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Nature Names for Girls

November 8, 2016 Abby Sandel
Nature names for girls

She loves unusual nature names for girls. 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?

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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