Naomi and her husband are expecting baby #3, a little sister for Lauchlan Ezra and Cordelia Ruth.
We stumbled quite accidentally into a family-name theme. Our son was given my mother’s maiden name as his first name, mainly because we liked the name.
Our daughter’s name had been my favourite for a long time, and my husband loved Cora, so it was perfect. We only realised after she was born that her name was an anagram of sorts of her grandmothers’ names (Carol and Carole).
We’re now expecting our third baby – a girl! – and struggling with whether to continue this theme. We have a list of names we love, but none have any connection to either of our families.
We currently live in Glasgow, Scotland, but we’re both originally come from the south east of England. Our tastes run a little outside the norm for Scotland (where Isla, Freya and Sophie have taken over), but our circle of friends and colleagues have children with similarly unusual names.
Read on to learn more about their dilemma, as well as my suggestions – and please add your thoughts and ideas, especially if you’re in the UK!
Hi Naomi –
Can I first say that I love your children’s names? Literary, meaningful, and easily recognized without being at all common – exactly what so many parents are after!
I’m confident that you’ll find a great name. Let’s start by looking at your current lists.
Names that Naomi and her husband are considering right now:
- Beatrix (or Beatrice)
And here’s the list of family names that they’re not inclined to use, but might appreciate a name that nods to one of these. (Naomi mentioned the way Daisy and Margaret are connected, and of course Cordelia/Carole are linked only by sharing letters and sounds.)
Their last name is three-syllables, and starts with an S. While they love longer names, they also prefer to have nickname options.
The middle name will likely be Eve, or possibly Lydia or Mary.
Okay, so where does this leave us?
Names From the Shortlist
There are some great possibilities on your list already.
- Rosamund is my stand-out favorite, if only because it matches your older children’s names so well: Lauchlan, Cordelia, and Rosamund. If your Cordelia is sometimes Cora, Rosamund could easily be Rose, Rosie, or Romy. Another possibility along the same lines is Rosalind, with the added bonus that Rosalind is also a name from Shakespeare.
- Beatrix, Beatrice, Madeleine, and Emmeline seem equally well-matched to your older children’s names.
- I do love Blythe, but I wonder about two things: first, I imagine Blythe Eve isn’t a pairing you would consider. And I wonder how Blythe feels in terms of nicknames? She could be Bee or Bess or Blye, I think – but that’s not quite the same as a built-in nickname, like Cordelia/Cora.
- Cadence is so interesting. In the US, Cordelia and Cadence would absolutely feel like a mismatch, sort of like naming your children Elizabeth and Kaylee. But in Scotland? It seems like Cadence is rare, rare, rare. Which might make Cadence an ideal sister name for Lauchlan and Cordelia. Any UK readers care to comment on this one? With Cady/Cate/Cade built-in as nicknames, it does seem to line up with your preferences.
- Leonie strikes me as really rather British – if only because Leonie has never been common in American English, but is reasonably well-known in the UK. I think Leonie fits all of your criteria wonderfully – Lachlan, Cordelia, and Leonie. Leonie shortens to Lee or Lea or even Leo, so that works, too. What I can’t tell is whether Leonie would be perceived as more common than your older children’s names – and whether that’s a concern.
- Anoushka is such a gorgeous possibility! And it highlights something that often comes as a surprise. In English, we tend to shorten names for affectionate use – Robert to Bobby, Elizabeth to Liz. But in many other languages, they’re elaborated. Anoushka is a Russian diminutive for Anna, though it has seen use well beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. On the one hand, Lachlan, Cordelia, and Anoushka seem nicely balanced – all unexpected names with history. And yet, something makes me hesitate. I wonder if another form of Anna might appeal: Anais or Annika, maybe?
Names Inspired By Your Family Tree
- If Georgia and company aren’t names that you would consider from George, what do you think about Gaia? Gaia is the original Greek goddess of the Earth, and George comes from the same root – ge, as in georgos – earth worker, though we normally understand that to mean farmer. Lauchlan, Cordelia, and Gaia. Maybe too short? There’s also later Greek Earth goddess Demeter, which might have more nickname potential, as well as related name Demetria. Lauchlan, Cordelia, and Demetria – that’s pretty lovely.
- There are a wealth of names connected to Adelaide. One that’s just as literary and classic as Cordelia: Alice. Some more cousins to consider: Adelie, Alix, Adeline. The only trouble? Adelaide has more potential short forms that any of those, except for possibly Adelie. Adelie shares sounds with Leonie, though, so I think that one is worth a look. (Note: Adelie is often mistaken for Natalie in the US – but it seems like Natalie is much less common in the UK, suggesting that would be less of an issue.)
- Martha seems like one of the tougher ones to reinvent. The obvious is the Slavic/Italian/elsewhere in Europe-heard Marta, but that might not be enough of a leap for you. Freya shares Martha’s meaning – lady – but Freya is so popular in the UK. Sarah is often translated as princess, but lady is another reading – though again, Sarah seems a smidge too familiar for your tastes. There’s also Sarai, the original form of Sarah, pronounced sah RYE, and Sadie, a possible short form of any of the Sara- names.
- Elizabeth and Isabella – Oh, these names! There are so many possible forms. Let’s start with one of my favorites – Isabeau. French, yes, and royal, too, thanks to Queen Isabeau of France, after marrying King Charles VI in 1385. Lauchlan, Cordelia, and Isabeau – definitely a striking name that matches well with your older children’s names. Other possibilities: Anneliese, Liliana, Elisabeth, Elise, Isobel, Isadora, Isolde – though the last two are just other Isa- names, not actually related to Isabella other than by sound. Liliana – and nearly any Lily name – qualifies because Lily originally emerged as a nickname for Elizabeth and company. I have a real soft spot for Liliosa.
- Christopher should lead to a huge, long list of options and yet … hmmm … Christina, Cristina, or Kristina called Kitty and Kit, maybe? It’s traditional and feels like it fits reasonably well with Lauchlan and Cordelia, but I think it feels a little more expected than you might like.
- Robert is equally challenging, but here’s a thought: he comes from a family names meaning ‘bright’ and ‘fame.’ That first element is rich with possibilities: Clara, Phoebe, and Roxana all come to mind. Doubtless there are more, but these three all seem like they could potentially fit with your criteria.
Gosh, I feel like I’ve made it harder for you to choose, not easier! Let’s say this – from your original list, I love the idea of Rosamund Eve and Leonie Eve. And from my suggestions, the ones that most stand out are Adelie Eve, Isabeau Eve, and Demetria Eve.
Update: She’s here! And her name is gorgeous – Alba Rosamund Eve. Alba was inspired by this post, which ran a few days before the Name Help column. What a lovely, lovely name – congratulations to Naomi and her family, and thanks to all who offered their kind thoughts.