Are there any choices that are a happy compromise?
The Name Sage replies:
So your husband likes his names time-tested, Top Ten, and clearly feminine, while you prefer something tailored, unisex, and maybe even downright new?
Let’s talk about three possible approaches – only one of which requires drafting a new list.
One of my all-time favorite combinations is Mary Blair. (Which just happens to the be the first and last name of the Disney designer responsible for It’s A Small World.) Or maybe Mary Reeve or Mary Quinn?
If neither of those approaches works, then it’s time to start fresh. Let’s find names that are conventionally feminine in origin and use, but with a tailored style that might feel unisex, even if the numbers give the names to the girls.
Afton – It’s a river in Scotland, made famous by a Robert Burns poem and a handful of song adaptations. (Most recently, Nickel Creek recorded it in 2000.) It’s tailored and nickname proof, but “Sweet Afton” makes it sound like a lullaby for a daughter.
Arden – Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden makes this name literary; it’s used for twice as many girls as boys, but doesn’t make the Top 1000 for either – at least not on the current list. (In 2015 and 2016, it charted for girls. Way back in the 1950s, it was used more often for boys.)
Bellamy – There’s a male television character named Bellamy right now (on the sci fi series The 100), but it remains twice as popular for girls as boys. It fits with names like Delaney, unisex in theory, but used in much larger numbers for girls. And, of course, all the Belle and Bella nicknames help.
Maeve – Since Ronan and Finn are on your boys’ list, would you consider something equally Irish for a daughter? Maeve is sharp and bright, not a ruffle or frill anywhere. But it’s traditionally feminine, associated with a legendary warrior queen of Connacht.
Maren – One of many names related to Mary, Maren sounds modern – but has traditional roots as a Mary name in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Country-pop crossover artist Maren Morris has put this on parents’ radar in recent years, but it still feels uncommon.
Sybil – As tailored as they come, Sybil feels classic and feminine, but quite unexpected. Even after the name’s use in Downton Abbey, it remains outside of the current US Top 1000. It’s a great substitute for Abigail.
Tamsin – Tammy reigned as the sweetheart of the 1960s, but Tamsin never caught on. Tammy is usually linked to the Old Testament Tamar and Tamara, but Tamsin comes from Thomasina, a feminine form of Thomas. It’s far more common in the UK than the US – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
My top pick for you is Maren. It falls exactly halfway between Mary and Halston, a tailored name with deeply traditional roots. It currently stands at Number 633 in the US, making it familiar, but not too common. I think it’s the perfect compromise for your daughter.