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. Love the suggestion of Mariel but would call her Ari for short also think Tesla nn Yes would be nice.

  2. I am loving Zuri for you, or perhaps Jem. Maybe Sosie.

    Though I really love the suggestion of Lula!