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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baby Girl Ferreira, Sister to Nicolas Vi

Jennifer writes:
I really love your blog and have been following it since I was pregnant with my son.  My husband and I are expecting our second child, a girl, at the end of Oct. this year.  We're having a difficult time coming up with a name.  My husband's name Michael Ferreira and my name is Jennifer Dai-Ferreira.  We've decided on a Vietnamese middle name to pay tribute to my heritage.  The middle name will be "An" pronounced like the name "Ann".  It means peace in Vietnamese.  We have a 3 year old son named Nicolas Vi Ferreira.  His middle name is also Vietnamese and means vitality or strength.  It was also the name of my great grandfather. 
My husband and I are considering the following names for our baby girl:
Madeleine
Penelope
Giselle
Sophie
My favourite is Giselle but I don't think it works with the middle name 'An'.  I'm considering adding another middle name before An but I'm afraid it may be too cumbersome.
As for the name Madeleine, I'm afraid it may sound too old fashion and I don't like the nickname 'Maddy'.  I would prefer 'Leni'. 
I like the name Penelope but I'm not in love with it.
I also like the name Sophie but I'm not sure it's a name that could carry her from childhood into adulthood.
Since both my name and my husband's name are so common, we would like to give our daughter a less common name.  There were always at least two other Jennifer's in my class growning up.
Lastly, I want to give her a name that will withstand the test of time and will serve her well wherever her life and career takes her.
Any suggestions would be welcomed!


If it's important to avoid common names, Madeleine and Sophie are both probably out. The Social Security Administration lists Sophie as the 51st most popular girl name in the United States---but Sofia is the 19th, and Sophia is number one. And adding up the various spellings of Madeleine, Madeline, Madalyn, Madelyn, Madilyn, etc., brings that right into the Top Ten.

Madeleine, furthermore, can feel like it's in a group with the other Maddy/Addy names (Madison, Addison, Adelyn, etc.), which may make it feel even more common than Sophie/Sophia/Sofia: a classroom with only one Madeleine but also a Madison, and Addison, and an Adelyn may feel similar to a classroom with two or three Jennifers. This feeling could be significantly reduced if she goes by Leni---but I think that nickname might be a hard-sell for a public so accustomed to the Madeleine/Maddy combination, a bit like trying to get a Jennifer called anything but Jen or Jenny: possible, but challenging.

The good news about the names' popularity means that Madeleine definitely doesn't sound old-fashioned right now, and Sophie will definitely be considered a childhood-to-adulthood name (though you could also use Sophia and nickname her Sophie). And since the current #1 most popular girl name in the United States is only used about 1/3rd or 1/4th as much as the name Jennifer was in its #1-status prime, perhaps neither one is so common it needs to be ruled out.

Penelope is less common but is currently doing a bit of a race up in popularity; it's hard to know where that will end up. Penelope An is adorable, however, and Penelope is currently only the 169th most popular girl name. For perspective, the Social Security Administration reports than in 2011 there were 28,980 baby girls named Sophia/Sofia, and another 4,690 named Sophie, but only 1,847 named Penelope.

I think your favorite is also great, and that Giselle An Ferreira works just fine. The name Giselle is slightly more common than the name Penelope (there were 2,030 new baby girls named Giselle in 2011), but it feels LESS common because it's been doing less leaping-and-bounding up the charts. It has been rising, perhaps because of the currently popular -elle ending, but seems to have tapered off for now.

If you had a back-up choice for the middle name, Gillian/Jillian or Gianna would be similar options. Ooo, or Geneva or Genevieve or Georgia or Josephine or Annabel! Or Gemma or Noelle or Lena. And I always think of Fiona when I'm considering Sophia, but I'm not sure how well that goes with the surname.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Giselle An is beautiful! That gets my vote

Laura said...

Your favorite, Giselle An, is perfect, and Swistle gave you some other great options. Here are a couple of other suggestions from my own favorite list:

Helena (you can get the nickname Leni with this)
Veronica
Camilla
Cordelia
Vanessa
Felicity

liz said...

I love An as a middle name because it goes well with almost every name!

Giselle An is lovely, though I like Penelope An better.

Anonymous said...

I love Giselle An! Pretty to hear, beautiful written down.

Kate said...

Helen or Eleanor would also give you the nickname Leni, and they're less popular than Madeleine. I particularly like Eleanor An.

Anonymous said...

Giselle An is lovely, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't go together.
Swistle gave some great suggestions, I'll add Charlotte, Elise, Juliette & Evelyn.

Lashley said...

I like Giselle An as well and it really seems to fit the bill for you!

Your list strikes me as feminine with a tilt towards the French. If not Giselle, what about -
Gabrielle An
Phoebe An
Collette An
Camille an

Best!

Mimi Honeybeelion said...

Kourtney Kardashian just named her daughter Penelope which is not a big deal in and of itself. However, she named her older son Mason and it climbed the charts to #2 last year. Penelope wasn't in the top 1000 for nearly 25 years and has jumped 800 spots in a decade. I bet it will jump high this year and break into the top 100 for 2012.

I love Giselle An.

Other suggestions:

Helena
Eleanor
Gabrielle
Evangeline
Valentina
Milena
Adrielle

AirLand said...

Use Giselle An! It's a very nice name. Those two names sound great together.

I agree that Madeleine sounds too popular for what you're looking for, but it is a lovely name despite that. But I'm not a fan of how it flows with An.

Penelope is also nice, but I don't like it as much for you as I do Giselle.

Sophie is cute, but pretty overused.

StephLove said...

I think Giselle and An sound fine together and if it's your favorite and that's the only thing holding you back, I'd use it. I also like Penelope An quite a bit and Madeleine An, though it is probably more popular than you'd like. Eleanor was a great suggestion.

How about

Alexandra
Charlotte
Josephine
Samantha

Anonymous said...

I think Madeleine is a little too popular, but adore the spelling and nickname Leni. I think you could definitely get away with that nickname. As her mother, people will follow your lead as to what to call her. I think Giselle An works perfectly. I personally am not a fan of Penelope. Agree that Sophie feels a little bit too "little girl" for an adult woman. I love the suggestions of Helena and Eleanor. What about Adelaine An? That would lend itself to the Leni or Laney nickname.

Christine B. said...

Giselle An sound great :-)

Oh and by the way, do you have any tips on what to consider when you're naming boys and girls (I'm expecting TWINS!) and his parents are German and really have a hard time pronouncing English words?

Laura said...

To Christine B - why not try names that are pronounced the same in English and in German:

Alexander
Albert
Daniel
David
Eric
Felix
Philip
Robert
Sebastian
Thomas
Oscar

Anna
Christina
Claudia
Laura
Martina
Katrina
Kirsten
Stephanie
Susanna
Vanessa
Sonja
Melanie
Monica
Marina
Victoria
Sophie
Matilda

Abby Spice said...

Of course, other theater nerds may make this association..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sPU3ymk2ms.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for Giselle An!

In addition I think that Nicolas & Giselle are great together.