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Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: Mixing Two Naming Styles

Emily writes:
A friend told me about your website, and my husband and I really need help naming our daughter! (She is due on Christmas day.)

We are both in our second marriages, and have children from our previous marriages.

My husband has three daughters, Airyn Dakotah, Brylee Brookelyn, and Madesyn Tayler. (Airyn, Bree, and Mads.)

I’m going to vent here, because no one in my family will see it – I love my stepdaughters, but I hate, hate, hate their names! They’re so awful.. the sounds, the spellings, how completely trendy they are... I am a bit of a name nerd, and it drives me nuts!

I have two daughters and a son, Frances Rosaline, Russell Stacey, and Marjory Kate (Frances, Russ, and Midge).

Now that we’re expecting, I realize how much our naming styles really do contrast.
I’m not even going to include a list of names we’re considering, because we aren’t really considering any! Any name that I like (Constance, Abigail, June), he vetoes, and any name that he likes (Jordynn, Shyann, Kaelyn), I veto.

I have no idea where to even start, and I’m due in less than two weeks!

We need a name that’s in between his trendy taste and my turn of the century one, but that we are both happy with.

And it needs to fit with (in age order) Airyn, Brylee, Frances, Madesyn, Russell, and Marjory.

Aug! Help me please!

I have no idea what to do! I have nightmares about ending up with a daughter named Baby because we can’t think of a name!

I wonder if you two could agree on a very short, simple name, something like Eva, Lucy, Ruby, Cora, Stella, Eliza, Kate, Sophie, Lila. Those are all currently popular names, but they were also popular at the turn of the century. Is there any way to stop him from spelling them kre8ively? Perhaps he could be given free reign with the middle name, on the condition that the first name was spelled traditionally? Kaelyn is a pretty sound; perhaps something like Sophie Kaelyn, or Eva Kaelyn.

Would he agree to a different sort of gimmick, something Christmassy rather than spelling-oriented? Holly, Eve, Noelle, Ivy? Stella means star and could be Christmassy too. Stella Shyann. Eve Kiley. Noelle Kaelyn. Ivy Skye. Holly Jaelyn.

I have another suggestion: Kalliopi. It is a trick name, because it APPEARS to be a modern, trendy, kre8ively spelled name, but it is actually ancient and Greek and that's the right spelling. It appeals to me because it sounds like Penelope, another old classic, but the sounds are more what's currently in style---almost like Kaelyn.

Along these lines is Aemilia, the classical spelling of Amelia. Or Laelia, an old classical name that could easily be a modern invented name. The name Regan is right out of Shakespeare but seems modern. Amabel, Annika, Averil, Bronwyn, Elodie, Lorelei---they SEEM modern, but they're not.

Well. This is one of the hardest name situations ever, I think. I hope the commenters will have some suggestions.

Name update 01-10-2010! Emily writes:
Thank you so much to you and the commenters for all of the wonderful help and suggestions. Our daughter arrived early on December 25th, and it took us three days after her birth to finally settle on a name. And now, the moment of truth... (drumroll) her name is Merris!
The name is so original Nymbler doesn't even have a listing for it, but it sounds very classic, to me anyway. I love the sound of it, and it satisfies my husbands modern, "made-up names" taste, although I did win on the no kre8iv spelling argument.
Thank you so so much . This was a difficult journey, but I'm very pleased with the end result.

Airyn, Brylee, Frances, Madesyn, Russell, Midge, and Merris. What do you think?

Many thanks,

PS And no middle name. Deciding on one name that fit both of our tastes was difficult enough :)


Sarah said...

Oh my god, I would die. Swistle gave good advice--I don't have anything to add--but, uh, good luck. (Have you tried Nymbler and force-feeding it, say, Kaelyn and Frances?)

Meg said...

I'm SO with Swistle and Sarah on this one. Wow! And I'm completely with you on the step daughters names (I had step daughters named Britni and Lexi-Anne and it drove me NUTS).

I'm really liking Swistle's suggestion of Noelle, also I'm like Bonwyn and Loelei a lot.

Others I can think of are...


None are kre8tivlie spelled, I just can't make myself do that...

Best of luck to you, I'll be looking for an update on this one to see what you ended up deciding on!!!

Jaime said...

Eve Kiley struck me immediately. I like it a lot!

Melio (MelissaInk) said...

Wow. My SIL has a unique spelling for her traditional name, and she HATES it. No one ever spells it right and sometimes people add an extra syllable when saying it. Oh my goodness, you must stick to your guns here.

Swistle makes a good suggestion about something short. What about Kate? I think Lorelei is also a nice choice. it's traditional, but it looks, umm, creatively-spelled. I also like Harper or Zoe. (I noticed that the oldest child starts with an A, so maybe ending in a Z is a nice way to round things out.)

Good luck.

LoriD said...

Okay - I had to convert the names to Erin, Bree and Madison to try to get a handle on this one (I think this is the biggest challenge I've seen on here!). Spelled this way, I don't mind the names at all and I don't see them as clashing too much with mom's style.

I think Eliza was a great suggestion by Swistle. I also like Stella and Scarlet.

Good luck!

Jenny said...
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beyond said...

oh my god. talk about a challenge.
i think a short name is the way to go too. i notice your husband likes Ys. would he like something more traditional... that has a Y in it?

i like Elva too, it was very popular in the early 1900s.
GOOD LUCK. i can't wait to hear what you decide.

Mommy Daisy said...

I immediately thought of holiday names. Classic, and you can use the holiday birth as an excuse. Holly, Ivy, or Stella are my picks.

Also, just wait until you are in labor and guilt him into accepting the name that YOU'VE chosen. It worked for my mom once. ;) She got the response, OK, FINE, WHATEVER YOU WANT, DARLING. Love it!

Catherine said...

Oh goodness ... those names made me cringe so I see you've got a problem on your hands. Some things that come to mind:


Also, if you have the baby name wizard, you and your husband each go through it and mark any names that you kind of like (even just a little) to see what (if any) common ground there might be? We each marked half of an X and then went through to see which names had a full X next to them and went from there. In our case there was a lot of overlap, but in yours it might help to at least start the list. Good luck!

Karen L said...

OMG. Good Luck. You can't agree on spelling, vintage, or floweriness. Tamsin/Tamsyn, Bronwyn, and Beatrix are my favourite suggestions so far. can't chat long but how about?


Niamh (pron. Neeve)

Susan said...

What about Esme? That stands right up to Airyn and Brylee, but somehow also seems right with Francis and Midge.

Stephanie said...

I think you've got some good suggestions from Swistle and the commenters...and what a problem!! Just wanted to throw out there some traditional names have non-traditional, yet 'old' spellings that might work? My middle name is Kathryn. I honestly don't like the spelling and have long given my mother grief over it. However, it is a spelling that's been around for awhile. I did use if for my daughter's middle name for consistency with mine.

I love Stella, Myra, Lorelei, Eliza, and Eva of the suggestions so far.

Also, as for the waiting until labor or delivery...I pulled this to get my daughter's middle name in. DH didn't like it as well as others, I put off a final decision until she was here. He looked at me when I was in recovery (after a CSection and transfusions) and said, 'What's our daughter's name?' I responded with my middle name choice and he simply said 'OK'. I feel a little bad, but not really :)

Christine said...

Oh I love the suggestion of Esme.

I might also suggest Lyla, which is apparently a French form of Lyle, and means "island girl." Plus it has the Y your husband seems so keen on.

Man, what a tough situation. And I would be right with you banging my head against the wall with the stepkids' names.

Christine said...

Doh, thought of some more naturally:

Leticia (or Letizia - with a hard Z as in pizza - Italian version)
and the original spelling variant seems to be Laetitia)

The last two, especially, are more modern than your naming style, but hey, maybe you'll love one.

g~ said...

My daughter's name is Malyn (Old English). It rhymes with gallon and may fit with the y-heavy, trendy-sounding but not too outlandish.

StephLove said...

I noticed the prevalence of ys, too. Maybe you could convince him that a name with a y would fit in with his daughters names, even if you chose one that was more traditional. I'd start with some like these:


If he didn't go for any of those, I might give a little ground and try:


If you are still getting nowhere maybe offer these as middle names (as a last resort):


Good luck! You must let us know how this turns out.

Kayt said...

Ooph, I feel for you!

I'm a Katherine, nicknamed Kayt (I did it to myself as a teen, too stubborn/lazy to change it back to Kate). It might be a decent solution: use a classic name with a goofily spelled nickname? My sister is an Amelia who went by Meelah for awhile.

Ummm, how about:


I love the suggestions of Elodie and Esme.

Carolyn said...

My thought is to pick a name from one of your styles that has a nn from the other's style.

E.g. Cordelia (nn Cory or Cody)
Kaylyn (nn Kay)
McKenna (nn Kenna)
Charlotte or Charlize (nn Charlie)
Juniper (nn June)
Shyann (nn Ann, Annie)

Other names that might be a compromise are Jordana, Aubrey, or Leila

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments and suggestions so far, but wanted to gently suggest that Swistle might want to remove the brief commentary regarding the step-daughters' names from the original post. With names that unique (unless these are stand-in names) it wouldn't take much for them - or someone - to Google and find this one day, and that would suck all around. Speaking as someone with a VERY unique name - it's not like there's a lot of anonymity, especially with the full sibling set.

--Cass (and yes, that's a nickname)

TPCNS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
StephLove said...

Maybe I'm latching onto the ys too much, but I was thinking it's such as unusual letter to start a name maybe an established Y names could satisfy his desire to be different and hers to be traditional.


sarah said...

i love the suggestions of Esme, Lyla, Tamsyn and Beatrix.
what about Phoebe? i think that would fit in nicely with the other names. or maybe that sounds too similar to Frances.


good luck!

Anonymous said...

OK (rubbing hands)! Working with the "Y" in there somewhere idea, how about Carys? (or Cerys, pronounced CARE-iss)
Is a Welsh name meaning "love".

And it's a name.

Anonymous said...

I also thought of Maya. Has the "y", but is appropriately spelled. Plus, I like the name.

Frazzled Mom said...

I too am a name nerd and the very modern names don't much appeal to me, but I've found some of my favorite names are those that either are old but seem modern or modern but seem old. Maybe if I share some of my favorite names that would help. I see someone else already suggested my daughter's name, Fiona. One of my other absolute favorites, Ione has been mentioned too.

Here are some of my other favorites which might strike the right balance:
Oona (pronounced Una)
Silvestra (maybe with the nickname Silvie)

Other than that, maybe the Exotic Traditional section of the Baby Name Wizard will give you some good ideas (and some of the other names in that section like Beatrix and Lorelei have already been mentioned):

Kalliopi is brilliant! Before you know you will have a list so long that you will have a hard time eliminating names you both love so much!

Jane said...

I love the suggestion of Esme or Stella. Another one to think of is maybe Clea?

Good luck!! This is a tough one!

Meg said...

I love Esme too, but keep in mind it's tie-in with 'twilight' at the moment. If you are alright with that, wonderful, but just something to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

Some other names to consider:
Roxanne nn Roxy (love!)

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I love the suggestions so far, Tamsyn and Carys especially struck me, but there have been many good suggestions.

What about the name "Isla" (eye-la)? I took care of a young girl who had this name but her parents spelled it "Eila", which I think is a good alternative. Reminds me of Esme a bit.

Portia said...

Hmm. Very tough.

My best suggestion is Gwyneth (or Gwenyth): it's got the y and looks trendy, but maybe would suit your tastes too.

Maybe Theresa, nn Tia or Tess?

Also, I agree that the daughters' names should probably be removed soon -- I tested it by googling just one of the names, and this was the first hit. It would be awful if someone's feelings got hurt.

Tara said...

Natalia means "born on Christmas Day" and I think Natalia Kaelyn is beautiful, classic but goes with a trendy middle name, and sounds like it might be trendy, even though it's at the end of the top 100. Even if she doesn't come on her due date, it's a beautiful name for a girl born this time of year.

M.Amanda said...

Tamsin/Tamsyn, Lyla and Carys seem like good fits. I might add Layla if, unlike me, you don't hear Eric Clapton every time you come across the name.

Playing up the Christmas theme might also get you a more traditional name, but may end up in a battle over Natalie/Natylee or Christina/Krysteena. You could avoid that with Noelle or Evelyn(Eve), I think.

bellaf said...

I also suggest editing the commentary on the stepdaughters' names. Family members may not know the blog, but it's easily googable (in fact, you can google their names right now and get here) and Google is forever. It's just a matter of time till someone - maybe even one the girls - googles one of those unusual three names and finds this.

Anonymous said...

So smart! Something for everyone, I think! Definitely my vote. ~Jenny in MD

Joanne said...

I like Esme, you could also go with a Celtic name like Aisling (Ashleen, it means vision or dream) or Aiofe (EEFah).

Bronwyn said...

I have to give a Yee-Haw to Bronwyn. The name has served me well, and I love it, even if I do have to constantly spell it out and help people pronounce it.

Seriously, folks? It's phonetically spelled. It's not that hard!!

Besides, your husband's children already know all about mispronunciation and having to spell, spell, and respell their names. They'll help the little one get over the frustration.

So I'm wholeheartedly behind Bronwyn, but I also love Kalliopi and Penelope (which name was bestowed upon a dear friend's baby just this year).

I can't wait until I get pregnant (ok, I can)! I'm going to have a good name challenge for you :)

Erin said...

Some great suggestions, especially Carys and Tamsyn and some others. I don't think its a huge deal if the girls end up googling this (or anyone else in the family, really). I don't particularly like my name, and if someone were to say so, I wouldn't be particularly offended either, since I didn't choose it for myself. I'm sure if the original poster were worried about it she would have asked Swistle not to post that portion. And she is very clear on the distinction, she dislikes the names, loves the girls. So girls, if you are reading this, yes your unique names are not for everyone (but some I'm sure absolutely love them), and either way thats not a reflection of you in the slightest. Your stepmom wants to make sure the new baby fits with both her kids and your names - they are just very different styles.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Great suggestions here!

From those already suggested I like:


What about:

Kylee/Kailee (more cutesy than your style but it has a pretty sound)
Maureen nn Mauri
Samantha nn Sammie

Anonymous said...

Carlotta (Carly)
Genevieve (Gen, Genny, Genna, Eve, Vivi) the G for J would be a different spelling, but still traditional
Another alternative to Constance is Concetta (it's Italian)

Pocket said...

Holy Cow! You have quite a situation on your hands here. I really have nothing to add except for SHEESH! I'm glad I'm not you.

I love the Christmas names. I lost the battle for Stella in the name game with my husband - I've loved that one ever since I read A Streetcar Named Desire. It's a very classy name!

Good luck. Wow. Oh my.

mir said...

What a puzzle! I don't envy you this dilemma, but I trust you can find a good solution!

Here are my votes and suggestions:
Jillian (or Gillian)
Vivienne (or Vivian)

Engloutie said...

I don't know if I can suggest anything that fits both sets of siblings, but maybe one of these would bridge the sets?

Lauren (Lauryn?)
Kay, Kaye

Names with Ys:
Sybil & Sybilla

I'm curious to find out what you choose.

Nell said...

A fun challenge, to be sure! Annika strikes me as a fabulous choice. I like the suggestions about Y-names; they fit your stepdaughters' names, but here's a argument you could use against the Ys: What about Frances, the only girl without a Y in her name. Maybe a little sister who's also lacking the Y would help her? (I don't know your husband, but it might work...!)

Or what about:

Danika/ Danica
Brenna (too close to Brylee?)
Miriam nn Miri? (I also saw Myriam; that might be a compromise)

Fionn said...

What about Daisy? Cute enough for him, with enough old-fashioned whimsy for her?

MelissaInk said...

When will we have an update on this one? I'm dying to know what they agreed on!

Meg said...

I'm totally with you Melissa, I've been keeping an eye out for it!

Swistle said...

Re update, I see it in Nymbler spelled Maris.

Leslie said...

Merris is a beautiful name! Congratulations to you and your family!!!

Pocket said...

I actually know a little girl (one, only one) named Merris and she is adorable. I always thought she had such a pretty, yet unique name. Well done! I can't think of any other name that would have worked better. Congratulations!

vagiunta said...

Isn't that the name of Nile's ex-wife on Fraiser?

Meg said...

Yes, her name was Maris (spelled this way)

Anonymous said...

My sis in law was thinking of fiona spelled Phieeyohnnagh or Fieyohnah