Name Help: First Name to go with ElizabethName 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!

Kerrie writes:

This question is a little different. Our daughter was born early, at 30 weeks. We hadn’t talked about names seriously at that point, but we felt it was important to give her a name immediately.

We always knew her middle name would be Elizabeth. It’s my middle name and my grandmother’s name, and my husband’s mom is named Beth. So we named her Elizabeth, with no middle name.

Four months later, our daughter is home and doing great! And we realize that while Elizabeth is a very important part of her identity, it’s not exactly her name.

We both agree Elizabeth is her middle name, but we can’t agree on a first. Here’s our list right now, which is pretty much the same rough list we had right before her early arrival!

Can you help us figure out which one might be the best? We’re open to other names if you have ideas, but I feel like we’ve looked at every name and are still stuck at Something Elizabeth.

  1. Bella/Isabella/Isabelle
  2. Felicity
  3. Gia
  4. Hadley
  5. Julia/Juliette
  6. Lila/Lyla
  7. Maeve
  8. Noa
  9. Penelope
  10. Sage
  11. Teagan
  12. Willa/Willow

I think we could probably get there on our own, but we really want to settle her name question and fast. We have a family birthday gathering for my husband at the end of the month, and we’d really like to share her name there. (Otherwise I guess we’ll introduce her as Something Elizabeth!)

Our last name sounds like Carol with an H.

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your daughter! That must have been so scary and overwhelming. I’m so glad everyone is home and doing well.

I think you made a really smart move. You know Elizabeth will be part of her name, but you’ve left yourself space to choose the name you love.

Your list feels a little challenging, though!

There are really more like fourteen or fifteen names here. And there’s LOTS of range, from modern Sage and Noa to antique Felicity and Willa. There are so many great names on this list, but they’re all very different.

Let’s start by grouping them:

  • Surname-style names that are potentially unisex: Hadley, Teagan.
  • Nature names/word names: Sage, Willow
  • Antique names: Felicity, Penelope, Willa
  • Compact moderns: Gia, Noa, Lila/Lyla, Maeve, Bella
  • Classics: Isabella/Isabelle, Julia/Juliette

I’m sure those aren’t the only way to grouping the names, but it does illustrate the first challenge: is there a reason to drop any of these names?

There’s one that leaps out at me: Isabelle. Elizabeth and Isabelle are two forms of the same name. Say “Isabelle Elizabeth” and it sounds repetitive. Isabella is a little long with Elizabeth, and again there’s some repetition. But Bella? Bella works.

On those grounds, I’ll drop Felicity and Penelope. You could certainly use them, but if we’re looking to limit your choices, maybe length is a good enough reason.

The other factor? The strong L sound in your last name. Willow Carol-with-an-H is a bit of a tongue twister. Willa, Lila/Lyla, and Bella are all subject to the same challenge. (Though somehow I think Bella stays just on the right side of hard to say, probably because of the strong B sound.)

Still, I’m going to drop them all.

Hadley with your surname is either Marilyn Monroe-esque perfection, or a little too alliterative.

That leaves:

  • Gia
  • Julia
  • Juliette
  • Maeve
  • Noa
  • Sage
  • Teagan

From this list, my favorites are Teagan Elizabeth Carol-with-an-H and Maeve Elizabeth Carol-with-an-H.

But let’s open it up to the readers, because I’m sure they’ll have some ideas I haven’t considered!

Readers, what first name would you give to Elizabeth Carol-with-an-H?

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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