Rate my List <3

Hi All <3

My husband and I are trying for a baby so we have started working on a name list. Let me know what you rate and what you hate and why :) 


  • Violet
  • Isobelle
  • Pauline / Paulina
  • Diana
  • Mikayla
  • Elena
  • Cassandra 
  • Phoebe 




  • Leo
  • Jordan
  • Leigh
  • Jasper
  • Paul 
  • Dominic 
  • Michael 



June 19, 2017 3:59 AM
  •  Violet - dont like
  •  Isobelle - nice, prefer Isabelle,  very popular though
  •  Pauline / Paulina - ok
  •  Diana - pretty
  •  Mikayla - nice
  •  Elena - nice
  •  Cassandra  - love it
  •  Phoebe - nice

 Zoe - nice

  •  Leo - ok,  but very popular
  • Jordan - ok
  • Leigh - prefer Lee,  ok
  • Jasper - ok
  • Paul - good
  • Dominic - ok
  • Michael - good

Marcel - no

June 19, 2017 5:58 AM

I think this is a fine list of names; some I love (Marcel), some I happen to dislike (Pauline), but there's no real red flags.  Honestly, I think it might be better to hear more about what you and your partner do and do not like about these names, so that we can help you with your personal decision-making process.

June 19, 2017 6:48 AM

Thank you CM2530 :) We both like classic names that don't really date or go out of fashion. I quite like fairly historical names or names that have some meaning. If you have any others you think might add to our list let me know :) 

June 19, 2017 5:17 AM

I like Violet, Cassandra, and Phoebe very much.  Diana, Zoë, and Elena are nice, too, although my positive feelings for them are milder.

I love Isobel, and Isabelle and Isabel are fine, but Isobelle looks like it's either a misspelling or trying too hard to be unique.  I feel similarly about Mikayla--the only spelling i endorse is Michaela.

I like the Shakespearean pronunciation of Paulina (paw-LIY-nə), but it would be an uphill battle trying to correct it from paw-LEE-nə.  The latter pronunciation and the name Pauline sound too dated to fit a baby.

I'm a fan of Leo (or, better yet, Leopold!), Jasper, and Dominic.  I like Paul, too, though not as much.

Michael and Jordan seem boring (no offense intended to the basketball star).

Although Leigh is unis3x, it looks really girly these days because of all the bell tone girls' names ending in -leigh (Ryleigh, Kayleigh, Kyleigh, Charleigh, Everleigh, Hadleigh, Bryleigh, Marleigh, and Harleigh were all in the 2016 US top 1000).  Lee could work, i guess, but it doesn't feel very substantial.

Marcel is interesting--my impression of it is strongly French (i.e., foreign), but also dated...in France.  It isn't old-fashioned in the US, though.

June 19, 2017 6:44 AM

Thank you Bubblequeen! I like your points on spelling and now that I look at it Isobelle does look odd haha. And your basketball reference made me laugh so hard. My husband loves basketball hahaha. 

Our last name is French so I thought Marcel could be nice :) 

really love your feedback! Lots of good points in there! 

June 19, 2017 6:40 AM

Thanks all :) i should put a note - My mother died last year so I wanted to incorporate her name Pauline somehow. She didn't have a middle name just Pauline, she loved when people called her Pauly Or Polly. 

June 19, 2017 12:00 PM

Renewing your mother's name trumps sound or fashion. if it would be a bit painful to use Pauline or Paul as the call name, then slide it to the middle where the honor would remain, but there wouldn't the daily reminder of loss. While Polly, like Molly, is a traditional nickname, like Molly, I think it can stand alone and would be charming. Molly has had a bit of a revival, so I don't see any reason why Polly wouldn't work.

June 19, 2017 1:22 PM

Yes, I agree with everything Miriam has said.

Another option would be to use another name that Polly could be a nickname for, then use Polly as the nickname.  Polly (like Molly) was first a nickname for Mary, so any of the Marian names could work.  I could also see Polly as a nickname for something like Paloma.  

FWIW, I have a Polly in my family tree and her given name was actually Caroline Jane.  No idea how that one came about, but it did make tracking her over time a major pain.

June 19, 2017 2:05 PM

My sister has some interesting stories from our family tree about totally mismatched nicknames - think along the lines of Pete who turned out to be birth-certificate Andrew, that sort of thing. (The actual names were not Pete and Andrew.) I'm totally fine with nicknames that aren't spelled like a subset of the full name, e.g. Bob for Robert; and I think obscure-nicknames-of-nicknames, like Hob or Dobby, are particularly fun; but my sense of order and rightness gets majorly upset when Dobby turns out to have been named Jonathan at birth.

June 26, 2017 10:19 AM

I personally love Paulina, but I would be so excited to see a little Polly with a Marian name! Maria strikes me as particularly close to your naming style, and highly unlikely to feel dated anytime soon.

June 20, 2017 3:08 AM

I also agree with everything Miriam said, and join in the endorsement of Polly. I've also known girls named Polly with full names Olympia, Leopoldina and Appolline, although those all may be a bit out there for you. I've also seen it suggested as a nickname for Penelope and Paloma, or, of course, any of the Mary- names.

June 19, 2017 4:42 PM

I think definitely use the name Pauline and Paul to honour your mum - that would be so lovely


other names with the same meaning Paulina, Paulena Pauletta,  Paulana, Paula, Paulette, Vaughn

June 19, 2017 11:31 PM

Yes I think so too, or possibly as a middle name. I quite like the ring of Diana Pauline. 

June 19, 2017 4:01 PM

Violet - nice but I prefer Victoria and Vittoria more. 

Isobelle - Isobel and Isadora are better IMO. Isobel Vesper, Isobel Victoria or Isobel Vittoria would be great! 

Pauline is better for me. Nice name but I don't like Paul itself so I am just neutral about it. 

Diana - I LOVE DIANA! Omg.. Such a great name. 

Leo - gets really popular due to being an -o ending short name. Milo, Kylo and Arlo are other examples of it. What about using it as a nn? Leonard(o) nn Leo or Leopold nn Leo would be great. They are rarer than the nickname after all

Jasper - liek this alot. I also love Casper and Gaspar. 

June 19, 2017 11:31 PM

Haha I feel like Diana is winning the race for the girls! 

June 19, 2017 12:16 PM


Violet - Lovely

Isobelle - I was also going to say that it looks like a spelling mash-up. Isobel is great, or go with Isabelle, though I'm personally at saturation levels from Isabelle/a.

Pauline / Paulina - Between the two, I prefer Paulina. Do you want to honour your mother in the first name spot or would the middle feel good, too? Because Polly would be a great middle name with a lot of your other choices. I, personally, wouldn't use Polly in the first name spot because I don't care for nicknames as given names, but especially if your mom was called Polly, it would be a lovely tribute.

Diana - Timeless. Can't go wrong.

Mikayla - Either Michaela or nothing for me!

Elena - I, personally, wouldn't want a name with such pronunciation ambiguity

Cassandra  - I'm a fan. (I've seen others say that it feels dated, but I've never known any in real life, so I don't get that feeling.)

Phoebe - I get a feisty vibe from that name. I like it.

Zoe - Similar to Phoebe.




Leo - Very popular, but also simple and much-liked. Easy to spell, easy to pronounce.

Jordan - Feels dated to me because I know so many born in the '80s. (Though I 100% prefer seeing it on a boy's list, so it gets points there.)

Leigh - While Lee is unisex, Leigh is feminine. Now, if you choose to give your son a name typically given to females, great, but do so intentionally. (There were more Leigh-/-leigh names given to girls than I can easily count, but boys have Leighton (261 boys vs. 754 girls), Raleigh (89 vs. 168), Ryleigh (10 vs. 1877), Leighland (8 vs. 0), Bentleigh (6 vs. 25), Leigh (5 vs. 62), Rayleigh (5 vs. 158). If you want the sound Lee, go with Leo.

Jasper - Current, pleasant. I guess it feels a little like a more modern Jordan.

Paul - Classic. For me, it's boring, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I love that it would be honouring your mother.

Dominic - All Dominics I know are Italian, which is neither here nor there. It's a fine name.

Michael - Like Paul, it's a boring classic. I also know so. many. Michaels that I can't get excited about it.

Marcel - French. Doesn't do it for me, personally, but there's nother *wrong* with it.

June 19, 2017 11:34 PM

Yes I agree! Pauline for a middle name I'm thinking. 


I like the fiesty vibe from Phoebe :) I've always wanted a girls name to have a bit of kick to it. 


Good point about Leigh! In Australia we spell Leigh with the igh more than ee but I can understand the new trend of girls names with eigh on the end. 


And yes I can't stand girls called Jordan - it just feels so masculine! 

June 20, 2017 1:56 PM

Oh, I didn't know that you were in Australia! Even though I'm not American either, most posters are so that's my default assumption. 

I don't know if Australians have succumbed to the trend of tacking on "leigh" to any and all names to create a new, "unique" name, but in the US, that's a thing. There were approximately two billion variants in last year's list :) If where you live, Leigh is unixex, then it's perfectly usable. I do still prefer Leo, though.

June 19, 2017 10:42 PM

Violet: Very on trend right now (Victoria sounds really dated to me, and given the fact that I like in a major Victoria pocket I just can't get excited about it at all.). If your looking for a similar feel but less popular, might I recommend Viola?

Isobelle: I've always quite liked Isobel but I've always thought of Isabelle as a very preppy name in a bad way. Isabel has always been quite nice.

Pauline/Paulina/Paul: Did anyone else notice the huge jump in female Paul-based names last year? Paulina jumped up over a hundred spots (878-771) and Paula up from 889 to 824. Maybe that's just a fluke but it's interesting. Anyway, I love the idea of honoring your mother and I would really recommend it. Also, have you thought about Paulette? That's the French variant.

Diana: It's pretty solid, and I like the Wonder Woman connection especially as she comes more fully into the limelight.

Mikayla: Seems really out of place with your more classic names. Mikayla based names seem to be on their way out. The only spelling I saw rise was the more traditional Michaela, so might I suggest that spelling instead?

Elena: I have a strong negative personal connotation with this name, so I can't in good faith recommend it, but divorcing it  from that it's okay.

Cassandra/Phoebe/Zoe: I'm a big fan of Greek mythology based names so I'm a sucker for all of these.

Leo: While it's super trendy, I would still go with it on its own. Leopold is SUPER stodgy fussy old man and Leonardo, while a cool painter, is very distinctly a Ninja Turtle in the eyes of a lot of people. Leo on its own is very fresh.

Jordan: While I applaud its use as a men's name, I agree it's a little dated. It could still be a solid middle though.

Leigh: Yeah, I hate to admit it but thiss spelling reads pretty girly. Lee I'm hoping/thinking will stay masculine though.

Dominic: It reads really Italian to me, which might clash with your French last name. I've never been a big fan anyway. The French variant is Dominique which A) while unis3x still leans very feminine at least in the States and B) is pretty dated to the '80's, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Michael: You can't go wrong with it. It's not exciting, but it's very stable and friendly.

Marcel: Usually not a fave, but with a French last name I could see it working quite nicely. That said, I worry two very French sounding names might come off as too Frenchy, just keep it in mind. There's a line between charmingly native and cartoonishly nationally caricatured.

June 19, 2017 11:38 PM

I quite like Viola :) Thank you for that one! That could make it on the list.


Paulette I always think of an old grumpy lady hahaha. So perhaps not. 


Yes I'm a huge fan of mythological names so if you have any you would add let me know :) 


Dominique isn't bad, but I don't love it. Cool suggestion though! 



June 20, 2017 11:12 AM

I fully agree that honoring you mum is the way to go.  If you want to jazz it up a bit... what about Paola?  Italian variant of Paula.  There is also Paolo.  Soooooo dreamy! 

I am also a huge fan of Polly, such a delightful name.


June 20, 2017 11:23 AM

Paola doesn't seem very pronunciation intutiive (like Paula? Pow-la? Pa-o-la?), and Paolo is very cliched Latin Lover, a name only ever used in Harlequin novels, so I'd advise against it.

As for other Greek mythological names, I came up with Athena (At least here in the States it's really rocketing up in popularity, fitting as she's a kickass goddess), Penelope (wife of Odysseus and a major player in the Odyssey, another one that's getting huge, warning that it might become the next Chloe), Daphne (maiden who rejected Apollo's love and chose to become the first laurel tree), Calliope and Thalia (the muses of epic poetry and comedy respectively, Thalia also being the name of a different goddess of beauty. Also, speaking of the muses, if you want a really crazy way to get the nickname Polly there's Polyhymnia, the muse of hymns), Maia (the titaness mother of Hermes), Selene/Luna (the Greek and Latin moon goddesses respectively, also ephitets of Artemis), Aurora (Roman goddess of the dawn), Iris (more commonly used as a floral name but also the Greek messenger goddess/goddess of rainbows), Flora (ditto but also a Roman flower goddess)

By EVie
June 20, 2017 7:35 PM

I'd be interested if you could cite any particular Harlequin novels with Paolo as a Latin lover. If they do exist, the authors are not doing their research because it's not a Spanish/Portuguese name at all, it's Italian. The Spanish version is Pablo and the Portuguese is Paulo.

June 20, 2017 9:01 PM

FWIW, I think "Latin lover" generally refers to someone of an Italian persuasion. Latin, after all, is the language of the Romans, and the most direct descendants of the Romans in today's world are the Italians.

Regarding not doing the research, though, I find that if you know anything about the history of a particular place and time at all, you simply can't read historical fiction about that place and time. They always get something wrong. Like, I encountered a young-adult book set around the life and times of Haydn, written by someone with a PhD in music history. Sounds lovely... until I opened a random page and there was a Hungarian boy named Zoltán. (Yes, complete with diacritic.) That's just so completely and utterly Wrong! for mid-18th century Hungary that I simply couldn't bring myself to try to read the book.

By EVie
June 20, 2017 9:16 PM

See, I don't usually associate that usage of the adjective "Latin" with Italian unless we're talking about the ancient Italic tribe the Latins, which I'm pretty sure we're not here. I'm Italian, and I definitely would not use that word to describe myself or my family. I would use it in the same type of circumstances in which I would use Latino/Latina, i.e. Hispanic. Latin music, Latin dance--these usually refer to salsa and tango, not anything Italian that I know of. 

June 20, 2017 10:04 PM

I read medieval historical fiction expressly for the pleasure of pointing my finger at all their ridiculous errors. Same goes for non-fiction about the Middle Ages written by people who don't know what they are talking about (looking at you, Barbara Tuchman).

June 20, 2017 11:35 PM

Miriam, would you consider perhaps a blog, podcast, or youtube channel in which you enjoy finger pointing with an audience who could learn from you while you enjoy error-spotting? Because I would really enjoy it, selfishly.

June 20, 2017 11:52 PM

Alas, I am past such things. I take meds that keep my heart beating for the time being, but scramble my brain amd erode my memory. I am most definitely not what I used to be. I can handle the occasional wee post, but a sustained effort happening no longer.

June 21, 2017 3:15 AM

I am sorry to hear about the med side effects, but know we treasure your contributions here to the extent that you feel able, Miriam!

By EVie
June 22, 2017 4:34 PM

I second this :) And also that I would have been absolutely delighted by a blog dedicated to critiquing historical accuracy in fiction. 

(Also, this is precisely why I write fantasy and not historical fiction, though I love reading the latter... I know I would make a ton of errors that better-informed readers would catch).

June 22, 2017 5:19 PM

Once upon a time when I still had a functional brain, I wrote quite a bit about the Middle Ages as depicted in children's fiction and non-fiction. My biggest beef about the fiction was that the characters and world view that appeared therein was thoroughly modern. All that was medieval was the costumery. I once had a conversation with a woman who wrote children's medieval fiction; she told me that her publisher forced her to change names and other details from authentically medieval to modern.

As an example of part of what I see as a problem: one of the books that most influenced me when I was young was Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. I had the old Nobel Prize edition translation. When a new translation came out, claiming to restore material omitted from the earlier edition. I was very eager to see what had been deleted, maybe material deemed too x-rated. Turns out that what was omitted were substantial passages about theology and philosophy, very suitable for the medieval world view, but apparently not considered to modern taste.

Take the depiction of female characters. The common opinion is that medieval women were completely subservient to men and had very little access to the public sphere. I used to give presentations to gifted middle school classes, and the boys (very few girls in the classes) were incensed when I talked about the achievements of medieval women. The idea that medieval women had significant achievements in many fields was anathema to them. But the girls in the current historical fiction are almost universally depicted as mini-feminists, definitely anachronistic.

Not surprisingly, some authors do their homework, and a great many don't.

By EVie
June 23, 2017 12:15 PM

I think unfortunately, market pressures have a strong influence on some of these depictions. Readers want their heroines to be proto-feminists, so that's what the publishers are buying. Publishers also want to reduce word count as much as possible, so extended philosophical digressions that don't have a direct bearing on the plot will almost certainly get cut, unless the author is of George R. R. Martin's stature and will sell no matter what. 

I would have expected there to be enough names that are authentically medieval but accessible to a modern reader to achieve both ends. Did the author say whether she pushed back against the publisher at all? My understanding is that veteran authors have a bit more leverage to say no to changes, while new authors are kind of at the mercy of their editors, but it seems like there should be room for compromise in many cases.

June 23, 2017 12:49 PM

I don't think word count had anything to do with the editing of Undset's trilogy. The omitted passages were a tiny fraction of a very long text. That was, so to speak, the official edition published when she won the Nobel Prize. I think it had to do with a certain hostility to religion. Undset was a Catholic convert, and that's a very Catholic book. The Nobel Prize committees have a definite left wing bias, which is certainly why Borges was never recognized who above all should have been on the literary merits. 

If the author I talked to pushed back, it was without success. My view is that there is little point in writing an historical novel, if the only nod to history is the "clothing." If you want a feminist heroine choose a setting where feminism is a thing. Write about a junior suffragette, not a medieval peasant. Same goes for"medieval" heroes who are fighting for "freedom" (looking at you, Braveheart).

And you are right. There are plenty of medieval names still in common use, and these days lists of authenticated names are readily available via Google. No excuse!

June 21, 2017 9:08 PM

Keep in mind that the people who write Harlequin romance novels tend not to do a whole lot of research. :)

Also, I hate to keep dragging this off topic but I thought "Latin Lover" could go either way, either Italian or Spanish/Portugese/Latin American. I thought it could either mean Latin as in the language or Latin as in Latin American.

Also, I totally forgot that they just did a blog post on Greek mythological names:


June 22, 2017 11:23 AM

I had the same understanding of the term. I don't get the Latin Lover thing from Paolo, but I also don't read that genre of books. The only name I actually associate with that stereotype is Fabio, but even then, I know a Fabio in real life and have zero trouble dissociating his name from the flowy-haired beefcake and would have no trouble seeing it on a kid.

June 22, 2017 1:18 PM

Some of you know that I definitely read this genre. I have even met Fabio in real life, pilgrimaging to a Whole Foods in which he was hawking Whey Protein Powder to pose for pictures with him and our then-baby and then-toddler, super-jetlagged, right after we returned from trans-Atlantic travel. (Anyone who needs pictoral evidence to believe this can email the bnwmod@gmail.com account). Anyway, I find Fabio and Paolo to be totally usable names. As evidence to support this thesis, I can submit that I have met people with these names without even thinking of the Italian Business Mogul's Virgin Secretary's Secret Baby genre... despite, as I've said, my abundant familiarity. I would be not even a little bit concerned, and the pronunciation of Paolo actually seems clearer to me than Paulo because of it's distinctly Italian nature. 

I love the idea honoring a Polly with any of the Paul- variants, whichever is most appealing and best suited to the sex of one's child. 

June 22, 2017 1:29 PM

I have a bookshelf in my kids' bedroom dedicated to books with their names, and this thread has inspired me to go ahead and trawl the cheesy romance genre for additions. If you did have a Paolo, yes, you could add "The Italian Surgeon Claims His Bride" and "Virgin: Wedded at the Italian's Convenience" and "The Italian's Convenient Wife" (actual titles)... but you know what, I am running my kids' very unusual names through the harlequin.com search box, and I'm finding for my daughter "The Texan's Reluctant Bride" *and* "Castle of the Wolf" (a twofer, since it's also my baby's nickname) and two others, and for my middle son "The Baron's Governess Bride" and "Her Celebrity Surgeon" and "His Unusual Governess"). Bottom line, a whole lot of these novels have been churned out, so you will find some that feature your kid's name unless you have chosen some eyepoppingly unusual or porchsittery names (my poor eldest and youngest sons, deprived). When I first started dating my now-wife, I bought her one that featured a heroine who shared her first AND last names!

June 22, 2017 1:39 PM

I know that I'm not the only one who went and searched for her kid's name! I got: 

-- Lord of the Beasts (not bad)

-- Unwed and Unrepentant (my favourite!)

-- Magic in Vienna (meh)

-- The Betrothal (more meh)

-- Winter Woman (her birthday *is* in January...)

-- Four Weddings and a Sixpence (amusing)

June 22, 2017 5:11 PM

Hah! I have run across two of my sons' names in romance novels "in the wild", and wouldn't be at all surprised to find the other two, as well. (Actually, the baby's name is in Jane Austen, but not for a hero, alas...the one who is only as much better than Wickham-types "as folly than vice".)

Of course, hot baby names are also almost guaranteed to pop up in romance novels, for both boys and girls—if you're hearing it on the playground, you will almost certainly see it in a romance novel.

So, question...does anyone else have a hard time reading the smexy scenes with their children's names in them? My brothers' names are bad enough (all three are romance hero staples), but I get even more ooked out when it's my own child.

At one time I actually started a spreadsheet of romance hero names...while virtually anything can be fair game, there are some definite patterns and trends over time (whereas heroine names are much more variable). You show me a Devlin Hunter or Hunter Devlin, and I'll show you a tall man with tight abs, chiselled jaw, and luxurious eyelashes—British/corporate title, stetson, or superpowers optional ;-). Others I recall being top-picks include Lucas/Luke, Nick and variants like Nico, anything that starts with Cam or Con...basically, that hard-C sound is popular; angelic names like Rafael and Gabriel (and their nicknames Rafe and Gabe); nearly-demonic names like Lucien and the above-mentioned Devlin; etc. I would not put Paolo in the "noticeably popular with romance authors" category, even for the "passionate Mediterranean" type, though Marco probably is. Oh, and Dominic! I mean, is there a more "alpha" name than Dom?

On the flip side, some characters are immediately identifiable as the loser who won't end up with the girl by their name—Jeff is extremely unlikely to be the alpha hero, and that fiance Gary? will *not* be marrying Elli once Jake appears on the scene.

By mk
June 20, 2017 12:05 PM

I love the suggestions of Paolo and Paola! I know several people with those names.

June 20, 2017 4:44 PM

The Paul* names are a mixed bag in terms of rising/falling:

yob2015.txt:Paulina,F,314 --> yob2016.txt:Paulina,F,367 
yob2015.txt:Paula,F,310 --> yob2016.txt:Paula,F,346
yob2015.txt:Paulino,M,14 --> yob2016.txt:Paulino,M,21
yob2015.txt:Paolo,M,57 --> yob2016.txt:Paolo,M,61

FALLERS:yob2015.txt:Paola,F,383 --> yob2016.txt:Paola,F,336
yob2015.txt:Paulette,F,95 --> yob2016.txt:Paulette,F,78
yob2015.txt:Pauline,F,77 --> yob2016.txt:Pauline,F,61
yob2015.txt:Paul,M,2020 --> yob2016.txt:Paul,M,1921
yob2015.txt:Paulo,M,67 --> yob2016.txt:Paulo,M,63

I wonder if Paulina Rubio's exposure on Jane the Virgin is responsible? Or just the enticing nature of the -ina ending. :)


June 22, 2017 11:25 AM

I LOVE Jane the Virgin but forgot about the references to that person until you mentioned it and had to look her up to refresh my memory. I think that the ending likely has more to do with its rise that the show (but, of course, the exposure couldn't have hurt it!)