Thanks to Jodi for sharing the stories behind her daughters’ names! They’re truly delightful choices, and since she’s lucky enough to have four girls, I’ll be sharing her story over two Saturdays. Elder sisters Pippa and Romilly are up first!
I. Pippa’s Story
What is your child’s name?
Philippa Violet, called Pippa.

When did you choose?

We’ve never known the sex of any of our girls before birth (although we increasingly assume girl with each pregnancy), so the question of when they were named can only truly be answered, “At birth.”
As for when our girl name was nailed down, I can remember it vividly. We were living in Scotland when our first two were born (my husband is from England and went to university in Scotland). When I was 19 weeks pregnant with Pippa, we went on one last “vacation” before baby to the highlands of Scotland, where my hubby’s idea of a good time was to drag pregnant me on long walks through all sorts of terrain in all sorts of weather. It was pretty fun, to be fair, but the best part was I had a captive audience for discussing baby names.

At first, I was pushing for a family name, either Alice for both of my grandmothers or Violet for his maternal granny who had passed away just bfeore I had gotten pregnant. I probably would’ve used both together in either order if he had been on board, but he found Alice a bit boring (only to an Englishman!) and Violet a bit lacking in nickname options since neither of use cared for Vi.

Once we ditched the family name idea, I can’t remember us considering any name other than Pippa. I had heard it and fallen in love with it since living in the UK. He liked it too; it was an easy choice. What wasn’t easy was whether my grandma or his would get the middle name spot. In the end, the fact that he had lost his granny recently was what sealed the deal. It was important to him, and my two grandmothers were (and are!) both still living, so they could wait for a little namesake to come along later (just 17 months later, as it happened!)

Who was involved in the decision?

I can’t remember discussing names with anyone but each other until we had a name pretty settled for each sex.

What were the other options?

Alice and Violet, and I also pitched Imogen, which we still haven’t used, but hubby has now, *after* four girls, decided he likes. Sigh…

Did the meaning matter?

Pippa means (like Philip) “lover of horses” which was neither here nor there for me. It was meaningful that it was a uniquely British name reflecting her Daddy’s culture, and I liked the (very tenuous) connection to my hometown, Philadelphia.

Did you second guess yourself? Only before she was born. I have adored her name ever since the first time I held her, and I still smile every time I see the whole thing written out.

II. Romilly’s Story

What is your child’s name?

Romilly Alice, sometimes called Ro.

When did you choose?

Again, we didn’t know the sex, but Romilly came up around the halfway mark of the pregnancy. I had been trying to sell hubby on Cecily for the whole pregnancy so far, but for both of us, it niggled at us that we didn’t love any of its nicknames. Since it was the ending of the name I loved most (a name-loving friend of mine believes that what I really wanted was an Emily, and she may be right!), I began to hunt around for similar names. We discussed Amelie, Coralie, Felicity, Verity… and then I discovered Romilly.
I don’t remember where I first heard it. It’s around enough in the UK that I had a vague awareness of it without actually knowing why. I remember realizing during a sleepless night while on vacation with hubby’s family that a Romilly could be called Romy for short, and that sold it for me. And kept me awake for the rest of the night, too excited to sleep. Incidentally, we *never* call her Romy, just Ro, or Ro-ro. That same trip I found out that my mother-in-law had a Romilly at the school where she teaches and loved the name. She hated Cecily. We don’t always worry about others’ opinions, but I have to admit, it was a factor in this case.

I then set about making sure it was a “real name”. Someone on a messageboard directed me to this website, which sealed the deal with photo after photo of sweet baby Romillys (ours is there now, too!). I’m still not sure the purist in me belives it is a “real name”. It’s a first name, by way of surname, by way of French place-name, but I still wish it had a longer history of use as a girls’ name. Whatever, I love it.

What were your criteria?

We have an ever-growing list of “rules” for our names. At this point, the main restrictions were that it not start with any initial we already had in our immediate family (T, J or P) and that it complement Pippa’s name.

What were the other options?

We continued tossing around Cecily, Verity and Felicity until the bitter end, but we were really only looking for a back-up name, in case she came out *not* a Romilly.

Did the meaning matter?
Ha! No one really knows for sure what it means. The meaning I give if people ask me is, “Rock of a thousand flowers”, but the place name is so old that no one really knows, so I guess it didn’t matter to us that much! Her middle name, Alice is full of meaning, since both of my grandmothers are Alice. That was set in stone long before she had a first name.

Did you second guess yourself?
Maybe slightly more than with Pippa, but really not much at all. I love her name now, and it suits her perfectly.

Jodi, thank you so much for sharing your story! Pippa and Romilly make such a great sibset, and I love how you combined meaningful middles with stylish first names.
Readers, come back next week to hear all about the girls’ little sisters!

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. I love these two names together 🙂

    Philippa nn Pippa is GORGEOUS. It’s one of my favourites. I love that you picked it.

  2. Adorable girls! I love Philippa nn Pippa and Romilly is a great name that does, as you say, complement Philippa nicely! Can’t wait to hear about your other two girls!

  3. What beautiful names for beautiful girls! They are so adorable! Philippa is one of my favorite names and Romilly is lovely as well! Great story!

  4. Beautiful name selections and beautiful girls! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I look forward to next week!

  5. I honestly love the names you chose. Romilly & Pippa sound awesome together. Your kids look like angels and I sincerely, really like Romilly & Pippa. Fascinating story!