He Says Shayla, She Says Cecilia: Help this couple agree on a baby name!

Our Berry Question of the Week comes from Jen Barnes of Seattle, who’s facing a common problem in Baby Name Land: She and her husband are having trouble agreeing on a name for their second daughter.  Here, the names he likes and those that she likes.  Your job, dear berries, is to help them find a name they both will love.  Jen writes:

Please help us name baby #2!  Our 2nd baby girl is arriving in 4 short weeks and she has no name!  Our 18-month-old daughter, Rose Katherine, was named the second we found out that she was a girl!  Every time I think I have some names narrowed down, I add one to the list.  My husband has been no help in this process either — ha.  Here are the names he likes:


Shayla– he used to live in a city (spelled Xela) in Guatemala with this name and it is very dear to his heart but I am just not feeling it.


I love the name Nora but I fear that it is becoming too popular.  What do you think?

Here are my favorite names currently:





After pouring through the lists on Nameberry, I definitely feel that I am drawn towards the vintage names.

Here’s our dilemma…and I haven’t even thought about middle names!  Any help would be great!  Thanks berries.

Where’s the middle ground between Shayla and Cecilia?  Is Nora the one, and how to make it work for both Jen and her husband?  Over to you, Berry Geniuses.
Have your own question you’d like addressed?  Send it to berryqow@nameberry.com.

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49 Responses to “He Says Shayla, She Says Cecilia: Help this couple agree on a baby name!”

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backtomyroots Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 12:58 am

I would use Xela as a middle name! Caroline Xela would be cute! As since people usually dont use the mn she wouldnt have to constantly have to correct people on the pronunciation!

But Personally I would keep the original spelling! 🙂

You could also do Eleanor Xela… nn Nora.. this way is Nora gets too popular you can use a different nn or her full name!

alibaba Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:23 am

I think Nora is a beautiful name and it’s one you both agree on. I say go for it! It was #159 in 2010 and i doubt it’s going to shoot to #1 once we hear the list for popular names in 2011. To me Nora feels like one of those names that seems popular on this site but isn’t as common outside of name enthusiasts. Also, I love how Nora and Rose sound together as a sibset. Just beautiful all around!

Poppy528 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:37 am

Hello fellow Seattlite! I love Nora, it’s so sweet and classic. I wouldn’t worry about the popularity. I think Xela (not that phonetic spelling) should be the middle. Yes it’s rhymie but sometimes listening to your husband is more important. OR, Elinore Xela and call her Nora? win.

TeacherMA Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:41 am

Perhaps, it is the late night and I am not thinking clearly – but I see a lot of similar sounds between Shayla or Cecilia (and I have a flexible set of ideas about nicknames), but I think a possibly compromise could be naming the child Cecilia and having “Shayla” be a special daddy name. Keep in mind, my father’s nickname for me is “Morris” which is unrelated to my name (they only share the beginning initial).

Sarah A Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:48 am

I love Nora, but if you really are worried about the popularity than I wouldn’t recommend Nora. When you add in the Norah spelling (same pronunciation) the number of girls given that name in 2010 jumps up to about 3,000 – making it about 3 times more popular than Rose. Just something to consider if popularity really is an issue.

I agree with TeacherMA that you could use Cecilia but Shayla could be a “special daddy name” for her. I personally don’t like Shayla on its own, and I think it doesn’t “match” Rose. I would imagine Shayla’s sister to be Aubree or something. Good luck!

minorbeatrice Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:57 am

Since Nora is the only name you both like, I think you should use it as the first name. I agree with alibaba about Nora being very popular here, but not so much outside, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the popularity.

I think Xela is very different in style compared to Rose Katherine and the rest on the list, but since it has a special sentimental meaning to your husband, why not use it as a middle name? I love Poppy528’s suggestion of Elinore Xela nn Nora.

Some suggestions:
– Eleanor Xela
– Leonore Xela

Or how about Cora? It’s vintage and sounds very similar to Nora.
– Coralie Xela
– Coraline Xela
– Caroline Xela (I don’t think Cora is too much of a stretch here)

blaqblonde143 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 2:14 am

I agree with everyone else who is say that Nora should be the first name because you both agree with that name. If not another suggestion is Sheila. It is the Irish variation of Cecilia and it starts with an SH like Shayla. Another option I like is naming her Sheila Eleanor because you can either call her Shayla as a nn for Sheila or Nora as a nn for Eleanor.
Plus I love the way Rose Katherine and Sheila Eleanor sound.

Good luck with baby #2!!!


Poppy528 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 3:27 am

PS the name Shay is super cute. I love Gray and Fay; yup Shay. Could you use that as a first name? No popularity worries there. The middle name could start with La. Shay Lauren? Shay Laurel? One syllable Shay is cute with Rose, too.

Nook of Names Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 5:53 am

Nora started life in Ireland as a nickname for Honora — how about that or the simpler (but still old) Honor as an alternative to Eleanor, which still gives you the nn Nora?

I agree with those who say use Xela as a middle name; it’s unusual and has a story behind it — think Catherine Zeta Jones! Honor Xela. Nice!

Ynnig Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 6:35 am

I also agree the the spelling should stay Xela and to position it as the middle name. For first names Nora is great as a nn for Leonora, Honora, Eleanor, and is IMO about the same popularity level as Rose so they go well together.

Eleanor Xela is beautiful and lovely with Rose Katherine.

Cecilia (or Cecily?) is also lovely with Rose though but if he hates it then Nora is still an excellent choice.

kyemsma Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 8:33 am

First of all, let me just say I love your daughter’s name! Rose Katherine is so pretty.
I agree with pp’s that Nora is the way to go, as both you and your DH have it as a favorite. You could go with Nora Shea, which is very nice with Rose Katherine.
Or how about Eleanor Shayla/Xela or Eleanor Sheila, with the nn of Nora? I don’t think Nora is too popular at all, by the way.

Bigmama Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:03 am

If you both like Nora, I think you should go for it. I think Nora is a beautiful choice, especially with sister Rose. I also think Eleanor (one of my favorites) is a good way to get at Nora if you think it’s too popular on its own (which I don’t, but I could be wrong), and I’m biased toward the suggested alternative Cora, one of my own picks.

Have you thought of Celia as middle ground between Shayla/Xela and Cecilia? Celia is an ancient and elegant name that is phonetically closer than Cecilia to your husband’s pick–close enough in my opinion to be an “anglicization” of it. And then, yes, daddy should get to call his little girl Shayla!

You have two classic names for your first daughter, which is a big reason I like both Nora and Celia.

Alexia Mae Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:04 am

I don’t feel like Rose and Shayla match, one is classic and the other sounds trendy.
Cecilia is gorgeous. The neat thing with Shayla is that it’s a variation of Cecilia, maybe you could show that to your husband. In a way it is still honoring Xela.
Xela is the “capital of the Mayas”. I think it would be even prettier and more honoring if her name was Cecilia Maya. I think that would be stunning and a perfect compromise!!!

Jazzsammich Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:26 am

I agree that Nora is lovely, and not “too popular.”

Based on the title alone (waiting for the rest of the article to load,) I cam up with:


While Shay Lauren is a euphonious suggestion, I would steer clear of it because Shay Laren is the name of a prominent porn actress.

JuliaKateElizabeth Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:35 am

Saoirse – “sor-sha” or Sorcha (both are Irish with different meanings) is perhaps a middle ground, and not very popular. It goes nicely with a little Rose as well! I think Saoirse Coraline/Caroline would be precious.

Sarah.Jane Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:42 am

I think Rose Katherine and Nora Caroline or Nora Xela would be cute and meaningful!

BritishAmerican Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Reading your post I had the same thought as many others: use Xela with the original spelling as a middle name. Then your daughter will have a fun middle initial and your husband’s city will be honored.

I have a Rose too. 🙂 Other girl names I like are Sylvia, Dorothy, Beatrice, Lucy.

I think Nora would be a lovely choice for your daughter. I also like that then both girls would have 4 letters in their name. I understand not wanting to pick a name that’s increasing in popularity – our Rose was going to be Lily, but we saw it heading up the charts fast. Did you check your state for the popularity on the SSA site? Have you met a lot of little Noras at the library or at playgroups locally? The “Nora as a nickname” option is good too.

kewitzler Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 9:52 am

One more syllable would help Nora work with Xela. I like Annora Xela.

missysue Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 10:07 am

Definitely agree with the others – put Xela in the middle! I think both Nora Xela and Caroline Xela are lovely choices.

pam Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 10:07 am

Jen, you and your husband remind me of me and my husband: It seems as if you’re far apart in your tastes, but you’re really not. Often, my husband and I will argue for very different things in theory, but when it comes down to a final choice, we’ll land in the exact same place.

You have a couple such compromises built in. Nora is the obvious one, and it’s a great name. But it’s obviously been getting more popular for several years and is still heading up.

I like the idea of a longer name you can shorten to Nora if you want. So many wonderful choices: Honora, Eleanora, Leonora.

Another option would be to go to Cora, Dora, Flora or even Isadora, Aurora, Melora, Sonora, Theodora (you can go on Nameberry’s Supersearch and set it for all names that end with “ora”…

Celia is the perfect compromise between Xela/Shayla and Cecilia; the biblical Sela/Selah is good too. But X is a nearly irresistible middle initial, especially cool with a buttoned-up vintage first name like Caroline. Caroline X — how cool is that?

Kasie Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 10:36 am

My daughter’s name is Cecelia (spelled Cesylia) middle name May. She often goes by CC (spelled Cesy).

rabia_chrisden Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 11:19 am

Hi! Congratulations to you & your husband on baby#2!!!

I love some of the names you’ve come up with. How about combining the names you like

Cecilia and Shayla= Cesha or Cashai
Shay is a beautiful name. How about Shay Nora
I saw someone suggested Caroline Xela that seems like a great name!!! You wrote that you like classic names so how about Audrey Shay that way your husband’s included in the naming process as well

LJandRL Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 11:19 am

Great suggestions so far. Your daughter is adorable and Rose Katherine is lovely. It definitely has both a classic and vintage feel. It seems your husband leans more towards classic names (with the exception of Shayla) and you lean more towards names with a bit more vintage charm. Rose Katherine walks the fine line between both.

I think Nora fits the bill, as does Eleanor, Leanora and Eleonora, but popularity is an issue, and I have a feeling you’re just not in love with it otherwise you probably would have chosen it by now since you both like it.

Sarah is lovely and I adore Molly and Cecilia, any of those could work but you need a name you mutually agree on. Similar names are Sadie, Mary, Polly, Celia, Celeste and Cecily.

Here are some suggestions that I think are classic, simple, work well with Rose but also have some vintage charm (oh and are outside the top 200!):


I hope there’s something in there you can agree on! Best of luck 🙂

StellaMaris Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 11:58 am

I agree with most of the previous posters: Xela/Shayla (as you wish) as a mn, and Nora as fn, or a more vintage name that can be shortened to Nora (and that could use if Nora becomes too popular. Which I don’t think is likely to happen, Rose is way more popular according to me).
I love the following formal names with Nora as a nn:
Eleanor/Elinor, of course.
Lenore/Lenora/Leonor/Leanor/Elenora are Eleanor-like vintage possibilities. The French Alienor and Azenor are beautiful as well, but I doubt that your husband will like them.
Honor/Honora/Honoria could work, as well as my favourite, the Hungarian (I believe) version Enora.

Nola, Enola and Elora could also work – both vintage and modern.

jogna22 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Hey Jen, it’s Joni!
I LOVE Cecelia. That is all 🙂

LCMpdx Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

My suggestion is to use Eleanor Xela and you can call her Nora. It goes well with your DD Rose Katherine and I think it is important to consider using Xela (or Shayla) since it has a special meaning to the baby’s father. My next choices would be Cecile Xela, and then Caroline Xela.

shealah28 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

My name is Shealah, which is pronounced the same as Shayla. I think Shayla is better than Cecelia, you could always name her Cecelia Shay, or Shayla Cecelia. Or Shayla Celia …

tavn Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I like Caroline Shayla or Caroline Xela.

Rose & Caroline fit well…Rose (or Rosie) & Carlie. Cute.

Nyx Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Okay, I want to start by telling you how beautiful I find your first daughter’s name. Using her name as a reference (along with Nora) to your naming style, I’ve found that it feels to me that you like a simple/short (one or two-syllable, 4-5 letter), known-but-not-trending-popular, timelessly classic, and wonderfully feminine names as a first name. I feel that you might enjoy a longer, timeless classic and feminine name in the middle name position (maybe this helps with flow when considered with your last name?).

Rose Catherine AND Nora Caroline – I agree with just about everybody here that using Nora as a first name is a great idea, especially since you both already have points that you love about the name. However, I would pair it up with Caroline, as the two flow wonderfully together.

Rose Catherine AND Alice Xela – Like Nora, Alice is experiencing a rise in popularity. However, they are both still at the bottom of the top hundred. Also, unlike Nora (which, when combined with Norah, was used by over 3000 families in 2010 – compared to Rose, which was used by less then 1000 families in 2010), Alice (and variations) was used by just over 1800 families in 2010.

Rose Catherine AND Lena Cecily – Lena has that old-fashioned vibe, is simply-sweet, and is actually trending along the same lines as Rose (it, in all the various forms) was used by 870 families in 2010). Because Lena is a two-syllable name that ends with the “ah” sound, I went with a 3-sylable variations of Cecilia that did not end with the “ah” sound. And while the Cecily version has never been very popular name here, it is a very old name (look up Cecily Neville, Duchess of York – she lived in the 1400s!).

Rose Catherine AND Clara Margaret – Clara is old fashioned, simply-sweet, and was only used just over 2000 times in 2010 (various spellings). I paired it up with Margaret because Margaret is a longer-feminine-timeless classic like Catherine (and Mollie made me think of it).

Rose Catherine AND Celia Josephine – I believe that Pam already mentioned how great of a compromise this Celia is. I paired it up with Josephine, because it fits with Catherine and I love the name!

Rose Catherine AND Jane Xela – I can’t believe that I almost forgot Jane! Jane was used by just less then 900 families in 2010, and share many other similarities with Rose (one syllable – simply sweet – timeless classic), plus it would work with the funky Xela as a middle name 😀

Finally, here are some names that are similar in style to Rose: Bess/Beth (not trending popular at all right now!), Fae/Faye, Hope, June, Mae/May, Pearl, Helen, Hazel and Laura.

And here is a fun site that allows you to see a more accurate view of popularity, as they try to combined all of the various spellings of a name: http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/pop/2010/2010xx01.html

I can’t wait to hear your feedback on all of the great input from all of the berries 🙂

afmastro Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

You already have some great suggestions here but I like similar names as you so I must add my two cents.

I have a daughter named Fiona and my second child is a boy. But I had fun picking girl names until my husband nixed all of my favorites. Once I found out he was a boy, that was irrelevant.

The names on my list were: Nora, Sylvia, Cora, Cecily.

Cecily was my absolute favorite – but my husband hated it.

I agree that Shayla doesn’t work as a sister to Rose.

While Nora is a little more popular, if that is the only name you and your husband can agree on, I feel it is a good choice.

I heard of sisters named Rose and Cora, and I really like that set.

I also really like the suggestion of Celia.

mermuse Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Hi, Jen!

Congrats on your growing family!

I really wouldn’t think of Nora as becoming too popular, and I think it is a great fit with sister Rose. They are both sweet and vintage! 🙂

Rose Katherine and Nora Caroline would be my ideal suggestion for you.

LaterGator Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Nora Xela would be my pick! I don’t care for Shayla – feel it’s to informal… bordering on a made-up name and Cecilia is too formal for my taste. Nora is a lovely, classic name – so I don’t feel that it matters too much if it’s currently coming back in fashion. There’s no risk of it being a dated name. You can always add an “h” to the end to change it up a bit.

Hala90 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Shayla and Cicilia… Sheila?
Nora is lovely!
Sarah is lovely but EVERYWHERE! I havent heard a Nora before.

jenjenbarnes Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

thanks everyone!!! I am loving all of your input! Its funny that so many people said Eleanor…I love it! I have secretly had it in the back of my mind. I also thought about using Shayla or Xela as a middle name but never really knew how it was look/sound. After so many of you have suggested it, I’m starting to like it a lot more! Thanks again!!

IzzyQ Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I Love Molly(:

rachelemma Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I recently heard of a baby girl name Charla(Sharla). May be middle fround between Shayla and Cecilia?
I believe you should go with what you both love, and Nora seems like it. Even if it is becoming more popular at the moment.
Good Luck 🙂

jpruitt76 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Ditto many of the others about Eleanor or Honora Xela, nn Nora. I also think Cora is a great (less popular) alternative either on its own or as a nn for Corinne. Corinne Xela, nn Cora is fabulous.

niteowl13 Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Definitely use another vintagey name like Nora. I like the suggestions of Cora or Cecily. My fave suggestion is from Nyx. Another one syllable name – short and sweet. Some that she didn’t mention: Eve, Rue, Neve, Tess, Jean.

shutterbuglove Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I love all your name choices! Shayla definitely seems different than the rest of the name styles. I would be open to what others have suggested and maybe used it as a middle name if you do love Eleanore. Personally, I prefer Nora over Eleonore but either is nice! Rose and Nora just seems like a PERFECT fit. 🙂 I also like the suggestion of Nora Caroline.. so beautiful! I like Cecilia as well but if you are wanting a sibset that is more matchy, then it does seem much more flowy and formal than Nora. Either way, great choices and I know your daughter will end up with a beautiful name!!

SuzumeChroi Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

My boyfriend’s stepmother is called “Nora” but her full name is “Anora”

I think that Nora is popular, but making it “Anora” gives it a slight tweak.

TinaBina Says:

February 15th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I am on par with a lot of posters. Based on your OP my suggestion was Lenora Xela then Eleanor Xela and Eleanora Xela. I feel like this best combines what you are looking for and your current likes. I think you should include Shayla or Xela because of its importance to your dh.

lemon Says:

February 17th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Well, I would go with Charlotte. Why? It’s got the vintage flair you like, right alongside Cecilia, and it’s a Caroline cousin, but it’s got the sweet sound that your husband likes, somewhere in the realm of Sarah. The real kicker? Charlotte could be nicknamed “Shayla” or “Shay” – you could even spell the nickname “Xela” – by daddy!

Rose and Charlotte? Lovely. Where did you come up with Rose’s middle name? Rose Katherine is classic perfection! A name like Charlotte Sarah, Charlotte Celia, Charlotte Eliza, or Charlotte Matilda could fit the bill for you.


Destry Says:

March 1st, 2012 at 7:16 am

If you’re worried about Nora’s popularity then you should definitely avoid Sarah. Sarah is extremely common. I do think that Nora is getting more popular but I wouldn’t say it’s too common just yet. Shayla is extremely trendy and I dislike Cecilia’s meaning. Molly is very cutesy.

Some suggestions:

Shea – it’s pronounced like Shay but less trendy looking
Eleanor – you could still call her Nora
Cecily – even though I dislike the meaning it is similar to Cecilia while sounding a bit more modern which might appeal to your husband
Sarai – less common than Sarah, also biblical

Oh and Xela makes an interesting middle name. Eleanor Xela is indeed very nice.

Cecily Xela
Eleanor Xela
Shea Eleanor

Camilla_Smith Says:

April 22nd, 2012 at 12:18 am

How about Shélagh? It’s my twin sister’s name (pronounced SHAY-lah) – so same pronunciation as your husband’s pick but a little bit more unique. It’s Irish and means “heavenly”, same meaning as “Celia”. Personally, I like Celia better than Cecilia, which means “blind”.

sheena12 Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 1:37 am

Charlisa was a name suggested in a 1950s etiquette name that I found in my parents home. Wish I could think of the author

Other ideas – Rose and Celestine
Rose and Sharon / Shannon
Rose and Chrysanne
Rose and Silvie
Rose and Rachel
Bose and Elisabeth – Liz, Betty,
Beth Bethann

b_laine Says:

February 28th, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I think Cecilia is lovely and goes well with Rose, whereas I feel Shayla doesn’t fit with the traditional sounding Rose. Cecilia Grace would be a lovely combination for a first and middle name I think, or you could honour a family member with the middle name?

DinosaursRoar Says:

June 9th, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I would say …
Nora Caroline or
Elenore Shayla so you don’t do a double ending in a sound and can still ca her Nora which is lovely I know of only one Nora to date and she’s a lovely child. Your older child has a very classic name I would attempt something similar .

namebeary Says:

July 31st, 2014 at 1:02 am

Too bad this is from 2012 . . . . I would’ve suggested names like:


game hack Says:

October 2nd, 2014 at 8:44 am

game hack

He Says Shayla, She Says Cecilia: Help this couple agree on a baby name! – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry

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