Anglo-Spanish Sister Names
My husband, Justin, and I are expecting our second daughter in January. Our first daughter is Mila Aby. Our list also included Kiara and Eliana, but we settled on Mila. We love it’s meaning (hardworking, dear, and short for “milagro” or miracle in Spanish), and the fact that it’s short, sweet, and familiar without being overly popular. Aby was what we called my late grandmother, so we chose that as her middle name.
Now we are expecting another girl and planning on again choosing a few names and waiting to meet her before we make our final choice. However, we are having trouble finding names that we definitively want to add to the list. A few that we have thrown around and not nixed include Nora, Leila, and Hannah. I have always loved Olivia and the nickname Liv or Livy, but it’s too popular for our taste.
The name should sound beautiful in both English and Spanish, as much of my family only speaks Spanish. We would also like the name to pair well with Mila, and we are considering Alice for a middle name – my husband’s late grandmother.
I can’t wait to hear what your thoughts are!
The Name Sage replies:
It sounds like you have a good start on a short list. And yet, I wonder if it’s the magic of finding a truly meaningful name that’s missing here? Alice feels like a strong middle name candidate. Hannah has a great meaning; Nora and Leila might not be as promising on that count.
Of course, meaning is slippery. Few official lists give the meaning “miracle” for Mila, but it’s a natural connection. It also strengthens the ties between her given name and her heritage, since the meaning links to a Spanish word.
Some might protest that flexible meanings don’t work. But I’ve seen countless cases where such a connection transforms a pleasing name into one that feels exactly right. If it helps you get to The Name, you may freely disregard the official origins.
Let’s look at a few great names with obviously appealing meanings, but also a few that might take some creative stretching.
Alaia – Leila reminds me of Alaia. It’s originally Basque, and means joyful. Mila and Alaia share an ‘l’ sound, but I think they work together nicely. One hesitation: Alaia Alice might feel like too much, though I rather like the repetition.
Cora – Cora comes from the Greek word for maiden, but it coincides with the Latin word cor – heart. Cor is also the source of corazón, the Spanish word for heart, sometimes used as a given name. That makes Cora a perfect pair for Mila. Plus, it sounds very much like your almost-not-quite choice, Nora.
Eva – Olivia has topped charts for years, but Eva remains quietly popular, ranked just Number 73 last year, and it shares the stylish ‘v’ sound. Eva Alice makes for a stunning combination, and the names works beautifully in a great many languages, including English and Spanish. One downside: it might be confused with the wildly popular Ava. And yet, I still think it’s worthy of consideration.
Lucia – Lucia shares some of Olivia’s elaborate sound – especially if you pronounce it with three syllables, loo SEE ah. The meaning appeals, too: light. It’s almost universally pleasing, just like Mila’s meaning, which makes it a logical sister name. At Number 213, Lucia feels familiar, but far from overexposed.
Paloma – What would you think of Paloma, possibly with the nickname Lola? It feels a little more out-there than Hannah or Olivia, but I think it’s widely recognized as a given name. It means dove, which makes it a symbol of peace. Pablo Picasso’s famous image of a dove comes to mind. The artist named his youngest child Paloma, and she became a successful designer.
Serena – Mila is short, sweet, and complete, yet it sounds like more elaborate names, like Eliana and Olivia, appeal to you, too. I wonder what you would think of Serena? The meaning – tranquil or peaceful – seems like a logical sister for Mila. And it hits the familiar-not-common mark exactly, at Number 448. It also reminds me of the Welsh name Seren, meaning star.
Sylvie – I’m not sure how Sylvie sounds in Spanish. I’ve heard Silvia and Sylvana, but not this form of the name. They all come from the Latin silva – forest, but also bring to mind silver, and all the positive associations it carries, too. Mila Aby and Sylvie Alice sound just right together, but perhaps Sylvie could be short for a longer name if that works better in Spanish.
Vera – Vintage Vera is on the upswing in the US – and throughout the Spanish-speaking world, too. As for meaning, it is rich with possible associations. In Slavic languages, it means faith. But it coincides with the Latin verus – truth, the root of the Spanish word verdad. That’s a powerful pair of meanings. At Number 308, it’s well-known, but not often heard.
And yet, it also strikes me that some names on your lists are more elaborate. If choices like Eliana and Olivia feel like the better fit for this child, perhaps you’d consider Paloma called Lola, or Sylvana nicknamed Sylvie.
There’s no rule that says sibling names have to be a matched pair. But listening to your reasons for loving your first daughter’s name, the logical approach seems to be mirroring that pattern, which is why Cora and Vera rose to the top of my suggestions.
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on December 6th, 2017 at 2:06 am
on December 6th, 2017 at 4:15 am
on December 6th, 2017 at 5:10 am
Vera made me think of Vesper which could be a fitting choice.
I have known quite a few Serenas all of which had tragic lives so it is not one I recommend but that’s just my experience.
Another one that came to mind: Elise or Elsie
on December 6th, 2017 at 9:24 am
I do really like Cora, Vera and Sylvie. Lydia also came to mind as the nickname Lydi remind me of Olivia and Liv/Livi. I think Sybil, nn Sybi works for the same reason.
on December 6th, 2017 at 10:14 am
I like Cora, Lucia, Paloma, and Vera from Abby’s suggestions (I especially like Lucia Alice). I also really like Lola Alice if you didn’t want to use Paloma. We also chose names that work in both English and Spanish for our bicultural family. Some other names that could work are Adela, Carmen, Dalia, Elena, Flora, and Marina. With the middle name Alice, I like Dalia Alice and Marina Alice the best, and I think they are all good sister names for Mila. Instead of Olivia, you could use Viviana and call her Vivi. Viviana Alice, Mila and Vivi.
on December 6th, 2017 at 11:45 am
There are a lot of beautiful longer names in Spanish, but I understand you are going for short and sweet. I’d suggest:
on December 6th, 2017 at 12:13 pm
Wow really like the suggestion of Cora. And how it would have a secret meaning and connection to her sisters if it was chosen. LOL I would be sold. And I hope this entry gets an update cause I would love to know what name the parents went with.
on December 6th, 2017 at 12:29 pm
I like Eva from this list! I would also go with:
Roxana or Roxanna
on December 6th, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Rosalyn- Nick name Rosa or Rosie would be a great name with beautiful meaning
Maribel- Nick name Belle or Bella would beautiful as well.
Inez- Nick name Nezzie or Indy would be great as well.
Isadora- Nick name Issy or Dora would also work well.
That said I I love Leila from your list best of all or else Olivia even though it’s quite popular. Good luck and Congratulations!
Erin Beth Said
on December 6th, 2017 at 7:13 pm
There are lots of great suggestions, but I think Nora Alice would be smashing with the sister name!
on December 7th, 2017 at 12:11 am
Luisa was what came to my mind immediately…& next was Clara. Or what about:
Carina (“dear, beloved”)
Estela (“star”) w/a nn of Esti (Basque for “sweet, honey”)
Leonor (meaning unknown, although some sites say Eleanor is related to all of the Helen names, so meaning “light”)
I tried to choose names that went w/Mila & sounded good w/Alice as a middle name.
Good luck & please do let us know what you decide on! 🙂
on December 7th, 2017 at 1:43 am
Lovely names! I like Lucia. For other suggestions there is Lina, Esme, Alma, Zoe, Miranda and Irene.
on December 7th, 2017 at 2:03 am
I think the suggestion of Cora is perfect. Vera’s a great idea too.
I don’t have many to add that haven’t been mentioned, but here are a few (I popped these into google translate, but I don’t speak Spanish, so I apologise if any of these sound like offensive or silly words in Spanish):
Cordelia, Delia, Adelia
Rosalba (I quite like that rosa + alba could mean something like dawn + rose or pink sunrise (according to google translate), as well as “white rose” in latin)
on December 7th, 2017 at 5:08 am
Great suggestions from the name sage! I especially like Eva, Paloma and Vera with sister Mila.
Some names that stood out to me from the NBs suggestions are Alma, Inez, Lola and Alba.
Would you consider using Olive instead of Olivia?
Lavinia nn Livy
Good luck with your search!
on December 7th, 2017 at 11:48 am
Another one I forgot to mention is Nuria. It is more unique sounding. It is common in spain though.
on December 9th, 2017 at 7:40 am
I like Vera and Sylvie best from NS’s list. You could possible consider Rosa or Alba (means white) as well.
on December 11th, 2017 at 4:01 am
I just recently watched a TV show and one of the main actresses is Poerto Rican and married to an American and their daughter is named Sabella … as in Isabella without the I … and I kind of dig this name a lot.
on December 14th, 2017 at 11:05 pm
In my suggestions, I am trying to play on the longer elegant name side rather than the shorter names. I tried my best to come up with some that really seem to fit what you seem to love in a name. Most of the names are long, though I did throw one in there a the end that I absolutely love for your family and is shorter!
Moreina- If you are keen to stick to the ‘M’, this name might work for you. It is believed to be a variation of Maureen, which is a variation of Mary–which means ‘bitter’. However, if the name is taken in two parts it comes to a slightly different meaning. Mo means “bitter” whilst Reina means “queen” in Spanish. It has a lovely ring to it, and yields itself to the nickname Reina, which is lovely as well.
Catalina- Catalina is the Spanish variation of Catherine. It means “pure” and ranks at #314. This name will yield itself to quite a few nicknames, so you can have fun finding one that will suit your girl best.
Eleanora- You’ve said that you have considered Nora in the past, so I’d thought this suggestion might be up your alley. It does, of course, lend itself to other nicknames such as Elle, Ellie, or even Leina. Eleanora is the Latinate form of Eleanor and thus the direct meaning is unknown. It is not currently ranked as far as I could find (beside Nameberry where it ranks #646th), however the name is not unheard of completely.
Stella- This name is a bit of a long shot, however it ends in an ‘A’–which you seem to favor–and is a nice sounding sister to Mila. The Spanish variation of this name is Estela, which is equally as nice if that is something you would prefer.
Isla- It is gaining traction around the States right now, but it still hangs at #126. It is a Spanish name that means ‘island’ and is absolutely darling. Isla and Mila sound like the perfect set of sisters.
If I had to chose from the ones that I’ve given, I would definitely root for Isla and Catalina.
Congratulations on your baby girl, and good luck finding The Name!
on January 2nd, 2018 at 11:03 am
Vivianne is a popular name amongst my relatives who are Spanish and Viv is a frequent nickname which is similar to Liv also Carolina and Marisa are family favorites with the nickname Lina and Risa. Finally very off beaten path and not everyone’s favorite but Guadalupe with nickname Lupe or Lulu.
Brynn Penelope Said
on January 7th, 2018 at 8:27 am
Serena because it means ‘serene’
on January 22nd, 2018 at 7:49 pm
I love the name Alma because it’s old-fashioned and means ‘soul’ in Spanish (if I remember correctly.)
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