Changing a Surname After Divorce

Dear Swistle,

I know your blog focuses on baby names, but I love your advice and I thought I’d write to you anyway. I’m getting divorced in February, and in my state, one can change their name completely to whatever she wants as part of the divorce process. I’m strongly considering dropping my married name, but not quite sure I want to just go back to my maiden name. I’m looking for last name advice.

I have a weird first name, Nechama (rhymes with pajama, c is silent, unless you can easily say the gutteral ‘ch’, as in ‘chanakah’). I love my name-it means ‘small comfort in hard times’, which fits me, I think. I was named for my great grandmother. I’m constantly spelling it for people, correcting pronunciation, and otherwise dealing with the complexities of a weird name, but I wouldn’t change it.

My last name, however….. My maiden name is Weinberger, which is also weird, hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and doesn’t always fit on forms. I never liked having two difficult names, and used to wish that my last name was Jones or something like that when I was a kid.

When I got married, my soon to be ex husband pressured me into taking his name, Greenwood. While I wasn’t happy about changing my name on feminist grounds, I really did enjoy having a easy to say, easy to spell name to pair with my first name, and I still sort of like the sound of ‘Nechama Greenwood’. Our marriage and his family was not easy, including abuse, and as much as ‘Nechama Greenwood’ is aesthetically pleasing to me, I don’t think I want to carry their name going forward. Similarly, my family is pretty dysfunctional and has been really sort of awful about my divorce, and I don’t feel like it’s emotionally important to me to go back to a family name.

I’m leaning towards an entirely new last name, and I’d love advice.

Some things I like/what I’m going for:
-easy to say and spell
-on the short side, probably no more than 3 syllables, max
-distinctive (I’m a researcher and want to have a name that’s somewhat memorable,so that articles I write are more easily found and identified as mine, something that happens with Greenwood, but might not with a “Jones” “Smith” or “Freeman” type name)
-reflective of my Jewish heritage without making me sound religious (I’m an atheist, and concerned that my very Yiddish first name paired with another very Yiddish/Jewish last name would make me sound like a religious extremist)
-nature names (though I don’t want to sound like I play drums in the woods on the reg; I do not)
-names that reference female strength, friendship etc
-I sorta liked the initials NW, but I’m not married to this
-I also sorta like nouns as names, again as long as i don’t sound like I’m drumming up a storm in my yurt.
-needs to work with Dr, in that Dr. Greenwood sounds like a person who might teach your ‘intro to something boring’ class in college, but Dr. Strength sounds like a Bond villain or member of the X-Men, and Dr. Love sounds like a porn star.

Some things I want to avoid:
-With my weird first name, a lot of names I’ve thought of/friends have suggested sound like anime or cartoon characters (Nechama Wild: Avenging the world!), Hogworts professors (Nechama Nettles, the new potions teacher) or microbes (Nechama Forrest, a dangerous blight impacting old growth oak trees, causing their leaves to shrivel).
-too many new age vibes. I just can’t get up at a scientific conference and say “Hi, I’m Dr. Nechama CrystalWind FairyBreath, here to talk about my research…” Women in my field have to struggle to be taken seriously, which is a whole other topic I could also write you a very long letter about, but for naming’s sake, I do want to find something that commands as much respect as possible as a woman speaking to self-important men in suits.
-last names ending in a tend to sound bad with my first name

I’m sort of at a loss, and my divorce date is coming up soon, so i would really appreciate any help, advice or ideas.

Thank you very much,
Nechama

 

I enjoyed this letter very much. “Dr. Nechama CrystalWind FairyBreath”!

If your marriage/husband/in-laws held better associations for you, I might suggest shortening Greenwood to Green: it gives you a simple, short, dignified, nature-but-no-forest-drumming, noun-y, symbolic (green can symbolize newness, freshness) surname that would be distinct from your married name while not being completely new. (Wood might also be nice, and would give you the initials NW, but I think I’d get wearier of the puns.) But the mention of abuse makes me very hesitant to suggest any continuing tie to that family or family name.

I wonder if we could do something similar with your family’s surname. Weinberger could be shortened to Berg, which is not as pretty as Greenwood but is relatively simple and dignified. I think it might be fun to think of some iceberg-related symbolism to go with it.

I might salvage Forest from your list. It’s an interesting connection to Greenwood, and I think it sounds neutral-surname enough to avoid images of tree blight. Nechama Forest. Dr. Forest. Well, it does sound to me like a location, now that I write it out. Still, I’d keep it on the possibilities list for now. It sounds like a NICE location!

I also wonder about Pine. It has that nice tree connection; it’s simple; Dr. Pine sounds nice. It does sound a little bit like a variety of pine (Alberta Spruce, Douglas Fir, Nechama Pine), but again, I’d keep it on the possibilities list.

If I were in this situation, I think one thing that would be important to me would be a good explanation for the name. People don’t ask about my current surname every day, but it does come up fairly regularly: what country is it from, am I related to so-and-so, etc. When I was considering what to do with my surname at marriage, this entered into my decision: I found I didn’t want to answer, “Oh—no, my husband and I just chose that name when we got married.” I wanted the HISTORY—and I didn’t want to go up against the societal symbolisms and standards for surnames. I would have been okay with using a surname from higher up the branch of one of our family trees, however: I could have answered questions about that without feeling like I needed to say something I wouldn’t want to say (“We just liked the sound of it”). So that’s the next thing I’d suggest, especially since you mention wanting to reflect your Jewish heritage: is there anything else in your family tree you’d like to use? It might not be as aesthetically appealing as some of the other options, but it would have the compensating value of family and heritage—while getting a little distance from any current dysfunction.

Or are there other Jewish-heritage or non-Jewish-heritage names that would have meaning for you? People you admire, historical figures, important authors? For example, I would be a little tempted to use Martin after Judith Martin (Miss Manners), because I admire her so much. I might stay away from a name with such a strong association that I’d get asked about it frequently (“Brontë? As in the Brontë sisters?”), since that would bring us back to the part I’d want to avoid.

I wonder if you’d find this book useful: Baby Names Made Easy: The Complete Reverse-Dictionary of Baby Names. It has names sorted into categories such as Friendship, Strength, Nature, etc. The names are first names, but there are some that would work as surnames too. For example, under Friendship I found Alvin, which means “friend to elves.” Dr. Alvin doesn’t sound at all like Dr. Elf Friend, and yet, there it is, secretly! Or Winn means “friend” and gives you the initials NW (though Dr. Win is probably a bit much). Or Jordan! Religiously significant (I don’t know enough to know if this would be workable or not), but sounds neutrally name-y, too, and is easy to pronounce and spell. Nechama Jordan; Dr. Jordan.

My guess is that with your first name, even a very common surname will still give you an easily searchable/recognizable full name. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to go for the Jones you once dreamed of!

Baby Boy Korver, Brother to Judah Samson

Hi Swistle,

I’m due July 1st with another boy (the doc was pretty sure but not 100%) brother to Judah Samson. Samson is my mother’s maiden name and Judah is named for my husband’s maternal grandfather whose hebrew name was Yehuda (Judah is the english version of Yehuda). I briefly worried about having an “S” middle name after Judah because I was afraid it would sound like “Judas” rather than “Judah” but then I realized people wouldn’t very frequently be saying his full name anyway and I liked the Samson connection too much to give it up. We didn’t/don’t plan to use the nickname Jude – but we like that there is that option if he chooses it or others want to call him that in the future. We are so happy with his name and people from our families on both sides are truly touched by the connections his name has to his roots.

So far we have pretty much decided on the first name Ezra if this is a boy (the first name would be after my husband’s grandfather whose first name was Israel). For the middle name, we’d like to go with something that honors my grandfather – in English his name was Robert Henry, or Chaim in Hebrew. The problem is, so far none of those names really work with the first name and our last name, which sounds like Korver.

Ezra Robert Korver (B followed by V makes it hard to say, styles don’t match)
Ezra Henry Korver (quite a mouthful, styles don’t match)
Ezra Chaim Korver (no way, don’t like a sound in there no one can pronounce)
Ezra Micah Korver (We even got creative and thought of using Micah, an anagram of Chaim). This still doesn’t flow well with the two names ending in A sounds and may be kind of feminine. But I do like the creativity of it, and I like that the name styles seem to go together.

Other boy names we like, but ultimately decided we like Ezra better because of the honor connection and sound: Elliot, Joel, Rafi, Oren, Ian.

Help! Do you have other thoughts or creative ideas for how to honor my grandfather in my son’s name? Is there a perfect derivative name of Henry or Robert or Chaim we haven’t thought of? He was really musical and we shared that passion – anything i can do with that?. I called him Pop, and my grandmother called him Bobby if those spark anything. Maybe you can convince me that one of the options above is the one or suggest some brilliant advice or alternative.

THANK YOU!
Shira

 

I don’t think the first and middle names DO need to match in style. In fact, I’d say I generally prefer them NOT to match: I think of the middle name as a great place for a name that doesn’t work in style as a first name, or for an honor name you like more for the honor than for the name itself, or whatever. Ezra Robert Korver seems perfect to me.

I also don’t think the whole name needs to avoid being a mouthful, or that the middle name needs to flow perfectly with either the first name or the surname, unless your family tends to say the full name frequently. In most cases, a person is called by first and last, or only by first; the middle sort of drops out of the picture. But Ezra Henry Korver doesn’t seem particularly like a mouthful to me anyway.

In general my feeling about honor names is that they’re worth a little awkwardness. If you find the B followed by the V a little difficult to say, I think a minor pronunciation issue (especially one that is unlikely to be said) is well worth it as the price of using the honoree’s first name. Using an anagram or hobby-related name seems unnecessary here: I think Robert works beautifully.

I also think Chaim works beautifully, if that name would be more meaningful to your family or have a stronger connection to your grandfather: if anyone needed to pronounce the middle name for some reason and couldn’t manage it, I doubt that would cause a level of difficulty or inconvenience that would make you sorry you’d chosen the name.

Baby Boy Polanco, Brother to Emmerson Grace

Hi Swistle!

We have a two year old daughter named Emmerson Grace. We call her Em, Emmie, Emmie G or Emmie Grace. We are expecting a baby boy in April and I just really cannot find a boy name I like or feel comfortable with. I think names that I like are too “out there” and names my husband likes are even further out there than you can imagine (ie. he likes names such as Beauregard, Alpheus, and Yorke). These are all an absolute NO for me.

With our daughter, Emmerson always stood out to us and was our “go-to” throughout my pregnancy, even though we considered a million names and we were deciding between two names in the hospital. We really thought this baby was a girl and we just can’t seem to find any boy names that feel right. We don’t really have one name we love or one name we can fall back on.

The one name we were considering since before we got pregnant is Griffin. We aren’t sure how we like names that end in the “in” sound with Emmerson, though. How do Emmerson and Griffin sound to you?

Right now here is our list:

Griffin – “in” sounds weird with Emmerson’s name.

Whittaker – we both really like this name. My husband especially. I really like the feel of it, how it sounds with Emmerson, and that it has good nickname potential (We like Whit) but something about it feels off. Is it odd or clumsy sounding to you? Something with the ending sound “aker” makes me pause. Also, we made the mistake of mentioning it to a friend who flat out said it was awful and “stupid”. So now I’m really not sure.

Shepard – just.. eh..

August – really love but do *not* like the nickname Auggie OR Gus. Which means 1. this name has no nickname potential for us which isn’t necessary but would be nice since Emmerson has many nicknames. and 2. there is the potential for him to get these nicknames one day and I really would not be fond of them at all, especially Auggie. Also concerned about popularity.

Fielding – unsure – same deal as Whittaker. Sound is weird? Can’t picture a baby named Fielding

Wolfe – My husband loves, I do not.

Bennett – My father in law is Benito, nickname Beni and my husband likes the idea of Beni being a potential nickname. I like Bennett but do not like the name Beni so I really wouldn’t want that to be his nickname,

That’s it. Are there names we are missing? Names that have the feel of Whittaker but maybe sound a little nicer to the ear? Other names that seem to match our style that we aren’t thinking of? None of these are names that either of us are that excited about so we are open to suggestions.

Other information:

I am Bonnie, my husband is Alastor and our last name is Polanco. We hope to have three children. We prefer names that are recognizable as names but *not* popular. Emmerson has gotten a little too popular for our liking. Another reason we really like Whittaker is that it’s not in the top 1000.

He will have a middle name but that is also completely up in the air. We are open to suggestions. My grandfather’s name was Bernard. My husband really likes this name. I do not like it but like the idea of honoring my grandfather.

Thank you for your time, patience, and consideration.

All the best,

Bonnie

Baby Boy Grayler

Hi Swistle,

My boyfriend and I are expecting our baby boy within a couple weeks here! Due date is feb. 4th, but are most likely going to be induced before. And are still hesitant on a name. Last name “Grayler” but spelled a little differently.

So far we really like “C” names. Our top three are Chase, Crosby, and Carter. I really would like the middle name to be Maxwell, but am open for other suggestions that fit! Other names I have considered are Nolan and Gavin. For Nolan, I wasn’t sure if it was too “baby-like” and may not fit an older adult. As for Gavin, I wasn’t sure about two G’s- “Gavin Grayler”. We are a huge hockey family, both sides.

What do you think? Does the middle name Maxwell fit better for certain names? Does “Gavin Grayler” sound a little off with the two G’s?

Thank you!!!

 

Alliteration is a matter of taste: some people do it deliberately, and some people avoid it, and everyone else is somewhere in between. I don’t see anything wrong with Gavin Grayler if you like it.

Nolan doesn’t strike me as being baby-like at all. I haven’t known any adult Nolans yet, but I’d expect the name to work very well.

Of the names on your list, Nolan is my favorite with Maxwell. However, I think all of the names work fine with it: none of them strike me as NOT working with Maxwell.

My least favorite with your surname is Carter: the repeated -er with your surname sounds a little off to me. But this is another matter of taste: some people will like the way the repeated sound ties the two names together. I think I would prefer Carson: Carson Maxwell Grayler.

I also find I have a little trouble saying Crosby Grayler. I wonder if it’s the Cr/Gr? I think I would prefer Colby: Colby Maxwell Grayler. I also like Corbin Maxwell Grayler.

My top favorite of all the options is Nolan Maxwell Grayler.

Baby Naming Issue: Double-Mary Names

Dear Swistle

My husband and I are the parents of 3 beautiful girls:Clara Jane, Lydia Kierston and Valerie Ann. It seems like our 4th child would most likely be a girl, if it were a boy we have the name William David picked out. I have followed your blog for sometime and remember awhile back you posted about double Mary names. However, when naming Valerie most of our family and friends immediately said all the Mary names we picked out sounded like Catholic nun names. We aren’t Catholic and to be fair my favorite was Mary Agnes nn Maggie. Which I realize is very traditional. I still really love this name combination, but am wondering if people would respond better if we chose something like Mary Eliza nn Mellie? All of our girls have one name that is a family name and we are down to Mary which is a family name on both sides. Is there any way of sprucing up Mary and making it seem “fresh” as a double name? Or does Mary, as a stand alone name, work with our other naming choices? Thank you so much!

 

The double-Mary names sound very fresh and charming to me, and also quite Catholic. I’m not sure if they can be separated from that connection or not, but if they can’t be, is that okay? It seems like with a lot of names, our acquaintances can give dealbreaker-implying feedback along the lines of “Oh, that sounds like ____” or “Oh, that reminds me of _____,” even when those associations aren’t negative—as if no name with any association can be used. I think it’s worth asking the follow-up question “So what? Is that a problem?” (I mean, in your own mind, to evaluate your own feelings about the raised issues. Not to the face of someone who has remarked upon an association.) (Unless their tone of voice just steps on your LAST NERVE that day.)

If you use a name that sounds like “a Catholic nun,” that is unlikely to cause people to mistake your new baby for a Catholic nun. If you like, when you introduce the baby, you can say, “Her name is Mary Agnes: Mary for her [relative] and [other relative], and Agnes because we liked it.” If they say to you, upon hearing your baby’s name, “Oh, are you Catholic?,” you can say, “No: Mary is a family name”—and most people in your life presumably already know you are not Catholic. If you plan to call her Maggie, it may hardly ever come up.

Thinking it over further, I don’t think I know any double-Marys who aren’t Mariannes or Maryellens or some other combination that hasn’t been stripped of the Catholic feeling. There haven’t been any girls with double-Mary names in any of my children’s classes so far, either. If there WERE a Mary Agnes in one of my children’s classes, I don’t think I’d assume the family was Catholic: the name has too much vintage appeal for that, and I’d wonder if parents who WERE Catholic would find those names too old-fashioned/overused (and/or too evocative of former teachers), and would be leaning more toward saint names such as Felicity and Lucia.

I did a quick, statistically-insignificant 5-child survey in my house just now, to find out what school-aged children might think; my sample included a 2nd grader, two 4th graders, an 8th grader, and a 10th grader. I first asked if any of them had ever known a girl with a Mary ____ name. They all said no. I then asked if they would make any association with such a name, or assume anything about her because of that name, and they all said no. I said, “So you don’t think of that name as being Catholic?,” and four of them said no and one of them said “Why would I?” I wouldn’t describe our area as Heavily Catholic, but we have a large Catholic church and the school cafeteria doesn’t serve meat on Fridays, so we’re not Catholic-Free, either. If your area is similar, my guess is that the child’s peers will be more surprised by two names than they will be by any Catholic-nun associations.

I do think it would help to use a second name that is less often associated with nunneries. Mary Eliza as you suggest, or something like Mary Violet, Mary Sophia, Mary Olivia, Mary Alexis, Mary Louise, etc. But if your favorite is Mary Agnes, I wouldn’t choose something else just to try to get a better reaction. Mary Agnes is one of my favorites, too.

I’m not sure how I feel about Mary on its own in this sibling group. It seems quite similar in sound to Clara, and to Valerie. If I say the names together, Clara, Lydia, Valerie, Mary, I feel like I’m saying a lot of “air” and “ree.” Not enough, however, to make me say it doesn’t work.

If the combination names continue to sound not-quite-right for your family, and if the air/ree sound repetition doesn’t bother you, then I suggest Rosemary.

Or perhaps Mary could work as a middle name.

Or if Mary could also be Marie, Marie makes a very pretty middle name or a fresh surprising first name (though it matches Valerie’s ending).

Or else I suggest going back to the family tree to see if Mary is the very last possibility or if there are still others to investigate.

I find, though, that I am rooting for you to use a Mary ____ name. I really do find them charming, and I’m ready to start hearing them again. (It is perhaps worth noting that I have never been to Catholic school, however. I hear it is a very influencing experience.)

Baby Naming Issue: Aging Well

Hi Swistle,

My husband and I are due with our first child, a girl, on Jan 31. Our last name is Chenn, but with “a” instead of an “e”.

She won’t have a middle name.

My husband and I are partial to gender neutral names and have narrowed our choices down to Alexis and Riley. Riley was our top choice, but I’m worried that it doesn’t “age well” in the sense that it sounds too childlike (can I picture a lawyer named Riley or a Grandma Riley)? Alexis (nn Lexi) recently came into the picture but I’m hesitant because the possessive form of the name (Alexis’ or Alexis’s) is inconsistent and I find that slightly annoying. I also know two people with that name who I would not want my daughter to emulate.

Other names we have on our list include Quinn, Skyler, and Casey. I also love the name Mia (but he hates it) and he likes the name Caitlin (but I’ve vetoed because: 1. there are too many ways to spell it and I don’t want her to go through life spelling her name for everyone, and 2. It’s traditionally pronounced more like “Kath-leen” in Gaelic so I would be intentionally pronouncing it wrong by giving her that name).

What do you think? Is Riley too “kiddish” and are my qualms about Alexis unreasonable? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thank you!

 

I like putting names through a series of tests, too. I do the careers test: does the name work on a lawyer? a teacher? a clerk? a carpenter? I also like the stages-of-life test: does the name work on a young child? a young adult? a middle-aged adult? an older adult? And I like the “make sure you’re not imagining a celebrity” test (aka the “Blake Lively looks wonderful in everything but that doesn’t mean the rest of us will” test): picture the name on an ordinary child; on a unpopular teenager with bad skin and unflattering clothes; on a plump, plain, glasses-wearing adult; etc.

Here is where the tests fall short: because name fashions come and go, and because they shift so much from generation to generation, a name can fail dramatically if you run the test while you’re pregnant, even though the name would later on have passed the test easily. When people of approximately my age think about “old man/lady” names, we might think of Mildred, Ethel, Howard, Donald. But the parents who used those names for their babies back in, say, 1920, were not thinking to themselves, “I love this name, and it will work GREAT on an old person.” If you’d asked them at the time to imagine a Grandma Ethel, it would have been difficult. Ethel is a swinging young person, vibrant and cheeky! But 90 years later, people my age are saying “Ethel? That’s an old lady name!” (and are on the verge of finding our grandchildren given it as a charming vintage revival).

Riley is an excellent example of the issue. I know NO ONE my age named Riley, nor anyone my parents’ age named Riley, nor anyone my grandparents’ age named Riley, nor anyone my great-grandparents’ age named Riley. I only know children named Riley. This makes sense when you look at how many girls have been named Riley over the years, going back in roughly generation-sized chunks:

1893: –
1923: 5
1953: –
1983: 36
2013: 4,902 (plus another 2,878 named Rylee, 1,709 named Ryleigh, 839 named Rylie, etc.)

So picturing a Grandma Riley does indeed feel ridiculous: if those 5 in 1923 are not a recording error (in that same year I see 41 baby boys named Elizabeth and 43 baby girls named David), maybe a few of us know an elderly woman named Riley—but most of us have never encountered one. But will it seem ridiculous when all of today’s child-aged Rileys are grandparent-aged? Will the children of that era say, “Wow, sure seems weird to have a GRANDMOTHER named Riley!” Of course not! Fast-forward 80 years from now and parents will be making baby name lists and one of them will say “How about Riley, after my grandmother?” and the other one will say “No way, Riley is SUCH an old-person name. Maybe as a middle.”

Where was I? Oh, yes: I was saying that I would not be very concerned about a currently-popular name fitting an older person. If you were to suggest a name such as Boopsie because you’d always thought that was an adorable name for a baby, I might gently remind you that babies are babies for only a very short time, and after that they need names that work in childhood and adulthood. If you were wondering if I could picture a lawyer named Boopsie, I would have to admit it was a stretch. But if you are looking at the names popular for this generation of babies, and you are feeling concerned because they seem to fit young children but not lawyers or senior citizens, then I say the tests are only helpful to a certain extent. The name Riley was the 45th most popular girl name in the United States in 2013, and that doesn’t even count all the other popular spellings; the name will age along with everyone who has it, just as Ethel has, just as Barbara has, just as Jennifer has.

Speaking of the other popular spellings, however, I’d say Riley is up there with Caitlin in terms of spelling issues. Just looking at the spellings given to 100 or more baby girls in 2013, we have:

Riley (4,902)
Rylee (2,878)
Ryleigh (1,709)
Rylie (839)
Rileigh (185)
Rilee (130)
Reilly (102)

If you wanted to reconsider Caitlin, but the pronunciation issue bothers you, there are two sources for the name. One is the Gaelic, which, as you say, was originally pronounced more like kat-LEEN. The other is a classic combination source such as Maryanne and Annemarie: Kate + Lynn is Katelyn, and is pronounced as you’d prefer, with no “pronouncing it wrong” issue.

On to Alexis. The issue of making a possessive or plural out of a name ending in S is one of the reasons I hesitate over using such names myself, because errors of that sort me want to pull out my teeth. I know I’ve told this story before, but when I worked in a daycare, a co-worker once made baby James’s name possessive by writing “Jame’s,” and I have never quite recovered. And recently my high-school-aged son told me after I proofread his paper that his English teacher told him it is now considered correct to make a name ending in S possessive by just adding an apostrophe; if this is true, and not just a teenager refusing to admit he’s wrong, I will be driven crazy not only by people getting it wrong but also by having to adjust to a new rule.

BUT: this is why I say every name has a set of issues and it’s a good idea to find the ones that drive you less crazy. In my case, a name ending in S is likely to produce decades of irritation; for someone else, only decades of shrugging, because it isn’t one of their hair-tear issues. If the people getting the possessive wrong is only slightly annoying, then it may be something you chalk up to being part of the package deal of the name, and nothing more serious than that. But if seeing Alexis’ and, heaven help us, Alexi’s, will make you grind your teeth, then I think that’s a legitimate reason to be concerned about using the name. Adding in two people named Alexis who are not positive associations, you may have a name you like very much but that isn’t a good fit for your family.

If you’d like the name Riley, but would like to reduce issues of popularity and spelling, I suggest Rory.

I think Avery might be a good fit for you. It’s a unisex name, but it doesn’t seem as youthful as Riley. I can more easily picture a lawyer named Avery.

Or Ellis. It fits so nicely with the Ella/Isabella sound (and has the nickname Ellie if she wants something more decisively feminine), but is much less common and much more unisex.

Or Hollis. It has the nickname Holly, if she wants it.

Devany is a name I’ve heard only once on an actual child, and it was a pleasant surprise.

Or Hadley.

Or Teagan.