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Fresh Surname Names for Girls

September 19, 2017 Abby Sandel

They love surname names, but can’t agree on the right one for their December daughter.

Erin writes:

We are expecting a little girl in December. We have two boys, Paxton David and Crosby Jordan.

We like surnames as first names, as you can see. For a girl, I like Emerson, Sawyer, and Greer.

My husband nixed Emerson, knows a family with a girl Sawyer, and is unsure of Greer.

His favorite is Davis. I don’t know if I’m 100% on board with Davis. What are your thoughts?

The Name Sage replies:

The good news: you know your style, and you and your husband agree! You’ve chosen two handsome, contemporary names for your boys. Finding the right choice for a daughter ought to be straightforward, right?

Maybe not. Because the world has caught up to you. As of this year, Paxton charts at Number 203, and Crosby at Number 623. That’s relatively uncommon, but I’d guess both names were even rarer when you chose them.

I’d say that your style isn’t just surname names. It’s underused surnames. And that’s where both Sawyer (currently in the boys’ Top 100) and Emerson (hovering in the mid-100s for girls) might disappoint.

Because they’re far less frequently heard, Davis and Greer sound more like a sister for Paxton and Crosby.

But since you’re not sure about Davis, and he’s said no to Greer, it’s time to start fresh. Let’s find some surname names for a daughter that stand out in a sea of Harpers and Madisons.

Adair – I’ve suggested Adair several times, but this Scottish surname has never quite caught on. Given the popularity of Addison and Harper, Adair seems like the perfect fits-in/stands-out choice.

Collins Collins caught on for girls thanks to a real-life character in the 2006 bestseller turned 2009 hit movie The Blind Side. It brings to mind Colleen and Colette, but remains fresh, unexpected, and all surname. As a bonus, it shares the ‘s’ ending of Davis.

Ellery – Girls called Ellie are everywhere, but English surname Ellery has been overlooked. It sounds like an Ella/Avery hybrid, but actually is cousin to the old Roman name Hilarius, meaning cheerful.

Ellis Ellis might follow Paxton and Crosby straight up the popularity charts, but I’ll suggest it anyway. It reminds me strongly of Davis, and slightly of Emerson, too. While Ellis currently ranks higher for boys, it ranks just inside the girls’ Top 1000, too.

Hollis Hollis started out as a surname for someone living near holly trees. That might make it exactly right for a December daughter. Once again, the ‘s’ ending feels like a nod to Davis.

Langley – We love a great –ley ending name for a girl – just ask Ashley, Hailey, and Paisley. A common place name, Langley might not work if you live in Virginia, where it’s an Air Force Base and home to the CIA. But in most of the country, it’s an intriguing and uncommon sound.

Linden – Tree name/surname Rowan has become a twenty-first century favorite. Linden offers a promising alternative. Used in small numbers for boys and girls alike, Linden shortens to Lindy or Lin, but works beautifully without a nickname, too.

Reeve Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh gave this family name to their youngest daughter. Today it brings to mind unisex surname name Reese, as well as the traditionally feminine Eve.

Sinclair Sinclair started out as St. Clair, a French place name. The writer Sinclair Lewis put it on the list of possibilities for a boy. Given the popularity of Clara and Claire, today it feels every bit as reasonable for a girl.

Winslow – With Harlow and Marlowe in the spotlight as surname names for girls, why not Winslow? Winnie names, from modern Winter to vintage Winifred, all feel stylish. Winslow Homer lends it some artistic sensibility, but this one succeeds on sound alone.

Overall, I love the sound of Reeve with your older children’s names. But since you’re expecting a winter baby, I find Hollis terribly appealing. It’s rare, but instantly recognizable. And it gives each of your children a distinctive-sounding name: Paxton, Crosby, and Hollis.

Readers, over to you. What would you name a sister for Paxton and Crosby?

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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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