I have been following your blog since I was pregnant with my first child in 2012 and have been using you as a reference ever since. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and logic when it comes to names and I’m hoping you might be able to help me on my last baby’s name. I’m feeling a bit desperate at my naming dilemma!
My name is Sarah and my husband’s name is Scott. I am 37 weeks pregnant with my 3rd and last child, a girl (SO EXCITED), after having two boys. My first son is named Bennett and my second son is named Weston. It took us awhile to agree on these names and we didn’t officially name them until a few days after they were born, but ultimately we are happy with them and like having less common full names with common nicknames (ie Ben and Wes). Bennett has my husband’s name as his middle name (Scott) and Weston has a meaningful middle name (Dallaire). Both boys have my maiden name as their second middle name and my daughter will have the same. Her first middle name will either be mine (Elizabeth) or a family name.
Unfortunately, I feel completely lost when naming this little girl. There are so many names that are lovely, but none that I love or feel like my daughter’s name. From reading your blog, I know that sometimes people put themselves in a corner with too many parameters, so I’m wondering if I might be at fault. This is what I’m looking for in a name:
1) Less common full name (bonus points for a cute nickname but not necessary)
2) Gender distinctive- I’d like people to know from the names that I have 2 boys and 1 girl and not think I have 3 boys with a boy-ish or gender neutral name
3) A name that people can recognize and easily spell, or at least not be too difficult to figure out
4) Not be too trendy or time-stamped within a certain decade
5) Sounds good with my husband’s last name, Howell, which I find to be difficult. I tend to prefer 2-3 syllable names and not 1 syllable names with his last name
6) Does not start with an H, B, W, or S. Also, I would prefer not to have repeating end sounds with our names like ton for Weston, ett for Bennett, or ah for Sarah, but this isn’t a deal breaker.
7) Has a good meaning, but not a deal breaker. I had to give that one up when we named Weston since his name means “western town.”
As a Sarah of the ’80’s, I’m a bit sensitive to having too common of a name since I was Sarah A. for my entire childhood. My husband, however, seems to primarily prefer extremely popular but pretty girl names. I like the names he likes, but am having a hard time getting over their popularity. This is what our lists looks like so far:
Norah (sounds close to Sarah)
Colette (same ending as Bennett)
Cora (sounds close to Sarah)
Names he has vetoed:
Feminine sounding surnames like Bellamy, Kendall, Remington, Emerson, Avery, Delaney, Everly, Arden, Campbell, Kensington, Morgan, Monroe, Ainsley and Ellis
Cleo (my great grandmother’s name)
I’ve gone through Baby Name Wizard and I don’t like any of the girl sibling names for Bennett and Weston. I repeatedly go through books and the Social Security website and no name has jumped out as “the one.” I’m not sure if I haven’t come across it yet or if I just have to settle on a nice name that I don’t mind that I will grow to love?
Currently, I really like Cora but would like a longer version and have suggested Corinne, Coraline, Coretta, Cordelia but he isn’t a fan. I love the nickname Liv, but it sounds too short with Howell and I can’t think of a longer version I like besides Olivia which is way too popular. I really like the way Elin sounds with our last name, but he dislikes it. Corinne has a similar cadence but he had a friend named Koreen and said he would be too confused between the two. I like Colette in theory, but maybe not as much in reality. I feel its main appeal is that its familiar but not common, but it sounds very French to me and I don’t love the nicknames. I like Charis but I don’t love it.
Do you see anything that I might be missing? Can you think of any names that might go with some of my wish list or find a good reason to use a name that is currently on a list or even the vetoed list that we should reconsider?
If you could spend any time on my naming dilemma, I would truly appreciate it! I would love to have at least 2 or 3 contenders before I meet her.
Especially for those of us who have been pining to name a girl/boy after having a couple boys/girls, I think it can be hard to finally be in the place where we ACTUALLY GET TO DO SO. I remember naming my first two kids, both boys, and thinking, “This would be so much easier if I were having a GIRL: I have THOUSANDS of girl names I like!”—but then, confronted with an impending girl, it was hard to pin down my style. Like you, I didn’t like the recommended sister names: it turns out I have a different style in girl names than in boy names. The pressure can be increased by the feeling that it’s your one shot.
You asked if your list of preferences is too strict. Before I start cutting, I’ll say that you already seem like you’re being flexible about all of them: you don’t have any that look like you’re being rigid about it. But, looking it over, the one I’d definitely remove is the preference for the name not to end in an -a/-ah. SO MANY girl names end that way, and I don’t think it matters enough to be worth trying for it. My mom and I have matching name-endings and I never thought about it or noticed it until this very minute. I’m mentally flipping through the names of my friends and the names of their kids, and there are a ton of matching endings. It seems like a non-issue to me.
And although I share your preference not to repeat initials within the sibling group, I would remove if possible the preference not to repeat parental initials. Because you both have S names, if this were your first baby I’d suggest avoiding an S name (to avoid backing yourselves into a cutesy-corner with the next baby), but at this point I think it’s fine.
I think you’re wise to recognize that your concern about common names is rooted in your own experience. If possible, that would be another preference to downplay if you can. In 1980, the names Sarah and Sara were given to 2.07% of all baby girls. Today, that’s a higher percentage than THE TOP TWO MOST POPULAR NAMES COMBINED: the name Emma was given to 1.01% of baby girls last year, and the name Olivia was given to 1.00%. You could name your daughter the #1 most popular girl name in the United States, and her name would only be half as popular as yours was.
Let’s do a little more work on this topic, because I think it could help. The name Claire was #40 last year, given to .27% of baby girls; that’s approximately 1/7th as popular as your name was. Just imagine all the Sarahs/Saras you went to school with—but divided by seven. Every time there were seven Sarah/Saras in a group, there would instead be only one; fourteen Saras/Sarahs would only be two. The name Juliet/Juliette was given to .16% of baby girls last year; that’s approximately 1/13th as popular as you name was. For every thirteen Saras/Sarahs in your graduating class, instead there’d be only one.
From your list, my favorite by far is Cora—and since your husband has Norah on his list, I see potential for agreement. I don’t think it’s too similar to Sarah. In 2016, it was used for .17% of baby girls, so there are about a dozen Saras/Sarahs in your age group for every Cora there’d be in hers.
Would you want to consider Flora? It’s similar to Norah and Cora, but much less common. Flora Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Flora.
I wonder if your husband would be willing to go back over that veto list. Did he give a lot of consideration to each name, or did he dismiss them quickly? There are quite a few good names there. Also, I notice just now that the name Claire is on his list and on the veto list, so one must be a typo.
Is Clara an option? Clara Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Clara.
Or Lydia. Lydia Howell has a particularly nice sound to me. Bennett, Weston, and Lydia.
From your husband’s list, I like Claire (if it’s supposed to be there) and Juliet. Juliet repeats the -et sound, but it doesn’t hit my ear that way, I think because of the different emphasis and different number of syllables; plus, Weston’s name serves as a separator; plus, the boys use nicknames. Bennett, Weston, and Juliet; Ben, Wes, and Jules.
Instead of Colette, I’d like to suggest Celeste—but that just takes the repeated -ett sound with Bennett and turns it into a repeated -est- sound with Weston.
Or Margot? Margot Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Margot.
Or actually: Margaret. That gives you an uncommon but timeless long form, and SO MANY nicknames, including Margo and Daisy and Maisie and Greta. Margaret Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Margaret; Ben, Wes, and SO MANY NICKNAME OPTIONS.
Josephine is along the same lines: uncommon/timeless long form and good nicknames. Josephine Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Josephine; Ben, Wes, and Josie.
Names I’d rescue from the veto list: Cleo (though I think it might be frustrating if it kept being mistaken for Chloe), Rosalie, Ivy, Eloise, Elodie, and Claire (if it’s supposed to be there). I particularly like Rosalie: Rosalie Howell; Bennett, Weston, and Rosalie; Ben, Wes, and Rose.
I will note that I’m not having much trouble with your surname. I’ve tried it with a bunch of names while writing this post, and very few have caused trouble. I wonder if there are any names you’re ruling out because of surname issues, but a survey of your peers would find everyone else saying there was no surname issue?