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Name Sage: A Sister for Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise

Name Sage: A Sister for Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise
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Becca writes:

We are having trouble naming our fourth daughter.

My first two girls, Sofia and Amalia, are Venezuelan-American and it was important to my husband and me that their names be pronounced the same in both cultures.  

My first husband passed away when the girls were young, and I've since remarried. My third daughter wasn't named until a few hours after birth, when we chose Eloise, a name that combined two grandparents' names. I don't love how the girls' family in Venezuela pronounces it, however. They say eh-LOYS. I'd like a name that they can at least say (even though they have no relation to this baby).

We had a stillbirth last year, and named the baby Cecily.

For this daughter, I'd like something that doesn't end in A. It would be fun to have a literary connection, as Eloise does. I would like to match the style of the other girls' names.

Thank you so much!

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The Name Sage replies:

Bridging two cultures is never easy, and I can see that you’ve already used some of the most logical – and lovely! - choices.

Happily, a great many names work beautifully in English and Spanish. Looking for identical pronunciations? That’s a bigger challenge, and I’m hoping that native Spanish speakers will weigh in on the forums.

It's worth noting that even native speakers will disagree. As it happens, I have Venezuelan family, too – and they pronounce Eloise with three syllables, much closer to the English version. Regional accents and personal experiences factor in, so it’s tough to know exactly how your family will say a name without asking them directly.

We recently looked at Spanish names trending in the US, and names ending with –a dominate the list, with Camila, Sofia, and Elena at the top. But you're not necessarily looking for a Spanish name - just one that works in both languages. That opens up many more options.

Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise are just right together. Let’s find another name that matches every bit as well.

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A SISTER FOR SOFIA, AMALIA, and ELOISE

COLETTE

It’s French, not Spanish. But it’s also impeccably literary, thanks to the Noble Prize-winning author. And it’s one of those rare names that changes very little across most languages.

FELICITY

Eloise has a children’s book bearing her name, and so does Felicity – one of the original American Girls characters was Felicity Merriman. While the name transforms to Felicidad, Felicia, or maybe Felisa in Spanish, the meaning requires no translation: happiness.

ISABEL

Like Sofia, Isabel is one of the most popular English-Spanish crossover names – and for good reason! Of course, maybe you’ve already ruled out Isabel? Another –bel or –el ending name, like Maribel or Mariel, could be another great option.

JULIET

It doesn’t get more literary than Shakespeare, and we all recognize this romantic name. Juliette is the more popular spelling in the US right now, and Julieta – the Spanish form – charts in the Top 1000, too. No question the name changes from English to Spanish, but it might be worth it.

LEONOR

Eleanor is too close to Eloise, but perhaps Leonor is on the right side of similar, but not repetitive.

MIRIAM

A time-tested classic, Miriam is heard across nearly every European language. The pronunciation changes very little.

NOEMI

It’s easy to confuse Noemi with the more popular Naomi. Strictly speaking, the Spanish version is spelled with an accent: Noemí. But Noemi appears in the US Top 1000, too, a softer sound that offers the familiar nickname option Emmy. (Or Emi?)

OPHELIA

Just like Juliet, Ophelia steps out of a famous Shakespearean tragedy. But Ofelia is also the heroine of 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth. It's something of a fairy tale, though definitely on the darker side. Still, it seems a little closer to Eloise in that sense.

ROSALIE

Here’s another French name that sounds perfectly matched with Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise – but might benefit from a slightly different nickname or pronunciation in Spanish. Would you mind if your Rosalie was Rosa with your Venezuelan family? Or even Rosalia?

VIVIAN

Tailored and feminine, Vivian sounds like the ideal sister name for Eloise, Amalia, and Sofia. Viviana (or Bibiana) might be more expected in Spanish, but Vivian seems wearable, too.

In fact, it’s this last name that I like best with Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise. They're all three syllables. Every name is current and familiar, though there's a range in terms of popularity. And Vivian works in Spanish, even if it is very much an English name.

But I know our community will have some great suggestions, too.

Please visit the forums to help Becca find a name for Sofia, Amalia, and Eloise’s new sister. Thank you for sharing your insights!

About the Author

Abby Sandel

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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