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Name Sage: Naming Cousin #27

November 3, 2015 Abby Sandel

Emily writes:

We are expecting our first, and we are not finding out the sex.

We really like the name Dahlia or Dalia for a girl and Judah for a boy. We like the name Sunshine for a girl’s middle name (one of his sisters’ names) and David for a boy’s middle name (my dad’s name).

The problem? His family is full of amazing, original, and Biblical names and I love them all.

We want our baby to keep up with names like Autumn, Rose, Thaddeus, Jubilee, Ezra, Abel, Asher, and many more.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

The Name Sage replies:

Back in the day, when big families were more common, no one worried about repetition. Some families even embraced it! My Italian mother was one of several cousins named after grandma Chiara.

But times have changed, and now families are eager to avoid repeating names within a generation – even if it means getting really creative.

The good news is that the names you love seem to fit in beautifully with this generation. Ezra, Abel, Asher, and Judah David could be brothers instead of cousins! And I think Dahlia (or Dalia) Sunshine hits exactly that right note, too – vintage, but still current. Spelled Dahlia, it’s a nature name, which seems just right with Autumn and Rose.

Since you haven’t listed all 26 cousins’ names, let’s talk about some general rules to think through when choosing a name in a big family:

While sharing some letters and sounds is inevitable, try not to use something so close as to be confusing. If there’s a cousin Delia, Dahlia might be too close. (Unless, of course, cousin Delia is all grown up and happily living in Japan, and the cousins will meet only once a year or so.)

On the other hand, don’t assume that duplication is out! While many parents go to great lengths to ensure that their child’s name is uncommon, some families still share names – especially middles, and most especially when they honor loved ones.

While it’s great to give some thought to fitting in with the family’s overall style, it’s also important to choose names that you love and that have personal significance for you.

It sounds like you’ve done exactly that with the names that you’re currently considering for your first child.

But if you’d like a few more options to add to your list, have you considered:

Wren – A nature name for a girl that’s caught on in recent years. It’s a little more modern than Dahlia.

Adelia – Or maybe vintage is more your style? In that case, there’s Adelia, a name even rarer than Dahlia. It’s not in the current US Top 1000.

Daphne Daphne is a subtle nature name – it means laurel, as in the tree. It feels spritely and modern, but has deep roots.

Carys – Another rarity, but one with a great meaning – love.

And for a boy:

Asa – Short and complete, Asa is another Old Testament name possibility.

Jericho – If you like the idea of Biblical names, but want something really distinctive, place name Jericho is one to consider.

Gideon – Or maybe this Old Testament name? It reminds me of Adrian and Sebastian, and lots of other longer names for boys that are currently popular.

Elias – I was tempted to suggest Silas, but I can’t imagine it isn’t taken! So how about Elias, the New Testament version of Elijah? It’s the most popular name on this list, but I still think it makes a great name for a son.

And yet, I’m having a hard time imagining a name other than Dahlia Sunshine or Judah David for your child. It can be intimidating to announce a name to a family full of helpful siblings – who might still be hoping to save some names for their future children! But I do think your style meshes beautifully with your husband’s family, and the names you love will fit right in.

Readers, what tips do you have for naming younger cousins in a big family?

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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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