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Unexpected Girl Names for Jonah’s Sister

August 23, 2016 Abby Sandel

They thought finding a name for their daughter would be a snap! But now they’re struggling to narrow down names that are classic, but not too common, to find the perfect unexpected – but not too out-there! – name for Jonah’s sister.

Brittany writes:

My husband and I have a son named Jonah and are expecting a daughter in a few months. We thought finding a girl name would be easier!

We are looking for a girl’s name that is not super popular, but not so unusual that it is weird. My husband prefers classic names, but I am drawn to names that I hear less often.

Current favorites from both of us include Cora, Isla, Margot, Eleanor, Autumn, Elaina, and Daphne. Meaning also plays a part, as some meanings or background can be off putting. Middle name will be Elizabeth (family name), and our last name is very common.

What feminine, but unique/classy name are we missing?

The Name Sage replies:

So many of us have faced the same dilemma! We know we want to avoid chart-toppers, like Charlotte and Sophia. But we can’t quite imagine choosing a girl name as bold as Andromeda or Romilly, either.

The challenge is figuring out exactly where to set the dial between 1 and 10. If Charlotte and Sophia represent 1, and Andromeda and friends are at the opposite end, are you comfortable with a 1.5 name, like Clara? Or do you want something a little closer to 7 or 8?

Looking at your current shortlist, many of the names are in the current Top 100, or hovering just outside. Elaina is one exception – but factor in spellings Elena and Alaina, and it’s actually among the more popular names on your list.

There’s nothing wrong with popular names, of course – they’re well used because they’re such great names!

But it sounds like you’d be happiest with a name that:

  • has a traditional, familiar feel, but is less frequently heard
  • is not likely to be reduced to a nickname
  • is conventionally feminine, but not too frilly and elaborate
  • has a strong meaning or positive association

From your current list, I think Daphne (Number 378 last year) and Margot (Number 593) are your best bets. They’re mainstream choices, names we all instantly recognize – but don’t hear them very often.

I wonder if you might also like:

Ada – Short, sweet, and complete, Ada is an alternative to Top Ten favorite Ava. At Number 357 last year, it’s a traditional name that’s not too common. Ada means noble.

Colette Colette has a long history of use. It was most popular in the 1960s, but has never been very common. Literary and French, it is a cousin to Nicholas, which means victory of the people. It came in at Number 531 last year – not too hot, not too cold.

Gemma – Number 269 Gemma sounds an awful lot like Number 1 Emma – and yet, they are distinctly different names. Gemma comes from the Italian word meaning jewel. It was big in England in the 1990s, but never quite caught on in the US.

Helena – The downside to Helena is that, unlike Elaina, there are multiple possible pronunciations. But the positive is that, at Number 534, it’s less common. Both names come from a Greek word meaning torch, or shining light.

June – I don’t see any really short names on your list, but I wonder if summery June is worth consideration? June feels lady-like and traditional, and at Number 280 makes a great stands-out/fits-in choice. One consideration: do you want two J names? Jonah and June sound great together, but some parents prefer not to repeat initials.

Louisa Louisa was the first name that came to mind when I read your message! At Number 908, Louisa is astonishingly underused. There are fantastic nickname possibilities, but none are required. It’s royal and literary and fierce, too, since the name’s roots go back to the Germanic word meaning warrior.

Sabrina Sabrina comes from Celtic myth by way of John Milton’s Comus. Milton calls the legendary princess “Sabrina fair.” The line inspired a play, which became a movie starring Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina. At Number 355, Sabrina is relatively rare.

Willa William is an unassailable classic, a Top Ten go-to for boys. Feminine form Willa has never been as popular. It languishes at Number 481 today. And yet, it’s quite close to favorite like Ella and Isla, and has the same vintage appeal as Cora or Eleanor.

Overall, I think Daphne and Margot from your list are the very definition of familiar without being too popular. But if neither of those is exactly right, Louisa and Sabrina are my favorites for Jonah’s sister.

Readers, what would you suggest to Brittany and her husband?

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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