Baby Girl Howell, Sister to Bennett (Ben) and Weston (Wes)

Dear Swistle,

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:

His List:
Norah (sounds close to Sarah)

My List:
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.

Many thanks!!


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?

43 thoughts on “Baby Girl Howell, Sister to Bennett (Ben) and Weston (Wes)

  1. Suzanne

    I love all of Swistle’s suggestions and – while you have probably already considered it – want to add Eleanor, which shares some of the sounds with others on your lists. Sounds nice with Howell (to my ear) and has lots of nickname options.


  2. Jenny

    Malia with Lia as a nickname.

    Uncommon full name with a somewhat common nickname.

    It does end the same as Sarah, but she don’t think they sound too similar.

  3. Renee

    You mentioned letting go of some of your parameters and that seems like a good idea here, if only as a short-term exercise to see which names you might fall in love with? I agree with Swistle that repeating an initial with a parent might unlock some very good options, and I like that she might share an initial with you. I share an initial with my dad, and it was occasionally confusing with mail, but that only while I was getting mail, and at home.

    Sylvie (seemingly the name du jour for name circles) would be so lovely, since you love Colette. I could even see getting to Liv from it!!!

    Genevieve nn Evie or Vivi. Penelope nn Poppy. Giselle nn Ellie. Could you do Caroline nn Cleo?

  4. Sargjo

    We have a lot of shared loves-I too love Corinne and would have a hard time giving it up. I think you like the -in sound (Elin) so that might be a fun place to start more brainstorming. Corinna is an elaboration that doesn’t at all sound like Coreen, and gives you sweet Rinna if Cora seems too close to Sarah.

    I also love Colette! And it makes me think of Colette’s first name (or one of them) which was Sidonie and which reminds me of Elodie from the rejected list. See-do-nie is unique for sure but I think really wearable, especially with the nickname Nie or Nienie.

    Just a thought-do you like Romilly? Nicked Romy? That name is on my favorites and it is NOT a surname but rides that line just a tiny bit. Gives husband the nickname Millie if he likes to skew more classic. Oh and now this makes me think of Imogen. Immie?

    1. Sarah

      Ooh- I remember reading a post about the sisters who all wanted the name Sylvie and were due around the same time and I met a Sylvie at the park recently. The name has grown on me since then. I also know a Romalie and always liked her name.
      Corinna is a good suggestion to get away from Koreen but still have Cora.

  5. Sargjo

    Oh also-Lydia is lovely from Swistle’s suggestions butI wouldn’t do Lydia Elizabeth with a sibling of Bennett for the strong Pride and Prejudice connection. Or maybe that’s just me ;)

  6. Angelle

    I think we have similar taste in names so I’m going to suggest names to you that I love.
    Arwen — similar to Arden
    Avaren — would give you the more common nn of Ava
    Eleanora — would give you the nn of Nora
    Eliza — I love this suggestion!
    Ellison — similar to Ellis
    Sylvie — I love this suggestion also!
    Vada — nn Vadie or you could just name her Vadie. (Vadie is my husband’s grandmother’s name and we plan on using it if we have a girl next.)

    Due to repeating initial issues I omitted Briony, Bronwyn and Waverly.

  7. Blythe

    The name Margaret is giving me heart eyes, but I also want to throw out my own long-time favorite feminine name: Felicity. I love it. Feminine, beautiful, and with so many nicknames! (Flicka, Lissy, Flossie, Fliss… I think it was on here that I even heard of someone named Felicity going by “City,” which is so cool.)

  8. Jessica

    My daughter is named Livia, and now, at the age of 7, is starting to be called Liv (we have also called her Livi as a nickname). Obviously it is close to Olivia, and there is some confusion when introducing her, but people get it quickly. We just liked Livia better than Olivia, for some reason! The baby name book I own also lists Livana, which would be another way to get to Liv as a nickname.

  9. StephLove

    The only name on the lists I don’t care for with the surname is Colette. It’s not just the similar ending, it’s also that it has two syllables. Juliet, for example, sounds fine with the name because it has a different rhythm.

    If you like Liv, but it seems to nicknamish, how about Maeve or Neve?

    And Swistle’s right about Margaret and its bounty of nicknames. Elizabeth, already a contender for you, also has quite a few.

  10. TheFirstA

    Going through your list of preferences, I’d suggest not worrying too much about the less common full/bonus cute nickname. You could be missing out on some more common firsts that you like, which I think ties into your preference for avoiding popularity. I agree 100% with Swistle’s comments on popularity. I also don’t see Howell as being particularly problematic as a last name, so I also wonder if you are perhaps being over sensitive to first/last flow. I would absolutely not eliminate any S names, and the no repeated ending requirement. The no repeated ending seems especially restrictive since so many girl names end in “A” and you use nicknames for your boys. It’s also not something I think most people would even notice.

    Cora is lovely and I don’t think it sounds too close to Sarah. Cora & Charis make me think of Corliss, perhaps you’d like that with Cora as a nickname? Bonus-it’s meaning could be described as something along the lines of “without sorrow.”

    Claire/Clara also seem like nice fits for you.

    Your husband has Evelyn + Charis, which makes me think of Carolyn. Nicknames could be Carrie, Caro, or you could go really vintage and do Caddie.

    Rosalie was vetoed, but I wonder about other “rose” names. Rosalind, Rosa, Rosalia, Rosemarie, Rosamund, Rosemary. Ro would be a cute nickname if you didn’t want to do the more obvious Rose/Rosie.

    The Anna names also come to mind for you. Anabel, Anna, Hannah, Anabeth, Anika, Anya, Anita. Those last 3 could work as stand-alone names, though traditionally they are diminutives, so they could also work as nicknames for any of the others. There is also the much less common vintage nicknames of Nan & Nancy.

    Magnolia also comes to mind, though it is a bit more adventurous than my other suggestions. It seems more in keeping with the style of Bennet/Ben & Weston/Wes in that it’s an uncommon first that has some more common/traditional nickname options. Maggie, Nola, Lia.

  11. Elisabeth

    You know, it’s not much of a stretch to get Liv out of Evelyn, like the old nickname Bess for Elizabeth. It’d be unexpected, but not the weirdest I’ve ever heard. Then again, I have an Uncle Skeet.

  12. Rebecca

    What about Vivian, nn Vivi? Somewhat close to Olivia nn Liv but with a two-syllable nickname. Full disclosure: Vivian is my daughter’s name, and my husband and I had a lot of the same criteria you do about being clearly feminine, less common but still easy to spell and pronounce, etc. Vivian Elizabeth sounds lovely.

    1. Emarie

      My vote would be Paloma. So gorgeous, classic, strong, feminine and not overused.

      Elizabeth and Katherine are such strong classic names and I LOVE the nn Betsy. I’ve also never met a Kate that wasn’t pretty fantastic.

      Josephine, Josie

  13. Elizabeth

    Your husband’s list seems pretty thorough to me. I hope Swistle has allayed some of your fears about popularity. FWIW, none of those names (with the possible exception of Charlotte and maybe Evelyn?) hit me as being overly popular or trendy. I love Juliet and Amelie (I know a little Amelie – so darling) as a sister to Bennett and Weston.

    Vivian/Vivienne? You seem to gravitate toward the V sound (I love it too). It does share an ending with Weston but I think the names are different enough that that wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

    1. Sarah

      Thank you everyone for your input! I truly appreciate the time you are taking to help me think this through. I think Swistle had helped me let go of not having an S name, an ending in -ah, and also allayed my concerns of popularity (at least mostly!)
      Amelia and Juliet was on our list for both boys, and I feel better about Cora/Nora. The only surname name I like in theory is Everly. My grandma was named Beverly and was born in August. We would use the middle name Rose, so Everly Rose has somewhat grabbed my attention at the moment, but so has all of the names listed at one point or the other.
      Due to family names/connections, we cannot use Margaret or Lydia. As Swistle mentioned, it’s been difficult to find my girl naming style after 2 boys. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I’m going to go through everything with my husband and I promise to update you once she is named! I’m thrilled to hear any and all suggestions.

      1. Rachel

        Everly is so sweet and to my ear, does not sound like a surname the way that Remington, Emerson, or Campbell do. I love that it’s an honor name for Beverly, and it comes with nice nicknames like Ev, Eve, Evie, or Eva.

        I also love Eleanor, which gives you Ella/Ellie or Nora.

      2. Ash

        I share your similar naming styles and have several of your husband’s vetoed names on my running list from many years ago. I 100% believe Everly fits in with your boys’ names. I have an acquaintance whose daughter is named Everly nicknamed Evie (short “E” sound in the first part of Evie, like you would say Evan). Everly is similar to your husband’s choice of Evelyn but it does fit in with a lot of the names he vetoed so he may not be as keen on that name! What about Neely or Keely? Lillian? Celeste? Cacia?

  14. Christina Fonseca

    MAGNOLIA was the first name that came to mind with Bennett and Weston. It has several nicknames as TheFirstA pointed out and it does not repeat any initials.

    Evelina instead of Evelyn? Nicknames could be Evie, Lina or Nina.

  15. Jean C.

    The first name that occurred to me was Camille. Wes, Ben and Cami (or Millie or Mila).
    I think Nora/Cora are both great names.
    And I feel like Swistle’s suggestions for you are even more on point than normal. So fantastic.
    If it makes you feel any better, I grew up with a name that felt very dated for a kid born in the mid-80s. I hated how “grandma-y” my name sounded. Guess what my daughter got? A total grandma name, and not one that has experienced a resurgence. So even if the name is a little more popular than you would like, if you love it, give it the chance to be THE name.
    Good luck!

  16. Carrie

    I am swooning over the name Everly Rose! So lovely and sounds great with your boys’ names.

    I came here to suggest the name Brielle. Clearly feminine, uncommon yet familiar and cute nn options like Bree.

    But now Everly Rose has my heart ❤️. I hope you choose it!

  17. Ruby

    I second Swistle’s suggestion of Flora, because it is my #1 favorite girl’s name. Perhaps you’d also like Stella, which is my #2 favorite girl’s name? On second thought, Stella might be a little too close to Sarah for your liking, but I love it anyway.

  18. Andrea

    I too thought immediately of Magnolia–nn Nolie. So darling!!! I like Evelyn for you as well. Beautiful. Timeless. Sonora will get you to Nora but allay the popularity concern. I like a lot of your husband’s list. They are popular because they are beautiful. What about Emmeline? Or Annabel?

    Good luck!!

  19. Jillio

    If you like Amelia, you might also like Emilia (similar sound, different origin and meaning). It offers the cute 3-letter nicknames Emi or Lia, which go well with Ben and Wes.

  20. juniperjones

    Another vote for Juliet. Nickname Jet would be neat with Ben and Wes. I also like the suggestion of Vivian. What about Violet? And Everly seems like a good compromise name with your husband + family significance makes it even more appealing. Lastly, a suggestion that’s probably too out there that matches my handle – Juniper nn Junie. So cute.

  21. Liz

    What about naming her Beverly or moving Elizabeth into the first name slot? I realize Beverly repeats an initial, but it’s lovely.

  22. Erin Beth

    It sounds like you have found a serious contender in Everly. I also especially love Cora, Clara, and Eleanor/Nora with your surname and with your sons’ names. Good luck!

  23. Kelsey D

    Sorry I didn’t have time to read the other comments.

    If you don’t like Olivia and how popular it is…. why don’t you go with Olive? Then you can get nn Liv. Olive is super cute, still feminine and I think it goes good with the boy names.

    My other suggestion was Margaret and shortening to Margot/Margo (or just Margo on its own, but know you were wanting longer name with nn)… um ya, that pretty awesome. It has the same sounds are Cora and Nora which is on both your lists, but with the rearrangement of letters gives it its own unique sound.

    What about Esme?? Love love love this name.

    Instead of Amelia, what about Emilia? Gives it a different feel plus Emme or Emie are cute nn.

    Othelia – nn Thea
    Otillia or Otillie – nn Tilly

    All my other suggestions your husband vetoed!! Good luck!!

  24. Kim C

    Everly Rose nn Evie or Ever would be lovely!

    More suggestions:

    Emilia nn Emme, Millie, Mila or Mimi

    Matilda nn Mattie or Tillie

    Penelope or Eleanor nn Nell

    Phillipa nn Pip or Pippa

    Imogen nn Immy

    Romilly nn Romy or Ro

    Christina nn Kit

    Good luck!

  25. The Mrs.

    My apologies, I haven’t read any of the previous entries.

    Have you considered Daphne? I doesn’t repeat starting initials, internal sounds, or have a time-stamp. It’s spellable, recognizable, but not super common. She’s clearly feminine, has a nice meaning, and smells AMAZING as a botanical. She’d have a 2-4-2 rhythm if you used your middle name as hers. She pairs nicely with Ben & Wes as well. For a cute nickname, it’s hard to beat the darlingness of Neenee (Nini) or DeeDee.

    Best wishes to you and your newest family member!

  26. Kim C

    What about Saffron nicknamed Saffy? Adorable!

    Ben, Wes and Saffy

    Lavinia can also be spelled Livinia for a more direct link to the nickname Liv.


  27. Crystal

    I use to love the name Olivia…always thought I would have a daughter named Olivia, but agree it is too popular. My favorites are Ava, Annika, Elsie, Emily, and Lila. Good luck!


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