Girl Names: A sister for Isla and Elodie
by Abby Sandel
I’m on Team Auden. I love how the name flows with the other girls and the middle name. It’s easy to pronounce and doesn’t have a lot of nickname possibilities which I’m not a big fan of.
My husband is Team Olive. He thinks it’s cute and a nod to his Italian heritage. My concern is that our last name is similar to Martini and I worry about people teasing her down the road or having people think “what were her parents thinking”. My husband thinks I’m insane for drawing that connection.
I can’t help the feeling that we’re overlooking a perfect middle ground that will click for us. We’re not married to vowel names, but so far haven’t found any non-vowel names that we feel flow well with our other daughters. Please help!
The Name Sage replies:
First things first: if you hear olive martini when you say Olive with your surname, then it’s off the table. Maybe you’re being overly cautious. And it could be that you’re the only one to ever make the connection. But that’s the kind of thing you simply can’t un-hear. Rational or not, Olive isn’t the name for Isla and Elodie’s sister.
At the same time, if Auden doesn’t appeal to your husband, well … it sounds like it’s time to start a new list.
We’re looking for a nickname-proof name. Choices that start with a vowel seem promising. So do names that hint at Italian heritage. And it seems like you’d prefer something with a different ending from Isla and Elodie – though that’s the suggestion I’ve ignored most often while drafting this list. Lastly, it seems like maybe you’re edging towards rarer names, though maybe you’re more inclined to go beyond the US Top 1000 than your husband?
Aria – A current Top 100 choice in the US, but also an Italian import. (Though it’s not traditionally used as a given name in Italy.) It means song in Italian, and it brings to mind opera. Pop culture references abound – Pretty Little Liars helped boost the name, as did Game of Throne’s Arya Stark. And yet, it doesn’t feel flimsy or invented, and it sounds just right with Isla and Elodie.
Avalon – This name came immediately to mind as midway between Olive and Auden. It’s tailored, unexpected, and just feminine enough. Beaches on both coasts are named Avalon, but it started out as paradise in Arthurian legend.
Cecile – Avoiding another –a or –ie ending is tough! But how about Cecile? It’s seldom heard, even though we all recognize it immediately. There’s a flowing loveliness to the soft C, even though it’s not a vowel name.
Eden – Do you want to avoid another I or E name? Because I do think Eden is rich with potential. It’s midway between Elodie and Isla in terms of sound and popularity. But maybe it’s too close to her sisters’ names?
Juniper – At Number 281 last year, Juniper feels less familiar than Isla, but more common than Elodie. There are some ties to Italy, too. Brother Juniper was an early follower of Saint Francis of Assisi; plus, there’s a famous Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, featuring juniper trees – because Ginevra means juniper in Italian.
Lucia – While Lucia starts with an L, it’s still, a flowing, liquid choice. It can be pronounced loo-shah or loo-see-ah. (Or loo-chee-ah, though I hear that least often in the US.) It’s popular across the world, but feels Italian – in fact, it’s more popular there than here.
Maren – I think Auden is fine with Isla and Elodie, but it feels a little more unisex. Maren, on the other hand, leans feminine. It’s most commonly associated with the name Mary or the Latin word for sea.
Winter – I’m not sure if you’re due before the season officially starts, but Winter strikes me as another compromise, both on the frilly/tailored scale and the popular/uncommon scale, too. I love the way it sounds with Isla and Elodie.
Of course, the first name that I want to suggest is Elora. It seems to fit all of your criteria perfectly, and while it honors your great-grandmother, it’s a little different, too. Except I suspect Elora feels awfully close to Elodie, right? Too bad, because it hits all the other marks.
I’m also wondering if choosing the middle name first might be part of the challenge. Maren Elora and Winter Elora work well, but lots of other names, like Aria Elora and Cecile Elora, seem a little more tongue-twisting. Would you be open to re-inventing Laura in another way? Aria Laurel, maybe, or Cecile Lorelei?
Readers, I’m curious – if you and your partner both had a final, favorite name, how did you resolve your differences?
Abby Sandel is the creator of name blog Appellation Mountain and writes Nameberry’s Name Sage column, offering wise advice on baby name questions submitted by Berries every other Wednesday. Abby lives outside of Washington DC with her husband and two children, Alex and Clio. You can reach her on Facebook , Instagram and Pinterest. For a chance to have your questions answered on Nameberry, contact Abby at email@example.com.