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Wanted: A Girls’ Name That’s NOT Popular

February 19, 2020 Abby Sandel

Growing up as one of the Emilys has this mom seeking a stand-out name for her daughter.

Emily writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first child and need some name help! We have a boy name, but are struggling to come up with the right girl name.

Growing up as an Emily M., I’d rather our children’s names be less common. A family connection is important, too.

Therese is my favorite. It’s my middle name, and my mom’s name, too. My husband isn’t convinced. We’d use the nickname Tess. My husband is worried that the nickname isn’t intuitive enough with Therese. There’s also some concern that we’d be expected to name future children for family members. If we don’t use it as a first name, we agree it will be used for a middle.

My husband’s choice is Roxy. I like it, and we have a fun story for it. But I worry how other people will react.

We’re also considering:

Louisa/Louise, nn Lula
Frances, nn Frankie (but I’m not sure about Frankie)
Harriet
Maisie
Mina, pronounced minn-ah
Sylvie
Vienna, nn Via

Our list keeps getting longer, but we’re no closer to selecting the name. We would love some fresh suggestions and your thoughts on the names from our current list.

Thank you for your help!

The Name Sage replies:

Happily, none of the names on your (long) short list seem poised to be the Emily of the 2020s. That doesn’t make it easier to narrow things down, though!

Let’s start with the one name that meets both of your requests. It’s a fresh suggestion and it incorporates a name on your current list.

Tessa.

It comes from Therese, but it sidesteps two concerns. First, Tess and Tessie follow logically from Tessa. More importantly, it’s a spin on Therese, not the exact same name. While it honors family, it gives you plenty of space to choose names you love, too.

As of 2018, Tessa ranks Number 245 in the US. It’s hovered in the 200s for the past decade; if anything, it’s fallen slightly in use over the last few years. Even though the name is broadly familiar, your Tessa probably wouldn’t share her name very often.

Another reason I think Tessa works? It splits the difference between sparky nickname names like Roxy and Maisie, and the more traditional choices, like Louisa and Frances. But it also leaves the door open to use any of those names in the future. Tessa’s sister could be Maisie … or Louisa, or Louisa called Lula.

If I haven’t sold you on Tessa, I’d suggest:

Sylvie – Like Tessa, it feels midway between the most casual and more buttoned-up picks on your list. As a bonus, it’s even less common. Sylvie ranked Number 897 in the US as of 2018. Yes, I think we’ll hear more of it in the coming years … but it’s a long way from Ava or even fast-rising Everly.

Frances – You’re not wild about Frankie, but how about Frannie? Or maybe Zazie? French Zazie comes from the “ces” sound at the end. (It’s used for Isabelle, too.) Zazie might be too non-intuitive for your husband, but if he likes cool, edgy names like Roxy, it’s worth considering.

Speaking of Roxy, I wonder if it might appeal more to you if you had a formal name to fall back on?

The logical suggestions are Roxanne and Roxana. I’ve also heard Roxy suggested for Rose names. Rosalie, Rosanna, or even just Rose or Rosa could work. Something like Rose Alexandra adds an ‘x’ in the middle spot. It’s a compromise that might alleviate your concerns about Roxy. But again, would your husband find it too much of a stretch?

I keep coming back to Tessa as the logical compromise, possible with a more daring middle name. Tessa Vienna, Tessa Roxy, Tessa Roxanne, or Tessa Harriet, maybe?

Readers, what would you suggest for Emily’s daughter?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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