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Sister Sibling Names: Long or Short?

November 27, 2018 Abby Sandel

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?

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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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