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Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby Girl Winters

Sara writes:
We're expecting our first child, a girl, on Jan 1, 2011! The name conversation has been a battle right from the very beginning, with both of us falling in and out of love with different names, but never agreeing on any. We've both had lots of ideas, but there's been no overlap at all...please help!!!

I'm a Sara, and there were always 2-3 Sara(h)s in every class I was in growing up. I'm not keen on common names as a result. I suppose, like most of the people who write to you, we're looking for something that is not overly common, not made-up or spelled 'creatively', and not overly trendy sounding. We both like unisex names, and he especially tends not to like girly names. He loves names that sound like boyish nicknames. I don't mind if she has a nickname, but want her to have a proper name for when she grows up. Also, the names I like don't really fit any particular style, but rather tend to be soft sounding, with lots of vowels and no harsh consonants.

Her middle name will be Agnes, for a dearly loved great aunt, and her last name will be Winters.

Names I like:
Esra (my all-time fav girl name. he hates it, says it's too weird.)
Marlow (my #1, since Esra is out of the running. nn Molly, would that work? don't like Marly)
Esme (he hates this one the least, lol)

Names he likes:
Nico (his #1)

We've been through hundreds of names, and he doesn't like any of the ones I like. And I don't really like any of his suggestions, although I do like Nico as a nickname for something that isn't a variant of Nicole.

A few ideas I've considered to try to meld his liking of short, boyish nicknames with my wish for a proper but not too girly name:

Nikita, nn Nico
Anika, nn Nico
Micah, nn Miki
Larkin, nn Lark

I don't really love any of them. The full names all sound a bit harsh to me, with the hard consonants. For some reason those same sounds in the nicknames don't bother me.

I'm at a total loss...I'd welcome any suggestions at all!!!

Because I tend to avoid initials that spell things, I would probably avoid names that started with C, J, L, P, R, and S.

A good exercise for finding names, especially with a first child, is to think about what names you might want to use for future children of the opposite sex. This can prevent problems with choosing a name for a girl and then finding later on that it's too close to your favorite boy names. (We had this with our firstborn: his name, as it turned out, completely eliminates one of my favorite girl names.)

My first suggestion is Georgia. Georgia Winters is wonderful, and Georgia is a boyish name without being at all a boy's name. Georgie is such a cute nickname, as is George, as is Gigi.

You wouldn't want to consider Agnes as the first name, would you? It's uncommon, non-girly, and sounds wonderful with your surname.

I'm going to turn this one over to the readers, because I find I'm completely stymied!

Name update! Sara writes:
We went over all the comments your readers submitted several times, but still couldn't agree. We each whittled our lists down to our top 3 and decided not to think about it anymore until she arrived.

Which she did on January 11 - the birthday of my great aunt Agnes, whose name we had already decided we would use for her middle name! Once she was born it seemed obvious to both of us that her name was Marlo. Since the name was one of my choices, we went with the spelling that my partner preferred (no W on the end). The names don't really go together, but they're perfect for her :)

Many thanks to you and your readers, the suggestions were all beautiful :)


Elisabeth said...

I think Georgia would be nice, with good nickname potential as well as still being a name that works for an adult.

Here's some other not-too-girly names that I think might work:

Rowan (maybe not the best initials with Agnes...)
Afton (This is my grandma's name, but I met a little girl with this name recently and it was really cute!)
Michaela ( It's probably girlier than your husband likes, but you could use with a nickname of Miki or Micah and it would give you a softer sounding name for the full name)

brandyk said...

Esra, Nico, Luca, Micah and Sasha are all boys names to me! I would just be aware of the gender confusion potential. I think there are other non-girly names that are not nearly as confusing.

Mrs S said...

Hi, I really like your name list a lot. I'm not as keen on you husband's list or the names you are considering as a compromise. With the exception of Sasha, Tamsin and Anika. But Anika with th MN Agnes doesn't do it for me. Corwin, Nico and Luca all are boy names to me and I can't picture them on a little girl or a grown up.

I love Esme! Esme, Naomi and Marlow are my favorite from your list. Molly as a nn works fine IMO.

Here are some suggestions:
Misha, Madelyn (nn Maddy), Phoebe, Riley, Gwen, Joesphine, Teagan, Elise or Elsie.

Georgia nn Gigi or Gia is fabulous!

Best of luck to you!

Adey said...

Esra, Luca, and Micah are definitely boy names to me. Those are the ones that when I hear I don't ask "is it a boy or a girl?" I just assume that it's a boy.

I have a sister named Nikita and she loves her name. Nico/Niko would definitely work as a nickname. We call my sister Niki or Kita depending on the day ;)

I like your husband's suggestion of Anika the best.
I like your suggestion of Marlow the best I think!

Adey said...

I just saw a name you might like - Madden!
Possible nicknames: Maddy or Denny... or something else you come up with.

Lesley (and Eric) said...

While I love the name Georgia, I am not a fan of combining 2 names that both mean something. Georgia Winters makes me think of a cold day in either the U.S. south or Eastern Europe.

I vote for Tamsin :)

M.Amanda said...

I really like Annika, nn Nico.


Dominique, nn Nico
Delaney, nn Del or Lane
Sabine, nn Ben or Benny

Abby@AppMtn said...

I love Tamsin, and Tamsin Agnes Winters is great together.

For a gender neutral but not TOO boyish name that feels unusual, three ideas spring to mind - Asa, Adair and Ellery.

Asa Agnes Winters
Ellery Agnes Winters
Adair Agnes Winters

Here's the thing about gender confusion - if your little girl grows up to be irritated that she's always being confused for a boy, well - she can always use Asa Agnes Winters at the top of her resume. Problem (mostly) solved. I wouldn't call a girl Gunner, but Esra seems reasonable.

There's also a legit girl's name that comes to mind - Noa.

Noa Agnes Winters

Back to Nico. I think Nico would be fine on a girl, especially as a nickname for a more feminine formal name. There's:

Nicola Agnes Winters
Veronica Agnes Winters
Danica Agnes Winters

My daughter is Clio - Clio Agnes Winters spells CAW, which is not ideal. But it makes me think of Juno, though again - Juno Agnes Winters is JAW. And I just met someone with a daughter named Valo - Valo Agnes Winters.

Gosh, I'm not helping you narrow it down, am I?

I'd vote for Noa or Asa, but you've got LOTS of great options.

M.Amanda said...

Another idea, Mattea, nn Matty.

Anonymous said...

I came on knowing exactly what I was going to commetn...But then as I read all the other comments... I like SO many of them!

I think there are two best routes for you and your husband...

#1- Compramise on a name that is soft and feminine for you, but has a great boy NN for him. Georgia or Josephine both have great boy NN and sound so amazing with your last name. Georgia Winters... Josephine Winters... They both sound like characters in a great novel. They would also make a great sib set if you have another girl later. There also won't be gender confusion issues if you end up having a boy later. Use his names for a boy. Luca Winters, another great name.

#2- Just scrap both of your personal agendas and go with the name that you both agree on and has meaning. Agnes Winters. Great name, very special. Aggie or Nessa would be great NN's. I had an aunt whom I loved VERY dearly. She died when I was pregnant with my first (a duaghter) and I didn't fight my husband to name our baby after her (since he didn't like the name choices) and have deeply regreted it ever since. Not to say your Aunt Agnes is going to die!!!! But she won't always be there, and think of how much it would mean to her to know you named your new baby after her. Besides, Agnes is an AWESOME name that completely fits in with name trends right now, but it's one that most people won't use.

Anonymous said...

Oh, BTW, I can't help but read and say TaMSin as TaSMin.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Another thing I forgot to mention... If you do plan on having more kids... I would stay away from unisex names of you want to do a boy NN for a girl. It would make it too hard to tell which kid was the boy, and which kid was the girl. Another reason I vote for something like Georgia.

The Mrs. said...

Do you like the nickname of 'Frankie'?

Francine Agnes Winters
Frances Agnes Winters

What about the nickname of 'Jo'?

Josephine Agnes Winters

Do you fancy Esme or Estelle (Mim or Tell)?

Otherwise, Marlow (Molly), Dominique (Nico), and Wilhelmina (Win) are my favorites.

Best wishes to you all!

Hope T. said...

I like Nicola with the nn Nica. I would pronounce it Nee-ka. I once knew a baby with that name and nn and always thought it was adorable. I would definitely assume that a Nico was a boy upon just hearing the name.

beyond said...

I wish your husband liked Esme. It's my favorite from your list. Esme Agnes Winters. Swoon. I also like Nicola (nn Nico).
Danielle nn Danie
Emery nn Emmie
Estelle nn Ellie
Geraldine nn Gerrie
Leonor nn Leo
Vivien nn Vivie
Good luck!

Karen L said...

Did you read the recent post and comments for Rowan's and Griffin's sister?

A few other shots in the dark

StephLove said...

Oh, I like Georgia. And Josephine. Here are some more girl names with boyish nicknames:

Alexandra gives you Alex (or Sasha). Charlotte gives you Charlie. Maxine gives you Max. Samantha gives you Sam. Stephanie gives you Stevie.

Also, I had a student named Martha once who went by Mat.

StephLove said...

Here's another. I know a girl named Samira who goes by Sami.

kanah said...

How about Yeardley (NN Lee), Teagan or Teague, Azlee, Fallon, Collier, Harris, Cole, Rider, Sloane, Parker, or Sam? I agree about the name Georgia, nn Georgie or Jorja, nn Jo.

IMO, you should be careful about giving her too much of a masculine name/NN. It's one thing to have to correct the spelling or pronounciation of you name on the first day of school, but it's another thing to have to correct "her" instead of "him" or tell each teacher, etc that you're a girl, not a boy named Mat...just something to consider.
Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Agnes Winters is lovely! Definately a good suggestion to use it as a first name!

Swistle said...

Lesley- Ha ha! Yes. Good point!

Mrs S said...

I have a cousinn in London named Tamsin. Her nn is Taz. vaddunc

Mrs S said...

Oops just ignore the last word in my prev. post. That was the word verification. vaddunc.

Mrs S said...

Instead of Georgia Winters maybe Georgina Winters?

Mrs. Haid said...

I like Agnes as a first name, too. I also like Asa as another person suggested.

I think that the names you chose, especially ones like Luca, DO seem like little boy names. I wouldn't want to be a little girl and always have to correct people that I am a girl, not a boy. Especially if your daughter doesn't have much hair at all... like our kids!

Adey said...

After reading the previous comments I realized that I also was thinking TaSMin instead of TaMSin... I quite like the name Tamsin for a girl!!

Christine said...

For more unisex sounding names: Morgan, Jordan, Peyton, Rowan, Tatum, Taylor. With some of those I might consider adding a second middle name to, in order to avoid spelling things: PAW, JAW, MAW.

Marlo(w) and Esme are my favorites from your list. And I like Anika (or Annika) with Agnes.

You could also try Francesca (nn. Frankie - which I love); Alison (maybe too popular 20+ years ago); Veronica (Ronnie); Beatrice (Bea); Dorothy (Doro or Dot); Melanie (Mel, Melsy); Simone doesn't sound particularly "girly" to my ear.

Good luck!

Jenny said...

I was about to root for Georgia until I read Lesley's comment!

I love the name Esme. Maybe your husband can come around? I also love the suggestion of Frances, and then calling her Frank or Frankie. It's so cute and suits your affinity for a boyish nickname.

I also like the suggestion of Harper. Of course, that makes me think of Harper Lee, and makes me wonder if you could use the nickname Scout like the little girl in To Kill A Mockingbird? I think that's one of the cutest nicknames ever and certainly has a tomboy ring.

brooke said...

josephine - joey/josey
tatum - tate
charlotte - charlie

Anonymous said...

How about...

Barb @ getupandplay said...

My husband's cousin just had a little girl and named her Navy! Totally unique, but recognizable. It isn't girlie (both the military navy and navy blue are not feminine associations), yet I think phonetically it sounds feminine.

Abbe said...

I love Georgia. Such a pretty name, and the Georgia Winters meaning problem didn't jump right out at me.

I was going to suggest either Edith nn Edie or Althea nn Al (two names I've fallen in love with lately), but neither sounds good with the middle name Agnes.

But Althea makes me think of Thea, which I think would be adorable. Thea Agnes Winters. You could call her Teddy. So cute!

Anonymous said...

This one is tough! How about...

Ananda Agnes Winters: nn Andie
Antonia/Antonella Agnes Winters: nn
Iben Agnes Winters: nn Bennie

Megz said...

From your lists I love Ariana and Anika (I would spell it Arnica?). I love Georgia and Georgina. Some other ideas

Tamara - A bit like his Tamsin, a bit like your Ariana.

Anastasha, nn Stasha - A bit like his Sasha.

Saskia, nn Sasha.

Jacqui - Jack/Jackie are androgenous, whereas adding the "q" makes it more feminine.

Veronica, nn Ronnie or Nica/Nico.

Which also makes me think of Monica but this may be a bit hard for you.

Monique, nn Nic, is softer and definitely feminine

Good luck. Hope your New Year baby arrives on due date, what a birthday to have!

Deniselle said...

Nikita is also a male name in Russia, although it seems to be going to the girls in the US. But for a nickname of Nico - it doesn't have an o! ;)
How about Nicole, Nicola, Nicolette?

Ezra is definitely a boy name in the Jewish tradition, and I'm not sure how people would respond to an Esra who's a girl.

What about Theodora "Theo"/"Teddy"? Theodora Agnes sounds good, and it would give her a longer option for when she grows up.

Jordan, Sydney, and Jamie are pretty universally unisex.

There's also Wilhelmina "Willie", Jamesina "Jimmy", Thomasina "Tommy", etc. Althogh I'm not sure if these are a bit dated.

Anonymous said...

I agree with scrapping both of your lists and starting again. Some suggestions:

Eden Agnes Winters
Harlow Agnes Winters
Isla Agnes Winters
Elle Agnes Winters
Avery Agnes Winters
Helena Agnes Winters
Fiona Agnes Winters
Gwyneth (Gwen) Agnes Winters
Hazel Agnes Winters

Good luck!! :)

Anonymous said...

How about...

Zoe Agnes Winters
Alice Agnes Winters
Whitley Agnes Winters (nn Whit)
Odette Agnes Winters
Tia Agnes Winters
Emery Agnes Winters
Wren Agnes Winters

Patricia said...

I see that you're getting lots of responses -- that's great!

Agnes is such a classic name that I'd probably pair it with another name of that sort, maybe a three (or 4) syllable name -- something like Isabella Agnes (but maybe not Isabella due to its #1 ranking).

Looking at London Telegraph baby announcements for inspiration, I found only 4 baby girls born in the past 7 years with Agnes in their names:

Elizabeth Agnes (sister for Anna)
Martha Agnes
Agnes May
Agnes Alexandra (sister for Charlotte and Jacob)

I like Alexandra Agnes (could be called "Alex" for a boyish nn) or similarly Charlotte Agnes ("Charlie")

From your list my favorite is "Molly" and I suppose Marlowe could work for the given name, and it pairs well with Agnes. Mallory Agnes might also work as the given name for Molly.

From your husband's list, I prefer "Sasha" with the given name Natasha Agnes.

Patricia said...

PS I also like Esme from your list, but maybe not the best name with Agnes as the middle name? I have a new niece called Esme and have become very enthusiastic about the name. Esme is lovely but rarely used -- ranks well below the Top 1000 names for girls. I think Esme's parents are brilliant for coming up with this name!

mixette said...

I was thinking about this last night while trying to fall asleep, trying to get the christmas/christmas/christmas out of my head and came up with:


Strong and, but definitely feminine. Not common in the US, more common in Sweden but not weird/foreign sounding, easy to spell.

longlist said...

Wow! Thanks SO MUCH for all your fabulous suggestions, I'm going to drag himself over to the computer as soon as he gets up to go over them all.

It's funny, quite a few of you mentioned names that are on our 'long' list, but that didn't make the 'short' list...perhaps we should revisit some of our earlier choices.