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Strong, Feminine, Uncommon Girl Names

March 21, 2017 Abby Sandel

Katie has a few favorites, but none seem like The Name! What would you name a sister for Dash and Rory? 

Katie writes:

I never anticipated I’d need your help as I was fairly confident when naming my first two boys: Dashiel “Dash” and Rory.

I’m expecting my third baby, who happens to be a girl.  I’m due April 5th and find myself still without any girl names I love.

Just when I think I love a name the next day I feel I sort of hate it, and throw it out completely.  Then I put it back on when I re-discover it later.  I’m just being indecisive is all.

My current list is:

Maeve Is it too plain with a one-syllable last name? It’s been on my list since I was expecting Dash.

Cecily – I’ve loved this name since babysitting a Cecily growing up, but I wish it didn’t end with the y sound.

Marigold – But would this work well in an executive office?

Primrose I really like Primrose, especially with the nickname Prim. But I have not seen or read The Hunger Games, and I hear this may be an issue.

I want the name to be at least a little feminine and pretty but strong. I want it to be not too popular and cool, but not weird or made up, either.

The Name Sage replies:

Many parents feel greater freedom when naming daughters. It’s not just imaginary, either. Nearly 79% of boys receive a Top 1000 name. For girls, that figure drops to around 67%. But more freedom means more choice, and that brings another set of challenges, just like the ones you’re experiencing now!

The good news is that you’ve chosen great names for your sons – familiar, cool, but still distinctive and different. And your current shortlist is packed with promising choices.

Let’s look at a few of your general concerns before we talk about names.

First, pop culture gives many parents pause. Yes, there’s a Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games series. She’s an appealing, even heroic character. The name was seldom heard before the first book’s 2008 release. As of 2015, there were 50 Primroses born in the US. Does that mean the name is too tied to the series to use? No. Primrose fits perfectly with many traditional Rose names. And for a child born in 2017, The Hunger Games won’t be such a current pop culture reference that it would cause a headache. Plus, it makes a great name for a daughter born in early Spring.

Now, let’s talk about Marigold Shore-with-an-M, accomplished professional.

As a generation grows up, so do their names. Sandra (Day O’Connor, first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court) probably seemed as frilly as Ariana or Gemma when she was young. Today, it’s squarely in grandma territory.

Nature names are so common for children, that we will have executives and judges and heart surgeons and all sorts of grown-ups called River and Willow and yes, Marigold, in another few decades.

Lastly, conventional wisdom holds that a one-syllable last name requires a longer first. But that’s not necessarily the case. I think Maeve Shore-with-an-M sounds quite stylish and memorable. Dave Grohl, Ty Cobb, Jack Black, Mae West, Glenn Close … there are plenty of examples where the combination works beautifully.

Let’s take a look at a few more uncommon girl names that you might want to consider.

Bellamy – You’ve mentioned avoiding ends in -y/-ie names. You might find some – like Bellamy – feel a little more modern than vintage Cecily.

Briar Briar entered the US Top 1000 for girls and boys in 2015. It’s a modern choice with some interesting ties – one of the many names for Sleeping Beauty was Briar Rose, which makes it feminine. Sound-wise, it seems more unisex.

Iris – If you love flower names, but worry that Primrose or Marigold might feel too tied to pop culture, or just too out-there, you might consider a name like Iris. It’s been a favorite before; it is gaining in use again. While Iris feels feminine, famous women who have worn it before lend it considerable strength.

Juniper Juniper feels more like Dash. It’s not a name we were using fifty – or even twenty – years ago. But there’s history behind this choice, and today it feels mainstream. One advantage – like Dashiel, it shortens nicely, to Junie or June.

Margot Margot is a rising name – just like Rory and Dash – but remains relatively uncommon. Like Marigold and Maeve, it has the alliterative quality that seems to appeal. It feels modern, but has plenty of history. And while we instantly recognize it as feminine, it’s a frills-free name.

Overall, I’m tempted to encourage you to use Maeve. It’s the name you’ve loved longest. It fits nicely with Dash and Rory. And while it breaks a few rules, that can make for a truly appealing sound.

If you’re looking for something safer, I can’t recommend Margot enough. While it’s definitely rising in use, that’s because it hits the exact qualities you like – feminine, without being frilly; traditional, but with a modern sound.

I know readers will have some great suggestions, too. What would you name a sister for Dash & Rory?

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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