Baby Girl Thorson, Sister to Crosby and Miller

Hi Swistle.

I’ve enjoyed reading examples of your expertise, and I hope you’ll be able to bestow some on us as well.

We are expecting a baby girl in January… a long pined for baby sister after two older brothers. For as long as we have desired this girl, you would think we would have a name ready to use! But the opposite has proven to be true…finding the “perfect” name has been difficult due to the pressure.

Our two boys both have family maiden names as their first name and family first names as their middle names: Crosby Stephen and Miller James.

My original desire was for our girl name to assuredly sound feminine while also honoring a family member(s). Our original top two contenders were Lula or Evelyn, but do to unsolicited negative feedback from both of our parents, we’ve fallen out of love with those.

Lately, we are liking Lanier. Although not officially a family name, it seems that it could “count” as a spin-off of Lane which is a family name. (Or is this too far of a stretch?). One concern, however, is whether or not it sounds feminine enough. What are your thoughts? I do like that “Lanier” matches our boys in terms of having surnames as first names.

Additionally, I love the name Phoebe as a middle name (after my mom), but my husband does not love the idea of having of using a family name that is THAT close to us (relationally and generationally).

Do you think Lanier Phoebe Thorson is too much of a mouthful? Or could we go the Phoebe Lanier Thorson route and still call her Lanier?

Or do you have any other suggestions to add to the pot??

Thanks so much,



I was not sure how to pronounce the name Lanier, so I looked it up: luh-NEER. It sounds slightly more feminine than masculine to me, and the spelling looks slightly more feminine than masculine to me, but not enough to make me confident. In the U.S. in 2015, there were 9 new baby girls and 5 new baby boys named Lanier.

People are going to be all over the spectrum on this, but for me, if Crosby and Miller are the actual family surnames, I would not feel satisfied with Lanier-which-is-similar-to-Lane for the third child. I would, however, strongly consider the name Lane. The nickname Laney gives you a prettier and more girlish option for everyday use. Lane Evelyn would be pretty, and give you Laney-Lyn as well. I’ve found, too, that I call Elizabeth by a lot of middle names that aren’t hers: for example, Elizabeth Louise, Elizabeth Sue, Elizabeth Marie, Elizabeth Josephine. I can picture you calling her Laney-Lou and getting a little of that Lula sound you liked.

Another option is to use Evelyn Lane and wait for the grandparents to come around. I’m sorry they ruined the name for you. I wish people would not do that, when generational differences in naming styles are so standard: your parents presumably didn’t want to use THEIR parents’ naming style either. I am already practicing keeping my mouth shut about my grandchildren’s names, and trusting that I will come around. (And that even if I never do come around, the name is STILL not my decision.)

I like Phoebe, and it seems very pleasing to honor your mother. Are your first two children’s family names much more distant? Was your husband’s mother’s/father’s/brother’s/sister’s name ruled out at some point, so that he feels it wouldn’t be fair to use a closer name from your side?

I don’t think Lanier Phoebe Thorson is too much of a mouthful, or that you would very often say the whole name aloud like that. I like Lane Phoebe Thorson even better. I see no advantages and several disadvantages to switching to Phoebe Lanier Thorson and calling her Lanier.

For more options, I’d point you back to the family tree. Since both boys have all family names, I would place a high priority on doing the same for this baby. Normally I prefer names of relatives who are known by and special to the parents—but if your husband prefers some distance, that works in your favor by giving you more generations to look through.

Baby Girl Givens, Sister to Davis

Hi Swistle! Love your blog. I read it when I was pregnant with my first child and have really enjoyed coming back this time around.

Baby Girl Givens is due in early February of 2017. Her older brother is Davis Henry.

My husband has a very specific (& rigid I might add!) when it comes to the list of names he likes and approves. His favorite on the list is Ellis, and he is also open to Ellison. I like both, but don’t love them, and have a few concerns. One, if we have a Davis and an Ellis, does it sound like two boys? And, although we’re not currently planning on it, what if we were to have a third? Would it have to be Davis, Ellis and Ferris or another is-ending name? With Ellison, I feel like she would be called Ellis anyway, so we are presented with the same challenges. And, as you’ve discussed previously in this forum, I think Ellison is easily confused with Allison.

Other first names deemed acceptable per my husband include the following (as you’ll see he likes simple and classic for the most part!):
Ada (this is his second choice – too popular?)

For middle names we are pretty set on using a family name, either Ann or Victoria and I’m going to toss in Josephine as well.

Thanks so much for any thoughts / help / wisdom you can offer here!

All the best,


If one parent is highly rigid and picky, my suggested strategy is this: the rigid/picky one makes a reasonable list of acceptable names; then other parent chooses their top three from that list; then the parents work together to choose a joint favorite from those three, perhaps using the middle-name choice to help make things even more fair (for example, if he ends up with his first choice of the three names you chose from his list, you get your first choice of middle name).

If I have misunderstood the situation, and actually both of you added names to that list, then it looks like it is just time for more discussion. If Ellis/Ellison isn’t working for you, how do you feel about his second choice of Ada? What is YOUR first choice, and how does he feel about that? Which names would each of you like to cross off the list? In which order would each of you rank the names on the list? Did one of you have more of a say in your first child’s name, and can that be compensated for this time around? Maybe do some exercises where you each choose your top three and look for overlap, or where you each remove your bottom three and see what’s left, or try combining finalists with possible middle names to see if that helps a first name pull ahead of the pack. And so on.

Davis and Ellis feel too similar to me. Davis and Ellison feel less similar, and are more clearly a brother/sister pairing: in the U.S., Ellis is a unisex name used more often for boys, while Ellison is a unisex name used more often for girls. I think the name Ellison would be more likely to be shorted to Ellie or Ella than to Ellis, and/or that you could encourage the nickname to go that way.

I think any of the other names on the list could work as well. But I would be interested to know what YOUR favorite names are, and which if any you like from your husband’s list.

Baby Naming Issue: Will Sisters Named Lena and Ola Remind People of the Ole and Lena Jokes?

I have a 1.5 yr old named Lena and am expecting a second girl in Dec, we really like the name Ola for our second daughter, but I’m worried Ola is too close to Ole, which would create endless Ole and Lena jokes. If you aren’t familiar with Ole and Lena jokes they are super common in MN, where we live, in a very Scandinavian area. What do you think? Too close to a joke, or cute enough to be ok?
Thank you!



My vote is yes, too close. There will be a lot of people who won’t have heard of Ole and Lena, but you live right where everyone HAS heard of them. Worse, it’s not a particularly flattering category of humor: it reminds me of blonde jokes.

A second issue, but perhaps this is because I have three children in the house who have taken or are taking Spanish, is that Ola sounds just like Hola. “Hello” isn’t a negative word, but it’s an unusual one for a name, and I would get weary of “Hola, Ola!” jokes.

Baby Girl Wrightman, Sister to Bennett, Matthew, and Annabelle

Hi Swistle!

You helped us with our second boy, Matthew William Joseph Wrightman in we loved William but didn’t want to honor grandpa bill. We are now on our fourth baby and hoping you can guide us with your expertise.

We have Bennett Patrick- Bennett we loved , Patrick after my late mother, Patricia, his name still makes my heart skip a beat. Name we like plus honor name.

Matthew William Joseph- after grandma Martha (a stretch, I know), grandpa bill and grandpa Joe. I love that we honored all living grandparents yet his name doesn’t quite seem original enough for the entity that is my son Matthew- who at 2 years, declared that his name is actually “Matthias”. If I could go back, I would name him Maxwell Theodore and call him Wells or Teddy. Something a little more spunky. My “dear” unmarried childless sister in law called dibs on Theodore many years ago after their grandpa Ted. This will not deter us now that we are on our fourth child and she remains single and childless with no prospects.

Annabelle Joy- her name is like magic to me. She is every bit as wonderful, beautiful, delicate and joyful as her name. It is perfect.
Ann is after my and my mother’s middle name and joy has special meaning to me.

Our next daughter will have Ann in her name or middle name, and/or Joy as a middle name, ideally. I love this connection and it is important to me.

We love and hope to find a double letter name- can we do this and fulfill everything I love and want in a name to make it magical. ?

I have always liked Lillianna, Lilly for a nickname. The double letters and loveliness is there, with Ann, Lillianna Joy is nice. I worry it with end up in the same compartment as Matthew to me, a wonderful, strong name that my husband and I agree on, but a bit of eh factor as time moves on, because it is common and there are a ton of other Lillys. Thoughts?

I love the nickname Liv- can we make this happen with double letters?
I adore Olivia but feel like it is so popular. Husband loves Olivia as well.
We call Annabelle: Belle, Bells, Bellsies or Annabelle.
I love Belle and Liv, Belles and Livs, Bellsies and Livvies, pitter patter goes my heart. We may spell it Livvy or Livvie if that’s what we go by.

My thoughts are:
Livianna- Livianna Joy. Bell and Liv
Husband says this is a made up name.
I also love Livia as a shortened name.

I love it because it has Ann, double letters, the nickname Liv and can have Joy as a middle name like Annabelle.

Husband says this is even more made up.
Again, love Liv, Ann, double letters plus Joy as middle name
Annabelle and Annalivia- too much? Not enough? Belle and Livvy

Husband would rather do Olivia to get Liv as nickname but it’s way to popular and no double letters.

Other names I love:
Seraphina no double letters, husband thinks its too much,
Livianna Seraphine?

Caroline- going down the ranks for me lately

Everly- adorable but getting too popular, husband says made up, no double letters

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas? We would possibly want one more after this baby. Next boy would be Maxwell Theodore.
Thoughts on Lilly vs Livvy?



I would like to start by discussing what will happen if you do have one more child after this baby and the next child is another girl. If you have two girls who have Ann in their names and Joy as a middle name, will you feel the same has to be done for the third girl? And if so, are you able to come up with a third name that meets that requirement? My feeling is that you could get away with Annabelle and Lillianna, or Annabelle and Livianna, but that it could be somewhere on the difficult-to-impossible spectrum to come up with a third -ann- name that didn’t seem like too much of a duplicate. Annabelle, Lillianna, and Livianna? No. Annabelle, Lillianna, and Annalivia? No. I hear you when you say it is important to you to use Ann and Joy for both daughters, but I feel the risk is high of getting truly stuck.

If this is a risk you’re willing to take, then onward we go. Lillianna seems great to me. I like Livianna even better, because it makes your heart beat faster and you love the nickname, and because it introduces a new sound. It doesn’t strike my ear as “made up”-sounding, I think because Anna- and -anna mash-up names are so traditional and common.

I would not personally want to do another Anna- name. Annabelle and Annalivia seem way too close. If that doesn’t bother you, and you’d like us to continue looking for more Anna- names, I would caution us before we begin about the potentially sensitive nature of Anna+L names, especially if the N is not doubled. Because you specifically want double-letter names, it is less of an issue—but I would still feel wary when playing with names such as Annaleigh.


Options that don’t start with Ann-:

Ellianna (repeats -ell- as well as -anna-)

My top choice from this list is Vivianna. Vivvy/Vivi is similar to the Livvy you like.

A sampling of names with double letters but without the -ann-, just in case:

Stella (repeats the -ell-)


On another note, I think it would be a kindness to leave the name Theodore behind, if you can bear to. I realize it’s annoying when someone who may not even have a child calls dibs on a name, but in this case I would measure your fortune and happiness (marriage, buckets of children) against hers (no relationship prospects so far, childless so far), and consider leaving her something to hold on to. If she’s truly a pill, I can see the temptation; and I don’t believe in dibs on names, especially if it means a grandfather may go unhonored—but there is something a little sad here that is bringing out my feelings of mercy. Perhaps you could use Dorothea or Theodora as a middle name for a daughter, honoring the grandfather without claiming the name. Or perhaps you could use Theodore as the middle for a son, but with a word to her about how you are remembering she wants to use it as a first name, and that you think it’s lovely to use the name more than once.

[Edited to add:] On re-reading, I see I have misunderstood the question. I was thinking the plan was to use another Ann name for the first name, plus Joy again for the middle; the actual plan is to use Ann and/or Joy for the first or middle. In that case, my top choice is to use Joy as the middle, and not use a first name with Ann in it. This also removes the risk of getting stuck with a third daughter’s name: it would not be difficult to use Joy as the middle name again.

My top favorite choices:

Vivienne; Annabelle Joy and Vivienne Joy
Clarissa; Annabelle Joy and Clarissa Joy
Emmeline; Annabelle Joy and Emmeline Joy
Philippa; Annabelle Joy and Philippa Joy

Baby Naming Issue: How Do You Know if a Name is a Passing Fancy?

Hi Swistle,

I love your blog! As a fellow baby-name enthusiast I’m surprised at how hard I find naming my own babies to be, though. I have one son, Everett, who we call Ev most of the time. I’m now expecting another baby in January. (We’re keeping the gender a surprise.) Our last name is P0tter.

We are pretty set on our boy names, but while brainstorming baby girl names, I’ve returned again to the same or similar names many times. None have really felt exciting to me or like The One–maybe because I’ve been thinking about this too long! The names on my list are:

Annabel (family name but my enthusiasm for this one is waning)

As I mentioned all of these have been on my list for a long time. I’d say in general they are representative of our style for girls–feminine, classic but not necessarily traditional. (I also love nature names but feel those would be better in a middle slot.)

But I’ve just recently thought of a new-to-me name that I’m excited about: Romy

I really like it! I can see it on a little girl, a teenager, and an adult woman with many different careers. I think it’s feminine though my husband (who also likes it) says it feels a bit unisex to him. (Generally I’m not into unisex names.) But I’m nervous about it being a flash-in-the-pan choice for me. I guess I’ve been thinking about it so much I just don’t trust my instincts right now (plus, hormones).

Would love your thoughts on the name Romy and if it seems like an outlier, and general advice or assurances about knowing when a name is right.

Thank you!


It is so hard to know if a name will endure or if it’s a passing enthusiasm. I’d love to say that if you give the name to a child, that will cement it into place: even if the name WOULD HAVE been a passing enthusiasm, using it on a child locks it in. And I do think that’s USUALLY the case—but we’ve heard too many stories of name regret to count on it as a sure thing.

There are two rules of thumb I used to figure this out for my own babies’ names. The first was to give it the literal test of time: there were plenty of names that I liked for a few hours or a few days or a couple of weeks, but far fewer that endured. This test doesn’t work if you think of a name a week before your due date, but in this case you have a few months. I would just let the name simmer and see if your feelings for it grow stronger or weaker.

The second rule of thumb I used is the one you mention: I’d check to see if the name was similar to other names that had endured for me, or if it was an outlier. For years and years, the same names would appear on any baby name list I made: Elizabeth, Margaret, Clarissa, Clara, Josephine, Eloise, Eliza, etc. If I suddenly had a passion for the name Genevieve or the name Emerson, putting it with the others could give me a fairly good idea of whether I was looking at a commitment or a fling: Genevieve fits, but Emerson does not.

This isn’t to say that an outlier can’t turn out to be The One, or that you should ignore your actual feelings: that is, I wouldn’t say to myself, “The name Emerson doesn’t fit with the other names on my list, so despite my ever-increasing feelings of love, I must rule it out.” No. But I have found that IN GENERAL, a name that doesn’t go well with my Enduring Favorites is a name that is more LIKELY to turn out to be a passing crush. And since I wanted four-or-so children, and one of my naming preferences is for their names to go well together, this rule of thumb also helped me avoid painting myself into a corner: if I’d chosen an outlier name such as Emerson for a firstborn, I would have felt a little stuck.

So let’s look at your list: Nina, Lila, Isla, Annabel-but-enthusiasm-waning. The first three are very similar to each other, especially Lila and Isla. I’d say Romy isn’t a clash, but it’s not a match either. It’s not a style fit with Everett, either, but it’s so common for parents to have different naming preferences for boys/girls, that kind of thing doesn’t catch my attention the way it does with two sisters or two brothers.

Are you planning more children? If so, play around with sibling group names, using the names from your lists to name subsequent children. Whether names “go together” or not is so subjective. What do you think of Everett, Romy, and Nina? Everett, Romy, and Lila? Everett, Romy, Oliver, and Isla? And so on. If the combinations all sound good to you, then Romy is less likely to be an outlier for you, and unlikely to leave you feeling stuck.

And I’d love to hear commenters’ stories of how they figured it out, as well as specific examples of times a name was/wasn’t a passing fancy.

Baby Girl, Sister to Xola; Looking for a Meaningful Name

We are expecting another girl- due in four weeks and have NO LIST of names. YIKES. Our first daughter Xola’s name comes from Nelson Mandela’s first language meaning Bringer of peace and Marie is her middle name. The M comes from all of our grandmas with M names. My husband would like a meaningful and unique name for number #2, but we haven’t gotten very far. If you have any suggestions please send them our way.


Have you considered “Swistle”? Unusual, meaningful (“bringer of baby names”). Not entirely unique since she would share it with me, but two in 7.4 billion isn’t too bad, and I will try not to show up at the same parties.

This is a good question to give to a big group like this. Even if the specific people/things other people find meaningful are not the same things you find meaningful, there are bound to be some ideas that lead you to think of other ideas.

I think if I were you I would start by making a brainstorming list. Well, first make a list of words to put you in the right mindset, words such as:

anything other word that makes your heart rise up with “YES, that is the kind of thing we want!”

And then, with that list of words visible to both of you, say “1, 2, 3, GO!” and write down everything that you think of when you think of those words. Or leave a pad of paper out, where you can jot down things as you think of them over several days. Maybe you’d write down people such as Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, or words such as peace and philanthropy and international and love, or organizations such as Doctors without Borders. Historical figures, scientists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, authors, poets, flowers, words from other languages. Go to your bookshelf and see whose books you have. Look at your charitable giving. Any of these things can lead you to something or someone you would like to honor with your child’s name.

Well, or for some people this method is going to take what was only a slightly difficult problem and turn it into a giant overwhelming mess. If you’re reading through that paragraph above and your heart is starting to pound with anxiety instead of with happy industriousness, then let’s try something else.

I have a book called Baby Names Made Easy: The Complete Reverse Dictionary of Baby Names. Names are sorted into categories such as “Peace & Freedom,” “Happiness & Joy,” “Kindness & Goodness.” If you wanted to stick with the theme of peace, here are a few ideas from that section:

Amina – peaceful, trustworthy, truthful
Reena – peaceful
Selima – peace; healthy
Tula – tranquil

Or here are a couple from the Kindness & Goodness section:

Alma – nourishing, kind
Charis – graceful, kind

Or from the Intelligence & Wisdom section:

Meira – enlightener
Minda – knowledge

Or from the Dreams & Hopes section:

Asha – hope
Nadia – hope

A few more, from riffling through the book at random:

Adelpha – beloved sister
Brisa – beloved
Carita – charity, kindness
Caro – dear, beloved
Jaia – victory
Liora – light
Nira/Nera – light
Rona – strength
Vela – guardian
Yori – trustworthy

And so on. There is a good assortment of names from many countries. I would, however, double-check the meanings in another book to be sure.

For the middle name, my own preference would be to find another name that honors family. Or the middle name would be a good place for a name that hit all the markers of what you wanted in a meaningful name, but wasn’t something you wanted to use as a first name.

Baby Naming Issue: Should You Point Out a Concern for a Friend’s Baby Name Choice?

Hi Swistle,

An acquaintance (husband’s coworker and his wife) are expecting their third baby. They have two adorable children with pretty “normal” names; recognizable, relatively easy to spell, easy to pronounce, etc. Their last name is [     ].

Yesterday, there was an office baby sprinkle for the family (we got together for a meal and everyone brought them diapers). During the lunch, they revealed the name for the new baby: [     ].

I’m all for people choosing names to their tastes, and I know that I’m not going to like everyone’s names (and that’s fine!), but I can’t believe they haven’t thought how terrible [the name] sounds. Like it sounds like someone is [cheating or scamming a commendable organization]. I’ve been saying it out loud over and over since yesterday and I can’t shake how troubling it sounds to me.

We’re seeing them again this weekend and I’m wondering if this is something I should mention to the mom-to-be. All I can think of is if the name is brought up in conversation, I could just say, “Hey, did you consider that the baby’s name sounds like this? Are you and Husband comfortable with this?”

I feel so awkward about the entire thing. Am I overreacting to my impression of this name? Do I just stay quietly to the side and watch this unfold? I’m leaning toward keeping my mouth shut and learning to contain my cringes whenever we see them.

Thanks for your help!



I’m uneasy about posting someone else’s baby name here, so I’ve removed that part. It’s too bad, because having an example really helps when considering the issue. On the other hand, many of us have probably wondered a similar thing about a totally different situation, so perhaps we could just discuss more generally whether it’s a good idea to speak up when you see an issue with a name that has not yet been officially given to a baby.

Here are the reasons FOR speaking up:

1. The parents may seriously not have thought of the issue, and may agree it’s a serious concern, and may end up with serious name regret later if they don’t realize the issue ahead of time.

Here are the reasons AGAINST speaking up, at least in this particular example:

1. It seems like the kind of feedback people generally dislike.
2. They haven’t asked for feedback.
3. They haven’t said it’s a name they’re considering, they’ve said it’s the name they’ve chosen.
4. As people living with that surname, it seems likely they’ve thought of the issues with it.
5. There really isn’t any good way to say it. Asking if they’re comfortable with it seems to imply that the only natural answer is “No.”
6. I think most of the possible outcomes of such a discussion are going to be negative outcomes.

I think what we’d need here is a balance scale to figure out whether the possible reasons to speak are worth the possible reasons against it, but the trouble is we can only guess at all the weights and measurements. On one side we’d put “How serious a problem is this?”—and as we know from letters and comments on this blog, there is wide disagreement on this kind of thing. One person’s “Oh, man, stay WAY away from THAT!” is another person’s “Who cares? You can find a problem with ANY name.” And there are all the places in between: for example, parents noticing the issue but concluding that it’s worth it for this particular name.

On the other side of the scale we’d put “How likely are they to shoot/resent the messenger and/or be thrown into unnecessary doubt and turmoil?”—and again, we just don’t know. If they were to easily change the chosen name and thank you with great relief, that would probably be okay; if they keep the name, they may always remember you as a person who disliked their baby’s name and tried to talk them out of it. Or they may decide in the end not to change it, but spend the rest of the pregnancy feeling very unhappy and stressed about it. Or maybe not! Maybe they’re extremely laid-back people who believe in frank talk and would easily shrug off anyone’s input if they didn’t agree.

Here is how I think I’d think it through, if it were my husband’s co-worker’s wife:

1. I am uncertain how big of an issue this thing bugging me actually is: would it seem like a problem to LOTS of people, or just a few? This is not something I can know; I can only guess.
2. I am distant from these people, relationship-wise.
3. If it IS a big issue to a large number of people, and they have been telling everyone the name, SURELY someone has already pointed it out to them.
4. If not, that still doesn’t mean it needs to be ME who says something.

That is, I think I would let the “How serious of a problem is this?” side of the balance scale be in charge of automatically generating a response from someone other than me. If it’s a big deal, someone else will say something: there are always people who don’t give a single thought to whether or not their input would be welcome (*thinks briefly of my late mother-in-law*). And if it’s not a big deal, then no one will say anything and I will be glad I didn’t either.

It’s a tough call, though. Even with my strong interest in baby names and all my careful attention to detail, we realized only a couple of years after one child was born that we’d given initials that spelled something (in a license plate / text speak kind of way, or else we would have noticed it earlier). Luckily it wasn’t anything BAD. But if it HAD been bad, I would have been glad to have noticed it beforehand. And perhaps my husband’s co-worker’s wife would be the perfect person to point it out: none of the baggage of hearing it from my mother-in-law, for example.

Baby B., Sibling to Eleanor Margaret

Hi Swistle!

I’m due with our second baby in February and we have basically nothing for a name. We are not finding out the sex, so we need to come up with two names. I have great confidence in your very-similar-to-mine taste and suggestions!

The boy’s name we had picked out last time isn’t on the list any more for a couple of reasons, so we’re starting from absolute scratch.

My daughter’s name is Eleanor Margaret [my last as second middle] [husband’s last as last name]. My last name rhymes with Lackey and his last name is a verb starting with B which also eliminates “C. Montgomery” as an option for a name, if you catch my drift. We haven’t actually discussed last names this time around but it was a painful conversation last time and I haven’t decided if that’s the hill I want to die on yet.

If it’s a girl, I’d like to use Elizabeth as the first middle name. We’re not settled on a middle name if it’s a boy, but I’d like to use a family name. Thomas is an option there, but a lot of the first names I like for boys also end in S and I feel like with a last name that also ends in S, that’s too many s-sounds.

Names I like a lot but am waffling on or can’t use:

Lucy (LOVE this name but it was my childhood cat’s name, can’t decide if that’s too weird, have obsessively read previous letters on your site with this issue and still haven’t reached a conclusion)
Nicholas (unconvinced about the multiple S ending issue)
Caroline (this has been a recent one that’s hanging around when I think about names)
Amelia (too popular?)
Louisa (not sure about that S in the middle with the s-ending last name, since they’re both z-ish sort of Ss.)
James (husband’s name is Jamie)
Benjamin (love this name but don’t love it with his last name)

I like a million names that start with E (Evan, Emmett, Elliot, Evelyn, Eloise, you get the idea) but I much prefer the idea of separate initials for the kids. Many names that I like my husband rejects as “Too British” (despite the fact that I AM BRITISH) so I feel like I’m somewhat limited in my preferred options. He likes pretty classic, easy to pronounce names. No noun names, since that would make a sentence with his last name!

I had Eleanor’s name picked out for like ten years before we had her and I feel bad this kid isn’t going to get such a carefully chosen name! I also kind of regret using up Margaret (my mother’s name) on Eleanor’s middle name, because I really like Maggie as a nickname.




Let’s start with girl names. With Eleanor, my favorite from the Waffle list is Louisa. The mid/ending repeating Z-sound is right up my alley: for me it’s a point in the name’s favor. Eleanor Margaret and Louisa Elizabeth makes me heart-eyed. I don’t even feel motivated to search for more options; I feel motivated to start pressuring you to use my choice. But fine, let’s find some more options:

Claudia Elizabeth; Eleanor and Claudia
Cordelia Elizabeth; Eleanor and Cordelia
Genevieve Elizabeth; Eleanor and Genevieve
Lydia Elizabeth; Eleanor and Lydia
Millicent Elizabeth; Eleanor and Millicent
Rosemary Elizabeth; Eleanor and Rosemary
Sylvia Elizabeth; Eleanor and Sylvia
Winifred Elizabeth; Eleanor and Winifred

I think Caroline is a very good option, too.

But…Louisa! Louisa.

For boys, hmm. I love Evan and Emmett and Elliot from the Prefer Not to Duplicate Initials list (and would add Everett), and I love Nicholas and James and Benjamin from the Waffle list. The s-ending of Nicholas doesn’t bother me with the surname, because the surname is more of a Z-sound; but I too find it non-ideal if the middle name is Thomas. Still, I’d go ahead and use it if it’s your favorite: I LIKE middle names to sound nice with the other names, but it’s one of the first preferences I let go of if there’s a conflict. I have a little more trouble with James B____s: both one-syllable names, and then both ending in the Z-sound. More possibilities:

Albert Thomas; Eleanor and Albert
Calvin Thomas; Eleanor and Calvin
Charles Thomas; Eleanor and Charles
Franklin Thomas; Eleanor and Franklin (too Roosevelt, I suppose, but I still dig it)
Frederick Thomas; Eleanor and Frederick
Henry Thomas; Eleanor and Henry
Louis Thomas; Eleanor and Louis
Nathaniel Thomas; Eleanor and Nathaniel
Paul Thomas; Eleanor and Paul
Simon Thomas; Eleanor and Simon
Wesley Thomas; Eleanor and Wesley

Charles has an ending-Z sound too, but I left it on the list because it bothers me less when the names differ in number of syllables. Also because when I thought “Eleanor and Charles,” my heart started banging harder.

If the middle name doesn’t have to be Thomas, I recommend the surprisingly fresh and underused John. Maybe something like John Everett or John Elliot.

Baby Name to Consider: Liesl

Dear Swistle,

First, I must tell you how much I love your blog. I recently had a baby and find myself reading the archives during those middle of the night feedings, sometimes long after baby has fallen back asleep.

I’m writing because I’m curious about a particular name I couldn’t even get my husband to consider for our daughter. I am a huge The Sound of Music fan and have always loved the names, particularly Liesl. My husband thinks it’s atrocious. I think it’s beautiful. I’ve never come across the name on your site and was curious what you and your readers thought. Is everyone with my husband on this one and that’s why we never hear it?

We had such a difficult time naming our daughter, I thought I’d get a head start on the next one, and maybe you could help me convince my husband it’s not such a terrible name. Looking forward to your thoughts!


I started by searching for the name on the blog, and found four posts that mention Liesl:

Baby Names from The Sound of Music
Baby Girl Aronoff
Baby Girl Korph
Baby Girl L_____

I went through the comments quickly, and saw several positive remarks and several negative. The negatives were:

1. sounds like diesel
2. sounds like lethal when said in child’s lispy voice
3. hard to spell
4. husband doesn’t like it

“Sounds like diesel” was the main reason Paul and I crossed it off our list, but we also considered the style to be an outlier for us.

Let’s have a poll to see what everyone else thinks. I always have trouble choosing poll options: no matter what I choose, it doesn’t really cover everything. So let’s use the poll to get a rough distribution of feeling, and then we can use the comments section for more specific opinions.

What do you think of the name Liesl?