Baby Girl Porter, Sister to Oliver Dawson

Lesley writes:

Hello! We would love your help in deciding on a name for our baby girl who is due any day now! We’re assuming this will be our last child; we have a son named Oliver Dawson who we sometimes call Ollie. Our son’s name fits him and our family perfectly- we’re looking for just the right thing for our daughter. My name is Lesley and my husband is John; our last name is Porter.

We’re looking for a girl’s name that inspires creativity and strength, may be nature-inspired (but not too granola), and is original without being too different. We will likely use Wren (a name I’ve always loved) as her middle name. If our son was a girl we were going to use the name Lila/Lilah Katherine, but now the name seems a bit too delicate for me, although my husband really likes it. I’m also concerned about Lila/Lilah becoming incredible popular in the coming years.

I’ve always liked “L” names (such as Lily, Lia and Lucy), but worry these are getting too common as well. I love the name Lola (Lola Wren?) but my husband’s not a fan (thanks to The Kinks song). We both really like the name Nola but I’m not sure how it sounds with our son’s name (Nola and Oliver? Oliver and Nola?) or how well it flows with our last name (Nola Porter?). I like the name best as Nola Wren, but who really uses middle names anyways?

Other candidates include Ruby, Elsie (but my husband would insist the actual name be Elsinore, which always makes me think of “snore”), Clover, Gwen, Chloe (but perhaps way too popular now), Clara, Laurel or Leta. We’d love to hear your thoughts or any other ideas that you have.

Could we talk your husband into Elsa instead of Elsinore? I’m not sure the repeating -or- in Elsinore Porter works, which may be contributing to the “snore” issue. Elsa is adorable on a little girl and yet perfectly dignified for a grown woman. Elsa Wren works great, and then you’ve got Elsie for short. Elsa Porter; Oliver and Elsa; Ollie and Elsie. I hesitate only because Lesley and Elsie seem very close—but that might be pleasing.

Lila is only at #163 as of the Social Security Administration’s 2011 data (Lilah is at #306), but it’s made all that progress since entering the Top 1000 in 1998.

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 10.23.14 AM
(screenshot from the SSA baby name site)

On the other hand, its ranking over the last three years of data (#167 in 2009, #155 in 2010, and then back down to #163 in 2011—plus the relatively tiny climb from 2008 to 2009) makes me wonder if it’s slowing or even stopping: some names go skyrocketing right to #1 (Isabella, for example, which had a similar climb that kept going), and others go alarmingly fast but then…just stop. And the 100-200 rankings are a lovely, lovely place to stop: the names in that range are for the most part common enough that you won’t get “WHAT??” or “Where did you get THAT?” reactions, but you also won’t get “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of THOSE, ha ha!” at first-grade registration. (That is an actual quote from the year I registered one of my kids. The registrar then hastily added, “…Er, it’s a great name!”)

Lila Katherine is beautiful (the possible nickname Lila Kate adds sass), and so is Lila Wren. A few more options similar to Lila:


My main concern is that some of these are a lot of L with Ollie. But perhaps you would call him Ollie less if it caused an issue, or perhaps you’d call him Ollie only when you weren’t also saying his sister’s name, or perhaps it’s not too much L anyway.

Lia is very pretty too, and less common than Lila.

I also think Laurel is wonderful, and surprisingly underused. I find it a little difficult to say with Porter, though.

Laurel and Lila make me think of Lorelei. Lorelei Porter; Oliver and Lorelei.

I think Nola goes very nicely with Oliver. I think it runs together a little bit with the surname, but it doesn’t create any displeasing or confusing combinations. And I think very quickly you’d start automatically putting a tiny half-pause between the two names (“Hi! We have a nine o’clock appointment; this is Nola, Porter”), which would completely eliminate any issue.

While I often say that a middle name is a safe place to put a not-very-liked honor name since middle names rarely see the light of day in normal use, the middle name position is also a great place to put a name you’d LIKE to use. If your favorite is Nola WITH Wren, it’s only three syllables total—I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up using the first-middle combination like that. I think it’s a very pleasing combination to say (if I were with you and you used it, I think I’d pick up on it in about 2 seconds), and I like that it gives you a chance to use the name you’ve loved so long.

I also think Nola Katherine would be very pretty.

Nola makes me think of Nadia. Nadia Porter; Oliver and Nadia.

The name Marin/Maren has sea/nature connotations, and also has Wren built into the sound.

Karenna has the Wren sound, too. Karenna Lee would have part of your name in it, or maybe there are other names that seem too common or otherwise unworkable as the first name but would be perfect as the middle.

Nola and Lola and Clover make me think of Violet. Violet Porter; Oliver and Violet; Ollie and Vi, or Ollie and Lettie. Not very good with Wren, though, I don’t think, but not terrible.

I also think of Simone. Simone Porter; Oliver and Simone. Again, unfortunately not very good with Wren.

Also Naomi. Naomi Porter; Oliver and Naomi. I love the combination Naomi Wren.

Nola and Lola and Gwen make me think of Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn Porter; Oliver and Gwendolyn; Ollie and Gwennie.

An L name from my own finalist list is Liana. Liana Porter; Oliver and Liana.

And I love Linnea. Linnea Porter; Oliver and Linnea; Ollie and Linnie.

Or Lena would be pretty. Lena Porter; Oliver and Lena.

Or Lydia. Lydia Porter; Oliver and Lydia; Ollie and Lyddie.

I love the name Clover so much. I wish it would have worked out to use something like that for my daughter’s middle name. If you go with a first name that doesn’t fit with Wren, Clover would be the very next name I’d try.

If Chloe is too common, I suggest Cleo. It’s funny how two names can be so similar (a mere vowel swap apart) and yet one is Top 10 and the other isn’t even in the Top 1000. Cleo Porter; Oliver and Cleo.

Chloe and Ruby make me think of Phoebe. Phoebe Porter; Oliver and Phoebe. I wish it didn’t give the initials P.P.

A name like Magnolia might give you everything you’re looking for: nature but not too granola, creative and strong, unusual but not weird; and with nicknames of Lia, Lola, and Nola as well as Maggie. Magnolia Porter; Oliver and Magnolia; Ollie and Maggie, or Ollie and Lia, or Ollie and Nola.

29 thoughts on “Baby Girl Porter, Sister to Oliver Dawson

  1. Kelsey

    My favourite would be Isadora.
    Isadora Wren. Love it. The combination is feminine and strong. Definitely a name that makes me think of creativity and originality.

    What about Amelia/Emilia?

    You can pull out a lot of cute nicknames with these two and I think they both go well with Wren.

    Other names I like:
    Elsa or Elska

    Good luck. Keep us posted!

  2. Katie

    I’m not very fond of Cleo. It sounds more like a little boy’s name (or a cat) than a little girl.

    I do however know a Wren and really like it for the middle name. Like the comment above, I really like Isadora. It can be shortened for a little girl or the full name could be used.

    Gwendolyn is another favorite to go along with Oliver. Oliver and Gwendolyn. That sounds very nice together.

    Good luck!!

  3. hystcklght3

    Ah, I love the Magnolia suggestion! So much versatility there.

    Also, why aren’t you using Wren as a first name again? It does make a nice stand-alone middle name. Maybe you feel like it’s not solid enough as a first name in and of itself?

    If that’s the case .. all of Swistle’s suggestions, or Florence, Serenity (maybe too granola?), Lauren (this name is somewhere between classic and 80s .. but definitely not decade-stuck), Karen (okay, that’s decade-suggestive), Renee, Brenna, Kyrene (oo… so pretty! not sure how it works with Oliver, but it’s very heavenly), Evren (wow, that’s such an intrigue name! Eve .. Evie .. Wren .. and Evren somehow simultaneously has fresh and familiar sounds), Brennan (probably too male… though it would be a beautiful female name), Correne (Corrine, Carena, etc.), Sarena (the idea of Serenity with less granola?) …..

    Anyway, maybe this is neither here nor there, just thought I’d play around with the ‘ren’ sound a bit … :) Can’t wait to hear what you choose!

  4. Layne

    I love Magnolia! And it leaves your options open so that you can use the nickname that best suits her. Nola, Lia, Mags, Maggie, Lola…even a first/last hybrid like Maren.

  5. Nay

    I totally love the Magnolia suggestion. I have a friend whose daughter is Magnolia (nn Noli) and thought of it immediately when you mentioned Nola. It is a spunky name with tons if nickname possibilities :)

  6. Lashley

    I like Magnolia (nn Nola if you like) Wren and Naomi Wren.

    I also know a Florence nn Ren and a Renne (pronounced the same as the others) if there’s a chance of bumping that to first name status. Florence Katherine? Ollie and Ren?

  7. Ira sass

    from swistle’s suggestions, I like:

    Naomi Wren
    Laurel Wren
    Dahlia Wren — beautiful, underused, and nature inspired. Or what about Delia?
    Nadia Wren
    Liana Wren
    Linnea Wren

    I like the name Marin a lot too, especially the spelling Maryn — one of the only names I think a “Y” adds something to.
    Maryn Lila
    Maryn Simone
    Maryn Simona
    Maryn Leta
    Maryn Lola

    What about the Irish name Nuala [noo-la]?
    Or Corinna/Korinna?

  8. StephLove

    I like Nola with the middle, sibling and last name and you both like it so it seems like a winner to me. I also like Ruby, Elsa and Clara (or maybe Claire).

    For nature names, I like Iris, Ivy, Rosemary & Willow. Or a month name is kind of naturey– April, May, June.

    Or how about these, which just seem to have the right feel


  9. Cassandra

    I personally find Oliver and Nola a bit too similar. Same with Lila depending on how you pronounce it (Ly-lah, ok, Li- lah, too similar).

    A name that comes to my mind is Esme. Esme Wren Porter. Essie Porter. Essie May. Oliver and Esme. Ollie and Essie.

    Or Lux. Lux Wren Porter. Oliver and Lux. Ollie and Luxie (maybe as an alternative to the more common Lucy?).

    Or Lavender. Or Hazel.

  10. Angela

    I love, love, love Clover and hardly ever see it around (it’s on the top of my list). Clover Wren Porter is beautiful and not too granola.
    On Swistle’s list, I love Nadia Wren. That name is perfection.

  11. A

    Nola was my great-grandmother’s name & I would love to see someone use it! I’ve never met another Nola IRL. Nola Wren is very, very pretty and I think you could call her both since it’s still pretty short (same # of syllables as Oliver).

    Elsie & Ollie seem to similar to me & Elsinore is a bit much.

    Lilah Kathering (Lilah Kate) is terrific, and I agree it seems like the name is slowing down.

    Love Swistle’s suggestions of Lorelei & Linnea. Finola is another longer name that could give you Nola as a nickname.

  12. Aly

    We should be friends since nearly all of your possibilities are on my list as well. I like them all. Best of luck.

  13. Katie

    I really love all of the suggestions- Wren is such a beautiful middle name aswell.

    I wonder if you’ve considered Fiona? Fiona Wren, Oliver and Fiona?

  14. Laura

    Oh, Magnolia is a great suggestion. I also love Iris as a garden name that’s not too granola! I know a lady who named her daughter Meadow but that’s probably a bit hippie. A few other great garden names: Ivy, Jasmine, Leilani, Violet. You could go with a water name for a connection to nature as well… Brooke, Rain, Rayna, Raina, Rainey, Marina.

  15. sarabean

    Ohh Swis is one fire with this one. I love love Magnolia. Magnolia Wren Porter. I also love Elsa and was going to suggest Isla, then she got to it. I am usually on Swistle’s page with initials, but I know a woman who totally works the initials PP and it is awesome. So I suggest Penelope. Penelope Wren Porter is wonderful. I keep tripping over Nola and Clover when I try to say them with Porter, but maybe that is just me. I have met three little Lila’s on the playground lately, so I’m swayed away from that, although I’m not sure what the actual popularity of it is in my area. I do love Lila Katherine (Kate) Porter.

  16. jac

    I was going to use Clover with Chloe as the nickname (Clo-ey, to be accurate, not that it would be spelt, only said) as I liked Clover and my husband Chloe. Didn’t, in the end, although I still love that you get a quirky name AND a regular nickname with no stretches of language required. Lila Kate is my favourite combination of yours I think. And as per a commenter above, the feminine of Brennan is Brenna if you like the ren sounds.

  17. Kim Again

    What about Helena pn Hel-n-ah with the nn Nel.

    Oliver and Helena sound so perfect together and Helena Wren Porter is fantastic.

    Ollie and Nel.

    I also love Lucy with Oliver. Lucy Wren is so cute!

    All the best!

  18. Kate

    I LOVE Linnea for your daughter. It’s a flower, it has the Li- beginning like Lila, it’s uncommon (not even in the top 1000) but easy for people to sound out. Linnea Wren Porter. Perfection.

  19. Krista

    I love the suggestions of Magnolia and, especially, Helena! Helena and Oliver. Gorgeous! Nel or Lena both work and the name is classic but uncommon, and lovely. Maybe a little more serious than Oliver, which is where I think Magnolia might be a better fit. Magnolia nn Maggie, Nola, Noli, Lia–great options!

    From your list Lola doesn’t fit as well with, and Nola seems more like a nickname (for something like…Magnolia!) I think Magnolia Wren Porter is lovely, as is Nola Porter.

    Oh, what about Nina? It’s criminally underused! Nina Wren Porter. SWOON.

    Back to your list, I think Clover/Elsinore Porter have too much -er going on. Laurel Porter is a little tough to say for some reason. Otherwise, all the names you listed are lovely! Ruby is especially nice with Oliver and with Wren as a middle. Gwen Clover Porter is also delicious. Chloe, Clara, ad Leta all match well with Wren as a middle and Oliver as a brother. So many good options! Maybe this is one where you meet the baby and decide…

    Can’t wait to hear what you choose! Seems like you have great taste in names so I’m sure whatever you end up with will be beautiful.

  20. Mary

    Names that I am reminded of when hearing the ones you are considering:




    Fionnula or Finola

  21. Eva.G

    I love love love Magnolia! Magnolia Wren is just divine!

    I don’t want to comment on anything else since I love that so much, but Nola Wren is also great, and I like just Wren as the first name too. Also Willow was a great suggestion.

    I will also add Azalea to the list, with Lea as a nickname.

  22. Beth

    I don’t know if it fits into your taste, but when I read non-granola nature name, creativity, and strength, I immediately thought of Iris.

  23. Another Erin from the 80s

    I immediately thought of Eden. Or Eve, as suggested above, would have a nice connection to Oliver with the shared v.

  24. so many things to love

    I have several friends who have recently had baby girl’s to whom thay gave ‘L’ names – Leah, Lilah and Lana. I agree with you that Lilah sounds like the most gently feminine of the trio, but maybe Leah or Lana? Others I can think of are: Lara, Lisa, Lola, Lina/Lena.

    If not Clara, maybe Nora or Anna?
    If it’s nature you want, without a hippy feel, what about Rose or one of its alternates Rosa or Rosie? Actually, I love that combination: Oliver and Rose.


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