Name Sage: A Sister for Ellie, Tessa, and Drew

Name Sage: A Sister for Ellie, Tessa, and Drew

Jackie writes:

We’re expecting baby #4 in early Februaryit’s a girl! – and are totally stuck on a name.

We already have three children: Eleanor Casey, called Ellie, and then twins, Tessa Lillian and Drew Morris, named for my great-grandparents, Lillian and Morris.

This time around my husband and I are having a hard time agreeing on anything!

Here are the names we’re considering, but not totally sold on:

Maxine – From my grandfather, Mervin. I like Maxine with the nicknames Max or Maxxie, but the Zuckerbergs just used Max, and is Maxxie going to be a teasing problem?

Josie – I also like Josie, from my grandfather’s middle name, Joel, but it reminds my husband of Josie and the Pussycats.

Victoria, called Tori or Vivi – My grandmother was Flora Victoria. My niece is already named Flora. We both like Victoria, but I’m not sold 100% on it.

Harper – I keep coming back to Harper, which wouldn’t be after anyone in particular. But our last name starts with an H, and I’m not sure if it works.

Penelope – My husband likes this name, but I don’t like the nickname Penny.

Olivia, called Livvy – We both like the name, but it’s so popular!

Matilda, called MattyEven though Maddie is very popular.

Isabelle, called Izzy Even though it’s popular, but Izzy is too close to my niece’s name, Lizzy.

Noa – I like Noa, but there’s already a boy Noah in our extended family.

Time is ticking away – please help!

The Name Sage replies:

It sounds like there are two considerations. It would be great to use a family name, though not a requirement, and a desire to avoid a too popular name.

Popularity is tricky. Many of the names on your list are in the US Top 100 – which is often a good measure of what parents consider “too” popular. If we draw the same line, we would have to rule out Olivia (Number 2), Harper (Number 11), Penelope (Number 42), and probably Isabelle, too. (It’s Number 96, plus Isabella is Number 4).

I’m not sure how to think about Noa. It’s very unusual for a girl, at least in the US. But since Noah is the top name for a boy, it might feel more popular than you’d like – even if your daughter is the only girl with the name.

Let’s look at the names that remain:

Maxine – There aren’t any Max– names for girls in the current Top 1000, though several Max names chart for boys. If Maxima Zuckerberg encourages more parents to consider Max– names for their daughters, that could be a good thing – it might make Max and Maxxie seem like mainstream nicknames for a girl. Or you might use it without a nickname. I think Maxine is a little more antique and unusual than Eleanor and Tessa, but only a little.

MatildaMatilda seems like a great choice for your family: Eleanor, Tessa, Drew, and Matilda sound great together, as do Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Matty. At Number 583, Matilda hits that familiar-but-seldom-heard sweet spot, plus it’s almost as regal as Eleanor or Victoria. And if Matty sounds too much like Maddie, there’s also Tilda or Tillie.

Josie – Sure, your kids’ parents may think of Josie and the Pussycats. But after a poorly received 2001 movie, the franchise is currently in hibernation. Meanwhile, Josie has become a mainstream choice for girls, reaching Number 254 in the US. It’s another great match with your older kids’ names: Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Josie.

That’s a pretty short list, and it sounds like none of these have stuck. Let’s see if we can’t come up with some more ideas.

Josephine – If you’re still worried about Josie’s pop culture ties, another option would be to name her Josephine and call her Josie. At Number 147, it’s more popular than Josie alone. But that’s probably not too popular, and it still plays on the family name, Joel. Of course, Joanna, Jolene, and many other Jo– names do, too – but I think Josephine might be the best bet for your family’s style.

Penelope, called Polly or NellPenelope is very popular. But it sounds like your main concern is the nickname Penny. Is that a must? If you used another nickname – Polly, Poppy, Lola, or Nell maybe – would the name feel more wearable? I love the sound of Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Nell.

Georgia – The names on your list make me think of Georgia. At Number 243, it’s familiar, but not the kind of name that you hear every day. Nicknames include Georgie and Gigi, but just Georgia is great, too. And I think Georgia Isabelle would be a great combination.

Louisa or Lucille, called LucyLucy has been in the US Top 100 in recent years, but I don’t feel like it’s too common. And you could easily use a formal name that’s even less popular. Lucille ranks Number 343, and Louisa Number 973.

Margaret, called Maggie – When I thought about M names that would work well for your family, Margaret instantly came to mind. At Number 169, it’s not too common. But it’s every bit as classic as the other names on your list. Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Maggie sound like siblings. It’s close to Matilda/Matty, but sidesteps the issue of just how many girls answer to Maddie.

Juniper, called Junie or JuneHarper is almost certainly headed into the US Top Ten, which makes me wonder if it’s just a little too popular to consider. You’ve mentioned that you’re not sure about the initials H.H. – it’s really a matter of personal style. But here’s another option. Juniper is a little more modern than your older children’s names, but I don’t think it’s a mismatch – especially not with the nicknames Junie or June. Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and June – it really does sound like a family.

AdelaideMatilda reminds me of Adelaide, possibly because Matty makes me think of Addie. There aren’t as many Addies as Maddies, though it’s not as uncommon as Maggie.

SylvieSylvie shares the V sound of Victoria. It’s a formal, complete name like Tessa, but it ends with the informal sounding ‘ie’ of Ellie. It’s also pretty rare – just over 200 girls were given the name in 2014, which makes it more like Maxine. Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Sylvie – I think it hits exactly the right note.

And yet, even with this long list, the name I think you might want to most strongly consider is Victoria. Ellie, Tessa, Drew, and Vivi is probably my favorite, if only because it gives each child his or her own first initial. (Otherwise, Tessa and Tori would share the letter T.) While Victoria isn’t as rare as some names you’ve considered, it can’t be called trendy or fleeting, either. And the family ties make it meaningful.

As for middle names, I love the idea of Victoria Harper, though Victoria Maxine also makes a great combination.

UPDATE: Olivia “Livvy” Maxine was born in mid-February right on schedule. She remained without a name for almost 24 hours as we couldn’t come to an agreement (a shocker, since all our other children were named by the 4th month of pregnancy, certainly prior to arriving at the hospital!)

Thanks for all the great suggestions!! I honestly thought we were going to end up with either a Victoria Harper or a Maxine Victoria. But we’re just over the moon with baby#4 Olivia Maxine. – Jackie