I hope you can help us decide on a name for our new baby. This is my third pregnancy and we do not know whether we are expecting a boy or a girl. Our living daughter’s name is Rebecca Ann. In addition, we have one who was born extremely premature and did not survive who we named Emma Eiliyah (/uh-LIE-uh/). Our last name is a two syllable word that starts with S and ends with the sound /ul/.
We are Jewish, and as such, traditionally name after loved ones who are no longer living. Rebecca is named for both of my grandmothers and for my husband’s brother (Rosalyn, Agness, and Richard). Because we knew that our second child would not live, we departed from the tradition and chose names based on their meaning (We found a meaning for “Ema” that means “loved one” so we changed the spelling a bit to be more conventional. Eiliyah means “beautiful one to grow in peace and love with God”). We would not have used either Emma or Eiliyah had she lived – partly because we don’t have relatives to name after who had names starting with the letter “E” and partly because of the combination of trendiness (Emma) and unusualness (Eiliyah) of the two names. We’re looking more to have the name sound appropriate with Rebecca than with Emma, since Emma doesn’t get spoken as often.
This time, we would like to name after each of our grandfathers, whose names began with “M” and “S,” preferably in that order so as to avoid the initials “SS” (not good for Jews) when the middle name is not used.
We lean towards names that are traditionally recognized, gender specific, with obvious spelling, & not extremely trendy/popular, super unique, or particularly ethnic. We would like to name the child what we call it – we're not looking to use a nickname or to primarily use the middle name. Also, we try to avoid word names (Mark, Trip, Chase, Pierce, Hunter, Parker, Mason, Wendy, etc). Can you tell I used to be a teacher? ;) Rebecca fit the bill perfectly for us because it’s commonly recognized and while not currently particularly popular, it’s also not “dowdy.”
In my experience, our last name– two syllables & the /ul/ sound at the end – combined with the first letter constraints makes a difficult task all that much more challenging. As an example, although I love them both, we nixed the names Rachel and Abigail when I was pregnant with Rebeccca because of the rhymy-rhymy sound between first and last name. We also 86ed first names that end with the /s/ sound so as not to run into the /s/ at the start of our last name.
Names on the possibility list:
Mia (but is this too much of a rising star?)
Meg (my husband doesn’t like Margaret)
Matthew (although this is my brother’s middle name which poses a bit of a problem w/the tradition of not using the name of someone who is living)
Sidney (for a boy)
Names we have eliminated for one reason or another: Max, Sarah, Sam/Samuel, Maris, (all names of living relatives), Michael, Mitchell, Miles, Mark, Maura, Megan, Saul
Thanks so very much for your help!!
M possibilities for girls:
Mary (feels common, but isn't; there was a Mary in my son's class, and I was surprised how fresh it sounded on a little girl)
Mira (similar to Mia, but without the Top Ten problem)
My favorites with Rebecca are Marissa, Meredith, Miriam, and Molly.
M possibilities for boys are trickier: with Michael, Matthew, Mark, Max, Mason, Miles, and Mitchell eliminated (I'm eliminating Matthew since it breaks the tradition you're trying to follow---and, as I understand Jewish naming traditions, which is only partially, using the name of a living relative seems to be a worse problem than declining to use a name of a no-longer-living relative), that leaves very few names. I've got three:
But I wonder if you have other relatives who could be honored, since so many M names are out.
Name update! Julie writes:
Hi! I wanted to update you and your fantastic readers. Our daughter was born on Thursday, January 6th and we chose the name Margaret Suzanne. Despite his initial lukewarm reaction to the name Margaret, my husband warmed to the name over time without pressure from me. Even up to (and beyond) the moment when Margaret was born, we were unsure about what name we would choose, particularly if she'd turned out to be a boy. But Margaret (instead of Meredith, our other leading choice for a girl) was the winner. We think it goes well with Rebecca and it feels so wonderful to have named her for both of our grandfathers. Thanks so much for all the help you and your readers provided! Now...on to finding a Hebrew name. ;)