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

UPDATE: She's here! Welcome Olivia Maxine

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

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 Matty Even 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.

Penelopecalled 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 Lucy Lucy 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 June Harper 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.

Adelaide Matilda 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.

Sylvie Sylvie 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


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Abby Berry Juice profile image

About the author


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.
View all of Abby's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers


28 Responses to “Name Sage: A Sister for Ellie, Tessa, and Drew”

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Emilyjayne255 Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 1:59 am

Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Maggie

EW314 Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 3:44 am

I wouldn’t use Victoria Harper, unless you’re a huge fan of the Beckhams!

I think Maxine, Matilda, Lucille and Sylvie are my favourite suggestions for you – I think they tick all the right boxes. If popularity bothers you in the first name spot, why not use a more popular name that you love in the middle?

Maxine Olivia
Matilda Harper
Lucille Penelope
Sylvie Isabelle

Other suggestions:

Katherine, Katrina or Katia, nn Kitty: Katherine is a timeless classic, like Eleanor, while Katrina and Katia feel more like funky Tessa. Kitty is an adorable nickname which would work really well with Ellie, Tessa and Drew.

Imogen, nn Immy: Imogen’s uncommon but not unheard-of in the US, and has an upper-crust feel and literary pedigree like Eleanor and Tessa. Immy is a unique nickname that’s not a million miles from Izzy.

Livia, nn Livvy: if Olivia’s too popular for you, this similar Roman name gives the same cute nickname opportunities and has a bit more spunk.

Beatrice, nn Bea: Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Bea is too cute for words! Beatrice is another “sweet spot” name in the US, at no. 601 in 2014.

Harriet, nn Hattie: another uncommon, spunky classic with a lovely nickname.

Simone, nn Minnie: Simone is a chic, underused, but recognisable name, and I think nn Minnie makes it work adorably for a little girl. Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Minnie is a lovely sibset!

Good luck!

Essa Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 7:39 am

Some great choices here. I automatically thought of the nickname Poppy when you said you were unsure of Penelope nn Penny.

I think Juniper is a great idea, I love the nn Junie.

I don’t think Maxxie would be picked on at all. I wouldn’t worry about that. I’d say it was no different to Matty.

Saying that, I do much prefer Tilly or Tilda as a nn for Matilda and I think either of those would sound great with the rest of your family.

I like Lucy, however, I dislike it as a nickname for Lucille or Louisa. I like it by itself or as a nn for Lucinda.

I also love Sylvie. I also like it as a nn for Sylvia.

And Josephine nn Josie is great too. I also like Josie by itself.

So, in order of preference for you family…
1. Penelope nn Poppy
2. Josie
3. Juniper nn Junie
4. Sylvie
5. Matilda nn Tilda
6. Matilda nn Tilly
7. Josephine nn Josie
8. Maxine nn Maxxie
9. Josephine nn Josie
10. Lucinda nn Lucy
11. June nn Junie
12. Lucy
13. Sylvia nn Sylvie

Essa Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 7:55 am

I almost forgot about Maggie! I love Maggie but I’m unsure about Margaret. I’d choose to use it either by itself or as a nickname for Magdalena, Magdalene or Margot. There’s Magnolia too but that’s my least favourite.

hlparker Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:10 am

I love Josephine and Penelope, but I think my favorite is Lucille nn Lucy or Lulu. Lucille Victoria maybe? Or what about being bold and using Joel as a middle? Matilda Joel or Margaret Joel? I think you have a lot of great options. Best of luck!

Essa Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:13 am

I’m getting excited! Ok, some other names I think would go great.

Beatrix nn Bea or Trixie

Isabelle/a nn Ibby – You mentioned that Izzy was too close to Lizzy, but how about Ibby, it’s a great alternative for the really popular name.

Thea – this could even be a nn for Theodora, Anthea, Dorothea or any other Thea name but I think for your family just Thea works the best.

Francesca nn Frankie, Fran or Cesca

Eve nn Evie

Gwendolen nn Gwen, Gwennie or Winnie – Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Gwennie sounds great!

Amelia nn Amy

If you’re ynsure about the popylarity of Olivia perhaps you could name her something like Lydia Victoria and nn her Livvy. you might also like Liddy or Libby.

BabyMammie Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:19 am

As soon as I read you other children’s names Lottie ir Lettie sprang to mind. They are cute and nicknamey without being popular. If you want a formal choice to use these as nns you get Lottie from Charlotte (which I suspect is far too popular for your taste) or the more unusual Carlotta. Lettie originates as Letitia or Laura. There is also Hattie from Harriet and Hettie from Henrietta. If you are not a fan of Olivia, how about Ophelia; shorten to Lia? Instead of Penelope, how about Persephone (Per-sef-oh-nee) ? I love those last two!lol

BabyMammie Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:28 am

Instead of Harper and the Beckham association, how about Harlow? Instead of Isabelle you could use Anabelle and shorten to Annie or Belle. Also like to throw Molly in there as a possible.

BabyMammie Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:30 am

Good luck! I hope my suggestions have helped and you find the name that is perfect for you and your baby girl.x

BabyMammie Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 9:02 am

Sorry, I totally loving naming babies!lol I feel we may miss an opportunity if I don’t suggest Jessie. It has the ie ending of Ellie, the double s of Tessa and the unisex capability of Drew. It is cute and familiar, yet modern sounding and not too popular. Can be short for Jessica but I would choose the more unusual and classic Jessamine. I’ve also made up the name Jessara (Jess-ar-ah), so you can use that too if you are feeling adventurous (mix of Jessica and Sarah so means wealthy princess)!

FelicitySmoak Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 9:22 am

I love Victoria nn Tori. I like both Victoria Harper and Victoria Maxine.

Bobcat108 Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 12:24 pm

For me, Eleanor & Tessa have rather different vibes, so finding a girl’s name that falls somewhere in-between would be an avenue I’d pursue. Victoria’s too regal (close to Eleanor); Harper’s too trendy (too close to Tessa); any of the Max-names are too clunky & don’t fit w/either the Eleanor or Tessa vibe. The names that fall in that sweet spot, at least in my opinion:

Josephine nn Josey/Josy (perhaps a different spelling of Josie will erase the Josie & the Pussycats memory)
Silvia nn Silvie (for some reason the y spellings make the name old-ladyish to me)
Penelope nn Nell/Nella (Nella feels halfway between Ellie & Tessa)
Jessica nn Jess/Jessa (elegant w/o being a royal name)
Jemima nn Jemma (ditto)
Jenneveve nn Vivi/Jen/Jennie (a bit more out there, but a J name to honor Joel)
Miranda nn Miri (a classic-sounding M name to honor Mervin)
Isadora nn Isa (similar to Isabelle)
Theodora/Theodosia nn Thea (another classic-but-not-royal name)

I second (or third) the option of Livia nn Liv/Livvy.

Good luck! 🙂

LoveBugsMama Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Great suggestions from both Abby and commentators. I think Maxine is perfect but you really can’t go wrong with any of the names listed. Good luck!

Sweetchariot Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 2:31 pm

I’ll throw one more variant if you’re set on a family honor name. For Joel, you could use the name Josephine (or my favorite variant Josefina) and use the nickname Joey. A little masculine for a girl, but that helps connect to the masculine namesake and it’s adorable. Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Joey. So great.

EmmaMay Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

I think Matilda, Victoria, and Margaret (called Maggie) are my favorites. They all go nicely with Eleanor, Tessa, and Drew with plenty of nn options.

I also might suggest Joelle (sounds just like the girl’s name Noel, but with the added -le) as an honor name for Joel. I know a teenager with the name and it is pretty. I do feel that the -elle part might be too close to Ellie, though.

When I read the post, my first thought was Charlotte. But it is VERY popular, so if you are aiming more towards familiar-but-not-too-common, this probably isn’t the best. Still, just a suggestion.

Anyway, congrats on Baby #4! Be sure to tell us what you choose!

Entangler Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 5:22 pm

I really like a previous commenters suggestion of Lydia Victoria nn Livvy or Liv. I think Lydia hits the right note between Eleanor and Tessa but with a sound all her own.
I would stay away from the nickname Nell as she is way too close to Ellie. However I do think Penelope is great with the nickname Poppy. My favourite nn for Josephine is actually Posy/Posey. It’s cute and ties into Josephine but is distinctly different from Josie and not as common.

So my suggestions for little sister to Ellie (Eleanor), Tessa and Drew:
Lydia Victoria nn Livvy or Liv
Penelope nn Poppy
Josephine nn Posy/Posey

Tabitha nn Tabby or Thea
Ada – a full name with history like Eleanor but short and sweet like Tessa
Vienna nn Vivi
Lilith nn Lily
Violet nn Vivi

Beau Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 5:33 pm

I love the names you’ve chosen for your oldest three!

Here are two other suggestions:

1) Margot
2) Anna

Both Margot and Anna go well with other middle name options such as Victoria, Joelle, and Maxine. And they sound great with the other three names:

Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Margot
Ellie, Tessa, Drew and Anna

Hope this helps, and best of luck!

nativoyoung Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 6:36 pm

So many great suggestions! My favorite is Josephine, nn Josie. So cute!!!

SeaZuno86 Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 8:39 pm

How about Jolie or Joely?

Josette nn Josie

Genevieve nn Evie or Vivi

Joy is pretty for a middle name too.

I like Maxine from the original list!

Care Says:

January 27th, 2016 at 9:34 pm

“3 children: Eleanor Casey, called Ellie, and then twins, Tessa Lillian and Drew Morriss.
Names we’re considering for #4”:

From my grandfather, Mervin. Maxine – But why not Merryn? It’s closer and so much prettier. nn Rinny or Merry

From my grandfather’s middle name, Joel, Josie – but why not Joelle? Same reasons. nn Joey or Josy.

Victoria, called Tori or Vivi – My grandmother was Flora Victoria. Love Victoria, but why not nn Vicky?

Harper – way too common with her new book out.

Penelope – I knew a girl Named Penna, but she too was called Penny. ☺

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

Matilda, called Matty – Even though Maddie is very popular….. So use Tillie.

Isabelle, called Izzy – Even though it’s popular. Yes, my niece’s name is Isabella and when she discovered she was one of 13 in her Jr. high, she began to call herself Zella much to the relief of her teachers.

Noa – there’s already a boy Noah. Noa sounds ‘made-up’ but Nola is a real 1890’s name & if nn needed then Nolly (like Molly).

Someone suggested Lydia Victoria and I thought – fabulous!! nn Lily or even Liddy

Victoria Joelle nn Vivi
Margaret Isabel nn Maggie
Katia Matilda nn Kitty
Miranda Annette nn Randa or Randi
Nola Merryn nn Nolly

gummybear0724 Says:

January 28th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

What about just Nell? Eleanor, Drew, Tessa and Nell? Eleanor and Nell are a bit similar but I think it’s nice

What about Aurora nn Rory

teacupsandtiaras Says:

January 28th, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Josephine and Isabelle are two of my favorite names, so I am partial to recommending both. They have many more nicknames than the standard Josie and Izzy, as well. Josette, Jo, Posey, Poppy, Jojo, Fina, Fifi, Seph, Sephie, Isa, Isi, Bella, and Belle are all possible names.

idijk Says:

January 29th, 2016 at 6:54 am

when I saw the list I just thought of the name Jessalyn, NN coul be Jessie, Jess or Lyn

idijk Says:

January 29th, 2016 at 6:55 am

I love penelope nn Nell as well. good luck!

choczzz Says:

February 4th, 2016 at 10:59 am

I like Maxine and Victoria!

I think the following would make a great name for #4:
– Louise
– Anneliese
– Dianne
– Beatrice (non. Bea)
– Genevieve

Think it’s nice for them to have different ending sounds 🙂

Jackiehog Says:

February 17th, 2016 at 9:48 am

Just to update everyone, Olivia “Livvy” Maxine was born last week 🙂
Thanks for all the suggestions.

Lanternlight Says:

February 29th, 2016 at 9:32 pm

Olivia Maxine is so beautiful!! Thank you for the update and congratulations. Good on you for going for the name you love regardless of popularity. I’m like you, I’d rather avoid super popular, but I love Isabelle and Emma, for example, and Olivia too for that matter. 🙂

Name Sage: Baby Names for a Fourth Daughter – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

October 15th, 2016 at 12:00 am

[…] announcements for three of our past Ask the Name Sage posts! Visit A Brother for Ivan Lawrence, A Sister for Ellie, Tessa, and Drew, and A Brother for Charles Alasdair to learn the names the families […]

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