They’ve got a long list of maybe-names for their baby girl, but how to narrow it down to just one? Maybe the answer comes from their family tree.
We’re expecting a little girl in October, our second. We already have a son, Frederick James, called Freddy. It’s the perfect name for us – Frederick is the name of a street that we love, and we both love his nickname. It’s not too popular, but instantly recognizable.
We fell in love with Elliott. Then my sister used it for her dog!
Next up was Annie for a while, and it’s sentimental because my mom, who we both adore, is named Ann. But we have two close friends named Annie, plus other women named Annie that are always going to be in our lives. Too many Annies.
Right now, we really like Hazel and Eliza – Eliza happened after we saw Hamilton! Other names we’ve liked are Francesca called Francie (but I hate Franny), Clancy, and Collins. We like gender neutral names a lot.
The name we choose must sound good with our one-syllable last name starting with a hard C sound, which means two or three syllables. We’d prefer something outside of the Top 100, but still recognizable. We don’t want her to have to spell her name her whole life!
Her middle name will be June, after my wife’s grandmother. We don’t like it as a first name because of our short last name.
Any great names jump out at you? Have we TOTALLY overthought this?
The Name Sage replies:
Oh, Laura, you’ve come to the right place. Overthinking names is what I do!
I jest. (Sort of.) But you might be on to something. Right now, it feels like you’re adding option after option to your list without getting any closer to The Name.
The result? Lots of maybes, but no actual name for your daughter.
It sounds like the right name for Freddy’s sister will be easy to spell, familiar but not too common, and rich with meaning.
But there is a common denominator: every name on your list carries a certain sparky energy. They feel upbeat, capable, strong. Francesca and Collins don’t exactly sound like they belong in the same family, but I can imagine them crossing the finish line, neck-and-neck, at the track meet or being co-valedictorians.
Back to Francesca for a minute: I don’t think you should choose a formal name that can (easily) lead to a nickname you dislike. And while I think Hazel is great, I should note that it currently stands at Number 52 in the US and shows no signs of slowing down. (In fact, it ranks Number 20 on our list.)
But I think there are two big categories you’ve overlooked:
Juniper and longer June names – Frederick won your hearts because it connects to a place you both love; June speaks to you because of a dear family member. I understand that June clashes with your surname, but how about a longer June name? Juniper falls somewhere between vintage Hazel and modern Collins, a choice that honors your wife’s grandmother, while giving your daughter a name all her own. Juniper ranked Number 352 last year, so I suspect you’ll hear it from time to time, but it’s still nicely uncommon.
If Juniper feels close, but not quite, there’s also Junia, an ancient name; Juno, like the goddess; and Djuna, as in poet Djuna Barnes – though that silent D makes for a lifetime of let-me-spell-it-for-you.
Susanna and other Ann names – So many names include Ann and Anna, without leading to the nickname Annie. Susanna is my first thought, maybe because it sounds so much like Freddy’s sister. You could shorten it to Susie, or even Zuzu – like the youngest daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life. Susanna doesn’t even crack the current US Top 1000, but everyone will instantly recognize it.
Let’s consider a few more names:
Delaney – Delaney sounds like a sister for Kennedy, but without the presidential ties. It also brings to mind more traditionally feminine names like Adele. I love the idea of Laney and Freddy as siblings, but there’s no need to shorten this name.
Delphine – For something completely unexpected, have you ever considered Delphine? It’s every bit as tailored as Collins, but has the femininity of Eliza. A French name, it refers to Delphi, in the ancient world. It’s also associated with dolphins and delphinium, a blue flower. An Orphan Black character made the name just slightly more familiar.
Emerson – Elliott and Collins and Clancy make me think of Emerson and Ellison. Emerson ranks Number 161 for girls, and seems likely to rise, so that might feel a little on the popular side. Ellison is much less common, but could be misheard as Allison.
Margaret or Marguerite – When I think of Frederick’s sister, I tend to think of super-classic girl names, like Margaret. (Or Marguerite for an unexpected twist.) Freddy and Maggie are great together, but Margaret is nickname-rich, and could easily shorten to Maisie or Daisy, Greta or Margot, too.
Thea – Since you mentioned Hamilton, what do you think of Thea? Theodosia, as in Aaron Burr’s daughter, inspired the musical’s heart-melting lullaby “Dear Theodosia.” It’s a lot of name, but Thea feels like a short, modern spin on the elaborate appellation.
While I do think Eliza works beautifully for your family, it might be worth considering Juniper Eliza or maybe Susanna June. It sounds like meaning was the magic that transformed Freddy from a name you liked to The Name. Maybe that can work this time around, too!
Readers, what would you suggest for Freddy’s sister?