Baby Boy or Girl -eadows-with-an-M, Sibling to John Walker (J.W.)

Hello Swistle,

I can’t believe I am writing to a baby naming blog, but I feel that I am just going in circles and need an outside opinion! I am pregnant with our second child, expected to arrive in about six weeks. We do not know the gender. Our last name is *eadows, starts with an M. We have a son, John Walker who we call J.W. If this baby is a boy, I *THINK* we are settled on William Randall (after both of our fathers), and we would call him Will. I’m not crazy about how common this name is, but I think with a classic like William, you can’t go too wrong. I also have always adored the name Henry, which happens to be my husband’s grandfather’s name, but it seems that lately this name has surged to such popularity, at least where we live, that I don’t think I can bear to use it. Another boy name option was Edward James, but I think we’ve ruled it out as we don’t love the nicknames associated with Edward, and the name Edward is a bit of a mouthful with our last name.

Now onto the girls names, which are causing us the most heartburn. I tend to love very classic, traditional names, but nothing that is too popular or trendy, and my husband likes nickname-type names – Lizzy, Maggie, Callie, etc. I would want to use a more formal name that could be shortened. That being said, I started the name search for this baby with the criteria that I did NOT want to use another name that was shortened to a nickname, because we already have a John Walker (who is called John, John Walker and J.W. by different members of our family, which can get confusing and we never know how to introduce him). My favorite girl name has always been Catherine, but I worry that I won’t be able to control her being nicknamed Cat or Cathy, neither of which I care for. My husband says he does not like Catherine enough to call her that. I also love the name Margot, but I do not think that it flows well with our last name (don’t love the double “o” sound). Right now, my short list looks like this (I have no idea why so many “C” names are on the list – that is definitely not a criteria). Several of them are trying to get the nickname Callie (which I know is traditionally a nickname for Caroline, but I just don’t love Caroline!) because my husband really loves Callie but I just don’t want to use a nickname as the given first name. So trying to compromise! While Louise and Catherine are both names pulled from our family tree, we don’t have any burning need to use any particular “honor” name for a girl.

Catherine Louise, nn Callie (is this nickname reasonable or a stretch? Would it be tough and/or confusing to make it stick?) – if it were completely up to me, I would choose this name and just call her Catherine, but my husband won’t be convinced. He would choose Callie Louise as the given name.
Clara Catherine, nn Callie (is this nickname reasonable, or a stretch?) Or just call her Clara?
Camille Catherine, nn Callie (Callie seems a more logical nickname for Camille than Catherine, but I prefer the name Catherine to Camille) My husband also likes the name Camille and would be willing to call her that – I like it but just don’t love it. I also do not like the nickname Cami.
Julia Magdalene nn Maggie (named exactly after my great grandmother, my mom’s beloved grandmother) I think the full name sounds nice with our last name, but I don’t love Julia as a stand-alone first name, and it’s another “her name is this, but we call her this”, which I would like to avoid if at all possible!
Margot Catherine or Margot Louise (this would be a very serious contender if I liked how it sounded with our last name – but I like Margot enough that I haven’t been able to rule it out completely)

Any help or opinions you could provide here would be appreciated!

Edited to add:

Thank you so much for posting my question today, the feedback has already been so helpful. I thought I would send in a quick follow-up, after reading some of the replies and questions. My son’s middle name ‘Walker’ is my father-in-law’s middle name and my husband’s first name. So, since the time I sent in my last email, I have somewhat abandoned the name William for a boy (since we’ve already honored grandfather William Walker with our first child!), and now I am loving Thomas Henry – that way I can still use the name Henry but in the middle name slot. My husband is also still pulling hard for Edward James, and calling him Eddy. So I guess we’re not as decided on boy names as I thought. On the girl names, a couple of readers have suggested Mary – that would definitely be a top contender, except for the fact that it’s my name! :) I am loving all the suggestions, thank you again! I promise to send an update when this little one arrives.


Considering you like classic/traditional names and your husband wants a diminutive, I do think the appropriate compromise is to give her a classic/traditional name with an available cute nickname. I know you’d prefer to avoid a nickname, but it seems to me that it’s a choice between (1) a nickname as a given name or (2) a nickname as an additional option—and if it were me, I’d prefer the option. The possible confusion of name/nicknames seems like such an ordinary level of confusion: so very many people either go by nicknames or have nicknames they don’t choose to use. I would also like to see her given a family honor name, if that is what you’re doing for sons (are either/both of John Walker’s names family names?).

I have trouble making the leap from Catherine to Callie, or from Clara to Callie—which is not to say you can’t give it a shot, but I do think it could be difficult to make it stick. And I think your concerns about the nicknames for Catherine have merit: I don’t think she’d be likely to be called Cathy unless that nickname drifts back into style sooner than expected, but I think it’s quite possible she’d choose to go by Cate or Cat later on.

If you want Callie, I suggest naming her Calista/Callista. One of Elizabeth’s classmates last year was a Callista called Callie, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I’d use Louise as the middle name. Calista Louise -eadows; John Walker and Calista Louise; J.W. and Callie. Darling.

Another option is Calla. Calla Louise -eadows; John Walker and Calla Louise; J.W. and Callie. But Calla -eadows runs together a bit for me and sounds as if her name could be Callum. Overall, I prefer Calista.

Callie could also be short for Callan (like Alan with a C) or Calliope, but those seem outside your naming style.

It’s possible that the name Callie will need to be abandoned, if at this point it’s creating stress and making you feel trapped.

I think Clara is great: a nice classic name, but short and sweet enough to fit in with names such as Callie and Maggie. And I love Catherine in the middle name position, where you get most of the advantages but without the potential nickname issues. Could your husband call her Clarrie/Clary instead of Callie? It looks awkward written out, but I knew a little Claire called Clairy and it was quite cute in usage. Or would he like a nickname such as C.C./Cece? I am very drawn to the idea of J.W. and C.C.

Would you consider Louise as the first name? I just love it. Louise -eadows. I would want that name for myself. Maybe Louise Catherine -eadows.

Or Willa, if this is your last child and you’d like to honor Grandpa William either way. Willa Catherine -eadows, or Willa Louise -eadows.

I wonder if you’d want to name her Margaret and use Margo as the nickname? It feels like a much smaller issue to me if the nickname doesn’t go perfectly with the surname. You’d also have cute options such as Daisy, Greta, and Maggie. I realize I have gone from “ignoring your preference for avoiding a nickname” to “deliberately adding EXTRA nicknames for EXTRA confusion,” and I am trying to quit it but on the other hand I just love this. Margaret -eadows?? TOO WONDERFUL. I’d use Louise as the middle, and die happy. Margaret Louise -eadows; John Walker and Margaret Louise; John and Margaret; J.W. and Margo/Maggie/Daisy/Greta. I can’t write anymore, I am too overwhelmed by how much I love this.




Name update:

Hello! I just realized that I never sent in an update to my naming conundrum from a couple of months back. Wouldn’t you know it – after all those sleepless nights mulling over what to name what I was SURE was our baby girl, our second son was born on December 6. We named him Edward James, Eddy for short. I absolutely love his name – classic but unexpected and uncommon. Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice!

41 thoughts on “Baby Boy or Girl -eadows-with-an-M, Sibling to John Walker (J.W.)

  1. Barb

    I want to throw a vote toward Swistle’s last suggestion. I love the alliteration and assonance of Margo(t) Mead0ws – and the idea of using Margaret as a long form is a great idea!

    I also love Clara nn Clare or Clary. Cute cute cute.

    I always like to point out that some of the best nicknames have nothing to do with your given name. They just happen. I knew a little girl named Emma Car0line who was always called Emma Lu, which then morphed to Emma Lulu and now one of her family’s nicknames for her is just plain Lulu. Darling, sweet, personal to their family and not a traditional nickname for her name.

    Choose the given name you like the best together and know that your husband’s love of nicknames may create a whole new one that you both love!

  2. Reagan

    I think I would use a nickname sounding name that is more classical. Mary is an example of what I mean. It is classic yet has that nn feel without being a nn. I also like it with your last names.

    Options you may want to consider:


    My favorite is Mary.

  3. Kerry

    I wonder if a middle ground between your and your husband’s taste would be something like Mollie – technically a nickname, but generally used as a stand alone name these days. Or maybe Sylvie? Which sounds like a nickname but is actually the French version of Sylvia.

    I also think you could probably expand your options by focusing less on getting to Callie specifically, and instead looking at all the ends in -ie nickname possibilities that your husband might like, and and the formal versions that you might like – you don’t like Callie/Caroline, but what about Cassie/Cassandra, or Tessie/Theresa, Janie/Jane, Junie/June, Jilly/Jillian, Vallie/Valerie, Billie/Willa, Annie/Annabel, Izzy/Isabel, etc?

  4. Christine

    I love the suggestions of Mary and Sylvie.
    Also, I would recommend picking a name where you like the associated nicknames, but also want to remind you that sometimes kids get nicknamed things not related at all to their given name, like my daughter nicknamed Chooch (named Eleanor, nickname from her fetus NN of Chewbaquina).

    I love the names you have already considered and I don’t think you can go wrong!

  5. Caroline

    For what it’s worth, my name is Caroline and I’ve never heard/had the nickname Callie for Caroline. I’ve never had any nickname other than family nicknames that have nothing to do with my actual name.

  6. Maureen

    Do you like the name Kalinda? (Or you could spell it Calinda if preferred). This name is so beautiful to me, and a good fit for trying to get Kallie/Callie as the nickname.

  7. Kimberly

    I’ve never heard of Callie as a nickname for Caroline. Sylvie and Margaret are lovely options. Willa Catherine is awfully close to author Willa Cather, which shouldn’t dissuade you from using it, but it would be a thing I would want to know if considering the name.

  8. Sargjo

    I don’t think you can go “wrong” in any way with any of these classic names for girls. I’ll add another name that might split some differences: Corinne or Corinna. I met a couple of adult Corinnes this summer and fell in love with it. It is a classic. Some, offers the Rin of Catherine and can be Cory, Rinna, Reenie.

    I’d also pore over Anne of Green Gables names. They seem like the right fit for your style. Catherine’s in there too! But of course Anne spells it with a K 😉

  9. Emily

    I’ve also never heard of Callie as a BB for Caroline. But I do love Callie as a nn for Callandra (a Greek goddess I believe) or Callahan. I especially like Callahan with J.W. and Callahan Louise Meadows is lovely.

  10. Laura

    My husband loves nicknames while I’m a little ambivalent. The girl name we’ve picked out for a future daughter is Lucy. Feels like a nickname but has a long history of use as a first name. Marjorie also might work for you guys as a medieval variant of Margaret.

  11. Maryanne

    Our 3rd child, a daughter, is a Carolyn with the nn Carrie. I knew she was going to be a boy- knew it- that I was totally unprepared when the Dr. said girl! Initially she was Margaret Louise, which I love, but couldn’t use the nn Maggie. I wish I had gone with Carolyn Louise instead of Anne for the mn.

    1. Maryanne

      Based on your addendum, I feel like I need to add my addendum. Would you consider “Teddy” as a nn for Edward? I have a Teddy and I get a lot of compliments on it. Also I have a Molly. I could not use Mary for a first name since it was already used by an older cousin, but I would have considered Mary with a nn of Molly. Or Mary Louise is cute… I don’t remember if you commented on a double first name.

  12. Emily

    Just chiming in to say that I know a girl named “Caledonia” Nn Callie. It’s a town in Scotland I believe. I think it’s beautiful.

  13. Christi

    The character who recently left Gray’s Anatomy was Calliope NN Callie. I have friends who named their first two children specifying that they weren’t going to use nicknames at all but over the years their son has shortened his own name and their daughter who was a toddler when Monsters Inc. came out ended up being called Boo by her dad. If you choose a name without a nn you will still probably end up finding one.

  14. Ash

    I really want someone to name their baby Calliope! The above poster is right about Grey’s Anatomy’s Calliope called Callie. I watch Grey’s Anatomy religiously so I know that but it leaves me with a fuzzy feeling for the name and therefore suggesting the name to you!

    Calliope Louise

    I am also a fan of Camille and think it’s underused! I do love the sound of Margot “Medows (spelled incorrectly on purpose)”! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the names you like and you’ve received a lot of great suggestions!

    Other suggestions:

  15. Meredith M.

    I think that with all your boy options being “full” names, you owe it to your daughter to give her a “full” name, too. It always strikes me unpleasantly when a family gives their sons traditional names and their daughters nicknames. But I have no problem with a full name being relegated to the birth certificate and the nickname in everyday use. Also, have you and your husband considered that you can each call her something different? My daughter is Daphne, and my husband (but not me) calls her Daffers a lot. So your husband can go all nicknamey, while you can use the full name or a different nickname. But perhaps the right answer is for your husband to give Callie a teary farewell and start considering other options (I feel like I’m always saying “KILL ALL THE CURRENT CHOICES” here, but, well… when you’re in a rut or grasping at ever-weaker substitutions, drastic measures seem called for).

    Calla was my first thought, and I don’t think it runs into *eadows enough to be a problem. I think Margot *eadows sounds GREAT, but Margaret *eadows is nice, too.

  16. Elle

    I was rooting for Calista/Callista even before I got to Swistle’s response! Calista, called Callie.

    And I quite like Clara, nicknamed Clairy. I can just see a newborn photoshoot of your little Clairy Fairy!! Beyond sweet.

    You also could use the spelling Margeaux, instead of Margo/Margot; this does not remove the rhyming “o” of the first and the last names, and it does add another similarity with the matching “ea,” but it might make you like the name better? Margeaux Mead0ws feels both important (like a lawyer, or something) and whimsical at the same time. All three of the names that I like here do, I think!

    Calista Louise, Callie
    Clara Louise, Clairy
    Margeaux Louise, Maggie,

  17. Kanah

    I definitely think it sounds like a legit compromise to have a full given name with a nickname you both like. It sounds like you don’t love most of your boy choices… Maybe you should start from scratch? There are lots of boy names that are classic but not common these days.

    Regarding Camilla, I wonder if you and your husband would like the nickname Millie instead of Callie? Would you want to do Katherine, nickname Kate? Or you could technically do Cate as a NN for Catherine. Or Carolina instead of Caroline?

    You could use Calla as a given name instead, which sounds less nicknamey to my ear. Same with Della…Della *eadows!

    As an honor name, you could do Magdelena and call her Lena or Maggie as a NN. Magdelena -eadows is divine!

    Also, my middle name is Louise, and my mom has always called me Weezy. Ha!

    1. JMV

      Yay, glad someone suggested Lena after g-ma! This seems perfect. Full name, sounds like a nickname, actually is a nickname for a person you wish to honor.

  18. Kelsey D

    Sigh…the first thing I thought of was Margaret *eadows. It sounds so wonderful. Then I read Swistle’s comment, and I know you don’t want another nickname, but you could have Margot or Maggie out of that name. Alternatively, she could just always be a Margaret.

    Our daughter Juliet, we just call her Juliet. No shortened names. When she was born, in that first couple weeks, we told our family that she is a Juliet, not a Julie or Julia. And they’ve respected that and so far, she’s just Juliet. I wonder if you would like Juliet Magdalene? A slight spin off of the Julia that you aren’t nuts about.

    I actually love Magdalena as a first name as well. Magdalena *eadows. Sounds pretty fabulous!

    My cousin actually named her daughter Cate… just Cate, not Catherine, just Cate. And it surprisingly was fresh.

    What about Vivian?

    A couple other babies I’ve come across in the last few weeks – Beth and Ruth. Both older classic names, that likely won’t be shortened, but were really really sweet on a new baby. So much so, I found myself wishing I had thought of them before for my own children.

    I love the suggestion of Willa.

    Good luck!! Keep us posted!

    Also, wanted to point out that I love the idea of using William and Will is very sweet with a fresh spin on the age-old name.

  19. Jd

    So CAtherine LouisE gets Callie to me. I don’t think that is a stretch. It’s easy to force a nickname when they are little- just introduce her as Callie everywhere- but she might prefer Kate or Cat later. But I know a Sandra that wanted to be called Sam as a teen so what they call themselves as they get older is out of your control completely.
    I also love Margaret and all of the wonderful nicknames. Love. Love love.

  20. Susan

    My five year old is a Calista nicknamed Cali, so that was obviously my first thought. I wanted to share a mildly amusing story about my 7 year old’s name. When we were naming her, my husband soundly rejected Catherine as a first name because he dislikes the nickname Cathy and didn’t want to risk her ending up as a Cathy. I thought that was ridiculous, as Cathy is just terribly out of style at the moment. We compromised and used it as her middle name. A few weeks ago, she asked completely out of the blue if we could please start calling her Cathy. So your husband may be right to fear the nickname!

    If you are willing to give up Callie as a nickname, I think Margot, Willa, and Margaret are all great choices for you.

  21. Holly

    I have a Katherine who is only ever Katherine; I don’t think you have to worry about people shortening it. With that said, I think Catherine Louise is so awesome and I totally can see Callie from that, as well as from Caroline. I am not big on creative nicknames myself, but those really don’t big leaps to me! I also agree with Swistle. Margaret Louise eadows is an awesome name, and Margo is a nice nickname. For boys, William and Liam are actually much more popular than Henry, so if you really love Henry (and I do too!) go with Henry. I am also super jealous of your last name. It sounds good with so many names!

    1. Holly

      And since I have a son with your son’s name, and a Katherine, and another son was almost Margaret, and the next son will probably be Henry ;)- I’ll throw out other names we like… Charlotte (Lottie) and our last little man was all set to be a Lucy. Lucy may be a good compromise. A full name on its own, but with the short sound your husband likes. Lucy Catherine -eadows is pretty awesome too! I also love Elisabeth and Veronica. Good luck! You have some great options :)

  22. sarabean

    I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments, but I love the sound of Margot *eadows! Its a perfect alliteration to me!

  23. TheFirstA

    I do think perhaps you are over thinking the nickname issue a bit. Nicknames are such a normal thing that I simply can’t see it as a huge dilemma. When he is little, you introduce your son as “John but we call him JW” or simply as just John or just JW. When he is a little older, he will express a preference and then you just use that. When he gets even older he can introduce himself.

    But if you don’t want a nickname and your husband prefers one, I think your best bet is to look for names that are traditional given names while still be short and sweet. Calla and Clara are perfect for this. Other ideas include Ivy, May, June, Jane, Maeve, Pearl, Amy. You might also consider names that used to be nicknames, but are not most often used as giving names. Molly (a nod to your name), Eliza, Margot, etc. and FWIW, I really like the flow of Margot -eadows. I think any misgivings seem worth it to be able to use a name you love.

  24. Maree

    Our short lists have a lot of cross overs. Do you like Naomi or Eve? They are both stand-alone but nickname rich if you want to go there. Josephine and John are lovely together if you don’t mind the same initials. Margaret seems so perfect there must be a reason you have rejected it? Elizabeth is another classic nickname rich name.

  25. Kim C

    Margot Meadows sounds pretty great to me! Very distinguished!

    Love the suggestion of Callista nn Callie. What about Cadence nn Cadie? Catalina?

    Eliza nn Ellie is nice. Eliza Meadows is gorgeous!

    I’d stick with William nn Will or maybe just Will. John and Will are great together! Will Henry.

    What about the name Peter for a boy? Not popular at all nowadays and the nickname Pete is cool. John and Peter. My daughter went through school with a Peter (she’s 22 now) and he’s the only one she knows.

    I do like Edward nn Eddie. Do you like the repeating sound with Meadows though?

    I think loving a name far outweighs popularity, so if you really want to use Henry just go for it!

  26. Lashley

    Just a note that Calla *eadows sounds a bit to me like a lily farm. Probably an issue with any nature/flower name and your last name though, so you may be ok with that! Willa Catherine also made me think of Willa Cather, as someone else noted.

    For the nickname Callie, I think you should just pick the C name YOU like best, since you’re going out of your way to get to your husband’s favorite (nick)name. People will most likely call her whatever name you use to introduce her, whether or not that’s an intuitive nickname.

    I also like Margot/Margaret in any arrangement and think it’s sweet that the two of you would share that alliteration (assuming your last name is also *eadows). Lucy is lovely and makes sense for your situation, but I get the feeling you might have ruled it out for a reason.

    What about Eleanor/Ellie?

  27. onelittletwolittle

    I love Thomas Henry – it sounds so distinguished with *eadows. I also think you should seriously bring back Henry to the table. It’s a wonderful name. I’ve used it for my own son and I am so happy every time I say it. It’s happy-sounding and friendly and manly all at the same time.

    How about Cate? I have a daughter named Cate. Her given name is not Catherine – it’s another C-name (a Welsh name) that doesn’t exactly become Cate, but we wanted both the long name and the nickname, so we just went for it.

    So I do think that if you want Catherine and Callie, you can have both.

    I think Margaret and Lucy are lovely. They were both names we considered strongly for our kids.

  28. liz

    I was wondering why I loved Margaret Meadows so much and then remembered that I KNOW a Mary Margaret Meadows, who goes by Mary Margaret. She’s a wonderful person and so I’m all for naming your baby Margaret.

    If you have a boy I vote AGAINST Thomas as a first name, since your other son is John, and John Thomas is a nn for male genitalia. However, I adore Edward, nn Eddy (or Teddy or Ward). James is also an awesome name with John, or what about Michael? Matthew? Christopher?

    1. Christi

      I have never heard that about John Thomas and I grew up with a guy who’s first name was John and his last name was Thomas. That would have been my thought about Peter or Willy.

  29. Kay

    What about Camilla instead of Camille? It feels more stylish and flows better with your surname (to my ear).

    Or, an “out there” route to Callie: what about Caledonia? Perfect if you have Scottish heritage!

    For what it’s worth, I love Margot with your last name. Other ideas for girls:

    Dorothy (Dot)

    Or what about Louise in the first name spot?

    Regarding a boy name—you clearly love Henry and it’s less popular than William. sounds great with your last name. Use it, if you get the chance!

  30. Andrea

    Are there other nickname names that work better for you? I love Margaret with nn Margot (my fav of the suggestions) but there is also Emeline, nn Emmie, or Adeline, nn Addie, or Marigold, nn Goldie, or Magnolia, nn Nolie.

    My suggestion is just plain Nolie. Love it.

    Since you seem to like classic names, I think the find a long name you love with a nn hubby loves is a great strategy. Ruth, nn Ruthie? Harriet, nn Hattie? Beatrice, nn Bea?

  31. Ira Sass

    I like Margaret, Margot, and Louise with your last name.
    I have an aunt Cally whose given name is Carolyn, but none of the Carolines I’ve met have gone by Cally/Callie.
    I like Camilla Medows, nn Callie, a lot.

  32. Carrie

    If you guys like Edward James (nn Eddy) as a boy option, what about Edith (nn Edie) for a girl? Could do Edith Louise, or even Edith James.

  33. Christi

    I commented yesterday but I wanted to give you something to think about with your son. I could always tell at what point in his life someone had met my dad based on what they called him. He was named after his dad and had two uncles that had his middle name as their first name so as a child he was called by his whole name or a Jake as a diminutive of John. As a young adult he went by his initials. Later into adulthood after his father passed away he went by his first name. So just pick what you want to call JW and introduce him as that. As he gets older he may very well change what he is called several times. Also I have a nephew who is Jerry David nn JD and his parents have always just introduced him as JD.

  34. Gammel Dame

    my co-worker is named Callie as a stand alone name … for some reason another co-worker started calling her Callie Lou (we have no idea what her middle name is lol) but it is cute and i am starting to use it too…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *