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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baby Girl Hamilton, Sister to Richard (River)

Sarah writes:
We are expecting a baby girl around 4th of July. Our son is called River, but he is a fourth, and his full name is Richard S___ H___ IV. We used the R from Richard and IV from fourth to get River. We wanted him to have a more unusual nickname, but like that he has a traditional name as well. My husband goes by Rush, from the initials RSH. My name is Sarah, which I have never really liked because I was always one of 6 or 7 Sarahs in school and among my friends. But, it is a family name that goes pretty far back in my family tree, and my middle name is my mom's maiden name. I like the family/tradition aspects of my name. Our last name sounds very similar to Hamilton. We would like our daughter ideally to have a family name as well, since the rest of us do. This will probably be our last child.

My favorite is Rose, with the nickname Rosie. I love it and it meets all of my name-nerd criteria. I like that it is traditional/timeless, but not super popular. I think it is popular as a middle name, but is in the 300s on the social security list of first names. I also like that it is a word and has a nature theme like River, without sounding too matchy. (A lot of people have suggested names like Brooke, Sky, etc, to go with River, but those all seem overly matchy/naturey, where Rosie does not to me.) One of my grandmothers is Rosemary and Rose is a name that appears several times in my family tree. The middle name would be my maiden name. People have a very positive reaction to this name when I mention it, except for my husband.

My husband does not like Rose/Rosie. He likes more androgynous/tomboyish names for girls. He thinks Rose is too flowery and frilly. His favorite name is Holland. It was his great-grandfather's first name. I don't mind the nickname Holly, but I really don't like the sound of Holland Hamilton, it is a mouthful of a name. If we did go with Holland, I would want to use a more feminine middle name, maybe Rose, instead of my maiden name. I also have a bad association with name Holland from a family I knew growing up whose last name was Holland. I am having a hard time getting over that association. We have looked at other family last names, but none of them really work as a girl's first name. If this baby had been a boy, he probably would have been Burke, which was my grandmother's last name. We both love it, but it seems too masculine for a girl.

A compromise family name that we both like but neither of us totally love, is Dora/Dory. My husband's grandmother was Doreen and my mom is Donna, so Dora seems like a good combination of the two, and Dory is a cute nickname. Not sure what the middle name would be. My maiden name stars with D and doesn't sound great with Dora. Rose also doesn't flow very well. The big issue, however -- Dora the Explorer and Dory the fish from Finding Nemo are causing most people to have a bad reaction to the name and no one we mention it to likes it. Dora is not in the SSA top 1000, probably because of the cartoon, even though rhyming names like Cora and Nora have been rising. I would be interested to hear what your readers think about Dora! Will anyone even remember the cartoon when our daughter is grown up? I realize she would likely get teased as a child, but who doesn't, and I'm not sure a cartoon should prevent us from using the name.

A final family name option is Elizabeth with the nickname Libby. This is my other grandmother's name, and it has been used a lot by other family members, though none of them are Libby. I have a cousin who goes by Elizabeth, a few other cousins with the middle name Elizabeth, and my niece is Elspeth (scottish version of Elizabeth) but we call her Ellie mostly. It is a nice name, but maybe too popular overall and definitely overused by my family. I also don't think Libby really goes with River very well. (We talked for a while about calling her Liberty nn Libby if she is born on 4th of July, but then I found out that River Phoenix had a sister named Liberty and so, no.)

Since our son is named after my husband, a lot of people have been suggesting that I should have final say on the name of our daughter. And I think if I really pushed for Rosie, my husband would eventually give in, but it would be nice to use a name that we both like! We have a list of non-family names that we both like, but as we get closer to the due date, it is seeming more important to me that she have a family name. The non-family names we agree on are Fiona, Ainsley and Penelope/Pippa. All sound good with my maiden name as the middle name, so she would still have some family connection.

Sorry this is long, feel free to edit! Thanks!

Oh dear, I'm afraid it's true for me, too: the instant I hear the name Dora, the "D-d-d-d-d-Dora!" theme song starts playing in my head. And the show is still on the air, and I remember reading they'd branched out into a pre-teen-type Dora, too. It seems like in our children's peer group, that's going to be a well-known character. At least she is a strong and positive character, which can make the difference between deciding to go with it anyway and having to throw it out.

As to whether anyone will still remember the name when she's grown up, I'm not sure. I thought back to the TV shows I watched as a child: I was an early-'70s baby, so I remember Sesame Street. The names Oscar and Ernie and Bert and Gordon still have strong associations for me. Maria and Olivia have only faint associations: they've been diluted by frequent use. A name like Dora lacks that dilution, but may achieve it later on---or might, even a generation later, still be a name like Ernie.

One possible solution is naming her Isadora and calling her Dora---but if you or she finds the teasing is too annoying, she can switch to Izzy or to Isadora. The downside: now we have drifted quite far from the namesakes. If I were named Donna or Doreen, I don't think it would feel like an Isadora was named after me.

Berkley comes to mind, because of Burke. But again, with family names, finding variations doesn't really help---since then they're not family names anymore. Still, you'd have the positive association, and with your maiden name as the middle name, she'll have still have a family name.

A name I love with Richard is Margaret. And an old nickname for Margaret is Daisy. Richard and Margaret; River and Daisy. But if your husband didn't like Rosie, he might not feel any happier about Daisy.

Since your son is named after your husband, it is appealing to think of naming your daughter after you. It's a family name on your side, and the name Sarah has two nicknames I think are adorable: Sadie and Sally. I think Sadie is best with River: Richard and Sarah, called River and Sadie.

Name update! Sarah writes:
Thanks to you and all the readers for your input. Many of the suggestions we had already considered and decided against. We had talked about naming her Sarah with the nickname Sadie, but my husband didn't like that it looks like the word Sad. For similar reasons, he doesn't like Violet --it reminds him of violent. Hollis was the name of a computer program I used to use every day at work, so that was out. And thanks for alerting us to expansion of the Dora cartoon to Teen Dora, that helped us decide against using it.
I am happy to say that my husband came around to my favorite name, and Rosie was born on July 6th. We are home now and doing great! Thanks again.


vanessa said...

I was actually thinking about this while falling asleep last night--Dora is a pretty name it SHOULD work, since Nora et al are so popular, but it really just screams semi-tolerable children's show to me. And they keep making new ones, and Swistle's right that they are branching out into Teen!Dora (read: Skanky!Dora) and I bet there will be a movie. So...maybe not Dora. I'd worry less about Dory, though, especially if you spelled it Dorrie, and it is a nickname for Doreen. Doreen Donna H maybe? Not a great flow but...or Doreen Maiden H.
Although really, I think your husband should just give into Rose. Or, if not Rose, what about Rosalie? That gives you a full name that seems to have the same general feel as Richard (old-timey but classic) and then you can get Rosey. Or Roo-I know a Rosalie who goes by Rosie most of the time but Roo to family/close friends.
Let us know, I am curious! and if this is your last child, I really like River and Rosie.

leah said...

I have a Dorothy nn Dorrie and everyone loves it. she's almost 5, and we've gotten nothing but compliments with maybe 1% "wow, that's a name you don't hear much" mixed in. I loved Dorothy because, besides honoring my grandma, i got a WEALTH of nicknames for one name. Dorrie, Dottie, Dot, Dora, Dee, etc.

kanah said...

Personally, I have to say that I agree with your husband that Rosie is too flowery. Oh! but the only Burke I know is a woman! So, that could work...?

I do think, however, that you would likely get over the negative family association that you have with Holland once your baby girl is born.

Elizabeth is so classic, and I think Libby sounsd absolutely fine with River.

But, since, Sarah is becoming less popular, you could name her Sarah Rose, for example and then call her Rosie or Sadie, etc. Or Sarah Burke and call her a cute NN from that.

From your non-family list, I think Penelope/Pippa sounds great with River and with the middle name of Rose.

StephLove said...

As I was reading the first couple paragraphs I was thinking, why is she writing to Swistle? Rose is perfect for her! And then I got the stumbling block.

As much as it pains me, maybe you should take both Rose and Holland off the list since you have each have significant objects to the other's top pick.

I like Dora in theory, but it is welded pretty tight to that cartoon explorer. I think Elizabeth (Libby) or Sarah (Sadie) are good options.

StephLove said...

Objections, I meant, not objects.

SheLikesToTravel said...

I LOVE the Margaret/Daisy option. There are so many nick names with Margaret and it seems like a name that could really grow with someone throughout their life. That one gets my vote - provided it works with your middle/last names.

Allison said...

I came here to say I liked River and Libby, but as I was saying it in my head I found I kept slipping to Ribby and Liver. I wonder if Liddy would work better?

JM and MJ said...

The first thing that came to mind for me was "Hollis Rose." Hollis is similar to Holland but avoids the negative connotations of the family with whom you grew up. My sister went to school with a Hollis Rose who went by both names. Incidentally, her lastname also started with an H. I think that you could also go with Hollis Rose (Your Maiden) Hamilton to pass along that name. (p.s. I also like Holland, but don't think you should have to name your daughter something that brings up negative feelings for you.)

Anonymous said...

I like Dorothy Rose, nn Dora, Dori, Thea or Rosie. I also like the Hollis suggestion. Congrats!

Carolyn said...

Berkley or Berkleigh is a place name I've seen on little girls recently.

What about Aurora, nn Rory? Similar to Rosie, but spunkier.

I think Libby goes really well with River, but when they are little, the /l/ and /r/ might both sound like a /w/ when they say it. (Wibber and Wibby). Actually, that's really cute. That amps it up a point in my book :)

Magic27 said...

I'm no fan of last names as first names, particularly for girls (I especially don't like Burke - in Britain (at least) "a burk" is an idiot), but another possible obstacle for Hollis Rose is that it would give the initials HRH (His/Her Royal Highness - used for royal families etc.).
I LOVE flowery names, and Daisy is my all-time favourite name, by my ex hated it too so I didn't use it for either of my girls, and I'm guessing your husband won't like it any better than Rose.
I would agree with Swistle and suggest Sarah - it IS much less common now and if you use Sadie as the nickname (never heard this as a nickname for Sarah before, but why not?) it goes very well with River.

Lynnette said...

I adore the suggestion of Aurora, especially with the natural light display connotation, which is only vaguely matchy with River. Also, I thinK Violet is a pretty great stand-alone name with the nicknames Vi or my favorite, Lettie.

I think Rosalie is gorgeous, but my husband won't let me use it because it is the street his mom lives on.

Anonymous said...

What about Rosheen, nn Rose/Rosie?

I also love the name Dorothy, particularly with the nn Dasha.

Maybe instead of Elizabeth, you could go for a variation of the name? Lisette, Isobel, Veta, Elise?

Kylie said...

I love the idea of Dorothy nickname Dory or even just Dory as a given name. I personally think Dora has been around long enough though that it is going to be associated with the cartoon for a LONG time.

Sorry DH isn't a fan because Rose/Rosie is perfect with River.

I also like the suggestions of Hollis and Sadie.

Kimmy said...

Just throwing it out there that Dory from Finding Nemo is a kick ass character & I would find that to be a really positive association. I also think Dora is a positive association - maybe because I don't have kids so I'm not 'subjected' to the show. My name is Kimberly & I grew up during Power Rangers. I was psyched to automatically get to be the Pink Power Ranger whenever we played, because we had the same name. (I go by Kimmy though & am not a fan of the association with Kimmy Gibbler from Full House. I lived through it though!)

In my opinion, if you like the name & the family meaning is so important to you, the Dora/Dory character connections wouldn't be enough to deter me from using the name. What if you used another name & a new characters pops up with that name?

Sonia said...

I love Swistle's suggestion of Sarah, but I'd use the nickname Sally instead. There is a very lovely traditional Irish song called Down by the Sally Gardens, and I think sally is an old-fashioned name for the willow tree. So to me, it gives the naturey feel that you want, but not so obviously like Brooke or Sky.

I also like Margaret/Daisy, and I love Rosie too.

beyond said...

There's something about River and Sadie that sounds just right to me. Just sounds good when I say the combo out loud. I also like that they have Richard and Sarah (or Richard and Elizabeth) to fall back on if they choose to do so...
Sadie is my first choice, Libby a close second.
Good luck!

Phancy said...

Just wanted to add my two cents on the family name thing. I feel quite strongly that all kids in a family have about equal family names. My brother is named after a long line if males in our family, and I was named after grandmom. My mon and dad also have clear family names. I think that link and equality is important. So I vote Rose, with your maiden name. (which I am also adamantly for). Maybe he'll see her so little and delicate and like the name?
And yes, I think your choice should carry extra weight, because dad's name is already used.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Sarah Rose with the idea of calling her Sadie. Sadie and River sound great together!

Anonymous said...

If you like Dora, would you consider Annora? I really like Annora Rose Hamilton for you. Annora gives you plenty of nickname options and it's traditional in the sense that this name was popular in the 1100s yet not even in the top 1000 names.

Anonymous said...

I would say stay away from Dora so the child doesn't get "-the explorer" references forevermore - I think it's too linked to pop culture. My name was used on a TV show that only ran for a couple seasons (and not even on one of the bigger networks) when I was in 6th-7th grade age, and people still reference it now that I'm 32.

I like the choice of Rose for you. If your husband doesn't like Rose alone, how would he feel if you used something like Rosabel, Rosalie, Rosalind, Rosemary, etc. so that you could call her Rose and he could call her a nickname from the other part of the name?

I also really like Swistle's suggestion of Margaret who goes by Daisy (or any of the other great nicknames Margaret lends itself to).

Good luck!

Lola Blumenthal said...

It's such a pity you're husband doesn't like Rose - Richard and Rose, River and Rosie sound great together (and this is coming from someone who's brought out in hives by match-y sibling names). I think they work because Rose doesn't immediately jump out at you as a word name, as it has such a long history of use. Plus, it's so elegant, and yes, feminine, but in a no-nonsense way (Rosie the Riveter, anyone?). I like it so much that I'd say, if all else fails, push for your right to have last say on the name for this child - but of course I think it would be better to find a name you both love.

I for one think that Dora will have lost the cartoon connection in a decade or so, at the most. Certainly, Oscar is very popular at the moment here in the UK, regardless of the Sesame Street connection. And while Dora isn't rising, the similar Dorothy is getting more of a look-in, which should do something to promote this variation. On that note, I agree with Swistle that using Isadora, or indeed Dorothy, Theodora, Dorinda or Dorothea, would be a great way to dilute the cartoon association - but are these too feminine for your husband?

I agree with you - Holland is too masculine, especially when coupled with your solid surname, and the flow is off. Holiday "Holly" could be an option for a 4th July baby, but Holly Holiday is the Gwyneth Paltrow character on Glee - which probably shouldn't stop you using the name, as I doubt the character will be well-remembered in a couple of years and Holly is popular enough that the correlation isn't obvious, but it might be something to keep in mind.

I have to voice my dissent regarding naming your daughter after you, though - as a middle, perhaps, but to have only two names in a family of four I think is too much, even with nicknames.

A good compromise might be another subtle nature name with a more unisex flavour, but which are still more girl than boy. Lark and Wren are options, but are possibly too matchy with river. How about Juniper, or just plain old June? You get a classic name which isn't too feminine (June), but also has a spunky, modern side (Juniper or Juno). I also don't think Juniper is so nature-y as to be too matchy with River - and would the double -er endings bother you, as River is a nickname? It shares a vague sound-feel with Penelope, too.

Best of luck,

Emily S. said...

What about Hollis?? It is much more feminine than Holland and sounds better with the last name and you can still call her Holly. And it still honors your husband's family. Hollis Rose Hamilton, Holly and River, Hollis Hamilton. I like it. Best of luck!

Jenny said...

Perhaps your husband could just call Rosie Ro?
Or is River and Ro too matchy to be contemplated?

Lisa said...

She looks like a Rosie! So sweet! Congratulations

Lola said...

I'm so thrilled you went with Rosie! River and Rosie are just the fabbest names for siblings, and she's adorable. Congratulations on your new little one!