Today’s Reader Baby Name Story comes to us from Angel. Catch up with her on her personal blog here, where you can also find snapshots of her darling daughter.

What is your child’s name?

Emmeline Rhapsody, pronounced EM UH LINE, as opposed to EM UH LEEN which is another option I’ve heard.

When did you choose?

Just after she was born. We had two names going in. But like the Highlander – there can be only one.

What were your criteria?

We knew that, boy or girl, the first name would start with the letter E.

That was pretty easy. I love ‘E’ names … I married an ‘E’, my mom is an ‘E’, and one of my best friends is an ‘E’. ‘E’ names rock.

The hard part was that our top choice was the current number one name for girls. We liked that name a lot, but having a name that three or four other kids had wasn’t that appealing to us. I have a less-than-common name, and so does my mom, so I guess we’re just used to that mindset.

We also knew that we didn’t want to use a nickname. Not that we were wholly opposed to them; we just loved the full names we were picking and figured that she can choose her nicknames as she grows.

Who was involved in the decision?

Just my husband and me. I didn’t even use the online resources I love so much now. We did, when asked, bring up our final two choices to other family members, but they didn’t have any say. I remember my boss leaving an article about the Top Ten names in our state with a note that said “Emily isn’t even in the top 10.” Generally anyone over 65 didn’t care for our final choice, but most people love it.

What were the other options?

Emily was the first choice. I had written it down in the cover of my very first naming book that I got when I was 16, so I’d loved it for a long time.

When it came to naming, we came up with some others as well – Amelia, Emilia, Eleanor, Elizabeth and while we didn’t agree – I liked the sing-song, Emma-Lily. We kept coming back to Emily though.

There were really no other middle name options – I have a mental list of my favorite words (I’m an eternal list maker a la Benjamin Franklin), and its usually ever-changing, but Rhapsody has held the number one spot ever since I first heard “Rhapsody in Blue” when I was younger. My musician husband didn’t have any objections, so we put all of our focus on the first name.

Now that our Emmeline is a year-and-a-half old, we are still in love her name and feel it was the right one for her: a perfect mix of vintage and quirky … something with a story. And I’m amazed at how many places we find it:

Did the meaning matter?

I would say, yes … but we looked at the overall meaning. Since Emmeline is derived from Amelina, meaning industrious or industrious worker (which I thought was interesting since it’s such a girly-sounding name), I liked the balance of her more fun, quirky middle name. I also looked at its origin – a French name with German roots. I have French ancestry and my husband has German ancestry, so I thought it tied in nicely. Basically though, I was trying to avoid a negative meaning.

Did you second guess yourself?

Yes! We had a name fairly set for the first two trimesters, and then in my third trimester, I started to doubt the first name choice – I had a nightmare that our baby girl was lost in a park in Seattle. In this dream, her name was Emmeline.

I hate to say it, but that nightmare planted the seeds for that name. We talked it over, and we loved both, so we went into the delivery with both as an option. After she was born, I asked my husband what she looked like, and he said Emmeline. Emmeline Rhapsody made her entrance.

I can’t take full credit for the inspiration though, because one of my favorite blogs, Cry It Out, is written by a dad and features his little daughter, Emmeline. The topper though was looking through the Secret Universe of Names book (an awesome coffee table book about names and what letters and sounds mean–it’s so fun to look your own name up). At the bottom of the EML page, there was an example of a famous EML person, and her name was Emmeline Pankhurst, a political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement. Seeing it in print, and knowing that it wasn’t just a made up name (something that makes my eye twitch) made me feel good. Eric agreed, and voila.

So there you have it. We named her after a nightmare, a blog and a book.

That’s officially the best line that has ever ended a post here, Angel! And I love the balance of the antique Emmeline with the thoroughly modern Rhapsody in the middle spot.

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. That’s the interesting thing about INE names; the pronunciation is treated differently depending on the country. This is probably how we ended up with Caroline (lien), Katherine (rin), and Josephine (feen)

  2. It’s interesting to hear that pronounciation, because when we were taught about Emmeline Pankhurst people always pronounced it with a ‘leen’ ending. That might because of our English accent though.

  3. What a beautiful name with a fascinating story. If my own sister wasn’t named Emily I probably would have chosen Emmeline (pronounced em-uh-leen) as Roseanna’s third name instead of Adeline (ad-uh-line). However, it would have felt odd to acknowledge one sibling while leaving out the others.

  4. Those pregnancy dreams are craziness – so vivid! Your little girl’s name is lovely – I’m so impressed with Rhapsody, too – what a wonderful middle!