Popular Girl Names: Lost in the La-Crowd

Popular Girl Names: Lost in the La-Crowd

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 popular girl 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?