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Okay: I am confused! Let's back up:
1. You want to name baby after your late father James, but doesn't work on a girl (I 100% with your husband on that!).
2. I am totally lost on why Mary or May has anything to do with James. Or is that just a name you like?
3. If you are going to call her May, then why are you naming her Mary? I get nicknames when the full name is a mouthful like Penelope, but Mary doesn't need to be shortened so what's the point?
Amidst this confusion -- there are a few girl names that are a more explicit nod to James. Like Jamie! Although often a nickname, I think it works perfectly well as a full name. Another fun fact: Etta James' real name was Jamesetta Hawkins. You could also do something like JAnine MESila or something -- note that first letters of those two names add up to James.
Is there another way you could honor your father instead of his name exactly? For example, his favorite.... something? My father was Richard which doesn't translate to girl honor names either, and in the end I middle-named my daughter after my grandmother. But I considered Rosetta to honor dad, both because of the R beginning and because he was a linguistics professor (a la "Rosetta Stone"). It seemed like a good workaround, although I didn't go with it in the end. The point is, there might be other ways to name your daughter after your dad.
For the record, I love and adore the name Mary and think it is long overdue for a comeback.
To my American ears, Aitziber is definitely unusual! I would also assume male, and probably assume it's a family surname or something, or possibly Persian. That said, if you love this name go for it! I think there are a lot of fun girl nicknames that could spin off from this, including Birdie and Zizi. I also know an AZ (pronounced like letter A plus letter Z, as in AY-ZEE. His full name is Aurangzaib which is a bit long.)
Another vote for Vivianne! I actually prefer the name Alice, but it's a bit too matchy-matchy with Arielle.
It comes across like somebody just didn't know how to spell Augustina correctly. I would go with either Augustina or Agnes rather than try to combine. If you are aiming for the nickname Aggie, Augustina works perfectly well as long form of her name.
I agree that it would be nice to tie to your Chinese name Wee Eu, which is indeed a bit tricky in English. How about Willem, Leo, Ian, Winslow, Wilmer?
Agree with the others. It's not my kid, but I really dislike Koltyn as a girl name. It seems like one too many bad naming fads all rolled into on.
Colton is a popular boy name? Where and when?
Bennet and Reuben also get you to Ben, if that's what you are ultimately aiming for.
You can also get to Sam via Samson or Solomon.
On your list, I actually really like Thomas for you, especially since you lost your dad so young. Like Joseph, it totally works as a full standalone name - not too formal - but Tom/Tommy is always there for something really short, sweet, and fun. If you don't like Auggie or Gus, I think Augustin is too risky. And I agree Peter with an -er surname won't work (although coincidentally, my cousin's sons are Joseph & Peter!)
Other names in your vibe that come to mind are Nathan/Nathaniel, Stephen, Mark, James, Silas, Lucas.
Both are lovely names, no red flags. I personally prefer Grace, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Isla. My daughter's name is tricky to spell, and yes while we do have to correct spelling/pronounciation regularly, in the end it's not a big dea
Have you considered Graciela as a way of combining your two favorite names?
How about Anya or Anita as alternatives to Annika? I also know a Nika, not sure if it's a nickname or not. I think Anita is gorgeous and long overdue for a comeback. I would put Eileen in that same category too, and since it's a family name then perfect! Annika (etc) + Eileen is a bit sing-songy though. If Eileen is a family name... any way you might be interested in a mash-up like Analeen? Or how about Eileen as a first name?
If you're grooving on Tessa but it's not quite right... Tess works as a standalone name, and Tasha is another good alternative. I strongly urge avoiding Natasha as due to widespread and horrific trafficking in women from former Soviet Union, it's become global slang in many countries for white, ahem, escorts. I know a Natasha who lives in Dubai who seriously had to abandon her first name altogether. It was impossible to politely operate professionally or personally, and now goes by her middle name.
I love Maiwen! And since it's a middle name, so what if it's a bit out there? You love it, it won't be used much, so that's that! But if you're kicking around for alternatives, Morgan and Morganna are gorgeous. I am currently now voting for Anita Morgan. Other spin-off names from your list: Rowena, Rhiannon, Sasha, Romy, Irene, Monique, Carys, Cerridwen.
Let me back up a bit from "I need a name" and recap the dynamics as I understand them, based on your brief post.
Husband chose baby #1's name, and you quickly agreed. And now it's your turn and are paralyzed. I also gather you may be over-thinking things in a way that is overshadowing your feelings (i.e., "what names make my heart sing?") and moreover your only criteria are "short" and "masculine" which leaves you with about a million names to choose from. Am I reading this correctly?
How about your husband makes a shortlist of name, and you pick one from the shortlist? Alternatively, can you add some more criteria? Family name, ethnic heritage, nature name, literary name, place name, science name, SOMETHING that is sentimental to you somehow.
Ah, well if you don't actually like James/Keira for baby #2, that's another matter.
Can you do the shortlist option? Like partner makes a shortlist of names for baby #2, and you help choose one boy/girl name from each?
Another crucial question: you indicate that you love Milo, and he likes it but has odd catch that "only if there's a name that goes with it for baby #2." Are you, ummm, SURE that he actually likes Milo? This sounds like caveman-speak for "I'm not crazy about Milo but I can live with it but really want a better name next time." To him, Milo might be in same ballpark as James/Keira are for you, but he might not want to veto outright if your heart is set on it. I would really say ball is in his court to define what is a name "that goes with Milo" for baby #2.
Note: you want Milo, he wants James. How about MILES as the perfect compromise name?
Nice to carry on E tradition, but I think it's best to avoid names that are too matchy with your boys'. Elijah and Elizabeth have same first syllable; cutting out the girl EL names will narrow your options. Then suggestions like Erin are too much like Ethan.
Edith, Emily, Emery, Esther, Everly, Estelle, Enid, Edelle, Esmé, Eve, Evette, Eugenie. Eriel, Emerald all keep the E tradition, but still stand out from the way your boys' names begin and end.
Just to recap: You love Milo, but not sure about names for baby #2 somewhere down the road. Partner's favorites are James or Keira.
How about this: you get to name your firstborn son Milo, but for baby #2 your partner is in driver's seat. S/he gets James or Keira (or other names that they choose, although you get reasonable veto if you just don't liike one of the names). Another workaround is for baby #2, partner gets to make shortlist of name, and you can participate in choosing which name from the shortlist. But the range of choices are theirs.
I think this is a nice compromise that is fair to both of you.
If Layton if the name you really love, then go for it.
If you are deciding between Layton and something else (say, randomly, Connor), then the similarity between Mason and Layton = your deal-breaker.
I agree with Molly that Julianna paired with an A middle name is just going to run together awkwardly, unless you zero on on a workaround like Audrey (nice call!) where the a in Julianna sounds totally different from the a that begins the middle name. In general however, unless there is a compelling reason (like Julianna Audrey shares intials with grandpa Julien Arnaud), how about shift the A middle name to Ruby? Otherwise, how about Julianne paired with an A name? Oooh, I am now crushing on Julianne Alicia.
I don't quite get the bodice-ripper vibe from Ruby Steele exactly, but both are word-names and those can be awkward to pair together. Does Rudy or Rory appeal instead?
You should go with the name that makes your heart sing. From the way you wrote your post, it sounds like you prefer Lillian / Lily but are overthinking it. Both Elizabeth and Lillian are lovely names and there are no red flags. For the record, Elizabeth is near the top of my list of boring-hohum names, but am a big fan of Lillian. But the point is: this is not my baby, it is YOUR baby. Which name do YOU like more? Forget the charts.
It is also more than possible to split the difference. Queen Elizabeth's family nickname was Lilibet. ;)
I love this post! I worked in Afghanistan about a dozen years ago, so I'm smiling all over.
Re: Afghan heritage -- it is such a multicultural country that it may be helpful to clarify if your partner's family is of Dari, Pathan, or what heritage. These are all completely different sets of names. That said, my favorite Afghan boy name is Javed (jah-ved) which sounds super-cool in English. Syris/Cyrus of course, hits both Persian and European boxes. For girl names: Mariam, Layla, and Ayesha work gloriously. You might also consider a long-form name in one language which shortens into a nickname in another. Examples include Babak --> Bob, Rafael --> Rafi, and Alistair --> Ali.
You seem to like JUL names. Anjuli and Manjula are both Indian girl names, you might look into whether there is an Afghan variant? Zara is also a terrific crossover name: a variant of Sarah found in both Muslim countries and Eastern Europe. There are also quite a few names in South Asia that shorten to Ash, including Ashwin, Ashok, and Ashraf. Ash names are trendy in English, so this is another great way to span heritages.
I agree that it's a heavy burden for a child to carry a dead sibling name. Middle name spot, yes. Or perhaps... Skyla? That is pretty, incorporates Kyle but has a sky/heaven feel to it as well.
More Olivia alternatives: Sylvia and Lydia. If not Isla.... how about Idella? It was my great-grandmother's name and I've never heard it anywhere but our family tree, and it's a stunning name. There is also Ida.
And how about Gowan instead of Cohen? DEFINITELY Cohen is a no-no.
I think you have a fine list, but am a bit mystified by your concerns about popularity of some names. Your names are familiar but nothing like Jennifer-and-Jason-in-the-70s. The one exception is Alivia -- sorry, I just don't think it flies as "not Olivia"and yes that is a very popular name. Harper is... familiar but NOT a dime a dozen name!
A couple of alternatives: Lila and Bram (evocative of Isla and Graham, but distinctive from what you're trying to avoid). Rowan and Roland could be Owen alternatives. I am not a personal fan of "no" names especially on a toddler. This has a lot to do with my cousin's son Bo who seriously thought his name was NO BO NOOOOO BO NO NO NO BO NO!
If you're in deal-breaker land, you might consider how many children you want? If you REALLY like one and your partner REALLY likes the other, you could play let's make a deal. I also think it might be fun to just say Cameron regardlless of boy versus girl!