Name Help Rank Our ListName 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!

J writes:

We’re early days into pregnancy number two. It took pretty much nine months to agree on our son’s name, Dylan Christopher. I kept our list of maybe names, and would love to hear others’ opinions about the best name for this little one.

We might eventually consider names that aren’t on this list, but for right now, I want to stick with these, as I think we would both be happy with them and agree, even though we both have our favorites.

For a boy:

  • Daniel – my favorite last time, but only if it’s Daniel, not Danny/Dan
  • Isaac – love the meaning, not sure about the story (from the Bible) and our last name starts with C, so it runs together a little
  • Parker – a really important name for us, but it isn’t great with our last name
  • Everett – really like this one, but we do know another little Everett

For a girl:

  • Penelope – how can you not love this name, but maybe it’s too popular
  • Cecilia – same thing with Daniel, though, don’t really want it shortened
  • Kimberly – my mom suggested because it was her favorite name for her second, who turned out to be my little brother. thought it was crazy, but then it grew on me
  • Josie – love how friendly sounds
  • Ella, Stella, Bella – cheating a little here, but we love all three of these names equally and could never decide which one belonged on the list

For a boy, we like the middle name Harrison because it’s my grandmother’s family and I’m close to them. For a girl, we could use Catherine (for my grandmother), but we’re open to anything.

Our last name starts with a hard C and is one syllable and sounds a little bit like Court.

Read on for my response, and please leave your thoughtful reactions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your second!

You’ve built a really solid list for Dylan Christopher’s new sibling. It’s tough to resist the urge to add more suggestions, but I get it – sometimes you just know it’s better to work from the list you’ve built rather than add more.


4. Isaac – It’s such a great name! And I think it could work with your last name, mostly because we all recognize Isaac. But it’s not ideal, because I can imagine it being misheard. So I’m rating Isaac last.

3. Parker – Maybe I’m sensitive to it because we just talked about Isaac. And I do think Parker like-Court would be much, much easier to wear that Isaac like-Court. Still, that repeating sound gives me pause. It’s enough to put Parker at #3.

2. Daniel – I love everything about Daniel. It sounds great with Dylan. It’s a traditional favorite, a great blend of sweetness and strength. But I do think it would be tough to never shorten his name to Dan/Danny. Since that’s something you’re not in love with, I’ll put Daniel in the second spot.

1. Everett – It’s the last name standing, but I think it would be my #1 pick regardless. Love the way it sounds with Dylan and with your short last name.

Everett Harrison is great, but would you also consider Everett Parker? I think the repeating sounds are less of an issue in the middle spot, and if Parker has lots of meaning, it’s worth considering it as a middle name, too.


5. Cecilia – Among the little Cecilias I know, none shorten it – unless their parents intended to shorten it originally. And yet, your list of names is so strong that a lingering concern that your Cecilia would end up Ceci (or Celie or Celia?) is enough to put this name at the bottom.

4. Josie – This feels a little arbitrary. Mostly I can’t think of any reason to rank Josie higher, though I like it quite a bit and think it fits your criteria nicely.

3. Kimberly – I love a longer name with like-Court, and in this case, I think the K/C is perfect. We’re naming our daughters Delaney and Avery, so why not Kimberly? It could be that perfect blend of a name we all know with a name that isn’t common for children. (Maybe she’d share it with a teacher eventually?) One hesitation – Kimberly is so often Kimmy or Kim that I think you’d have to push back against that some.

2. Penelope – I agree with you! Penelope is current, fun, sparky, and easy to like. Yes, it’s popular – but mostly because it’s such a great name. And nothing really sounds like Penelope, so it still stands out, even if there are others in your neighborhood.

1. Ella – I’m surprising myself with this pick. I’ll also add 1b. is Stella and 1c. goes to Bella. They’re popular sounds you hear a lot, which seems like something you don’t like. But all three are nickname-proof, and since that’s a concern that comes up a lot, I wonder if shorter isn’t better? You might even name her Isabella/Annabelle and call her Ella, but I’m not sure if that holds any appeal. (Do you prefer to avoid nicknames, or just those specific nicknames?)

I also love Ella because you could consider Ella Kimberly. I know Catherine and Harrison are the family names you’ve concerned for this child, but Kimberly is incredibly appealing as a middle name, I think.

Readers, over to you! How would you rank J.’s current list?

Name Help Rank Our List

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. My ranking:

    04 – Daniel
    03 – Isaac
    02 – Everett
    01 – Parker

    05 Kimberly
    04 Josie
    03 Penelope
    02 Cecilia
    01 Ella

  2. Sending more love for Everett. It is great with the brother name.

    With your surname, I like the longer options best. Cecilia Catherine or Cecilia Kimberly would be lovely. In my experience Cecilia and Penelope are often used in full exclusively but Kimberly and Daniel seem to get automatically shortened by strangers a lot, perhaps because they were popular during an era when this was more common.