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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Girl K.

Amy writes:
We are expecting a baby girl (our first child) due July 7. I thought we had settled on several possible names but the closer we get to the date, the more unsure we are. Our last name is 8 letters long and two syllables, starting with a hard K sound. Looking through name lists, we have tended to like long'ish feminine names (Alexandra, Evangeline, Madeline) with cute, spunky nicknames for when she is a little girl (Alex/Allie, Eva, Maddie). I definitely want a name that has a nickname. I want to use a name (either first or middle name) that has a meaning for me - whether a family name or tied to a beloved childhood book. I was named for a character in my mother's favorite book (Little Women) and I always loved having that connection to her. For that reason, I love Madeline, one of my favorite books as a little girl. But, my husband does not like the nickname Maddie. We rejected Charlotte (nn Charlie - too popular in our area), Josephine (nn Josie - husband doesn't like it), Gabriella (nn Ella - I'm afraid she will be called Gabby). My husband likes Hannah, but I'm stuck on there not really being a nickname for Hannah.

So, we thought about combining two - Alexandra Madeline, for example. But, combined with a two syllable last name (total of 9 syllables - and 25 letters total), is that too long? Are we saddling our little one with a little too much name?

One possible family name is Lilian, though my husband does not love it. We thought about Emerson (which doesn't seem to go with our usual feminine names though) with a nickname of Emma (a family name) - but is it way too popular?

thank you for any suggestions you have.....

Emerson isn't too popular, I don't think, but Emma is the second most popular girl name in the United States (source: Social Security Administration). I've said before that I don't think the Top Ten is the kiss of death, but if your goal is to avoid popular I'd stay away from Emma (and Addy and Maddy and Ella).

I can think of lots of long feminine names with cute nicknames (Francesca, Philippa, Willemina, Calliope, Penelope, Cassandra, Meredith, Raffaella, Philomena, Cordelia---but the trouble is, I won't know if the name has meaning for you or not.

When you were a child, did you also love the book Madeline's Rescue? If so, I suggest Genevieve with the nickname Evie (or Nevvie, or Genna, or Gennie). I think it's wonderful with your surname. I like Genevieve Lilian K____, or you could use one of the problematic/rejected first names: Gabriella, Charlotte, etc. (If you use Gabriella, a cute nickname possibility is Gigi, from the initials G.G.)

If you considered Charlotte because of Charlotte's Web, the name Fern would be a good middle name.

Another possibility is using another of the sister names from Little Women. You've already thought of Josephine, but perhaps Margaret? Margaret has so many great nicknames: Meg (the nickname used in Little Women), Maggie, Daisy (the nickname used for Meg's little girl, also named Margaret), Greta. You could even use "Marmee," which is what the mother in Little Women (ALSO named Margaret) goes by.

The fourth sister is Elizabeth, and we recently discussed a lot of good nicknames for that.

I don't think a name like Alexandra Madeline is too long with a 2-syllable surname. I think it sounds very pretty and feminine.

If your husband likes the sound of the name Hannah but nicknames are a problem, you might be able to find a name he likes that starts with the similar-sounding Anna, and then use Annie as a nickname: Anastasia, Annabel, Anneliese, etc. Or perhaps a name that ends in -anna, to get the sound of Hannah but access some new nicknames up in front: Liliana, Luciana, Joanna, Susanna, Adrianna, Eliana, Georgianna, Lianna, etc.

Name update 07-24-2010! Amy writes:
I was due to deliver on July 7, but as it turns out, our baby girl was born one week early on July 1. I was in the middle of contractions and waiting (impatiently!) for my husband to get home from work to bring me to the hospital. I checked the Swistle website as a way to distract myself, and was so surprised to see my question pop up that morning. It really helped get my mind off the contractions - what perfect timing! We ended up going with Alexandra Madeline (nickname Alli) - everyone loves her name and we think it suits her perfectly. Thank you and your readers for the great suggestions, and for confirming that our first choice wasn't too long of a name for a little baby.


juliette said...

Our daughter has an 11-syllable, 26-letter name. I also worried about it being too much, but we have a long Italian last name. The flow of her whole name is beautiful and we get lots of compliments on it, so I wouldn't worry about Alexandra Madeline being too long. I like Swistle's Penelope (Penny, Nell or Nella) and Francesca (Franny, Cesca). Maybe Seraphina (Sera) would work.

AmyRobynne said...

I don't have any helpful advice (although I really like Genevieve), but I'm also an Amy named after the Little Women character and I thought it was neat that my mom wasn't the only one who did that! (she had no idea a gazillion other women in the late 70's also liked the name). I was almost named Beth.

Fran said...

What about Linnie as a nn for Madeline? Or Lottie as a nn for Charlotte?

M.Amanda said...

On the subject of too many syllables/letters, consider how often she will actually be using her middle name. Most official documents only want the initial and the other times - like when she's telling people her full name or she's been naughty and you're middle-naming her - won't likely come up often enough to be so very cumbersome.

Plus, you are looking at names that can be shortened, so as a little girl she will probably deal with the shorter nickname, leaving the longer formal name for when she's an adult and a longer name will lend her a more sophisticated air.

As a child, she'd be Ally K__ or Ally M. K__, and as an adult Alexandra K__ or Alexandra M. K__. That sounds lovely.

Carolyn said...

Hattie!!! Hattie is the cutest nn for Hannah, I think! :)

I also love Johanna (you could pronounce it in a few different ways--I like Jo-hah-na, but Jo HAN na is super cute, too), and then you or she could pick which nn you like best: Jo, Josie, Hanna, Hannie or Hattie

Going on the Little Women connection, I believe Amy named her daughters Josie and Bess. Both are so on target for this generation's styles. Funny how everything comes full circle over 100 years later.

Jane said...

Alexandra Madeleine is beautiful, and I also love Swistle's suggestions, especially Cordelia and Calliope. They're lovely names that do have cute nicknames. I also know a Madeleine whose nickname is Lulu, which I think is adorable.

Emerson? No, unless it's a boy. If you want to call the baby Emma, I suggest just naming her Emma, or Emily or something more feminine.

Anonymous said...

My daughter's name is Evangeline Mae. We also have a two sylable last name that starts with a hard K sound. I LOVE the name so much now that we chose it. We call her Evie, but the possibilities are endless. We have never gotten anything but positive responses on the name, and have only heard one VERY distant connection (I also didn't want a name that was too popular). I am pregnant again and I really like Genevive this time. A lot of good suggestions

Megz said...

My name is 8-5-8 letters and 8 syllables.
My eldest daughter is 8-6-8 letters and 8 syllables.

My youngest daughter was supposed to be something similar but ended up being 8-7-4-8 and 11 syllables. She's only 2.5 so it hasn't really been much of an issue. And I don't really think it will be. The only thing I've noticed is that you can't always fit her name on official forms. In which case I either use one of her hyphenated middle names or just initials.

I like the sound of Alexandra Madeline.

Lilian is also nice, especially with the nickname Lily which is so popular where I live.

Good luck.

StephLove said...

I like Alexandra Madeline a lot and I don't think it's too long. I'd go with that, but if you start leaning to Hannah, I think Annie could be a nn for it. Hannah is a form of Anne.

A couple more suggestions just in case: Amelia or Susannah.

Elisabeth said...

My parents named me an 11-syllable, 28-letter name. Though beautiful, it doesn't fit on a single line on my California driver's license. Which isn't a problem at all, but has caused some confusion when checking my ID because people will think my middle name is my last name (since my last name hides on the second line) which of course doesn't match with my credit card, etc.

Really, it's not a big deal, but may be something to consider if it's a worry. Being the product of a super long name, I plan to make sure my kids don't exceed the single line.