Name 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!
We named our daughter Lucy Rose six years ago with almost no discussion. We took my favorite name and his grandmother’s name – done and done! Four years ago, we used my maiden name – Ross – for our son, combined with my husband’s name, William, for his middle.
Now we’re expecting a surprise third baby, and we agree on nothing. Nothing! Our last name starts with an H, and is long and complicated – sounds like Hildebrand, but with a few more letters.
After many emotional talks, we finally settled on Leo for a boy. Not perfect because I don’t like repeating with Lucy’s L, but we agreed.
And … it’s a girl.
My list is Anna, Julia, Clara, Alice, Mae. Simple, traditional, maybe a little boring even. My husband keeps suggesting names like River, Meadow, Clover, Lark. You get the idea. We’re not especially outdoorsy, and the names just seem weird with Lucy and Ross, don’t they? Don’t they? Or am I being unreasonable?
Anyway, is there a name that feels as traditional as Anna, but maybe would make my husband happy, too?
Hi Andrea –
I think you’re running into a very common problem. When you agree on your first child – or in your case, first and second children’s – names quickly, conflict can come as a huge surprise! But it’s also true that there were reasons to choose both of your older children’s names. In this case, there’s really no persuasive reason behind either of your lists. I think that probably makes it hard to say yes.
In your case, though, I think there are two logical ways to compromise:
- Choose a more traditional given name, with a nature-word name for the middle. You both get one of your favorites, and Anna River or Alice Meadow is just great.
- Choose a nature name that feels more like a conventional name.
If you’re comfortable with the first approach, I think your list is made, and it’s just a question of mixing and matching.
But if you’d rather look at name that strikes that middle of the road note? I think we can help there.
Laurel – I just wrote about all of the Laura names, and Laurel has been much on my mind. It fell out of favor, along with Laura and Lauren. Today, however, it’s back in the US Top 1000, probably thanks to our love of all things nature names. The downside? It will inevitably be misunderstood as Laura/Lauren. But it’s a great nature name that feels more like traditional Laura.
Daphne – Daphne makes a great sister name for Lucy, and strikes me as a nice mid-way point between popular Lucy and the rarer Ross. Daphne might not seem like a nature name, but it is – in fact, Daphne means laurel in Greek.
Sylvie, Sylvia, Silvia – My heart belongs to Sylvie, but Sylvia is much more common – and brings to mind your Julia. All three come from silva, the Latin word for woods.
Stella – Stella reminds me of Anna and Clara, and sounds like a sister for Lucy. But it also comes with a a great nature name meaning – star.
Daisy – Okay, there’s nothing subtle about Daisy. It’s as obvious a nature name as Rose. And yet, names like Daisy have filtered into general use, making it is easy to overlook their (literal!) roots in the garden. Unless, of course, you appreciate that quality, which is why Daisy makes my list. Other names that hit the same mark? Lily, Violet, and possibly Ivy, too.
Flora – Flora made my recent list of vintage names ready for a comeback. It might strike you as slightly out-there, and I wonder if your husband will find it too old-fashioned? But in the spirit of suggesting nature names that aren’t straight-up nature names, Flora fits.
June – Is June too close to Lucy? They share the same vowel sound, but I still think they work well together. June isn’t quite a nature name, and while it’s gently old-fashioned, I think it feels very current today – moreso than Flora, maybe.
Juniper – That brings me to Juniper. Juniper might be a little long with your last name, but I think it works together nicely. I think it’s exactly the kind of name your husband will appreciate, but it also feels like the kind of name that you might like – in part, because of built-in nicknames Junie and June.
Overall, my favorite suggestion is the first: a conventional first name with a bold middle. You’re both picking one name, and coming up with a combination that’s traditional, but with an unexpected element. It seems like the right direction.
But if your husband isn’t on board, I love the sound of Daphne or Juniper for your daughter – in which case, of course, you might choose a more conventional middle name closer to your list.
Readers, how would you handle this kind of conflict? Do you have any name suggestions for Andrea and her family?