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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Baby Girl Cheng

Leanne writes:
Our baby name dilemma is choosing a name for a second daughter. I feel like we either used or rejected all our potential names girls’ names for our first daughter and now we can’t find anything we like for number two. Our surname is Cheng and as our future daughter would be of Chinese ethnicity it would be good if the name wasn’t overtly connected with a particular country (ie. not distinctly Irish, Russian etc) although it’s fine if it’s a name that has crossed over into regular English use. Our first daughter’s name is Gabriella Grace and it would be good to have a name with a similar feel (but not matching). If it’s a boy we are thinking of Ethan which we think goes pretty well with Gabriella. We are not planning on using any family names this time around as we already used Grace (my MIL’s name) and while everyone else seems to have Emilys and Williams in their family tree, mine reads like a list of the worst names in history (seriously – Maureen, Frank, Mildred, Doris, Arthur, Edith, Norman – Urgh!)

We tend to like classic names and biblical names. Actually, that’s not entirely true – I tend to like names that are a bit more unusual (Willow, Autumn, Bliss, Keiko) and my husband likes any girl’s name that was in the top 50 twenty years ago (Jennifer, Sarah, Rachel) but classic and biblical names tend to be where we find the most agreement (hence – Gabriella Grace).

Some of the names that we like but have rejected are:
  • Emily (Beautiful but WAY too common)
  • Isabelle (Beautiful but WAY too common and too matchy with Gabriella)
  • Alexandria/Alexandra (Great name but I couldn’t live with her forever being called “Alex”)
  • Annastasia (Great name but I couldn’t live with her forever being called “Anna” or “Annie”)
  • Cassandra (I like it but my husband hates it)

Other names that we couldn’t do:

Olivia/Sophie/Hannah/Lily/Rosie/Ruby/Caroline/Ellen/Audrey (We have close friends/family who have already used these names)

The one name we are still considering is Taya (a diminutive of Dorothy) which we both like but my concern is that it sounds too modern to go with Gabriella (and a possible future Ethan) and that it is one of those fad names (along with Mia/Maya/Mya/Tia/Kaia) that in 20 years time is going to sound horrendously dated.

Can you help us? I am terrified this child will come along and we will end up naming her something that we don’t like that much just because we don’t have anything better. We are adopting so I can’t give you a due date but we are hoping it will be some time this year.

I see you don't like nicknames (no Alex, no Annie), and the good news is that the trends are fully on your side. When I was growing up, I had a friend named Elizabeth who had a TERRIBLE TIME trying to make people call her Elizabeth---and furthermore, I remember people being annoyed that she was trying, like she was being pretentious or something. But now, there have been three Elizabeths in my kids' classes, and all three went by Elizabeth without anyone blinking an eye. In fact, you'd be in more trouble if you WANTED to call an Elizabeth "Liz" or a James "Jim."

On the other hand, I'm totally with you about not wanting to take the chance. My daughter's pseudonym is Elizabeth, and one of the only reasons it's not her real name is that I was nervous about nicknames---not so much about nicknames other people might give her (I was planning to use soft words and a big stick to talk them out of it), but about nicknames she might give to herself. So for now, let's look mostly at names that don't BEG for nicknames: we'll take out Annastasia/Annie, Cassandra/Cassie, Isabelle/Bella, and Alexandria/Alex.

No, wait. I'm putting Annastasia back in, but I'm spelling it the traditional way: Anastasia. I think the double N invites the nickname Annie, but that with a single N it's less of an obvious leap. Plus, I love the name, I love it with your surname, and I think it's great with Gabriella.

I'm not familiar with Taya as a short form of Dorothy, and I don't see it in the Oxford Dictionary of First Names. But in any case, I don't think it's good with Gabriella or with your surname.

Emily is, as you say, very common (it's been the #1 most popular girl name in the U.S. since 1996, according to the Social Security Administration). Although, a funny thing about that: there hasn't been a single Emily in all my kids' classes so far (that's 9 classes including preschool). There have been multiple Isabellas, Abigails, Emmas, and Noahs, but not a single Emily. So if you love the name, it's worth looking into whether it's as popular in your area as it is in mine---which is to say, hardly popular at all. It's a great name, which is why it's so popular, and it's great with your surname.

Perhaps not as great with Gabriella. Emily is a feminine name, but Gabriella is practically festooned with lace and roses. I, too, am a fan of extra-feminine names (I have one girl and four boys, and my one girl has the most feminine name I could find). I'd consider Clarissa: it's one of my top favorites, it's great with your surname, and it's good with Gabriella.

And speaking of being good with Gabriella, let's see what The Baby Name Wizard thinks would be good sister names. "Gabriella" isn't listed, but the sister names for Gabriela are Daniela, Natalia, Angelica, Mariana, Iliana; and the sister names for Gabrielle are Alexandra, Brooke, Natalie, Noelle, and Jocelyn.

Any of those appeal? I could go for Angelica (Anjelica Huston is a bitchin' namesake and argues for the spelling Anjelica), Iliana, or Noelle.

Can anyone else think of a suggestion? Leave it in the comment section, and/or vote for one of the suggestions in the poll to the right [poll closed; see below].


[Poll results:
Anastasia: 17 votes, roughly 27%
Clarissa: 6 votes, roughly 10%
Angelica/Anjelica: 12 votes, roughly 19%
Iliana/Eliana: 10 votes, roughly 16%
Noelle: 18 votes, roughly 29%

Also 14 write-in votes for the name Claudia. That puts Claudia up there between Anjelica and Anastasia in popularity with the voters.]

32 comments:

LoriD said...

I'm going to suggest Claudia - pretty, timeless, not too common, no nicknames, works well with Gabriella and the last name.

Jill said...

Oohh I'll second Claudia.

I was going to suggest
Andrea
Tanya (like Taya, but more familiar)
Adrianna (hard to shorten, but possibly to similar to Gabriella)
Jolene or Josephine (I know both and neither is a Jo)

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Before I leave the comment I was going to leave, I'm going to second Lorid's suggestion of "Claudia" (a name I seem to suggest often, haha). Love, love, love it. Gabriella and Claudia - beautiful together, and although they end with an agreeable sound at the end, they don't have any "rhyming" or "too similar" ending issues. And Claudia barely has a nickname factor to worry about, other than a simple short form to "Claud" for her friends when they don't feel like saying the whole name.

Now, before I saw that Claudia suggestion (so great)... I was going to say that I chose Anastasia.

I've never heard of Annie for the nickname for Anastasia (Anastasia is just TOO pretty to go down to a plain name like "Annie" IMHO)... I've only ever heard the name "Stacey" (various spellings) as the nickname for any Anastasia's I've ever met. Just FYI.

Anyway, you can pretty much pick whatever nickname you want too. As long as you start the trend with a nickname you like, I hardly think people will just pick a random nickname for a person (unless it's a super obvious one, like "Robbie" for "Robert" or something). If the child themselves recognizes their particular nickname, they will most likely be the ones who tell others what to call themselves (par exemple, some Elizabeth's go by "Liz" or some go by "Beth"... this was most likely a decision by the parents, and the child got to know their nickname... and then they say things like, "Call me Liz", etc). Does that make any sense? LOL.

I totally understand not wanting to choose a name that invites nicknames you don't like, but the fact is that almost every name does invite nick-naming at some stage of the game... just be the ones who choose the nickname. ;-) lol.

Hahaha, I'm just coming off of having a majorly bad head cold, so don't mind me if I am loopy. LOL.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Oh, and Claudia Cheng? C'mon...Is there a more gorgous and strong name than that? She'll be an attorney, doctor or movie star.

"Claudia Cheng, Attorney At Law".

Jill said...

Am I the only one who is reminded of the baby-sitters club by this discussion? Claudia? Anastasia? Just me? Ok then.

Mrs. M said...

Love this one!

I'm a big fan of Anastasia (spelled traditional). I think Anastasia Edith sounds lovely actually and you can keep the tradition of a middle family name. It flows fabulous with Gabriella Grace, in my humble opinion.

Of other options I take Mariana. Maybe Mariana Noelle? I love Noelle but my husband vetoes it.

I love the Claudia suggestion. I think that's perfect with Gabriella. Claudia Edith. Hmm, no maybe not. Claudia Noelle? Claudia Anastasia? I kinda like that.

What if you find a middle name to match Grace? Perhaps Faith? Joy? Hope?

Mariana Faith
Mariana Joy
Mariana Hope

Anastasia Faith
Anastasia Joy
Anastasia Hope

Claudia Faith
Claudia Joy
Claudia Hope

I'll quit now. :)

Swistle said...

Jill- I think of Anastasia Krupnik!

Emilie said...

jill, I'm with you on the Babysitter's Club thing - first thing I thought of when reading the comments. I too like Claudia Cheng, and I'm not usually a fan of Claudia. It seems to work very well in this situation though.

Do you like Charlotte? It doesn't sound the same as Gabriella, but it is very feminine, I think. And Charlotte Cheng sounds nice (unless you hate the double Ch). Not that I should be lobbying for another Charlotte - I had no idea how popular the name would be when we named our daughter Charlotte!

Emilie said...

Oh, and if you want "Emily" to seem more feminine, you can spell it the way I do. But agreed that it's WAY too popular. The funny thing is that I thought it was way too popular when I was growing up, and I'm in my thirties. Now I really hear my name everywhere, with all the little Emilys. And there is a somewhat disturbing proportion of people that when I meet for the first time exclaim, Nice to meet you Emilie - I have a daughter named Emily!

Paige said...

What about Fiona? I know it was talked about in a previous post but I think it is feminine, not too popular and sounds good with your daughter's name and your last name.

K in the Mirror said...

I love Anastasia, and I do think Claudia goes well with Cheng.

I also love Keiko, but I'm guessing your husband doesn't like that one since it didn't make your top list.

Elizabeth said...

I am an Elizabeth that is NOT shortened, and from a very early age, I would say "If my mother had wanted me to be called Liz, she would have named me Liz. But she did not. She named me Elizabeth. Please don't call me Liz." and it worked like magic. No one ever shortens it after hearing "the speech."
I also love Claudia.
And thank you for freaking me out about Charlotte! That's my number one girls name and has been since I was six years old, and after reading the comment about how popular it is, I am having second thoughts. Uh oh.

Misty said...

Hmm, I am loving Claudia and REALLY loving Mariana.

What about Amelia? I like Amelia.

Mayberry said...

From what's been suggested so far, I love Anastasia, Claudia, Josephine, and Natalie. I'd add Lydia and Rebecca (which I know is a potential nickname issue, but you could try...)

Mayberry said...

PS I tried to vote for Anastasia in the poll, but it's not working right now.

Chris said...

I am going to go against the grain here and vote against Anastasia, even though I love it.

I really love it because it was the name I went by in my Russian classes in high school and college. So for me it is very Russian, I always think of Princess Anastasia Romanov that was thought to maybe have survived the Bolshevik revolution. Sounds completely wrong with Cheng.

I think Claudia, however is lovely, as is Ameila, in this case.

M said...

I like Claudia or Lydia with Gabriella. Very pretty, very feminine. Lydia Cheng. Nice.

Tessie said...

I like Claudia too, and ALSO Lydia with your surname.

Also, thanks for that "sisters for Gabriella" list: I will consider adding both Natalia and Iliana to MY OWN girl name list!

Emilie said...

Elizabeth, I wouldn't freak out about Charlotte if I were you - it all depends on where you live. When we lived elsewhere and I was pregnant, I consulted my friend the pediatrician, who obviously has the lowdown on all the new popular names. She assured me that Charlotte was safe. Then we moved to the Northeast and I had my daughter and named her Charlotte, and hadn't lived here long enough to realize that the name is very popular here. One clue should have been when my OB exclaimed (when we named her in the delivery room), "I have a daughter named Charlotte!". Even better when we found out our pediatrician also has a daughter named Charlotte. And so on and so on. Oh well, no matter, I still love the name and it's perfect for my daughter.

ZestyJenny said...

Elizabeth is my favorite girl's name BECAUSE of all the shortenings. It's like the Swiss Army Knife of girl's names. Maybe I'm weird?

Elizabeth
Eliza
Ellie
Liz
Lizzie
Libby
Beth
Betsy

There are plenty of personalities there for my hypothetical daughter to choose from. :)

sarah said...

i really like emily.

Maggie said...

I like Emily, and I agree - while it is always ranked high on the list of common names, it doesn't seem to be one that I hear used very often when I'm out and about. I also think that Claudia would be an excellent choice!

Bird said...

I like, in this order:

Anastasia

Claudia

Amelia

Frema said...

First of all, I really like Maureen, and I don't think Maya is trendy. Some of the spellings might be, but I think it's a great name.

Second, I TOTALLY thought of the Baby-sitters Club, Jill!

I love the suggestions for Charlotte (also a BSC name, one of the charges) and Lydia. I'm also a big fan of Jillian. Jillian Cheng sounds awesome. Feminine, strong, competent. And it doesn't have to be shortened to Jill if you nip it in the bud right away.

Frema said...

P.S. What about Penelope? I can't believe I forgot about my new favorite girl's name! And my daughter is Kara, so I think that's pretty cool, too. :)

Rayne of Terror said...

What about Maura instead of Maureen? We have a good friend whose SIL is names Maura and I've always liked it.

Bird said...

I wanted to add a suggestion for Isadora which is a little-used alternative to Isabella. I also think that Gabriella and Isadora go great together.

Isadora Cheng

Mairzy said...

For Biblical names, there aren't a whole lot of them. But here are a few:

Eve
Sarah
Rebekah
Rachel
Esther
Ruth
Naomi
Abigail
Michal
Susanna (depending on which version of the Bible you use)
Rhoda
Tabitha
Priscilla

As for "going with" Gabriella, none of them really match. But Susanna, Abigail, and Naomi don't clash.

Gabriella being a form of Gabriel -- an angel name -- you could consider Michaela, as a form of the angel Michael. Of course, Angelica could fall into that category, too.

-- Mairzy.

Abbe said...

I like "Claudia," not so much for the name itself as because it reminds me of Claudia Black, one of my favorite actresses.

How about Genevieve? Although it doesn't have the "a" ending, it's fairly lacy and feminine. I'll borrow a middle name from mrs. m and propose Genevieve Joy. It doesn't have the G-G pattern of Gabriella Grace, but it does have the alliteration.

Mairzy said...

My husband suggested that Taya could be a nickname of Dorothea rather than Dorothy. He also declared that "Taya Cheng" is a cool name.

Tk said...

I'm super late to the party on this one but I thought I would throw out Clementine, too. Clementine Cheng. Goes great with Gabriella, not too popular, no obvious nicknames, feminine, fits a cute little girl or a strong woman. Clementine Cheng, PhD.

Anonymous said...

y name's Anastasia Cheng. And I LOVE MY NAME!