Thank you for this wonderful blog- it's the first blog I've ever followed, and it's shown me how fascinating baby naming can be! My husband and I are expecting a baby girl in early June, and we keep coming up against naming dilemmas. I would love some help from you and your readers. My name is Helen, my husband's name is Will, and we have a two-year old son named Benjamin Thomas (we always call him Ben). Our last name is Fl@nagan. This little girl will probably be our last child.
The too much rhythm dilemma: My husband and I both love the name Anna, but I've had negative reactions from a few friends about the repetitiveness of Anna Fl@nagan. Some people feel it's OK, but others have had a pretty negative response. It's hard to know when a bit of a beat is too much rhythm. Of all the names we could pick, should we pick one that's so similar to her last name? I wish I had your magical polling skills at my fingertips! Longer names that could be shortened to Anna don't quite fit for us (e.g., Annabelle, Annaliese)- neither does using a first and middle name most of the time... We'd use the nickname Annie, but would also use Anna a lot of the time.
The too much "Be" dilemma: My husband's all-time favorite girl name is Beth. He would want her to have the full name Elizabeth to fall back on, but would want to call her Beth most of the time. I'm OK with Beth, although I wonder if it's a bit dated... My main dilemma with Beth is its similarily to Ben. Again, of all the names we could pick, should we pick one that's so similar to her brother's name?
The too many nicknames dilemma: When considering the name Beth, I realized that I quite like some other nicknames for Elizabeth: Eliza and Eli. But can we name her Elizabeth and both call her very different nicknames? My husband is OK with Eliza, but strongly prefers Beth. We are both nicknamers, so I doubt that we'd use the full name very often, even if we planned to. Would this end up being confusing for all of us?
Related to this, another name we've considered is Rebecca. If we went with this name, my husband would want to call her Becky and I would want to call her Becca. Oh, and Sarah has also come up- he would want to call her Sarah, and I would want to use the nickname Sadie. For both Rebecca and Sarah, neither of us are huge fans of the name/nickname the other one prefers.
Yesterday, the name Dana came to mind-- as a name somewhat similar to Anna, but without the similarity to her last name. Not sure if this is just a passing thought...
We're quite flexible about our little one's middle name. I'd like an M name for family reasons-- We're considering Marcy (it combines sounds from special family member's names), or Mae (although Elizabeth May is a famous politician in Canada). We aren't likely to use her middle name very often.
We've still got some time to plan, so any extra ideas for first or middle names would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!
I think Anna Fl@nagan is the kind of name where it's very difficult to tell if it's Not Right or if in fact it's Extra Awesome. I have the same uncertain feeling about names with strong alliteration, such as Christopher Cranson, or even stronger connections such as William Williamson. It's like there's a line somewhere between "Hm, no, that's too similar" and "Similar on purpose = memorable and striking!" Here it's not so much the rhythm as the rhyme: Ella Fl@nagan would have the same rhythm but no issues, while Anna Fl@nagan leads to the Anna-Flanna issue.
In this situation, though, the thing that would stop me from using it is that Ben and Anna together sound like banana. That too is the sort of thing that could in fact be Extra Awesome, but for myself I felt weary of it almost immediately, and wouldn't enjoy it as a continued joint nickname, recurring conversation topic, or running joke. And since a common Anna-related nickname is Anna Banana, and there is already rhyme with Anna Flanna-gan---well, again, for someone else it could even IMPROVE things, and if you found you were delighted with the idea then I would be delighted with it TOO and would genuinely enjoy it very much for your family and would have a wonderful time keeping an eye out for banana-themed merchandise to add to your fun family in-joke.
I think Ben and Beth would be too matchy as given names, but cute/fun as nicknames for Benjamin and Elizabeth. If you might have a third child, would you feel pressured to choose another name with a similar nickname?
I suspect that it works fine for two parents to use two different nicknames for their child, but I don't know from personal experience so I'm hoping others will chime in here. It doesn't seem like it would be confusing for any of you---only for people outside the family, who might think to themselves, "Wait, who's this Eliza she's talking about? I thought her kids were Ben and Beth." But it seems as if that would be rather minor, with no big negative consequences to the occasional mix-ups---and it also seems like you'd get in the habit of mentioning it: "These are my kids: Benjamin (we call him Ben) and Elizabeth (we call her Beth and Eliza, so she answers to both)."
My guess is that in some cases, what happens is that the plan is to use two different nicknames, but that one nickname ends up fitting the child better. And of course the child herself may have an opinion on the subject, or may choose yet another nickname.
All of this is for names where both of you are okay with the other parent's nickname choice. For the names where you both actively dislike the other's nickname choice, that seems like a different situation and would make me cross the name off the list. But that can be completely personality-based: it would bug me to keep hearing a nickname I disliked, and it would bug me even more in times when my husband and I were not getting along as well, and I'd be cheesed if my daughter decided later she only wanted to be called by the nickname I disliked. But the next person might not have any of these issues.
Now to find some more suggestions to consider. I've already mentioned Ella, which seems similar to both Anna and Elizabeth but avoids but the rhyming and Be- issues. Ella Fl@nagan; Ben and Ella. But maybe Ella is too close to Helen.
Eve has simplicity and long roots in common with Anna. Eve Fl@nagan; Ben and Eve.
Or Clara seems even more similar in style to Anna, and is also similar to Sarah. Clara Fl@nagan; Ben and Clara.
Or Cora. Cora Fl@nagan; Ben and Cora.
Or Jane. Jane Fl@nagan; Ben and Jane.
Or Rose. Rose Fl@nagan; Ben and Rose.
Or Ruth. Ruth Fl@nagan; Ben and Ruth.
Or Lena might work well. Lena Fl@nagan; Ben and Lena.
Oh, or Leah! Leah Fl@nagan; Ben and Leah. I also like the spelling Lia.
Or Lucy. Lucy Fl@nagan; Ben and Lucy.
Or Julia. Julia Fl@nagan; Ben and Julia.
But perhaps what we need is something more similar to Benjamin, where both of you agree on both the long form and the short form. Maybe Josephine, with the nickname Josie. Josephine Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Josephine; Ben and Josie.
Or Charlotte, with the nickname Lottie. Charlotte Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Charlotte; Ben and Lottie.
Or Eleanor, with the nickname Nora. Eleanor Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Eleanor; Ben and Nora.
Or Abigail, with the nickname Abby. Abigail Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Abigail; Ben and Abby.
Or, wait, maybe Bethany? It has the Beth your husband likes, and some of the sound of Anna, but it avoids the rhyming issue. Bethany Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Bethany; Ben and Beth, or Ben and Annie. That's my top choice.
Let's also have a poll over to the right about Anna Fl@nagan. [Poll closed; see results below.]
Poll results for "What do you think of the name Anna Fl@nagan?" (433 votes total):
Too rhymey - 218 votes (50%)
Not too rhymey - 129 votes (30%)
Not too rhymey, but BenAnna/Banana bothers me - 62 votes (14%)
I can't decide - 24 votes (6%)