My husband and I are expecting our first child in April. We didn't have any girl names picked out, but knew if it was a boy, his name would be Dominic. Of course we found out we're having a girl! We couldn't have it the easy way.
Our problem is that it seems all the names we like are too popular right now. We're talking Isabella (used to be my favorite), Sofia, Ava, Mia... all beautiful names, but they're everywhere! We're trying to find a name that's outside the top 50 girl names. By no means does it have to be totally obscure... just not super-trendy. We know that these lists change, so a name we pick now may be very popular in a couple years - but that's the risk we take.
We have a 3-syllable Italian last name that ends in "isi" and we like the more Latin or Italian sounding names, although that's not a must-have. As you can tell from our list above, we also like names that are definitely feminine. No disrespect to the female Dylans and Jordans of the world - it's just not our style for our baby.
Our possible middle names are all family-related. We'd like to use one of the following:
Marie or Mary
Elizabeth or Beth
Can you help us? We would be forever grateful! Maybe we can name her "Swistle." ;)
I think the name Swistle goes best with Elizabeth: Swistle Elizabeth _____isi. I love it. Or maybe it's too much L?
There are a few ways to approach the issue of having popular tastes:
One is to say "Hang it!" and go ahead and use your favorite names. The number one name last year was Isabella, but so far there have only been two Isabellas total in all of my kids' classes combined (I'm including all five kids but thinking especially of the younger three, who were all born after Isabella was in the top 10). I think a bigger problem are the names that get popular in groups: in William's class last year there was a Kyle, a Kyler, and a Kylie. Or a class might have an Amelia, an Emilia, an Emma, and a Mia, which is more noticeable than a single Sophia.
A second approach, which could tie in to the first approach, is to choose a popular name, but choose one with a steadier popularity curve: something that never gets too UNpopular, instead of something that went from almost unheard-of to Top 10 in less than a decade: Elizabeth instead of Isabella, Anna instead of Ava. (And all of the names on your list are less risky than a total newcomer such as a Cadence or a Madison.)
A third approach is to think, "Having a less common name is worth selecting a name I like less." In that case I'd go to the charts, pull up the list of the Top 1000 for 2010, start at #50, and work my way down while jotting down possibilities. As you've already noticed, some of those names might be on their way up (you can search each name separately to make sure it's not going up like, for example, #364 in 2008, #204 in 2009, #52 in 2010), but it's different odds choosing a maybe-it-won't instead of an it-already-has.
A fourth approach, which could tie in to the third approach, is to find names that are similar to the popular ones: for example, Cleo instead of Chloe. This is risky: it's what leads to a Kyle and a Kyler and a Kylie, or to an Eleanor and an Ella and an Elizabeth all going by Ellie. But it can also pay off beautifully: maybe everyone is tired of Isabella, but Isadora and Annabel would strike them as fresh and different--having some of the elements that make everyone like Isabella, but not in a way that would make them the next big thing.
Because it sounds like your preference is to avoid the popular names, I'll lean toward the fourth way: finding names that are similar to the names you like, but less popular. Here's how I'd do your list (with an extra-thorough perusal of The Baby Name Wizard's section of Italian names), but "names that seem similar" is a very subjective category so this is just to give you the idea:
Instead of Isabella: Isadora, Annabel, Willa, Gabriella, Mirella, Marilena, Raffaella, Arabella, Cordelia, Elisabetta.
Instead of Sofia: Fiona, Phoebe, Bianca, Josefina, Josephine, Claudia, Lucia, Annika, Philomena.
Instead of Ava: Eva, Eve, Ada, Ivy, Elsa, Geneva.
Instead of Mia: Lia, Celia, Mila, Mira, Gia, Ria, Nina.
You probably want to save Dominic in case of a future boy, but Veronica or Danica or Annika might have a similar and appealing sound for a girl.
Name update! Liz writes:
Our beautiful daughter Stella Elizabeth was born on April 25, 2012. My husband actually suggested the name Stella, and I loved it from the start! It has the "ella" ending that I love, without being as popular as Isabella and the like. You and your readers did offer some great suggestions - particularly Sonia and Cecilia - so if we have another daughter, we may use one of those! Stella just seemed like the perfect, spunky name for our little girl. As you can see from the picture I attached - she has quite the attitude!
Thanks for your help!