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Friday, October 7, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Can Ella Work as a Middle Name?

Linnea writes:
Is there any name that sounds good with "Ella" as a middle name?

This is our first baby, due early April, and we're breaking all the rules, because we know what we want as middle names, but can't decide on firsts if it's a girl. Our last name is Welch, and having an unusual name myself, I want something that's not completely common for our baby. I'm not against Top 100 names, but generally shy away from Top 10. Celtic & old-fashioned names seem to go over well with both my husband & I. My middle name (Ellen) is the same as my mother's, but I don't necessarily want to give that name to a baby girl. Ella is another family name, of great-grandmother & aunts on both sides, but every baby name we like seems to sound strange with Ella as a middle. It seems like all the names I like end in "a" or "n" and then the names either sound too matchy or run together. Top first name contenders: Fiona (don't like the repeated "a" sound, also makes the initials FEW), Quinn (Quinn Ella sounds like something you might catch from raw fish, same for Corinne, another favorite), Jocelyn (JEW? I don't know that I can do that), Rhiannon (it just seems to run on & on like a stutter) and Avalon (I don't know... is the Toyota connection too much? Will I have to name her brother Camry?). My husband isn't keen on Ella as a first name, but I like Ella Corinne. Is Eleanor too long for a middle name? It seems to solve the "double a" problem and the "sounds like a disease" problem. It's not a family name, but it's close to both Ellen & Ella.

For me, Eleanor isn't too long as a middle name. But I do tend to like long names: I love names like Penelope Elizabeth or Elizabeth Genevieve, and those are seven to eight syllables before even getting to the surname.

One thing I think is working against you is your surname: Ella and Welch share enough sounds that they can run together a bit, or even turn into something that sounds like text-speak: "LOLch!" There seem to be three camps on this issue. Camp 1 says: "Who cares? No one ever says the whole name anyway. And even if they did, who cares what it sounds like?" Camp 2 says: "The whole name should flow well in each combination: first and middle, first and middle and last, first and last. If it doesn't flow, it goes." Camp 3 is the rest of us: we like the name to flow well, but we'll give up some flow for the sake of names we love, or for names that are significant to us and important to us to use. This is where you are now: figuring out how much you want to bend the middle name to make it fit and yet still be an honor name, and how much you want to bend the first name to make a place for the middle name.

And I think you're right: Ella is proving to be a difficult name to put in the middle name slot. I sat here, jaw loosened in concentration, trying to think of a first name it would work with---and finally opened up the baby name book and just started going through trying names one after another. Bianca Ella? No. Blanche Ella? No. Bonnie Ella? Better, but still no. Brooke Ella? Mayyyybe. Chloe Ella? No. Because of the name's popularity as an ending for other names (Isabella, Annabella, etc.) and for medical stuff (varicella, rubella, salmonella, etc.), I think it just attaches itself to the first name and makes either an odd mash-up or, as you've found, a disease.

I like the idea of using Ellen. I like that it ties you and your mother and your daughter together, and also I just think it's a really pretty name. Problem: as you've noticed, it's not too awesome with n-ending first names. Eleanor works better, but is a step away from family significance.

Well, how about this. How about choose the first name first, and then see which goes best with it: Ella, Ellen, or Eleanor? It sounds like you're only KIND OF decided on the middle name and that there's still some flexibility there.

Or, is there another family name you could mash with Ella? For example, if your mother-in-law's middle name were Jane, you could do Fiona Ellajane Welch. It's not my favorite way to do things, but it can be a good way out of a pinch.

In the meantime, can anyone think of any first names that work with Ella as the middle name?

Name update! Eleanor Quinn!


Misty said...

I had a similar problem trying to use Ava as a middle name. I found that names ending in -y or a hard 'e' sound worked well. I went with Lily, but Keeley would work. I like Genevieve Ella, too.

LoriD said...

I know a Julie Ella - she grew up being called just Julie, but started introducing herself as Julie Ella when she went to university, because it sounded less common. Of course, using this still gives you the JEW issue.

I think Mary Ella or Reagan Ella could work.

I agree though, find a first name, then pick a middle name that works.

Clarabella said...

I am going to do that annoying thing where I ignore the initial question and skip right to a completely different suggestion: You could use Ella/Ellen as the first name and call the child by her middle name. This would satisfy the family name honor AND separate the similar sounds of Ella and Welch AND solve the _EW initial problems. BUT, it's not what you asked and has its own downfalls, so there's that...
I am probably more inclined to suggest this since I did something similar, except I was even more crazy, and we call our son a nickname of his middle name. So far, it has presented few problems. I just have to remember to refer to him by his first name for doctors and official stuff. Anyhow...
Of your list, I ADORE Rhiannon like you don't even know. And I think Ella Rhiannon Welch sounds lovely.
Good luck!

StephLove said...

I think picking the first name and then seeing whether Ella, Ellen or Eleanor goes best with it is very solid advice.

Here's how I would pair middles with your top contenders

Avalon Eleanor Welch
Corinne Ella Welch
Fiona Ellen Welch
Quinn Ellen Welch
Rhiannon Eleanor Welch

An here's a new idea or two for each middle:

Clara Eleanor Welch
Gwendolyn Ella Welch
Lila Ellen Welch
Violet Ella Welch

Natalie said...

I actually love Ella as a middle name.

It's a family name on my husband's side, but too popular for my taste as a first name, so I made quite a few Ella-in-the-middle combos when thinking of girl names. I think the top one was Rosemary Ella. Vivian Ella and Scarlett Ella were also mentioned, but I didn't like the flow as much.

Of names you mentioned, I like Fiona and Quinn best... I'd go for Quinn Eleanor!

Janelle said...

The suggestion above of Lily got me thinking about other names that end in Ella to create those longer princessy names: Aubriella, Gabriella, Mariela, Graciela...

I think something ending in a Y sound would go well with Ella. So what about:


Good luck!

Marjorie said... someone's suggestion above of Avalon Eleanor Welch! Swistle has it right, choose a 1st name first then choose between Ellen Ella or Eleanor for a middle name. I also know a lot of people who go by their middle name, so you could use Ella for a 1st name and call her by the middle.

Mrs S said...

Sophie Ella
Josie Ella
Josephine Ella
Sophia Ella

Or you could maybe use Elle.

Nellyru said...

Totally doesn't answer the question, but I just wanted to say how much I like Ellajane. So cute, Swistle!

liz said...

My niece's name is Ella Elizabeth. I think Elizabeth Ella works, as does Jennifer Ella, Annabeth Ella, Victoria Ella, and other names that have distinct endings (not, for instance, Mary or Ann).

Joanne said...

How about Aisling, pronounced Ashleen? Aisling Ella Welch. I love it, Aisling means 'vision' or 'dream'.

Emily S. said...

I think there are lots of names that go with Ella. Just avoid the a ending. I agree that Y endings are good. A name that I find similar to Fiona & Quinn that I like:
Felicity Ella (I don't mind FEW)
i also like:
Charlotte Ella
Paige Ella
Josephine or Josie Ella

Ali said...

Do you think your husband would like Eleanor as a first name better than Ella? I love the sound of Eleanor Corinne, or Eleanor Jocelyn even more, and you could nn Ella?
Now I'm just sitting here repeating EL-a-nor JO-ce-lyn to myself. So pretty!

The Mrs. said...

Do you care for Deirdre? (Pronounced DEER-druh)

It's Celtic, makes the initals DEW, and sounds pretty nice with Ellen as a middle name.

Deirdre Ellen Welch.

Dee-dee (Didi) makes a cute nickname,too!

If you like Avalon (but not the Toyota association), do you like Avalane? Or Lenora?

Avalane Ella seems musical to me for some reason. Lenora has all the same sounds as Eleanor but is no where near the top 100 list.

Curious to hear what you and your husband decide! Best wishes to the three of you!

Nicole J. said...

I agree with others that names with a 'y' sound at the end seem to work the best.

With that in mind, what about Avery? Avery Ella Welch.

Or Darcy? Darcy Ella Welch.

Or Phoebe? Phoebe Ella Welch.

Some additional suggestions:

Sheridan. Sheridan Ella Welch.

Maureen. Maureen Ella Welch.

Bronwyn. Bronwyn Ella Welch.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

How about Rose Ella Welch? My great-grandmother's name was Rosella Everhart and I just loved it!

Frazzled Mom said...

Beatrix Ella.

With the X ending you avoid a lot of the mashup issues.

I like the suggestions of Rosemary Ella too.

I like Mary Ella and Rose Ella, but they also sound like they could be first names: Maryella or Rosella. While double-barreled first names are not my taste, this may be a good case to use them: Mary-Ella, Rose-Ella, Ella-Jane, Ella-Rose.

Swistle said...

Avalyn would be pretty, too, or it could be spelled Avelyn to make it more clearly a short-A. Or Evelyn.

Frazzled Mom said...

I just thought of Bethany Ella. I didn't think I would be able to respond to this one because initially I had no ideas, but now the ideas come when I'm away from the computer.

Alison said...

I just found this lovely blog! I can see me wasting lots of time here!! :)

We have a Cecily Ella, but started out the opposite way, we liked the first name but finally found a family name that fitted as a middle name. Beautiful name!

And I though of another variation of Ella as Elana, or even add a letter at the begginging as Bella? or Helen/a? Though this might change 'Ella" too much.

As a mum of three girls I can say middle names dont get used too much - though I found it helpful to do the back door test - stand at the door and yell out their full name!
Good luck deciding!

Swistle said...

You guys are coming up with such good names for using Ella as a middle name! I gave up too soon!

Another Erin from the 80s said...

I love the above suggestion of using Elle as the middle name. That way, you honor Ellen and Ella and don't have to cross off your favorite names.

Sienna said...

My first thought was Briony Ella. I think most -y ending names that aren't too "L" heavy sound fine. Some other suggestions are Lucy Ella or Ivy Ella and I also really like Felicity Ella, as a previous poster suggested.

Patricia said...

I'd like to suggest Elena. It's a lovely name which relates to both Ellen and Ella and sounds similar to Fiona (3 syllables - 5 letters, accent on second syllable, ends in -na).

My granddaughter Sarah and I have Ellen as our middle name too. Sarah has had the name Elena Catherine (her mom's name) chosen for her hoped-for daughter for several years. She and her husband are planning to start a family soon, and I hope he'll agree to that name. His mother's middle name is Catherine -- perfect!

It seems that Elena might work well for your daughter's name:
Elena Welch
Elena Corinne Welch
Elena Jocelyn Welch

Ruthie said...

I had a similar problem - we wanted to use either Ada or Mary (family names) as a middle, and nothing seemed to work well. There must be something about that two-syllable with the emphasis on the first syllable that makes it difficult.

We ended up not using either one, but for awhile we had Phoebe Ada or Eliza Mary as possibilities.

I think I would learn toward using Ellen - I think it's a beautiful classic, and the fact that it's your middle and your mom's woulld make it so special to your daughter.

Misty ~ Not an Empty Room ~ said...

our daughters name is Charley Ella. we think it is lovely. her nickname is El or El's. (my grandfathers name was Elwood and he was called El. Her father goes by Charles.)

Jan said...

Hmm, somehow my comment didn't make it up. I like Avalon Ella. Another celtic feeling option would be Caitlin Ella.

LE Bean said...

Thank you all so much! There are some WONDERFUL suggestions here!

Now to sit down with the hubby & try to sort it all out.

It is so wonderful to have a place like this to get thoughtful and intelligent feedback.

Many, many, many thanks!

Sweet Rachel! said...
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