Name Help: A Sister for Cassidy ErinName 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!

Momma Dunn writes:

My husband and I had very little trouble naming our first daughter. He is of Irish descent, and we fell in love with the name Cassidy while looking at a list of Irish girls’ names.

Because our last name is one syllable, and Cassidy is three syllables, I was next looking for a two syllable middle name. My husband suggested Erin, and the baby’s name was settled!

Four our second daughter, the naming process has not gone anywhere near as smoothly. My husband and I have looked extensively online and in a baby book for that perfect name, but have very few ideas. The ideas that we come up with don’t really sound right, and we just can’t really settle on anything.

I admittedly have all kinds of rules, some of which I have begun to stray from, since I was coming up empty handed.

Here’s my list:

  • Three-syllable first name, two-syllable middle
  • Not in the Top 100 most popular names for 2014
  • Sounds compatible with Cassidy
  • Works with our one-syllable last name
  • Initials won’t result in an acronym with a negative connotation. (No S.A.D. or B.A.D.)
  • A name that sounds feminine, but translates well to adulthood – not too cutesy!

Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful ideas and suggestions in the comments!

Hi Momma Dunn –

That’s quite a list! But it’s not an unreasonable one. Well, it might be worth re-considering the three-two syllable pattern. (But you’ve mentioned that you’re open to that.)

I was struggling with suggestions at first, and it struck me that it’s probably because Cassidy doesn’t immediately read Irish to me. It’s a surname name, and maybe a cowgirl name (Hopalong!), and not so long ago it was a major celebrity kid name (Kathie Lee’s daughter, much-mentioned on morning television – though she’s now grown up.) Then again, you didn’t ask for Irish names.

So let’s start with surname names. We can probably rule out Riley, since it ranked #47 in 2014, before Inside Out was such a success, with a young girl named Riley at the heart of the story. Kennedy also seems likely to be out, since it ranked #54 in 2014 – though it is undeniably Irish, and the alliteration of Cassidy and Kennedy could be appealing.

Moving on … Would you consider:

  • Flannery – If Kennedy is too popular, is Flannery too rare? Mary Flannery O’Connor, known exclusively by her middle name, was a Southern writer active from the 1940s through the 1960s. Shades of Nelle Harper Lee, right? Flannery is also notable for her writings on faith, including book reviews columns for the local Catholic press in Georgia. As names go, Flannery has a lot of strength, but no easy nicknames.
  • Delaney – One of my longtime favorites, Delaney peaked a few years ago and is now falling. But that’s not a bad thing! It means that chances are that Delaney won’t be cracking the US Top 100 anytime soon. It is currently ranked #268.
  • Madigan – Do names ending in ‘n’ work with your surname? I’m not sure. But if you’re open to them, Madigan is one of my favorites. It brings to mind the tragic romance of Elvira Madigan, as well as the haunting Mozart concerto now associated with her story. One downside: Madigan might be confused for Madison. A lot. One upside: Madigan could be nicknamed Maggie as well as Maddie.
  • Marlowe – It’s just two syllables, but Marlowe is undeniably a surname name with a lot of style.
  • Aveline – I wonder if you’d like an unusual, tailored name like Aveline? It’s not a surname, but it does have the same tailored style. It’s related to the hazelnut, making it an edible choice, too. Other rare Av- names that might be too out there? Avalon and Avonlea.
  • Juniper – Another possibility with ties to the natural world, this time a type of tree. I like the bright, upbeat feel of Cassidy and Juniper as sisters.
  • Brenna – I almost suggested Brennan, but I think sounds abrupt with your short surname. But how about Brenna? It’s relatively rare – it ranked just #783 in 2014, and has never ranked higher than the mid-200s, back in the 1990s.
  • English: Screenshot of Gene Tierney from the f...Tierney – One more surname name, this time authentically Irish. It’s also the surname of Oscar-nominated actress Gene Tierney, which makes it a cousin to Harlow and Monroe.

If you’re after another Irish-signifiying middle, there’s Ireland, Clover, or Emerald – though they’re all a bit more daring than Erin.

For a two-syllable middle that’s not quite as out-there, how about Adele, Elise, Iris, or Eden? If you’d prefer to avoid a vowel – and lessen the chances of spelling something! – there’s Ciel (from the French word for sky, and also heaven), Laurel (though maybe too much nature name with Juniper), Celeste, and Delphine. Or maybe something too popular for you to consider as a given name, like Riley or Kennedy, depending on the first name?

I have a few favorite combinations for you:

  • Juniper Riley – It follows your three-two pattern exactly. Riley is Irish, just like Erin. Juniper has the same playful quality as Cassidy. There’s no overlap in sounds, but I think they sound exactly right as sisters. No problems with initials spelling anything, either. My favorite for you!
  • Tierney Celeste – Not quite the pattern you had it mind, but I think Tierney could be a great sister name for Cassidy. Celeste isn’t the traditional Anne-Grace-Rose middle name, but it works nicely.
  • Marlowe Eden – I’m in love with the sound of Marlowe Eden. Cassidy and Marlowe sound like sisters, and I think Eden might appeal to you for the same reasons that Erin works so well. One hesitation – are the initials M.E.D. a non-starter? It doesn’t seem negative to me in the way that S.A.D. or B.A.D. would, but if you’re trying to avoid spelling things, well … I don’t think this quite fits.

So overall, I’m rooting for Juniper Riley, but I know that our readers will have fantastic suggestions that I’ve never thought of!

Readers, what would you name a sister for Cassidy Erin?

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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  1. Some three-syllable, Irish girl names I’d suggest:
    Beltany, Darina [if you like alliteration], Fenella, Honora/Onora, Juverna/Vernia [Roman names for Ireland], Lasrina, Tallulah

  2. First of all, I just want to thank Abby for writing this wonderful and thoughtful article. I also want to thank everyone that took the time to write a response. My husband and I really appreciate the assistance with our search to find the perfect name!

    Right now the front runner for a first name is Delaney. I love the nickname Laney, especially paired with Cassie. I also liked the suggestion of Aveline – pretty! One of my co-workers loved your suggestion of Marlowe as well.

    For potential middle names I love the reader suggestion of Arwen. I had not come across that name in all my searches, so thank you for that! I also like the suggestion of Lyra.

    A lot of the names that were mentioned by Abby or readers were names that were already on my shortlist of names… Annika, Calista, Brenna/Brianna, Ainsley/Ansley. Ansley was actually my number one choice before this article, but my husband vetoed it unfortunately. I thought a lot about Calista, but the name reminds me of Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal). I also had previously considered Tierney.

    Some of the names that were suggested are good names, but have been already used in our large family! Bridget is a niece, there is a cousin named Madison (too close to Madigan), and there is another niece named Melanie (so I can’t use the rhyming version of Delanie). I have a college friend with daughters named Mallory and McKenna, and would prefer not to “copy” names if possible.

    Some of the other names have negative cultural associations in my mind… my only point of reference with the name Catriona is Jim Carrey’s girlfriend (Cathriona) who committed suicide earlier this year. I was actually interested in that name when I heard it then, but dismissed it due to all the publicity. Zenaida was the name of the babysitter that Casey Anthony claimed she left her daughter with before she went missing. Carrigan is another cute name, but it reminds me of the Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan and the whole Tanya Harding scandal.

    Thank you for everyone who helped with our search for the perfect name! We are much closer to making a decision and not having to write “Baby Girl Dunn” on the birth certificate!! 