I’m looking for a pretty name that sounds both vintage and modern. Our last name is two syllables, starts with a T, and ends in “er,” so I don’t think names that end in “er” sound great.
We don’t want her to be one of three girls with the same name in her class, but we also don’t need an extremely unusual name. This will be our last child, so we don’t need to consider any future names in a sibset.
Names that are contenders:
Sienna – Maybe not vintage, but very pretty. I like the association with travel.
Catherine – My other grandmother, and it would be nice to honor both of my grandmas. I’m not sure it’s the name for us. Also, my grandmother went by Katie, so I don’t want to repeat that name. My husband is not fond of nicknames. I do like them in certain cases.
Charlotte – A lovely name but I’m not in love with it, and it’s very popular.
I would appreciate any advice or potential names we haven’t yet considered.
The Name Sage replies:
Here’s the challenge: you love pretty, nickname-proof names that feel a little bit vintage, a little bit modern. And you’d prefer something not too common. It’s a reliable and entirely reasonable set of criteria for naming a daughter.
The good news is that even a very popular name might not feel too common. Our son’s name was in the Top Twenty when he was born, but he’s never had another kid with the same name in his class.
Still, I’d probably take Charlotte off your list. It’s not your favorite, and it has ranked in the Top Ten for the past three years – and it ranks Number Two on our Top 100. That suggests it’s not slowing down any time soon.
Likewise, Catherine should probably move to the middle name spot. It’s a lovely, classic name, but it doesn’t seem like your style. Factoring in the potential nickname conflict makes this less of a fit – though I know plenty of little Katherine/Kathryn/Catherines, and none of them answer to anything other than their full name.
Alice – Alice combines storybook charm with a quiet strength. It’s more tailored than Sienna, but less modern than Eden. Ranked Number 76, Alice feels appropriate for a girl born today, but not too common, either.
Anya – Ann names have traveled the globe, changing over time. Sometimes spelled Anja, this Ann name appears across Europe. It feels familiar, but ranks a relatively rare Number 593. Plus, Anya and Lyla both are four-letter names with the shared letter ‘y’ – but sound very distinct and different.
Claire, Clara – I happen to know sisters named Lyla and Claire, which is probably why this came to mind. Claire’s meaning – bright, clear – reminds me of Luciano. Clara is the Latin form; Claire, the French. I like Clara Mae, or maybe Claire Catherine. While both names appear in the US Top 100, neither feels overused.
Gemma – From the Italian word for jewel, Gemma has a long history of use. (Dante’s wife was Gemma, born way back in thirteenth century Florence.) But it feels modern, too. At Number 247, this name hits the sweet spot – neither too unusual, or too familiar. Plus, the soft G sound brings to mind Georgia.
Ivy – A short, seasonal name, Ivy feels just right for a winter daughter. While Lyla and Ivy both share a strong ‘I’ sound, I think they’re different enough to work together well. Ivy ranked Number 112 last year, so again, it’s not too common, nor too obscure.
Lucy – Lucy reminds me of two names you mentioned: Ruby and Luciano. Lucy Mae is short, sweet, and complete, just like Lyla Brynn. And while I might hesitate to name sisters Lyla and Lucy if you hoped to have more children, that’s not the case – so no worries about establishing a pattern that might prove limiting. Another reason I like Lucy? The tie to a family name is subtle, just like Bryan/Brynn. Lucy ranks Number 55 in the US, so it’s popular – but well outside the Top Ten.
Sylvie – Sylvie debuted in the US Top 1000 last year at Number 957. That’s fairly obscure, and yet everyone should recognize the name. It’s pretty and nickname-proof. Sylvie and Lyla sound like sisters.
Overall, I do like Sienna and Eden from your regular list. But if neither of those is The Name, I’m partial to Anya, Gemma, and Sylvie. If the pattern appeals to you, I really like the idea of Lyla and Anya together.