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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby Girl M_____, Sister to Samuel John

Debbie writes:
I’ve only recently found your site and I’m so impressed with the thoughtfulness and creativity of the names you suggest. Please help!

Our baby girl is due in three weeks and my husband and I are stuck in a naming rut. It’s not that we disagree, but we are not completely in love with our list and nothing new seems to be jumping out at us. We like classic names that are preferably not extremely common or very unusual.

Our 2 year old son is named Samuel John, which I suppose is not uncommon. However, naming Samuel was easy as my husband had always had this name in the back of his mind (after his grandfather – another boy would be called Henry), but we are struggling to think of girl names that are both pretty and say ‘take me seriously’.

Our surname is relatively uncommon where we live, starts with M and has two syllables, like Halston and with possibly similar pronunciation issues (actually pronounced like ‘Hol’, but usually guessed incorrectly as ‘Hal’). We’d rather not use a name or nickname that rhymes with either pronunciation (eg: Holly or Callie). Our first names are Deborah and Michael.


Names that have been on the list:

Emilia (familiar sound yet we don’t know anyone with this name)

Eleanor (nn Ellie, which has a family connection)

Natalie/Natasha (for its Christmas DD connection, but don’t like nn Nat)

Evelyn (again Christmas with Eve or Evie as nn)

Jemima (not sure this works with our M surname)

Ashley (husband likes, nn Ash, I’m not completely sold on it)

Adeline (love this, nn Ada, but vetoed by husband)

Caitlin (nn Cate, too common?)


Names we like but have been used by close family/friends:

Amelia

Charlotte

Chloe

Eliza

Helena

Isabelle

Madeleine

Rachel

Mackenzie (this one is left of field given the rest of our list, but husband likes it. Has been used by a couple of friends).


Names considered and rejected:

F names like Freya, Frances, Felicity

Anything that sounds like Sam, such as Samara, Camilla, etc

As mentioned, names that sound like they rhyme with our surname.


At this stage I think we’d use Emilia as either a middle name or a first name (although I’m not sure about nicknames Emmy, Em or Milly with our surname). If we use it as first, for middle we’d probably try to find a short name in keeping with Samuel’s, perhaps something like Claire, Kate, Leah or Beth.

Samuel was early and this naming problem is starting to keep me awake at night, just when I need my sleep!

Thanks so much

Looking at your lists, what stands out to me is that you mostly like common names---but you're trying to avoid them, and this could be what's making you feel stuck. I'll try to gear my suggestions toward less-common options, but also it's fine to choose a very common name if you LIKE very common names. Common isn't what it used to be: even the top ten is not necessarily the kiss of death.

Emilia is not very common, but it feels significantly more common than it is because of all the Amelias and Emmas and Mias. And I agree with you that the nicknames are not ideal with your surname: so much M and L. I also agree with you about Jemima: that's a lot of M with your surname.

The name Emeline might just switch us from one frying pan to another, but I'm mentioning it anyway because of Madeleine on your can't-use list.

Caitlin and Ashley are finally on the way down after years of high popularity: their decades of commonness and huge number of spelling variations make them feel even more common than they were, and I think I would avoid them at this point--especially since they don't meet your classic/traditional preferences.

Instead of Ashley, I wonder if you'd like Audrey or Aubrey?

One of my favorite "pretty but serious" girl names is Genevieve. It has the Eve you like from Evelyn, and it's a nice old name. It might be a little rhymey with your surname, though.

Another of my favorites is Eloise, and it reminds me of Eliza and Helena and Evelyn and Eleanor from your list. As with Genevieve, the "ee" sound might be too rhymey with your surname.

I think Evelyn from your list is a very good option: it was leaping up the ranks for awhile there, but now it's had two years in a row at #39 so it might not get to the top ten.

Eleanor too seems like a very good choice. It has the popular Ellie nickname, and also has Nora if that suits her better.

I'd thought almost for sure that Natalie was going to make it to the top ten, but the last few years it's been hovering just outside it at 17, 13, 16, 14. I love Christmas names (more possibilities here), and think this is a great name option for you. The main (and possibly deal-breaking) downside is that I think Samuel's nickname may make the nickname Nat even more tempting to use. "Sam and Nat" is so catchy and natural.

Sasha would give you some of the sound of Natasha without the Nat issue.

Would you like the name Noelle instead? I'm not sure if that's too much L with the surname (and with Samuel), or if it's just the right amount to tie it nicely together. Sam and Noelle, so sweet.

Caroline is a sweet classic choice, and has "carol" to remind us of Christmas. Samuel and Caroline; Sam and...and there's the problem. I've heard of Carolines called Caro and Carrie, but it's not as easy a nickname as Sam.

Stella is sometimes used as a Christmas baby name because it means star. I think it's a perfect "pretty but serious" name. Again I'm not sure if the L is good with the surname or not. Sam and Stella is wonderful, as long as it wouldn't make you feel locked into using an S name for any future children. I love Stella Joy: Samuel John and Stella Joy.

Holly is out for the way it rhymes with your surname, but Ivy is great. Ivy Emilia M____; Sam and Ivy.

I see Chloe on your can't-use list, and I wonder if you'd like Cleo? It just reverses the vowel sounds, and yet it's far, far less common. I love the sound of Sam and Cleo.

Another of my favorite pretty-but-serious names is Josephine. Maybe Josephine Claire, or Josephine Cate, or Josephine Noelle, or Josephine Eve. Sam and Jo.

Another is Rose: it's become common as a middle name, but is rare and fresh as a first name. Rose Emilia; Sam and Rose.

Another is Clara. Sam and Clara.


Name update! Debbie writes:
I was so excited to read your thoughts on our list. It really helped narrow our focus. We still had a few options in mind, but when she arrived on Christmas day we knew she was Evelyn Clare. And it turns out that one of her great great grandmothers was named Eva, so there's a family connection there too! Thanks so much for your help!

18 comments:

StephLove said...

I love Claire Emilia for you and also Evelyn. It's too bad Madeleine is on the off-limits list because Sam and Maddie is very cute. Madigan perhaps? Or Maxine? Sam and Max?

I like Natalie and Noelle as well.

gail said...

Off your list, my favorite as a balance to Samuel is Eleanor. I know a sibset, now in their twenties, named Samuel and Alice--I've always found that simply elegant and timeless.

Of Swistle's suggestions, my favorites are Rose and Clara. I like both Genevieve and Josephine a great deal, but experience each as a bit more intense than Samuel.

Not so far mentioned that might work for you:

Iris
Anabel
Harriet
Johanna
Juliet
Lydia
Louisa
Susannah

If your last name didn't begin with "M" I'd also suggest Mary and Margaret.

Best wishes!

Jen said...

Elise
Gabrielle/Gabriella

Also, I second Swistle's suggestions of Josephine (Josie/Jo and Sam! So cute!) and Caroline.

Natalia said...

I like most of Swistles' suggestions for you, especially
Genevieve, Emeline and Josephine.

Maybe you'd like Evangeline, sounds similar to Adeline and
Evelyn, with the nn Eve or Eva.

Another option to Eliza is Elise.

Isabelle reminds me of Anabelle, maybe you like it. Samuel and
Anabelle, Sam and Annie.

You can also consider Alicia (nn Ali), Lydia (nn Liddy), Violet and Vivienne (nn Vivi- sounds like vee-vee). I think they have that "pretty but serious" feel that you look for. I love them all! Especially Alicia and Vivienne:

Samuel and Alicia, Sam and Ali; Alicia Beth.

Samuel and Vivienne, Sam and Vivi; Vivienne Claire

If you like Emilia and Natalie, you could prefer the form Natalia (I'm trying to sell my own name!)

If you go with Emilia, I think Emilia Grace sounds beautiful.

Hope you find some inspiration here! Please let us know your decision!

Anonymous said...

For me, the suggestion that leaped out was Rose - Rose Emilia. Swistle is right: you never hear Rose as a first name, but it is sweet and classy and has presence, too.

Plus I like the sibling set of "Sam and Rose." Beautiful!

Slim said...

I have "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming" in my head now -- Christmassy.

Also Holly and Ivy.

(I swear if you were expecting a boy I wouldn't suggest Rudolph or Frosty.)

liz said...

I also like Jocelyn, which is the feminine version of Joshua, which is Jesus in Hebrew.

Gigi said...

Wow! I love all of Swistle's suggestions. I think any of the would work. I also love the suggestions Annabel (or Annabelle whatever),Vivienne, and Alice. Some more suggestions:
Camilla
Jacqueline
Jane
Gwendolyn
Simone
Cecilia
Elodie
Elaine
Oh! I almost forgot. My name is Natalie and I wouldn't worry about being called Nat.(In fact if I had a brother his name would of been Samuel!) I Gary nn Natalia more than Nat!
My favorite from the list is Cecilia. Good luck!!

Gigi said...

Gosh, I make a lot of mistakes in my writing! Stupid phone!! Instead oh Gary, I meant I get called Natalia more than Nat!

vanessa said...

I like Rose. I met a 4 year old named Rose the other day and was really struck by how fresh and new it seemed. I know an infant Rosie and an 8 year old Rosalie called Rosie, but somehow Rose by itself just seems....delightful. I like Rose Noelle a lot. I am a total sucker for Christmas-y names around Christmas time, though!
Also, Evelyn is nice. I am not a fan of Emilia because I never know how to pronounce it: I love Amelia and actually like that for you, though. Amelia Noelle or Amelia Natalie or Amelia Ivy, even, and I think Sam and Mia is lovely.
Or Anna Noelle, Sam and Annie, or Adelaide Noelle, which I like even more: Sam and Addy.
I know a Natalie who is always called Natalie. I know another whose nickname is Tallie, which is pretty darn cute and actually feels more natural to me than Nat. Natalie Emilia (I dont mind funky spellings if they are middle names), Sam and Tallie.

vanessa said...

I like Rose. I met a 4 year old named Rose the other day and was really struck by how fresh and new it seemed. I know an infant Rosie and an 8 year old Rosalie called Rosie, but somehow Rose by itself just seems....delightful. I like Rose Noelle a lot. I am a total sucker for Christmas-y names around Christmas time, though!
Also, Evelyn is nice. I am not a fan of Emilia because I never know how to pronounce it: I love Amelia and actually like that for you, though. Amelia Noelle or Amelia Natalie or Amelia Ivy, even, and I think Sam and Mia is lovely.
Or Anna Noelle, Sam and Annie, or Adelaide Noelle, which I like even more: Sam and Addy.
I know a Natalie who is always called Natalie. I know another whose nickname is Tallie, which is pretty darn cute and actually feels more natural to me than Nat. Natalie Emilia (I dont mind funky spellings if they are middle names), Sam and Tallie.
And Eleanor is one of my all time favorites. Eleanor Noelle. Sam and Ellie, Sam and Nora. Both are really nice. I also know an Eleanor who goes by Nell, which is shockingly cute.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but Rose Emilia just makes me think of "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". I'm being ridiculous maybe but I had to say it. It's a pity because I love that combination, I actually love more Emilia Rose.

Lauren said...

I like the Christmas names. Natasha could easily use the nn Tasha. Sam and Tasha. Noelle is lovely too. I have a friend with a December birthday named Hollie Noelle.

I also just saw a list of Christmas names that included Ivy and Joy, which I wouldn't have thought of but they're pretty.

Mary said...

First of all, I love Samuel John - what a gorgeous name! Samuel & Henry would be great brother names.

I think Kate/Cate and Sam would be great siblings - Samuel and C/Katherine or Samuel and Katelyn/Caitlin. Not too common or plain at all! Katherine Rose & Samuel John would have my vote.

or Catriona- nn Nina or Cate; Catriona Rose.

Some other ideas, from reading your post,

Eloise - Sam & Ellie
Lenore - Sam & Nora
Lorena - Sam & Leni
Elena - Sam & Leni or Ellie
Edith - Edith Kate, Edie
Annabel(le)- Annie, Bella, Annabel Kate - nn Anna-Kate?
Vivienne/Vivian - Sam & Viv(i)
Violet - Sam & Lettie, Sam & Vi
Colette - Sam & Lettie
Charlotte- Sam and Lottie
Juliet- Sam & July, Samy & Lettie
Thalia - Sam & Tally
Eva? Eva Rose? nn Evie
Asha - nn Ash?
Louisa- Lucy?
Olivia (peace connection/christmas)
Emmaline
Clementine
Imogen
Miranda
Matilda (Matilda Rose, Tilly Rose)
Marianne

or Jane as a middle name! Emilia Jane.

I also like Claire (light) as a name to honor the season. Emilia Claire, Annabelle Claire, Vivian Claire, etc.

Anonymous said...

From your short list, my favorite is Evelyn. I think it's so sweet with Samuel, and is a nod to "Christmas Eve" without screaming that it's a theme name. It also fits all of your criteria with your last name, and avoids the Emily Rose connection if you use that middle name. (My fave combo is Evelyn Beth though! But "Evie Rose" sound so sweet too!)

I've never heard any of the Natalie's I know called Nat ever, if you're worried about that. It's pretty and classic, though I think I prefer the suggestion Natasha.

The other name on your list that I like is Adaline. If it's "Ada" that your husband objects to, what about "Addy" as a nickname instead? Or you could even get creative and call her "Lina" (depending on how your pronouncing the -line part of the name.)

I'm not a fan of Emilia because it just looks/sounds like a misspelling of Amelia to me, plus, like Jemima, strikes me as a no with your last name. I was born in 86 and grew up with tons of Ashley/Ashleighs and Kaitlyn/Caitlins in my classes, so I'm not a fan of those either, but they might be less common in the current generation.

Good luck!

-Angela

Amy said...

I think Stella is very nice with Samuel. Samuel and Stella, Sam and Stella - even nn Sam and Elle/Sam and Ella...all so pretty.

I also wanted to point out since no one else has that there is the most beautiful series of children's books called Stella and Sam. Stella is the slightly older of the two children, but they are precious books with gorgeous illustrations. Very whimsical. It wouldn't bother me, personally, but if you wanted to avoid any associations, that might be something to consider.

CJ said...

I think Camellia or Camille might work for you.

Anonymous said...

Norah, Georgia, Philippa, Vienna