I have posted on here before asking for opinions on Lydia vs. Ava and then did a post on Penelope vs. Ava. 

I apologize for repeat-posting, but I now have a new, even more complicated dilemma.  And everyone on this forum gives such great, well-thougtht out advice so I thought I would ask your opinions now......

Ava is the one name my husband and I both like (Ava Louise & call her "Ava Lou as a NN) but I am now really 2nd guessing it for 2 reasons:  1) its so popular 2) it is so short with our 5 letter/ 1 syllable last name. 

So...I have been searching for another timeless, classy name similar to Ava and cannot find one I love.  Lydia & Penelope are out b/c my husband hates Penelpe and my parents & sister hate Lydia.  (Not everyone has to love the name, but I'd like for a few people in my life to like it.)

To complicate things, one of my best friends said the girl name she will use someday is Vivienne and I am falling in love with it.  It fits the bill of being longer, old-fashined/classy, and goes great with our last name.  I also love the NN Vivi. 

I either need to 1) find a name to longer, less popular name replace Ava, 2) talk to my friend about using Vivienne or 3)be reassured that Ava is still a great name in spite of its popularity and short stature.

I like Evelyn but don't like the "lyn" at the end bc our last name has an "lyn" in it and it doesn't flow.  I also don't care for a few other names that have been suggested: Avalon, Avalyn, Genevive

HELP! this is driving me crazy.  I appreciate your feedback, suggestions, etc...


By Eko
November 18, 2015 10:42 AM

I wouldn't worry about Ava Louise being too short. Ava Lou is three syllables and from what I understand that's what you plan to call her and not just Ava. The Lou part also cancels out Avas popularity, because while you might meet another girl named Ava from time to time, your Ava will have a more unique and distinctive name since she is called Ava Lou and there wont be confusion.


You already have a name both you and your husband loves, so I wouldn't use the name your friend told you in confidence that she will name her daughter. It's not worth hurting her feelings and your friendship when you already had decided on another name. It would be different if you already were leaning towards Vivienne before.

Other names that could get to Vivi are Olivia Victoria, Vilma Violetta, Viveka. These might not be as "soft" sounding as Vivienne though. Another name that's soft and french is Soleil. Solveig is like Soleil but with a v-sound in there.

There's just so many names to like out there, so I think whatever name one decides it's so easy to keep second guessing it and to keep wanting other favorites. It's too bad we can't use all amazing names, right? :-)

November 18, 2015 10:52 AM

Stick with Ava Louise. It's popular for a reason! I just checked my son's school--out of 724 students, only three are named Ava. One each in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. I realize that's only one tiny data point, but it goes to show that popularity isn't what it used to be. The school's most popular names? Katherine (7), Michael (7), William (7), Jonathan (6), Kevin (6), Kimberly (5), and Daniel (5). And three Marlons (go figure). The popular names Olivia, Isabella, Noah, and Mason had two or fewer students. My point is one that others have made before: your Ava Lou will not share her name with many of her peers. Ava is no Mary, Barbara, Linda, Lisa, or Jennifer.

November 18, 2015 11:26 AM

Great points made! Thank you so much for checking in to your son's school :)   Elizabeth- Just curious..which part of the country are you located in? 

November 18, 2015 1:30 PM

Central North Carolina. We live in a very cosmopolitan part of the state and my son's school has students from over 25 different countries in it. So it might not be representative of what you would find if you live in a more homogeneous area with only one or two socio-economic/ethnic/racial groups contributing to the naming culture.

November 18, 2015 5:22 PM

I'm also in NC, Elizabeth! I'm in Raleigh :) Sounds like you may be in CH haha.

November 18, 2015 11:28 PM

Not far off, apblue. We could have a Triangle meet up!

November 18, 2015 2:03 PM

As Eko said, I think your two concerns (short length and popularity) should be diminished by calling her Ava Louise or Ava Lou. That automatically will set her apart from any other Avas she may encounter and gives her a three syllable name (or four with the full Louise). Vivienne, Lydia, and Penelope are all 3-4 syllable names so Ava Lou or Ava Louise certainly provides a long enough name to suit your style. If those are truly your only concerns, I think that you should go with Ava Louise.

It sounds like you might be worried that you are settling on a name you both loved and agreed on earlier on and now that things are getting real and you have to decide nothing feels good enough for your daughter. Totally understandable and I imagine a common problem. I would worry that any new names that come up now are going to run the risk of being the new shiney thing that catches your eye for a short while whereas Ava Louise has proven itself to be a longtime love for both you and your husband for a reason.

As far as Vivienne, I would recommend letting that go. While I do not believe in calling dibs on names before there is an actual baby with a known gender, I think intentionally taking someone else's beloved name would be adding unnecessary drama and strain to a friendship. If you and your friend both independently loved Vivienne, it would be fair for the next person to have a girl to use it (as it would be acceptible for the other friend to also use the name if she chose). However, this sounds like a case of her confiding her favorite name and you then deciding that you also like it. I think it would be reasonable for your friend to be upset if you used her name and I don't think the name Vivienne is worth damaging a friendship -- especially when you have such a beautiful name on the table already.

So to review your options:

Option 1 - I don't think you'll find a name you love more than Ava Louise that is less popular. Names are popular for a reason. I think you have found your name, though I know it's sad for the fun and excitement of choosing a name to be over!

Option 2 - Should be avoided because it risks harming a friendship. Plus, Vivienne/Vivian's popularity is growing. Vivienne is 249 in SSA list, but Vivian is 98. If you combine all the spellings I would guess it is well into the top 100 and possibly even more popular than Ava with the Lou/Louise added on. Point being, I don't see switching to Vivienne as accomplishing finding something more rare than Ava Louise.

Option 3 - THIS! I think you need to remember why you fell in love with this name in the first place and try to avoid getting distracted by other names that your husband dislikes or that are being used by friends and family. Ava Louise is such a great name you have me wondering if I should add it to to my already down to three short list!

Just my 2 cents, hope it's helpful! Good luck to you!

November 18, 2015 2:12 PM

I would also like to cast a vote for Ava Louise nn Ava Lou, because I think it's darling.  I don't think the shortness of it is a problem at all--it's short in letters but not in syllables or sounds.  I this case, I think the shortness of Ava and Ava Lou (with you last name) is more of an benefit than a detriment.  It will be easier for your daughter to learn how to spell, easy for others to recognize, and easy to fit on nametags and labels. I have a similarly short name (a five-letter, two syllable first name and a one-syllable four-letter last name) and I've never had issues with it's length.

Ava has some fun characteristics for a girl to play with too: it's a palindrome, and the shape of the letters lends itself well to some interesting logos.  (Try drawing AVA where the right stroke of the first A and the left stroke of the second A make up the V.  It looks like a mountain range!  You can even add in Lou by drawing a giant L around it to make a "frame" and the O can be a sun.  I'm not sure yet how the U would fit in, maybe as a cloud, bird, or crescent moon.)  These characteristics (palindromes, logos, etc.) aren't essential for a good name, but it can help a little girl learn to love one.

In terms of popularity, I think Ava is a name that might feel more popular than it actually is.  Notwithstanding the fact that popular names today are much less popular than the popular names were a few decades ago, I still see the name every year on the Top-10 list. So even though I haven't actually met an Ava yet, the name still feels familiar because I keep seeing it... but on a list instead of on a child.  I think this can make it harder to internalize the true popularity of the name.  That said, I don't think popularity is necessarily a bad thing.  It means the name is well-loved by many. 

I also think you should avoid using Vivienne.  While your friend doesn't own it, you could end up robbing her of the joy of it (or her desire to use it).  I don't think it's worth risking a friendship for the the sake of a baby name, especially when you already have one.  (It would be different if you had independently considered it and decided you love it before she told you about her plans to use it.  Then you could have said that it was one you were seriously considering too--neither of you would have "prior claim" in that case, at least in an emotional sense.)  I personally wouldn't care for the potential spelling and pronunciation challenges of Vivienne (it's too close to Vivian).

It might help to make sure you aren't second guessing Ava because of the opportunity cost (i.e., using one name means you have to give up use another).  In my experience, it's a lot easier to be happy with an "okay" choice with lots of unappealing alternatives than an "outstanding" choice with lots of similarly great alternatives, even though the outstanding choice might be objectively better.  If this is the case, it may help to remind yourself that Ava is a great name, and you and your family love it for a reason.  Falling in love with Vivienne doesn't make Ava any less of a great name, it just makes it easier to notice the qualities that the name Vivienne has that Ava doesn't.

If you are still interested in other names, Avril is another one you might consider.  It's French like Vivienne and could be shortened to Ava.  Others that could lend themselves to Ava as a nickname: Octavia, Maven, Mavis, Aviva, Avila, Evana, and Avonna.  Some other names inspired by the names you like are Vanessa, Violet, Sylvia, Ada, Ivy, Adelaide, Veronica, and Victoria.



November 18, 2015 2:39 PM

Wow! Thanks for the great responses/advice.  My uncertainty about Ava is certainly starting to lessen :) 

i agree- I have never even encountered or addressed an Ava of any age group in person so I can see how the popularity isn't what it used to be. 

However, I still loooove the unexpectedness of a name like Vivienne.  Sure- it may become more popular but I doubt it will ever be top 5 like Ava.  I know this may sound silly but part of me feels ashamed to tell people I'm naming her Ava bc it's so very common/expected and announcing her name as Vivienne excites me! Would it be ok to introduce her as "Ava Lou" or is that weird? you think even mentioning that I also like Vivienne to my friend is off limits?? What if she never has a girl? Or decides later she likes another name better? 

Please keep the feedback coming:) you guys are the best!!

By mk
November 18, 2015 2:49 PM

I don't really find Vivienne all that unexpected or unusual. Pretty, yes. Maybe it seems that way because it's not a style of name you would expect your friend to choose?

November 18, 2015 3:13 PM

I understand that Vivienne excites you because it seems unexpected to you, but would your excitement lessen if that sucked away all the excitement from your friend? You and your friend both deserve to have names that you're excited about but I think you'd regret your excitement coming at the expense of hers. She may never have a daughter but you won't know that until after you choose a name for your daughter.

For what it's worth, I know of two young Vivians and one young Ava -- and zero Ava Lous. Since I have heard them used before, an annoucement of a Vivian/Vivienne or an Ava wouldn't be terribly unexpected to me (though I would be delighted to hear them). An Ava Lou, that's unexpected! And yes, absolutely introduce her as that. I love it.

November 18, 2015 2:42 PM

I think Ava is your favorite. Lydia, Penelope, and Vivienne are all wonderful choices, but I think you'll regret not having a little Ava Lou. I would go with that, as it's a name that you love and has so far withstood the test of time. It's great to have names you love almost or just as much, in case you have more children! I think Ava and Vivi would sound adorable together.

By mk
November 18, 2015 2:46 PM

Stay with Ava Louise. Popularity really isn't as big a deal as people make it out to be. I've run into one Ava so far in my life. I actually know more Penelopes than Ava and way more Evelyns than either of those names. Using the full Ava Louise or Ava Lou instantly lengthens it.

I was going to suggest Genevieve. It's long and you could use Vivi as a nickname. It's one of my favorite names, but I see you don't like it much. So stay with Ava. I am also going to suggest putting it aside and stop thinking about names for a bit as to not overthink it.

November 18, 2015 4:49 PM

My first suggestion is to stop talking about names with anyone but your husband (and anonymous online folks).  People tend to be very vocal about names they don't like when the baby isn't here yet.  However, once a name is attached to a real baby, people tend to not feel as strongly (or be as vocal) about disliked names.  I'll also point out that babies have a way of making people warm up to previously disliked names.  All that said, if you love Lydia & your husband is on board, don't let the opinions of other family members get in the way.  They will get over it.  

Ava Louise is lovely, but you keep trying to find reasons not to use it.  I don't know if this is just cold feet, or if you Ava just isn't the name.  But nothing says you have to have the name before baby arrives.  It is perfectly acceptable to have Ava Louise and another name or two on your short list, and then decide once the baby gets here.

I would recommend only using Vivienne if your friend gives her OK.  People can be very upset about name "stealing" and I generally just don't think it is worth it.  Especially since you didn't already have Vivienne on your list.

You seem to want a longer name.  Since you like Vivienne, perhaps you'd also like Genevieve, Violet, Adelaide, Clementine, Leonora, Geneva, Veronica?  Similar to Penelope, maybe Daphne, Phoebe, Delphine?

Finally, I'll add that it might be helpful to take a break from names for a while.  You may find you come back with a fresh perspective after taking a fews days off from thinking and talking about names.

November 18, 2015 8:22 PM

I still love Ava and don't think the popularity is that big of an issue. 

Remember that Vivienne can be spelled three ways: Vivienne, Vivian, and Vivien so it may be more popular than it appears. I also think because of Angelina Jolie/ Brad Pitt it has become more popular and is getting used more. Who knows how high it may rise in the next five years. I would not take it if your friend told you it was her pick. 

I've known people who refuse to share their name choices and I've always thought they were overreacting, but now I think they may be right.   I think a name does seem more appealing to us once we find out we can't use it. I wonder if this is why Vivienne seems so appealing.  

November 18, 2015 9:38 PM

I love Ava Louise/Ava Lou, so sweet! If you truly want other options though, perhaps Avelina, Evelina, Livienne, or Vienna would hit the right notes? (If popularity was your main issue, Avelina Louise would still let you use Ava or Ava Lou as a nn.) (I also don't think it would be weird to introduce her as Ava Lou--one of my boys has a fn that's a little too "normal" for my taste and I often introduce him as fn+mn.)

November 18, 2015 10:25 PM

1. I plugged Ava, Vivienne and Evelyn into the matchmaker and these are a sample of what I got: Eleanor/Elinor, Violet, Eloise, Adelaide, Rosalie (though you might not like the Twilight connection), Clementine, Marguerite, Josephine, Leonor, Dorothy.

2. I don't think you should do this--you might cause problems with your friend. If you decide to do this, it might help if you put in Vivienne as a middle name.

3. I think this is your best option (you don't have to go searching for another name again, and you've already ended up with a name you and your husband like), but if the popularity bothers you, you could weigh in which is more important to you--liking a name or getting a name that's less popular.

November 18, 2015 10:42 PM

 Ava is a beautiful name, and Ava Lou is a darling and distinctive nn. I don't see any problem with its length. 

Our older son is a J@ck, which is arguably The most popular name when you include Jacksons, Jaxs etc...It is just not a big deal. He has a J@ckson on his soccer team at the moment, and a younger J@ck in Scouts, but it's not as if we bring home the wrong one. :)  

Also, it's impossible to account for randomness. You could name her Vivienne, and find there are no Avas, but two Viviennes in her class! I've shared this before, but one year my younger son's tiny preschool class had two Kyras, two Helenas, and two Mayas! They were all spelled differently, but really-what are the odds?! 

And, finally, consider how you'd feel if you didn't go with the name you loved. We briefly considered ditching J@ck, and I honestly think I would have felt sad if we had met another one. And I don't even like the name that was our runner up anymore! 

I don't think it's worth it to start drama with an important friend.

While I don't think you need suggestions, I'll offer a few. I think the unifying theme in the names you like is old glamour. To that end, I'd suggest Stella, Georgia, Lila, Annabelle, Gabrielle, Esme, Ruby


November 18, 2015 11:32 PM

Thank you for the advice & example with your son Jack. Once again, you are all so very helpful!!  

Any other examples of popularity being a non-issue with common names OR examples of using a 1st & middle name combo helps so feel free to keep posting :)

There is a good chance we stick w Ava Louise, however I do appreciate the old Hollywood/classic name suggestions.  None have been mentioned yet that I really love.  I don't care for names that seem "made up" or are too obscure like Avila or Avonna.

Ill also add that our last name is Clyde so names with "L's" towards the end can sound choppy.  Do you think a name like Stella works with Clyde?  (I think that is one reason I become attached to names like Vivienne that flow so nicely with the sharp sound of Clyde.) 

Again--- THANK YOU for taking the time to post!!!

November 18, 2015 11:45 PM

In the five years since my daughter was born (and I became aware of the names of young children around me), I have had only peripheral encounters with little girls named Ava. ("Peripheral" meaning one-time occasions like at the park, at the store, standing in line for something, etc.)  This is not the frequency illusion at work: my daughter's middle name is Éva, which is pronounced very similarly to Ava, so I'm primed to notice the name -- but I simply haven't encountered it.

In contrast, at preschool this year, there's a Julia and a Julianna in one pre-K class, and a Juliana in the other one. I just added it up: in 2011, there were 61 names beginning with Jul- that were given to 5 or more baby girls in the US, and together they accounted for 13362 babies. Ava was given to 15383 babies that year.

The moral of the story? Don't let popularity deter you; randomness far outweighs the probabilities nowadays.

November 19, 2015 3:47 AM

What about Java (indonesian island)  instead of Ava? Java Louise sounds classic and "unexpected" to me


Java Louise Vivienne ?

November 19, 2015 3:53 AM

Thanks for the suggestion but no thanks  -not a fan of java. 

November 19, 2015 5:15 AM

I think Ava is lovely, and that Ava Louise/Lou is beyond lovely. Moreover, in as much as Ava is popular, it seems to have gottent there organically, under its own steam, whereas Vivienne strikes me very much as being Angelina Jolie's child and to have jumped into popularity as a result.

As others have said, the combinations and nicknames your Ava will have will immediately disassociate her from any other Avas you may meet. She can even go by Lou if she finds herself in situations with too many Avas -- but I don't expect that she will.

November 19, 2015 1:12 PM

If it's truly popularity that's bothering you, I don't think Vivienne will solve your problem. It's shooting up the charts right now, and combined with Vivian and Viviana has already reached 1/4 the number of babies born named Ava. It likely won't quite reach the heights of Ava combined with other Av- and Ev- names, but I don't think it will feel very unexpected for very long. (FWIW, I think moms who grew up watching Pretty Woman and a generally stylish sound are as responsible for the Vivienne love as Angelina Jolie, though she may have catalyzed the process.)

On the other hand, the compound name Ava Lou is much less expected, and I really don't think popularity alone should necessarily stop you from using your favorite name.

Try this thought experiment:

Part 1: Imagine you name her Ava Louise, and then there turn out to be five other girls in her kindergarten class with similar-sounding names. In fact, her best friend turns out to be an Eva-pronounced-Ava. The girls think this is cool, and like to go by Ava Lou and Eva, too! Do you grind your teeth every time you hear it, and wish you'd picked a different name? Or could you still be happy with your Ava's name?

Part 2: Imagine you did NOT choose Ava. Now there are NO Avas in your daughter's class, and only one Evelyn in the same grade but a different classroom who sometimes goes by Evvie. You do very occasionally hear the name Ava in passing, on the news or being called at Starbucks. Do you grit your teeth every time you hear it, and wish you had gone ahead and named her Ava Lou? Or are you still happy with your alternate choice?

Part 3: Which worst case scenario above seeems more bearable? Which would leave you with more regrets?

As for length, Ava looks short, but it is a full two syllables, and I think it sounds fine with a one-syllable last name. Add in Lou as a regular part of the name and it's plenty long.

Overall i suspect you'd be happy with Ava Louise, but if you decide that you really do want something a bit more elaborate and less popular, I'll suggest Venezia. It's the Italian name for Venice, with I think a very sparse but established history of use as a given name, so not made up. It also has lots of nickname possibilities, including Ava (combining the last syllable with the first).

November 19, 2015 1:26 PM

Thanks for the experiment idea, I will try that!  My first instinct says I may have a bit of sadness hearing Ava if I don't use it, but if the name I chose instead was just as if not MORE lovely I would be fine.  The more I imagine using Vivienne, the more I like it :(

Something i didn't mention earlier in this post is that it is a name I liked a while back when I 1st found out I was pregnant but my MIL's has a SIL who is Vivienne and they had a huge falling out. They actually despise eachother I assumed she'd be heartbroken if I ever used the name. At this point, I think she will get over it especially bc we never even see her SIL. 

I am really contemplating talking to my friend about using the name --at least having it as an option. 

How would I even go about that conversation?? I never announced I liked Vivienne to the world but it WAS a name my husband and I discussed And both really liked.  I wrote off bc of mt MILs negative connotation. I over thought it and now it's haunting me!!

November 19, 2015 2:03 PM

It sounds like you have your mind made up about talking to your friend despite the warnings.

Before you do, consider this:

If you were having a boy, but told your friend that for a future girl you would love to use Ava Louise (or Vivienne if that helps with the example) and a couple months later she was pregnant with a girl and asked you to use your favorite name that you had your heart set on using, how would you feel? What would you say? How would the conversation go? Can you imagine having this conversation with your friend but with the roles reversed and having the outcome be what you would want?

If it were me, I would feel upset that a good friend was putting me in a position to either give up something I'd dreamed about or feel guilty for telling her I didn't like the idea of her using it.

If she says you can use it, there may always be some underlying resentment there.

If she says she prefers you don't, you might have resentment, and she may always have a lingering frustration about the fact that you even asked.

Either way, it's not unlikely that this could change your friendship.

Imagine how the conversation would likely go. The best case (but in my opinion, unlikely) scenario is that she says "Yes, please use it! I don't really like it much anyway" and means it. People don't typically confide a single name they love with a friend unless they really love it.

There are a whole list of worst case scenarios (more likely in my opinion) all of which result in a damaged friendship.

Think this through very carefully before you take this big risk.

Also, I think the fact that your MIL has a known enemy with the name should be another reason to strongly consider moving on.

By mk
November 19, 2015 3:04 PM

"I've considered Vivienne as a name as well, if I used it how would you feel?" Simple.

If I was the friend I wouldn't care if you used the name, but it wouldn't stop me from using it too. Would that bother you?

I'd be more bothered with using the name of someone I know my MIL despised. She's the person I think you should discuss this with.

November 19, 2015 4:20 PM

I like the simple way you phrased the question.  But she definitely wouldn't use thel name if I did. This is a very close friend, basically family. 

Also- I really appreciate the above considerations on how the conversation could go sour...but I would always wonder "what if" if I never bring it up. Its not like this is a name she claimed years ago.  In fact, I specifically remember 2 other names she's said she'd like to use in the past and this just happens to currently be her girl name of choice.  If I did sense resentment I would be sure to just let it go and be ok w her using the name bc she did verbalize it first. (Even tho this was "silently" on our list months ago too.) 

If I do decide to bring this up, should I do it ASAP or wait a few weeks. My baby is due in 2months!

As far as my MIL, she would need to accept it and I think the NN we use would help separate my daughter from her disliked SIL. 

November 19, 2015 9:51 PM

Not sure if it's been suggested yet, but what about Avery Louise with the same nickname - Ava Lou - makes it a bit longer? 

November 19, 2015 10:00 PM

Thanks but I really don't care for the trendiness of Avery. Much prefer older/classic names.  Good thought though!

By rooo
November 20, 2015 3:39 AM

I think Ava is probably the right name for you, but given that you like 2 names with a prominant "V" sound, perhaps you would like others? Here are a few more classic options:

Maeve, Olive, Savannah, Sylvia, Valerie, Virginia, Beverly, Geneva, Vada, Waverly

Maybe you should ask your friend who likes Vivienne if she has any other suggestions you might like.

November 20, 2015 8:19 AM

Sylvie Louise would also be adorable!