Hi Swistle! I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, even before I met my husband, and I’m excited …and a little frustrated… to finally be asking for help of my own!
Our first baby, a girl, is due in November and we’re having a hard time finalizing a name. Well actually I personally wasn’t having a hard time until recently. I was just patiently waiting for my husband to come around to the name Amelia, a name I’ve wanted to name my daughter for quite a while now. His favorite is Clara which I also thought was lovely…it just wasn’t my favorite until lately. I can’t stop thinking about it and I feel like I’m cheating on Amelia!!
Here’s a little back ground info for you. Our last name is Logan with an H and if this baby was a boy he would’ve most likely been Leo Wells or Leo Webb which we still plan on using if we have a boy in the future. Also this baby girl will definitely have the middle name Sue after me and my mom.
His favorites that I vetoed:
My favorites that he vetoed:
Which leaves us with Amelia and Clara. My problems with Amelia are that its a bit of a mouth full to say with no real easy nickname besides Amy, Mia (neither which I love) and Milly (which is ok) and that its getting so popular. My main problem with Clara is really that I don’t like the name Claire and they sound so similar! To me, Amelia seems sassy and spunky and Clara seems sweet and soft spoken…so help! You pick! Or is there any other name that would bring our two very different styles together that I’m missing? Any input would be much appreciated! Thank you!
P.S. I think there’s maybe another aspect to these 2 names that you could help me with. Why is it that Amelia seems like the bolder more unique name when it’s #15 according to the SSA and Clara seems like the safer more familiar name when it’s #108. It may have something to do with Amelia only being #50 in Texas where I live but that’s still fairly high or maybe that Claire is so familiar. I feel like that may be part of my problem deciding between the two names. Amelia seems like the more fun option yet it is more popular?!
Let’s start with the p.s., because I wonder about that sort of thing a lot: why do our subjective impressions of names vary SO MUCH? There can be so many factors.
One possibility is that when you started liking the name Amelia, it was a lot less common. Here’s what it’s been up to recently:
(screen shot from SSA.gov)
The #15 ranking is pretty new; maybe you started liking it when it was still in the 100s or 200s. And it can take awhile for popularity impressions to catch up: there can be tens of thousands of babies with a name, but it’s not as noticeable until they hit daycare/school and you start seeing class lists. “Huh, a Joey, two Chloes, a Zoe, and a Zoey.” “A Kayla, a Mikayla, two Kyles, a Kylie, and a Kyler.” “A Madelyn, a Madison, an Adelyn, an Addison, a Maddie, a Maddox, and an Addy.” “An Ella, an Eleanor, an Isabella, an Isabelle, a Bella, an Annabelle, and an Elizabeth-called-Ellie.”
I think too that seeing names mentioned frequently on naming sites can make them feel more common, even if only a small percentage of the parents who list or research the name actually end up using the name. Clara has come up in popularity quite quickly in recent years, and likely gets talked about more than the steadier Amelia. Here’s the chart for Clara:
(screen shot from SSA.gov)
Popularity isn’t the only factor that makes a name seem safer/bolder; personal associations contribute heavily too. Amelia Earhart might make the name seem bold and daring to you, while Amelia Bedelia might give it an appealing storybook whimsy, and Amelia Pond might give it fiery Scottish redhead adventurousness. And maybe you have only general pioneer-girl/early-American-history feelings associated with Clara, plus maybe knowing a couple of Claires, plus maybe the mom-name association with Claire Huxtable.
And location is huge, as you’ve noticed with the different ranking of the name Amelia in your state. One of our kids has a name we never, never, never encounter, even though it’s been in the Top 50 for ages; it’s much more popular in other regions, apparently. Another of our kids has a name that never hit the Top 10 nationally, but did get there in our state; we run into people with his name all the time. If we moved, we might find those situations swapped.
Now on to the main question. I think you put the issue very well: that you almost feel as if switching to the name Clara would be cheating on the name Amelia. That makes it sound to me as if you would actually prefer to use the name Clara. Do you think that’s true, or do you still prefer Amelia but find yourself very willing to let Clara be in second place?
One thing working in your favor is that it’s likely you still have over half the pregnancy to make the decision. It can feel weird to change from one favorite name to a new favorite (especially if it means switching to the other parent’s favorite), and giving it some time may help. If you find you do prefer Clara at this point but need help disengaging from the name Amelia, you could tell yourself that it might be that Amelia is your SECOND daughter’s name, and that’s why it’s not feeling quite right for this daughter. Perhaps this baby girl is going to be the sweet and soft-spoken one, and your next daughter is going to be the sassy firecracker.
Another issue, if you plan more children, is that I find Amelia and Leo a little difficult to say together. They’re not an impossible combination by any means, and in fact I think they’re a nice pairing, but the lee-ah and lee-oh can get tangled for me. With time, I think I would be more likely to say Ameel-ya, and that would reduce the issue.
Another reason I might grab Clara while you have the chance is that the rest of your husband’s list (except for Cora, which would likely be crossed off if you used Clara) is made up of modern unisex names. Use Clara now, I say, and set the style you prefer.
Another reason to use Clara is that the two of you agree on it. Am I getting the correct impression that he has not yet come around to the name Amelia? You could give him more time on that, while also possibly getting a little leverage for next time by giving him his first choice this time.
I don’t find the name Amelia to be a mouthful; it seems like a normal-length name to me, and no need for a nickname. While I’ve heard of people using Amy and Mia, those nicknames don’t come naturally for me. If you’d like a nickname, my guess is that some will occur on their own.
It may help you clarify your feelings if you can take the popularity rankings out of it. Imagine that the two names are the same popularity (I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at around the same rankings soon). Does that affect how you feel?
I like both names very much, and think either would be a great choice. If you decide to look for more options, I suggest the category of Antique Charm from The Baby Name Wizard. Amelia and Clara and Cora and Georgia and Hazel are all in that category, along with:
and so on. I’d also add Meredith: I wonder if your husband might like it better than Edith.