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Sister Sibling Names: Long or Short?

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

They love their daughter Olivia’s name. But all of their favorites for their second daughter are short and sweet. How can they find the perfect baby name for their new arrival? 

Jillian writes:

My husband and I are currently 27 weeks pregnant and uncertain about what to name our baby girl.

Our first and only child is named Olivia. Even though this name is so popular, we loved the classic and beautiful sound, as well as the meaning behind it. Plus, we couldn’t agree on anything else!

For baby two, I’m leaning towards Nora or Elle. I love how Nora feels simple, feminine and classic. My husband, on the other hand, prefers Grace, Chloe, and Eva. Grace is his favorite as he thinks Gracie is a sweet nickname for childhood, but has a strong feminine feel for adulthood.

Any ideas to help us determine where to go or what names we might be missing would be greatly appreciated!

The Name Sage replies:

Your short list is packed with modern favorites with history and roots. Will you meet other girls called Chloe or Grace? Sure. But, as you learned with Olivia, that doesn’t necessarily diminish their appeal. On the contrary, popular names catch on because they have so much appeal!

And yet, when I read your list, none of your current choices sound quite like The Name for your family. Here’s why: Olivia is classic and beautiful. But it’s also long and lovely, a flowing, romantic name.

Eva almost melts into the ending sound of Olivia; Elle, too, disappears into the longer sound. Grace, Chloe, and Nora hold their own a little better, but maybe they’re all just a little too short and sweet to be a sister for Olivia.

Unless, of course, your Olivia is actually Livvy or Vivi or Via most of the time. In that case, I think the shorter names sound more compatible.

But since you haven’t mentioned a nickname, I wonder if something just slightly longer might suit?

Caroline Chloe shares sounds with Caroline, plus Caroline has the same elegant, but accessible, quality as Grace. It’s an undeniable classic, popular in nearly every decade. A bonus? Nicknames abound.

Genevieve Genevieve might shorten to Eva or Evie or Gen, but it’s long enough that it pairs nicely with Olivia. The middle-v connects the two names, but it’s subtle.

EleanorElle always make me think of Eleanor. Of course, El– names are everywhere, from Elizabeth to Eloise and Elodie. But Eleanor seems like the right match for Olivia. It’s strong and literary, a strong but feminine name.

Evelyn – Another Evie option, Evelyn might be every bit as popular as Olivia in another few years! Again, the shared-v links the two names nicely.

Josephine – If your husband likes Gracie, he might like Josie, too. Because it’s a longer name, I can imagine Olivia and Josephine sounding more like sisters than, say Olivia and Grace.

Victoria – I nearly suggested Vivian. But Liv and Viv? Oh dear! Instead, would you consider Victoria? It’s a regal name with a strong meaning, plenty of sweet nickname options, and a feminine, elaborate sound that stands up nicely to Olivia.

From your options, I’d put Grace at the top of my list. Maybe that’s because I know a Gracie with a sister name similar to Olivia. They’re quite fun to say together! It’s a strong, classic name with an irresistible meaning. Nora, too, seems like it would work well with big sister Olivia.

But if you’re open to something longer, I’d consider something like Josephine. Longer names always carry the option of a shorter form – but it can be tough to go the opposite direction.

Let’s have a poll, and see if we can help you narrow down your choices. Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on sibling names – is one sister receiving a shorter name a problem?

Should Olivia's sister's name be short, long, or somewhere in between?

  1. AGrace - or another short name
  2. BNora - or another two-syllable name
  3. CJosephine - or another longer name
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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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25 Responses to “Sister Sibling Names: Long or Short?”

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beynotce Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 8:20 am

Eleanor is perfect here, in my opinion. It has the sounds of Mom’s favorites – both of which could be legitimate nicknames – but is a bit less tailored, closer to Olivia. Olivia & Eleanor sound lovely as a pair. And if dad likes Chloe and Gracie, maybe he’ll be on board for Ellie?

Aunt_ning1 Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 8:35 am

I think Eleanor Grace would be perfect. Then you can call her Elle or Nora or even Gracie.

Nathalia Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 10:14 am

While I love many of the longer names suggested, I personally wouldn’t be too concerned about length. For me, Grace or Nora or Chloe sound fine with Olivia. In fact, I’ve known several families with similar combinations. That being said, I would personally probably lean more toward something like Josephine or Victoria or Evelyn. What about Helen/Helena?

JuliaKateElizabeth Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 10:28 am

I wouldn’t worry too much about length. Olivia is one of those names that may be three syllables, but *feels* like three short syllables. It doesn’t strike me as a long name

I love Eloise or Nola as a sister for Olivia. Nora is very pretty too. 🙂

BluebirdBlossom Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 10:42 am

I think Josephine is the perfect fit, and it has many great nicknames to choose from. Some of my favorites are posey, Sephie, Effie and unexpected but gorgeous Sosie.

EvaMaria Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 11:36 am

annabel, aubrey, aurora, carla, charlotte, eleanor, eloise, elvira, emily, esther, evelyn, everly, fiona, freya, hannah, harper, helena, isabella, juliet, margot, matilda, phillipa, rebecca, rosalie, scarlett, victoria, violet

my favorites; aubrey, elvira, everly, freya, harper, victoria

niteowl13 Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 12:40 pm

I like the suggestion of Eloise. It also made me think of other characters from children’s books –
Charlotte, Alice, Madeline, Lyra, Celeste, Maisy, Katy?

Hufflepuffle Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 12:45 pm

I agree with Aunt_ning1! Eleanor Grace would be perfect! It’s longer and goes great with Olivia. Plus, you could use Nora, Elle, Grace, Gracie, Ellie and Ella as nicknames!

yellowplums Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 12:45 pm

I second what JuliaKateElizabeth said: Olivia looks long and has four syllables, but it doesn’t FEEL long. Maybe because it’s so flowing and we’re used to hearing it often. Lots of people nickname Olivia, but it doesn’t need it (my test: if you were in an emergency, and had to yell someone’s name, would you shorten it? Olivia can be yelled quickly, doesn’t require a nickname.)

Plus, I don’t think siblings have to have all long or all short names. Grace, Nora, Elle, and Chloe all hold their own and sound great with Olivia.

Bobcat108 Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 1:00 pm

A friend’s daughters are Grace & Elizabeth…about as big a contrast in syllables as is commonly found. But they’re both classic & feminine names, so they work well together IMO. In this case, I don’t think that either Nora or Grace sound “off” w/Olivia. My preference is Nora, but that’s only because I like Nora more than Grace. The suggestion of Eleanor Grace is fabulous! Other possibilities (apologies for any repeats):

Olivia & …

Eleonora
Philippa
Annora
Antonia
Verity
Graciela
Eliza
Gwendolen
Joanna

Kara Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 1:52 pm

I think that names like Caroline, Eleanor, and Josephine sound more “off” with Olivia than Nora, Grace, and Chloe. The syllables are only one factor—the longer names *feel* so much heavier than Olivia, IMO. I think a shorter, consonant-heavy name (think Nora, Grace, Audrey, Anna) would have a similar weight as Olivia. I would agree, though, that Elle and Eva are too lithe and melt into Olivia.

I think Nora and Grace are the best choices from your list, with Chloe a close second.

Eloise is a great suggestion. It matches the weight and vibe of Olivia. Violet and Charlotte sound good too.

I also like:
Audrey
Clara
Cora
Rose
Ruby
Stella (adds some consonants to Elle)

One more thing I thought of: if you’re planning on having more kids after #2, think of what patterns you may feel trapped in. If Olivia and Baby 2 both have long names, will you feel even more compelled to choose a long name for #3, even though your favorites are Chloe and Jack?

FWIW, Elizabeth Smart has a Chloe, James, and Olivia. They’re all different lengths but there’s something cohesive about the set.

Kjh446 Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 4:07 pm

Eleanor Grace is a great combo and very nice with Olivia. Also really like Violet with Olivia. Violet Grace ? Or perhaps the more uncommon Viola Grace? I think Leonora or Leonore is a good choice for you as well. I also thought of Evelina for you which sound great with Olivia imo .Good luck!

wandsworth Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 7:55 pm

I wouldn’t be concerned about the favorite names being “too short” with a sister Olivia. That’s very nitpicky and not something most people will ever notice.

WrenEloise Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 8:53 pm

I, like many of the posters before me, have to say that I think the Name Sage is way off on this one. I don’t at all think the names on your list aren’t mismatched to Olivia because of length. Olivia isn’t name that looks or feels long despite its 3 syllables. Each of the names on your list would be fine, though I do agree with Abby that Eva (unless you pronounce it like Ava) is a bit too close in sound. Chloe gives the set a more “on trend” feel that isn’t my favorite, but if you’re attracted to the perky classic vibe of Olivia, your other names work beautifully.

I have to say I love Eloise and Genevieve as ideas for a longer sister name, called full names or your preferred names of Elle, Ellie, or Evie (even Gigi)!

To me, Evelyn and Josephine are a little bland next to zippy Olivia. I like both names a lot, don’t get me wrong, but part of Olivia’s appeal is her spunky but pretty “personality” and sophistication. I’d go with Eveline or Evelina if only because they look a tad more elegant alongside Olivia.

Nora and Grace are my favorites off your lists. For a few more names that come to mind, consider:

Adeline
Charlotte
Clara
Daphne
Emmeline (though short Emma works, too!)
Eliza
Estelle
Estella
Eloise
Fiona
Iris
Isabel
Katherine
Lena
Laurel
Lucy
Lucille
Miranda
Madeline
Phoebe
Ruby
Rosalie
Sarah
Stella
Sophie
Serena

Good luck!

WrenEloise (formerly known as Lemon)

Gabriellenz Says:

November 28th, 2018 at 9:38 pm

I voted for a longer name – I like the suggestion of Eleanor and Genevieve.
Otherwise Grace is my top pick of yours.

DotDraper Says:

November 29th, 2018 at 8:49 am

I agree that Eleanor Grace could be the perfect name for this family!

SouthernPeach Says:

November 29th, 2018 at 9:06 am

Eleanor Grace is stunning. It has most of the elements they want, plus awesome nn choices!

rlmurphy Says:

November 29th, 2018 at 11:55 am

The husband likes Gracie. The wife likes Elle and Nora. I think they should compromise and name the baby Grace Eleanora.

elanorelle Says:

November 29th, 2018 at 4:59 pm

I actually really like Grace and Olivia as sisters. They have a similar vibe to me. Plus, Gracie is definitely an adorable nickname. Maybe Grace with a longer middle name would bridge the gap. I like @rlmurphy’s suggestion of Grace Eleanora–that is lovely!

aineteresa Says:

November 30th, 2018 at 1:16 am

Someone might already have mentioned this, but another lovely suggestion might be Eliza. To me, it has the same appeal as Olivia- a vibrant, classic name with modern appeal. It also matches Olivia stylistically, with three shorter syllables and a distinctive consonant sound in the middle. Overall, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the above suggestions. They’re all gorgeous!

Kirstyninga Says:

December 1st, 2018 at 2:12 am

Instead of Victoria, I’d suggest Violet. It’s another 3 syllable name that doesn’t feel long. It’s got lots of history, a classic feel, and modern appeal.

Erin Beth Says:

December 1st, 2018 at 6:16 am

Of the options you are considering, Grace is my favorite, but I also like Chloe. Other combos I like for you:

Olivia & Amelia
Olivia & Aurora
Olivia & Aurelia
Olivia & Augusta
Olivia & Genevieve
Olivia & Francesca
Olivia & Juliana

ElsaAnne Says:

December 3rd, 2018 at 11:12 am

I know of siblings called:
Laura, Olivia & Alice
Olivia & Emily
Olivia, Catherine & Bethany
Natalie & Olivia
Olivia & Erin
Olivia & Amelia

Best Name Sage suggestion is definitely Eleanor.

I’m really intrigued about something here – to me, Olivia has four syllables – O-LIV-I-A/OH-LIV-EE-AH. How are you all getting three???

CourtenayJay Says:

December 4th, 2018 at 8:44 pm

I think Eloise would pair beautifully with Olivia!

JamiJae Says:

December 24th, 2018 at 12:28 am

Olivia is an incredibly feminine name, and add to that the classic nature of it; if you’re looking for something to ‘match’ then you may want to consider those elements. Of the Name Sage suggestions, I wholeheartedly agree with Eleanor as you will still be able to get ‘Nora’ out of that. If none of those suggestions suit your fancy, I’ve listed some below. Also, Olivia definitely has four syllables and not three.

Isabelle- Like Olivia, Isabelle is a fairly common name that can stand as they are or be shortened into a lovely nickname. Isabelle has a multitude of nickname possibilities (Isa, Belle, Bells, Izzy, etc.) that will grow with the baby as she ages.

Beatrice- This name may be slightly off the beaten path however it is a classic and substantial name, like Olivia. This also allows for a few nicknames for childhood like Bea, Trix, or Trixie. I’m sure there are other nicknames but those are the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

Charlotte- Is in the same vein as the other names, I’ve suggested and it sounds wonderful with Olivia. It also allows for adorable nicknames like Lottie and Charlie.

Congratulations on your new addition, and good luck on your naming journey!

Xxxx JamiJae

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