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!

Sky writes:

I absolutely love your informative site, it has been a go-to in naming my oldest 3 children, Nash (boy), Kay nn Kiki (girl) and Sander nn Sandy (boy).

We are expecting a girl in October and I would love your thoughts on a great name!

Hi Sky:

Congratulations on your new addition! Let’s start by thinking about what your three older kids’ names have in common, and see if we can describe the kind of name that would probably go well with your family:

  • Short names are better – one syllable or two, no more.
  • The name should have a traditional feel, but be unexpected and modern at the same time. We’re probably not looking for a word name.
  • Nicknames are welcome, but they’re not required.

I’m going to try to avoid repeating the initials N, K, and S, though maybe that hasn’t even crossed your mind!

Would you consider:

Lula – Luna is mainstream, and Lola isn’t far behind. Lulu is a nickname similar to Kiki, with repeating sounds. So that brings me to Lula. It’s vintage, but it feels modern – a good match for your kids’ names, I think! A bonus? Lula’s strong ‘oo’ sound is so different from Kay’s long ‘a’ and Kiki’s repeating ‘ee,’ as well as the ‘a’ sound of Nash/Sander/Sandy.

Djuna – Djuna Barnes was a writer in New York City beginning in the 1910s, part of the bohemian crowd in Greenwich Village. While she’s not a household name, it’s a solid literary reference for a daughter’s name. The D is silent – it’s pronounced just like Juna, which is certainly a reasonable alternate spelling. Goddess name Juno might be another thought.

Zelie – Zelie is originally French, short for Azelie, the French word for azalea. I’ve heard Zelie pronounced like Keeley, as well as Kaylee. The spelling Zaylee broke into the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2015. It’s less expected than Zoey, but it has roots.

Nova – Nova means new, and brings to mind the night sky. It’s surprisingly popular – the name ranked in the US Top 300 as of 2015 – but it still feels interesting and distinctive.

Mariel – Okay, Mariel breaks my rules. It’s three syllables, which might be just too long. But I’ve added it because Mariel reminds me of Sander – an unusual name that’s very similar to a classic and very familiar one. (Mary and Alexander, respectively.) Mariel could shorten to Ellie, Mimi, or Mare.

Carys – Carys is a modern Welsh name meaning love. I’m divided on whether it’s a little too close to Kay/Kiki, but I like the way it sounds as part of the quartet: Nash, Kay, Sander, Carys; Nash, Kiki, Sandy, Carys. Carys has never cracked the US Top 1000, so it’s rare.

Liv – Liv could be short for Livia or Olive, but it’s also a name that stands on its own. It has Old Norse origins, and it happens to be the modern word for life in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. It reminds me of Sander in this sense – it’s not obviously an import, but it feels vaguely northern European. Like Nash, it’s impossible to shorten this name – but I think that might work just fine for your family!

Readers, what would you suggest to Sky for their new daughter?

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. – Gina. You could use the nickname Gigi if you want.
    – Myra. Both sisters would have a Y in their names; all kids would have an A in b their names; no sounds are repeated.
    – The others that sprung to mind were Ida, Lux, and Hena.
    Good luck

  2. Mim is literary (Mim Fox), darling, brief, and makes a lovely nickname or stand-alone name. It could be short for Marie (which, like Kay, is heard in the middle name spot but rarely outside of it).

    Nash, Kay, Sander, & Marie.
    Nash, Kiki, Sander, & Mim.

    Another idea is Betsy. This too could be a nickname or a stand-alone name. If it were a nickname, Bette might make a sophisticated full name… much like Kay.

    Nash, Kay, Sander, & Bette.
    Nash, Kiki, Sandy, & Betsy.

    One final one:
    Ceil. Sometimes a nickname for Ceilia, Ceil gives you the same sibilant starting sound as Sander, but it has its own initial. CeeCee would make a cute nickname, but it’s really close to Sandy.

    Nash, Kay, Sander, & Ceilia.
    Nash, Kiki, Sandy, and Ceil.

    Best wishes!

  3. Tess is such a beautiful name. I think it fits all of Sky’s criteria. And Margo for a two-syllable name.

  4. Holland nicknamed Hope!
    Nash, Kay, Sander & Holland
    Nash, Kiki, Sandy & Hope

    Maren nicknamed Min?
    Nash, Kay, Sander & Maren
    Nash, Kiki, Sandy & Min

  5. Looks like all the other kids share an A, in their full names at least. That draws me toward Carys from Abby’s suggestions. I also think Liv is appropriate. Or Neve, pronounced nev, but that repeats an initial. Bre, long form Breeze or Brisa.
    The other kids also have short vowels in the full versions. Belle, Sal, Cricket/Crickie, Cam, Sam, Lara, Kara, Mara. A friend has a girl named Oli Blu.

  6. I am going to suggest Fern, Tawny, or Zora. I love Clare’s suggestion of Nell which could be expanded to Ellen. and My favourite from Abby’s suggestions are Liv and Nova.

  7. I think names Brynn, Bria Fia or Nell could fit your style. I like the suggestion of Juna or Carys (agree this could be too close to Kay, but not if you call her Kiki most of the time).
    Best wishes for your new addition to the family, hope we hear back what you choose