Name 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!
My husband and I are expecting a little girl this summer. We love the name Amma, but it seems like a nickname and I’d much prefer to have a longer name that Amma can be a nickname for. Any thoughts?
I’ve thought through Amity, Amory, and Amalia and just don’t love any of them. I’m also not sure I like Amma for Amelia. Would love to put your and your community’s brainstorming to work!
Hi Allison –
This is a good question!
There’s no rule that says Amma requires a nickname. Amma stands alone as a given name in India, and also claims roots in Norse myth. That makes this rarity a short, sweet, and culture-spanning choice.
But I feel like it makes sense here, for two reasons. First, because it seems like you just plain prefer that style. But secondly, Amma is awfully close to the wildly popular Emma. Making Amma a nickname for a longer Am- name could reduce the confusion.
So let’s brainstorm some names, other than Amity, Amory, and Amalia/Amelia.
Amabel popped into my head immediately. Will it be confused with Annabelle? Almost certainly. Then again, Annabelle probably developed as a form of Amabel. The original name derives from the Latin word for lovable; there’s a (male) Saint Amabilis from the fifth century.
Amalie, Amelie – You’ve considered Amelia and Amalia. Would trading the -ia ending for an -ie make the sound any more appealing?
Amanda – I know! Amanda has reached mom name territory, and seems likely to remain there for another fifty years. But if Amanda hadn’t been a chart-topper back in the day, it could be huge now. Like Amabel, it comes from the Latin word for lovable. The French Amandine might be another option that feels less stuck in the 80s.
Amarantha, Amaryllis – Two unusual floral possibilities, both long and elaborate. The upside is that Amma follows logically as a nickname. The downside is that both names might be more rare than you’d like.
Amadea, Amedea – Amadeus has failed to catch on as a boy’s given name in the US, despite the enduring popularity of Mozart. Still, the feminine form of the name might wear better.
Amoret – Yet another name drawing on that familiar Latin root, Amoret was invented by Edmund Spenser in the Faerie Queene.
Annamaria, Annemarie – Any Ann + Ma name potentially works! Anna Marlow could reasonably lead to A+Ma = Amma. Though I think the long, lyrical quality of Annamaria reduces logically to Amma in a way that, say, Anna Mae might not.
Often I don’t have a clear favorite when I’m making a list like this. This time, though, Amabel leapt out to me as a contender from the first.
I think it’s a great stands-out/fits-in name, one that works with Amma as a nickname.
But the more I think about it, the more I fall in love with so many possibilities, from Amaryllis to Amelie.
Readers, what would you suggest as formal names for Amma?