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!
We have a three year-old daughter named Rosemary, and our second daughter is due in November.
It took us weeks to find Rosemary’s name. It’s a little longer, but we don’t shorten it, and so far, no one else calls her Rosie or anything like that, either.
We like that it’s classic, but not exactly in the Elizabeth/Katherine way. The fact that it’s longer appeals to both of us, as our last name is short. And we like that people know it, but you don’t hear it everywhere. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them rules, but out of all the names on our original long list, it’s really the only one I can imagine using for a real-life child. (At least of ours.)
We’ve considered and rejected Scarlett, Annabelle, Josephine (because I can’t stand the nickname Josie), Eleanor (bad personal memory for my wife, plus I hear it a lot on kids), Samantha (my grandmother’s dog), Marianne/Mariana (because we already have Rosemary), and too many more to list.
Lately, it feels like we can think of a reason to rule out almost every name, and we’re running out of time.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Jean –
Congratulations on your new daughter! Here’s the thing: until you named your daughter Rosemary, I’m not convinced you had rules, exactly. You had strong preferences. But my guess is that naming a daughter cemented those into rules, and now you’re struggling with all the possibilities that might sound right for your child, but strike you as off when said in conjunction with Rosemary.
I mean, you could have girls called Rosemary and Everly. Rosemary and Ann. Rosemary and Mia. But I can understand why you wouldn’t, even if Everly, Ann, and Mia are three names you like in theory.
It’s one of the reasons naming children often gets harder, not easier.
So let’s focus on names that are longer, feel traditional without being too classic, and while recognizable, don’t seem terribly common.
Annabeth – You mentioned considering, but ultimately rejecting, Annabelle. Would Annabeth be an option? There’s something substantial about Annabeth. Maybe that’s because I think of her as Athena’s daughter in the Percy Jackson series. Or maybe it’s because it’s just a little less expected than Ananbelle. While belle names can be traditional heavy-hitters – hello, Isabella of Castile – I do think they feel a little trendier than you might like.
Cordelia – This name sounds frilly, but Lear’s loyal daughter has serious backbone. It seems like many of your favorites avoid an -a ending, but then, your favorites haven’t risen to The Name. Something to love about Cordelia: it reminds me of the Latin cor, heart, as in the Spanish word corazon and the French coeur.
Genevieve – The patron saint of Paris, Genevieve is French and traditional, but sounds a little edgy, even modern. Blame it on the veev sound. And while it’s rising in use over the last few years, Genevieve has never really been trendy.
Miriam – Mariana is out with Rosemary as a sister, but how about Miriam? Strictly speaking, it’s the Hebrew form of Mary, heard in the Old Testament. But there’s a lot of space between Rosemary and Miriam. Plus, while Miriam could easily shorten to Miri or Mim, it’s not nearly as automatic as many longer names.
Penelope – Maybe Penelope is too popular. The ancient name has stepped straight out of The Odyssey and on the popularity charts, boosted by a Christina Ricci movie, a reality star, and plenty of other uses. But don’t let the Kardashians get you down. The rhythm of the name reminds me of Rosemary. And while it hovers around the US Top 25 right now, that’s not quite Olivia.
Susannah – If Penelope is more popular than you’d guess, it’s stunning how much less common Susannah is these days. Neither Susannah or Susanna appears in the current US Top 1000. And yet, it’s a great name – traditional, but not buttoned-down. There’s something sparky and vintage about Susannah. I imagine plenty of sisters have answered to some combination of Rosemary and Susannah in days gone by. And yet she’ll probably never share the name with another girl her age.
Theodora – Theodore makes the list of traditional boy names in the middle of a revival. Theo and Thea are popular, too. But somehow we’ve overlooked Theodora, and that could be a great opportunity.
Veronica – We’ve been hearing the name Veronica since the New Testament. Berenice – or Pherenike – is an even older form that dates the name to Egyptian royals in ancient days. But Veronica remains just under the radar, a name we all know, but rarely share. Veronica and Rosemary are timeless – at home in the early twenty-first century, but at plenty of other times, too.
Overall, I love the symmetry of Rosemary and Annabeth. But I think my vote goes to Theodora. It has the same steely strength as Rosemary. (Full disclosure: both names are on my lists of favorites for a future daughter.) They’re both four syllable names we all recognize but don’t hear too very often – a perfect match.
Readers, what would you suggest as a sister for Rosemary? Do you think Theodora works? Or am I overlooking better possibilities?
Rosemary and Anneliese
Rosemary and Corabelle
Rosemary and Liliana
Rosemary and Juliana
I like the above names because they are compound (or double) names, as is Rosemary.
Rosemary and Evelise (pronounced as in Eva with a long E)
Rosemary and Jasmine/Jasmina
Rosemary and Arabella
Rosemary and Anastasia
Rosemary and Delphine
Some great suggestions in the comments! I especially love Esther, Susanna, Virginia, and Marguerite. Melanie also sprang to mind.
Felicity or Victoria (to me they are classics, but not predictable, like Elizabeth.)
Rosemary and Dahlia
Antonia, Beatrix, Caroline, Cecilia, Clarissa, Constance, Gloria, Lavinia, Leonie, Lucinda, Marcella, Marguerite, Marjorie, Nicolette, Paulina, Philippa, and Verity are my suggestions. I think Marguerite could be quite pretty as it can also refer ti a daisy but isn’t an obvious flower name.
Rosemary and Celeste
Rosemary and Beatrice
Rosemary and Delilah
Rosemary and Imogen
Are you ok with another R name? Because Rosemary and Regina would be adorable.
Georgina (Though for full transparency this is my best friends name and she goes by George a lot)
Rosemary and Clementine would be lovely as a sibset.
Oh what about Edith or Meredith? Agnes, Paloma, Juliette/Juliet, Julia, Felicity, Louisa, Fiona
So many lovely names and suggestions to go with the equally lovely Rosemary. The suggestion of Virginia to me seems amazing, and then brought to mind Carolina, which is classic and lovely like her big sisters name. I also love Rosemary and Dorothy together like many here. If you were so inclined to play off the botanical side of Rosemary I would like to offer the suggestion of Bryony/Briony. Whatever name you select I have no doubt it will be the ideal name for her, even something as unexpected as Wisteria, which I love as a name. Oh as someone whose middle name is Winifred, I love that suggestion as well. Like I started with so many lovely names and suggestion to work with Rosemary.
Florence or Magnolia? I think Beatrice and Matilda would be great too.
Erin Beth says
Back to endorse the suggestions of Harriet, Frances, and Dorothy and to add Pauline, Millicent, and Lucinda.
I’ll second Estelle! But my first thought was actually Theresa…
Jean C. says
A million yeses to Dorothy, Felicity and Matilda.
I also like Geneva and Gloria for you.
I meant to add Cecily or Cicely. Friends have a new baby Cressida, which is also pretty.
I love the suggestion of Annabeth – it really goes with Rosemary, since while Rosemary is a botanical name it can also be seen as a blend of two classics. Same number of syllable too.
How about Anthea? Pron. the British way -An-thee-uh, without stressing any syllable above the others. It’s an underused beauty.
Coralie (pron. koh-ruh-lee)
Vanora (a Scots form of Guinevere)
Erin Beth says
My first thought was Rosemary & Helena, so please consider that seconded. Other ideas:
Rosemary & Virginia
Rosemary & Sylvia
Rosemary & Marguerite
Rosemary & Evelyn
My faves of Abby’s suggestions are Susannah and Annabeth. Lovely! I’m also very fond of Miriam.
A few others:
What about Leona? It’s similar to Eleanor but much less common.
Other names I feel like have a similar feel:
Instead of Samantha, maybe Agatha?
Other names that come to mind: Frances, Vivian, Louisa, Justine
Rosemary and Beatrice (or Beatrix)
Classic, lovely names with a little more personality 😉
My vote goes to Matilda! There are a lot of great suggestions here but Matilda is my favorite. It’s sweet and classic while having a bit more of an edge to it- like Rosemary.
p. s. I also agree that Dorothy is aborable and I wish we heard it more often.
Congrats on baby 2!!
From all Rhee suggestions so far, I really like Susannah or Cordelia with Rosemary. Dorothy is great as well.
Annelise…instead of Annabelle?
Joanna… Instead of Josephine or Annabelle?
Miranda… Instead of Marianne or Samantha
Harriet… Love this!
The Mrs. says
Abby, please tell us you’re having a future daughter!! Oh, the fun!
I second Dorothy. She seems like a logical sister to Rosemary.
Yes!! You didn’t use the ‘hypothetical’ word so you have us wondering …
Rosemary was a name I always wanted to use so maybe you’d like some of our other top contenders… While not all of them are long, I think they all have weight and don’t necessarily need to be shortened.
Dorothy (this is my favorite with Rosemary!)
My first thought was Eloise. It’s a little bit spunky, but also very classic and elegant like Rosemary. I also think Margot could work well with Rosemary. Margot is a bit shorter, but has the same classic feel. I also like really like Vivienne with Rosemary.
JK Garrisin says
Longish classic names that aren’t too common:
Lorelei (if you don’t mind the sitcom connection)
Laurel (more of an old world than other “Laur” names and also has a nature connection)
Dorothy (Someone please bring back Dorothy! )
I think repeating the “m” sound would make for a complementary sib set:
Miranda (always makes me think of the beautiful love story in The Tempest)
Ooh I love Marnie , Mabel and Miranda.
Ps. If you want someone bring Dorothy back you’ll love this 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbhPMZmnfEw&list=PL2J1IuaFro7FwnqyXHXA9qG0pP8eWJA5K&index=224
I adore Rosemary. I heard it on a little girl a few years back and loved it. It wore so well. Nice job!
My thoughts were …
Esther. Same gravitas and history and traditional vibe as Rosemary. Rosemary and Esther… They actually sounds like little adventurers. And if you need a nn there is always Tess. I actually really like the repeating letters or r, s and e. It links the names without making them matchy. But I know that is a personal preference.
Valentina. Like Rosemary, Ventina is undeniably feminine but strong. I think of both names like CEO names for their strength. Rosemary and Valentina.
Congrats on your newest little one!