A Facebook friend has been watching my struggle in naming our baby girl. I'm due in 4 weeks, so she decided to put me out of my misery and recommended your site. I perused through your site to see if anyone had a similar struggle, and I didn't come across one. So I thought I would see if you could point me in the right direction or perhaps post about it.
Here is my perceived problem. Our last name is Oliver. 3 syllables. Begins with a vowel. Ends in a strong R. It seems, in our quest for a girl's name, that every girl's name begins in a vowel or ends in one. For example, Carina or Emmaline (which we like.) And names like with an R don't work because of the two strong Rs. For example, Riley or Jennifer (which we don't like anyway.) To throw a wrench in the mix, I'm also wedded to the idea of a name with nickname possibilities. So even though I like the name Coraline, the nickname Cora puts me back in the "girls names that end in a vowel" category.This is all rather frustrating since we have a son whose name we love and found pretty easily. We went with William and his nickname is Liam (Irish nickname vs. the common Will or Bill in the U.S.) It seems to be a strong first name with a cute nickname. Yet, if he wants, he can go by Bill or Will in the future. Plenty of options. The name is only two syllables, which makes the point about syllables seem valid. His middle name is Rockwell - a family twist on my husband's name that means 'rocky ledge' and my father's name.The one name that I really like is Gwendolyn. Elegant. Classy. Not too popular. With great nickname options like Gwen or Wendy or Lyn. And I think Lyn and Liam may be cute sibling names, and both would have a variety of nickname options to choose from in the future. Plus, the nicknames are different from their actual first names, though both using the last letters of their given name, making the use of their names similar, if you follow me on that logic and potential coolness factor. Until someone told me that Gwendolyn Oliver is a mouthful since it is a dual three syllable name.I've also been considering the middle name Annabeth, which combines my Mom's middle name of Elizabeth with my grandmother's name of Ann. Again, since my son's middle name is a family twist, I thought it should carry through to her too. But Gwendolyn Annabeth Oliver may be syllable overkill.All in all, hoping you can help. Because what is currently making me hyperventilate, I'm hoping is either a fun challenge for you or something you think is a piece of cake. Neither, of which, I'm currently thinking or may be overthinking.
I think it would be useful to start by separating preferences from requirements. Right now you want the name to:
- not contain a strong R sound
- not end with a vowel
- not start with a vowel
- not have too many syllables
- have a nickname
- have the nickname not end in a vowel
- have the nickname not start with a vowel
- have a middle name that is a mash-up of relative names
- line up with your son's name at each comparison point
And all those are in addition to having a somewhat difficult surname to work with. (If it would be helpful, we've done a couple of posts with the same surname: Baby Boy-Girl Twins Oliver and Baby Girl Oliver.)
I think the first preferences I'd suggest eliminating are the ones about vowels and syllables. Those are matters purely of taste and not of name law, and can instead be taken on a case-by-case basis. Some names that start or end with vowels might sound bumpy, but some will not---and some consonant sounds will run together with Oliver. Some longer names may sound, as Laura Wattenberg puts it, "like falling down stairs"; others will sound great. And names that sound great to you may sound like a mouthful to someone else and vice versa, but this just means it's a nice thing we all name our own children.
So my first question is: Do YOU think Gwendolyn Oliver sounds like a mouthful? My own tastes run toward longer names for girls, and I'm not put off by lots of syllables. Syllable-wise, I would use Gwendolyn Annabeth Oliver without blinking; in fact, my daughter's name has more syllables than that. If the 3-3-3 pattern is not to your own tastes, I'd be equally likely to suggest going longer as to suggest going shorter: Gwendolyn Elizabeth Oliver is nice, and is more of an honor to your mother than using the fourth syllable of her middle name.
As you can see from the Elizabeth suggestion, the next preference I'd suggest letting go of is the one where your daughter's name has to line up with your son's in every element. Not only is success in this area unnecessary, it will make things exponentially more difficult if you have more children later. I do enjoy it when sibling names coordinate, and it does please me when things line up nicely (everyone having a family middle name, for example, or everyone having a similar type of nickname), but you can drive yourself crazy requiring it for every single element of the name. I suggest choosing the part or parts where it's most important to you that it match, but then seeing if you can keep it loose: for example, giving both children family names in the middle-name slot, but not requiring that both family names be clever mash-ups. Or giving both children names with good nicknames that go well together, but not trying to match the end-of-name source.
If nicknames are important, most of the candidates will be longer names. One possibility is to use a name like Margaret: it has tons of adorable nicknames (Greta, Daisy, Meg, Maggie, Maisie), but is commonly pronounced with two syllables (MAR-gret). Margaret Annabeth Oliver; William and Margaret; Liam and Greta.
Or Charlotte has Charlie or Lottie. Charlotte Annabeth Oliver; William and Charlotte; Liam and Lottie.
Or Violet has Vi and Lettie. Violet Annabeth Oliver; William and Violet; Liam and Lettie.
Or, Elizabeth has four syllables to break up the 3-3 pattern, and also has tons of nicknames (Bess, Betsy, Libby, Lizzie, Beth). Elizabeth Ann Oliver; William and Elizabeth; Liam and Beth, or Liam and Lizzy, or Liam and Libby.
But if you agree on Gwendolyn and it meets all your preferences, I'd ignore the "mouthful" objection: one tiny (and subjective) downfall like that doesn't seem like much when balanced against all the preferences it meets.