I have been following and commenting on your blog for many years now (before I was married even), and here I am finally writing to you and your readers for help with an actual baby! (a book, sorry about that, feel free to edit)! I am Erin, my husband is Brian, and our last name sounds like you-dell (accent on the dell). We chose our last name together as a mixture of our surnames but didn’t realize how it would limit us from almost all french baby names ending in L, many of which I love (ie Noelle). This is our first baby, due in March, but we don’t know what we are having yet. We anticipate having two children, possibly three, but for naming purposes I am thinking of the sibling set in terms of two, as I’m fairly confident we can come up with a third we love if need be. Here are our lists:
Boy names we both agree on:
Griffin (he loves)
Everett (I love)
Owen (friends just named their son this, its extremely popular where we live but we both love)
Josiah (too old testament? The other three are pulling away from this candidate)
Girl names we both agree on:
Audrey (we both love and is current front runner, but I always wanted to stay away from girls names ending in y or ie for various freakonomics reasons - namely that those names give the impression of “least smart” according to the studies. Also, sometimes I have trouble with the Odd and the “DR” sound rolling off my tongue. Wondering if there will be confusion with all the Aubreys out there. Stylistically though, this is exactly what we are looking for).
Lilah (he loves more than me, we also have a dog named Lola - is it a little frilly to yell at her soccer game?)
Clara (he loves more than me, I find a bit frumpy in feel but love the acoustic value of it)
Eliza (I love more than him)
Genevieve (he loves, I have trouble with all the nn possibilities - and would hate if her name was shortened to Gen. I took Madeline off the list because of the Maddie nn, but I am hoping for an Eve or Evie/Eva nn out of Genevieve)
Claire (I love, this is my mothers middle name who I would like to honor and together with our last name Claire reminds me of my favorite classical piece, Clair De Lune - but he finds a bit plain so I am definitely willing to move to middle name spot)
Elizabeth (mostly because we both love Liz/Lizzie. My middle name is Elizabeth though, so it feels a bit narcissistic to use this as a first).
Sienna and Annika are also high on the list, but don’t match the others in style (they do seem to fit alright with eachother, though, I think).
To give you an idea of names we don’t agree on, here are a few of his:
Colette (LOVE, but he does not care for)
Names that are OUT (but we like):
any elle names (adele, noelle, etc. because of our last name)
any names beginning with F (because the initials would be horrid)
any names ending in a ya sound, including names like Amelia and Cecilia (because when said fast, you get a ya-ya effect with our last name).
For middles we would like to honor family. for girls the middle will be Claire if the first is not Clara or Claire after my mom, and for boys we are working with Curtis, Gerard, Emory, and a host of other kind of blech names. Curtis or Gerard would be for my father however, and since we are closest to him, would be the best ones to use. My dad is a pretty laid back guy though, and wouldn’t care too much if he werent honored and my mom was.
Ready for a weird restriction? I can’t stand long A sounds, so names like Amy, Katie, Jane, Rachel etc. don’t really work. Same with boys (no Ames or Aiden or any of that). I truly get a bad taste in my mouth when I say long As, so I don’t want to have that every time I say my child’s name. I don’t even love short A sounds like Abigail or Alexandria but Ah sounds (like Annika and Audrey) are just fine. Have you ever heard of that before?
I would prefer shorter, one or no nickname names, but husband likes nn’s more. In a perfect world, the name would be of Irish, French or German origin, but we haven’t found a lot of those that we love that aren’t already on the list. I am tempted to name all my potential children (two boys, boy and girl, two girls) now and have it set going forward, but my mind has already changed so much since I’ve gotten pregnant, who knows where I will be in a few years. I do know that from our lists, we have a lot in the same categories that would work as sibling sets, so I am not as worried about that (if I have Sienna, I will probably opt for an Annika next, and if I have a Lilah, I will opt for a Clara or Audrey next - Elizabeth and Genevieve (Liz and Eve). Eliza works with almost all of them). Griffin and Owen or Everett and Audrey, there are combos that work. I am having a hard time imagining cradling my baby and calling him or her things, but I have been trying. My problem is I love all the names I will have to discard, and I can find something wrong with all of the names I have chosen after I say them over and over again. Will I ever be satisfied or know which one is THE ONE? Please help us narrow down our choices! New suggestions I am open to too, but I am sure I have already considered all the options, as I am a true name nerd! Sometimes,
though, it takes having someone else re-suggest it for you to really feel it, so I’d definitely reconsider other names!
In terms of popularity, I’d like to stay out of the top 10 or so, but if a name is classic and pretty popular (like Elizabeth) I am ok with that. I am a little afraid Lilah or Clara will be the next Emma, though, given the trajectories of the names. For whatever reason, I don’t have the same panic about picking boys names as I do girls names, and I can’t explain why. The girl name has to be perfect, whereas the boy name I just have to like well enough. I will be finding out what I am having in November and will update you then! Sorry for the book, I just really care about this! Thank you so much!
We are having a girl! Now that we know we can get down to business, although as excited as I am to get to name a daughter, I also feared it! She is our first baby, we may have 2-3 kids, but we can find things in similar styles that we like for a sibset. We thought we were settled on a name (Audrey Claire) but found out a cousin of my husband's who neither of us like just named her daughter that, which has soured us a bit. I think we were both looking for a reason out of the name too, if that makes sense - I didn't love that people would confuse it with Aubrey, and that it didn't have any nicknames, and the weight of the "OddR" sound, though I loved the style of the name.
Our current choice is Eliza Claire. A couple of questions about it - my middle name is Elizabeth, and my mother's middle name is Claire, so is Eliza Claire family name overkill? I don't want to seem narcissistic and name the baby after me, and while we considered Elizabeth for awhile, I think we've come down on the side that Elizabeth is too much mine and feels overused. On the other hand we like the spunk and freshness of Eliza, still feel connected to it, and feel as though it takes on a different style and personality than Elizabeth.
What I'd like to know is if you or your readers agree? One thing I still hear from people is that Eliza is not its own stand alone name, but a nickname for Elizabeth. Thoughts? Also, DH loves the nn Lizzie for when she is little and Liz or Liza Claire for later, do you think it will be difficult to get people to call her Lizzie when the vowel sounds are different from Eliza? Obviously, many Katherines go by Kate, but in this instance I wonder if its a bit weird. Last question, if I use all my favorite family girl names on this girl and have a future daughter, then what? Should I save one of the names just in case?
Our short list for girls is below, we will very likely choose something from this list if it is not Eliza or Audrey as we have been through every other name in the book a million times over, but feel free to suggest something else too. I have some odd restrictions in that I don't like long A sounds as in Ava or Kaylee, names that start
with a short A as in Abigail, names that end in "elle" sounds as in Adele and names that end with a "ya" sound, as in Cecilia for purposes of going with our last name. You have my names we cannot use list from the previous email too.
Annika _____ (I'm reading that there are pronunciation issues with this one, I would pronounce it Ahn-i-ka, accent on the first syllable. Is that how you would?)
Genevieve Claire (Eve or Evie, possibly Genna)
Still being considered:
If this baby had been a boy, we were considering Grant, Everett, Griffin (top choice) and Owen.
This may be a request for reassurance more than a question, but hopefully you and/or your readers can help me feel confident in a name!
Thanks for your help!
I am first going to do a sweep through this whole thing, giving my answers to questions and commenting on major issues; this will help sort them for other opinions in the comments section as well.
1. I don't think Lilah seems too frilly to yell at a soccer game. I think one reason the name is getting so popular is that it seems right for many types of girls.
2. Yes, I've heard of people disliking certain sounds right across the board: short-A endings, K sounds, J sounds, B sounds, -den endings that are more like d'n, that sort of thing.
3. I think it's a little annoying of our culture to consider it perfectly natural to name a child after the father but not after the mother. But when it's the mother's middle name, and especially a variation on the mother's middle name, I think it's nearly a non-issue: most people won't even know.
4. Eliza is definitely a name in its own right.
5. I don't think Eliza Claire is family-name overkill. I think it's great.
6. A general warning about the middle name Claire is that it can change to "éclair" with some first names.
7. I don't think of Liz as a nickname for Eliza: the changed vowel sound is also what makes me feel like Eliza is not a natural nickname for Elizabeth, so that shows you how much weight you should give the opinion (especially since I am fine with Kate for Katherine and Meg for Margaret, Because It's Traditional). I'm sure you can use Liz or Lizzie if you want to; most people are not as conservative about nicknames as I am.
8. I definitely think of Eliza as a different style from Elizabeth, same as you do.
9. Saving names is a difficult issue. Because it's a gamble, it has to be treated that way: weighing on one side how disappointed you'd be if you didn't get a chance to use a favorite name, and on the other side how stressed you'd be to have used up the names and need to come up with a different plan. In this case, I'd be in favor of using both names, because you don't want to miss the chance to honor your mother. I'd feel differently if you were cramming in a ton of honor names, but this sounds more like you happen to want to use a name similar to your own middle name, and then you want to honor your mother. Since you're even a little uneasy about seeming as if you're honoring yourself, it seems more like one honor name and one sweet connection name.
10. Yes, I pronounce Annika ON-nicka. I have heard from other people that that they've encountered Annikas who pronounced it ANN-nicka, so both pronunciations are in use.
I think Eliza Claire is the best option. It gives you what you want, and it sounds as if you like it best. It also gives you the most flexibility with future sibling names, since you've mentioned you like it with almost all the other options. Eliza You-dell is a great name, and it's one I'd want for myself.
I also think you have a lot of other nice possibilities, if Eliza doesn't sit right. You've been reading me long enough to have heard me preaching against the concept of The One Perfect Name, but I do like to feel a sort of CLICK as a name settles into place. You may find that several names click nicely, and this can make it harder to decide---but it also means you have a nice group of names that would ALL work well. And if you regret letting a certain name go, perhaps you will have a chance to use it on a future child.
It IS hard to choose a name: the "forsaking all others" aspect is daunting, and I think it's inevitable that a baby name hobbyist will have some names she'll always regret not having been able to use. I find it helps to realize that EVERY name means letting go of all the others: there will be some sadness with EVERY name, and the task is to find the one you'd be saddest not to use. You might also find it useful to revisit Choosing Between Two Finalists (which also works for more than two finalists).