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Long Middle Names for Girls

November 20, 2019 Abby Sandel

by Abby Sandel

Wanted: a long middle name for a girl.

Fill in the blank: take a modern, mini, three-letter first name, add a two-syllable, ends-with-n surname. Now what works in the middle?

kbee writes:

My husband and I quickly settled on the name Lia for our little girl due in January.  We like that it’s short and sweet. Our last name is on the longer side, similar to Blackmann.

We are struggling to find a middle name that balances the two. Names we like such as Kate and June seem too short and a bit abrupt while Alexandra and Adelaide seem to overpower her short first name.

We have discussed Isabel, but maybe it leans too Spanish when paired with Lia? My husband vetoed Makenna and I vetoed Abigail. He prefers sweet/feminine traditional names while I like more unique/trendy names. We are both willing to compromise for the middle.

The Name Sage replies:

You could give your daughter a short and sweet name: Lia June. Lia Kate. There’s a brisk, modern sensibility to such minimal choices.

And yet, I tend to favor your approach. My heart belongs to longer, interesting middles, as a way to balance out a short first-last name combination. Find the right name, and it becomes downright delightful to say in full.

We have a few challenges:

First, Lia is a lovely, liquid name. Your surname is packed with hard consonants. Adelaide runs into sounds-like-Blackmann, but Anna is swallowed into Lia, creating a smoosh of a name.

It also sounds like Lia is the perfect compromise – a classic choice with a less conventional spelling. The result is a name that feels modern, but rooted in tradition. It’s the middle ground between Makenna and Abigail, and we need to find another name that strikes the same note.

But I think this challenge really comes down to sound. If the name links together your short, flowing first name choice with a harder-sounding surname, then I suspect style might be less of a concern.

Here are my picks for great, three-syllable middle names that work perfectly with Lia and sounds-like-Blackmann:

Alaina Lia and Alaina could be sisters. Paired as a first-middle, it feels a little bit magical. Spell it Elena for a more traditional vibe. Or opt for Helena, which feels even more classic, and possibly a tiny bit easier to say.

Delaney – I think names ending in the ‘ee’ sound work really well as middles. They’re relatively uncommon, for one. And surnames like Delaney tend to read like old family names, which may lessen any perceived trendiness.

Emerson – Speaking of surnames that work well as middles, what would you think of Emerson? From Emma to Emily, Em– is a favorite sound in girls’ names across generations. But Emerson makes for a more modern update.

Evelyn Evelyn strikes me as a sister for Abigail. It has a similar vintage, feminine vibe. And yet, Evelyn also has a certain amount of edge. Maybe it’s that middle V, or maybe it’s Evelyn’s history as a unisex name.

Genevieve – Another middle V name, Genevieve is far from the ElizabethKatherine classics, but it’s no novelty, either. Saint Genevieve has protected Paris since the fifth century.

Juniper – I suggest Juniper an awful lot, but that’s because I think it’s a perfect compromise pick. You mentioned June, a sweetly old-fashioned choice. But Juniper feels more like Makenna, a more energetic name at home in the 21st century.

Marigold – If you’re open to nature names, I like the idea of Marigold, too. The first part of the name comes from Mary – about as feminine and traditional as it gets. But this name feels more like Azalea or Zinnia, a flower choice that wears well, but feels unexpected.

Mirabelle – You mentioned Isabel, but I wonder if another –bel name would appeal? There are plenty to choose from: favorites like Isabelle and Annabelle, plus Mirabelle or Maribel – to name just a few.

Rebecca Rebecca feels like an almost classic, the kind of name that we’re used to hearing as a first. But it’s surprising as a middle name choice, and has a rhythm that works well with Lia sounds-like-Blackmann.

Silvia Lia Silvia strikes me as shimmery, a little bit like Lia Alaina. But Silvia hews closer to traditional choices. The ‘y’ spelling is more popular in the US, but Silvia was the spelling used in Roman mythology, all the way up to Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Valerie – If you’re drawn to Delaney, and he like Genevieve, I think Valerie might be exactly midway between the two. In fact, I think it’s a good midpoint from Abigail to Makenna!

Overall, I’m stuck on Lia Delaney. I think Delaney blends the right amount of hard and soft sounds. But this one is really tough! I’ll list my personal favorites in the poll, and see if one of those jumps to a commanding lead. But readers, I know you’ll have great suggestions, too. Please share!

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 namesage@nameberry.com.

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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.
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