Update - she’s a girl

Hi all,

Thanks heaps for your input on my earlier post. The husband (let’s call him Tee Cee) and I were since thrilled to learn we are expecting a little girl, a sister to our two gorgeous boys. Even though we could agree easily on another dozen boys names, we can’t agree on one single girls name. Then last week, quite unexpectedly, Tee Cee admitted that he will love our daughter’s name whatever it is, because it belongs to her, and that his insistence on a name with a built-in nickname was pointless because very few of the many nicknames he uses for our boys are actually related to their names. He said I could pick the name. Success!

Except now I’m freaking out, and I want to revisit all my options to make sure I’m not missing anything.

In a perfect world, I’m looking for a Victorian or Edwardian-era name, something shorter, simple but sweet. Nothing frilly, cutesy or diminutive (its just not us!). Tee Cee is a teacher, so nothing common in Australia. I’m very open to porch-sitter names. Not another Star Wars name (Tee Cee won that debate twice already, plus the dog’s name)!

Our current list contains Mabel (my favourite), Elsie (it’s a diminutive, but I love it anyway), Alice (too popular? It’s certainly the safest option), and Lyra (not really vintage, and is Star Wars, but Tee Cee’s best suggestion).

If we were having a boy, he would have been Digby, Edward/Ted, or Wilfred.

Am I missing anything? Any suggestions or thoughts, wizards?

-Cee Cee


December 17, 2018 12:03 AM

Super jealous over here.  My husband and I have the exact opposite problem---we could agree on girl names for days; we're up to about 12 on our "short" list, but if we have a fourth boy it's gonna be bedlam.  And he HATES my favorite, so I'm 100% sure there will be no choosing of the name for me.

I don't know what's popular in Australia; where I live none of the names you mentioned would be considered popular.  Alice might be closest but even then you don't see it on little ones around here.  I actually don't know a single person named Alice or any of the others.  I think I like it best.  I'm intrigued by Lyra; I think it's pretty but definitely not porch-sitter.  I like Mabel okay; I'm not sure about Elsie as a given name but I still think it could work.

I'm going to suggest the following:

Joanna, Helen/Helena, Elaine, Hazel, Winifred (similar to Wilfred, maybe a yes?), Dorothea (or Dorothy), Sylvie

December 21, 2018 9:12 AM

Oh, good luck, I've been following your posts!

Winifred is great - we nearly named our dog Winnie. Hazel we both like, but we would muddle it with our eldest's name. Sylvia/Sylvie I adore but have agreed to strike off the list because of family connotations (my grandma who hates her name vs his mother's horrible old cat). Dorothy is on my long list (Dot!).

Thanks heaps.

December 17, 2018 3:59 AM

I like Elsie and Alice the best, congrats on your little girl - how exciting

what about Sadie, Hazel, Pearl, Beatrice, Eleanor, Ruby, Clara, Adeline, Ada, Ida, Sylvie, Beatrice, Claire, Lucinda, Genevieve, Josephine, Penelope, Evelyn,Lillian, Katherine, Cora, Gwendolyn, Cordelia, Matilda, Miranda, Susanna, Delma, Arabella, Clementine, Florence, Phoebe Marguerite, Esther, Ruth, Estelle, Rose

December 21, 2018 9:18 AM

Thanks, suzannembrown.

Esther, Ruth, Ada, Ida, Beatrice, Hazel and Cora are good suggestions.

I've always liked Matilda but it's sooo common around here. Evelyn is also great - Eve was our number one girl's name when our boys were born - but there are so many Evas and Avas and Evangelines and Evies around here that it just no longer feels special.

December 17, 2018 5:33 AM

First Congrats! It must be so exciting! I have a few name ideas below

Sylvia (super victorian, slightly diminutive but very rare where I’m from) Virginia, Alexandra, I like Lyra but think Mabel is OK but just sounds a bit odd. Maybe Edwina for the Edward connection?


December 21, 2018 9:23 AM

Thanks Maisie.

For a second I thought you were suggesting Maisie as a name itself, because Maisie was on Tee Cee's list so I said he could use it for a nickname for Mabel.

Sylvia I love, both for its sound and nature connection, but as mentioned above I've agreed to strike it from the list. Sigh!

Edwina is fun. I can just about quote the storybook Edwina the Emu (and Edward the Emu, of course), not sure if that's in its favour or against!

December 17, 2018 12:50 PM

Congrats! Nice job convincing your husband to let you pick the name. ;) You clearly have excellent taste, and your short list is great. I'm sure you're already aware that Alice and Elsie are in the top 100 in Australia, but if you aren't, would you rather have something less popular? 

I haven't read your previous post so someone else may have already done this, but I ran Digby, Edward, and Wilfred through the Name Matchmaker and used the Australian top 100 to filter anything too popular. Edith, Hester, Helen, Harriet, Hilda, Louise, Sybil, and Agnes stuck out to me (I may have taken advantage of your appreciation of porch-sitters (: ).

December 21, 2018 9:30 AM

Thanks NamesForDays, I'm not quite sure how I did it. I suspect he thought it would get him out of name discussions (he was mistaken, but now he just has to listen to my waffling without needing to provide as much input). Of course, he retains veto rights for anything that's "too out there" or is too connected to particular students (he's a teacher), so he sure gets a lot of say for someone who has bowed out of the naming process.

Agnes I love. On the list! And Esther I will ponder some more. Essie is quite sweet for a nn.

Our eldest is H@rry, which sadly knocks out Harriet.

December 17, 2018 12:56 PM

Oh I'm so thrilled to see Wilfred on someone else's list!

I would suspect that this means that you might be willing to consider slightly more porch-sittery territory than your current list of well-loved vintage ladies. However, consider it a thought exercise— it may be that looking elsewhere only solidifies your feeling that she’s a Mabel.

How do you feel about Mavis? I know little Mabels, and it's a very sweet name, but I like the edgier sound of Mavis and still feels largely undiscovered, and it has the Edwardian peak you're after in the US anyway. It did go up quite a lot in 2013 actually, enough for me to suspect a pop culture trigger, but it's still used at half the rates of Mabel and has fewer alternate spellings and sound-alikes. (Although Mabel itself is not such a massive smash, there are a lot of other ways to spell those sounds, and I find that I'm kind of weary of the -bel names in general due to a real bevvy in recent years where I live.)  

I like Lyra very much -- I don't think it needs to matter how much it meets your style criteria if it's a name that fits well. Would you consider Lorna? Even if you would NOT consider Lorna, I highly encourage reading perhaps as audiobook Lorna Doone, or watching the excellent swoon-worthy movie. 

Other slightly funky-clunkier female counterparts of Wilfred for me: Alva, Enid, Rosetta, maybe Selma or Hester or Sybil or Myrtle. I also know a little Opal and Zelda and Cora and have met a little Eulalia who went by Eula, and I know loads of Hazels too -- all of those seem like names that hit your pocket-sized vintage criterion with a little more gravitas and vintage effect than Mabel has for me right now. 

December 17, 2018 1:06 PM

I also highly recommend the blog British Baby Names for great lists of Victorian and Edwardian names to peruse to avoid that missing something feeling. Start here: https://www.britishbabynames.com/blog/2012/04/7-ways-to-create-an-edwardian-baby-name.html

December 21, 2018 8:07 AM

I've been a frequent visitor of this site for years - love it!

December 18, 2018 2:00 PM

Also want to pipe up if Mabel is clearly your favorite name but you're having panicky feelings about it now that you have a green light to use it, that might just be cold feet that you need to power through, but alternatively it might also be your brain telling you that while Mabel is in the ABSTRACT your favorite name, that it just isn't the right name for this your child or even for this particular child.

I had a similar experience with my daughter, where early on we were pretty sure she was going to use our long-term favorite name, but the further through pregnancy we got I just was not feeling like it was right. I'm very happy that I listened to that feeling, and that my spouse was willing to switch gears too, but other people are in the end very happy to use the name after a period of panicky feelings like you are describing.

To tell the difference I'd suggest putting Mabel on the table as a likely choice, but giving yourself permission to casually see other names for a while and see what you turn up with and if there's anything else that might feel right for your daughter's name. It can be a casual search because you already have a name you love in your pocket, and I think most people do feel good about getting to use their favorite names in the end once they're in place on a beloved child.

(Also, give yourself permission to start and cultivate a favorite name collection that does not necessarily need to be the collection of names that would feel right on your own children.)

December 21, 2018 8:06 AM

That's exactly what I'm trying to figure out. I'm hoping that by exploring names a little bit more, I might be able to figure out whether I'm simply feeling the panic of sudden naming freedom, or whether it's really not quite right.

December 21, 2018 8:27 AM

A lot of the names you've suggested are ones I've considered, or are on my long list.

We have already discussed Mavis at length. We both like it, however, it's Tee Cee's family nickname (it's a half-rhyme with his given name) and we will need to consider it much more before we can make a decision. 

Cora I love, but isn't great with our last name (think Beyonce's married monniker). Opal and Hazel are both fantastic suggestions, but perhaps a little close to our sons' names... I'm a shocker for mixing up names, they don't need to even sound similar, just be in a similar category for me to be muddled. Alva I do like and will mull over some more.

Myrtle is fabulous, but Tee Cee looked horrified when I raised it earlier (even after I pointed out it was his grandmother's favourite flower). I think there's a difference between picking a name he will grow to love, and picking a name that is completely beyond his comfort zone. It's a balance - sigh!

Lorna Doone is one of those books I've always meant to read, but never actually picked up. I will add it to my holiday list!

Thanks for your input!


December 17, 2018 4:32 PM

I love Alice!!!

Elsie is adorable!

I am in the U.S. so have no idea about Aussie names but some of my favorites that might be in your style -









December 17, 2018 4:46 PM

I think that if you love Mabel the best, and your DH is letting you choose, then that might be your girl's name. But I understand that feeling of not wanting to make a final choice - I felt like that with each of my kids' names. It always takes me a little while after they're born to get used to the name, too.

I do like Alice for you as well (in fact, I vastly prefer to Alice to Mabel personally) and wouldn't worry too much about how common it is (for what it's worth, I'm in Australia as well and the only Alice I know is my husband's 96-year-old great-aunt). I feel like it's a better fit with your boys'names, too.



December 21, 2018 8:36 AM

Thanks - our boys were named long before they were conceived, plus we didn't find out their sex before their birth, so I always kind of felt that nature had a hand in picking their name. Picking one name, instead of a boy option and a girl option, feels really different.

Alice is only in the top 30-something names for last year, but I suspect we will see a surge in our local naming pocket. I think I'm ready to be a little more adventurous this time around, as our boys' names turned out to be far more popular than they were when we chose them, and Tee Cee is a teacher... I still love it though, so it stays on the list!

December 17, 2018 7:21 PM


I absolutely love Mabel and think it fits everything you say you're looking for. That would be my top pick for you from your list no question. Lyra is actually my number one girls name and has been for years but it really doesn't have the vibe you say you want, perhaps a good contender for the middle spot? Alice is very sweet but it just doesn't feel exciting/interesting to me like your other choices. Elsie is cute but maybe not as "solid" of a name as the others, although I don't think that really matters if you love it. 

I would say try to control the freak-out and just go with your favourite! You don't want to waste this opportunity by second guessing yourself. :) 

December 21, 2018 8:47 AM

Ha! That's pretty much what I said about our list to Tee Cee just the other day!

Bub's middle name will be a family name that has been passed down my maternal line for generations. I didn't mention it before because don't care whether it flows or sounds good with the first name. The history, sense of place and honouring my Mum are all far more important to me.

December 18, 2018 5:52 AM

Reading back through your other post, I definitely think you should go with Mabel (how often is a name described as "perfection")? You love it the best, it goes well with your boys names, it isn't too popular but is easy to spell.

If you're looking in slightly fustier directions, I do like Winifred, Dorothy, Alma, Edith, Eudora, Beatrice (too frilly?) and Opal, or in keeping with Mabel, Mae and Flora have. 

I see that you like Ida... how do you feel about Ada? It's starting to make a comeback where I live and I love how short, elegant and adaptable it is.

Honestly though, Mabel sounds like the one.

December 18, 2018 2:12 PM

One of the Mabels I know has a sister named Ada! I initially was surprised because Ada seems like a much more serious name (thanks, Ms Lovelace for your legacy in computer programming!) and I would have initially paired Ada more with Hypatia than with Mabel, but I think they actually do go very well together from a sound perspective. Ada does seems like it's earlier on the comeback spectrum here where I live, too, but in revival especially among geeky parents.

December 21, 2018 8:53 AM

Thanks - that's exactly the direction I'm headed.

Ada is a great suggestion. But our dog is Vada ... I know a lot of people on this site don't see it as a problem, but Vada is very young and and I'm so easily muddled when calling out names! We have also knocked out Vera for this reason, even though we both love it.

Winifred is on our long list, as is Dorothy (Dot!), Alma and Beatrice (Bee! we have just installed a hive too!). Opal I hadn't considered before  - it's inspired, but I know I will muddle it with our second born... It feels really Australian too!

December 18, 2018 6:05 PM

Congratulations on your news!

I think you've gotten some great advice already about figuring out whether Mabel is really "the one". While you ponder that question, some extended ruminations on "antique" names:

Lyra doesn't have the immediate vintage vibe of some of the names on your list, but it is authentically Victorian, in the sense that it was occasionally used by parents in the Victorian era. In my archives work I've run across at least one woman named Lyra who was an adult in 1875 (I don't know how old), and another with middle name Lyra who would have been born c. 1880 (both in the same US small town, but I imagine there would have been a few in Australia or the UK, too).

Lyra actually fits right in with a lot of the names from the 1800s that I've seen (primarily from the middle of the US), which by and large are much less narrow than we tend to imagine nowadays. They also often had points of intersection with the modern liquid/raindrop names, though with less aversion to consonant clusters. For example, I've seen a lot ofcreative, mix-and-match liquid-ish names among students born/named in the late 1830s and early 1940s: Adeline, Adelia, Albina, Almira, Alnora, Amanda, Emily, Lavina, Lavinia, Lydia, Malvina, Roselda, etc. A generation later the more raindrop-style, short-and-sweet names begin to show up: Ada, Addie, Alva, Clara, Cora, Ella, Elva, Emma, Etta, Hattie, Ida, Letta, Myra, Nelly, Nettie, etc. Mabel really hits its stride well into that era (so girls born in the 1880s or so). I find it in proximity with names like Lenna, Leota, Lida, Lina, and Lulu as well as the more usual suspects like Alice, Maude, Bertha, Gertrude, Viola, and others that have been mentioned here (and of course some names like Mary, Elizabeth, and Catherine persist through every decade).

All of which is to say that I think Lyra is a good fit with your overall aesthetic, even if it doesn't seem as porch-sittery to the modern ear. If you want a slightly-less-contemporary-feeling option, Myra, Mira, Lina, and Lida share some sounds from Lyra and the rest of your list and all feel a bit more vintage than Lyra (and are similarly authentically vintage).

Alma and Myrtle are two other names from approximately the "Mabel era" that I think might fit. Both names had a very similar history of use in the US* in the Victorian/Edwardian era, peaking somewhere between at the end of the nineteenth century and then slowly declining for the first half of the twentieth. Alma managed to just-barely stay in the top-thousand names continuously since then, with a smaller rebound than Mabel has had in the past few years. Myrtle fell out of the list at almost exactly the same time as Mabel, in the mid-1960s, but hasn't popped back up yet (Mabel returned about five years ago). To me it feels about as porch-sitter-y as Mabel did about fifteen years ago. Sela is more in the Lyra category: a name I've come across in that era, but always rare and thus not necessarily familiar as a vintage name. (Selma might also be a possibility; I wouldn't use it in the US absent a significant and obvious Civil Rights movement-connection, but maybe it's less fraught in Australia.)


* I'm sorry to be so US-centric, unfortunately that's the only real data I have for that era. Along those lines, I should mention that I have no idea how most of these names would sound with an Australian accent, so my apologies if some of the "similar sounds" suggestions are ridiculous in an Aussie context!

December 21, 2018 9:03 AM

No need to apologise for being US-centric - this is a US site and reliable Australian data is super hard to come by. That's why we're all on here chatting to you!

I dug up similar information when I searched out Lyra, but I was not nearly as thorough as you - thanks so much! A lot of the names you mentioned are on my long list, so I will take the time to ponder them some more.

I suspect Mabel is more popular in the US than in Australia right now, although that's just an assumption because: our name data. Most people I've mentioned the name to have looked as though they're trying to hide how horrified they are, which both excites and worries me at different times.

December 26, 2018 3:51 PM

Wow! Reading this today was like reading my geneology chart! So, I thought I should share:

My aunts: Dorothy, Ruth, Adele, Eunice, Louise, Esther, Hope, Sylvia, and Lucille.

Their mother, my grandmother: Ellen Mabel (who went by Mabel because she thought Ellen sounded "too old!"

December 31, 2018 10:33 PM

Haha, thank you! Our own family histories served as inspiration for a lot of the names on my long list. Sylvia is my grandmother’s name and I’ve always adored it, but for various reasons we have agreed not to use it.

We also had a Dot (actually Dora, but you never mentioned Dora if you wanted the good bickies with your tea!), a Mildred, a Muriel Clara, Kathleen, Jessie, Phyllis, Dawn, Annie, Elsie, Elna, Noelene, Rae... I always thought they were a fun set of names.

December 31, 2018 10:24 PM

Great ideas! But sadly we know a Thea and a Maeve - just well enough to make giving our daughter these names a little too awkward... 

December 31, 2018 10:43 PM

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and positive responses.

A friend showed me her list from her last baby this week, and my heart fluttered when I saw Mabel on there (along with a bunch of other great names already on my list - her daughters are B0bb1e and 3d1th). So I’m very much still leaning towards Mabel, but going to keep my options open until closer to my due date - mostly because I’m very much enjoying playing with names! So if you think of anything, I’m still happily collecting ideas.

Happy New Year to you all!

January 6, 2019 10:21 PM

Can I ask about your sons' names? I am concerned that your very British porch-sitter names for your coming daughter will sound very different from the boys...because you mentioned that your husband got to give them Star Wars names? But then a post says one boy is H@rry? So maybe they're named for actors from the series rather than characters?

Based on the little I know of Aussie names, Mabel sounds like it will fit right in, but could be more popular than you want? But as we like to note here, a name gets popular because it is well liked. And if you love it, you love it. Go with it.