Nature Names for Girls

Arbor? Magnolia? Delphine??

She loves unusual names inspired by nature. He’s a fan of the classics. Where’s the middle ground for these first-time parents?

Briane writes:

I love your weekly insight into baby naming crises! I feel my partner and I are definitely in one of those currently.

The nickname for our girl due in February is Cricket. Beyond that, we are almost entirely at odds.

I love longer, uncommon, nature-inspired names with nickname potential. My partner likes short, common names like Anna and Elise (in other words, the opposite).

My absolute favorite name is Elowen and has been for some time. But my sister named her daughter Ellisyn last year, which broke my heart. What are your thoughts – are these too close?

My second favorite name is the botanical Liatris (which I rhyme with Beatrice), but I can’t win my partner over on that one either.

The one name we have mutually not rolled our eyes at is Adia. But I don’t completely love how it sounds.

Please help us. I am so sad that my favorite names have been dismissed!

The Name Sage replies:

Often parents feel like they’re far apart in terms of baby naming style, but it’s actually not so. They just haven’t found The Name yet.

But finding the middle ground between Anna and Liatris? Now that’s a true challenge!

Before we dive into the names – and there are names you can both love –  let’s talk about Elowen and Ellisyn.

Can close-in-age cousins share names that are so similar in sound? Maybe. If you live in the same town and run into each other at the grocery store, it might be overwhelming. The greater the geographic distance, the more I think cousins with similar-sounding names ceases to be a concern.

The problem, of course, is that your partner still isn’t on board with Elowen. So even if your sister’s family is currently living in Australia, maybe this doesn’t help.

Here are a few compromise approaches that might:

– Since you’re open to nicknames, you might find an unconventional name that you love – but agree to use a much ordinary nickname for everyday use. This makes me cheer for Elowen, because it shortens to Ellie.

– You might consider unconventional forms of traditional names.

– Some names are rare, but sound like they could be Top 100 choices. These might be a good direction to go in.

– Because your partner prefers short and sweet names, a shorter name that happens to be less common might be a better bet.

– Lastly, if you can compromise on a rock-solid traditional middle, it might help convince your partner to take a risk on a less conventional first.

Now, to the names:

Magnolia Magnolia saw some use in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It’s now back in the US Top 1000, though still far from common. It shortens to Maggie, as in the traditional Margaret. While it’s not frequently heard as a given name, we’re all familiar with the flower – making it easy to say and spell.

Annika Annika started out as a Scandinavian and German nickname for Anna. Today it sounds like a distinctive and different name, but not completely unknown. Annika shortens to Annie, but seems like a good middle ground choice – except, of course, there’s no tie to the natural world. Another option might be to smoosh Anna and EliseAnnalise, maybe?

Linnea Linnea is another name for the twinflower; Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named it after himself. He’s considered the father of modern taxonomy – that’s a heavy-hitting nature name, and a scientific one, too! It’s also similar to Lynn, which isn’t nearly as traditional as Anna or Elise, but might make the name feel more accessible.

Aderyn – Whenever I hear Elowen, I instantly think of another Cornish nature name: Aderyn, meaning bird. The American tendency is to pronounce it like Adalyn with an ‘r’ sound. That’s not quite right – the emphasis is on the middle syllable. It could easily shorten to Addie.

Bryony/Briony – An impeccable nature name, Atonement made British Briony seem slightly more familiar. It’s similar to Brianna, Brielle, and of course, your name, too!

Arbor – If girls can be Piper and Harper, why not Arbor? This is a good example of name that is very rare, but feels like it could fit right in on any playground.

Calla Calla shares sounds with favorites like Ella and Clara. It doesn’t have quite the wow factor of Liatris or Elowen, but it might feel like a normal name to your partner.

Delphine Delphine has two ties to the natural world. There’s the delphinium flower, as well as the word for dolphin in several languages. Delphine is rare, but resembles many a familiar name, from Danielle to Nicole to Josephine.

My favorites for you are the last two: Delphine and Calla, especially paired with a traditional middle name. They’re shorter, and sound like they could be common names – it just so happens that they’re not. And while they’re outside of the US Top 1000, they’re not unknown.

Readers, I know you’ll have some great suggestions! What are your favorite nature names that might make a great compromise choice for this family?

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23 Responses to “Nature Names for Girls”

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cmariac Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 12:18 am

If your partner is on board with Elowen, I’d go with that! Her cousin could end up going by the nn Ellis for all we know, and I don’t think they are too close anyways.
Second suggestion is Briony/Bryony, it’s unique but accessible and comes with the cute nn option of Bree. 🙂

BrittanyBrown Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 3:43 am

What about:

ELMA: Your favorite but likely unavailable name, Elowen, means “elm”. Elm is a nature name AND it’s short and sweet, which your partner might like. You can still call her “Elle” or “Ellie” like perhaps you would have if her name were Elowen.

GAIA: It mean’s “Mother Earth”. It origins from Greek Mythology, which is fun considering Gaia was a pretty awesome Goddess. Also, it’s short and sweet, again to appease your partner!

IVY-ANNA: Why not join a nature name and a traditional name together?! This is such a fun and cute combonation, I can see you and your partner loving it.

Okay those are all the suggestions I’ve got. I hope you find the perfect baby name for your little “Cricket” due in February!

BrittanyBrown Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 4:14 am

Also! –

PENROSE: You can call her Penny or Rosie for short! It’s fresh but still has a traditional, classy feel to it. And rose fulfills your love of nature, of course.

Titus245Mama Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 8:17 am

I really think Calla is a winner. It feels familiar–like a cousin to Cara or Claire–while also being offbeat and distinctly botanical. It shares a first initial with her endearing en utero nickname, too.

A couple others to think about:

Amaryllis–A lovely name and a lovely flower. I wish this one got used more often. It strikes me as being similar to Elizabeth in that it offers a wide range of potential nicknames: Amy, Rilla, Lila, Lily, Lissa…daddy could have his pick.

Flora–Gently old-fashioned and not at all fusty. It’s a name that blossoms well from the playground to grad school, too.

Iris–Another classic flower name that sounds fresh for the picking.

Laurel–a tree name that shares roots with the more familiar Laura and Lauren.

Marigold–Stunning. Daddy could call her “Mary”.

I really do think you have a lot of options, if you’re willing to think about what you both want and try to find common ground. HTH!

holly6174 Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 9:04 am

Bryony was my first thought actually! One of my favourites.

I also really like the suggestion of longer, less common nature names with common nicknames. I love the idea of Elowen “Ellie”, Magnolia “Maggie” and Marigold “Mary”.

I think for you my favourite is Magnolia “Maggie” but I also do like Elowen “Ellie”. I’m not really a fan of Elowen as a name but if you love it, I say go for it. I have 3 cousins named Eva and they make it work (all named after our grandmother).

Revlon Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 9:42 am

What about Wren or Arden? Lily? Violet?

Amber W Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 10:58 am

You could take “Cricket” a step further and name her “Katydid.” (It’s kind of a much more elegant, very green or pink grasshopper, for those not so into entomology.) Dad could call her Katy.

ElsaAnne Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 11:51 am

What about using the nickname Winnie for Elowen? I think it’s much cuter than Ellie!

sarah1800 Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I love Briony! A few other ideas:

Nature meaning with more traditional sound: Dahlia, Adair, Sylvie, Sylvia, Isla, Linden
Sounds like Elowen but more traditional: Elena, Maren/Merryn, Evelyn, Ella, Alina

allikay18 Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

I knew a girl once named Kricket. If that’s a no, I like the suggestion of Elma, but also, what about Marina?

NaomiAurora Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 2:55 pm

The Name Sage knocked it out of the park with this one! I love Calla, Magnolia, Annika, Delphine, and Linnea.

It might be a stretch, but you could use Elise as a nn for Elowen. I don’t think Elowen and Ellisyn are too close for cousins. Use it if you love it!

I would suggest:

Anise – looks like a mash up of Anna & Elise, but also botanical.

Anarosa – beautiful, feminine sounding name, with nn Anna or Annie.

Dara – botanical name, but also sounds mainstream.

Florence/Flora – gentle, lovely names that are ready for a revival.

Adelia – shares sounds with Adia, and sounds long, flowing, and romantic.

Happy naming! 🙂

Bassilly Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 3:21 pm

I’m shocked the Name Sage left out Violet, Juniper, Clover, and any variation of Lily! I think Violet is the perfect nature name with a super cute nick name AND not too out there. Violet, nn. Vi, Vivi, Lettie?? Come on, so cute! Although I think Elowen is sweet (nn. Wynn!), if I had to pick a Name Sage list favorite, I’d definitely go with Linnea.

Other suggestions:
-Violet (again, just in case you missed it 😉 )
-Lillianna, or some variation.
-Juniper (nn. June!)
-Clover (nn. Clo, Coco!!!)

JossieChris Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 7:34 pm

I love Elowyn and have it on my list and have my husbands thumbs up. But it isn’t fun to yell (our name test) as we have found or say over and over all day without resorting to a nn. And yes way to close to Ellisyn. We have an Owen which I am worried sounds like Elowyn. We already had to take Maddox off for a Max in exchange for Madden. My fav Makenna was taken by a cousin a state away we see once a year tops and I am so tempted but husband hates it soo. I suggest Olive (Liv), Saffron (Saffy), and Eden (Edie).

Cpwallawalla Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 8:19 pm

How about Yarrow, nickname Rowe? I met a Yarrow, she wore the name beautifully. Yarrow comes in many gorgeous shades, and has been used in medicine since ancient times. A strong, positive meaning. Rowe is a short nickname (pro-husband) and a little off the beaten path (pro-you): a good compromise for your tastes?

jacquigirl Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I know a girl named Caroline who is called Cricket by everyone: family, friends, teachers, etc. This would be a nice compromise for both parents – the given name is traditional and classic, which would appeal to her father, and the nickname is cute, fairly unusual, and tied to nature for her mother.

dresdendoll Says:

November 9th, 2016 at 10:18 pm


nicolebaby1 Says:

November 10th, 2016 at 3:49 pm

I immediately thought of Carmen! (Full disclosure, this is my Italian grandma’s name.) It has the strength and oomph and artistic flair of Scarlett. The Italian thing to match the boys. (Okay, some sights including nameberry list Carmen as a Spanish variation of Carmel or Carmela, which would also be a fantastic choice, but I think Carmen is still very known and used in Italy. Again, my Italian grandma backs this up.) It seems to me a name that might appeal to you and your husband. (It’s classic but uncommon. You can have nicknames but its not a name that requires them, just like Scarlett.) It’s also an undercover nature name. It means garden, isn’t that fantastic?
And I just ADORE this subset: Scarlett, Nico, Enzo, and Carmen!!!! Swoon.

brianerose Says:

November 11th, 2016 at 8:04 am

Hello everyone!

Namesage- Thank you so much for these suggestions. I love so many of them! I’ve never seen Aderyn before, so that’s a treat. I do like Calla, but we recently named one of our puppies Caia so I think that might be too much. I like how strong and simple Arbor is, so that might be a contender. Sadly, my partner long dismissed Delphine based on the character in Orphan Black 🙁 Annaliese is definitely a possibility but it still doesn’t quite feel sparkly enough (I don’t really know what I mean by this…). Linnea, Annika, and Magnolia are all beautiful. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll know “the” name until I meet her, but I want to have a bag of names ready to go. I so appreciate your help!

Sweet berries- Y’all are fantastic. It warms my heart that so many people want to help with this conundrum. I love reading people’s thoughts about what could work!

My niece Ellisyn goes by Ellie. So that nickname is out. I do think Winnie for Elowen is incredibly adorable! There were no thoughts posted about Liatris- is this name too out there?

Some favorites from posters:
Iris- I adore this name! But it’s strongly tied to my partner’s ex-girlfriend…
Marigold- I think this name is stunning. I know a baby Marigold.
Juniper- This name is superb! My partner dismissed it, though, because it’s a common tree in Central Texas that has some ecological ramifications he’s not happy with. Sigh.
Arden- Again, short and strong. I think it’s lovely.
Yarrow- Incredible that you mentioned this! I have considered it before. I like how it feels authentically gender neutral.

Again, thank you all so much. You have given me plenty to think (and re-think) about. Cricket is due late February so I will definitely post what we decide on in March 🙂

brianerose Says:

November 11th, 2016 at 8:06 am

Forgot to say that I appreciate the names I hadn’t considered before, like Carmen and Anarosa!

And I like that a couple people said it could be possible to stick with Cricket. Made me smile!

ARead Says:

November 11th, 2016 at 3:48 pm

What do you think of Acacia? Everyone can say it but I don’t know of any personally.

Or Iona? It’s short and has nature ties to the windswept Scottish island plus a history of use.

That’s all I can really add to this list!

Good luck!

blackcatsmeow Says:

November 12th, 2016 at 8:59 am

If you both love Elowyn, I say use it. My niece is Ivy, and I named my son Ivan, it has not created much in the way of confusion, if anything I feel like having similar names in families can be awesome. I have cousins that are Lacy, and Lucy, and it’s never been thing anyone has agonized over, (and yes all my family lives close together so these are cousins that have interacted closely for most of their lives). I say go for Elowyn.

However if you partner isn’t sold on it, or if you really don’t like the idea of your daughter having a similar name. Some suggestions would be…

Maple- A simple sweet name nature name, with a wonderful meaning. Also has a sweet nickname in Mae, or May.

Ayla- A beautiful name that meaning either, oak tree in Hebrew, or soft light/ moonlight in Turkish. It might remind your partner of Anna. Could also call her Ally.

Zepherine/Zepherina – Meaning west wind, or gentle wind. Also a name of a heirloom rose species. Could go by the nickname Zeezee/Zizi, which might sound enough like Gigi or Mimi to satisfy your partners want for a more conventional name.

Oceana- Meaning ocean, could be away to get to Anna or Anne while still having a fuller more natural long name.

peach Says:

November 15th, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Brianerose’s feedback: “Arbor is, so that might be a contender. Annaliese is definitely a possibility but it still doesn’t quite feel sparkly enough (I don’t really know what I mean by this…). Linnea, Annika, and Magnolia are all beautiful.

My niece Ellisyn goes by Ellie. So that nickname is out. I do think Winnie for Elowen is incredibly adorable! There were no thoughts posted about Liatris- is this name too out there?”

Liatris feels very unusual but I think that as I became more used to it I could love it. It reminds me of the English name Lettice and the smoosh name Leatrice. All of these names feel usable to me, and the nick names Lia or Lettie are both easy to wear.

I still like Elowen as many others have noted! Winnie is a dear nick name idea too. Elysia or Estella might be appealing too.

I have heard the name Linnea here and there and it’s a beautiful underused name that feels both classic and nature-connected. Is that a contender for your husband? I also really like Marigold which also has that combination of classic and nature connections.

If you like Arbor how about Aster or Astra? Aria also came to mind although I know it is quite popular in some areas. Adina or Adira, are also similar.

A few more unusual names that have potential: Amaya, Evanthe, Ameline, Eugenie, Maelys, Amity, Everly, Anastasia, Maple, Annalie, Anthea, Mariposa, Arlise, Melina. Anything appeal? Best of luck!

charlesokuku Says:

December 13th, 2016 at 4:40 am

The name Arbor is okay. Would you like to check out more baby names, head to'-sha.html

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