Name Help: A Sister for Tamson and GracienneUpdate: They settled on Helena if it was a girl, but baby #3 was a boy. Welcome to the world, Easton Charles!

Elizabeth writes:

We recently found out I am pregnant with #3. Surprise!

I have a 6 year old boy named Tamson Bennett and a 4 year old girl named Gracienne Elizabeth. I already have a boys name, but nothing for the girl and I do not seem to like anything, except Iris, but our last name starts with an ‘S’ and is one syllable, and rhymes with Elle, so that name is out. (Heart broken).

My husband doesn’t want to use anything typical, so my love of Esme and Eva are out (as is the top 400). I like Reeva, but I’m not over the top. It’s getting stressful and everything kind of feels wrong.

I would GREATLY appreciate any help. Thank you!!!

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

Hi Elizabeth –

Oh – the search for a great name that no one else has discovered yet! In theory, it’s fun. But when you’re looking for a name that is both underused and just right for your child? That can be a challenge.

I’m going to avoid the entire US Top 1000, even though I think Gracienne and Reeva both feel reasonably mainstream. And yet, I would add this: Iris ranks in the girls’ Top 200. If you fall in love with a name that’s just a little bit more popular than you’d prefer? Try not to rule it out right away.

Afton – I wonder if you’d prefer something slightly more tailored? Afton comes from the name of a river, immortalized in a Robert Burns poem, sometimes set to music. But maybe it’s a little close to your son’s name? Another similar possibility would be Avalon, as in the paradise from Arthurian legend – and the Roxy Music album.

Amoret – Esme means beloved, and so I went looking for more names with similar roots. A few – like Elska and Carys – don’t work with your surname. But Cordelia, Davina, and Evolet all do, as does Amoret. It’s probably the most distinctive of the bunch, so I’m adding it to this list of suggestions. Edmund Spenser invented Amoret for his poem The Faerie Queene, so it’s not unknown. I’ve also seen it spelled Amorette.

Cosima – You’re looking at short names, but Gracienne is fairly elaborate. Would something like Cosima appeal? I think it could pose some pronunciation challenges, at least in the US. But it’s an appealing rarity, with a great meaning: order, as in cosmos. If that’s close, but not quite, the literary Cosette might be another possibility. There’s no question about pronunciation, and it has the same tailored, slightly French feel of Gracienne.

Delphine – Speaking of slightly French and tailored, I think Delphine would make a great sister name for Gracienne.

Evadne – Since you like Eva, but it’s too popular to be The Name, I wonder if you’d consider a longer Eva- choice? Elaborations like Evalina work, of course, but I wonder what you’d think of Evadne? It’s a name from Greek myth, and it fits right in with Everly and Evelyn, plus that ‘e’ ending brings to mind Penelope and Zoe.

Linnea – Maybe it’s because Iris is a flower name. Or maybe it’s because Gracienne combines familiar feminine sounds in unexpected ways. Linnea – another name for the twinflower – came to mind immediately. It sounds like a girls’ name, and I can think of plenty of appealing uses. And yet, Linnea hasn’t appeared in the US Top 1000 since the 1950s. (And even then, it never reached higher than the 800s.)

Romilly – What would you think of Romilly? It’s a slightly different direction – a tailored surname name, rather than a more traditional first. But it sounds like a girl’s name circa 2018, and while it’s rare, it offers a clear pronunciation.

Violetta – One of the strengths of Gracienne is how it’s just ever-so-slightly different from the chart-topping Grace. Violetta offers a spin on the very popular Violet. It also preserves the ‘v’ sound of Reeva. Of course, so do lots of other options, like Valencia and Vivica.

Zora – Since Reeva – and Esme and Eva – are on the shorter side, I wonder if you’d like Zora? It comes from a Slavic word meaning dawn, and it brings to mind writer Zora Neale Hurston. Way back in the day – into the 1930s – it appeared in the US Top 1000. But today, it’s relatively unknown.

I’m having a hard time figuring out which names make the most sense. Tamson and Gracienne are distinctive, and while they’re rare, they’re not all that different, either. That makes me think that something like Zora or Linnea might be the right direction. But I’m also wondering if you’d prefer a more tailored name, and so the consonant-endings of Delphine and Amoret speak to me, too.

But overall, if I had to choose just one, I think I’d say Evadne. It repeats some of the letters and sounds you’re drawn to, but it’s definitely different. Tamson, Gracienne, and Evadne – I do like those together.

Over to you, readers – I know you’ll have some great suggestions! What would you name a sister for Tamson Bennett and Gracienne Elizabeth?

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. I wanted to close the loop- we had a boy and named him Easton Charles. Easton was on our list for 7 years after our first son and it was the only boys name we agreed on. Charles is a family name. We did decide on Helena for a girl, but hadn’t chosen a middle. Thanks for all your help!

    1. Congratulations, Elizabeth! So glad you found a name you loved – and it’s always fun to use something that you’ve considered over the years. It’s like it was waiting there for your son, all this time. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for all these suggestions. It really was so helpful. I am about 6 weeks away and still am just undecided. Is this normal? For our first two I knew right away and knew that it was “right”. I am leaning towards Easton for a boy or girl, but the general feedback is — that is a boy’s name. Does that matter if I like it? Do I try and spell it differently (Easten)? If I had to choose a “girl’s” name I guess I like – Helena, Opal, and Fia. They are all 2nd choice. I feel like there are a million names and it shouldn’t be this tough!!

    1. Oh, it’s SO normal! I don’t know why, but sometimes names come easily and sometimes they … well, don’t.

      Here’s what leaps out at me: you DO have a favorite name. Easton. It just so happens that, when you take it for a test drive, some people object. That happens because, well, it sounds like you’re asking for an opinion. (And maybe you kind of are.) But if you introduced your newborn daughter Easton, those same people would probably respond very differently. First, because it’s the decent, human thing to do. And secondly, because the reality of a baby with a name often makes us see the name in a completely different light than when it’s just “What do you think of This Name for a girl?”

      As for the fact that there are thousands of names to choose from? I’m convinced that’s what makes it so hard! When I was a kid, our local, perfectly nice grocery store was 1/8 of the size of the really nice suburban grocery stores today. I’m not sure my quality of life has expanded by eight times just because we have that much more selection, but I do know that grocery shopping takes much longer than it did when my would race through with a bunch of little kids. More choice doesn’t always make things easier …

      As for the spelling, I like Easton best.

      1. Last question, I promise! The only other name that I love is Iris. Our last name starts with Sh…. so to me if you say the name fast it sounds like Irish… It’s a no, right??

        1. Ooh, tough call … I do think the ‘s’ in Iris runs into the Sh is your surname.

          Here’s my rule with first name-surname conflicts: if the first name is very common, it almost doesn’t matter. Our brains don’t have to think about the name, so we don’t focus on the conflict. James Shay or James Shore works fine. Iris Shay or Iris Shore sounds far more awkward because we really have to focus on hearing the first name.

          It’s not unworkable, but it will almost certainly mean your daughter will have to carefully pronounce her first and last name every time. Iris is more popular than it’s been before, though, and that’s to your advantage.

          If it was my very most favorite name, rich with meaning and personal significance, I might risk it. If it were just a garden-variety favorite? I’d probably move on.

          1. Thank you. You are pretty amazing at this….more helpful than anyone!!

  3. I think if you have the same ending sounds as your girl…it will take away from the uniqueness of Graciennes name.
    What about something timeless and simple with an ultra feminine and traditional middle?


    Or keep the pride and prejudice theme for the middle…here’s some more Jane names:

    Alicia Johnson, Lady Susan
    Anne Elliot, Persuasion
    Augusta Watson, The Watsons
    Bella Knightley, Emma
    Betsy Price, Mansfield Park
    Caroline Otway, Emma
    Charlotte Lucas, Pride and Prejudice
    Clara Partridge, Emma
    Dorothy, Northanger Abbey
    Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility
    Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
    Emma Woodhouse, Emma
    Emily, Northanger Abbey
    Fanny Brandon, Sense and Sensibility
    Frederica Susanna Vernon, Lady Susan
    Georgiana Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
    Hannah, Emma
    Harriet Harrington, Pride and Prejudice
    Henrietta Musgrove, Persuasion
    Hetty Bates, Emma
    Isabella Thorpe, Northanger Abbey
    Jane Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
    Jemima, Persuasion
    Louisa Hurst, Pride and Prejudice
    Lucy Gregory, Mansfield Park
    Lydia Bennet,Pride and Prejudice
    Margaret Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility
    Maria Lucas, Pride and Prejudice
    Martha Sharpe, Sense and Sensibility
    Mary Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
    Penelope Watson, The Watsons
    Sally, Sense and Sensibility
    Selina Hawkins, Emma
    Sophia Grey, Sense and Sensibility
    Susan Vernon, Lady Susan

  4. You have -on/-onne and -enne/-en. If you want to stick with that pattern, I suggest:
    Lucianne, Oceane, Ewanne, Evynn, Bronwyn, Tulane, Quinn, Ninian, Vivian, Linnea, Bronte, Mari.

  5. So fun to see Afton suggested! We chose it 7 years ago 🙂

    With Gracienne, I think Evadne is really lovely- recognizable but rare, starts with a name we know like Gracienne, but with a unique twist!

    Coralie or Coraline are also lovely for the same reason!

    Good luck and congrats on #3!