also consider Gioia (meaning joy), Giovanna, Lorenza, Alessandra (which you mentioned), Eleonora, Vittoria or Chiara (meaning light).
My name is Lucy and my daughter is Georgia, so you obviously have fabulous taste! My daughter is Georgia Greer (we often call her Gigi), so that’s one idea :)– but I also love Lucy Valentine so so much! I kind of wish that was my middle name! I also wish you liked Florence–I love it as a first name orca middle! Best of luck!!
Seeing both Rose/Rosa and Nora on the list — how about Rosanore? It would be beautiful either as a first or as a middle.
I love your choices, we have the same taste. And I love Lucy best (it’s my niece’s name so we couldn’t use it. Georgia is my daughter’s name. Phoebe is a loved name that my hubby vetoed :-() My suggestions:
Lucy Valentine (if you like Lucca Valentine so much, why not?)
Lucy Rosamund (spin on continuing your Rose names)
Lucy Juniper (love the pattern of LuJu and Lucy June is cute)
Lucy Eloise (Lucy Loo? LEN)
Lucy Ambrose (less expected Rose variation)
How about Lucinda Rose?
Phoebe stood out to me the most as well. No like Phoebe Iris. Iris has the flower middle connection, great symbolism (wisdom and strength) and the double meaning of rainbow in Greek mythology. Might be too Greek mythology with Phoebe but I don’t think so. Phoebe Iris Nav@rro. And “Pin” could be a secret boyish nickname.
Two other “bold romantic” suggestions for first or middles are Marisol and Amarantha. Both give the nickname Mary, which is actually a rare and adorable name that has the same sing-song sweetness as Lucy. Mary Nav@rro.
The combination that immediately stood out to me was Georgia Vale. It’s gorgeous and interesting and I love it SO much! I also like Lucy Isabetta and Lucy Wilder.
Just a note on Zoe, I know it’s statistically pretty popular, but I’ve never met a single one. It sounds fresh and interesting to me.. It could just be that it’s not so popular in my area of the country though.
‘Fiorenza’ is also a Florence alternative.
If it were not for the literary connection between Florence and Lucy, I would strike Lucy off your list as boring/too popular.
Likewise, I would strike for the same reasons all but Juno, Phoebe, Milo, Piper.
This is my impression (not stats). I live in Europe.
Christina Fonseca says
Since Lucy is the front runner and it sounds great with your last name, my vote goes to either Lucy Briar or Lucy Primrose. Your favorite combined with a spin on mom and grandma’s middle.