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Popular Girl Names: Lost in the La-Crowd

Will Lyla blend in with Lola, Lily, Leah, et al?

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

They’ve long loved Lyla for a daughter. But is Lyla too close to all those other lovely, La-la names?

Emily writes:

We are struggling with choosing a name for our baby girl arriving in March.

Our son’s name is Theodore and he goes by Theo.  For years we have liked the name Lyla, and recently considered Daisy for a middle name. But now that we are down to the wire we aren’t sure!

Lyla isn’t super popular, but there are so many close variations – Layla, Lola, Lula, Leela, etc. that I am worried people will always get her name wrong. It’s already happening! People say things like, “What are you naming the baby again, Lola?”

We’ve also considered Daisy as a first name, Meadow, Summer, Vivienne, and Eden. Lyla is still a top choice. We love a good nickname, so while not a dealbreaker, we would like a name that has some nickname options.

Hope you can help!

The Name Sage replies:

You’re wise to recognize the sound-alike problem.

At Number 131 in the US, Lyla seems like it hits that sweet spot: not too common, not too unusual. Except. Girls named Layla, Lily, Delilah, Leah, Luna, and Olivia abound. My daughter had so many in her third-grade class that they referred to them as the Lalas.

That said, I’ve often argued in favor of using popular names, even those in the Top Ten. You could choose a far less familiar name – think Aurelia or Briar or Simone – only to meet two others in your neighborhood. It happens! It’s also true that a great many names have sound-alikes out there, even if they’re not quite as pervasive as all those Ls. Plus, for what it’s worth, the Lalas liked the shared sounds in their names, at least at the age of eight.

Let’s look at the other names on your list.

Daisy – Nothing really sounds like Daisy, so that’s a plus. It’s Number 170 in the US – widely familiar, but not a chart-topper. Still, Daisy doesn’t shorten easily.

Meadow – Again, there’s no obvious nickname for Meadow. At Number 735, odds are strong that your Meadow would be the only one in her class, but the name remains broadly familiar.

Summer Summer feels unusual, but it’s appeared in the Top 250 since the 1990s, currently ranked Number 219. That makes it more popular than Meadow, but still reasonably uncommon.

Vivienne – It might be misheard as the more widespread Vivian, but Vivienne seems like a good bet. It shortens to Vivi and Viv, and the sound is distinctive.

Eden – File Eden with Meadow, Summer, and Daisy – very few names sound similar. Though Eden also shortens to spunky nickname Edie, so that might put it ahead of the others.

I’ll throw a few more names into the mix:

Camille – It sounds a little bit like camellia, the flower, but it’s actually the French form of a name with roots in Ancient Rome. Nicknames range from boyish Cam to retro Millie. Camila ranks in the Top 100, but Camille comes in at Number 251.

Eliza – It shares some of Lyla’s sound, but has more nickname potential.

Everly Everly is racing up the popularity charts, but at Number 82, it’s not quite Emma or Olivia. Call it more modern than Vivienne, with nickname options that Summer and Meadow can’t offer.

Violet – Mix Daisy, Vivienne, and Lyla, and you’ll get Violet. It’s a Top 100 pick, but the sound is distinctive, and it shortens nicely to Vi.

If I can’t persuade you to choose Violet or Camille, my favorite from your list is Vivienne. It seems to meet all of your criteria, and it sounds like a sister for Theodore. Theo and Vivi are perfect together.

That said, I’m not sure I’d abandon Lyla, despite the potential for lots of repeating and spelling her name. If your sister-in-law or neighbor or colleague can’t quite remember if it’s Lola or Leah, well … I’m guessing once your daughter is here, they’ll get it straight. (At least most of the people will, most of the time.)

It sounds like Lyla has topped your list for years, so instead of dropping it, I might balance it with a nickname-friendly middle name. If your daughter grows frustrated with being one in a crowd, a name like Lyla Vivienne or Lyla Eden gives her a great fallback option.

Readers, I’d love to hear from you: Would you avoid a name because lots of sound-alikes?

Would you avoid a name because lots of sound-alikes?

  1. AYes, it’s too frustrating for everybody.
  2. BNo, it wouldn't bother me.
  3. CMaybe, depending on how many sound-alike names are out there!
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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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20 Responses to “Popular Girl Names: Lost in the La-Crowd”

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Wittyusername103 Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 5:00 am

From the sound of your letter it’s something that bothers you and if it bothers you now then that feeling is only going to get worse.

Suggestions

Lacey – Another l name minus the problems. The only downside I can see is that it rules out Daisy for a middle. Lacey Vivienne would be beautiful though.
Una – A short name like Lyla but with a distinct sound.
Orla – Same as above.
Georgia – Distinct sound with a nature esque vibe.
Imogen – Distinct sound
Willow – Distinct sounding nature name.
Paige – Distinct sound.
Naomi – Distinct sound.

MGK Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 7:37 am

My niece is named Eliza Kathleen. When she was little, my brother affectionately called her Lila – or Lila-Girl. When she had her first daughter 3 years ago, she named her Lila in honor of her dad’s pet name for her. Very sweet.
If you love a name and it fills you with love and warmth and happiness and connection – USE IT! Your daughter will feel that, too – even if someone in her class has the same/similar name.

Noetje74 Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 7:41 am

Delilah makes a nice alternative it has Lyla as a nickname, but, if there are too many Lyla’s out there, Delia is also cool.

alexandrah Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 7:48 am

My almost five year old is Isla and getting ready to start Kindergarten in the fall. The names on the roster all sound so similar to her name. I’m a little fearful, but even if I could go back and change her name, she’s an Isla. (although, hilariously enough, she asks my to call her Lilah/Lyla on occaision)

We thought we were picking a known but uncommon name, at least for our geographical region, but at her first checkups at the pediatricians we were hearing the name. I’ve seen it on the names released from our local hospital and even one of her classmates has a little sister with the same name.

Same thing happened with our second. And I imagine same thing will happen with our third. If that’s the name you want, go for it. Even though it’s part of a common trend, I don’t think it’s going away any time soon, and it’s a beautiful name.

cyoung325 Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 9:41 am

Honestly, I don’t think the sound alikes should dissuade you. Lyla is a pretty name and once she’s here it shouldn’t be a huge issue. I never anticipated my Alice being called Alex but it happens quite a bit. Once it’s corrected it’s no longer a problem. So you might end up correcting people occasionally, but they’ll catch on quickly enough.

jpruitt76 Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 10:02 am

I agree that Vivienne is pretty perfect with Theo and for your otter criteria. I also like Eden, nn Edie, from your list. From Abby’s list, Camille would be a lovely choice. That being said, if you still prefer Lyla, I would use it.

peach Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 10:42 am

I would consider the popularity of similar names.

Since you like nicknames, try to find a longer name that could have Lyla as a nickname. I like the suggestions of Camille and Eliza, which are along these lines. What about…
Talulla nn Lyla
Willow nn Lyla
Calliope nn Lyla
Millie/Millicent nn Lyla
Cecille/Cecilia/Celia nn Lyla

Another direction is an L-name without the repetition,
Louisa
Lydia
Lucy

Or Lyla in the middle?
Maisie Lyla (nn Daisy)
Margaret Lyla (nn Daisy)
Amity Lyla
Anastasia Lyla (nn Daisy)

Anything appeal?

alom Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 12:04 pm

If you’ve loved the name Lyla for years, I think you should use it!

zsazsa00 Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 1:51 pm

I agree – don’t throw out Lyla if you really love it! It’s a beautiful name.

But if you can’t get over the similar sounding names I am really being drawn to Eden on your list. Once the nickname Edie was pointed out by the Name Sage it won me over. It’s cute/ short and can’t be misheard but still has a super cute nickname! And I think it shares some sounds with Daisy though has a more adult feel, like it could get your little girl through all walks of life. Still has that nature theme you seem to like and Eden Lyla sounds sweet and just like a little sister for Theo! IMO 🙂

Some other requests:

Ramona nn Romy/ Romi or Mona – classic and cute like Theodore with some modern fresh nicknames

Forest – I know a female Forest and it suits her well so maybe if Meadow isn’t fitting this other nature name might

Laurel nn Laurie/ Lori/ Lowri – L name like Lyla and nature themed … maybe throw Alaura/Alora in the mix?

Good luck!

Suzannah Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Would you consider Lida? (Lye-da) It’s similar but very uncommon. And she’d never be one of the Lalas.

Kara Says:

February 20th, 2019 at 10:53 pm

I think Lyla would blend right into the whole Isla, Lily, Layla, Mila trend, but if it’s the name you love, then that shouldn’t necessarily be the only reason not to use it.

And I disagree with the NameSage about Vivienne. It’s a lovely name and it’s perfect with Theo (there’s an actress with a Theodore and Vivienne but I forget which one)… BUT, I think it, too, is at risk of blending in with the “Vivis”: Vivienne/Vivian, Genevieve (future top 20 name), Evangeline, Olivia, Olive, etc. So I don’t think that Vivienne offers a safe alternative to the sound-alike problem.

I think Violet and Camille/Camilla are perfect suggestions. I also love the pp suggestion of Ramona.

I wanted to first suggest Lyra and Ivy. I think they both sound similar to Lyla, but adding the R or V makes it more distinctive, and also less lithe than Lyla. I think part of the sound-alike phenomenon is the litheness of all those names, Lyra and Ivy escape that.

– Wilhelmina, nn Willow. You get the formal name like Theodore, but the nn is a nature name like Daisy, Meadow, and Summer. You also get the L-heavy sounds like Lyla.

– Rosemary, nn Romy, Rosie, or any number of things. Rosemary Lyla is lovely.

– Ruby has the punch that Lyla has, but it’s more distinctive.

– Clementine, nn Millie. Nature name with the L-heavy nn.

– Delta – spunky and distinct nature name with an L sound.

Bobcat108 Says:

February 21st, 2019 at 12:10 am

No one has suggested this yet, but my immediate thought was to use Daisy as a nickname for Marguerite, which is the French word for “daisy.” Marguerite Lyla, maybe?

Gabriellenz Says:

February 21st, 2019 at 3:22 am

Nickname options for Meadow – Meady (rhyme with Edie), Mo, Mimi, Emmy

All the best

Emisha Says:

February 21st, 2019 at 9:01 am

From your letter it also seems to me that you’ve been in love with Lyla for quite a while, so it would be a pity to give up on her now and I’d encourage you to stick to it unless you feel really very concerned about her being one of a dozen of Lalas. What came to my mind as first was Delilah, which is a name I really love, and you can still call her Lyla/Lilah, but she can also be Delia, as someone has already suggested before, or even Delilah itself shouldn’t be confused with Lola or Lula as much as Lyla would, I believe. From your other favourites I like Daisy the most, and I love Camille which Abby suggested, which can be nicknamed to lovely sounding Mila.

Flambeau Says:

February 21st, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Go for Lyla! You clearly love it, and it’s a great name. Although your results may vary based on where you live, I’m a teacher who has taught in three different big cities and I’ve never taught a Lyla, Lily, Layla, Lula, Lola, et cetera. But even if these names are popular in your area, they are not the same name. Once the baby is born, I doubt anyone will forget her name or mistake it for a similar-sounding name.

MissBennet Says:

February 22nd, 2019 at 10:59 am

I’m late to this, but with Lyla and Daisy in contention, Lilac came to mind. Lilac is rarely used in the USA, but as both a floral name and with the aural similarities to the ‘Lalas’ (but that distinctive ‘c’ at the end!), it doesn’t sound out of place. Lyla/Lola/Layla/Leela may run together, but I wonder whether Lilac, with its floral meaning, might also be easier for friends and family to remember as a distinct name?

justthinkin Says:

February 23rd, 2019 at 2:07 pm

The letter L is pretty and I see why it’s so popular. The thing with all these lala names is that there are several names with this similar sound. People aren’t necessarily going to hear a more unusual name and automatically mistake it for a single particular variant, due there being such a wide variety. I think it’s a lot different when a name sounds very similar to a classic or very common name. Such as if someone told me they wanted to name their daughter Elisabet, my reaction would be, “Prepare for her to be called Elizabeth!”

Elsker Says:

February 23rd, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Name her Delilah!!! It literally has your preferred name as its nickname, Lilah and Lyla sound identical – and you could totally spell her nickname Lyla if you wanted to – PLUS Theodore and Delilah are so (!!!) beautiful together! And match so well as they’re both elegant longer names with very cute nicknames. Imo Delilah would be your perfect choice. Delilah Daisy might be a bit much (but Daisy could totally work for a younger sister if you ever have another one – as their nicknames/used names (Lyla and Daisy) wouldn’t match), but Delilah Eden, Delilah Meadow and Delilah Summer are all beautiful options if those are still at the top of your list. Wish you the best!! Xxx

scholastica Says:

February 24th, 2019 at 2:47 am

I definitely think the nickname of Lyla suits Theodore more, but my suggestion as a full name would be Eulalia, Elinor or Lilian/Liliana. I believe they fit really well with Theodore whilst giving more options.

Best of luck!

sarah1800 Says:

February 24th, 2019 at 11:31 am

Lyla is really cute but I do think it could blend in with other L names. I taught a class of college students with a Haley, Leah, Lydia, and Olivia, and it took me a while to keep them straight, although I eventually got it. I really like the suggestion of Violet. Other ideas are Ivy and Iris.

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