This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Girl Hayes

Allison writes:
I'm due with my first child in early April. My husband and I have completely different styles! His name (Michael) was the top name the year he was born, so he's drawn to unusual, uncommon names. My name (Allison) was common, but never crazy popular, which is a quality I'd like to have in my own daughter's name. We kept putting off major discussions about names because it's been so hard to reach a solution we both like, but our little girl is going to be here soon and she needs a name!

Michael and I each made a list of our top eight, with our favorites at the top. Mine is: Lila, Sophie, Grace, Ruby, Madeleine, Isabel, Lucy, and Reese. His is: Magnolia, Cecilia, Seraphina, Christabel, Aurelia, Lavinia, Priscilla, and Portia.

From his list, I like Magnolia, Cecilia, Seraphina, and Aurelia - but I don't love them. They're a little too over-the-top for me to use. He says my list is too popular, and she'll forever be known as Sophie H. (Our last name is Hayes.) We both agreed that if he gets final say on the FN, I get to choose the MN (or vice-versa), but in the ideal situation, I'd want both of us to LOVE the whole name, you know what I mean?

So, to recap: We're looking for a name that is a good compromise between unusual names and common names, that fits with the last name Hayes. Any suggestions?

Well, Ruby's a good one. It's common enough to be familiar, but in 2007 it was only used for .1368% of baby girls. (Source: Social Security baby name site.) If we assume a classroom size of 20 children, with 10 of them girls, that means there'd be, on average, one Ruby per 75 classrooms. It's possible she'd be a Ruby H., especially if that area of the country is particularly fond of the name, but it's unlikely.

But what you're asking for is names that are not on either list, so let's see if we can find something between the lists. For example, he likes Seraphina and you like Sophie, so we'll look for something between celebrity-level uncommonness and Top 20. Josephine has that "fee(n)" sound. Phoebe has the "fee" sound, too, and the rhythm of Sophie. The name Serena is like Seraphina with a chunk removed to make it shorter and simpler. Sabrina is classic and beautiful and familiar but not much used. Selina is another good one.

You like Grace and Lucy; he likes Cecelia and Priscilla. Celia shortens/simplifies Cecelia, and also avoids the song. Lucia lengthens and dresses up Lucy. (The Baby Name Wizard says it can be pronounced LOO-sha or loo-CHEE-a or loo-SEE-a; it's loo-SEE-a I have in mind.) The name Lia might appeal to both of you: it's short and sweet, feminine and pretty, and three of his name choices end in it--but it's similar to Lila on your list. Clarice is pretty and unusual, without the frou-frou ending, and it sounds like Reese (you could even use that as a nickname). Clara ends in the -a he prefers, but in style it's more similar to Grace and Lucy.

So here's my list of suggestions so far:

Celia Hayes
Clarice Hayes
Clara Hayes
Josephine Hayes
Lia Hayes
Lucia Hayes
Phoebe Hayes
Sabrina Hayes
Selina Hayes
Serena Hayes

My favorite is Clara. Let's have a poll over to the right to see everyone else's favorites [poll closed; see results below], and also let people chime in with any other simplifications/dress-ups.

Poll results (309 votes total):
Celia: 46 votes, roughly 15%
Clarice: 4 votes, roughly 1%
Clara: 45 votes, roughly 15%
Josephine: 56 votes, roughly 18%
Lia: 21 votes, roughly 7%
Lucia: 27 votes, roughly 9%
Phoebe: 33 votes, roughly 11%
Sabrina: 39 votes, roughly 13%
Selina: 6 votes, roughly 2%
Serena: 32 votes, roughly 10%

Name update 04-10-2009! Allison writes:
Delilah Juliet Hayes arrived on April 5, 2009. Although ultimately, we didn't go with any of your suggestions, we both love her name and it fits her perfectly. Thank you!


Clarabella said...

This is neither here nor there, really, but I have dear friends (different families) who have daughters named Lila and Magnolia. Small world. Lila is even Lila Hayes! Ack, did I just scare you from that one. From Swistle's list, I favor Celia and Josephine. Here's a few more from my bestfriend (plugging in the top 6 from your list):
Camille (or Camilla)
On the whole, I like Swistle's suggestions better, because she puts more thought in them, but those 6 *seem* a little compromising between the two lists (yours & your husband's). Still think I'll vote for Josephine, so many sweet nn potentials!
Good luck!

bellaf said...

I vote Cecelia.

Magnolia, to me, is just the name of one of the worst films ever made, ever. I know it's a flower and all but, for a person, the name sounds as contrived as the film itself.

Sorry. I guess you can see I really hate the movie.

Don't go with Seraphina. Everyone will think you copied the Garner-Afflecks.

Jen said...

I wonder would you like Cecily? Close to Cecelia, cute nn of CC or even Lily, though that is a bit of a stretch. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

I like Celia and Sabrina. I think they split the difference between your style and your husband's.

Carolyn said...

What about Ainsley? It's unique, but very feminine and pretty

We have an Aurelia in our family, and she goes by Ria, which I think is cute.

If your husband likes Christabel, what about Annabel?

Just some thoughts!
Good luck!

haj said...

I think Celia splits the difference pretty well between your "pretty & old-fashioned" list and his "flowery & feminine" list. And in fact Cecilia is more popular than Celia according to the Name Voyager (over the last few decades Cecilia ranked in the 200s-300s while Celia ranked in the 500s-700s) - so it fulfills his wish for an uncommon name while fulfilling yours by not being too unusual, either.

Karen said...

Great list, Swistle. I had a hard time choosing. I also like the suggestion of Camille/Camilla.

The Schwant Family said...

i like Lia or Clara. I was going to vote for Clara but I thought you'd prob like Lia better.

I wonder if the two of you could name her a more original name, (something from your husband's list) and call her a more common name (something on your list or close to it) as her nickname. That way if she ended up being one of many girls with that nickname she could fall back on her formal name.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I voted for Lucia, but I also really like Celia (it was almost my name!).

Not a fan, personally, of Clarice because I think of Silence of the Lambs (and I've never even seen those films; but I just hear "Hello Clarice" in the creepy voice right away, lol).

I also love the above suggestion of Ainsley.

Anonymous said...

I love the suggestion of Ainsley. i know the sweetest little girl named Ainsley and she is the ONLY child i've ever known with that name! Seems perfect to me...Michael, Allison and Ainsley!

g~ said...

I have to give some love to my daughter's name, which is Malyn (rhymes with gallon). It's an old English name with sounds familiar but different. It's not so unusual that people can't pronounce it or don't recognize it but there won't be another Malyn in her entire school existence. Her middle name is Grace (family name). We call her Mally as an occasionally-used nickname.

Frazzled Mom said...

I had a hard time voting because I feel so many of these names would fit both of your criteria, but in the end I voted for Phoebe. I almost voted for Sabrina. I might change it to Sabrina, because Sabrina is more classic, and I heard Phoebe is an up-and-coming name that could become very common.

I also like these suggestions: Camilla (you can call her Milla or Millie), Willa and Cecily. I love Lucia, but the 3 acceptable pronunciations are a strike against it in my book. I'm also going to throw in Daphne (like Phoebe) and Felicity.

If your husband truly wants to be different he might want to consider names from HIS parent’s generation - I'm serious. But I would avoid the names that were trendy then like Donna, Linda, and Karen, and would focus on classic names that have been trending downward, like Mary (yes Mary) Deborah, Cynthia, Susan, and Kathleen - these names seem stale now but will be fashion forward once your kid reaches her 20's because parents will be turning to these names again for their babies - trust me.

Frazzled Mom said...

Ok, here I go again. Based on the list your husband submitted, it sounds like your husband likes names that aren't only statistically different, but also sound different. I realize my 50's era names don't SOUND all that different. I suggested them because I think in order to reach a compromise here, you may want to go the route of suggesting that some names that sound ordinary are actually statistically uncommon, and fall into the "pleasant surprise" category, thus my out-moded names suggestion. Look at the current ranks of my 50's names:

Mary #93 and trending down
Deborah #780
Cynthia #276
Susan #644
Kathleen #420

Maybe it's a long shot, but spastics may help you with any name you want to sell to your popularity obsessed hubs - I share his affliction, but I'm trying to get over it.

If nothing else, he might think these 50's names are so stale that going with a high ranked fashionable name, like Isabel from your list, isn't such a bad idea. Thanks for listening to my rambling...

Frazzled Mom said...

spastics should be statistics - oh boy

Rayne of Terror said...

Of his list I think Cecilia is an up and coming name. I know three Cecilias under 5 and, as an aside, all three of those Cecilia's mothers are named Jennifer. I find that really interesting.

I like Nina from the comments.

Tracy H said...

Out of Swistle's suggestions, I like Celia the best. But I love the above suggestion of Ainsley. Very pretty name. I also want to throw the name Ashby out there. And I love, love the name Reese as a middle name (it's my daughter's mn!)
Ainsley Reese Hayes
Ashby Reese Hayes
Both sound great to me!

Jane said...

I voted for Clara, although I was torn between that and Phoebe, which I think is so cute, but still has the "Friends" thing which you might not like. It sounds like your husband is a fan of Shakespeare, with Phoebe, Cecilia, Lavinia and Portia. If so, is there another Shakespeare name you could *both* agree on? Other options that are super-cute and could work for your list too: Bianca, Beatrice, Nerissa, Cordelia, Katherine, Audrey, Miranda, Jessica, Ariel, Iris. (There are loads more, but these are a few that might work). Or you could go with something like Arden (as in the Forest of), which is super unique, really cute, and also grounded in classical literature.

Also, as much as I like the name Ainsley, the character on West Wing played by Emily Proctor was named Ainsley Hayes. Don't know if that is a turn off for you (see Phoebe reference above).

Patricia said...

Lots of good suggestions, Swistle. Your list includes several names my daughter and her husband were considering 2 years ago: Celia, Phoebe, Sabrina, Serena -- I think they're all lovely.

Like Allison and Michael, my daughter and her husband had different sorts of lists, he liking what felt like strong names (I recall Imogen and Sinead), she preferring short and sweet, feminine and pretty (Anna most of all). A week before their baby was born they settled on Miranda (daddy's favorite) called "Mira" (mommy's favorite). They added my daughter's middle name Elizabeth, and both parents loved their daughter's name.

I wonder if Josephine "Josie" -- similar in sound to Sophie and ending in the 'ee' sound like Lucy and Ruby too -- might be a name both parents would love. Or maybe even Josephina for the given name, since dad seems to prefer names ending in 'a:
Usage: English (Rare)
Pronounced: jo-sə-FEEN-ə;
Latinate variant of JOSÉPHINE

Catherine said...

Josephine! I love it, and does seem to be a good compromise and works nicely with Hayes. I also suspect that it would work with lots of middle names.

Anonymous said...

best pile of suggestions I've seen I think, and my faves are Josephine, Clara, Lucia (which I do love, but hate that it might always be mispronounced) and Sabrina. Other readers suggested Juliet and Camilla, which I love. I will add to the list (these fall under the category of flowery and feminine but more common and classic than the husbands list):

Lydia (Lucy + Lavinia?)
Liliana (Lila for short?)

For shorter cute names that are less popular, what about:

Cara (though I like Clara better)
Eva (kind of popular)

Long lists, sorry. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of the suggestions really hit the mark. Michael's tastes are very frilly, while Allison's are classically pretty. The compromise might come in using one of Michael's names that has good nn potential (Magnolia=Maggie/Nolie/Lia; Aurelia=Ari/Aria/Lia).

Roz said...

Fiona also has that "fee(n)" sound. It's uncommon but not unheard of.

Anonymous said...

Lilith might work-feminine but unusual, though Lily is popular. Of the choices I love Phoebe. What about Finola or Fiona Hayes? I don't care for Ainsley w/ Hayes-too many 'A's. Clover? Now that would be an unsual choice. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Joanna, nn Josie? Pretty end-in-'a' name for Dad; cute nn similar to Sophie for Mom.

Peace said...

I noticed the Ainsley Hayes/West Wing connection too, it's the only Ainsley I've ever heard of. I'd like to suggest Paloma, Celeste, and Camelia (nn Lia, Cami, Mel, Melia)

k said...

I voted for Lucia, though I imagine it's going to get more popular than it is now. My beloved great-grandmother was named Clara so the name will always read "old" to me.

Susan said...

I love the name "Lucienne." It adds elegance to Lucy while keeping all the "Lucy" charm.

Christina Fonseca said...

I voted for Serena, but think that that Clarissa and Miranda might be names both Mom and Dad might like.

Magdalena could go by either Magda or Lena.

Joanne said...

Josefina? And call her Fifi? :) Otherwise I like the S suggestions from Swistle, Serena, Selina and Sabrina.