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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baby Girl Dry-with-an-F, Sister to Elliot and Emelia: Does She Have to Have an E Name?

Elizabeth writes:
Okay, I've never seen you post an email like this before, but I am writing to you for my sister, who has given me permission to horn in on her baby naming situation to ask for some advice on her behalf. I am such a huge fan of your blog, and long after I had my two boys, I've been checking in to see how you've solved the world's baby naming conundrums.

Okay, so my sister, whose last name is Dry with an F just found out she is pregnant with her third and final baby, a girl, who is due in June. Her first two children have really great names -- great, I think, because they are unique (i.e. not top 100) without sounding so unique that you say "huh"?  I call them classic unique -- Elliot Dallin and Emelia Mollie. Mollie was the middle name of our grandmother, Jane Mollie.

Now, my sister's husband thinks that they need to complete the package with another "E" name, because having two "E" names already, he thinks it's only fair that they name the third the same. He says that he's going to veto anything that doesn't start with an E. My sister isn't sold on needing an "E" name; she doesn't think it's necessary to keep going with the Es and in fact would lean the other direction, not an "E" name. So my first question on their behalf is whether continuing with the "E" names is necessary -- that is, will the third child feel left out if her siblings both have "E" names and she does not?

They don't have ideas in mind, although my sister likes Elisabeth, but thinks it's probably too common, and Emelia, who is four, has put her vote in for Elissa. My sister's husband suggested Elin.

And finally, having a last name like Dry with an F means you have to be a little bit careful not to for example, name the baby Frenchie or Frances. Oh, and my sister and her husband are looking for names to go with Dry with an F that are more than one syllable to even it out.

So, do you have any suggestions for either "E" names that fit the criteria that my sister would love and therefore would not require a veto, or other names that just go nicely with Elliot and Emelia that don't make that song "which one of these doesn't belong here?" start playing in your head?

We'd love your advice.


PS -- My sister added a few likes and dislikes:

I think M's top are
Eloise (Not my favorite)

and mine is
Esmee (I don't want people to say "Es-may" like the French way, so I was thinking about adding the extra e)

but I also like
Elisabeth (can't argue with a family-ish name)/Elis is cute

I pretty strongly veto
Eleanor (too popular right now)

I should find the family tree for middle name ideas.

I have mixed feelings, because on one hand I do think it would be nice to give the third child an E name, and on the other hand I'm annoyed at the idea of one parent declaring that he'll veto anything that isn't an E name. Surely this is a decision for the two parents to make together, not for one parent to refuse to consider anything else.

No, it isn't necessary to have a third E name. And as long as there is no reason for the third child to feel that her parents gave her a non-E-name on purpose in order to exclude her from the family, I don't see any particular reason it will be an issue. If it comes up, it seems as if the answer "Oh! We didn't do that on purpose, we just chose our favorite name each time!" would be fully sufficient to cover the situation for any child not determined to feel upset about it.

I would also recommend taking an approach where the first letter of a name is not given quite so much impact: "Yes, Annabel, that's right: Elliot and Emelia both start with E! And you and Emelia both have an A in your names, but Elliot doesn't; and you and Elliot both have a doubled letter in your names, but Emelia doesn't; and you and Elliot both have three syllables but Emelia has four; and all three of you have L's and E's; and you're the only one with an N, and Emelia is the only one with an M, and Elliot is the only one with a T..." and so on. (This is a pretty fun game to play with little kids.)

I think it also helps in this case that the matched initial is a vowel, so that the starting sounds are more El- and Em- rather than both being E-; and also that Emelia's name hits the ear as if it's Amelia. When said aloud, the sibling group is not going to have the same ear-catching impact as, say, Brian, Brittany, and Samantha: Elliot, Emelia, and Annabel (said aloud rather than seen written down) doesn't catch my ear at all. Even written down, I think the vowel initial of the third name softens the difference. So if they do decide not to use a third E name, I would recommend looking first among other vowel names.

There are other ways to tie a third name in, too. Both Elliot and Emelia have six letters including E, L, and I. Names on the non-E list could be examined for similarities along those lines. Lianna, for example, has the L and the I, and also has six letters, and also repeats the -lia of her sister's name. Or Laurel has six letters and the L and the E. Or Leslie has six letters and the E, the L, and the I. Or Lilian has six letters and the L and the I. Or Violet has six letters and the E, the L, and the I, and if anything makes Emelia the odd one out. Or Linnea has six letters and the E/L/I. And so on.

Effort could also be put into the middle name: the first two children both have six-letter double-L family names; it would be nice to find something similar for the third child.

I notice that all the current candidates are E names, so let's proceed on the assumption that your sister's husband has made this decision for them, and that what we're looking for is an E name.

My first suggestion is Erianna. It's feminine and pretty like Emelia, but not too similar. Elliot, Emelia, and Erianna.

My own favorite E name is probably Eliza. Elliot, Emelia, and Eliza. I THINK the different emphasis and vowel sounds (ee-LY vs. EH-lee) keeps it from being too similar to Elliot.

Or Elena would work well. Elliot, Emelia, and Elena.

Or maybe Ellis, or Ellison, or Everly, or Ellery.

Elsa/Elsie is pretty. Elliot, Emelia, and Elsa.

I'm not sure about the Esme situation. Does your sister want it pronounced Ehz-mee instead of Ehz-may? I am not sure how difficult it would be to get people to do that. Is it pronounced mee or may in the Twilight movies? If the goal is to get the mee sound at the end, I would spell it Esmie.

I love her idea of her naming the baby after you! That would be my top favorite, except I'd spell it the same as your name because I would get weary of correcting the spelling. Elliot, Emelia, and Elizabeth.

I also like Emelia's suggestion of Elissa. Elliot, Emelia, and Elissa. Maybe her given name could be Elisabeth and her nickname could be Elissa.


Anna said...

My mom is a teacher and tells a story about one of the families she taught: the parents' names both began with K, as did the oldest two children. The youngest child was named Erin and, when she was around 5 or 6 and learning to write, took to signing her name KErin, because as she told her mom, "You stole me from the K family!!!"
However, this story is always told with humor rather than the standpoint that Erin felt slighted her whole life.

Michelle said...

I think I would feel more jilted if my mom gave up a name she loved because it didn't 'go' with my siblings. I'm guessing your sister chose the first two names because she liked them. Number three should get the same consideration.

Rayne DeVivo said...

Everyone in my immediate family has an L name except me. I am the youngest, but only by 6 minutes to my twin. I have wondered over the years why I didn't get an L name but that's because I dislike my first name (which I no longer use). It has not been a bother in my life though.

Elisabeth said...

You don't need the E. Like Swistle said, it's really easy to play up other similarities with the names.

My own name is Elisabeth, and I love it. That being said, if the family is worried about spelling, it will be misspelled her entire life.

Amie said...

My suggestion is Estelle or Estella which means star. Elliott, Emilia and Estella. I think it is a fabulous vintage name. I also like Eloise, Evelyn and Edith. But the nickname Eddie might kill Edith.

Betsy said...

She could always name her daughter Elizabeth to get the E name, but use a non-E nickname. So many nicknames to choose from! Lizzie Dry-with-an-F? LOVE.

Julie said...

I am Julie, my sister is Janelle, and my brother is Nicholas. I don't think my brother has ever felt slighted. Maybe I should ask him. :-). Although, my brother and I have family names, but my sister does not, so maybe I should ask her if she feels slighted! My opinion is that no matter the name choice, the story is there to be shared through the family.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I'm generally not a big fan of intentionally matching initials in a sibset and if they thought that they might even maybe consider having a 4th I would advise against it. The pressure they feel now to repeat the "E" trend would only be magnified if more kids were involved.

All that said, if they are pretty sure this is really & truly going to be the last, I'd probably go ahead and do it. They do have E names that they like, so it really doesn't seem to be that big of a deal to just pick one of them (it might be different if there were no E names left that they both liked).

So-Elisabeth might be too common for your sister. What about Elspeth? Comes from the same root, but is much less common. I think you could also use most (or all) of the same nicknames if your sister likes the idea of a non-E nickname for this baby. Eliza is also very nice. Related to Elisabeth but less common. Elisabeth or one of the variations of it would be my favorite pick.

Of the other names listed, Elin is just OK. Eloise is also OK style wise, but I've never been a big fan. Eden is nice but it is also trending up-your sister might be disappointed with the popularity.

Esme, I would suggest not using the extra E. It adds a trendy/kr8tive flair that just doesn't fit with the sibling names. To be honest, I've known a few Esmes and none were Es-may. In fact, I'd be surprised if people defaulted to the French for this name. But this could be regional, maybe a poll of random people you know? Just give them the name written & ask them to read it with no prompting.

StephLove said...

I don't think another E name is necessary but if they decide to go in that direction, I found myself most drawn to Eden and Esme on the list, I think because El names seemed too close to Elliot and Em names seemed too close to Emelia. Then I realized most E names for girls are El or Em names.

But here are a few that aren't


As for non-E names, I like the idea of using a vowel. Annabelle perhaps or Olive? Or maybe an L name to use another shared sound. Elliot, Emelia, and Lydia?

Anonymous said...

What about Evie? I've heard it as a stand alone name on some babies. If you like Esmee you might like the similar sounds without the spelling issue. I like Elin but I wonder if you're pronouncing it as Ellen or like Tiger Woods' jilted wife Ee-lin? That whole ordeal sort of put me off the name and I loved it before! If you pronounce it like Ellen I might recommend spelling it that way too. Other random E names I can think of in no particular order :)
Eileen (I know a lot of people think it's dated but I like it!)

Kaeli said...

We have an Esme and pronounce it EHZ-may, emphasis on the first syllable, instead of Ehz-MAY. In the Twilight movies it is also pronounced EHZ-may, which is where I got the pronunciation and how most people pronounce it if that is their only exposure to the name. It's a beautiful name and get nothing but compliments, so I recommend it. I think it's lovely with Emilia. I too dislike Esmee with two e's. It doesn't look as elegant. Also, you may inadvertently get people to still pronounce it Ehz-may, because the two e's looks like Renee (Re-nay).

However, I don't think you need to use another E name if you don't want to! Each child should get a unique name chosen for them, despite what letter it happens to start with :-)

Manday said...

I am another vote for go with an E if possible but it is not a huge deal if you don't.

Re: Esme. I have never heard it pronounced any other way besides Ez-may, and these comments are making me want to see a poll on the pronunciation. I would definitely spell it Esmie if you want it to be Ez-mee.

My favorite E names -
Eponine (from Les Mis, pronounced Ep-oh-neen)

I like Elise for you because it changes what type of E sound. I also would like an option that was not El/Em since you already have those. Eponine, Esmie, Ebony, Eden, Eudora, Evadine

nikkirm said...

I love Ellison! Some other thoughts:

Everleigh, Evangeline, Etta, Eve, or maybe a double name like Evie Grace?

The Mrs. said...

If they like Esmee, do they like Estee? (I'm talking about the pronounciation of EH-stee, not EH-stay like Estee Lauder).

Esma is also a tried-and-true name that has a similar sound but without the ending issue.

Esther is old-fashioned but definitely holds its own. (It also has six letters like Elliot and Emelia!)

Edith is quaint and barely used at all. Edie (EE-dee) is a pretty cute nickname.

Eglantine (EH-glan-tine) is a lovely Brittish classic.

Eartha (like Eartha Kitt) is cool in a jazzy sort of way, but I'm not sure if it's your sis' style at all.

Eilise has the same feel as Emilia, and the begining sound is different.

Eris is simple (but still with two syllables) and is a nice pairing with Emilia. It doesn't compete with the El or Em of your other children. Everil has the same benefit.

Evangeline has potential... and is, personally, the one I'm rooting for. Elliot, Emilia, and Evangeline.

All the best to your sister's growing family! Please let us know what they decide!

Kim said...

Erica, Ebony, Elise, Elisha, Erina, Evelyn, Elaina and Eliana are 'E' names that I really like.

Other names that aren't 'E' names but sound great with your other children's names:


A middle name that I love with a double 'l',to go with Dallin and Mollie, is Callista.

Hope these suggestions help.

Good luck!

sarahk said...

I would recommend not doing an E name. I don't mean this to sound harsh but I always find it a little cheesey when I meet a family and all the kids have names with the same initials. It is a bit "kardashian" I think would be a good way to put it!

I like the idea of each child's name being chosen based on what your favorite names are, not what letter they start with. Sibling names should go together but remember that as your children age and become professionals, parents and adults in general, their name stands alone and it should be one that both parents love.

I always find it strange (and a little off-putting) when I hear that one parent insists on a particular name or type of name or anything of that nature when naming a child. It should be a collaborative effort. Both parents should love the name.

I vote picking they pick a name they love (and if it happens to be an E name, that is the name they should use).

Patricia said...

I like the idea of this child having a name beginning with E like her older siblings. If more children were planned, then it wouldn't matter, but with just this one more, I'd go with an E name. And there are so many lovely choices as suggested here.

Esme (EZ-may) is one of my favorites, and I have a little niece by that name. I think that's the usual pronunciation, although I've read that it is often pronounced as EZ-mee in the UK where the name is very popular. As for adding an extra 'e' , that actually makes the name more correct in it's French form: Esmé was originally a male name; Esmée was the later feminine form.

I just looked up the most recent (2011) UK baby name stats:
Esme - ranked 72/ 797 girls
Esmee - #332/ 145 girls
Esmae - #402/ 113 girls
Esmai - 31 girls
Esmay - 21 girls
Esmie - 19 girls

With both pronunciations being used, as can be seen through the various spellings, it would seem that with the 797 baby girls given the name Esme in 2011, some are called 'esmay' and others 'esmee'.

Elliot, Emelia and Esme would be very nice together. (I'd use the correct spelling and usual pronunciation of Esme 'EZ-may'.) I think a name that doesn't begin with El- like Elliot is more distinctive in the sibling set.

Patricia said...

PS Here is the name Esme pronounced by someone from the UK and by an Australian:

When my niece was to be named Esme, I was concerned that her name be pronounced the way her parents intended -- 'esmay' -- and not as 'esmee", and suggested they use the accent mark: Esmé. They preferred the name without it. I wouldn't be concerned that naming your baby Esme (intended pronunciation 'esmee' ) would result in her being called 'esmay', as I'm guessing a lot of people are unfamiliar with the name (and the Twilight books/movies) and would say the name as 'esmee'. And even if some 'mispronounce' it initially, they will soon get used to Esme = esmee for your daughter.

You may find this discussion of how to pronounce Esme of interest too:
Perhaps my favorite comment: "my newborn daughter is esme.... I pronounce it es(may) but my husband says es(mee)! I really dont mind as either is just gorgeous!!"

Anonymous said...

My daughter has an E name: Eleni....Greek for Helen. I love it (of course I do!).

Kellyn said...

I definitely think you should stick to E's. I think that Emmalin sounds beautiful with the other two. :) It can be spelled a variety of ways and can be pronounced like Emma-line or Emma-lyn. We are considering it for our baby if it's a girl...and we are going to go with the spelling Emalyn.