Celtic Baby Names SOS
Let’s help these parents solve a puzzle! Find Celtic baby names–specifically Scottish-Cornish– that don’t start with P or I, contain the letters L and A, but don’t end with A or R. Oh, and work well with older siblings Palmer and Isla. Ready, set …
My third child is due in 17 days and we’ve spent 9 months with NOTHING that we like between my husband and I. So I’m calling in the experts.
Part of me wants the names to be all the same or different – so no starting with P or I, or ending -er or -a, but both names have an L and A in them, so it would be neat if the third might follow that pattern?
The Name Sage replies:
Okay, deep breath.
Here’s my first piece of advice: if following a pattern for nine months has yielded zero names, it’s time to abandon the rules. Is there a name that you could both love, if only you stepped outside the lines? Maybe Greek Daphne or English surname Easton? They both come to mind when I think of siblings for Palmer and Isla … but only if you disregard your wish list.
Instead, let’s assume that you’re not quite ready to give up hope. Because there are at least some great names that contain the letters A and L, don’t start with P or I, and work with your heritage, too!
I’ve mixed in a few that break the rules, too, because it’s possible that your perfect name isn’t quite right – at least, not on paper.
Alasdair, Alastair – I like this name because it feels imported. Alasdair is the Scottish form of Alexander; we all recognize it, but it’s seldom heard in the US. There’s an A-L, and while it has an –r ending, Palmer and Alasdair feel like very different names. If not a first, it definitely belongs on your list of middles.
Callum – Have you considered Callum? It’s also spelled with a single L, but Callum is more common, especially in the US. It’s impeccably Scottish, derived from Saint Columba. He’s credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland in the sixth century.
Finlay – Americans tend to spell this name Finley, but the –ay version appears in Scotland, as well as Ireland. It’s the name of the real MacBeth’s father. (Shakespeare called him Sinel.) Finley is rising in use for boys and girls alike, so you might consider it for a daughter, too.
Lachlan, Lochlan – With names like Landon and Lincoln in the US Top 100, the traditionally Scottish Lachlan is starting to attract attention in the US, too. Both spellings are similar in popularity, and either way, there’s an L-A in the name.
Malcolm – I tend to think of Malcolm as an overlooked gem. It’s traditional, but not quite as classic as Henry or James. It’s Scottish, but not nearly as obviously as, say, Hamish. I think it matches your older kids’ names without being too clearly tied to a theme.
Annabelle – Strictly speaking, it’s Annabel that we credit to Scotland. The medieval Amabel seems to have transformed into an Anna– name there sometime in the Middle Ages. Annabelle is the far more popular spelling in the US today. It checks so many boxes – there’s an A and an L – though not together – a different first letter and a different ending, too.
Fiona – There’s no L, true. But Fiona feels impeccably Scottish. And while it repeats the –a ending of Isla, they don’t sound alike. It’s one of the first names that came to mind, until I started thinking about the As and the Ls. A similar, equally Scottish option with the L-A combo is Fenella, a cousin to Fiona. But it’s far less familiar in the US.
Marlo – How do you feel about surname-style names for girls? Marlowe feels quite stylish these days. Marlo is even rarer, a midcentury pick thanks to That Girl star Marlo Thomas – born Margaret. (You probably know her as a spokesperson for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.) It’s not especially Scottish, but it sounds like a good sister name for Palmer and Isla.
Tressa – Here’s one of my favorites! It’s a modern Cornish name meaning third. While it doesn’t hit every requirement on your list, it feels like an irresistible choice for a third child.
But I’m curious to hear what our readers suggest – and I have the feeling there must be some ideas I’ve overlooked!
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on December 18th, 2019 at 7:11 am
The first name I thought of that’s not on this list is Marlene. It fits most of the requirements. However, it’s origins are German. I also like Callum, Lachlan, Annabelle, and Marlo!
on December 18th, 2019 at 11:06 am
Not all of these fit *all* the requirements, but they’re all of Scottish or Cornish origin, so might be close enough?
Caledonia (literally a place name for Scotland)
on December 18th, 2019 at 6:57 pm
My first thought was Finlay or Callum for boys! Other suggestions that fit your letter theme: Declan (love this for you, too!), Lyall, Niall, Dougal, Sullivan, Dashiell, Wallace, Cillian, Conall, Lorcan/Logan, Nolan
Some other suggestions: Cameron, Graham, Angus, Fergus, Euan, Fraser, Emrys, Tristan
Girls: Finola, Elspeth, Orla, Alana, Avalon
Meredith, Mavis, Rhiannon
I honestly think Amabel, rather than Annabelle, is lovely too!
Erin Beth Said
on December 18th, 2019 at 7:16 pm
Please forgive repeats:
Erin Beth Said
on December 18th, 2019 at 7:30 pm
A few more thoughts:
on December 18th, 2019 at 9:13 pm
I know siblings named Alasdair and Isla and have always thought they sounded so wonderful together. I also really like the suggestion of Malcolm.
I like Abby’s suggestion of Annabelle for a girl. Another name of Scottish origin that came to mind was Greer/Grier, I think it would pair well with a longer middle name.
on December 20th, 2019 at 2:18 pm
I like the suggestions of Malcolm and Tamsin
on December 21st, 2019 at 8:09 pm
on December 29th, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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