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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Should a Girl Named Sloane Have a More Feminine Middle Name?

N. writes:
In an effort to get some honest feedback without having to tell family and friends our short list of names, I'm coming to the expert (and loyal readers!) for advice.

We're expecting a girl this fall and have a few names that we like, but our definite frontrunner is Sloane Wesleigh. Both my husband and I adore Sloane and think it's fits with our personalities and naming style and it goes well with our last name. My only concern is that because Sloane is unisex, Wesleigh is too masculine to go along with it. My husband sees no problem with it (but he only recently discovered that Sloan is used a boy name also...apparently only one of us is "research mode"). That said, I really like the way the two names flow and think Wesleigh has that "cool" (but not too trendy) vibe that we like too. Perhaps we need something similar but a little more girly? My fear is that when the little lady arrives, we announce her name and people still have no idea if we had a girl or boy.

Do you think we need a more feminine middle name to balance out the androgyny of Sloane? Or the opposite, do the two unisex names match one another?

To give you a sense of our taste, here are some of the other names that made our "maybe" list:


*my picks, hubs is not a fan of these

Family names include: Lindsay, Mason, Mary
Boy names that we like: Finn, Sullivan, Abel

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or tips!

With first names that can be used for either boys or girls, my own personal preference is to use the middle name to clarify things. So, for example, if the child's first name is Cameron, I like the middle name to be Jacob or Olivia, not Riley or Jordan.

But there are arguments for not bothering with this. For one thing, your friends and family will have ways other than the name for determining if you've had a boy or a girl. And some people make the deliberate decision to use a name that doesn't instantly communicate the sex (for resumes and college applications, mostly).

But in any case, because Sloane is used much more often for girls in the United States (there were 861 girls and 87 boys named Sloane/Sloan in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration), and because you've feminized the spelling of Wesleigh, the name reads girl to me. I would feel an urge to double-check, just as I would with a Camryn Ryleigh, but I'd feel pretty confident.

In fact, my main issue with Wesleigh is that the spelling looks to me as if it might be pronounced Wes-SLAY, because of the word sleigh; I'm familiar with -leigh as -lee from Ashleigh and Ryleigh and of course Leigh, but after a plain S it threw me. Still, it took all of a second or two for me to realize it must be pronounced like Wesley, and in the middle name position it's not going to cause trouble or confusion. Plus, spelling it Wesley would tip me the other way, to being more sure the baby was a boy.

If you did decide you wanted to go more feminine, Sloane Lesleigh would be pretty. Lesley used to be a unisex name but has now gone almost completely girl in the United States.

Or Sloane Kelsey.

Or Sloane Paisley.

Or Sloane Cecily. It has a lot of S sounds, but I find I like it.

Or Sloane Vanessa.

Or Sloane Hayleigh.

Or Sloane Briony.

Or Sloane Waverly.

Or Sloane Eliza. I realize that one takes a sharp style turn, but I think it has a cool sound with Sloane.

I also think Sloane Lindsay sounds wonderful, and it appeals to me to use a family name.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for "Should Sloane have a more feminine middle name than Wesleigh?" (410 votes total):

No, Wesleigh is feminine enough - 50 votes (12%)
No, I like the idea of it being unisex - 27 votes (7%)
Yes, it needs a more feminine middle name - 316 votes (78%)
I can't decide - 17 votes (4%)

Name update! N. writes:
We welcomed Sloane Everly on October 11 and are in love with her and her name! Thanks for the advice and suggestions!


Abby@AppMtn said...

I voted for a more feminine middle.

Sloane is a great name - really one of my favorites. And I'd expect Sloane to be a girl, for the reasons Swistle listed.

But I do think there's always some wisdom in giving a child options. Sloane Elisabeth was my first thought - one modern, trim, and unisex name paired with a feminine classic.

From Swistle's list, I love Sloane Cecily, too. Sloane Leslie would be my next pick.

While a more feminine would be my preference, there have been lots of kids with double gender-neutral names in recent years, and I don't think it causes real problems - any name can cause the occasional hiccup. So if Sloane Wesleigh is what you love, go for it!

StephLove said...

I think Sloan Lindsay is a great choice, for the reasons Swistle outlined. I also like Bronwyn or Maeve for the middle. I know your husband is not a fan of those two but for the middle it might be an easier sell.

Patricia said...

Sloane Marley

It seems perfect for you: family name Mary + ends in ley like Wesley.

I definitely think Sloane needs a clearly feminine middle name and would recommend a name that is spelled the usual way.

I also like Sloane Elizabeth very much. Elizabeth is such a grand, classic female name and has often been used to balance an unusual, boyish or less formal first name.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion of Sloane Elizabeth brings to mind that Sloane itself has a similarity to several classic mid-20th century popular girls' names:

SusaN -- both start with S, end with N, have 5 letters

JOAN -- rhyming names

Ann/Anne -- two choices: with or without the 'e'

Yet because Sloane is very unfamiliar to most people and has a masculine/surname sound to it too, I'd definitely use a clearly female middle name.

Anonymous said...

I know a boy named Sloane Wesley so to me it seems very masculine. And considering you'll be telling the name to people in everyday situations, they aren't going to know about the "Leigh" ending unless you make a point of informing them. Would you ever consider saving Wesleigh for a second girl? I think if you give Sloane a more recognizably feminine name, then a future sibling Wesleigh could carry on the trend.

Anonymous said...

"Sleigh" jumps out at me too when I see the letters Wesleigh. I don't think using the mn Wesley -- with any spelling -- makes the name Sloane *sound* clearly feminine. I'd chose something else for the mn.

Rita said...

Definitely use a feminine given name somewhere, preferably something classic since it's very likely Sloane will sound dated and oldfashioned in 20 years or so. If your heart is really set on Sloane Weasleigh, you could always add a second middle name.

Sloane Mary or even Sloane Weasleigh Mary sounds great to me. It's always a plus to use a family name!

Anonymous said...

I would also prefer a more feminine name with Sloane and I'm another person who got the sleigh in Wesleigh. And to be honest, Wesleigh just doesn't look pretty to me. If you love the name, I'd suggest reserving Wesley & use it as a first name for a boy. It's a great name, I just don't think it works with the alternate spelling.
From your list, I really like Sloane Brownyn. I also like Sloane Lindsay. Maisie sounds a bit like Maeve & could be a tribute name for Mason. Sloane Maisie.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Sloane Paisley, but Sloane Wesleigh is good too and the spelling of Wesleigh makes it more feminine.

Anonymous said...

what about sloane wesleigh marie?

i know a girl named cody austin, and while people are puzzled an she gets some confused looks, it hasn't bothered or interfered in her daily life at all.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest Sloane Weslie (I know a female Weslie with that spelling). I think it's unique and feminine -- that spelling -- but avoids the "sleigh" factor.

I personally think that Sloane works WELL with a middle name like Wesley and a "Sloane Elizabeth" sounds strangely mismatched, with the Elizabeth functioning more as a "yes, I'm a girl" confirmation than a genuinely aesthetically appealing second name. I say this as someone whose favorite first name is Eliza and who loves the more traditional, feminine names. If you're going with a cool unisex name, I'd say go all the way.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I can't say I particularly like the look or sound of Wesleigh. I agree with the poster who suggested saving Wesley for a future boy.

Perhaps you might like Sloane Ashleigh instead?

Lauren said...

Before reading the response my first instinct was Sloane Waverly so I was pretty excited to see that as a suggestion. Sloane is a great fn and it sounds like there's a number of great mn options. Congrats and best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Well honestly all the alternative middle names you have are just as strong as Wesley. So I think as long as you truly like Wesley you should choose it.
Also another name that's underlying used that is a strong yet has the female appeal is Bromley.

sassafrassy said...

I really like Sloane Violet.

Laura said...

I personally think of Sloane (especially with the "e" on the end) is a feminine name and middle names are so rarely used in everyday life that you should pick the name you love. Interestingly, I had a friend who didn't know the gender of her baby before its arrival send me a text that said "Emory Lee is here!". Totally thought it was a boy but once I later found out Emory Lee was a girl, I never thought twice about it. It's just a unisex name. So if friends and family already know you are having a girl, I really don't think the middle name will be an issue! Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

I think the name Sloane (with an e) is clearly feminine, and the spelling of Wesleigh is clearly feminine, though I personally don't care for the name Wesleigh and find it trendy. I do like Sloane and think you should just pick whatever middle you like best - if that is Wesleigh, go for it and have no worries that it will be mistaken for a male name. It seems to me to be an obviously feminine version of the name Wesley.

karintha said...

I love what you've chosen, but I have a daughter named Afton Rhys, so maybe I'm biased? Sloane with the e reads more feminine than unisex to me.

We picked names we loved and spellings we preferred, even though Afton is very unisex (our son would've had the same first name because it was a sentimental choice) and Rhys is the masculine spelling, but we thought it was closer to the Welsh original and liked the look of it better.

A boy would've had the middle name Sterling, which I've seen on girls, but is a male ancestor on my husband's side...

We didn't set out to have a unisex name, but now we figure that resumes and applications will make people wonder and then when our very girly Afton arrives, she'll be a nice surprise =)

Long-winded response to say Hurrah, Sloane Wesleigh!

AB said...

I agree with Laura - she won't introduce herself with both names so I don't think a "more feminine" middle name is necessary. The first time I heard the name Sloane was in college, and then I met a boy and girl both named that! (born mid-80s) But I would have never thought to ask the female Sloane's middle name to make sure it balanced her first name out.

Eva.G said...

I just want to say how much I love the name Sloane! I so wish I could use it for a daughter!

I voted for a more feminine middle, but I'm not passionate about it either way. I do, however, prefer Wesley for a boy.

I do like Sloane Kelsey, Sloane Lindsay and LOVE Sloane Waverly! Good luck!

AirLand said...

I think Sloane is clearly a girl name, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily feminine. It's more of a "no frills" name to me. So, for that reason, I'd pick a different middle name.

I'm also not a fan of how Wesleigh looks.

I really like the suggestion of Waverly. Feminine, but not overly-so. Has a preppy vibe that matches Sloane really well.

N said...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and/or vote! You helped me to justify my hormonal freak outs and second guessing. That said, tons of lovely suggestions - I especially like Sloane Violet. Some other middle names that I've been mulling over are Everly (similar vibe as Waverly and Wesleigh, no?) and Aubrey. Thanks again Swistle et al! I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Sloane Everly is lovely! I do like the one-syllable first name followed by the three-syllable middle. But Sloane Aubrey and Sloane Violet are also nice. You have some great options! Best wishes...