Name 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!
We are pregnant with our fifth baby!
We don’t know the gender yet but already have four girls: Susan (Zuzu), June, Gwendolyn (Wendy), and Diana.
If we have a boy, we want to use the name Reuben, but we have NO IDEA what to do for a girls name! My husband likes Florence, but wants to use the nickname Floy and I am not a fan.
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Renee –
Congratulations on your new baby! It’s exciting that you have a boy name all picked out and ready to go. But wow, after naming four girls, I can imagine it’s tough to agree on a fifth name as wonderful as the ones you’ve already chosen!
My first question is this: is Florence out only with the nickname Floy? Would Florence called Flossie or Flora or Flick be an option? I don’t think it’s the most obvious style match for your older girls’ names, but that’s not necessarily a problem.
Because if your husband is willing to compromise to make Florence work for your family, I think maybe it belongs on your shortlist.
If we’re naming a sister for Zuzu, June, Wendy, and Diana, we’re looking for a name that is slightly mid-century, a name with some history, but not a Victoriana vintage choice. It should lean a little quirky, too, I think – especially with playful sister names like Zuzu and Wendy, it can’t be too buttoned-down.
Here are my suggestions:
Bettina – We all recognize Bettina as a name, but it’s far from common. It can shorten to Betty or maybe even Betsy, and all three names are cousins to the evergreen Elizabeth. I love the sound of Betty with Wendy and Zuzu and June, but I think Bettina might fit even better when Diana is considered.
Dorothy – Florence feels a little more vintage than your older girls’ names, and so I found myself thinking of Dorothy. Strictly speaking, Dorothy was most popular in the 1920s, a few decades more recently than Florence. But I think they both feel similarly antique. The benefit of Dorothy? All sorts of delicious nicknames, like Dolly, Dot, Dory, and Doe. Or maybe even Rory if you’d like something a little more boyish – which might be a bit like Floy.
Joy – Floy makes me think of Joy – but is it too close to June? It might be short for a longer name, like Jocelyn, but it typically stands alone.
Mamie – Because the novel, musical, and movie Auntie Mame came out in the 1950s, we sometimes think of this as an especially mid-century name. Factor in First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and it feels right at home in the era. But in truth, Mamie’s been around for ages, a sometimes-nickname for Mary and Margaret. In our age of Maisie, though, I think it stands on its own.
Nancy – A 1940s favorite, Nancy brings to mind the whip-smart heroine of all those detective novels, Nancy Drew. She’d fit right in with Wendy and Zuzu and the rest of your girls’ names. Nancy started out as a nickname for Ann, but today it stands on its own.
Romy – Romy is relatively unknown in the US, but it’s traditional in German, a contracted form of Rosemarie. You can use it on its own, or as a short form of Rosemarie, Rosemary, or even Romilly, though that might be too out-there.
Sabrina – I feel like Gwendolyn and Sabrina are logical sister names, and Sabrina fits in well with Susan, June, and Diana, too.
Veronica – The first name that I thought of when I read your list! Maybe it’s because of the great short forms – Vee, Vera, Nica – or maybe because it’s one of those names that feels a little bit throwback, but isn’t quite antique just yet. I’d call it a quirky classic, just like your older girls’ names!
Overall, I’m drawn to something longer, like Veronica or Bettina, with a sparky nickname. But in the spirit of compromise, I think it might be worth thinking about whether there’s another Florence nickname that you could both love, or whether Joy might stand in for Floy.
But I know the readers will have even more great suggestions, so let’s turn it over to the community.
What would you name a sister for Susan (Zuzu), June, Gwendolyn (Wendy), and Diana?