Name Help: Trilingual sister for OliviaName 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!

Laura writes:

Please, we need your help!

We are looking for a trilingual name for Olivia’s sister.

I am Spanish and my husband Italian. We currently live in the UK and I’m 25 weeks pregnant with our second daughter.

We named our first born Olivia which seemed to fulfill the many requirements we have regarding names criteria. We still love the name although we know is really popular in USA and UK, it’s only starting to rise now in our countries of origin.

We ALWAYS thought we would name the new baby Ágata (like the stone). We thought it was strong and elegant and it seemed perfect with Olivia! However, after reading all the negative comments online I have sadly been a bit put off.

So, here is our criteria list. Really hope you can help:

  1. It has to be able to be pronounced in Spanish, English, and Italian.
  2. Not biblical/religious.
  3. As strong and long as Olivia if possible.
  4. Not too popular (not too unusual either).
  5. International vibe (not too easily linked to a specific country).
  6. With a nice meaning.

Other names we love but cannot use, as have been used by friends already, are Gala, Greta, Heidi, Martina, and Valeria.

Our families strongly dislike Ágata and Greta.

They like Maia, which we like too but think it doesn’t sound as strong as Olivia plus it’s quite popular too!

Maybe Elvia?

Thanks in advance for your help. I just feel a bit confused at the minute and I feel it is important to own a nice name that doesn’t need spelling every time but will still have character.

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

Dear Laura –

Congratulations on your second daughter!

Naming across languages can pose a challenge. Happily, Spanish, Italian, and English are rich with crossover possibilities.

Let’s talk about your favorites first.

First, are you sure you want to give up on Agata?

We often react negatively to unfamiliar names. But I’m guessing the people in your life would warm to it quickly.

Agatha is out of favor at the moment – though I’m a big fan, and keep putting it on my comeback lists.) I know you’re thinking Agata, like the stone, but the similarity to Agatha might explain some of the reaction.

But in general, unusual names take a little more effort. You have to be willing to spell them, and repeat them. It helps to be comfortable when others ask about them, too.

So while I’m not ruling Agata out, let’s move on …

So how ’bout Elvia?

Here’s thing about Elvia … it’s really, really close to Olivia.

They both start with a vowel + an L.

They both end with -via.

If I say them quickly, with some background noise, they sound almost identical.

And, because Elvia is a much less familiar name, I think it will be misheard as Olivia an awful lot. I think that’s a recipe for sibling resentment. Unless, of course, you plan to call her Ellie 99% of the time? But then I think you’d have the same challenge as Maia … it’s not a bad name, but it disappears a little next to the rich sounds of Olivia.

More names that go with Olivia …

Aurora – It’s rising in use in English, and big in Italian. I don’t see it heavily used in Spanish, but it seems to be known. And I do feel like I’ve heard it used in bilingual families. Like Olivia, Aurora is a longer name with a distinctive sound. And the meaning is great: dawn.

Lucia – Lucia and Olivia are a little close in sound, but I don’t think they’re too close. The meaning is perfect – light – and it works across all three languages, with slight differences in pronunciation.

Marina – Is Marina a little dated in Italy? I can’t tell from the data. It seems a little more current in Spain. And it’s certainly a pan-European name, heard across multiple languages. Strictly speaking, it’s probably a form of Marius, from the Roman god Mars. But most people will associated it with marine, and the sea.

Noemi – I’m hearing Noemi – the Spanish and Italian (and French) form of Naomi more and more. And while Naomi remains more familiar in English, this name works every bit as well. The meaning – pleasant – is another plus.

Sofia – I know, I know. Sofia is wildly popular, all over the world. But that’s part of what makes Sofia so travel-ready. It works across multiple languages, plus it has a great meaning: wisdom. If you haven’t minded Olivia sharing her name with other girls, I think Sofia might deserve a second look.

Valentina – Like Valeria, this name comes from the Latin word for strength. So that’s a rock solid meaning. It’s another name that crosses cultural barriers easily, working in English, Spanish, and Italian with very little alteration. And Valentina’s long, dramatic sound is a perfect match with big sister Olivia.

If it’s not obvious, I think Valentina is the perfect match for Olivia. It would recognized through Europe, as well as the English and Spanish-speaking worlds. The meaning is perfect, and the sound is every bit as appealing as Olivia, without being too close to her sister’s name.

But I know our readers will have some other suggestions, so let’s turn it over to the community.

What would you name a sister for Olivia that works in English, Italian, and Spanish?

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. We have an Ilaria. Olivia and Ilaria share a rhythm but the first two consonants are different enough to hear when yelling across the park, which matters!

    Mila, Vera, and Silvia, as others mentioned, seem like a good fit.

    Maria or Mariana or Mariel (I dearly love Mariel) are classics but, at least here, not common.


  2. Valencia was the first name that popped into my head, I don’t know if you have any ties to the city. I think it is beautiful with Olivia though! Secondly, I love the recommendations of Valentina and Violetta – apparently I really like V names for you!

  3. Indira

  4. Some other nicknames that might work for Emilia are Ema, Emme, Emmy, Ela, Mimi, Mila, Milla, Lia, Mia.
    Nina could be short for Valentina

  5. I don’t think Amelia is too similar to Olivia, rather it is perfectly paired. However, would it bother you to have a name that is pronounced differently depending on which language is being spoken?

    What about Alina? It’s pronounced the same in all three languages, and shares meaning with Adele.

    Elyzabel/Elisabel is a bit quirkier, and I think would be pronounced the same.

    Also I saw Seraphina/Serafina and Esmerelda and thought those were great as well, though the second e in Esmerelda would be slightly different between languages.

  6. Would Cressida or Miranda work? They would share a Shakespearean connection with Olivia, as well as being pronounceable across all three languages…