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Friday, February 13, 2009

Baby Boy or Girl Birchall

Gillian writes:
My husband and I are expecting on February 20th. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re having a boy simply because we can’t find a girl’s name that feels right! If we have a boy, we’re going to name him after my grandfather, Frederick.

We’ve come close with a few girls names but we’re not sure that any of them have hit the mark. We want a traditional name that is easy to pronounce. We will likely use the middle name Elizabeth, which is a family name. The name should flow with her last name, Birchall. We’d also like it to have two versions: a shorter softer version for a nickname, and a longer solid version that will be more fitting if she wants to be taken “more seriously” as an adult. So far we’ve come up with Josephine (Josie for short), Gretchen (Greta for short) and Hollis (Holly for short) but we’re still feeling unsure, especially because these names all seem to be already popular or increasing steadily on the naming charts.

Any suggestions??

It's hard to avoid popular, isn't it? The trouble seems to be that we all pretty much like the same names at the same time, so the only way to choose a name no one else is using is to choose a name that everyone---including you---dislikes.

I was thinking about this just the other day when I was making my list of girl names I like. About a dozen years ago I had a co-worker named Georgia, and I felt SORRY for her because of her name. Also, I went to school with a girl named Ruth, and I thought that was as unspeakably awful as her red hair. And now both names (AND the red hair) look good. These things go in waves, and we are floaties unable to resist.

This is why my policy on names that are popular (or increasing in popularity) is "Good! That means a lot of people will like it!" And then I just cross my fingers that it stays "popular" without getting "trendy," because trendy is a whole different bowl of soup.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Okay, let's look at what you've got so far:

Josephine Elizabeth Birchall (JEB), nickname Josie
Gretchen Elizabeth Birchall (GEB), nickname Greta
Hollis Elizabeth Birchall (HEB), nickname Holly

Because you like the boy's name Frederick (and would/might use it for a future baby, if this one is a girl?), I'd lean toward using Josephine or Gretchen, both of which seem excellent as sibling names for a Frederick. And because "Gretchen Birchall" is a little difficult for me to say, my first choice is Josephine. Here are a few more girl names to consider:

Agatha Elizabeth Birchall (AEB), nickname Aggie
Augusta Elizabeth Birchall (AEB), nickname Gussie
Eleanor Elizabeth Birchall (EEB), nickname Ellie or Nora
Florence Elizabeth Birchall (FEB), nickname Florrie
Georgia Elizabeth Birchall (GEB), nickname Gigi or Georgie
Henrietta Elizabeth Birchall (HEB), nickname Hen or Hennie
Lydia Elizabeth Birchall (LEB), nickname Liddy
Virginia Elizabeth Birchall (VEB), nickname Ginny
Wilhelmina Elizabeth Birchall (WEB), nickname Willa or Mina

Let's vote! I'll put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (299 votes total):
Agatha (Aggie): 9 votes, roughly 3%
Augusta (Gussie): 3 votes, roughly 1%
Eleanor (Ellie/Nora): 64 votes, roughly 21%
Florence (Florrie): 5 votes, roughly 2%
Georgia (Gigi or Georgie): 34 votes, roughly 11%
Gretchen (Greta): 17 votes, roughly 6%
Henrietta (Hen, Hennie, Hettie): 6 votes, roughly 2%
Hollis (Holly): 19 votes, roughly 6%
Josephine (Josie): 92 votes, roughly 31%
Lydia (Liddy): 28 votes, roughly 9%
Virginia (Ginny): 14 votes, roughly 5%
Wilhelmina (Willa, Mina): 9 votes, roughly 3%

Name update 03-08-2007! Gillian writes:
Thank you so much for the suggestions and all the help in picking out a girl's name. It turns out we needed it! Our beautiful baby girl arrived on February 26th and we named her Josephine Elizabeth. We've had lots of comments on her name and everyone loves it. Most importantly, so do we! Thanks again.


Jess said...

Eleanor is my favorite name for a girl. I LOVE IT and want to use it but Torsten refuses to discuss it because there is currently no baby to name. However, I do not think it looks good for him agreeing to it once there is a baby to name. So you should use it on my behalf!

Hillary said...

Jess beat me to it: I LOVE Eleanor, but the husband says no. Emphatically. So I'll never be able to use it and advocate for it tirelessly.

Anonymous said...

Of the names suggested, I really like Gretchen (Greta) and Georgia (Gigi). I also think Frances (Frannie) would be adorable.

Frazzled Mom said...

I describe what Swistle talks about as the zeitgeist theory - for some reason everyone seems to like the same names at the same time. That doesn't mean however, that developing your own style isn't still a worthy goal. Styles come and go, but a name lasts a lifetime, which is why I agree with avoiding something trendy.

Personally, I still can't get on board with Ruth or Eleanor, but I do love Lydia and Wilhelmina. I voted for Lydia because I feel a shorter name goes better with Elizabeth, plus Liddy is a really sweet nickname.

I did some research to see what names were popular the same time Frederick peaked in popularity, and low and behold there was Mary (of course it was #1). You wouldn't consider Mary would you? As it gets less popular, I find Mary a little more appealing and it will never be trendy. Plus Molly actually began life as a nickname for Mary, and Molly sort of rhymes with Holly so you might like it. Good luck.

Joceline said...

Ooh, my bsby girl is named Eleanor, which we like because it is old-fashioned without being trendy (yet...we hope it will stay that way!). I have to say that, of course, my favorite on that list is Eleanor. I also like Josephine (Josie) and would have used it except that Josie sounds terrible with my last name.

Mayberry said...

I am Joceline's twin, in that my daughter's name is Josie, and Eleanor is way high on my list but doesn't go with my last name.

How about Margaret instead of Gretchen to arrive at Greta? I am also a big fan of Georgia (or Georgina or Georgiana) and Frances. But if there's ever a brother, Frances and Frederick might be too matchy.

Megs said...

What about Abigail or Gabrielle?
Abbi and Gabbi
They are old fashioned and not tooo popular but definitely heard of...

Kathryn said...

I also recommend Margaret because Gretchen and Greta are both nicknames for it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posters who suggested Margaret for Greta, as Greta is super cute, Maggie would be great too, and you don't have the double "ch" sound. I remember growing up with a Gretchen and being so glad my name wasn't that ugly, just like swistle, but now its perfectly cute and pretty (it was then too, I suppose).

Also, a couple other suggestions:

Gwendolyn (Gwen, Wendy)
Alexandria (Alex, Lexie...)
Victoria (Vic, Tori)
Caroline (Cara, Carrie)
Charlotte (Charlie)
Evangeline (Eva, Angel)
Julia (Jules)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Agatha. Agatha Elizabeth Birchall. OMG... too perfect. :) Aggie is such a cute nickname, too. My second favorite would be Eleanor "Ellie". Great name choices!

bren j. said...

None of those names really stick out to me, but I laughed (well, cackled a little bit actually) when I read this: "I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re having a boy simply because we can’t find a girl’s name that feels right!"

That's what we thought too....until we found out otherwise this afternoon. At least we have until June to figure something out. Good luck!

Christina Fonseca said...

Josie Birchall and Nora Birchall are heavenly - I voted for Eleanor. I also like Augusta and Lydia but not so much the nicknames that go with them.

I like the suggestion of Mary/Molly (Molly Birchall!) and think that either Gretchen or Margaret is a good way of arriving at Greta.

Good luck!

KMW said...

Josephine, Margaret, Eleanor, and Agatha all work so well with what you're looking for! Just typing them out makes me swoon! And they would all sound great with Frederick.

Good luck!

Patricia said...

I looked first at the three names you're considering. Of those, I would classify only Josephine as a truly "traditional" name, in the same vein as Frederick. You noted a concern about names that are becoming more popular, but after checking SSA stats, I'd not be concerned that Josephine or Josie are suddenly going to jump to the top of the chart. From 2003-2007, Josephine only moved from #258 to 224, and Josie, only from 305 to 299 -- a little increase in popularity but not enough to be concerned about. And while 19,105 girls were given the #1 name in 2007 (Emily), only 1532 were called Josephine (and another 1112 named Josie). I think Josephine/Josie is not all that popular and would work very well for your baby girl.

I like Margaret/Greta, which was suggested above, very much. Margaret is as traditional as Frederick; Greta is a darling short form for a little girl. This would be the name I would vote for if it were in Swistle's poll.

Of the names Swistle suggested, I also like Eleanor/Nora and Lydia/Liddy.

Have fun choosing the very best name for your baby girl!

Tess said...

Five other options I really love are:

Millicent (Millie)
Adelaide (Addy)
Constance (Connie)
Lorelie (Lori, Rory)
Anastasia (Ana, Stacey)

Good luck!

Leslie said...

I love all three original suggestions, and don't think you can go wrong with any of them. I like Josephine the best of the 3, but I also really like Margaret as a pathway to Greta (Gretchen is nice, but I like the flow of Margaret Birchall slightly better).

Of Swistle's suggestions, my favorite by far is Agatha. Lots of good choices!

Best of luck naming your little one!

(PS, Frederick is adorable!)

Karen said...

I'll join the chorus for Margaret/Greta (my plan for if I ever have a girl). I'm also looking forward to Agatha making a comeback but I voted for Josephine over Agatha because I like the nicknames more.

For FirstName Elizabeth Birchall, I like the flow best if the stress is on the first syllable of the first name.

Anonymous said...

If you were to have a girl and a boy, I'm thinking of how the nickname sounds with Frederick. Assuming he'd be called Fred for short, Greta and Fred sound too similar, to the point that if I say the names a few times, my tongue trips up and says "Greta and Freda"...maybe that's just me. I guess this was a wordy way to say that I like the sibling names "Josie and Fred" better. :)

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I like Fredericka but I have a passion for all names old-fashioned and out-of-date.

I prefer Agnes to Agatha-and you can pronounce it Ah-nyez, which sounds a little softer than Ag-niss/ness. I don't think that's made up, btw, I knew a french girl who pronounced it that way.

For Wilhelmina, I like Billy better as a nickname-you're totally shouting out to Enid Blyton at that point, as Billy was a pretty hilarious character of hers in the Mallory Towers series.

Augusta is a great name.

Joanne said...

Did anyone say that Nell is also a super cute nickname for Eleanor? Also, Daisy is a cute nickname for Margaret so you could name the baby girl Whatevernonickname and just use Daisy because of Margaret as a middle name. I am going to suggest Vivian because I think Vivian Margaret Birchall sounds great and you could use Vivi as a nickname AND it means LIFE! which is such a great thing, imo. My husband doesn't love Vivian but if he did, even a little, it would be my girl name. Congratulations and good luck!