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Compromise Girl Names: A Sister for Luella

October 4, 2016 Abby Sandel

They’re excited to expecting another girl, but agreeing on a name? That’s another story! They compromised on Luella for their first daughter. Let’s help them find another name they can both love.

Kiara writes:

I’m hoping you can help my husband and I get on the same page. When it comes to baby names we are two ships passing in the night!

We have always had a boy name in mind – Harvey – but of course we are having our second girl.

Our first daughter is named Luella. I can’t tell you how long it took to get that name and I am anxious for us to fast track getting this new little lady named.

My husband goes for classics/mainstream favoritess mostly. Think Emma, Elsie, and Kinsey.

I tend to like names with Southern/grandma flair, or slightly offbeat names. Think Sailor, Pepper, Linnie, and Delilah.

We did like the name Linnea, but with our Luella already here we think it may be a little too similar.

Help, please … or this baby may be named Harvey-the-girl!

The Name Sage replies:

Oh, no – don’t name your daughter Harvey-the-girl!

You’re feeling stuck right now, but there are plenty of girls’ names that fit with Luella.

I think we’re looking for a name that is:

  • Vintage; it has a history of use stretching back a century or more. That rules out Kinsey.
  • Slightly offbeat; something that probably won’t be shared by other children. This means Emma probably needs to go, but maybe Delilah, too, since it’s just outside of the current Top 100.
  • Compatible with mainstream trends.

I think that last one is the key. The strength of Luella and Harvey is that they are distinctive names that feel familiar. Harvey brings to mind Henry and lots of great boy names with the letter v, like Oliver and Everett. Luella sounds like a mash-up of Top 100 names Lucy and Isabella/Ella.

It’s a sweet spot that doesn’t necessarily rely on popularity rankings to find the best fit. After all, Kinsey and Pepper are both rare given names, but neither feels like a choice you both love.

Let’s take a look at other names that are just slightly different, while staying true to the sounds and styles often heard in naming children today.

Miranda – A literary name thanks to Shaksepeare’s The Tempest, Miranda comes from the Latin word for admirable. The name cracked the US Top 100 in the 1990s, but never became tied to the decade like chart-toppers Jessica or Ashley. Today Miranda ranks in the high 200s, sliding in use, but retaining plenty of style and potential.

Daphne Zoe, Zoey, and Chloe have been favorites in recent years. This opens the door for more Greek, e-ending names for girls, like Daphne. Daphne is less popular than Delilah, but not nearly as common as Emma. And Luella and Daphne strike me as equally vintage and charming for sisters.

Juniper Pepper and Sailor are upbeat, modern names, but they seem very different from Luella and Linnea. How about Juniper? It shares the same –r ending as Pepper and Sailor, but feels more mainstream. The name currently ranks Number 429 in the US.

Helena Linnea always reminds me of Helena, especially if you pronounce it hel-AYN-a. Helena hovers around the 500 mark in terms of popularity, and it’s probably more familiar than Luella. But Helena is still nicely underused, which makes it a good bridge between your preferences.

Coraline Neil Gaiman often gets credit for inventing Coraline, though the name has history predating the book and movie. I think Coraline has a lot in common with Juniper – not vintage, but not quite modern, either.

Cordelia – Or maybe Cordelia? It’s another Shakespearean name, like Miranda. I think it might make a great sister name for Luella. It’s close to Top 100 favorites like Cora and Amelia.

Ophelia Ophelia is yet another literary pick, but it brings to mind current favorites like Sophia and Olivia. That makes me think it seem familiar enough for your husband. But it’s just inside the current US Top 1000, which makes it more unexpected.

Persephone – I’ve saved my favorite for last. The downside to Persephone is that the name is long, and most of the names your lists are not. But Luella and Persephone share that familiar-but-offbeat vibe. We know they’re names, but we hear them rarely. Persephone has never appeared in the US Top 1000, making it slightly more rare than Luella.

Overall, I think there may be more common ground than you realize – if only you’re both willing to throw out your lists and start fresh.

Readers, what would you suggest to Kiara and her husband?

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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