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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Baby Girl ___ McManaway Erdos

Anne writes:
I am having a terrible time coming up with a name for girl #2, due to arrive in June. My first baby's name is Esme, and I love, love, love this name to pieces. It seems impossible to come up with another girl's name that seems as special to me and resonates as much.

My criteria are: It has to be uncommon, but not "made up." It must go with a last name, two syllables, Erdos, pronounced "AIR-dose" (with emphasis on the first syllable--so first names with the emphasis on the last syllable are out, as they make the two names together sound awkward). I don't want cutesy, but I do want feminine.

Anyway--my top choice right now is Astrid. What do you think? Middle name will be McManaway (family name on my side, and non-negotiable). I'm not too concerned about the flow of the first name with the middle name, since it won't be spoken aloud very often. The problem is, I like Astrid, but I don't LOVE it the way I love Esme. Other thoughts I have had were Greer (but doesn't go with the last name), Henrietta (which I think is adorable, but I fear would not be enjoyed by the baby, who might think it's ugly and grandma), Luella (which my husband hates), Arden (but waaaay too trendy sounding), Odile (but emphasis on the wrong syllable), Delphine (same), Elodie (love, but hard to say in way that doesn't sound either too French and snotty or too American and like "melody"), Clementine (but I think people would think this was a joke).

Anyway, any guidance would be much appreciated--I am spending far too much of my time obsessing over this, and really need to get back to work!

I, too, am a fan of the name Henrietta. I'm not quite ready to use it on a baby of my own, but I'd be thrilled if someone else did. I think its time is coming---perhaps when everyone is done with Emma and Violet. The nicknames are darling: Henrie, Hennie, Hen, Ettie. People generally love long girly names with short boyish nicknames (Samantha/Sam, Alexandra/Alex), so why not Henrietta/Henry? Well, you and me and the little bird agree. Maybe we'll have granddaughters with that name.

Hey, since we agree on Henrietta, I wonder if you'd like another of my favorites that gets dissed as too old-ladyish: Millicent. I think it's beautiful. I think it's great with Esme, too: Esme and Millicent. Also, don't you think people have SOME CHEEK calling names "too old-ladyish" while they continue to say they like "old-fashioned" names like Emma and Violet? ME TOO!

I turned to the name Esme in The Baby Name Wizard to find sister names, and look! Sister names: Elodie, Clio, Ivy, Noa, Fleur. Elodie is the first one! I love the name Elodie and I don't think it sounds snotty---but then, I pronounce it like Melody without the M. Cute monogram, too: EME.

(I notice, saying these possibilities aloud, that your surname is wily: it combines with first names. Elo-dee-air-dos sounds like one long word---perhaps a vacation destination. So does Astri-dare-dos.)

I'm going to keep looking at sister names in The Baby Name Wizard:

Astrid: Sigrid, Dagmar, Signe, Greta, Margit
Henrietta: Winifred, Cordelia, Beatrice, Matilda, Wilhelmina
Elodie: Esme, Amelie, Sabine, Cecily, Ariane
Clementine: Millicent, Violette, Henrietta, Marguerite, Eloise

Any of those strike your fancy? Look, there's Millicent! It's like a SIGN!

Or what about:

Arwen (AME)
Linden (LME)
Ariadne (AME)
Larkin (LME)
Carsten (CME)
Linnea (LME)
Amabel (AME)
Lorelei (LME)
Hazel (HME)

What does everyone else think about a sister for Esme? Vote in the poll at right [poll closed; see below], and/or leave more suggestions in the comments.

[Poll results:
Henrietta: 16 votes; roughly 11%
Millicent: 16 votes, roughly 11%
Elodie: 49 votes, roughly 33%
Astrid: 9 votes, roughly 6%
Arwen: 6 votes, roughly 4%
Linden: 4 votes, roughly 3%
Ariadne: 5 votes, roughly 3%
Larkin: 4 votes, roughly 3%
Linnea: 14 votes, roughly 9%
Lorelei: 17 votes, roughly 11%
Hazel: 9 votes, roughly 6%]

[Updated! Anne writes:
As promised, here's the verdict: We named our baby, born June 4, Astrid. I was thisclose to choosing Elodie, having consulted with a French friend and everything, who assured me it was pronounced more "Eh-lo-dee" as opposed to "Ay-lo-dee", which almost got me there, but in the end it was just too similar to Melody, a name I very much do not like. Anyway, now that she is an Astrid it seems to suit her very well and I can't imagine anything else, though I keep reading sites like these because I find the whole process of naming one's children to be endlessly fascinating!



Erica said...

I think Astrid is a great name, but it blends too much with your last name.

heather said...

Oooh, I LOVE the name Clementine and wished that I had the guts to use it. My husband pretty much shot it down though, so it didn't really matter. I have heard it here and there in recent years, so I think it's becoming more ... I don't know what the word is... not so out there anymore.

Otherwise, out of the names on the list I'd probably vote for Elodie. What if you spelled it Eledie/Elidie/Elladie or something so it wouldn't have such a drawn out o sound like melody; That may help people pronounce it more of an El-lah-dee rather than El-low-dee...?? I like Elodie

Kate said...

I love elodie. That was our first girl choice. I also wonder, since you like delphine, if daphne is a possibility? I know it's not quite the same style as the rest, but it's so cute!

Clarabella said...

Oooh, this one was hard. I love the reach this list has! I don't say Elodie like Melody. I say it Elladee. But that's just me maybe. But I voted for Lorelei, because it is one of my favorite favorite favorite names and is up there on my girl list. I know it's all Gilmore-Girlish, but your daughter and her friends will probably never know anything about that show. (I'm gunning for it b/c half my family is german, and there's a very famous poem about the Lorelai, which is also the spelling I will use. Ok, enough about me.) Anyway, other than that, I love Arden, but since it's not on the list, I think Arwen is just lovely. Esme and Lorelei. Esme and Arwen. I think they both sound great. Good luck!

Luna said...

The very first name I thought of was Evie - popular in the UK but dropped off the US top 1000 somewhere in the 1940s. I think it's lovely, but could be too 'matchy' with Esme?

Dallas said...

Ester? Inga? Mira? I had a classmate named Elodie and I always thought it sounded so pretty.

Clarabella said...

Two things, even though I already posted. One, best friends of mine just named their daughter Larkin (after the poet Phillip Larkin), and I don't think I'd ever heard the name before. And then, there it is! On Swistle's poll!
I have just been reacquainted with the name Aurelia, and I think it's just beautiful. What do you think? Esme and Aurelia? Aurelia McManaway Erdos? Aurelia Erdos? I think it is a powerful enough name not to clash with your last name. So beautiful, Aurelia. (ok, i'm done.)

LoriD said...

This was a hard one, but I voted for Astrid... it's very pretty. Some others that seem to work well with Esme:


Frema said...

I'm not a fan of Henrietta, but I love Hennie as a nickname, so make of that what you will.

Honestly, I thought Luella was the cutest of them all. Lu would make such a cute nickname. Bah on your husband for squelching the fun!

d e v a n said...

Love Astrid. LOVE!

Jennifer said...

Of all those listed, I love Linnea. Beautiful name, goes well with the other two, and you don't hear it too often. I thought of Adele while reading this, too, and Daphne is a great suggestion.

Tessie said...

Am I the only one who really, REALLY loves Greta? Short, simple, and goes beautifully with both your last name and her sister's name.

nanann said...

I think I like the Millicent.

On another matter - but related:

So Swistle, how excited are you that Mother's Day is this weekend and the new list of top baby names from the one true source, the SSA, is about to come out?!?!?

Liz said...

I've only heard Linden as a boys name, but I guess it could be a girls. As for Larkin, what about dropping the R and using Lakin?

Swistle said...


m d said...

I like a lot of the options - I voted for Elodie and I pronounce it Elladie, not like melody, but the o will probably throw people off. What about Elinor? I have always loved that name, and it seems to go well with Esme. Elinor Erdos. It is more popular (I think), but I think the different spelling makes it more feminine and unique..

Maggie said...

What about a variation on Elodie? I had a friend in high school named Elodia, pronounced with the emphasis on the "O". Her nickname was Dia. I always thought it was very pretty, and Dia is a cute nickname.

Lara said...

I am so very, very against the whole idea of siblings' names beginning with the same letter, but I really love Elodie and Esme!

Linnea is very pretty as well, but you might also have trouble with the pronunciation of it.

Note to Swistle: Millicent is one of my favorite girl names!

Hashak said...

I have to comment because I love Henrietta. My fiance has an aunt (who is also his godmother) named Henrietta (after her father, Henry), but she is called Penny - which I think is just TO DIE FOR cute for a little girl, unfortunately my fiance doesn't like the name. :(

I also love Luella and Linnea. For some reason Astrid makes me think of astringent.

ZestyJenny said...

I want someone to use Wilhelmina. I think it's so pretty! Cute nicknames, too. Willie or Mina!

Wilhelmina Erdos sounds like someone who is feminine but with whom you should not mess.

el-e-e said...

I voted for Linnea and must have glossed over Greta, but, Tessie, I DO love Greta Erdos. You're right!

-R- said...

I like Millicent. I would call her Millie. So cute!

Emilie said...

I voted for Millicent because I love the nn Millie. I knew a woman named Elodie when I was young and it is a nice name. I'm just not so big on it with the ln. I agree with the suggestion of Daphne.

Shoeaddict said...

I thought Colette might be good with Esme. I also like Greta or Elodie.

Susan said...

I love the middle and last names "McManaway Erdos" together. They flow beautifully, and I think they add a lot to every suggestion.

Esme really is a terrific name, and I can see how it's a challenge to add another girls' name to the family that is equally terrific ... but I think it's important and possible.

Esme has a light, sweet sound -- though it's not at all cutesy and it could stand up well in a board room. My complaint about Larken, Carsten, and Hazel is that they're strong but lack the lightness and sweetness that Esme has.

Ariadne seems both light/sweet and strong to my ear, and, like Esme, it's pleasing to say. Both names I find myself saying out loud, savoring the sound of them.

I think (Kate's suggestion) Daphne is equal to Esme, too. My hesitation with Daphne is that I wouldn't want the nickname "Daffy" (and as an elementary teacher I wince wondering if "Daffy Duck" would be irresistible to the other kids?). Can anyone speak from experience with this?

Anonymous said...

I love Linnea, too, and will likely someday use it, as it's my Grandmother's name. Elodie is nice too.

Misty said...

I love her taste in names. Beautiful and gutsy, really.

I was thinking possibly Gretchen? Or maybe Moira?


Leash said...

I love Clio... :-) Really.

fairydogmother said...

Love, love, love Elodie.

I'm in the camp that pronounces it more like El-lah-dee. Which rhymes with how I pronounce Melody. I guess I'm just difficult that way. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the nickname 'Henri' for a girl is so cute.

Isabel & Company said...

I voted for Elodie because I like it the best out of all the names on the poll, but then OMG Clarabella mentioned Aurelia and I LOVE it! I think Aurelia is perfect. Do that!

Angie said...

I voted for Linnea too, because it seemed to be unique but still accessible. But I liked the other names on the list too.

I also like Elodie, but if you don't want people to pronounce it like Melodie, you are better off picking another name because most people will pronounce it that way.

And I love Henrietta, but I would use the nick name Etta. Which is sort of like Greta, a name someone else commented on that was my first choice for my daughter but my husband shot it down. I see a theme emerging with husbands shooting names now. Those darn husbands just love to ruin the naming fun.

If you are looking for a name to complement Esme, I would also consider Cosette. I'm not sure if the e at the end would blend with the e at the beginning of your surname, however. Your surname is more difficult than it seems.

SaraJ said...

Of the names mentioned, I voted for Ariadne, a name we had on our list at one time. I also like Elodie.

I Do Not Like Henrietta. Astrid is coolish, but a stretch.

As a mother of a Daphne, I both heartily endorse the name, and selflishly want to keep it to myself. I do think it goes well with Esme. Our Daphne isn't old enough to have encountered the Daffy Duck problem. However, I first knew of the name because of a friend in school (named Daphanie). We called her Daffy, yes, but we also called her Daffodil. I grew up loving the name. I don't know if she did or not. :)

As for our Daphne, she goes by Daph, Daffy, Daffodil, Daffy-down-dilly, and Delphinium when we're feeling very grand.

Bird said...

Gosh. You and I might be name twins! I had several of those names on my possibility list and LOVED Esme, but my Hub didn't go for it. I guess, my top choice would me Henrietta. I would not worry too much about what the baby thinks--kids are very open-minded--it's adults that are weird about names. Besides, if she hates it she can go by Etta which will fit in nicely with a class of Ellas, Bellas, Emmas, and whatnot.

If Henri weren't on the list then I'd go with Elodie.

adriane said...

I think all of your choices are lovely, but I have to say that I'd go for something that doesn't end with a vowel. I always think it sounds just a little bit awkward to have vowel sounds back to back.

Have you thought about using McManaway as the first name and picking a fun name for the middle name? It's different and absolutely lovely. My sister's name is McKendree, and though she goes by Kendree, it is still a name that you don't ever hear. You could call her "Mannie," and I just think that's adorable!

Shoeaddict said...


Just wondering, do you get "follow up" on these? What I mean is, do you find out what name the parents choose?

Swistle said...

Shoeaddict- I'm hoping to. I've kept email addresses so I can get in touch if the parents don't contact me. Other than the few "emergency" ones we've done, the babies we've done posts for mostly haven't been born yet.

Anne said...

Oh my goodness! This is so exciting. This is my original post, and I am so pleased with everyone's responses--the people who post here really have lovely taste in names, and it's funny, because some of the suggestions are ones that I had considered but didn't include in my original question, or only came up with later (like Daphne--for some reason that name just all of a sudden sounded so great to me). Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts. I think Astrid is top choice, but Elodie is a strong contender and I cannot promise that Henrietta won't surprise us all in the end and make the final cut! I will try to remember to write again once the decision is final.

Thanks again!


Melissa said...

I'm embarrassed to even bring it up, because I think this is the kind of thing that is probably only me, but I don't like names with the "ass" sound in them. Like, the name "Aspen" looks so pretty on paper, but it sounds like "ass pen" to me. Same with Astrid: I hear ASS, and it makes me surprised that anyone would even consider the name. But I've never heard anyone else say such a thing, which is why I think it's just me and can be safely ignored. You can't choose a baby's name based on EVERYONE'S weirdnesses!

Linda said...

What about Echo, very cool - IMOHO...

Anonymous said...

As promised, here's the verdict: We named our baby, born June 4, Astrid. I was thisclose to choosing Elodie, having consulted with a French friend and everything, who assured me it was pronounced more "Eh-lo-dee" as opposed to "Ay-lo-dee", which almost got me there, but in the end it was just too similar to Melody, a name I very much do not like. Anyway, now that she is an Astrid it seems to suit her very well and I can't imagine anything else, though I keep reading sites like these because I find the whole process of naming one's children to be endlessly fascinating!


Eva said...

For what it's worth...I just stumbled on this blog and couldn't resist commenting
I had a baby a few weeks ago and named her Henrietta and have received countless compliments on the name... she's named after her grandmother Henrietta, who died in the 1940s, so the selection wasn't mere whim but a real tribute...
Astrid is also a delightful name; I have a niece named Astrid.
Good job!
--Eva (whose birthday is also June 4!)

Anonymous said...

as above i have just come across this blog and was compelled to comment.
my daughter is called elodie. it is a name i love from the first second i heard it, and knew that if i ever had a daughter i would call her this name.
i think it is a tricky name to get to grips with i do not like the way some people pronouce the name. however i have no regrets and still think it is beautiful. i also love the name amelie- must be a french thing.
elodie also has many nicknames= ellie, ella, dee, dede and some strange ones i call my daughter ellis, ellick(dont ask), mac and max
asrtid is a beautiful name. congrats!!!

Elodie said...

I just came on this blog and HAD to comment =)
Yes, Astrids good, a friend of mine is called Astrid it's really a nice name...
Even if I'm called Elodie.
I love my name, okay it's not always easy explaining my teachers how to write it or pronounce it etc.
But I still love it, it's very rare, exept in France!
My mother's swiss (but speaks french and that's why I'm called like that)
I'm sure the name's perfect as it is!

Jaci said...

How funny. I'm googling my current fav baby name, Elodie, and stumble on one of your old blog posts!

I'm excited to see that so many people liked Elodie! It's making the name seem more and more like a possibility...