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Name Sage: Baby Names for a Fourth Daughter

April 5, 2016 Abby Sandel

Patricia writes:

We are due with our fourth daughter in May and are so excited.

She will be welcomed by big sisters Ailey (I-Lee) Carolyn, Juliana Allison, and Brynn Margaret.

Our inspiration for their names came from our love of our Scottish/Irish heritage and girlie classic names. All of their middles are family names. Middle name options for this baby include Rachel, Susan, Dorothy, River, and Jane.

We need help naming this daughter. Nothing seems right! Ideally we want it to be soft and feminine but something you don’t hear all the time. It’s been hard because I don’t want names to sound similar (like Brynn and Quinn). If possible we’d like to go into meeting her with at least two names to pick from.

Names we considered but ruled out have been Teagan, Nina, Eleanor, and Samantha. We’re also considering Dylan. Do you have any ideas up your sleeve for us? We are so stumped!

The Name Sage replies:

It’s easy to imagine naming sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Mary, Edith, and Sybil.

But when we’re choosing names in the real world, over several years, it gets fuzzier. Our tastes change. The names we’ve chosen rule out future possibilities, like Brynn and Quinn. Names that were favorites in 2007 or 2011 seem all wrong by 2016.

So where to begin? Your tastes are eclectic, and that’s perfectly fine. But it does make it harder to build a shortlist. Samantha sounds like Juliana’s sister, while Dylan feels like a great match with Ailey.

It seems like the best fit might be a tailored name (like Brynn) that’s traditionally feminine (like Juliana), and not very common (like Ailey). Bonus points, of course, if we can find something with Irish or Scottish roots.

Clover – The beauty of word names is that they can be rare as given names, but are easy to spell and pronounce. Clover has never ranked in the US Top 1000, but it fits in with popular names like surname Harper and botanical Lily. It’s also a symbol of Ireland. Ailey, Juliana, Brynn, and Clover Jane sound like a quartet as memorable as the March sisters.

Emerald – Like Clover, Emerald is more of a word name than an Irish heritage pick. And yet I think it works beautifully as a nod to the Emerald Isle. It’s also a longer name, so I think it bridges the gap between brief Brynn and elaborate Juliana. While Em– names like Emily and Emma have been the Number One pick in the US, Emerald has never been very common.

Drew Drew is typically given to boys – especially since it is short for the classic Andrew. But Drew Barrymore has helped this name seem more accessible for girls. I’m including it because Andrew is a name that seems effortlessly Scottish. Paired with one of the more feminine family middles, it might work nicely. Drew Dorothy, maybe?

Adair – Like Drew, Adair has Scottish roots. While it’s used for boys and girls in the US, the handful of fictional Adairs have tended to be women. It gives all four of your daughters’ names different ending sounds, too, which makes them even more distinctive.

Eira Eira is a Welsh name meaning snow. You’ve mentioned Irish and Scottish roots, but the Welsh Dylan makes me wonder if you’d consider this name, too. I’m tempted to pronounce it like Air-ah, but it’s actually a long A sound – AYE rah. Because Eir is also the name of a Norse goddess of healing, Eira can be considered a modern Scandinavian name, too.

Esme – But is Eira too unusual? For something more accessible, I wonder if you would consider Esme? It has French roots, but it came into use as a given name in Scotland. It has a great meaning – beloved – and, again, a different ending sound than Ailey, Juliana, and Brynn.

Maeve – Back to Ireland for a short name that I think might work really well – Maeve. In Irish legend, Maeve is a warrior queen. It’s a strong name, but one that is clearly feminine, too. It fits right in with stylish names like Ava and Evelyn, but feels distinctive.

Sloane Sloane is an Irish surname name, but it feels solidly feminine thanks to the first famous use – Sloane Peterson, Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend in the iconic 1980s movie. It doesn’t sound anything like Brynn, but they’re both short, single-syllable names – so I’m not sure if that’s too similar for your tastes.

Overall, my favorites for you are Esme and Maeve. Esme River or Maeve Dorothy, maybe? They both reflect Scottish (Esme) and Irish (Maeve) heritage, are feminine but frills-free, and they’re unusual, but not too out there.

Readers, I would love to hear your suggestions for a sister for Ailey, Juliana, and Brynn!

P.S. Have you seen the latest updates? We have birth 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 chose!

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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