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Name Sage: But I Like All 42 Names!

August 25, 2015 Abby Sandel

Amy writes:

We are expecting our second little girl in the next few months.

We found the perfect name for our first daughter, Viviana Rose. We call her Viviana, Vivi and Viv. I love the nickname options. We also love that it’s classic with a twist so that it’s out of the US Top 100.

Now we’re expecting another pretty little girl and I need a name that can live up to the fullness, warmth, and femininity of Viviana. It has to feel right on a child, but also appropriate for an adult.

The problem is that we’ve already used our favorite name, and picking another name is just leaving me feeling deflated.

I have 42 names on my name list. I can’t even believe I’m admitting to that in writing. 42! I like them all. They’re nice. But nothing has that same sparkle.

After a million nameberry posts, my fellow berries helped me whittle the list down a little.

We’ve considered Scarlett, Arabella, Carina, Carissa, Celia, Clara, Lila, Tessa, and Vera. None of them feel “right.” We considered Evangeline, but Evie and Vivi might not sound right together.

Then it occurred to me that I was lacking a connection to a name. Maybe that was the problem? Before Viviana was born, we had a miscarriage.

The baby was due on Valentine’s Day. Maybe Valentina? But I don’t like the nicknames Val or Tina. I also thought about names that mean love, like Amabel and Mabel, but my husband doesn’t like them.

Then I thought about Iris, meaning rainbow, since a baby born after a pregnancy loss is called a “rainbow baby.” But I’m not sure I like Iris as a first name, especially with Viviana. Since Viviana’s middle name is Rose, I like the idea of Iris as a middle name, linking both sisters together, as well as our angel baby.

Our last name starts with an L and ends in a y.

I just keep turning in circles. I feel like I can’t come to love anything and I really want to love this baby’s name. We would appreciate it if you could help point us in the right direction! We’re absolutely lost!

The Name Sage replies:

There are some great options on your long list! I think you can’t see them because you’re suffering from We-Already-Used-Our-Favorite-Name syndrome.

That really needs a catchy acronym, doesn’t it?

It’s a common affliction. We spend ages thinking about The Name for our daughter or son. Sometimes that first name is one that we dreamed up before we even met our partner. And then, just a few years later, we need to come with another name that feels just as special, even though there’s far less time to consider the possibilities.

It can be daunting, and it can feel hopeless.

But I do think you’ve settled on one name that stands out far beyond the others: the middle name Iris. It’s rich with meaning for your story as a family. Viviana Rose and Firstname Iris.

Now let’s talk about your criteria for choosing a first name. It’s always good to remember that you make the rules, and you are free to break them. But when your list is long, the challenge is to narrow the list.

  • Popularity: The name cannot be in the current US Top 100, but it shouldn’t be too unusual, either.
  • Nicknames: The name should have some easy nickname possibilities that don’t conflict with Vivi and Viv.
  • Style: The name should be feminine, vintage in feel, and warm.
  • Other consideration: If the middle initial is I and the last name starts with L, you’ll need to avoid spelling anything. Katherine Iris L-y is out.

Suddenly, it looks like your long list isn’t very long at all! Scarlett is in the Top 100. Scarlett, Tessa, Lila, Celia, and Vera don’t easily shorten, and Valentina doesn’t have nicknames you love. Evangeline is out because sisters called Evie and Vivi? That’s a tongue-twister! Your husband said no to Mabel and Amabel.

That leaves:

Arabella – Like Viviana, Arabella feels vintage. But both names are actually at their most popular now. Arabella ranked Number 174 in 2014. That’s more popular than Viviana’s Number 453 ranking, but far from chart-toppers like Emma and Sophia. Arabella also has nickname potential galore: Ari, Abby, Bella, and Belle. I can picture a baby Arabella or a 50-something chemistry professor by the name.

Carina, Carissa Carina has Latin roots, just like Viviana. It comes from cara – beloved. It’s relatively rare today, but not unknown. Carissa is even rarer, though Edmund Spenser used Charissa for his epic poem The Faerie Queene way back in 1590. I think Carina might be the better match, if only because it opens up the nickname Ree, as well as Cari/Carrie/Cara.

I would also suggest:

Cecilia Cecilia ranked Number 206 in 2014. It’s similar to Celia, but Cecilia naturally shortens to Cece.

Lucia – Like Arabella and Viviana, Lucia is more common today than ever before, but it still feels like an antique. It shortens nicely. My only hesitation? It might be too much L with your last name.

Juliette Scarlett is quite popular, but at Number 255, Juliette isn’t quite as common.

Serena, Sabrina – The names aren’t related, but the sounds are close. They both remind me of Carina, but I think they’re slightly more familiar as given names.

Annalise, Anneliese, Annalisa Annalise is the most popular spelling of the German Anneliese. It’s pronounced with four syllables in German – more like Annalisa. Like Viviana, the name has history, but is currently at its most popular. Annalise ranked Number 457 – just a few spots from Viviana at Number 453.

From your list, my favorite is Carina. Viviana and Carina – life and love, Vivi and Ree. From my list, I’m most drawn to Annalise. It’s different enough, in terms of sounds and origins, to feel distinct from Viviana. But I think it shares many of the same characteristics, too.

One last thing: know that you may not find a name that feels as much The Name as Viviana Rose. Not at first. But you have a long list of names that will work well for your second daughter. As you get used to saying them together, and seeing your girls together, I’ve no doubt that both will feel equally special and appropriate.

Readers, what would you suggest for Viviana Rose’s sister? I’d love to hear from others who have suffered from We-Already-Used-Our-Favorite-Name syndrome, too!

UPDATE: They went with Carina Iris. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

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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