How to fit Leonora in an M name pattern

My grandmother's name is Leonora and unfortunately we don't know how much longer she'll be with us. I'm expecting twins and I'd love to honour her in one of their names if one of the babies is a girl. However we have a tradition of using names starting with the letter M for our babies. I could use it as a middle name I suppose, but it's a name I have always loved and that has a very special meaning to me, so I would want to actually call her by that name. I'd use either Leonora as it is or maybe Eleonora / Eleanor / Elinor would work as well. At the same time I don't want to break OHs family tradition.
Our current M name frontrunners for a girl are Meredith, Mirabel and Mariella. I suppose we could use- say - Meredith as her first name and then Leonora as a middle and simply call her by her middle name, but I've always found it a bit strange when someone went by their middle name. I always thought if you're going to call the child by their mn, why not use it as a first name?!
Baby B would get an honour name from OH's side as either first or middle name as well, so they both have special names. My MIL is very lovely and a wonderful woman. I don't think she'd be mad if we didn't carry on their family tradition, but I'd still feel bad if we didn't. And I also wouldn't want her to feel left out if she were the only one out of four whose name starts with a different letter.

Any ideas? :/


December 29, 2016 3:53 PM

Meredith+Leonora, mashup Melora? or Meredith Leonora, nickname Melora?

December 29, 2016 7:54 PM

Maybe a short M first name like May, Maeve, or Mary, paired with the middle name as a double-barrelled call-name. Birth certificate could say something like May Eleanora or Mary Leonora but she could go by May Ella or Mary Nora.

December 30, 2016 1:10 AM

Name possibilities have been ruminating in my mind and I've decided that my favorite combos include Lenore as a middle name. It has the second-syllable stress that makes a double-barreled name work well. I think May Lenore, Mary Lenore, and Mia Lenore sound great. 

December 29, 2016 10:35 PM

Lenora comes from Eleanor and Eleanor means Bright, Light, and/or torch. Malana can mean buoyant light and and Meira means shining light. 

December 29, 2016 11:40 PM

The meaning of Eleanor is uncertain. Several possibilities have been suggested.

December 29, 2016 10:52 PM

I really like Emerald Bee's suggestion above. I also think the middle-name-as-callname solution was invented for situations like this. I know a baby now who is going by his middle name, because his mom wanted his first name to begin with an E to match his cousin (she and her sister had the same initial too). Going by your middle name is the kind of thing that takes 20 seconds of explanation at the beginning of each school year, and a laissez-faire attitude at the doctor's office.

December 30, 2016 4:08 PM

The more I come to think of it I agree that this might be where the whole middle-name-as-callname idea actually does make sense. I think it's actually what I'm leaning towards to the most right now, because I'd really like to have a little Leonora, and I do like it a lot with sisters Matilda and Maisie. Also I quite like Mariella and Leonora together, but would she feel left out if she was the only one who didn't go by her M name? Another option would be to have both twins go by their honour name. Would Mariella Leonora or Mirabel Leonora too much of a mouthful with all the L sounds in there? Third option would be Meredith Leonora.
It's difficult to come up with all these different names... for all we know they could also both be boys and we wouldn't get to use Leonora at all. In that case we'd go with Leonard as a middle name, but not callname. It was the only one we could come up with that we liked.
Really. This is so difficult.

To organise it a bit, this is what I've been playing around with - i hope it doesn't get too confusing. Our M frontrunners are Mirabel, Mariella and Meredith. So I've tried to come up with a few combinations. Baby A's call name would be Leonora. Baby B could either go by his/her first or middle name

G/G twins:
1. Mariella *middlename* & Meredith Leonora
2. Mariella Leonora & Mirabel *middlename*
3. Mirabel Leonora & Meredith *middlename*
*middlename* options: Freya, Alexandra, Phoebe (only pairs well with Mariella though), Elizabeth (OH likes, I'm not 100%) / Eliza


B/G twins (we were very set on Milo for a boy, but somehow I'm starting to lean a tad bit more towards Maxwell):
1. Milo/Maxwell Alistair* & Mariella Leonora
2. Milo/Maxwell Alistair & Meredith Leonora
3. Milo/Maxwell Alistair & Mirabel Leonora

B/B twins (boys would both go by their first names):
1. Milo Alistair & Maxwell Leonard
2. Milo Leonard & Maxwell Alistair


Which combo do you like best from each set?

December 30, 2016 10:13 PM

I don't like 'run on' names that blend into each other with no clear ending of one and beginning of another, so discount Mirabel Leonora. Mariella Leonora is too singsongy for my taste, though has a lovely italian vibe to it. I vote for Meredith Leonora (its beautiful).

For the boys I prefer Maxwell Alistair and secondly Milo Leonard. Have you considered Miles? It has the nn Milo and although not important i like its flow with Leonard. Miles Leonard sounds cool.

December 31, 2016 10:16 AM

For girls, my vote is for Mariella Alexandra/Phoebe and Meredith Leonora. For b/g, Maxwell Alistair and Meredith Leonora. For boys, Milo Leonard and Maxwell Alistair.

January 1, 2017 6:42 AM

My favourite G/G is number 3, although all the options are beautiful. I love that Matilda, Maisie, Mirabel and Meredith share the same initial but all have different endings. For Baby B I like the combinations Mariella Phoebe, Mirabel Alexandra, or Meredith Eliza.

I like all your B/G options. Maxwell and Mirabel seem quite matchy, but actually that wouldn't be an issue if she went by Leonora anyway. If I had to vote I'd go for #2 - Milo Alistair & Meredith Leonora.

I like B/B option 2 because aesthetically 3 'L's in a row is a bit much.

January 1, 2017 11:32 PM

Whether she feels left out or not being the only sibling not called by her M- name comes down to personality, I think, which is, of course, impossible to predict. She could feel left out, or she could absolutely love being the only non-M-call-name in the set! If both twins are called by their middle names, then I don't think it would be an issue at all.

Out of your girls' first name options, my favorite with Leonora is Mariella. I think Mirabel Leonora runs together too much, but Mariella Leonora rolls off the tongue quite pleasantly. My second pick would be Meredith Leonora.

For the middle name options for G/G twin #2, my personal favorite is Freya by far. I think I like Meredith Freya better with Mariella Leonora than Mirabel Freya because even though I prefer Mirabel to Meredith, Mirabel and Mariella would be too similar for twins to me. If you go with Meredith Leonora for twin #1, though, then I like Mirabel Freya for twin #2.

I prefer the name Maxwell to Milo. For some reason, even though they are both spiking in popularity right now, Maxwell still feels more classic to me than the modern sound of Milo. I also prefer Maxwell Alistair to Milo Alistair.

For a boy honor name for Leonora, what names have you considered and rejected? Might I put forth Leander? There's no actual connection to the name Leonora, but there isn't for Leonard either. Maxwell Alistair and Milo Leander sound like a great set of twin names to me!

January 13, 2017 4:31 PM

Or she could be like me, and have it take her over 44 years to realize that she's the odd one out in terms of family initials. :)

January 1, 2017 4:26 AM

I would name one twin Leonora (unless they're both boys, of course).  I don't think she'll feel left out without an M name, and it's only fair that your side of the family gets a chance to be honored as much as your spouse's side's M tradition.  (By the way, what does OH stand for?)

January 1, 2017 10:46 AM

(OH means Other Half.) I didn't read everyone but wanted to say the same as this. 

Twins give the perfect opportunity to break the tradition without hard feelings. You have two with an M that followed your husband's family tradition now you'll have two you can name from your side of the family. No biggie at all. Choose an M middle name if you'd like to honor the tradition. Then it is initials LM. 

You are presumably giving your children your husband's last name as a family name. You're understandably nixing a middle name for primary call name as feeling wrong. That only leaves the first name spot for ever being able to honor your family. Don't feel guilty using it. They're a mix of both families and their names can beautifully reflect that.

I vote for Leonora as a first name if one is a girl!

January 5, 2017 2:04 PM

I would also lean towards using Leonora as a first name in this situation.

There are a number of logistical and identity-related drawbacks to giving twins the same first initial; there are also a number of logistical drawbacks to using a middle name as call-name. (I recently met a woman in her seventies who has always gone by her middle name; she said it has been nothing been a headache, and now she is having fits with Medicare due to the identity mix-ups.) When you combine the two issues I think there is a pretty strong justification for tweaking the family tradition--Leonora Meredith, for example, would be lovely.

It's impossible to predict the future, but I'd say the odds of your daughter resenting the hassles of getting conflated with her twin and/or listed as two (or three) different people and so forth are at least as high as the odds of her feeling left out of the tradition, especially if you don't make a big deal of how everyone else is an M. After all, your name doesn't start with M, and you're part of the family. 

January 11, 2017 1:47 PM

Thank you all so much for your very helpful input. I've been wanting to reply for ages, but my girls have kept me quite busy. Also I feel like this time around morning sickness and fatigue has hit me twice as hard compared to when I was pregnant with just one baby at a time.
Anyhow, we've had a family dinner at the in-laws' the other day and my SIL asked whether we had thought about names yet. I said we had talked about it, but we're still far from making a decision. I also casually mentioned that we were trying to find a way to fit a non-M-honour name into the M name tradition. My mother-in-law immediately said we should just go with whatever we love, especially if we are looking to honour a family member, and then use an M name as a middle if we wish to continue the pattern. I have to say, hearing her say that takes a lot of weight off my shoulders and makes the whole naming thing a looot easier. She's a lovely woman and I knew she'd never hold it against us if we went with a different name, but I always thought it could still disappoint her in a way...if that makes sense. But the way she said it, it felt like she really meant it and we'd still be continuing the tradition through their middle names.
That being said we have decided that if one baby is a girl she will be Leonora. I'm very happy with that choice. For baby number two we'll also pick a name that we love, no matter what letter it starts with, and then both will be getting an M-middle name. My mother-in-law's name is Marianne, so we thought it might be lovely to honour her in one of the twins' middle names.

Which names could be used as honour names for Marianne?

Still looking for the perfect name for another baby girl to go with Leonora. Right now we're liking Ivy, Charlotte, Phoebe and Eliza - which one do you like best with Leonora?

If baby B is a boy we may go with either Theodore, Alexander or Alistair as a first and Maxwell as a middle name. In case both end up being boys we're lost, so we'll just pretend like at least one is a girl until a scan tells us otherwise :D I do have a bit of a feeling we're having girls again. We'll be thrilled either way

January 11, 2017 1:53 PM

That's fantastic. I will neither confirm nor deny that I got goosebumps while reading about your family conversation ;) There really are some loving and supportive families-in-law out there and those who have them, (as I do,) are incredibly lucky. I need to get back to work so I can't ponder names right now, but yay for you!

January 11, 2017 3:55 PM

I like Ivy best for girls. It sounds really good with Leonora to me, with the difference in syllables and patterns.

I am a fan of Theodore for a boy for the opposite reason; Theodore and Leonora sound like they are meant to be with the similarity in assonance.

It's wonderful to hear that things went so well with your MIL.

January 11, 2017 8:10 PM

What exciting news!

Marianne originates as a French diminutive for Marie, so any Mary variant or diminutive would work as an honor name. Mariella, which if I recall correctly you were considering anyway, is an Italian diminutive of Maria. You could also consider Marielle, Marion/Marian, Mariette, and Marise, which are all French diminutives of Marie. I really like the flow of Leonora Marielle.

If Leonora's twin is a girl, I think Eliza is my favorite, but really I love all your choices and don't think you can go wrong. I've always adored Alistair, so that would be my top pick if one twin is a boy, but, again, I like all your choices.

January 12, 2017 8:22 PM

Marine, Marina and Mariana and Annemarie can we used to honor Marianne.

January 13, 2017 8:14 AM

This is such  great news! I love it when traditions can be adapted so as to allow freedom of choice, while still providing continuity with the past!

Leonora is a fabulous name. I think all of your other girls' names work well with Leonora, with the possible exception of Eliza... because Eleonora and Liza are both names, too, I feel like it's easier to get the names muddled. I would find this less problematic for different-age siblings than for twins, whose names will be more often presented as a package.

From Ivy, Charlotte and Phoebe, I think all of these are beautiful choices and you cannot go wrong. I would focus on which one you like best as an individual name -- if you had already named a daughter Leonora, and then later got pregnant with her sister, which name would you be most drawn to? I think that's probably how I'd go about making the choice between these lovely options, but if you're looking for more of a sibset cohesion, Leonora is a very stately name, and I feel that although Charlotte, Ivy and Phoebe are all two-syllable names, Charlotte's visual length and the fact that it doesn't end in -ee, makes it feel more substantial as a pairing.

Charlotte also has some nickname choices, like Char and Lottie, while I think of Ivy and Phoebe as relatively nickname-resistant names... and I'd find it pleasing to give Leonora's twin a name with some nickname potential given that Leonora has a wide variety of options in that realm, and I am a nicknaming sort of person who would be enjoying all of those options and calling my Leonora Leo, Lennie, Nora, Nori some of the time. That said, where there is a will there is a way, and especially if one considers middle name combinations and the possibility for non-name related nicknames or more creative options, I'm quite sure you could find a way to generate a fair number of nickname choices for Leonora's sister, even if she's Ivy or Phoebe... and this may be a complete non-issue if you are not someone who uses nicknames much and you'd be using Leonora in its full entirety all of the time.

As for honor names for a Marianne, I'd be a big fan of Marianne, at least if you're using it in the middle name slot. I think acrobatics to "adjust" the name are more needed if you're trying to massage the honor name into a name you love well enough to make your child's call-name, or to avoid confusion among close relatives... but if the name is going into the middle slot, that sort of conversion seems more unnecessary, and I feel it is maximally honoring to use it directly. Leonora Marianne sounds just fine to me, and Marianne is also "enough" name that it pairs nicely with the sleeker Ivy or Phoebe, too, and helps them match Leonora's heft (e.g. Leonora Mae and Ivy Marianne or Phoebe Marianne seems very balanced.)

January 13, 2017 1:59 PM

I'll put in another vote for using Marianne as a middle name to honor Marianne, unless you dislike it for some reason.

January 13, 2017 6:14 PM

As a twin myself, I heartily advocate having different initials for them, especially if they're the same gender. With boy/girl twins, it's not as important, as long as you use clearly-gendered names that don't sound too much alike; but if they're both girls or both boys, you need to do whatever you can to make sure their names/identities will not be conflated by distracted or lazy bureaucrats.

Also, I wanted to repeat what I noted upthread: it took me 44 years to realize that everybody in our family had names starting with J except me. Or rather, it took my sister 44 years to realize it; I'm not sure I would've ever noticed if she hadn't pointed it out. Just saying. :)

(As it happens, my name starts with M: Martha. Any interest? <grin>)

As others have said, the best honor name for Marianne is Marianne, especially if it's in the middle slot.

Of Ivy, Charlotte, Phoebe, and Eliza, I like Charlotte the best. Judging by the name popularity statistics, a lot of people agree with me. :) Other girl names you may want to consider (courtesy of the Name Matchmaker on this site): Adelina, Adelaide, Winifred, Georgiana.

Of your boy names, I love Theodore, though Leonora and Theodore do come dangerously close to being "omg twinsy matchy-matchy", which I heartily dislike. Leonore and Theodore would go straight over the line, in my book, but Leonora does have that extra syllable... just something to think about. Other names suggested by the Name Matchmaker: Clement, Ambrose, Rupert, Edmund, Godfrey, Julius, Archibald.

If you do end up having two boys and thus can't use Leonora, some boys names that could work as honor names (besides Leonard) are Leopold and Leander.

January 13, 2017 6:18 PM

(Just wanted to report that the idiotic spam filter was triggered in my case by trying to write "especially if they're the same [three-letter word for gender that starts with s and ends in ex]". The folks at Mollom are MORONS.)

January 14, 2017 12:13 AM

That must be why everyone on this site says gender instead of sex! I couldn't figure that out as it seems so forced sometimes. The other mods and I have discussed getting to the bottom of this but haven't taken much action so far. Please continue to let us know when you all have problems with the filter.

January 14, 2017 12:22 AM

Gender and That Other Word are not synonyms. In most contexts here gender is what is meant, since naming is a cultural artifact, as gender is also a cultural construct.

January 14, 2017 9:19 AM

I meant cases where the poster said something like "I'm due in three weeks and don't know the gender yet". I know some people are uncomfortable ever using the word 'sex' but it seems so pervasive here that I think the spam filter must be the reason for it. I don't think 'gender' is what is intended in cases like the sentence above.

January 14, 2017 9:25 AM

I disagree. With "gender reveal parties" and website search filters asking you to select which gender clothing or toys you want, I think that the example you gave is one where gender is exactly what the poster meant, despite sex being the proper word to use in that context. 

January 14, 2017 11:50 AM

Huh. Do you think that people who say "gender reveal parties" are making a political statement? I always assumed it was just that people were squeamish about using the word sex.

January 14, 2017 11:58 AM

When it comes to clothes, toys and names, gender is the right word. When it comes to reveal parties the other word is correct, because in the vast majority of cases that is what is visible at birth or before. Gender is manifest later.

January 14, 2017 4:34 PM

Yes, what Miriam said. I always found the idea of a gender reveal party so silly. Like, "Announcing, in 20 years our daughter will decide she's a femme!"

January 15, 2017 12:04 AM

I agree with you. I think that gender reveal got popular as the title because a "sex reveal party" connotes something altogether different!

January 16, 2017 1:01 AM

Yes. If you invite your friends to a sex reveal party and serve cupcakes with frosting inside, they're going to be a bit disappointed... even as they applaud your correct use of the words.

Regardless, it would be lovely if everyone would please send examples of things which are triggering the spam filter to bnwmod (at) gmail (dot) com

January 16, 2017 10:50 AM

Oh, I know the difference. I worded it poorly, but what I meant was that in daily life, sex isn't used and gender is, so 1) many people don't know the difference and 2) many people don't even think about the fact that gender might not be the right word in that context because the term gender comes automatically from exposure in several contexts.

Yeah, sex reveal parties would be a very different thing, more likely to follow a marriage than a birth.

January 15, 2017 12:40 AM

One other possibility is that people's input devices are censoring them. My phone keyboard's default settings block a bunch of words like sex. It substitutes "seed", which I find kind of funny. I've disabled those settings, but anyone living with them might have just adapted to avoid the verboten words.

January 15, 2017 1:10 AM

That's great news.

Another option for honoring your mother-in-law is to consider possible male variants or sound-alikes.

Marion is a traditional male name (famously John Wayne's real first name).  I wouldn't use it for a first name, but as an honor name in the middle slot I think it could work.

I also think, with the "dictionary"/surname spelling, that Merriam might work for a boy, at least in the middle slot. (Maryam/Miriam is a Mary cognate, the original form of the name.)

And in the unrelated, but sounds-similar and definitely masculine, category, there are Marius, Mario, Martin and Marvin. Also Merritt and Meriadoc, if you're more adventurous.