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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Collins, Sibling to Ashton and Clara

Cayce writes:
I am expecting my second child in July and we have been having a bit of a challenge choosing a girl's name. My daughter's name is Clara and my stepson, who lives with us, is named Ashton. We do not know the sex of this baby, but we have decided to honor both of our fathers by naming the baby Daniel if it is a boy. While his first name will be Daniel, we will be calling him by his middle name "Murphy" to avoid confusion with several other Daniels in our family. I adore the name Murphy, and it goes so well with our last name, Collins. There has never been any question that this is the best boy name for us.

When it comes to girl's names we have been much more indecisive. The one name we love is Holland, but I am concerned that it sounds too rhymey with our last name. Holland Collins. I love it - I mean I really, really love it -but I'm worried that it sounds silly. And I'd rather choose another name that will grow on me than give my child a goofy name.

Others that we have entertained include: Mae, Murphy (for a girl?), Harriet (nn Hattie), Gretchen.

So, what do you think of Holland? Do any of the other choices seem significantly better? Do you have any other suggestions?

We tend to like more traditional names, nothing trendy. No odd spellings. Nothing with a strong Pop Culture reference (ie: Alice, Dora, Ginger, Clarice).

I look so forward to hearing your advice! I have discussed this with a few Mom friends of mine and got some very strong, but mixed reviews. Thanks in advance for your time.

Ha ha! I'll bet you'll get "very strong, but mixed" reviews here, too! I'll start! To me, Holland Collins is all but unworkable: that is, if you had a very important reason for using the name Holland with the surname Collins, I would eventually say that in the end, it doesn't REALLY matter how a name sounds all together and you should use it, and some girls change their surnames when they get married,'ll be fine. But, lacking the very important reason, I would consider it completely out of the running, and would add it to the names many of us have had to eliminate because of surname incompatibility (I myself mourn for Ruben and Rufus). And I am sure there will be absolutely opposite opinions in the comments section, because this whole baby-naming thing is a matter of taste, and the further along the taste spectrum you get, the more divided and adamant the tastes will be---as you've found in your social circle already.

My first reaction to the name Holland Collins was purely sound-based. But my second reaction is stylistic: you say you like traditional names, and your daughter Clara has a traditional name, but Holland is an androgynous place name. (I'm not sure what to do with the name Ashton: Holland WOULD go well with that. I'm working more with Clara in this post, though, because a style clash between two sister names or two brother names is more noticeable than between one brother and one sister name.)

According to the Social Security Administration, the name Clara was #199 in 2009 and climbing; Holland isn't in the Top 1000 for either girls or boys. Although Holland is used more often for girls than for boys (the nickname Holly contributes to this, I imagine), if I saw it with Clara I would guess boy: as a boy's name, the name Holland has an old-fashioned gentleman sound that DOES go pretty well with Clara; whereas as a girl's name, the name Holland is modern and boyish and would be an unexpected choice with Clara.

I suggest Holly instead: it works better style-wise, and lessens the impact of the repeating sounds. Holly Collins still has strong repeating sounds, and if you'd asked me about Holly before mentioning Holland I might have said it was too much---but comparing it to Holland Collins makes me feel differently about it, and in fact I kind of LIKE the repeating sound. Holly Collins; Clara and Holly.

Molly would work too, and would be even better with Clara, I think: Molly Collins; Clara and Molly.

Ooh, or Lily would work: Lily Collins, Clara and Lily.

I would like to steer you away from your idea of using Murphy for a girl. As with Holland, it is an enormous style leap paired with Clara, and doesn't fit your preference for traditional names. Also, you say you'd like to avoid strong pop culture references: on a girl, Murphy immediately calls to mind Murphy Brown. This isn't a reference her peers will be likely to catch, but you have Clarice on your list so I'm assuming you don't mean only childhood pop culture.

From your list, the one that stands out to me as the best with Clara is Mae. Harriet and Gretchen also both work. Other possibilities:


Name update! Cayce writes:
Based on the favorable response from your readers we had decided to name our baby Harriet Wynne if we had a girl. Well, we had our baby and, while I was absolutely certain we would have a girl, we were blessed with a little boy! Baby Murphy Collins was born on July 19 at 7 lb 4oz. He is so sweet and we love love love his name. Thanks so much for your help!


Tamara said...

I really like Holly with Clara, and like Swistle think that Holland and Murphy don't fit with Clara. Holly Collins rolls of the tongue beautifully, Holland Collins trips me up a a bit.

StephLove said...

I have to agree Holland Collins is very hard to say. Taking names from your also under consideration list, I like Harriet Mae for you. Swistle had some good suggestions, too (Holly, Lucy, Nora, Frances, etc.)

What I'm really hung up on, to the point of not being able to concentrate much on alternatives for you, is that I don't even know what the pop culture reference is for three out of the four examples. (I'm pretty sure which Dora you mean, but is it the Clarice from Silence of the Lambs, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (that last one is spelled differently so maybe not)? Either I'm clueless (a real possibility) or maybe you can loosen up on that requirement a little.

Kelly said...

I like Holly from Swistle's suggestions. Holly Collins is a great pick!

For the boys though, I would recommend that if you want to call him Murphy make that his first name and put Daniel in the middle spot instead. I think that calling a child by the middle name from the start (with the possible exception of an exact Jr., etc.) causes needless confusion, especially in the computer age where most electronic forms will use his first name. (Another possible exception is if the names flow better one way than the other or have undesirable initials, but since Murphy Daniel flows as well as Daniel Murphy and both MDC and DMC are "neutral" initials that is not applicable here.)

rachael said...

I suggest Hollis Collins instead. That is a lot of S, but maybe you could compromise from Holland. Also, I think Harper would go well with Clara and Ashton, and then you would not have so many repeating sounds in her name. Good luck!

beyond said...

I, too, am not sure about the pop culture references. (For Alice, only Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, not really pop culture, and surely not what you had in mind... )
I don't think Holland is ideal, for reasons stated above, but you say you really really love it, so I think you should use it.
Otherwise, I think Harriet would be wonderful for you. Harriet Collins, Clara and Harriet. Lovely.
(Perhaps Danielle would be a possibility for a mn? Harriet Danielle Collins)

beyond said...

Oops. Meant to say: Harriet Collins; Ashton, Clara and Harriet. Lovely.
Good luck!

Swistle said...

I think Harper Collins sounds good, too. In fact, it sounded so natural, I started thinking it was familiar. And it turns out Harper Collins is a major book publisher.

Slim said...

I know a little Harriet, and the first time I heard it, I was not a fan, but over time, I realized that it was perfect for her, and totally adorable.

I think Holly Collins is not enough of an improvement over Holland Collins.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with one of my fellow commenters, and I believe Daniel Murphy is the way to go, regardless of what you call him. Murphy Daniel gives me a totally different feel. It makes me think of country music! One of my roommates in college went by not just her middle name, but a nickname version of it. For no other reason than her parents wanted it that way. In each class in school she would simply ask to be called by her nickname, and that was that. Most of our friends didn't even know that it wasn't her given name, and she thought it was kind of cool and fun.

I do not love Holly or Molly Collins. The repeating sound is still too much for my ears, but this also isn't my baby, so there's that! My favorite from your list is Gretchen. I also really like Nora and Lucy from Swistle's list. I like Lily as well, but Lily Collins seemed really familiar, and then I remembered that she is a young, up-and-coming actress I'd read about. The pop culture reference wouldn't be enough to deter me, but your rules on the matter seem pretty rigid, so I thought I would mention it!

Anonymous said...

I am the same Anonymous above, and I forgot to add that I like the name Ivy for you. Ivy Collins; Ivy, Clara, and Ashton. It seems totally familiar that it fits well with Clara, and it's still sort of surprising to hear it being used, which makes me feel like it is also a good fit for Ashton.

caycecol said...

Thank you so much for featuring my query! I knew deep down that Holland was wrong, but I love it so much that I just needed to hear it from an objective source. The pop culture thing is my husband's restriction: If he associates a name with a popular character from movies or tv, he won't even discuss it as a potential name for our child. We grew up in the late 70s and 80s, so he has strong associations with tv shows that were popular during this time (Giligan's Island, Brady Bunch, Facts of Life, Growing Pains, Three's Company)(wow, it seems like we watch a lot of tv! we actually don't now, but I guess we did when we were kids! Thanks, Mom...). He has also tossed names from shows our kids watch now: Olivia, Ruby, June (Little Einsteins), Lenny, Tuck, Ming-Ming :)

I am loving all of your suggestions so far (Molly!!! eee!!), and I am particularly glad to hear the favorable response to Harriet.

Thanks again!!

Jenny Grace said...

I love the name Molly. How do you feel about Heidi?

I'm voting strongly against Holland, mainly for phonetic purposes when paired with last name, but also because it clashes in style with Clara.

M.Amanda said...

The sing-song quality of repeating the "oll" sound reminds me of a children's book character. I much prefer other sounds mixed in. From your list, I like Mae and Harriet. Or what about Maeve?

Lynnette said...

I also love Holly with Clara, and though it has a definite sing-songy feel, I think it's a positive sound. Holly and Clara are both on my list of futures.

May I suggest that you reconsider Ming-Ming? Yeah... Ming-Ming Gilligan Collins. I like it.

Alice said...

For me, Holly/Molly Collins are still too close. In keeping with Harriet, how about Henrietta? It gives you some easier nicknames -- Etta, Hattie, Hettie -- yet still has the same vibe.

Also, I have a friend named Daniela and I've always thought that was pretty. It feels totally different from Danielle somehow, and has the fresh-sounding ella without being too common. And obivously, it would still honor your dads.

In the spirit of Lily, I'll also throw out the less common Ivy. It's old like Clara but I think has a similiar spunk to it. Ivy Collins. Clara, Ashton and Ivy.

Alice said...

p.s. I LOVE Maeve. It would be my baby's name if it worked with my last name. In other words, Maeve is my Holland.

Diane said...

I love Hattie! Clara and Hattie seem like an adorable sister set to me! Some sweet old fashioned charm there. So I vote for Harriet, nickname Hattie, Collins!

kinsey said...

i say harriet and call her hattie! mae would be a great middle name for harriet. love it!

and my two cents on your boy husband and son both go by their middle names. not a big deal! love murphy!

Patricia said...

Ditto to Swistle's remarks about Holland Collins and other *non-traditional* name possibilities for Clara's sister. However, I don't love Holly or Molly with Collins either, though I like both those names very much with other surnames.

Clara is a lovely, vintage classic. I think Harriet "Hattie" is a perfect style match with Clara. You might also want to consider Charlotte "Lottie". Either name would also sound well with Mae as the middle name:

Harriet Mae Collins "Hattie"

Charlotte Mae Collins "Lottie"

Clara and Hattie
Clara and Lottie

Best wishes!

Patricia said...

Three more vintage names with __ttie nicknames

Matilda "Mattie"

Leticia (or Violet) "Lettie"

Jeanette/Jeannette "Nettie"

Matilda Mae would be very vintage and very cute!

Christine said...

I don't like Holland with Collins, and while Holly is better, I still have a hard time saying it. I LOVE Harriet and the nn Hattie. I watched a movie not too long ago, where Zooey Deschanel played a character named Harriet with the nn Happy, and thought it was the cutest thing ever. (Googled it, it was in the indy film, Gigantic, and not likely to show up on anyone's radar unless they happen to be indy film dorks like my husband, and I bet not even then since I think we're one of 20 people who watched it. So I doubt the nn Happy would ring any bells)

With Harriet (Hattie) and Gretchen and with the sibling names, I thought immediately of Dorothy (Dot, Dottie!) and Matilda (Mattie! Tilly!). And I like all these names with your surname.

Good luck!

rachael said...

Good call on the author named Harper Collins, Swistle. I completely forgot about that. I wonder if Magdelena NN Lena Collins, Yardley, or Ilah would work?

Michelle said...

I really like Alice's suggestions - and share her opinion on thhe Holly/Molly sound. While I am currently toying with the name Frances for my own #2, I would add that Francis Collins (m) is a fairly famous person in some circles - he led the Human Genome Project and is a renowned scientist and leader at the NIH.

I'd also toss Therese in as an alternate idea for a girl. I like the sound with Clara and you could do Tess as a nickname.

Anonymous said...

What about Hannah? It is more popular I know but Hannah, Clara, and Ashton sound really well together. Hallie, Hazel, Hayley, or Hadley Collins?

I personally love Mae, or Greta Mae.

Some other ideas:

Clara and Felicity
Clara and Matilda - Tilly
Clara and Luella
Clara and Marianne
Clara and Maeve
Clara and Faye
Clara and Lydia

Mrs S said...

Holiday Collins nn Holly!

kimma said...

Like anonymous above I was going to suggest Felicity. Clara and Felicity have the same vintage feel to them and make a great pair. Ashton, Clara and Felicity. This would be my top pick, but I’m not you and its your decision.

Another strong contender could be Adele. It has the strength of Holland, while being exclusively feminine. Adele Collins. Ashton, Clara and Adele.

Lily Collins does sound good, but this may be because she’s Phil Collins’ daughter and as pointed out an upcoming actress. This may bother your husband.

The Mrs. said...

Hattie Mae Collins!!

Oh, what a darling name! There's nothing not to love in it. It's endearing, lively, classic... ack! Too good!

Someone above mentioned the name 'Henrietta', too. That's also nice.

Your 'Gretchen' option reminds me of 'Greta'. That's a wonderful match for Clara!

But my vote is big for Hattie Mae (seriously, so charming)!

All the best to your growing family! Can't wait to hear if you had a Murphy or a daughter. :)

Carolyn said...

Genevieve would be pretty with Clara, too. Or Josie.

Holland is such a beautiful name. To me as a special education teacher, it calls to mind the beautiful poem "Welcome to Holland". Many parents name their child with special needs Holland in tribute to this sweet poem.

Anonymous said...

I like Annabel and I think it goes with both Clara and Ashton nicely, the first for style and the second for sound. Also it sounds good with your last name and to me, for some reason, is a little bit resonant with your favorite, Holland -- esp when spelled without the frilly -elle. Good luck and great times!

caycecol said...

You guys are absolutely wonderful! Thanks so much for all of the suggestions. We had a family talk tonight and have decided to scrap Holland. We picked a name based on your recommendations, though! I'll update when we find out. Oh and @Carolyn Josie is Clara's middle name, you must be my baby namer wonder twin!

Melanie said...

Hollis is the more traditional longer form of Holly. I think it would work well in your case.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Hollis is not "the more traditional longer form of Holly". Hollis (a surname) and Holly (a plant name) are totally separate names. There is no "more traditional longer form of Holly", just as with Ivy, Bryony, etc.