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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baby Girl Allessi

Tallyaya writes:
My husband and I are expecting our third child (a girl) any day now and we still cannot agree on a name!

Naming our first baby (a boy, now 6) was easy. Leonardo (called Leo) Holden. Our 2nd baby (a girl, now 3) was a little harder but eventually we found a name that we both just love, Katriahna (pronounced Cat-Ree-Ah-Na) Adara. We call her Kat. But for the life of us we cannot figure out a name for our new little one that will sound right with both of her sibling's names as well as with our last name (Allessi) and it's driving us crazy!

We're hoping for something that can be shortened into a 3 letter nickname (Like Kat and Leo) but barring that we both like names that aren't too mainstream, yet also aren't too "out there", as I know what it's like to have a name that makes most people go "huh?" when you introduce yourself.

I've always liked the name Lisar but then that doesn't really sound quite right when paired with Allessi. My husband's family is very old world Italian, so anything from Italian origins could work too.

Please help!

It gets harder with every child, doesn't it! Each new name has to sound right with the others---and previous names can eliminate whole batches of possibilities, such as how using the name Ian might rule out Owen, Evan, Kian, Liam, etc.

This, though, is one of the most challenging situations I have ever tackled. I started by looking in The Baby Name Wizard, which has a whole section of Italian names. I scanned for any that would have three-letter nicknames:

Arianna - Ari
Chiara - Chi
Donatella - Don
Emilia- Lia
Gemma - Gem
Gianna - Gia
Giovanna - Gio
Liliana - Lil
Maddalena - Mad
Michela - Mic
Mirella - Mir
Raffaella - Raf
Silvia - Sil
Valeria - Val
Vincenza - Vin
Viviana - Viv

Some of those nicknames are kind of a stretch: Leo and Kat are established, familiar nicknames, but Sil? Vin? Maybe not. And Gio and Lia are so similar to Leo---okay, or not okay? The nicknames that look like the best possibilities to me are Ari and Gia. Arianna Allessi and Gianna Allessi both sound great---but unfortunately I think the "-anna" ending is too similar to Katriahna: Katriahna and Arianna, Katriahna and Gianna.

Then I tried some -ellas. Raffaella is pretty, and it's good with the siblings: Leonardo, Katriahna, and Raffaella. But then the double-L starts messing with your last name: Raffaella Allessi is a lot of A and L. Same for Aribella Allessi, Mirella Allessi, and so on. So no -annas, and no -ellas.

This is quite a corner we're painted into here. The surname, the 3-letter-nickname, the Italian. Even when we remove the Italian, we still run into trouble---and since Leonardo and Katriahna both have the Italian sound, and the name Allessi sounds Italian too, I like the idea of keeping the Italian.

Desperate times call for desperate measures: I changed strategies and started with the nickname instead. Leo and Kat are both familiar, contemporary-sounding names, and I don't think we can combine them with, for example, Sil or Don. Leo and Kat have SASS. If we want a 3-letter nickname to go with those, I think we want to look at:


Keep in mind that you may not be alone in the quest: sass is in style. The hottest competition will be for longer versions of short names that are perceived as getting too popular, such as Ava: now that it's in the top ten, people will be looking for a name that lets them have Ava without actually using Ava.

So let's start instead with something there's less competition for: Ali. There were a lot of Allisons going by Ally, Ali, and Alli when I was younger, but the Alisons have been going steadily down since the 1970s and there won't be as many of them now. Longer versions of Ali to consider: Alissandra, Alixandra, Aliyah, Alina, Aliza. I like Alissandra. I would have thought the A and the SS would be too much with Allessi, but instead I think it's pretty: Alissandra Allessi. I think it's because the "-andra" comes in the middle to break it up. Leonardo, Katriahna, and Alissandra. Leo, Kat, and Ali.

Ada has a similar sound to Ava, but hasn't come into style---yet. It did just show up again on the top 1000, so I imagine I'm not the only one who's noticed how much it sounds like Ava, and some people will be looking for ways to get the nickname Addy now that Addison is getting so popular. Long versions to consider: Adaline, Adamaris. I'm not sure, but I think both of those are short-A, not long.

Well, let's look at longer versions of Ava anyway, even though I think that's where you'll find the most competition of all: Avamaria. That might be the only one. I like it, though: Avamaria Allessi. Leo, Kat, and Ava. Leonardo, Katriahna, and Avamaria. Familiar but not common, pretty but sassy. I don't know if it's Italian per se, but maybe it is---it sure has that Italian SOUND. I really like that one.

Longer versions of Bea: Oh, this is where we find Beatrix, one of my current favorites! Oh, I wish someone would use Beatrix. Beatrix Allessi! But even through eyes filmed with love I can see it's not great with Leonardo and Katriahna. Totally different style.

Longer versions of Eva or Eve: Evalynne (do you suppose there's any way to spell it that would make people pronounce that with the long E instead of with the short E? maybe do Eve Lyn?), Evaline (again: long E, any chance?), Evangeline. I like Evangeline. Evangeline Allessi. Leo, Kat, and Eve. Leonardo, Katriahna, and Evangeline.

Longer versions of Mae: Maegen, Maebeth. Wrong style, and my eye reads Maebeth as Macbeth.

Well, this isn't really helping, is it? I don't usually go down this path, but I am beginning to think that name invention is a good idea here. Let's pair a nickname with another ending. Avalyn Allessi. Adamaria Allessi. Mayenna Allessi. Maella Allessi. Gialouisa Allessi. Giamaria Allessi.

Nope, I'm stumped. I've only got three names to consider, all of which I like but I'm not sure it's enough to choose from: Alissandra, Avamaria, and Evangeline. Readers, you have got to help us out here. Vote in the poll at right [poll closed; see below], but turn the bulk of your naming powers to coming up with fresh ideas in the comment section. It should sound good with Allessi; it should sound good with Leonardo and Katriahna; it should ideally have a 3-letter nickname that sounds good with Leo and Kat; it would be neat if it were Italian. I have faith in you! Go!

[Poll results:
Alissandra: 50 votes, roughly 43%
Avamaria: 9 votes, roughly 8%
Evangeline: 57 votes, roughly 49%]


heather said...

What about Camilla... Cam?
Cassandra... Cass?
Emilia or Emillina... Emy?

Tessie said...

My favorite is Evangeline (BEAUTIFUL!), but I wonder if it's a little too mainstream for this family?

And for obvious reasons, I ALSO love Avamaria, but MY eye reads that as "Ave Maria" and I wonder if that would be a problem, particularly in an Old World Italian (Catholic?) family.

Anyway, I vote for Evangeline (Eva).

Tessie said...

ALSO, I knew an Antoinette in college, and she went by "Ant". Don't know if you feel the "ette" ending has too much "T" sound with your surname, but I do like it.

aibee said...

For a more Italian feel, I prefer Evangelina, with Eva as the diminuitve.

Evangelina Allessi.
Leo, Kat and Eva.

Another idea as an evolution from your own is Beatrice (pronounced "Bey ah tree che", all syllables are short though, more Beh-Ah-tri-che than Bayartreechair), which, when pronounced thusly, is an actual, real Italian name. It could be shortened to Bea ("Beh-ah") to fit with the Three Letter Name rule.

Beatrice Allessi.
Leo, Kat and Bea.

And how about Giulia? (pron: Julia, but with the "Gi" to give it an authentic Italian feel). Shorten it to Gia and...ta da.

Giulia Allessi.
Leo, Kat and Gia.

What else?

Ooh! How about Marianna? Or Mariana. (pron: Mah-ree-arna) It can be shortened to Ana ("Arna") and both versions go ridiculously well with the surname and the other siblings' names.

Marianna Allessi.
Leo, Kat and Ana.

Ooh, and how about Marina? No idea how to fit that to The Rule, but it's a beautiful name that sounds faboo with Allessi. Also, dig this: Leo, Kat and Marina.

My ears, they SING!

Anonymous said...

OOh, I love Camilla! Also Marianna! What great ideas.... honestly, as soon as I'm pregnant with my next babe I am going to write in here for naming advice. You guys come up with the best names!

Emilie said...

I like Giada Allessi. She could either be Gia or Ada for the nickname.

-R- said...

Alexandra, nickname Alex? I know that is more than 3 letters, but it is pretty close. And Leo, Kat, and Alex sounds good.

I like Giada as well.

JMC said...

I love both Alessandra and Evangeline. Can't choose...

Mayberry said...

I am going to think about this more (FUN challenge) but I keep going back to Viviana. Leo, Kat, and Viv is fabulous! To avoid repeating the -ana ending, maybe just Vivian? Or Vivienne?

Camilla is also a wonderful suggestion.

Jodi said...

I've been lurking for a few weeks but had to come out to tell you I have a Beatrix, so there's at least one out here :)

Also, for the Allessi family, I love love love Gemma, nn Gem. I'm not sure why that one got taken off your list so quickly. It seems the absoulte *perfect* fit for this family (of course, Gemma is a long-time favorite of mine anyway).

I'm really enjoying your blog, thanks!

Swistle said...

Jodi- Yay, a Beatrix! I took Gemma off because I thought "Gem" was a strange and tricky nickname: it LOOKS like it's pronounced like the jewel (and there was a cartoon series with a Gem), but I think it's actually with a hard G as in go. Also, Leo and Kat are such standard nicknames, but Gem is unusual.

Rayne of Terror said...

I'm looking at Ellis Island records for women who came from Italy and here are some pretty names I see.

Antonia (Nia)
Giovanna (Gia)
Serafina (v pretty!)

Bird said...

Alessandra is gorgeous.

I also like Evangeline. The cajun french pronounce it ee-vaughn-juh-leen as well as the better known way. I think it sounds really nice with their last name that way.

Jenny said...

Serafina! OOOH! Pick that one!

It seems like a lot of options might open up if you gelaxed the 3 letter nickname rule.

Maggie said...

Looking at the list that Swistle made, I really like Giovanna and using the nickname Gia...but the three letter nickname does make it hard!

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I'm loving Alissandra Allessi. How gorgeous!

This is a tough one, but I do like Alissandra quite a lot so I'm just going to stick with your idea Swistle. If I can think of anything else, I'll come back with some suggestions but for now I'll just vote for Ali.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I'm back already because now I read the other comments.

I'd like to put in a second vote for Vivienne (Viv) or Nicoletta (from the Ellis Island list), which can shorten to Nic.

Erica said...

I also vote for Serafina. The nn can be Sera.

Leo, Kat and Sera.

Sarah said...

What about Josephine? nn Jo/Joe?

Anonymous said...

Serafina!!! Yes, yes, yes!!!

zooaskew said...

I love Evangeline/a and Vivian/a with the nicknames Eva and Viv.

What about Genevieve? She could be Gen or Viv.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest Wesley- Wes, but Wesley Allessi is, well, no.

There's always Pioneer Woman- AnnMarie - Ree!

Any name (that starts with the letter J could lend itself to a spunky "Jay" nickname for a girl.

Maxine (Max)

ZestyJenny said...

Back to say again, I love Serafina, How about Fina for a nickname? So cute!

I didn't mean to sound bossy about ix-naying your 3 letter nickname rule. I just mean that you don't seem to be going with exclusively one sylable 3 letter nicknames, as Leo SOUNDS like more than 3 letters, you know?

Leo, Kat, and Fina. LOVE!

Anonymous said...

Gemma can be pronounced like the jewel and I like the spelling Alessandra better than with an i

Lindsey said...

I like Gemma--nn Gem (pronounced like gem, the jewel) or Giada, with the nickname Gia.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions! I too really love the name Serafina, but that happens to be my mother-in-law's name + my little niece's name as well & I just think that 3 Serafina's in one family is a little much!

My favorites so far are Alissandra, Vivienne & Evangeline!

While I love the way that Alissandra Allessi flows, I'm not feeling Ali Allessi quite so much. Think I'm leaning toward Vivienne so far. Viv Allessi has a nice ring to it I do believe.

Also! The 3 letter nickname thing is NOT set in stone, I just think it would be a nice bonus. So anything you can think of that would sound good with the names of my other kids and our last name is still most definitely in the running!

You've all given me a lot to think about already, but keep 'em coming if you can!

Oh! This is Tallyaya Allessi here, in case you couldn't tell lol

Angie said...

I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled when my niece was named Anna-Lisa (I'm not a fan of double-names). However, it has grown on me, and I find myself occasionally recommending it to people on these blogs. I think because the name fits today's naming styles, but still has the timeless quality from Anna, and is not too prevalent everywhere. With that in mind I would stay away from Evangeline (Eva). It has date-stamp written all over it (along with Ava or any of its variants), more so than your other kid's names, which seem more timeless.

But back to Anna-Lisa. Unlike other double-names, it seems to be more than the sum of its parts. But for your use, I would spell it differently. I would use Analisa (Ana). I think Ana is the way many European’s spell Anna. She might run into problems with others misspelling her name, which make me hesitant to recommend it, but the Ana spelling in this country at least seems more fresh and fun, and more in line with your goal of an Italian sounding name. I’m not sure if Ana is exactly Italian, but I know women from Russia and Portugal who go by Ana, making it seem more European, and therefore more Italian sounding, at least than Anna. And spelling it Analisa, makes it seem more like a whole name and less like a double-name, at least to me.

Other than that, I say, who cares if your third kid has a name that clashes with the others. As adults, they are not going to be permanently attached at the hip everywhere they go, as much as us as parents would like that. Another way to put it, is your three kids are not going to have their siblings names on their business cards. With that in mind, I also like Beatrice (Bea).

So there are my two suggestions:
Analisa (Ana)
Beatrice (Bea).

By the way, I don’t normally like made up names, but I really like some of the ones Swistle came up with: Adamaria, Gialouisa, Giamaria. These also seem to be double-names that are more than the sum of their parts. And they don’t scream “made up name” like Zaylynn.

Swistle said...

Angie- Good thoughts! I wouldn't spell it Analisa, though, because of the "an@l" problem.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I spelled Alissandra with the i to get the Ali nickname.

Angie said...

Good points with Ana. I hadn't considered that. Maybe I would spell it Annalisa then.

Leslie said...

Vivienne, nickname Viv, is pretty cute. I also love the similar Viola. Viola Allessi is lovely, and while the standard nickname is two letters instead of three (Vi), I think Leo, Kat, and Vi would be a lovely sibling set.

Other suggestions... Any of the Ros- names (Rosealba, Rosalind, Rosalia, Rosina, etc) would be cute with the nickname Roz. Leo, Kat, and Roz.

I also like Dorotea Allessi, nickname Tea (pronounced Tay-ah, not like the beverage).

Jodi said...

Swistle, I agree with what others have said. I've known a few Gemmas (when I lived in the UK, where it is very mainstream) and they've all pronounced it with a soft G like Jemma, so I would naturally assume Gem would be pronounced like the jewel. I think the rock star doll is far enough in the past that I'd be willing to risk the teasing potential :)

I do also like the suggestion of Beatrice nn Bea, maybe even pronouncing it the Italian way, Bay-a-TREE-chay, and then the nn could be Bee-a or even Bay-a. Or just Bee, like mine, of course ;)

Carolyn said...

I had an Austrian friend named Alexandra whose nickname was Axi. I always liked that unusual nickname for a more frequently used name. You could use that with Alissandra instead of Ali.

Alissandra is my favorite choice, but I like Camilla (Cam) too.

thedid said...

With Kat and Leo as the first two nicknames, shouldn't the third one have some feline association too?? "Ali" might qualify, though not in an altogether positive way. "Tig" maybe? Surely not "Bob" or "Jag." More creative minds than mine will have to work on this one.

Erin said...

Great ideas here! What about Marlena, pronounced Mar-LAY-na? Nickname could be Lena, perhaps.

Leash said...

I was so going to say Vivienne!!! And then I see I'm not the only one thinking that. Love it! Love love.


constance the eleventh said...

Oh, I love Axi!

Jujubee said...

I hate to say it, but his would be the perfect use for Jennifer. I know, I know -and it's not Italian, but no one uses it anymore, AND Jen is a great nickname.

I was also thinking something like Rosemary, Rosemarie, etc.
Leo, Kat & Rose sound good together I think.

Frema said...

Marlena is wonderful! (I spy with my little eye a Days of Our Lives fan!)

I voted for Alissandra, but I'm not crazya bout Ali Allessi. I think Marlena Allessi or Lena Allessi both work well. Leo, Kat, and Lena. Awesome.

Katherine said...

One of my co-workers is named Adrianna, and is called Adrian. Doesn't fit the three-syllable nickname, but I think that "Adrianna Allessi" is nice.

Caitlin said...

Oooh, my eyes lit up when I read Mayenna! SO pretty, not common, and easy to pronounce.
A friend of mine has a baby named Evangeline, and they call her Evie. (Eve-ee). So pretty!