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December 18, 2018 03:05 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 13, 2018 12:01 PM
In Response to Help with dog name!

Ooh, I like that idea. Maybe Phlox K. Passiflora?

My mind actually went a different geeky direction; as a name, Phlox reminds me mainly of Dr. Phlox, from Star Trek: Enterprise. I wonder if it would be heard as "flocks", though, especially on a dog with herding instincts?

December 11, 2018 01:51 PM
In Response to Help with dog name!

I'm so sorry about your loss, and so glad that you have a new puppy to love and name.

Myrtle and Twyla jump out at me, because I have an Auntie Myrtle (mostly known as Myrt), and Twyla was the name my son was campaigning hard for if our youngest had been a girl. He got the name from a DiscWorld novel (Hogfather), so there's a bit of a literary connection there, if not exactly children's literature. In spite of my auntie, I also somewhat hear "Myrtle the Turtle", so I think that would be an especially great name for a slow-poke dog or else a real speedster, in the spirit of ironic naming.

For an offbeat person-name that's also a children's book character, maybe Sophronia, nn Phronsie? (From Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, a very old favorite in my house.) If you give your dogs second names, Sophronia "Phronsie" Phlox seems especially appealing.

In the category of obscure botanicals, for some reason Lobelia, nn Lola, springs to mind. Spell it L'eau-la for a Frenchy water connection :).

For an alpine lake name, maybe Geneva?

Good luck, and please keep us updated! Puppy pictures are welcome at the bnw mods gmail account as well as baby pics ;-).

December 10, 2018 10:34 PM

You have a really solid list. The only ones is have reservations about are Augustus, just because it does feel awfully close to Atticus to me, and maybe Dominic. I share some of Lucubratix's associations, plus I'm old enough that Dom Dillon sounds a lot like it should be Dom DeLuise. Neither of those things is a deal breaker, though.

i was reminded of the name Morris recently, and thought of you--it feels a bit like completing the set with your boys' names plus Silas, and personally I've always liked the nickname Morry (though it does repeat an initial).

I agree that Seth stands alone and fits the sib-set just fine, but if you want a long form and are willing to get a little adventurous I think you could derive Seth from Nazareth. Or Zenith, though I prefer that as a girls' name.

December 7, 2018 06:44 PM

Congratulations! I love the name, and double-congratulations on expert navigation of the naming decision. (Also, I'm picturing a beautiful floral baby announcement.)

December 3, 2018 04:23 PM

I don't know if this would be a problem in the  UK, but in the US I would stay away from anything like Flo-T as a nickname. (Sometimes a floatie is a flotation device for children, but often it's something gross floating in your drink or toilet.)

December 3, 2018 10:18 AM

Congratulations!!! And welcome to two babes with great names and great name stories.

As another graduate of the NICU-twins club, I'll also say please feel free to post or email the mod account (bnwmod at gmail) if you'd like to commiserate!

December 1, 2018 07:50 PM

Hmm, yes, robbin' Peter is definitely sub-optimal. Maybe that's why Peter is definitely the name for Baby B already? On the Sherwood theme, I didn't mean that it was something that would be problematic publicly, just that it's something I would notice if I were naming my own kids, and would want to be sure I was OK with. (My husband would find it a big plus, probably.)

December 1, 2018 10:16 AM

Chiming in a little late to say congratulations!! Fingers crossed that you are concluding a safe and easy labor as I write :-).

If you haven't settled on names already by the time you read this, here's my 2¢.

I'm also in the Leszek camp, though as someone upstream mentioned I'm not exactly sure how it's said. It's distinctive, and pronunciation doesn't matter that much in the middle. But of course sentiment trumps all.

The other decision is much harder. I like all three names in isolation, but on the whole I think I like Anders best with Robin. I do see a bit of the Robin Williams issue, and also I think if he goes by Will you'd really be doubling-down on the Sherwood Forest theme (by itself Will doesn't remind me of Will Scarlett and Robin is only about a third Robin Hood, but together they read very "merry men" to me--ymmv). I also don't love the flow of Anders Peter; is there any chance that you would want to think about swapping middle names?

One other thought--though I don't love Robin Aron as first and last, I do rather like Robin & Aron as brother names.

December 1, 2018 09:33 AM

I wondered a bit if that might be a problem. This Q&A about English suggests that word-final "-eh" is not a very natural sound for most English-speakers, so it tends to become a schwa in normal speech.

In any case, congratulations on your daughter, and (almost) the highly successful conclusion to your name search! I've been secretly pulling for Zinnia, and both of your final choices are winners. 

November 30, 2018 03:54 PM

Congratulations, Auntie! And good going on the expert name predictions, since I see Eva was your first guess :).

November 25, 2018 10:56 PM

There are sort of two questions here. 1. Would we, personally, use the name for our own child or 2. If we were in your position, would we use it for your coming child.

I think the answer for 1 is going to be no for most of us, but that's probably the case for pretty much any name you suggest. We're a bunch of name enthusiasts with our own particular styles and criteria (has to honor a family member/can't honor a family member/has to start with G/can't start with G/shouldn't be in the top-thousand/should have an established history of use etc.), and any given name isn't going to tick all the boxes for all of us.

So the real question should be whether Diana ticks all the boxes for you (and your partner if relevant). We can help with that a little bit by pointing out whether there are any factors you may have overlooked.

In the case of Diana, I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't use it. It has some strong namesakes in the goddess, and the princess. But I don't think it's the kind of name that will ultimately be dominated by a single association (like, say, Cher or Miley). Off the top of my head, there's also Wonder Woman's alter-ego, Diana Prince; Diana Gabaldon, the Outlander author; Motown legend Diana Ross; and actress Diana Rigg. Plus loads of Dianes. Those are all pretty positive associations, but possibly only the goddess and Wonder Woman will still be highly relevant by the time your daughter is a teenager.

Other considerations: It's a very portable name within the Western world; it was a top-100 name in multiple European countries in 2017, from Portugal to Hungary to Switzerland, with a solid history of use in many more. Even outside the Indo-European tradition, the sounds are mostly pretty easy for most languages, so it's a good choice for someone who might be a world-traveller but also should sound familiar and at home in your neck of the woods.

In the US, Diana has been in the top-thousand almost every year since 1880 (the earliest we have records for), but its peak of popularity was only barely in the top-fifty, in the 1940s and 1950s, which gives it more of the feel of a classic rather than being dated to a single era. (You can see more stats here.)

Overall, I quite like it; and if you love it, I think it's a stellar choice.

November 23, 2018 03:17 PM
In Response to Thoughts on Gwendolyn?

I don't love Gwen, either (but don't hate it), but Gwenna is one of my favorites in the two-syllables, ends-in-a category as a stand-alone name or as a nickname for any of the Guin/Gwen names.

November 23, 2018 03:13 PM
In Response to Repetitive or Pretty?

How would he feel about Rei? That's the traditional spelling for the Japanese girls' name that is pronounced like "ray" (possibly also a Hebrew unisex name, but I'm not sure how that one is pronounced), and also has some of the "royal" connotations of Reina. It looks a lot different from Rae to my eye, even though it's pronounced the same, so maybe it wouldn't be as triggering for the cousin? Or Rey, if you're Star Wars fans :).

November 22, 2018 12:08 PM

I have the same feeling about them, but for me it's more about the "corny" association/potential nickname with Cornelia, which would presumably be less of an issue in non-English-speaking countries.

November 20, 2018 11:47 AM

Maybe you'd be interested in some of the Greek names? I'm a big fan of a lot of the -anthe names, which have some of the same flow and interest of Seraphina but with a different ending: Calanthe, Chrysanthe, Dianthus (that's the flower name; there's also Dianthe and Diantha), Melanthe, Iolanthe (technically this one is a literary invention, formed on the -anthe root, not a genuine ancient Greek name).

Echoing your name, you could also consider some of the ends-in-s (sound) names (some of these are also Greek, but not all): Alanis, Briseis, Anneliese, Anais, Maylis (the French pronunciation of this might be more like May-lee), Carys, Amaryllis, Clematis, Nerys, Damaris

November 19, 2018 02:46 PM

I think all of your names are potential winners, so this is mostly a "narrow-up" comment.

Like others here, I was also struck by your description of Zinnia—"I like it better than most of my other favorites" and "she seems like a Zinnia" are pretty strong recommendations.

For Delphine, one possible connection to your older kids' names is its near-botanicalness: If you're a gardener, you could plant asters, sorrel, and delphinium :). From an English-speaking perspective, I also think it fits well into a sort of "exotic classics" standard—names that are familiar but not common, and a little bit "foreign"-but-not-too-hard-to-say-and-still-distinctly-Western.

Elke does look like a great fit with the sib-set, and I love the simultaneous sleek and snappy feel (but I confess I'm not sure how it's supposed to be said--is it more like El-kay?). It seems like this would be a good one to try out for dinner reservations and such, to see what pronunciations you get and how much they bother you. Also, how much do you love it on its own? If this were your first baby (and your older daughter's name was off the table for some other reason) would you use it for her?

I love Cordelia, and love that you've loved it so long. Probably the key questions here are whether it's the right name for this baby, and whether you will forever regret it if you don't use it.

November 19, 2018 10:57 AM
In Response to Thoughts on Gwendolyn?

I like it. I do prefer the Gwendolen spelling, which in my head sounds subtly different but probably doesn't really sound any different when I say it. I'm also getting a very subtle duck association...I thought for a minute it was because of the female duck on Ducktales, but she's Webbigail, not Webolen, so I don't know where that's coming from.

November 17, 2018 04:18 PM

Congrats on Baby-No-Name-Yet, and thanks for the update!

November 12, 2018 11:10 PM
In Response to New baby

Wait, seriously?? I'm totally going to take credit for naming that baby (and a hat tip to you for the middle)!