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Tailored but Feminine Girl Names

March 19, 2019 Abby Sandel

Tailored girl names that are also feminine are the order of the day. He says Mary. She says Halston. Where’s the middle ground between those two extremes? The Name Sage sets out to find a compromise for their daughter.

Taylor writes:

My husband and I are expecting a baby girl in mid-June. For boys, we agreed on names like Ronan and Finn, but when it comes to girl names, our styles are completely different.

He likes Abigail, Mary, and Hannah classic/popular names that I do not like at all. My favorites are Hunter and Halston, as I prefer unisex names for girls, and he strongly dislikes them.

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?

As impossible as that sounds, let me assure you there’s a big middle ground. Some of my favorite girl names fall midway between Halston and Mary.

Let’s talk about three possible approaches – only one of which requires drafting a new list.

First, how about a double name? It sounds a little Southern, but a name like Mary Halston could offer the best of both worlds.

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?

Or maybe you choose the uncommon, unisex name … but your husband picks the conventional, feminine nickname. Would he like Halston if you called her Hallie?

There’s also:

Abington, called Abby
Campbell, called Cammie or Bella
Hunter, called Honey
Ellington, called Ellie
Grayson, called Gracie
Maguire, called Maggie
Sullivan, called Liv
Winslet, called Winnie

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.

Simone – This name reads exactly like what it is – French and feminine. But it’s tailored and relatively rare, too, a name that could satisfy cravings for something traditional and fresh at once.

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.

Readers, did you and your partner disagree on naming styles? How did you resolve your differences? And what would you suggest to Taylor?

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.

View all of Abby's articles

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