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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby Girl or Boy Marek-with-an-R, Sibling to Annabel and Emmaline

D. writes:
Dear Swistle and Swistle's Readers--
I have been a fan of this blog for years (it was reassuring to discover so many others enjoy discussing names and the pleasures and pressures of naming other human beings!). We are expecting our third--and, given my advanced maternal age, final--child in November (Thanksgiving week!). We do not know the sex of the baby (we did not find out for the others, either) and are really kind of stumped for any names we agree on. Mostly we want a name that fits with the siblings, but we/I may also have too many "rules" that get in the way. Any advice, inspiration, suggestions, reassurances, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

So, here are the details:
Our last name kind of sounds like "Marek" but with an "R";
Husband and I both have (fairly uncommon) names that start with "D" and would like to avoid another "D" name;
Daughters are Annabel and Emmaline (--line, not --leen, nn "Mimi" given to her by her big sister and it has stuck!);
We would rather not repeat "A" or "E" (we find that we put initials on so many things, it is just easier not to repeat);
I would love, for a girl, another 3-syllable name that starts with a vowel but am finding "I," "O," and "U" to be tough letters;
A boy would have the middle names "David Lee" (honor names not, as my husband jokes, a tribute to David Lee Roth);
Both girls have 2 middle names (honor names) and we would do the same for this child, if she's a girl, but we want to know the first name before we start deciding on middles.

Choices currently in the mix:

Beatrice (has been in my top 3 since my first pregnancy but husband is not quite sold, though he is warming up)
Heloise (I am half French, so this spelling makes sense, plus this gets us an "E" name without using the vowel--worried that it is not an option since one of Emmaline's middle names is "Louise")
Mirabel (my mother is bothered that "Mirabelle" is a fruit in French, husband thinks another "bel" is one too many)
Ottoline (husband's middle name is "Otto" but he is *definitely* not sold; I am worried it will lead to lots of teasing but I think the name is very sweet)
Margaret/Marguerite (family name, seems so stern next to Annabel and Emmaline!)
Lorelei (husband's longtime favorite, I am not sure)
Matilda (love "Tillie," not sure of the name in the sib set)
Winifred (I love this name, everyone else thinks I am crazy)

Conrad (has been top contender in each pregnancy, it is the name of my husband's first ancestor to come to the US, but we have two issues: husband prefers "Konrad," which I really don't, and it feels like a great man's name but a tough little boy's name)
Henry (this would've been Emmaline's name if she had been a boy, now it feels strange to use it--as if it is second-hand or something)
Jonathan (I love, husband does not)
Michael (we are lukewarm--is it too plain in the sibling set?)
Roderick (husband says no way, never)
Lawrence (worried "Lawrence `Marek'" sounds like "Lawrence Welk")
Leonard (too easy to tease with? )
William (strong, solid, but maybe too common?)
Owen (family name but very common in our area)

As you can see we really have our work cut out for us! Any feedback is greatly appreciated since we are really unsure. We know that things can change (Emmaline was "Charlotte" for her first five minutes of life until husband and I made eye contact over her little head and shook our heads at the same time--she was definitely an Emmaline/Mimi), but we would love to be going into delivery with some options!

Thank you again for taking the time to consider our plight!

Oh! Oh oh oh! For a girl, I have the three-syllable, I/O/U name for you: Imogen. IMOGEN. Annabel, Emmaline, and Imogen. A, E, I---they're even in order!

Second suggestion: Idalyn. It can be pronounced EYE-dah-lin, or more like Ida Lynn. We know an Eidelyn who goes by Eidey (EYE-dee) and it has grown on me SO MUCH. I like the E-spelling better, but the I-spelling gives you a new initial.

If you're willing to add a syllable, I think Iliana is so pretty. I'm not sure how I'd spell it. Illianna? Ilianna? Illiana? Iliana? Ileanna? In 2011, the Social Security Administration reports 397 new baby girls named Iliana, 89 named Illiana, 49 named Ilianna, 39 named Ilyana, 33 named Illyana, and so on. My own preference, then, would be to go with Iliana, since that appears to be the most-used spelling.

Ottilie (oh-TEEL-lee-ah or oh-till-lee) is similar to Ottoline and perhaps your husband would prefer it; it also gives you the nickname Tillie. It's quite a bit more unusual than your other daughters' names, though.

Moving away from the vowel/syllable-match preference, I suggest Juliette. Annabel, Emmaline, and Juliette.

Or Clarissa. Annabel, Emmaline, and Clarissa.

Or Melody. Annabel, Emmaline, and Melody.

Or Felicity. Annabel, Emmaline, and Felicity.

Or Genevieve. Annabel, Emmaline, and Genevieve.

Or Cecily. Annabel, Emmaline, and Cecily.

Or Violet. Annabel, Emmaline, and Violet.

Or Bianca. Annabel, Emmaline, and Bianca.

Or Fiona. Annabel, Emmaline, and Fiona.

Or Penelope. Annabel, Emmaline, and Penelope.

I think it is fine to use Heloise as a first name even if another daughter has Louise as one of her middle names. Are you pronouncing it with no H sound, like Eloise? I think Hints From Heloise may have made that pronunciation a hard-sell in the United States.

I agree that Margaret seems a little different in style than Annabel and Emmaline, but Marguerite seems to me to have more of their light style---even more so if you use the French-wordplay nickname Daisy. Annabel, Mimi, and Daisy.

I love Lorelei in this sibling set. Annabel, Emmaline, and Lorelei! Very nice. I think Matilda is great, too. I'm picturing Annie, Mimi, and Tillie---so cute!

I like Beatrix even more than Beatrice. Annabel, Emmaline, and Beatrix.

I agree that Mirabel is too many -bel endings, but do you like Miranda? Annabel, Emmaline, and Miranda.

Isabel is also out because of Annabel, but Isadora would work. Annabel, Emmaline, and Isadora.

For a boy, I think Conrad is a great choice. I too would greatly prefer the C spelling, and in fact the K spelling might be a deal-breaker for me. Although---was that the way the ancestor spelled it, with a K? Because that might tip me.

Henry seems so perfect, I feel inclined to pressure you. I understand that feeling of it being almost a handmedown name, but I think that is the sort of feeling people can sometimes spin-talk themselves out of. If you imagine all the children you will have, standing in a little line waiting to be born, and if you imagine thinking to yourself, "Well, if the next baby is a girl, she will be Emmaline; and if instead the next baby is a boy, he will be Henry," and then a little girl steps forward with a little boy behind her---then it is not as if the name Henry evaporated with The Boy Who Never Was, or as if the name was a rejected name, it's just that you thought of his name one line position too early. It was not Henry's turn yet, that's all. (...Is it working?)

I suspect Oliver doesn't work well with the surname, is that right? It's too bad, because I think of it as very similar in style to Henry and to your daughters' names, and it has three syllables and starts with an unused-initial vowel. Annabel, Emmaline, and Oliver.

I like Felix with the sibling names: Annabel, Emmaline, and Felix.

Name update! D. writes:
Dear Swistle and her readers--
First off, let me say thank you so very much for responding to our name questions. Not only did you offer some wonderful possibilities for a boy or girl, but you also proved to my husband that Ottoline and Imogen were, in fact, "real" names that people other than me actually do like! :-) Your responses were thoughtful and helpful and my husband and I both returned regularly to the comments to consider and re-consider some contenders.

In the end, our baby was born on November 21, the night before Thanksgiving. And what a BIG surprise! First of all, he is a boy! Everyone, including my OB, was sure we were having a girl. We even went to the hospital with a pink car seat! His first bath at home was with a pink towel! Second, he was actually BIG--9 lbs, 10 oz, and over 21". He was born after only 5 minutes of pushing; the nurses kept coming by to visit the almost-10-pounder born in 5 minutes and without a c-section. So overall, a big surprise and an even bigger blessing.

We had gone in expecting a Beatrice or Josephine (middle names Augusta Rose, for family members) and were suddenly faced with a boy. We had agreed on Henry and when we saw his size our OB joked that we could go with Hank the Tank as a nickname. I was happy with Henry but my husband, He-of-the-Non-Opinion in naming conversations, declared he wanted a "bigger" name. He wanted our son to have a name that was big but gentle and that made him think of Benjamin. I was not sure, I was kind of dedicated to Henry, so we lived with it a while, tried other names, but it was soon pretty clear that he was our Benjamin, our Big Ben, Gentle Ben, Baby Ben, Benny, and even Jamie. So after all those months of wanting to find a unique yet traditional name, my husband chose the 3rd most popular name in our state, the 2nd most popular in our neighboring state, and a top 30 name nation-wide! And I, more than anyone, am surprised at how much that doesn't bother me; I realized there is a reason popular names are popular--they appeal to many of us, and for good reason! Our only surprise has been the number of people who have asked us if he is named for religious reasons. It never occurred to me that the name was identified more with one faith than another. But everyone seems to like the name, and many people have said "Oh, I have never known a Ben that wasn't a nice guy!" And that is pretty awesome.

So here he is, our beautiful boy, Benjamin David Lee "Marek", at 36 hours old. Thank you so much for your advice and naming inspiration--I continue to read the blog with great interest (and a tiny  bit of envy that my baby-naming days are over).

Happy holidays to everyone, a wonderful 2013, and the best of luck and joy to all the expecting parents!


Lauren said...

I second Imogen! I thought of it immediately when you said you wanted another three-syllable name starting with a different vowel.

For a boy, I think Henry is darling! I would also love to throw in Theodore, as it seems traditional-yet-unique enough to work for you, and I love it with Annabel and Emmeline/Mimi...maybe?


Lauren said...

I'm sorry I misspelled Emmaline's name! How very embarrassing.

Rayne of Terror said...

The geographical border area of Indiana and Illinois is often called Illiana, so if you live in either state I'd say the name would bring to mind car dealership advertisements. But if you live anywhere else - have at it.

I like Imogen very much as well as Isadora.

Anonymous said...

Ottilie! Ottilie! Ottilie! Adorable.

Anonymous said...

I love Imogen! Instead of Iliana, how about Ilana? Ursula (nn Sula)?

Laura said...

What about Clotilde with the nickname Tillie?

Mirabel makes me think of Marisol.

Or Jocelyn?

For boys, I've always secretly loved Frederick with the nickname Fritz.

Lindsay said...

I think Olivia would be a great fit. Annabel, Emmaline, and Olivia.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to suggest Ophelia. I came across it when reading a novel and I've loved it since. Also, adore Imogen.

Annika said...

Imogen Imogen Imogen!

Averella said...

I think Isannah would be a good fit, but sadly has anna in it like annabel

Miranda said...

I ADORE Imogen!!! It fits perfectly!!

Anonymous said...

Annabel, Emmaline & Cordelia
Annabel, Emmaline & Felicity
Annabel, Emmaline & Georgia
Annabel, Emmaline & Isadora
Annabel, Emmaline & Josephine
Annabel, Emmaline & Miriam
Annabel, Emmaline & Marianne
Annabel, Emmaline & Serena
Annabel, Emmaline & Tabitha

StephLove said...

Imogen is so perfect I hesitate to mention anything else but I do like Beatrice, Marguerite/Daisy and Matilda for you.

For a boy I think Conrad and Henry are great choices. I know you only wanted a vowel name for a girl but Isaiah popped into my mind.

Anonymous said...

I am in love with all of these choices! I think Imogen probably ticks the most boxes on your list but I can't get over how much a feminine version of Otto appeals to me. Ottilia is my favorite. My husband also loves Lorelei. I think it would match really well with your names and also give your husband a name choice he loves which would be thoughtful. For boys I'd urge you to use Konrad, K and all, except I think "Henry David Lee" sounds more fitting than "Konrad David Lee". Sort of like Konrad hopped off the boat and the Ellis Island guys were like ummmm middle name inaudible, lets write down "David Lee". Good luck, you really can't do wrong with your choices.

Anonymous said...

Imogen is delightful with the other names. Odette, Cecily, Oceane, Gwendolyn (nn Winnie, Wendy, or Gwen) all came to mind. What about adding something to Margaret to soften it for you, like Ivy Margaret? Lorelei and Beatrice are gorgeous choices as well.

Anonymous said...

Imogen is beautiful with the others if you use her full name...but if big sisters have a go at nicknames again, you may end up with Immy-and Immy and Mimi wont work. You would have to push nickname Genna or Genny.
I did think of Indigo, lovely, but a different naming style.
Lorelei is a bit different too, but very very pretty.
Marguerite is stunning, and Maggie or Margie or Rita or Daisy offer loads of nicknames.
Olivia works well with the other names if you need that vowel, and Liv or Livia are lovely nn.
I think Henry David Lee is a Magical combination of names which matches perfectly. But Conrad David Lee could also work if you want 3 honour names, and I think you would be surprised that he would wear his name well even as a little boy. You will get positive comments I think.

Caitie O. said...

I instantly also thought Ottilie and Imogen!

What about Odette?

I also get a bit of a country chic vibe from Annabel and Emmaline so I think Georgia, Josephine, Laurel, or Louella (maybe too country) sound very good with them.

My absolute favourite though is Winifred (nickname Winnie or Effie or even Freddie). Winifred would be my number one choice for a future daughter is my husband's number one for a boy wasn't Ewan (too many win sounds). So I would LOVE to see someone use Winifred, it has great nicknames, a great meaning, and its uncommon!

And how about George for a boy!

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought of Isadora, which I think would go so nicely with your other daughters' names. I also absolutely adore Beatrice and Winifred. I know a baby Winnie and I think it is the cutest name!

For boys I agree with Swistle that Oliver seems perfect, but if that's out for some reason I really love Henry with Annabel and Emmaline.

Anonymous said...

For girls, what about Ophelia, Isolde or Ursula? For a boy I thought of Isaiah.
Olivia also works style-wise but is more popular than your daughters' names.
I do really like the I, O or U idea and would probably consider that a more important requirement than the syllable count. If you are willing to overlook the syllables, you'd open up a lot more options. Isadora, Octavia, Ivy, Iris, Olive.

Beatrice is lovely. I would rule out Heloise (I do think it is too close to Louise) and Mirabel (because of the double Belle, not the plum!) Lorelai & Ottoline just seem a little off with the sister names. Margaret, Matilda & Winifred are all great but they do seem a bit stern next to Annabelle & Emmaline.

Conrad is fine, though I do prefer the C. Konnie is the traditional German nickname for Konrad, but it probably reads as girl here in the U.S.
Henry, Jonathan, Michael, William and Owen are all great. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them (and no, I don't think Michael is too plain).
I am not a fan of Roderick, Lawrence or Leonard.
Some other vowel boy names, Isaac, Isaiah, Ian, Orion, Orson, Oscar.

Bonnie said...

My vote is for Ottilie. I think it is so cute and underused. However, if you are looking for other three syllable names I suggest Isodore (Isodora is four syllables but Isodore is three), Rosalie (I really like this with your girls' names) and Eliza.

For a boy, I recommend Isaiah (3 syllables and with a vowel). Otherwise, I like Sebastian, Nathaniel (possible nickname Nate), Gideon, Tobias, or Benjamin for your family.

Rita said...

Another vote for Imogen! I love Beatrice and MMatilda too.

Annabel, Emmaline and:
~ Isabeau
~ Ianthe
~ Idony
~ Isolda
~ Iolande
~ Ophélie
~ Olivia
~ Olympia ("Ollie")
~ Oriana
~ Ursula ("Ully"/"Uschi"/"Ulla")
~ Unity
~ Urania ("Rainey")

For boys, I love Conrad / Konrad. The K spelling is fine for me since a) it's the legitimate German form of the name and b) Annabel and Emmaline both have a more unusual spelling, too.

~ Benedict
~ Matthias
~ John
~ Jonas
~ Winston
~ Rory (on it's own or as short for Roderick)
~ Gabriel
~ Isaac
~ Ivan
~ Inigo
~ Oscar

Claire Wessel said...

Since you like Ottoline and Matilda (Tilly) but aren't sold, May I suggest Ottilia? I've never heard it in the US but it was one of my Swedish great-grandmother's middle names, so I know it's not made up :) I lovve it, but couldn't sell the hubby on it.

Anonymous said...

I recently heard the name Olena...kind of pretty, no?

Christine said...

I lovve Isadore(a) with the siblings. I also immediately thought of Dorothy, which I think might be one of those names that I love and no one else likes, but I really do love it, plus the nickname Dot! Dottie! I die from cute. It might be hard with your last name though since it seems it's R heavy. Hmmm... I actually prefer the sound of the sibset with a consonant thrown in. Beatrice is another of my faves and I think it's adorable with Annabel and Emmaline. It's a different enough sound and is so sweet.

I love Conrad and Henry for a boy! Good luck.

Wendy said...

How about Ophelia? I love it, 3 syllabus, vowels, etc.

I love the name Winifred. My given name is Wendy, and I was nicknamed Winifred or Fred, and I pretty much thought it was the pinnacle of cuteness.

And I think Konrad is lovely as well. Conrad is nice as well, but I love the traditional German spelling.

Lindsey said...

Imogen! I thought of it as soon as you said 3 syllable baby name starting with an I. It's my favorite girl name these days.

I do really also love Beatrice.

I grew up knowing an Otelia; perhaps you'd like that.

For boys I love Henry and Conrad.

Katie said...

Loralei. I think it sounds beautiful with your other girls' names. The "L" sounds flow so nicely...
As for the boys? I have loved Conrad for a long time. I do agree though that if you have a nickname as "Con" it may be a bit "bad to the bone".
Congrats and good luck!

Crafty Beth said...

I know it's not really the same style as Annabel and Emmaline, but my friend's daughter is named India and I hadn't seen it mentioned yet in the comments, so I thought I'd throw it out there. Also met an Odessa at our toddler yoga class. My first thought reading your post, like Swistle's and many others, was Imogen--great name that goes well with your girls but has its own sound.

gail said...

Don't get me wrong, I love the name Imogen, but I think it's a tad quirkier than Annabel and Emmaline, and in another way entirely. (I have a friend with teenage daughters Imogen and Cecily). I think the "starting with different vowel thing" is a kind of stumbling block constraint, (and too obvious).

To me, what ties Annabel and Emmaline together is the use of two very traditional names (Anna and Emma) with less traditional endings. To follow suit, I'd suggest Rosamund or Rosalie.

There are so many beautiful names on the table (Swistle and other commenters). Of your suggestions, I love Eloise even though it repeats a vowel--I think in the greater scheme of things, this is minor, and Eloise sounds wonderful with Annabel and Emmaline. My second choice would be Lorelei.

Finding a 3-syllable name for a boy is somehow much trickier. I like the suggestions of Theodore and Nathaniel. You cannot go wrong with Henry. I'm not sure I like the sound of the "rad" syllable of Conrad with your surname....

What about Thaddeus? Or Timothy, maybe Dominick or Matthias or Jeremy. I do find Michael too plain in the sibling set, and I would love Owen with Imogen, but not as much with your sibset. I would keep Leonard in contention, and add Charles.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll find a name that you can love.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I second the motion of Thaddeus above - Thad Marek-with-an-R is THE coolest rockstar name ever, but Thaddeus Marek-with-an-R could totally be a lawyer or a carpenter or a fireman or a mayor.

If your kiddo is a girl, have you considered Vivienne? I find it to be very French, yet not entirely foreign and it SINGS with your sibling set. Annabel, Emmaline and Vivienne. I'm not bothered by the potential nickname Vivi clashing with Mimi because those 'i' sounds are completely different.

Sophie said...

Ireland for a girl would work nicely.

Amy said...

My first thoughts were Isadora (although one syllable too many) and Isabelle (but too many -bels, right?) I think Annabel, Emmaline and Isadora is just lovely!

But out of the suggestions I LOVE Ottilie. Too beautiful in the name set - Annabel, Emmaline and Ottilie!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Imogen, Ottilie (but I always thought it was pronounced AW-ta-lee), Beatrix, Genevieve, and Lorelei!

A few others that could work with various restrictions relaxed: Olivia, Aurelia, Adalia, Ophelia, Evelyne, Elsa, Isla, Isadora, Elodie, Lilabeth, Vivian, Natalia, Seraphina, Josephine.

AirLand said...

Hmm, I guess I'm the only one, but Imogen and Emmaline are way too close for me. I'd agree with an above poster that Imogen is pretty quirky compared to Annabel and Emmaline. I like choosing a different I name though.

Anonymous said...

I recently watched a Norwegian movie that had a character named Iselin (pronounced EE-sell-in). I believe it's a Scandinavian variation of the Gaelic Aisling.... it seems like it might fit your criteria.

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought of Imogen and Isadora when I was reading your letter. I think those are lovely names that work very well with your sibset. I am so glad Swistle suggested them.

I was intrigued with the Otto twist. This may seem a bit out of left field and I know you want to take D names off of the table. Since both you and your hubby have D names and this is your last baby, it could be a cute way to bookend things. Would you consider Dorothy? Anabel, Emmaline, and Dorothy? You could also use the nn of Dottie, a not so far stretch from Otto.

Mary said...

Are you striking off names you love just because they don't start with a vowel?

I think Annabel and Emmaline are gorgeous together and would look for another 3 syllable name to go with it, rather than sticking to the vowel requirement.

For instance,

Annabel, Emmaline and

Veronique (Annie, Mimi, and Vera)

for other vowel names:


The suggestion of Isadora would be great too.

For boys, I think all your names are fab. Henry Conrad would be my favorite. If you're worried about Leonard, what about Leon? Curt could be nickname for Conrad?

Maja said...

Imogen is BEAUTIFUL! You could also do Imogene for a slight shift in pronunciation.

I also love Isadora for you. And I know an Iliana (spelled that way) and she's lovely.

Then... there's India. And Iona, for a Scottish twist. I feel like it's got to be one of those, if you want the "I". Anything more exotic and you stray from that gorgeous old British feel.

Best of luck!

Eva.G said...

Oh my goodness, so many beautiful names have been suggested! You will have a fabulous sibset no matter which way you go. I'm sorry if any of these have already been suggested, but what about.....Isolde! That's another "I" vowel name! I love it.

Annabel, Emmaline and Isolde.

Moving away from vowels, there's:

Gemma (if you don't call Emmaline "Emma")

I'm so excited about the gorgeous girl name opportunities I haven't thought of any boys names. :-) Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I LOVE Conrad. Maybe you'll like Conan? (too Conan O'Brien?)
Also, I don't really like Otillie. It makes me think, Oh! Tillie
I'm a fan of Ophelia however. I find it beautiful for a grown woman and cute for a little girl.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Something I hadn't realized (or rather, had forgotten since the last time I'd looked up the name) is that Otillie pretty much rhymes with Ophelia. I thought it was oh-tilly too, but it's oh-TEEL-lee-ah.

Swistle said...

(Actually, I guess I thought it was like "AH-tilly," like the rhythm of...Kennedy, or something. But you get my point. oh-TEEL-lee-ya.)