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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: A Name Like Jane, But Not Jane

Anna writes:
I am looking for a name like Jane, that isn't Jane. Our last name starts with a J, and I dislike the alteration. Another name I like is Paige, but that won't do, because of the "juh" sound. It doesn't necessarily have to be one syllable, though I'm drawn to those. My three year old son's name is Clark, and I find myself looking for the girl equivalent. Old-timey, sturdy, perhaps even a little dull the first time you hear it, but the coolness sneaks up on you?

It's not a requirement, but I prefer names that don't end in an "a" or an "ie" sound.  

A name we've kicked around is Rose. But can a Rose be a tomboy? Can a Rose be a badass, superjock cop like her auntie? Could a Rose be a Senator? I'm interested on how you and the comment-ers read Rose.

Her middle name would be Gail or Louise after my mom, but for the perfect name, I would sacrifice this idea. Maybe my mother's mother's name, Gloria? 

Thank you so much!

I think Rosie the Riveter did the name Rose a huge favor: now the name contains not only the associations of sweetness but also associations with strength and capability. I definitely think of it as a name with backbone, and it seems perfect for your idea of a name that is old-timey, sturdy, AND cool. Its familiarity as a middle name makes people overlook it, I think, but it's much rarer as a first name. I love Rose Louise, and I love "Clark and Rose." I am holding back my impulse to get PUSHY about it.

Another possibility is Eve. Ava is in fashion, and Eva is following---but there Eve sits on its own. Eve Louise; Clark and Eve.

A few years ago I encountered a baby girl named Ruth, and it has completely revolutionized the way I felt about the name. Before meeting the baby, my eyes would have skipped over the name completely (old-timey! sturdy! dull!); after meeting the baby, I felt actually STUNNED by my oversight. Ruth! Ruth Louise; Clark and Ruth.

I overheard a child at the store being called Faye, and I thought it really worked. Faye Dunaway gives the name the kind of glamor generally referred to as "Old Hollywood." Faye Louise; Clark and Faye. Mae and Kaye are similar options.

Leigh is a name I'd like to see more often. It's not great with the middle names (and in fact it seems like a challenging name to find middle names for), but I love it with Clark.

I've been starting to see Pearl on baby name lists, and I see it has just crossed into the Top 1000 as of 2007. Pearl Louise; Clark and Pearl.

Nell has the right current sound (Elle, Ella, Isabel), but is not being used. Nell Louise; Clark and Nell.

This will depend on your own community, but you know what name has shock value in my area? Mary. One of my children had a Mary in his class, and I was startled by it the entire year. I had thought if it like the name "John": so generic as to be invisible. But as with the name John, on a CHILD it's startling and fresh. Mary Louise; Clark and Mary.

Another possibility is Rosemary. My eye passes right over it---but then I think "Botanical! Lovely!" Clark and Rosemary.

I think Mabel would work. After the Mad About You couple named their baby Mabel, I would have expected a jump in popularity---but the name didn't even get into the Top 1000. Mabel Louise; Clark and Mabel.

Just the other day I was thinking how the name Lynn is a name I'd place money on for a good solid comeback after it's had a rest. The look of it makes people dismiss it, I think, but the sound is so pretty. Lynn Louise is so fun to say, and Clark and Lynn is unexpected and fresh.

Sally is one I think is nearly ready now. Sally Louise; Clark and Sally.

Many people say it was their love of the book Charlotte's Web that led them to the name Charlotte, which makes me wonder why there has not been a similar popularity surge for the name Fern. It was on my name list, and was a name I would have liked to use for my daughter's middle name (I sometimes go ahead and call her Elizabeth Fern anyway). I love it so much as I'm typing this, it's pushing Rose out of the way. Fern Louise (*faint*)! Clark and Fern (*faint*)!

I think using Louise in the first-name position could have the effect you're looking for. And Louise is one of my favorite names to say. Clark and Louise. Too close to Superman-reference Lois, though, or to explorers Lewis and Clark?

Name update! Anna writes:

She arrived September 18th and we decided to call her Margot Louise! It was down to Rose or Margot, and we loved both, but I found I felt sadder about not getting to use Margot than Rose, so that helped me decide. My husband liked Rose better all along, but came around when we came up with GoGo for a nickname.
Here she is!


Suzanne said...

I LOVE this question, since many of the names in the running (Louise! Gail! Ruth!) are immediate family names that I've considered during both pregnancies.

I thought "Too Superman" with every L name you mentioned, but it's not an unpleasant association so I don't think I would worry too much.

My favorites are Rose, Fern and Nell although Nell Louise is a little hard to say.

Anonymous said...

I like Rose. I think it is a sneak-up-on-you kind of name. Rose Louise is a GREAT name. I have one hesitation, but I don't think it is a deal breaker. Rose and Clark. Say if fast five times. Does it sound like Rosa Parks?

I love Ruth, but when paired with Clark, I think of candy bars.

My favorites from Swistle's list are Fern and Pearl. Both have great literary references.

Reading your post, I thought of these names:

- Claire.
- Hazel.
- Dagny.
- Alice.

My fav is Alice. Alice Louise.

Anonymous said...

I love Rose, I hope you use it.

Another name I thought of is Anne, but I prefer Rose.

Anonymous said...

Just quickly commenting on your concern about the name Rose. I think it works for any type of personality, because even though it is very feminine and beautiful it kind of has a 'hard' sound. Not in a bad way!

Christine said...

I love Rose and immediately thought of Eve. I love these types of names. Also see Pearl, May, June (but same problems as Jane), etc. Goodluck!

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh how I love these names! Rose does not seem prohibitive for a tomboy - and even though it's short already, you could always call her Ro.

And I love the suggestions of Ruth and Alise and Leigh. (Leigh Louise has a pleasant lilting sound to my ear.)

Some other suggestions: Ruby, Hazel, Lisa

And I know you aren't looking for a name with "a" at the end, but what about Alma? Alma Louise

Or what about Vera? I just met a baby Vera and it made me fall head over heels for the name!

Vera Louise

Congratulations and good luck!

gail said...

I love Rose and see it as spunky and elegant!

But I think the real "equivalent" of Clark would be Pearl or Fern or Maud or Ruth. Any of these.

Anonymous said...

Or Eloise?

Butterflyfish said...

Rose. Yes.

Faye. Yes. (Disagree with Swistle on Mae and Kaye -- I think both are sooo much softer, less option for asskicker).

Excellent options, good luck!

Anonymous said...

My favorite suggestion is Ruth by far. Clark and Ruth has everything you asked for!

Anonymous said...

The only Rose I knew growing up was kind of a badass.

I also really like Alice or Ruth though.

hasenfefferinc said...

I love Rose Louise, but I have one hesitation, which would be a definite deal breaker for me (as a huge broadway fan): you know Gypsy, as in Gypsy Rose Lee? She was a stripper and Rose Louise was supposed to be her stripper name in the show, but then they change it to Rose Lee. And she's got huge mama issues--in fact the entire show is about her problems with her mom. Anyway, even though this seems totally obvious to me, it is probably pretty obscure, since no one has mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

Rose. Yes. Yes, yes.
But to throw some other old style names in, Iris. Goes well with Clark, and suit middlename Louise.
Eve, Charlotte and Alice are hugely popular in my state- I would avoid them all.
I thought of Lynda, but if you dont like the a ending, Lynn is great, and I think she could be a Judge or a janitor, teacher or doctor, plumber or artist. I think it is lovely with Louise. Even hyphenated? Hazel and Clark rate also.
From swistles list, Ruth is gorgeous. But feel very good about Rose.

Anonymous said...


My favorite of these is Tess. Tess Louise.

Maggie said...


StephLove said...

I think Rose Louise is just perfect so I'm tempted to stop there, but I liked a lot of suggestions made by Swistle and others: Eve, Fern, Hazel, Maud, Pearl, Ruth...

How about Ivy or Rae (since Faye, Mae and Kay have all been suggested)?

I don't suggest this one often because it's not everyone's cup of tea but my daughter's middle name is Dell. It might work for you. I like the sound of Dell Louise.

Laura said...

Rose...yes yes yes. I knew a super fun, cool chick in high school named Rose.
Tess was the other close one to Jane that came to mind. I think that fits your criteria perfectly too!

Betsy said...

I too love Rose, and don't think it's overly delicate or girly. Remember, roses do have thorns. ;)

Have you considered Louise as the first name? I recently had my last baby & was lamenting the names I'll never get to use. One that came up (which I hadn't actually considered when naming my girls) was Louise, nicknamed Lou. LOVE. Feminine formal name, tomboy nickname. Clark & Louise. Clark & Lou.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite books ever when I was a tween was Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. The main character was Jane, so I associate that name with characters in Beverly Cleary :) And those books are naming gold! I'm thinking:

Judith (it's a J but would it work?)
Liz (a little awkward with your middles maybe)
Ellen (LOVE with Louise)

BUT if you're dead set on Rose I think you should go for it!

Michelle said...

Rose automatically makes me think of Titanic. I LOVE Eve...but I think it's too sing-songy with Louise. I also like the name Tess (Tessa is one of my favorites but since you don't like names to end in "a" Tess is a good alternative. I think it is soft enough that if she is a girly-girl, it will work, but if she is a bad ass tomboy it will work as well. Good luck!

Erin said...

What about Meg, or Kate, or Anne? Anne Louise is really pretty.

Rose has a very soft sound to me -- I picture lace and garden tea parties, not badass supercop tomboys.

Clarabella said...

I hesitate to add to Swistle's list, but since you mention Jane, what about June? I lovelovelove the name June.
I want to suggest Lane, but then I hear Clark & Lane and...Superman.
Good luck.

Alice said...

I love one syllable girls' names. My daughter is Maeve, a very old one syllable name of an Irish warrior queen. If I have another daughter, I would consider Blythe, Elle, Blair, or Bess. I also love one syllable nicknames like Dot and Nell. I would also suggest Helen, which is a bit like Jane to me. Or Marion. or Megan.

Anonymous said...

I like Harriet. Harry or Hattie for short. Harriet Gail and Harriet Louise are both pretty.

Jan said...

I, too, thought of Alice right away in terms of a sweet, old-fashioned name. But badass and superjock? about Harriet, Gwen, Bridget, Dorothy, Pearl, Leigh?

Anonymous said...

I think Rose can be super tough.

Susan said...

I think Rose would be lovely. I also like Helen (nickname Nell, if you like nicknames) and the suggestion of Harriet above. Ivy is one of my favorite names at the moment, or Iris.

Anonymous said...

I love Rose Louise.

Dell is a great name but Dell Louise is awfully close to Dom DeLuise.

Kailee said...

Rose is a beautiful, timeless name. I can absolutely see a tomboy named Rose! I also like the suggestion of June and Iris.

I love the name Ruth too, but in my chocolate-focused pregnancy brain I think Clark and Ruth remind me of the Clark Bar and Baby Ruth!

Elizabeth said...

A Rose can deffinitly be a tomboy. I have a sister named Rose and she was a tomboy.

vanessa said...

Rose is a great name. I know a young Rosie (real name Rosalie) and it works great on her--perfect for yelling out in a soccer game. But I actually prefer Rose, adn the Rose that I know is a very spunky redhead!

Nell is a name that has grown on me. One of the kids in my youth group is Eleanor Anne and goes by Nell, and its quite lovely!

Kate said...

Edith! It's so old-fashioned it's fresh again, and it has more of that "backbone" feeling than Rose.

Bryony said...

Roses can definitely do anything they want to. My grandmother is a Rosemarie, nn Rose, and she was and is a spitfire.


Lynnette said...

I like Alice or Reese for you. Reese Louise! Yes!

Annie said...

I picture someone very nice, pleasant, and "soft" when I think of the name Rose, but wouldn't be overly shocked if a met a bad-ass fact, I think I'd be pleasantly surprised!

I love Swistle's suggestions of Fern, Nell, and Mae.

Someone suggested using Louise as the first name, and when she put Clark and Lou together I fell in love a little bit.

Other sugegstions:
Margo/Margot (Margo Louise, Margo Gail)
Bess (Bess Louise)

And some that end in the -a sound, but I still like for you:
Lena (Lena Gail)
Ada (Ada Louise)
Willa (Willa Louise, Willa Gail)

Good luck!

Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia said...

I LOVE Jane too -- sorry it won't work for you. My first thought is Kate if you don't mind having both your kids' name start with the 'k' sound: Clark and Kate?

Other suggestions:

Mabel certainly has surprise value and can be just about anything. And I think it meets your criteria of
"old-timey, sturdy, perhaps even a little dull the first time you hear it, but the coolness sneaks up on you".

Clark and Mabel -- quirky and yet strong together.

Anonymous said...

Rose is perfect. Of the others suggested, the best are:

Have you considered Dorothy? It is longer than you considered initially, but it has beautiful old world charm and is well balanced with Gail or Louise. Or in my grandmothers case, with Jane for middle! You could also make it Dorothea, and have nicknames Thea, Dorri, Dot or Dotti. I think Clark and Thea, Clark and Dorri, or Clark and Dot are very very cute! (but in case you are worried about badass, my granma was a war widow who raised 4 kids alone and joined a mechanics guild to repair cars/trucks and rebuild engines during the war, while making the most amazing cakes and scones for her community. Tough as nails, she was, with the softest sweetness you can imagine.)
It sounds to me like your daughter will be a strong woman no matter what name you choose for her! Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dorothy is a good one, but if you don't like the ee sound at the end, I think Helen is perfect for you. It sounds like it SHOULD be common, but it isnt. It is the name of one of the most beautiful women of all time, allegedly, and goes nicely with Clark.
However, I do agree with Swistle about Fern. It is NOT a name I would ever Have considered but it has REALLY snuck up on me! Now I think WOW, thats an amazing name! Pretty and strong. And soooooo good with Clark (which is by the way one of my favourite names for boys ever!)

Ali said...

Oh, I love the name Jane! So sorry that it doesn't work. The most similar to me are Anne, Rose, Alice, Sarah?

Bitts said...

My daughter is named Rosemarie, nn Rose. We call her Rose, Rosie, Rosebud, Rooooozzzanna, etc. It is a magnificent name, with the bonus of being unusual (as a first name) but straightforward to spell and say.

Highly recommended!!

The Mrs. said...

I second Iris.
I also second Maeve.

Let me throw in Flora... Flora Louise. (I know it ends in 'a', but it definitely is old-fashioned). Nona fits in that same category.

Do you like Adelle? Bess?

And an all-time favorite of mine: Agnes. Clark and Agnes. Agnes Louise.

Best wishes to you and your growing family!

Anonymous said...

Nora! Love it, so old/ traditional yet on a child so fresh x

The Mrs. said...

Ooh! What about Opal? Opal Louise? Clark and Opal!

If someone's already said that, sorry. It suddenly struck me, and I had to write it down.

Still, all the best!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Iris, unique and spunky.

Jemma nn Jem

Kas said...

As soon as I read your post I instantly thought Beth! I love the name and think its very under used Beth Louise!

Other Suggestions


Congrats and good luck x

Ms. Hart said...

I really like Tess. It has a similar feel to Jane.

Plum said...

Rose Louise is lovely.

What about Abigail, honouring your mum? Clark and Abigail, Clark and Gail.

Or honouring your grandmother Gloria with a twist - Clark and Glory.

More ideas for names that resemble Jane):
Clark and Alice
Clark and Anne!
Clark and Blanche
Clark and Frances
Clark and Florence
Clark and Grace
Clark and Hope
Clark and Joan
Clark and Katherine "Kate"
Clark and Maud
Clark and Marian
Clark and Olive

Anonymous said...

I agree with Annie - it's a nice surprise who you meet a badass girl with a sweet as sugar name. Juxtaposition. So I wouldn't worry too much about how her name will fit with her personality. She can make it her own!

Crafty Beth said...

This is such a comprehensive list of suggestions! It's hard to figure out any more to add to it! My personal favorites are Rose, Pearl, Alice, Helen, and Mabel, I think. Margot is great too. And Iris. Here's one I don't think has been mentioned yet: Ellen. But all the other Elle/Ellie type names probably make it feel too common.

And a couple more that haven't been mentioned yet:


Jen said...

Edith and Ruby were two that came to mind.

Anonymous said...

Edith! Edi and Clark. My new favourite after Iris , Helen, and Mabel. And maybe Dorothy. Rose is still a great choice from your own list.

liz said...

Ruby? Lynn? Elaine? Robin? Sylvia?

Anonymous said...

Love all these suggestions!

Sunk Costs said...

Olive! COME ON. that is adorable.

And Harriet? Clark and Harriet sound like 1950s yellow-rain-slicker-wearing pastel portrait sleuth best friends. so dreamy.

what about Edie? Sweet, but not at all frilly or lacy. Plus EJ is a badass nickname.

Anonymous said...

I think if you pick a name like this and you want a badass tomboy name pick a name with a great initial. By brother in law finally agreed to the name Zoe. Because he could picture standing on the sidelines yelling. "let's go Z". Maybe you could be let's go Ros or if you used louise she could be Lou. Or Tess could be T. My friends daughter went by her middle name on the soccer field and she is a awesome soccer player. I could see a high school rose Louise called by rose 99% of the time turn into Lou on the field.

Anonymous said...

I love the suggestion of Fern or Rose.

Here's a few more:

Lane (close to Jane but without the "J")

Marina said...

I LOVE Rose. It is one of my favorite names. I do picture more of a sweet little girl, but I can picture a little tomboy. Clark and Rose is adorable.

I love both Josephine and June but they have the allieration you didn't want.

Eden? Clark and Eden is cute.

Elena? Tess? Tess would be adorable.

Anonymous said...

I definitely think Rose can be both sweet and bad-ass, esp if she's a Rosie as well as Rose.

I also love the name Gloria, which you mentioned as a mn contender. I'd consider it for the first name spot, myself, because I love the nn Glory (I knew someone who went by Glory and she was a bad-ass!)

nieke said...

This is really hard (although Fern seems absolutely perfect), and I think I've got it wrong with these but my first thoughts were Ida, Blythe, Gladys, Ellen and Ines. They sound really bad all together, put I think alone they have the cool factor, so I'll write them below.

I'll also add Romane, Petra, Camille, Greta and Romy, which are probably a little more appealing at first glance but still pretty kick-ass.

Ines Gail
Blythe Gloria (so joyful!)
Ida Louise
Ellen Gail
Gladys Louise

jenn said...

She is beautiful. Margot is a beautiful name. Gogo is an amazing nickname. Swoon!


Pocket said...

Wow! My jaw hit the floor when I saw your update. It's hands down the most beautiful name I've ever heard - I should know because I have a three month old named Margot Louise!! Obviously, only the classiest and most brilliant Mamas read Swistle. I don't think you or I will meet many Margot's, so it's fun to see people with similar naming styles. Congratulations!!

Crafty Beth said...

Yaaay! Welcome, baby Margot!

Anonymous said...

such a cute name!!!! it's good to know that "GoGo" does mean "dog" in Chinese. probably not an issue, but with so many american kids learning Chinese lately, it might come up at some point :) congrats on your daughter & for finding such a lovely name!