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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Baby Girl ___ ___ La-GARE-y

Rachel writes:
We are less than a month away from having a baby girl and though we've been trying for months to come up with a name, no luck yet! I'm starting to feel the pressure. We already have two boy names we love: Nicolas (shortened to Nico) and Atticus. Our last name sounds like la-GARE-y but is filled with many more vowels (three i's). It's Fijian, though we have no cultural connections to Fiji, and usually mispronounced and misspelled. We'd like to use a family name if possible as a middle name, but it's not our top priority. We would like to avoid a name that's becoming extremely popular (top 25 or so). Here are the girl names we've considered:

Zoë: This is probably #1, but my main concern is how it sounds with the last name. Is it too sing-songy with the double "ee" sound? Would the umlaat be annoying? Is it getting too popular? My husband likes the spelling Zoey better (which I don't like). Grace is our first pick for a middle name, but Mae would be an alternate--it's both my grandma's and mine.

Beatrix: Love the "x" and that it's old-fashioned sounding. Bea and Trixie could both make for cute nicknames (though Trixie might be a little much). One of our families loves it, the other hates it.

Fiona: Worried about Shrek connotations and Fiona Apple.

Grace: Love the name, but it's just getting so popular.

Eva: I like it as is. Am worried about pronunciation (we like "EH-va," not EVE-ah"). Husband wants long version to be Evaline, which is cute but I don't know that it is a good match for our pronunciation of Eva or if that matters. Also, Ava is getting super popular. Husband is worried that Eva sounds too "Germanic."

Nico: Husband's favorite, even though we like it for a boy. Long version Nicolette or maybe Nicola. I'd like to save it for a boy and can't decide if Nicolette is too frilly.

Agnes: We both like the name, but husband has bad connotations due to "Agnes of God."

Middle names we've considered: Grace, Mae, Pearl (husband's grandma's middle name).

As you can tell, we're finding faults with every name we come up with (and there aren't many we agree on). Help!

I LOVE the name Beatrix. LOVE! IT! I think it's sassy and strong and feminine. It brings to mind the independent, strong-willed, artistic Beatrix Potter. I would use the nickname Bee, which I think is so adorable it almost makes me keel over---or possibly the nickname Bix, which ditto. And when she's in her cynical cool stage in high school, she can go by Beat. Plus, it's great with your last name. LOVE THIS NAME. WANT YOU TO USE IT. FORCING SELF TO MOVE ON TO OTHER POSSIBILITIES.

The name Fiona was a finalist for my one girl child. I love the name, and it's great with your last name.

As you say, the name Grace is getting popular: #17 in 2006 (source: Social Security Administration). Still, it's a name with long roots, and that makes it popular as opposed to trendy: it's a name that will rise and fall over millennia, not a flash-in-the-pan we may never see again. If the popularity bothers you, I agree it would make a good middle name.

If you want the name Eva pronounced a way other than EE-vuh, I think you're going to go bat-crap crazy trying to make it happen. If what you're looking for is AY-vuh, use Ava---but again, you're right on about popularity (Ava was #5 in 2006). If you want EH-vuh (like Evan without the N), then.....Evva, maybe? Evaline is darling.

Let's get you some more choices to consider. The Baby Name Wizard suggests these sister names for the boy names you like: Gia, Halle, Anika, Ivy, Elle (for Nico); Beatrix, Artemisia, Athena, Paloma, Anaïs (for Atticus).

Hey, it's Beatrix! I love Athena and Gia, too. I think Halle and Elle are difficult with your surname. I'm not sure how to pronounce Anika--is it an-NEEK-uh, or AN-ih-kuh? Either way, it may be too similar to the name Nico, if you think you might use that boy name in the future.

Ivy is one of my top-favorite girl names---but when I mentioned it to my kids, they went to "Poison Ivy, she's poison, don't let her touch you!" in 2 seconds flat. My mom was skeptical of my results (we both LOVE the name); she was teaching third grade at the time and mentioned the name experimentally to her class, and they made the same immediate leap. I'm hoping the name will soon become more common so that this will be less of a problem.

From your list, then, I'm taking Beatrix (use it use it use it), Fiona, Grace, and Evaline. From the sister name lists, I'm taking Athena and Gia.

I asked Stephanie G. of The Wonder Worrier to weigh in:
This is FATE!
My own middle name is "Mae". M-A-E, Mae.
So, with just a pinch of bias, I say choose Mae for the middle name. Here are my reasons:

1. It's short.
2. It flows with a wide variety of first names.
3. Although it's an easy-to-pronounce name ("May"), it has the added bonus of an unusual spelling with that "–ae" ending.
4. I love to see people using a family name as a middle name.
5. It's MY middle name, and I'm a pretty cool cat.

Now let's move on to the first name!
I like your name ideas very much, my favourites from your list are Fiona and Zoe (FYI – for our reader's visualization and help with pronunciation, I am using "LaGAREy" as the last name beside my full names below).
Fiona: This name has grown on me, as there was an ADORABLE little girl in the childcare centre I used to work at named Fiona. Fiona Mae LaGAREy flows really nicely. I think the Shrek franchise has helped rather than hindered this name – more people will be accepting of Fiona without finding it too outdated or strange (they'll feel like they've heard it recently, but not all will realize its because of Shrek), and the Shrek franchise will not be as popular when your child reaches school-age (let's be realistic, it's no Little Mermaid, haha!). And if Shrek does last, in her future as a five-year-old who might be princess-obsessed, she'll appreciate that her name is a princess name!
Zoe: I prefer this spelling to "Zoey" (sorry to your Hubby). Zoey looks like "Zoo-ey" to me. I don't think Zoe is too sing-songy either, I think it's sort of cute when a name slightly rhymes with the last name (plus, you don't say both names together ALL the time, it'll just be an introduction thing – and think of her friends later, she'll always be "Zoe LaGAREy", easy to say and memorable!). I feel like Zoe is a well-known enough name to not have pronunciation or spelling issues, and yet I don't see this as an overly popular/overused name. Just be prepared, you can spell it with the dots over the E (in layman's terms), but I see that being dropped before long, especially if you're located in North America. For Zoe I would choose Grace as the middle name for better flow, but Mae is still a solid choice.
Beatrix LaGAREy is a no for me. I think of Bellatrix LeStrange from the Harry Potter series, and also Trixie is a little too ... lady of the night ... for my tastes. Or something better suited for a pet than a child.
Nico (Nicolette, Nicola... or another option: Nicoletta) is lovely, but if you have your heart set on it for a boy, you might not want to use it yet for your first child (because maybe the second will be a boy and you might regret having already used it; conversely, if the second is a girl too you can still choose Nico then, but at least you gave it a try at using it for a boys name). I see the nickname Nico as a more masculine nickname, but that's just personal preference.
Here are a few other suggestions that I feel are a similar style to the types of names you're coming up with (these are from my own head, haha):
  • Chloe Mae
  • Olivia Mae
  • Gwendolyn /Gwenyth (nn Gwen) Mae
  • Sofia/Sophia Mae (nn Sophie/Sofie)
  • Ava Grace (becoming very popular though)
  • Claudia Mae
  • Alexa Mae / Alexa Grace (for a name with an "x" in it – or perhaps Alexandria or Alexis)

Nice stuff, Steph!---even though you disagree with me on Beatrix, which NOT ALLOWED. Let's pluck Gwendolyn and Claudia from that list above and add them to our contenders.

Voting time! Vote in the poll over to the right [poll closed; see below], and leave your comments below.

[Poll results:
Zoe: 15 votes, roughly 13%
Beatrix: 43 votes, roughly 38%
Fiona: 20 votes, roughly 18%
Grace: 4 votes, roughly 4%
Evaline: 14 votes, roughly 13%
Athena: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Gia: 5 votes, roughly 4%
Gwendolyn: 7 votes, roughly 6%
Claudia: 3 votes, roughly 3%]


AndreAnna said...

I vote for Beatrix too because if we were having a girl, it was on our list.

And like Swistle said, Bea is so cute I could die.

What about Genevieve, which I think actually sounds really nice with this surname! Then again, in my head, I pronounce it the french way Jon-vi-EV rather than Jen-a-vive.

jaime said...

Cloe Mae is my 3 year old niece's name. I have a special affinity for Mae because it was the first name of one great-grandmother and the middle name of another. So if I ever have a girl child, we will end up with two cousins with the same middle name.

heather said...

What about Anika with the nickname of Nico/Niko... or even Nika?
Anika Grace is very pretty.

I also really like Zoey, but spelled with a Y. I've known a couple of Zoe's and people never knew if it was pronounced Zoe or Zoe-ey.

Mrs. M said...

Beatrix Mae or Beatrix Pearl.


Elizabeth said...

I just wanted to say that my default way for pronouncing Eva is "eh-va." I don't know, maybe that's because I grew up in a largely latino area? But I wanted to just say that.

Also, I've known people with the name Anika who pronounced it both ways.

I like Beatrix, but I prefer Beatrice--mostly because of the association with Much Ado About Nothing.

Oh, and I agree with Adreanna about Genevieve. Such a sweet name. Although in my head I pronounce it the typical English way rather than the French way.

Barb said...

I love love LOVE Beatrix! So darling!
1. Beatrix Mae
2. Fiona Grace or Mae
3. Zoe (no umlaut or y) Grace

ZestyJenny said...

Also piping in to say that the rest of the world, from the german/scandinavian places to the latin-type places, pronouces Eva like Ay-va. We are the the only ones who don't.

One of my BFFs used Eva pronounced Ava, and it hasn't been too much of a problem. She is certain that it will help make her a little self advocate, anyway!

(All of this being said, it's way too popular. I like Beatrix. Trixie too!)

Swistle said...

ZestyJenny- The writer wants it "EH-va"--with a short E.

Linda said...

I think you would regret the umlaat for Zoe. I like that spelling better, but I agree that it's too sing-songy. Of course, you're talking to someone who eliminated COUNTLESS boy names based on that same concept. I am very aware of the sing-songy-ness of names.

LOVE Beatrix and LOVE Trixie. I would nickname Trixie long before Bea/Bee because of my own past connotations of nursing home work. Trixie was on our girl list before my husband fondly reminisced about making out with a German girl named Trixie when he was over there.

I think you would have a long, hard fight to get people to pronounce Eva your way. If you love the name and are willing to wage that war, go for it. I have a Lorelei so I have chosen that path.

LoriD said...

I have a Zoë (with the umlaut). At 7-years-old, she loves that she has this unique “thing” about her name. Most teachers completely ignore it when printing her name, but she defiantly adds the dots to everything, which is pretty cute. I like the flow of Zoë Mae with your last name.

Mayberry said...

I love Mae as a middle name. Just darling and a great family connection.

A word on Nicola -- I think it is beautiful but I know a Nicola and here in the U.S., NO ONE can pronounce her name. They always say nih-COLE-a instead of NICK-ell-uh.

Alice said...

LOVE beatrix, although zoe (with or without the umlauts) is SUPER CUTE as well. i adore lorid's comment that her zoe adds the umlaut to her own name when necessary :-)

for what it's worth, i'm a HUGE harry potter fan (uh, my cat is named oliver wood. that's embarrassing) and i didn't make the beatrix/bellatrix connection; definitely went straight to beatrix potter.

Alice said...

also! i do the same thing as stephanie w/the alternate zoey spelling - i always read that in my head as "ZOO-ey"

KatieHaugk said...

I have a "Zoe" and she has been "Zoe H" in several classes (but it is a family name - she is the 4th so I'm not sorry I used it!) Grace is super popular! Avoid as a first name!

I like Niko!

Paige said...

I love the name Fiona! That was my vote. I never think of Shrek when I hear the name but maybe other little kids would? By the time she's in school maybe Shrek will be history.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Oh great, I disagreed with Queen Swistle on my first piece!!!

But I'm sorry. NO BEATRIX. And definitely NO Trixie. That's a puppy's name, I'm sorry. LOL.

And I only went to "Bellatrix LeStrange" because of the first name/last name combo in particular. LOL.

I voted for Fiona. Fiona Mae is adorable, and I like that it was already on her list of possibles. But I'm quite keen on Claudia or Gwendolyn from my list too.

I ALMOST suggest Annika (spelled with a double-n and pronounced "ANN-ih-kuh"), so that's hilarious that you found it, Swistle. Another little girl in the same infant room as the Fiona I knew was named Annika and part of me almost suggested it becuse it seemed like it was along the lines of names they liked. Too funny.

Eva = EEE-vah... it'll just be too hard to get people to say "Eh-vah". My boyfriend is Polish and his mother is "Ewa" (Eh-vah) in Polish, but in Canada she uses "Eva" (EEE-vah) because even she feels like using her true pronunciation doesn't work in North America (she'd just be constantly correcting people).

Thanks again, Swistle for this opportunity! It was fun. Email me any time.

Sorry about Beatrix... but again.. NO. hahaha. I can't believe so many people seem to like it!!! (Bea is cute... sure... but ... not Trixie for sure okay? LOL).

Susan said...

Is Nico pronounced "NEE-koe?" Or "NIH-koe" with a short i? I like it either way, though I don't like it when I can't tell from looking at a name how to pronounce it. Phonetically, I guess it should be "NIE-koe" with a long i, but I'm guessing that's not right.

I think Beatrix is great. It sounds so fresh and pleasing that I wonder if it's been creeping up on us and is about to become the next "three kids with that name in every class" name?

Katie said...

Actually, if you check the SS charts, Beatrice has never been lower in usage. Beatrix isn't even on there. Beatrix for the win!

Frema said...

Trixie is a name for a "lady of the night"? What about Trixie Belden? Anyone?

Also, I know you weren't asking for votes on boys' names, but I HEART ATTICUS. Then again, I totally love To Kill A Mockingbird.

Tessie said...

I like Beatrix and Fiona the best.

Mae is adorable as a first OR middle if you ask me. We considered it since it's both my sister and my MIL's middle name. Doesn't go well with our surname, but still I love it.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I've never heard of Trixie Belden, but looking it up it seems those were books from the 1950s-1980s or something?

Names change over time... and from where I'm from, Trixie is only considered a hooker/stripper name. LOL. It's classically used in stripper-related jokes, etc. Or it's used as a pet's name. But definitely not as a current human little girl name.

I couldn't resist, I googled Trixie. Here's the Wikipedia entry for "Trixie".

It's not stripper-esque, but still...this does show a negative conotation.

People can of course name their children whatever they like, but I can't help supporting my perspective a bit. LOL. (I said the name Trixie to one of my co-workers just now, and she was like, "Trixie the Stripper? Turning tricks?").

Frema said...

Steph: I wasn't criticizing, just surprised. Then again, I was a huge reader growing up, and girl detective Trixie Belden is always the first "person" I think of when I hear that name.

Now, her best friend, Honey Wheeler.... There's a stripper for you! :)

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Honey Wheeler!!! Classic! hahaha.

Sorry if I came across as uber defensive there!! Didn't mean it that way, hahaha. I'm just quite surprised at how many people like the name "Trixie" specifically.

Beatrix, as long as "Bea" is the nickname and not "Trixie" is not *that* bad... it's just not my personal taste. hahaha. :-D

"Bea" = super cute. "Trixie" = NO. hahaha.

Trixie and Honey Wheeler... maybe the grew up to work the Vegas strip? "Nancy Drew" just seems so much more wholesome now. LOL.

Jill said...

frema: YES! trixie belden. I always had my nose in a book and my mom brought a bunch of her trixie belden books from my grandmas and I loved them. and Honey did sort of fit the lady of the night category....

ahem. I like Zoe with the umlaut, although I do think it's gotten to be overly popular, though maybe not where you're from?

I've never really considered the name Fiona, but Fiona Mae? that is such a great name! gets my vote.

Bird said...

Hurray for people who know Trixie Belden. I think of that, and not stippers, but perhaps it a geographic thing?

My first choice would definitely be Beatrix. I LOVE that name, but don't think I'll have occasion to use it. I think Bea is too cute for words, but I like old lady names. I also like Agnes, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.

Zoey with a y is more literary in my mind--like Franny and Zoey by JD Salinger. Zoe with the umblat seems a tad more trendy.

Sabrina said...

boo, no time to read full post or any comments, but must quickly throw in my $0.02 re: the original request.

I have a nephew Nicolas (Nico), and love love love Nicolette (Nico) for a little girl. Excellent with last name too. Nicolette Grace La-GARE-y, NGL.

And NO NO NO to Nicola (think Reeeeee-ko-laaaaaaaaa commercial.)

Carolyn said...

I voted for Beatrix - super cute, but I also thought Bellatrix LeStrange before reading Steph's opinion. I think it is the first/last name combo more than the name Beatrix itself.

drowninginlaundry said...

Beatrix all the way - I like it so much I just added it to my baby name list! I like Nicolette too - I think it is because there is a little girl accross the street with this name - and she is just awesome!