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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baby Girl Br@y; Nothing Stands Out as The Name

Alexandra writes:
I'm a long time blog reader and am pregnant with my first baby, a little girl. My husband and I are thrilled and cannot wait to meet her in early November but are having trouble thinking about names. I actually had a nightmare that our poor baby girl was nameless for several months after her birth. We can't have this happen!

Since I've been reading your blog for a long time one of the first things I did once we started to think about names was to go out and buy the "Baby Name Wizard" book and re-read your post, "Baby Naming Advice for First Time Parents." We took your advice and started to think about our naming style and future sibling names. Pretty much right away it was clear to us that our naming style was antique charm. I like almost every name on the list! However, here is the issue, while I seem to like all these names, none of them are standing out to me and none are entering into the love category. If this baby were a boy we would have named him Leo or Everett (love these both). Our last name is Br@y which doesn't pose too many limitations.

We don't have many name restrictions in mind so are not sure why this is so difficult! We are also both Canadians with a French Canadian background so prefer the French spellings of the names in the antique charm style. The only thing I will say is that we don't want a name that is too popular (i.e. top 10). The top 10 in Canada and the US are actually very similar so we've been consulting the SSA website.

Here are a few of the names that we like from the antique charm style:

-    Nora
-    Evelyne
-    Vivienne
-    Lucie
-    Leila

For middle names we would like to use a family name. Some options (but we really haven't even gotten this far yet):

-    Catherine
-    Marie
-    Cynthia
-    Barbara
-    Rose
-    Irene
Please help us get out of our rut! None of these names seem like our baby and I can't seem to think of any new possibilities outside of this naming style. Thanks so much!

P.S - We promise to send an update with an adorable baby photo. :-)

When The Baby Name Wizard's Antique Charm category is not quite the thing, I often find success in the Exotic Traditionals and Ladies and Gentlemen categories: they feel to me like more extreme versions of the names in Antique Charm.

I would also play the game I like to play with that book: I look up each name on my list, and then I look at the sibling names suggested by the author for that name, and I pick one brother or sister name and go look up THAT name and look at THOSE sibling names---and so on. It's Choose-Your-Own-Adventure baby naming! Sometimes I find myself in a loop of names I love, which tells me I've got a good consistent list; sometimes I find new candidates to consider; sometimes I find that I'm disappointed/glad to see certain names mentioned, which tells me more about my preferences; sometimes I dead-end in an area where none of the names appeal, so I start over with a new name.

Another game I play is to brainstorm names similar to the ones on my list---either off the top of my head, or by looking in a baby name dictionary, or by searching the name database for name segments (ora, lyn, enne, cie, lei, etc.). So for example, your list of five might turn into something like this:


Partly this is to get new ideas, but partly this is because I've found that the more I play around with the names I'm considering, the more likely it is a favorite will begin to emerge. This is why I also recommend other games such as Future Sibling Names, name ranking, Imagined Scenarios, examining movie/television credits---and also, taking breaks from it to let the names simmer.

To play the Future Sibling Names game, let's look at Leo and Everett. If you used Evelyne, would that rule out Everett? Would using Leila rule out Leo? If so, which of each pair of names do you prefer? You probably wouldn't want to give up a girl name you love for a maybe-never-existing chance to use a boy name---but if you greatly prefer the boy name and are equally torn between several girl names, deciding to save the possible future brother name could help you choose between the girl-name candidates.

Playing with first/middle combinations can also be a helpful game. Maybe all five candidates feel about the same, but when you pair one of them with a certain middle name, that combination seems perfect. Nora Catherine. Vivienne Rose. Lucie Irene. Clara Catherine. Cecily Rose.

Or perhaps while playing with the family names for the middle name position, one of THOSE will rise to the top. Catherine Br@y or Rose Br@y would be lovely.


Anonymous said...

I like Myriam and Aline.

Kimberly said...

I like Eleanor/Elinor. Clara is quite lovely too.

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

Here are a few names from my own dream list:

Ophelia (in French, is this Ophelie?)
Cornelia (guess in French this would be Cornelie)

Anonymous said...

If no name is standing out as a clear favorite, but you have a sense of your style, I wonder if you would like to use a longer, classic name with a lot of fun nickname options. This gives you some time to settle on the perfect nickname for your little girl.

If you like Nora & Leo, I wonder if you would like Theodora, with the possible nicknames Theo, Dora, & Teddy/Teddie. Dora & brother Leo. Theo & brother Everett. Theodora Rose.

If you like Nora, Evelyn, and Leila, I wonder if you would like Eleanor, with the possible nicknames Ellie, Elle, Nora, Nell/Nelle, & Lea. Nelle & Leo. Eleanor Cynthia.

Or Margaret, with the nicknames Maggie, Meg, Greta, & Daisy. Margaret Rose. Daisy Rose & Leo.

Or family name Catherine, with possible nicknames Cate, Katie, Cath, Kit, Kat, & Kitty. Kit & Leo is positively feline.

I also think Leo or Lio can work as a girl's name, as a short form of Liora or Leona.

I also wonder if you would like Amelie, or Matilda/Mathilde, or Clemence or Clementine. Amelie Irene. Matilda Marie. Clementine Rose.

From the names on your list, I really like Vivienne. Vivienne Leila or Vivienne Lila is a name I would want for myself.

Best of luck, & congratulations!

liz said...

One of my favorites is Margaret. So versatile!

And I'm also very fond of Georgette.

(Most of my favorite girls names are the names of my favorite authors).

Alexandra said...

Thank you Swistle for posting! You have given us a lot of think about and also, thank you all for the helpful comments!

I checked the Baby Name Wizard and we seem to be on track for sibling names for Leo. She suggests: Charlotte, Isabel, Lucy, Mia, Nora, Olivia, Stella and Natlie.

I do like anonymous's suggestion of a longer name with a shorter nickname. I'm thinking about Ava but feel that it is too popular compared to our other favourite future sibling names (Leo and Everett)... What would work as a longer name with Ava as a nickname? Any suggestions?

I'll also have to think about if Evelyne/Everett and Eleanor/Everett are too similar...I think we will rule out Leila for this reason. Excellent point!

And... so much to think about here... but I love all of your suggested name combinations as well: Nora Catherine. Vivienne Rose. Lucie Irene. Clara Catherine. Cecily Rose.

I will be printing off this blog post and all the comments and bring them with my husband and I on our vacation next week. Thanks again! Alexandra.

gail said...

My favorite name on your short list is Vivienne. With a four-letter surname, I'm tempted to advise the rhythm of a longer first name for balance, because ordinarily (at school, etc.), people will only know the first and last name of a child.

My next favorite suggestions are Coralie or Aurelie. I think Camille would also be awesome. I'd add Rosalie and Eloise and Juliette, and would rave about Leonie except it's way too close to Leo. Or Lucienne. You have so many amazing options with your preferences and last name! Irene would make an unexpected and elegant middle with any of these choices.

(My aunts were named Yolande, Cecile, Ludovine, Lucille, Madeleine, and Alice, my mother-Clarisse.)
So you can see why this excites me!

Best of luck to you, and a wonderful vacation.

nieke said...

Vivienne Rose Br@y is really nice.

I've heard Ava pronounced AH-va, which I think sounds much fresher, but would probably just end up being a pain. Aviva doesn't really fit with the style you describe, but it has a lot of the sounds you like.

Some others that sprang to mind:

Greta (the suggestions of Margaret are great)
Camille (Millie?)

Anonymous said...

Hi again, Alexandra! I posted above about long, classic names with nicknames.

I love Ava, too. Do you like Avalon? Nameberry has a lovely page about its meaning & history:

Avalon Rose Br@y is beautiful. Ava Rose Br@y. If that's too frilly for you, I also like Avalon Irene Br@y.

Avalon sounds a lot like the Evelyne you like, without ruling out the Everett you love. (Avalon & Everett is regal & adorable, in my opinion.) Bonus nicknames: Lonnie, Lo, Val.

StephLove said...

Avalon's a good idea. You could use Avery, too, but it might be too unisex for your style.

I did some first and middle mix and matching:

Evelyne Irene
Leila Rose
Lucie Marie
Nora Barbara
Nora Catherine (saw this on Swistle's list and liked it)
Viviennne Cynthia

Anonymous said...

The first name I thought of was Esme. I think it would go great with Leo or Everett.

Rita said...

Maybe Lucienne as a compromise between Lucie and Vivienne?

Anonymous said...

If you like Ava pronounced "Eh-vuh" What about spelling Evelyne as Evaline? Then Eva would be a natural nickname and you'd still use one of your favorite names, perhaps made more special by a nickname you love. In response to the suggestion of Avalon, what about the French Aveline? It would make using Everett a little less matchy. I love variations of Evelyn! Best of luck fellow Canuck ;)

Megz said...

Although it's not on your list, I really like the classic sound of Emily Br@y. Or perhaps Emilie (sp?) or Amalie Br@y if you prefer the French spelling.

Anonymous said...

A name like Nora & Ava is Nava, a Hebrew name meaning "beautiful." Nava Rose Br@y.

Trudee said...

My husband knows someone named Ave, pronounced AWE-vay. There's something about it that I love. A fresher version of Ava perhaps? It's not a long name with a short nickname, but your post made me think of it immediately. Good luck!

Alexandra said...

Thank you again everyone for the suggestions. You are all so great with the middle names! So many great options to consider.

We do like Esme (Èsmée) but is the Twilight connotation too strong? Will everyone say, "Oh! Like in Twilight?".

I also realized that Ava is even more popular in Canada than the US! It has been in the top 3 in the last several years so I think I will cross that one off the list but do like the longer form suggestions.

Heidi J said...

I personally think of Terry Pratchett's witch when I hear the name Esme, but I suspect most people will think of Twilight over Terry Pratchett if they've heard of it at all.

Anonymous said...

How do you pronounce Leila? LEE-luh? LAY-luh? LIE-luh?

Eva.G said...

Funny story....I actually did name my kitty Esme after Twilight! :-) The only people who occasionally say, "Oh, as in Twilight?" are teenage or 20s something young ladies. Most everyone else (vets, friends or family) just comment on how beautiful and unique it is. Esme is a more obscure character in the books and most people who've only watched the films don't even catch her name. I highly suggest using it!

I do like the suggestion of using 3 syllable names to balance out your last name. I like the suggestion of Avalon. I also really prefer the spelling Evalyn (over Evelyn) - it has the nickname Eva (Eh-va) built in, and it looks so beautiful!

Would you also consider Geneva (again, with nickname Eva {Ee-va})? Or Avonlea? From Anne of Green Gables, it's pronounced Aven-lee. You could even spell it Avonlee or Avenlee. This has long been a favorite of mine!

Other ideas:

Another Erin from the 80s said...

Someone beat me to the Vera suggestion, and I think it is perfect for you. I also like Victoria with a short middle name.

Anonymous said...

what about Aria, or Arianna?

Anonymous said...

My personal favorite from your list is Vivienne because I love the nickname Viv or Vivie so much! I think Everett and Vivienne are perfect together!!

Not sure why but Ava makes me think of Maeve which could be a pretty alternative. Plus, you get the adorable nickname Mae.