I’ve only recently found your site and I’m so impressed with the thoughtfulness and creativity of the names you suggest. Please help!
Our baby girl is due in three weeks and my husband and I are stuck in a naming rut. It’s not that we disagree, but we are not completely in love with our list and nothing new seems to be jumping out at us. We like classic names that are preferably not extremely common or very unusual.
Our 2 year old son is named Samuel John, which I suppose is not uncommon. However, naming Samuel was easy as my husband had always had this name in the back of his mind (after his grandfather – another boy would be called Henry), but we are struggling to think of girl names that are both pretty and say ‘take me seriously’.
Our surname is relatively uncommon where we live, starts with M and has two syllables, like Halston and with possibly similar pronunciation issues (actually pronounced like ‘Hol’, but usually guessed incorrectly as ‘Hal’). We’d rather not use a name or nickname that rhymes with either pronunciation (eg: Holly or Callie). Our first names are Deborah and Michael.
Names that have been on the list:
Emilia (familiar sound yet we don’t know anyone with this name)
Eleanor (nn Ellie, which has a family connection)
Natalie/Natasha (for its Christmas DD connection, but don’t like nn Nat)
Evelyn (again Christmas with Eve or Evie as nn)
Jemima (not sure this works with our M surname)
Ashley (husband likes, nn Ash, I’m not completely sold on it)
Adeline (love this, nn Ada, but vetoed by husband)
Caitlin (nn Cate, too common?)
Names we like but have been used by close family/friends:
Mackenzie (this one is left of field given the rest of our list, but husband likes it. Has been used by a couple of friends).
Names considered and rejected:
F names like Freya, Frances, Felicity
Anything that sounds like Sam, such as Samara, Camilla, etc
As mentioned, names that sound like they rhyme with our surname.
At this stage I think we’d use Emilia as either a middle name or a first name (although I’m not sure about nicknames Emmy, Em or Milly with our surname). If we use it as first, for middle we’d probably try to find a short name in keeping with Samuel’s, perhaps something like Claire, Kate, Leah or Beth.
Samuel was early and this naming problem is starting to keep me awake at night, just when I need my sleep!
Thanks so much
Looking at your lists, what stands out to me is that you mostly like common names---but you're trying to avoid them, and this could be what's making you feel stuck. I'll try to gear my suggestions toward less-common options, but also it's fine to choose a very common name if you LIKE very common names. Common isn't what it used to be: even the top ten is not necessarily the kiss of death.
Emilia is not very common, but it feels significantly more common than it is because of all the Amelias and Emmas and Mias. And I agree with you that the nicknames are not ideal with your surname: so much M and L. I also agree with you about Jemima: that's a lot of M with your surname.
The name Emeline might just switch us from one frying pan to another, but I'm mentioning it anyway because of Madeleine on your can't-use list.
Caitlin and Ashley are finally on the way down after years of high popularity: their decades of commonness and huge number of spelling variations make them feel even more common than they were, and I think I would avoid them at this point--especially since they don't meet your classic/traditional preferences.
Instead of Ashley, I wonder if you'd like Audrey or Aubrey?
One of my favorite "pretty but serious" girl names is Genevieve. It has the Eve you like from Evelyn, and it's a nice old name. It might be a little rhymey with your surname, though.
Another of my favorites is Eloise, and it reminds me of Eliza and Helena and Evelyn and Eleanor from your list. As with Genevieve, the "ee" sound might be too rhymey with your surname.
I think Evelyn from your list is a very good option: it was leaping up the ranks for awhile there, but now it's had two years in a row at #39 so it might not get to the top ten.
Eleanor too seems like a very good choice. It has the popular Ellie nickname, and also has Nora if that suits her better.
I'd thought almost for sure that Natalie was going to make it to the top ten, but the last few years it's been hovering just outside it at 17, 13, 16, 14. I love Christmas names (more possibilities here), and think this is a great name option for you. The main (and possibly deal-breaking) downside is that I think Samuel's nickname may make the nickname Nat even more tempting to use. "Sam and Nat" is so catchy and natural.
Sasha would give you some of the sound of Natasha without the Nat issue.
Would you like the name Noelle instead? I'm not sure if that's too much L with the surname (and with Samuel), or if it's just the right amount to tie it nicely together. Sam and Noelle, so sweet.
Caroline is a sweet classic choice, and has "carol" to remind us of Christmas. Samuel and Caroline; Sam and...and there's the problem. I've heard of Carolines called Caro and Carrie, but it's not as easy a nickname as Sam.
Stella is sometimes used as a Christmas baby name because it means star. I think it's a perfect "pretty but serious" name. Again I'm not sure if the L is good with the surname or not. Sam and Stella is wonderful, as long as it wouldn't make you feel locked into using an S name for any future children. I love Stella Joy: Samuel John and Stella Joy.
Holly is out for the way it rhymes with your surname, but Ivy is great. Ivy Emilia M____; Sam and Ivy.
I see Chloe on your can't-use list, and I wonder if you'd like Cleo? It just reverses the vowel sounds, and yet it's far, far less common. I love the sound of Sam and Cleo.
Another of my favorite pretty-but-serious names is Josephine. Maybe Josephine Claire, or Josephine Cate, or Josephine Noelle, or Josephine Eve. Sam and Jo.
Another is Rose: it's become common as a middle name, but is rare and fresh as a first name. Rose Emilia; Sam and Rose.
Another is Clara. Sam and Clara.
Name update! Debbie writes:
I was so excited to read your thoughts on our list. It really helped narrow our focus. We still had a few options in mind, but when she arrived on Christmas day we knew she was Evelyn Clare. And it turns out that one of her great great grandmothers was named Eva, so there's a family connection there too! Thanks so much for your help!