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Double Trouble: Name plus Nickname Search

August 2, 2016 Abby Sandel

UPDATE: She’s here! Scroll to the bottom to learn the name Kate and her husband chose for their new daughter.

Kate writes:

I am driving myself crazy trying to find a name for our baby girl due in October. Our son is named Oliver Mark. We call him Ollie. Our last name is a short W last name.

I prefer vintage names, while my husband is all over the place. We are nickname people, so whichever name we choose needs a sweet nickname to go along with it.

We have both always loved the name Abigail, however I don’t like Abby and it is too popular, so its been vetoed. The nickname Emmie is at the top of our list. We like Emilia, but I worry about a lifetime of having to correct her name as it sounds so similar to Amelia.

I also like Ruby, Matilda (Tilly), Eloise (Ellie), and Beatrice (Bea) – but my husband doesn’t like Beatrice. He also likes Penny (but not Penelope) and Aria, which just seems too trendy to me.

We both like Winifrid (Winnie), but I’m not sure if it is too formal for us, and having a W last name I don’t know if it plays.

Middle name possibilities are Kate (my name) as well as Clementine, which has been her nickname in utero (though maybe a bit too out there for a first name pick for us).

The Name Sage replies:

I’m a huge fan of nicknames, too, so I completely understand the appeal of options. But in this case, it feels like you’ve doubled your challenge. Not only do you need to agree on the formal name, but you both need to love the nickname, too!

Emilia called Emmie seems like a great choice, but I do agree there’s potential for confusion. After all, Amelia is poised just outside the US Top Ten, and is popular throughout the English-speaking world.

Still, I’m not sure that’s reason enough to rule out Emilia. While her name might be misheard initially, chances are that her teachers and classmates and friends will quickly get it right – and the issue will fade into the background, at least most of the time.

For now, let’s look for options other than Emilia/Emmie. It sounds like you’d prefer to avoid Top Ten names, but don’t want something that’s too obscure, either.

Julia, nickname Jules Julia is classic and traditional, but plenty current. Parents will think of Julia Roberts and Julia Stiles, but every generation has its Julia. The name stands at Number 89 in the US, which is pretty popular – and yet, it doesn’t feel overused. It might split the difference between modern Aria and vintage Matilda.

Margaret, nickname Maggie or Maisie – As traditional as Katherine or Eleanor, Margaret is a buttoned-down name with an astonishing range of nickname options. Maggie is the obvious choice. I think you might appreciate the vintage style of Maisie, too. There’s also Daisy, Greta, Gretchen, Meg, Peggy, and more. At Number 154 in the US, it’s definitely less popular than Abigail, but has the same vintage vibe.

Georgia, nickname Georgie or Gigi Georgia currently ranks Number 230. Like Oliver, Georgia needs no nickname. But Georgie and Gigi are obvious choices. They might be slightly more fanciful than Emmie and Abby, but they’re not too far outside the mainstream, either.

Vivienne, nickname ViviVivian stands at Number 95. The French Vivienne is less common, at Number 233. It brings to mind both Eloise and Clementine from your list. Vivi is a great, easy to wear nickname option. Plus, Oliver and Vivienne would share the ‘v’ sound in their names, which could be a subtle connection between the siblings.

Juniper, nickname Junie – It sounds like your husband’s tastes are eclectic, and a more modern name might appeal. Might I suggest Juniper? It comes with built-in nickname Junie, which is sweetly vintage. Juniper currently stands at Number 429.

Edith, nickname Edie – When I think of sister names for Oliver, Edith immediately comes to mind. Maybe that’s because both names feel borrowed from a nineteenth century novel, while being perfectly at home in 2016. Edie makes for a great nickname option. Edith is relatively unusual, at Number 525 last year.

Cecilia, nickname Cece – Now let’s look at the two names that I think make the best Emilia substitutes. Like Emilia, Cecilia is a feminine, traditional name with an easy nickname: Cece. (Bonus: if you named her Cecilia Clementine, her initials would be C.C., too!) There’s some room for confusion: Cecilia stands at Number 181, but Cecelia is Number 544. But the potential i/e spelling issue feels less critical than the Amelia/Emilia problem.

Emmeline, nickname Emmie – Or maybe it’s a question of finding a different formal name for Emmie? Emmeline is currently at Number 809 in the US. The challenge is that there are multiple possible spellings, including Emmalynn and Emeline, many of which are gaining in popularity. While I think Emmeline is a great name, I have my doubts that it is less of a challenge than Emilia. And yet I wonder if Emmeline Kate feels like a better fit than Emilia Clementine? When you find the right name, a few possible headaches with spelling tend to fall away.

If you really love Emilia, but want to sidestep the potential confusion with Amelia, I think Cecilia is the obvious substitute. It’s similar in style and sound, comes with an easy built-in nickname, and works with either of your middle name choices.

We have an update from Kate! She writes, “I just wanted to thank you for your naming help. The blog post really set off a discussion for my husband and I! Our little girl arrived October 14th and we went with Ruby Clementine ❤️. Thanks again!”

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.

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