Name Sage: A German-Italian-English Name for Baby #2
We are expecting our second child on February 16th, exactly two years after we welcomed our daughter, Evelina Viti. She goes by Lina. We chose not to find out the gender again this time, but it is making choosing a name that much harder!
Evelina’s middle name is from my husband’s family, which is very Italian. Our last name is Italian, too, and ends in ‘o’.
If this baby is a girl, we are equally stumped. I have suggested Lorelei, as a German name for girls, a nod to my German heritage. My husband is not totally opposed, but he doesn’t like that it means temptress. The middle name will be Magdalena, after my grandmother.
We both love traditional names that are somewhat unusual now. The meaning of the name is also important to us. We had a difficult pregnancy, so the fact that Evelina meant “wished for child” made it even more perfect.
So basically, I am afraid I won’t be able to find a name I love as much as my firstborn’s name!
The Name Sage replies:
One of the reasons naming a first child is hard is that it’s a blank slate. We can choose anything, from Elizabeth to Valencia, Jax to Lorenzo. And yet, naming a second child isn’t always easier, because pressure to match the first child’s name rules out many an appealing option.
Finding the middle ground between two parents’ different styles and matching a sibling’s name? That’s a puzzle!
As for the meaning? Your husband is half right. In German folklore, Lorelei is a shipwreck-causing siren. But the name ultimately comes from a large rock in the River Rhine, and theories suggest that it means “murmuring rock” – a reference to the sound of the water. This makes Lorelei a nature name, too – and might help sway your husband!
If not Lorelei, I wonder if you’d consider Aurora, Juliana, Noemi, Ottilie, or Saskia? They’re all used in German, though none is quite as obviously a heritage choice as Lorelei. My favorite combination is Evelina and Ottilie – Lina and Tilly. Or perhaps you’d consider Katarina or Catarina, German and Italian forms of Katherine, with the nickname Kate.
Boys’ names seem like the bigger challenge. I tend to agree with you about ‘o’ ending names – it’s tough to find one that works with on ‘o’ ending surname.
Still, there are some Italian names that end with a different sound, and a great many possibilities that seem like they might make good compromise choices. And since your surname is shorter, some of the longer, ‘o’ ending names might be worth a look.
Some names to consider for a son:
Giovanni, called Van – Giovanni is nothing more than the Italian form of the classic John. In that sense, Giovanni sounds exactly like a brother for Evelina – they’re both romance language spins on more traditional choices. Plus, Giovanni shorts to Van, which seems like a great companion name for Lina.
Julius – Ancient Julius reminds me of Marius. It has the style that you prefer, but thanks to Julius Caesar’s tenure, it’s also a Roman name. Julian is another option, though it’s currently in the US Top 100.
Felix – Felix has a great meaning – lucky! It’s also an appealingly international name, heard in German as well as English. In Italian, it’s Felice – which doesn’t feel like an obvious name for an American boy, but suggests that if your son traveled to Italy, his name would translate easily.
Magnus – The middle name you’ve chosen for a daughter reminded me of Magnus. It comes from the Latin word for great. It strikes me as neither Italian nor German – in fact, it’s most common in Scandinavia. Still, Magnus like the kind of name that might work.
Augustus or Augustine – Actually, I’m a sucker for Augusten, as in the writer Augusten Burroughs. But maybe that’s too out there? Like Magnus, Augustus means great, from the Latin. Nicknames August and Gus feel more authentically German, but since the name is associated with the Roman Empire, I wonder if it would appeal to your husband?
Sebastiano, called Bastian – Sebastiano is a long, Italian name that ends with ‘o’ – exactly what we were trying to avoid, right? But stay with me for a minute, because Bastian is a very German short form of Sebastian. And while Sebastian is in the current US Top 100, Sebastiano is not. If the name appeals to you, I think Lina and Bastian sound perfect together, as do Evelina and Sebastiano.
Raphael or Raffaello, called Rafe – Along the same lines, I wonder if a form of Raphael might work? It’s another Biblical name found in most European languages, as well as English. Rafe is a handsome nickname, and I like it quite a bit with Lina.
The good news is that there are dozens of names that occur in English, German, and Italian. And it’s possible to find a longer Italian – or Latin – form, with a shorter, and more German name for everyday use.
But that’s not the only possible approach. It’s also worth considering whether your preferences in boys’ names are just a little different than your style when it comes to naming a girl. That’s not at all unusual, and it doesn’t mean that your children’s names won’t sound great together.