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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Girl Brown

C. writes:
I'm panicking... our baby girl is due in less than 4 weeks and we can't come up with a name!

She is our first (and probably only). Her last name will be Brown. A few key points have come up through our name-search:

1. Meaning/history is incredibly important! My partner even vetoed my favorite name "Ophelia" because the character didn't fare so well in Hamlet... despite it having a great meaning ("helper").

2. We have been drawn to Greek names (though we are not Greek) particularly those ending in "-ia". Though this has made it hard to think of paring first and middle names since they all end up having the same sounds (Thalia, Ophelia, Philia (now vetoed completely as well), Thea...).

3. We are both bookish-academics and thus literary sources have been influential.

4. In addition to -ia Greek names, we've considered a few gender-neutral last names taken from various authors on our bookshelves: Morrison, Ellison, Beckett...

5. The name itself does need to be relatively unique/unpopular (and no spelling a name oddly to add to it's uniqueness). My partner's name has been in the top ten for decades and thus grew up going by his last name, whereas I was the only one in my school with my name and I always loved that.

6. I would like if the name (or middle name) had some form of "Ann/Anna" in it, because it would call out to several female family members but it's not necessary.

Several we still have on the list: Thalia, Thea (I LOVE this as a nickname!), Amalia, Hadiya, Safiya (afraid it will be confused with Sophia which we love but is just too popular), Zaphira, Atiya, Eos (would only consider it for a middle name)... None of them sound like "the one" though. I honestly don't expect to have one chosen when she arrives anymore... but if we could at least have some solid choices that would help! Otherwise I'm afraid she'll be 2 before we come up with something.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Jessica said...

I don't really have any suggestions, but I wanted to say I know how hard it must be to name a Baby Brown! Unique is definitely the way to go.

Sarah said...

What do you think about the name Athena? Unusual, but familiar and it has a great meaning. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I like all of these with Brown:


StephLove said...

My suggestion is Antonia. It starts with An, is Greek in origin, ends in ia and could be a nod to Toni Morrison, too.

I almost don't want to suggest anything else because it seems so perfect, but Chloe is also Greek and part of Morrison's name (her real name is Chloe Anthony Morrison). It might be more popular than you'd like though. Alexandria and Daria spring to mind as well. I also have a post-it on my desk with the names Amelia, Claudia, Julia and Lydia from previous question about Roman names. I bet at least some of those came to Rome via Greece.

Anonymous said...

Or Aspasia.

sarah said...

You mention Thea as a nickname, but I think it works fine as a stand alone name. If you want it to be a nickname, Dorothea is nice.
The gender neutral literary last names you mention all work well as middle names, I think.
Thea Morrison Brown
Thea Beckett Brown
Dorothea Ellison Brown

I like the previous poster's suggestion of Athena too.

Some Ann/Anna names:

good luck!

Anonymous said...

Got it!

Althea Brown.

Althea is from the poem "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace, so there's your literary reference. It's Greek. It ends with the "ia" sound. And, it gives you the nickname Thea.

LR said...

I was going to suggest Althea or Anthea. Anthea has the "Anne" that you're looking for and nn can be both Annie or Thea. I also love Zaphira and Atiya.

The suggestion of Antonia is great! It's got the "Anne" and the nod to Toni Morrison and there's also "My Antonia" by Willa Cather.

Would your husband veto Ophelia as a middle name? I believe this name is underused for how wonderful it is, precisely because of the Hamlet association. Ophelia would be such a great mn. Anthea Ophelia, Antonia Ophelia...Antonia would also be a great mn. I personally love the sound of Zaphira Antonia or Anthea Antonia (etc) but I realize that may be a bit much for some people!

Another name I thought of, that may be a bit outside your naming style, is Juliana. There's a variation Illiana that might be more your style.

Congratulations! Please update us once you've met your beautiful daughter!

hillary said...

I noticed Thalia on your list and that made me wonder if perhaps you'd like another muse name, like Calliope or Clio/Cleo? I love both of them! I also love the name Penelope for its literary heritage (even though it means 'duck', the Odyssey character is so incredibly strong and patient) and it has great nicknames (Penny, Nell[ie], Poppy). It has gained in popularity but it's still not terribly common. I particularly like Selena because of the moon connotations, but Cynthia has them as well, being one of the names of Artemis. Cynthia has your preferred -ia ending too.

Anonymous said...

I really like the suggestion of Antonia for you. For Thea names, I've always loved Theadora and Anna names made me think of Anastasia. It's well known, but I don't think it is particularly common. I'll also throw out Agatha and Cordelia.

Anonymous said...

Aurelia immediately popped into my head. I like alliteration, so I'd suggest Aurelia Annabel.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This probably doesn't help, but I have just recently discovered the name Maelys. I believe it can be pronounced MAY-lease or MAY-liss or even MAY-eh-lease. It certainly is unique!

I love both Thalia and Amalia. They remind me of the name Athaliah/Atalia/Atalya which is really pretty, and less common.

Natalie said...

If you like Morrison, what about Moira or Moyra (MOY-rah)?
I do like Zaphira and Thea from your list too.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia! It's my mom's name and I adore it. I hope to use it for my own daughter someday. A nickname for Cynthia could most certainly be Thea (I am thinking "Tia" for my potential future daughter, as my mom goes by Cindy).

Anonymous said...

What about Athena? It would give you Thea as a nn, too.

Alice said...

I think I have a great suggestion for you: Ione. It's Greek, it means violet-colored flower(I love that it has it's own color, espec with brown!), and Ione was also one of the sea nymphs in Greek mythology. It's definitely unpopular, but beautiful! Ione Thalia Brown. Love!

Katie said...

how would you pronounce Thalia? I knew 2 different girls with this name and both pronounced it differently: Ta-lEEah and Tahlia.
I like both, but prefer Tah-lia
Good luck!

Em said...

Aletheia - Ah LAY thea or Ah LEE thea (means truth, and Thea would be such a nice/natural nickname)

Ariadne - Greek, "most holy," and nice literary connections too.

Emilia is great too - not Greek but I love the character in Othello

Eleni - Greek form of Helen, I know a kid with this name and it's adorable on her.

I would have suggested Phaedra since it's lovely and Greek, but I think it fails the history test...

Jana said...


Abbe said...

For some reason, the name Evangeline came to my mind. It's Greek and means "good news." It also has strong literary associations through the poem by Longfellow. Maybe Evangeline Althea. Or possibly Evangeline Julianna. Or Evangeline Arabella.

Usually, I would say that with a long, unusual name like Evangeline, you'd want a simpler middle name. But since your last name is so short and sturdy, I think it could handle two more dramatic names.

Helena said...

I love the name Camilla and it has cute nicknames (Cammie, Milly).

Karen L said...

I know another couple of booking academics who have a female only child named Daphne.

According to behindthename:
Means "laurel" in Greek. In Greek mythology she was a nymph turned into a laurel tree by her father in order that she might escape the pursuit of Apollo. It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since the end of the 19th century.

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of good suggestions so i won't add much to them. But i do think that Morrison and Ellison read as more male names than gender neutral. What about Ellery instead of Ellison?

Sarah A said...

What about Xanthe? The spelling/pronunciation might not be that straightforward, but I think Xanthe Brown is awesome!

I also second the suggestion of Aurelia. I think paired with a monosyllabic surname, a long flowy name like Aurelia or Anastasia sounds gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I will second (or third) the suggestion of Aurelia. It has a lovely meaning ("golden"), is not even in the top 1000 names, ends in -ia, and has a long history (it was the name of Julius Caesar's mother). I also like the suggestion of Antonia.

mandy said...

Chiming in to second (third? fourth? whatever) Althea. It's unusual, sounds wonderful with Brown, lets you use the nickname Thea, and Althea Ann is pretty darn cute!

Portia said...

Ha, I commented in order to suggest Althea, and I see we all think alike.

In terms of meaning, althea is also the name of a lovely flower:

Conn Family said...

love Althea Ann Brown!

Anonymous said...

Antonia and Athena are my favorites. Perhaps Medea?

Heidi said...

Dorothea--nn Thea--immediately came to mind. I see a few others have mentioned it. For me, it has the bonus of being the name of one of my favorite literary characters in G. Eliot's Middlemarch.

Anonymous said...

How about Annona? She is not a Greek, but a Latin Goddess. It's rare, beautiful, has meaning and has 'Ann' in it!

Annona Brown is really beautiful!

It also matches well with a 'ia' ending middle name!

Annona Thalia = great!

Good luck deciding!

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I came right down to the comments to suggest Athena - it seems PERFECT, especially because Thea is a good nickname - but I see others have done so already. Nonetheless, I vote for Athena! Strong, Greek, beautiful with a great nickname.

Congratulations, by the way!

Lynnette said...

I think you can't go wrong with a lot of your choices. My suggestions are Daphne, (I love it, but doesn't work with my surname,) or Artemis, even though you are very attracted to the more flowery/girly endings. Might be a nice bridge to your other fondness for gender-neutral names, while definitely being a girl name.

Anonymous said...


The Mrs. said...

Do you like Minerva? (Minnie is a sweet nickname). Minerva Antonia Brown.

Iris is Greek as well... it means rainbow, but it's also a strong, elegant flower in English. It could have a double-meaning since the iris is the center of the eye (she'd be the apple of your eye). Iris Antonia Brown.

Best wishes to your dear little daughter!

Anonymous said...

Ariane (ah ree ahn) or Arianna Brown, in Greek is means very holy one. Love that name and can nickname Ari!

Nichole said...

I like Thalia and Thea from your list.

RE: literary names, what about Bronte, Emerson, Eliot, Tennyson, or Zora?

Anonymous said...

What about Theanna?

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions! I second the Anthea thought. I grew up with an Anthea and always loved how unique, yet familiar it was. Anthea! NN Thea.

Libby said...

Fabia -- means "bean", which I love -- so many people nickname their babies "Bean", and it fits well on an adult woman too. Such a lovely name.

Saskia -- no known meaning, so she can define her own! Known as Rembrandt's wife, and is (in my opinion) one of the prettiest "ends in a" names out there.

Flavia -- means "golden", easy to pronounce.

Romola -- means "of Rome", pronounced like Romilly, but with an "a" on the end. Recognizable because of the very elegant actress Romola Garai.

Lilia -- pretty extension of a familiar name.

Lydia, for that matter.

Tullia -- meaning also unknown, but beautiful as well as Roman.







Laura said...

I REALLY hope we get an update on this one! Hint hint. I love reading these beautiful and unique names. My vote is for Althea Ann. Sweet yet strong!

Annie said...

I'll suggest Antha (a slight variation of Anthea, already recommended). Antha Brown. Sweet!

I'll also suggest Georgianna for a middle name. It has Greek roots, your "ann" or "anna" sound, and (subjectively) what could be considered a nice "meaning" (farmer or earth worker, depending on where you look).

Anonymous said...

Aletheia, Greek for truth. (ah-LEE-thee-ah). NN Thea. It has the best wiki entry! And is my four year old daughters name (Aletheia Cathy Anne) She gets very positive reception, it is rare however and now and again people will assume she meant to say Alecia when telling her name but she is quick to correct them :)

Anonymous said...

I had a friend in high school named Althea. I thought it was beautiful and unique. It gives you the ability to use "Thea" as a nickname, which you love...bonus!

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

Lavinia - considered the mother of the Roman people. Wife of Aeneas.

Anastasia - meaning "resurrection."

Theodora - meaning "God's gift."

Georgia/Georgiana - meaning "earthworker, farmer"

Cordelia (ooooh I love this one with Brown! Cordelia Ann Brown!) - from Shakespeare, the only one of King Lear's daughters who is faithful to him. Might be from Celtic, meaning "daughter of the sea."

Cecelia - meaning is "blind," but St. Cecelia is the patron saint of musicians

Philippa - meaning "lover or friend of horses"

Fiammetta - pseudonym of author Giovanni Boccaccio's muse. Appears in many of his works. meaning "little flame"

Veronica M. D. said...

For some reason, as soon as I was done reading your list, I thought of Arabella and Mariana. Though they don't fit all your rules, I think they are in the same spirit. Christiana is also nice for the Ann/Anna requirement.

liz said...

If you like authors names, particularly last names, may I humbly suggest the following?

Bronte (after all the sisters)
Bell (after the Bronte sisters' pseudonyms)
Burnett (after Frances Hodgeson)
Christie (after Agatha)
Heyer (after Georgette)
Montgomery (after L.M.)
Shelley (after Mary)

Jen said...

I love the suggestions of Athena and Aurelia. The only ones I would add are Verity and Lorelei. Not Greek but seem like they might meet your requirements. Except Lorelei might be too popular for your tastes.

Natalia said...

So many wonderful ideas! I love Anthea for you, also Minerva and Antonia. I wanna suggest Galathea to get the nn Thea. I love how it sounds but I don't know if you'd care much about its history associations or meaning ("She who is milk-white").
Another name you may want to consider is Tiziana, since it contains the "Anna" sound and is also of greek origin.
Hope you find the perfect name!

Lindsey said...

I was going to suggest Theodora or Athena, but I see that many others already have!

Looking forward to an update. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I think Theodora is fabulous with nn Thea, but worry about the tuberculosis initials (T.B.). Antonia is my favourite suggestion so far, and with initials A.B. her nn could be "Abbey". My maiden surname is Brown and some Of the magnificent females there are named Andrea, Dominique, Georgia and Kristina, Hannah and Loretta. All work well with Brown.

Amy said...

I know someone named Aleta (ah lee ta). Seems to be your style and though it is uncommon, it sounds common.

Mary said...

If you like Ophelia, what about Ottilie, Odelia, Odette (Swan Lake connection)?

Anna - Anais (Nin), Anemone, Anwen, Anchoret, Annora, Anteia (nn teia)?

Odette Anais? Odelia Ceridwen (Welsh Mythology)?

Clemency Nell
Miranda Iris
Zadie Ophelia
Cosima Thais
Agnes Leto
Junia Amalthea
Clea Beatrice