Spanish/English baby names- help!

Hi everybody!

My husband and I are expecting our first little one in January! We aren't planning on finding out the gender, so we need to come up with a boy name and a girl name. We have just started officially discussing names and we have already run into a problem! My husband wants to honor his Mexican heritage and many of his family members still speak Spanish at home, so we want and need a name that honors our heritage and works in Spanish as well as English. Unfortunately, the style of names that I love and that have been on my list since I was a teenager are more quirky, old-fashioned names. We're having a really hard time blending these two styles! It also doesn't help that our last name is a very near rhyme with any name that ends with the -ina sound, which is a large portion of the names that fit my style and also work in Spanish (ex: Marina, Lena). Our last name is a common Spanish last name, S@linas.

I've been reading the blog here for a long time and have been reading suggestions on other posts for ideas, but I figured it was time for me to ask the brilliant minds on here for some advice. :)

For starters, here's the names we've been talking about:

Isabella (pretty, DH loves it, but wayyyyy too popular for me)
Eleanor (we love this, but it doesn't honor our heritage)
Anna (family name)
Julia (we both like this, but not the Spanish pronunciation)

Boys names are where we really have trouble!
Henry (I love, DH not so much)
Noah (ditto)
James (we can actually agree on this one, but we don't love it)
Xavier (I think it works perfectly, but my husband refuses to consider it for whatever reason)
Luca (too "girly")

Suggestions please!!


June 27, 2012 11:07 PM

I'm not clear if the Mexican heritage is just your husband's, or if it is something that you share.  If it is only your husband's heritage, then I wonder if you shouldn't also use a name that honors your heritage, especially since I assume the baby is taking his last name.  Would it be equally acceptable to use EnglishFirst/SpanishMiddle as it is to use SpanishFirst/EnglishMiddle?  Or do you want Spanish names for both first and middle?  Or perhaps a firstname that is more traditionally English but with a nickname that works in both languages?  

Isabella-I actually like this for you, but I think I would prefer Isabel a little better.  

Lucia-I also really like this one for you.  

Eleanor-Do you like Leonor?  Per my question above if you both love this name, maybe you'd feel comfortable pairing it with a Spanish middle name?  Eleanor Lucia for example.  Or perhaps Eleanor with a Spanish family tribute name as a middle?

Helena/Elena-I like both of these for you, but I think Elena reads a little more Spanish.

Anna-I like this and think you can't go wrong with a classic.  If you really want to emphasize the Spanish heritage, you might want to consider Ana.  Although, if the namesake used the 2 N spelling, maybe that would be more meaningful than the traditional Spanish spelling.

Leila & Nadia just don't read Spanish to me at all.

Julia-if you don't like the Spanish pronunciation, and people in your husband's family still speak Spanish when they are togehter, I think you should scrap this one.  It's lovely, but it sounds like you aren't likely to consistently get the name you really want.

Of your boy names, it sounds like the only ones that haven't already been vetoed are Elliott, James and Leo.  None of these seem to particularly celebrate Spanish heritage.  I also wonder if you would get pronunciation of James that you want.  The J in James is likely to have the same problem as the J in Julia.  

Now I'm going to be a bit more blunt.  You say recognizing the Mexican heritage is important to you and your husband, but most of the names on your list don't read particularly Spanish to me at all.  In fact, the names you both seem to love (Eleanor and James) read as very traditional English names.  I think at this point, you need to decide if taste is more important than using a recognizably Spanish name.  There are plenty of ways to celebrate a cultural heritage that don't involve naming. When I started reading your post, I was expecting to see more names like Lucia, but I didn't.  This makes me wonder if you might not be better off just using a name you love.

June 28, 2012 1:53 PM

Sorry for the confusion- your suggestion of the Spanish first/ English middle is the exact balance we're trying to find, since we're having a hard time blending my style with the Spanish names we want! To clarify, I don't share his heritage, my heritage is sort of all over Europe, and I don't strongly identify with one particular culture. We have decided that it is more important to us to honor his heritage, but the middle name could be an English name possibly to honor someone from my family (Anna is the only possibility we have come up with for that) or simply because an English name fits better with my naming style. 

Thank you for your input on the names! 

By mk
June 27, 2012 11:15 PM

Are you looking for Spanish names?


Sofia (probably same problem as Isabella though)











June 28, 2012 1:56 AM

What about Lucia, but using Luz with Spanish-speaking family?


Or, for an off-the-wall suggestion, Elvia?  I had a Mexican-American acquaintance named Elvia, and I think it has a quirky, slightly old-fashioned sound.

For a boy, maybe Leopoldo nn Leo?

Or maybe Justino?

(It's a shame about Xavier, because I agree with you that it's a great choice for this situation.)

June 28, 2012 9:47 AM

I'm half-Mexican myself, so I understand where you're coming from. My first name is English, my middle name is Spanish.

Leonora is the obvious Spanish choice for Eleanor. Leonora S@linas flows quite well. I don't recommend Elena with your last name for matchiness, though. Anna is always good.

For boys, the first name that comes to mind is Diego. It's a James, it's Spanish, it's recognizable in English. Based on your boys' list, I bet you're looking for a softer, gentler name, and he's looking for a harder, stronger name (not liking Henry, Noah, finding Luca too girly...). Xavier is more Spanish, Javier is more Mexican. Other possibilities: Miguel, Leonardo (nn Leo), Alejandro, Matias, Nicolas.

Henry -> Hernando or Enrique, Elliott -> Eladio (meaning "The Greek," so maybe not)...

June 28, 2012 11:32 AM

Would your husband prefer Javier to Xavier?  I love the nn Javi, which I've mentioned before on the board (pronounced in Spanish of course).  It does read quite Catholic so maybe that's a turn off for husband?  Husbands and baby names are a hard combo.




Josue (I know one who goes by Sweh)

June 28, 2012 11:40 AM

Leonora seems like a good fit for your criteria and tastes in names! There are a couple of others which came to mind which I think might also fit the Spanish-friendly but quirky-old fashioned feel in English- do any of  Genoveva, Alma, Clara, Ines, Perla, Luna, Silvia, Estela/Estella/Estrella, or Paloma interest you?

On the boys' side, a good Spanish-yet-old-fashioned-quirky-English option might be Hugo. Others which might be what you're looking for: Oscar, Ruben/Rueben, Bruno, Oliver, Felix, and (maybe too quirky) Inigo.


June 28, 2012 2:15 PM

Thank you everyone for the suggestions! 

I absolutely love a lot of the names you have suggested- I have always loved the name Sofia, but it definitely poses the same problem as Isabella. It's a beautiful name, but the popularity is ruining it for me.

I know multiple people echoed the suggestion of Leonora, and it's definitely growing on me! I'll have to see what the DH thinks. Natalia, Alma, and Paloma are all awesome suggestions that are definitely on the long list now. The suggestion of Celia is spot-on, as I have always loved Celia and Cecelia, but it sounds way too similar to our last name. :(

For boys, I'm loving the suggestions of Matias, Ruben, and Hugo. The problem is that I don't find myself falling In love with any boys names! They're so much harder. 

DH has gotten on board with the idea of using Anna as a middle if we have a girl, to honor my aunt who recently passed. Unfortunately, most of the first names that we are looking at and in -a, and I don't think they sound very good with Anna. What do you all think?

June 28, 2012 2:29 PM

The part of your situation that I see as tricky is "honoring your husband's heritage." Because honestly, the 40% of kids at my children's school of Latino heritage (many of whom were born in Latin America, primarily Mexico), have names ranging from Athziry, Emely, and Kimberly to Alejandro and Carlos. Very few have what I would consider to be "traditional" Hispanic names (like the aforementioned Alejandro and Carlos). Kimberly, in fact, is the most common girls' name in the school, and all five little Kimberlys have Hispanic surnames. So if you want to name your child the way modern-day Mexicans name their kids, well, anything goes. The problem is that the sense you give of honoring his culture means names that his grandparents would have chosen for their kids, and those names are very out of step with current American (and Mexican!) tastes--and your taste. So I'd shoot for something that you like but that is not ridiculously difficult for Mexicans to pronounce. Names like Luca, Olivia, Cecilia, and Max should do the trick.

By Guest (not verified)
June 29, 2012 2:22 PM

I am half Mexican too!

Some of my favorite spanish names:


  • Estrella (Es-tray-ah) means star
  • Aracely
  • Allegra


  • Ignacio (I think Iggy is the cutest nickname!)
  • Rafael


June 29, 2012 4:51 PM

I have sort of the same problem .. Im from Southamerica but my husband is canadian so my kids have a strong english last name. I have chose english names for my kids, eventho we lieve in S.A .. yet some  issue i face often is mispronunciation and misspelling.. so Ive tried to come up with names that are english, yet very easy to translate or pronunce in spanish. 

Im currently looking for boys name for my third child and form my list I can suggest Gabriel and Samuel.  They are both english/Spanish and are beautiful and traditional in both cultures...

good luck!

July 2, 2012 1:33 PM

If you're looking to use a middle name Anna, would you consider using a double barrel or combined name?  It would be easy for your Spanish speaking relatives to pronounce and also on the old-fashioned trend.

Lilianna or Lily Anna
Yulianna or Yulie Anna
Anabelle or Anna Belle
Analisa or Analiese

there are tons of options if you like the style!

By Guest (not verified)
July 2, 2012 11:10 PM

I love this idea! I especially love the suggestions of Susanna (which would honor a close family friend) and Lilianna. Do you guys think that that would be considered close enough to Anna to be an honor name?

By Guest (not verified)
July 2, 2012 11:18 PM

This is SarahK not logged in, by the way!

July 3, 2012 12:03 AM

I think they are close enough to use as an honour name. i guess the most important thing is whether you do. I know lots of people honour someone by using a related name or even a name starting with the same first letter. If the people you are trying to honour (if they are still alive) think it is close enough, and you do, I think that is all that matters.

Oh and I LOVE Susanna! Lilianna is very pretty too.

July 2, 2012 7:00 PM

This is a fun challenge that I've been thinking of off and on all day.  Your last name is indeed problematic, every time I think of a good name for your situation (Cecilia, Ceasar, Eliana) it doen't sound that great with your last name.  

Have you thought of Oscar? It's well accepted in Spanish speaking groups, and it's a good, solid American name too. That's the best I have so far.  

By Guest (not verified)
July 2, 2012 11:18 PM

I have thought about Oscar, and I agree that it fits all the constraints. The problem is that I am having a hard time gatting past the Oscar the Grouch association. I know that it's not as strong of an association for people these days but I grew up watching Sesame Street and I don't know if the association will ever completely go away. I'll have to think about that one some more, and talk to the DH about it!

July 2, 2012 11:24 PM

Well, as a fellow Sesame Street viewer, I can tell you that when my first friend named a son Oscar, I couldn't stop thinking about the grouch and wondered why she picked the name. Well, even though I very rarely see her, that association has completely gone away. And by the time another friend named his son Oscar a couple of years ago, my first thought was that it was a cute name. Only a bit later did I realize that the grouch connection had been completely supplanted by the personal association.

If you like the name, it's usable. The grouchiness fades. Yes, you'll probably have people make a few comments here and there, but really, people make comments about most names. Oscar the Grouch was a cranky muppet, but when it came down to it, he had a good heart.

July 3, 2012 12:01 AM

Oscar is getting a bit of use where I am. 5 years ago I thought it was a bit odd due to the Oscar the Grouch association but now it just seems to be another name, and a cute one at that! I think you would get a couple of comments but I do think it is very usable.

By Guest (not verified)
July 17, 2012 1:23 PM

We  are in the same boat at our house. We went with Victor, which I now love, but wasn't sure about at first. Our short list included Oscar, Javier, andEzra. Ezra sounds gorgeous in Spanish! 

July 17, 2012 6:40 PM

I am in a similar position, with a Brazilian & American cultures, languages, pronunciations and personal baggage to juggle! So, accept my suggestions for whatever they're worth to you.

Boys: Alexandre, Andre, Antonio, Bruno, Cesar, Clement, Diego, Ernesto, Felix, Hector, Leonardo, Nicolas, Simon (two distinct pronunciations, and I find both handsome), Tomas (Those that end in the letter s might run into your LN too much.)

Girls: Adriana, Ariana, Emilia, Francesca, Eva, Helena, Isadora, Leona, Liliana, Natalia, Nina, Teresa, Vera, Veronica (We obviously love girls' names that end in the letter a.)

Good luck and best wishes! You'll find something you'll all fall in love with. And if someone introduces a nickname, that's their prerogative. My son Andr3 has been dubbed "Guggy" for unknown reasons by my daughter, and it's starting to catch on. Who ever knows what will stick?

January 12, 2013 1:48 AM

Hi everybody!

I just wanted to make a little announcement to everyone who helped out and gave advice! The naming struggles are over and our little one is here! She actually arrived two weeks early on the 27th, and she is now officially named Lucia Noelle! I went into the hospital Christmas night, and although she wasn't born all that quickly, we still thought a somewhat Christmas-y fit perfectly with Lucia!

Thank you everybody for your help :)

January 12, 2013 8:35 AM

What a beautiful choice! Congratulations!

January 13, 2013 4:01 AM

Congratulations on the birth of Lucia Noelle! Beautiful name.......enjoy every second of her :)