Name Help: A Sister for Oliver TroyName 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!

Shannon writes:

For as long as I can remember, my favorite name for a girl was Olivia. When my husband and I found out our first was a boy, we were feeling pretty stuck. He suggested naming him Oliver and so that’s what we did.

I don’t regret it all, but now we’re due with our second child, a daughter, early in the new year, and names feel impossible.

Oliver’s middle name is Troy, after my father-in-law. We’d like to use Michelle, for my mom, for our daughter’s middle name.

Our last name is like Jen plus Kin. Another name I always liked was Genevieve, but I think maybe it’s not great because our last name is similar.

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

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

The challenge with favorite names is often this: we love them for so long. It’s easy to imagine a child with the name because, well, that’s just what we’ve been doing already.

Everything moves faster the second (and third and fourth) time around!

So let’s see if we can jump start the process by brainstorming names that:

  • Pair well with big brother Oliver Troy;
  • Work with middle name Michelle;
  • Have the same qualities as Olivia.

It’s tempting, of course, to suggest Octavia or Ophelia, but I suspect those names duplicate too much of Oliver’s sound.

Instead, let’s try a different initial.



As lovely and flowing as Olivia, golden Aurelia makes a logical substitute.


E names keep coming to mind. There’s also Eliana, Emilia, and Evelyn. But I like Eliza best, possibly because it’s classic, like Oliver, and feels at home in many places and eras. Plus, Oliver has that bold V sound; Eliza offers up a zippy Z. It’s a nice balance.


If Genevieve isn’t quite right, would you consider Josephine? It’s alliterative, too, but maybe just a little less so.


Another logical substitute for Olivia, one that’s familiar but not nearly as chart-topping.


Lovely, lyrical Mariana is another name in the Oliver/Eliza camp. It’s classic and timeless.


Plenty of names ending with that Greek ‘e’ feel like options – Chloe or Penelope, maybe? But for a good balance of familiar but not too common, I think Phoebe is hard to beat.


My first thought was Sylvia, which fits with Lydia and Aurelia and Emilia in many ways. But while Sylvia’s -IA ending is very much in favor right now, it’s French form Sylvie that’s slightly more stylish. And if Genevieve appeals, maybe Sylvie is the way to go? I like the way Oliver and Sylvie would share a few sounds – the L and the V – without being too similar.


Speaking of sharing a V, names like Vivian/Vivienne, Valerie/Valeria all came to mind. But I think Violet is the logical sister name for Oliver.


It sounds Genevieve might be the name, except that your surname also starts with the JEN sound.

Yes, it’s a lot of repetition, but I do think it works. In fact, I think it makes for an unforgettable sound – the kind of name you expect to hear as the main character in a bestseller.

A name like David Davis gives me pause because it really is two forms of the exact same name.

But this is different. It’s a repeated sound, but the names are distinct.

I’ll be curious to hear what others think.


Overall, logic pushes me to Eliza Michelle. But I’m quietly pulling for Sylvie Michelle. The repeating V, the French style – it feels like a good substitute for Genevieve.

Which, I should say – I think I might still rank in my Top Three.

Over to you, readers! What would you name a sister for Oliver Troy? And do you think Genevieve works if their surname begins with JEN?

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. Genevieve always reminds me of Vivienne/Vivian

    Juliet/Juliette is another option.

    I also really love Eliza and Lydia for you.

  2. If you don’t mind repeating an initial, Ophelia, Olympia, or Octavia.
    Names that have the same rhythm: Aviva, Cecilia, Cordelia, Ginevra, Lavinia, Lilia, Natalia/Talia, Vivian/Viviana
    Names that remind me of Genevieve: Emmeline, Gwendolyn, Gwyneth, Natalie, Rosalie
    I’d also suggest Susannah

  3. I love how thoughtfully this couple is choosing their children’s names! The idea of honoring the paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother is so sweet.

    Both Olivia and Genevieve have the lovely V sound, which I think would be a nice tie-in with Oliver. Here are some possibilities that stand out to me:

    Evelyn Michelle J-nk-n
    Oliver & Evelyn

    Viola Michelle J-nk-n
    Oliver & Viola

    Vivienne Michelle J-nk-n
    Oliver & Vivienne

    From Abby’s list, I love Sylvia! I think the 3-syllable version (more so than Sylvie) makes a nice pairing with Oliver:

    Sylvia Michelle J-nk-n
    Oliver & Sylvia

    Finally, a wild card that just sounds nice to me:

    Amelia Michelle J-nk-n
    Oliver & Amelia