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I know the word, which makes it hard for me to think of it as a name. It has a pretty sound, but it would be hard for me to get past the plain meaning(s). "Castle keeper" and "jingly jewelry" aren't really objectionable meanings, just kind of random.
Have you considered relaxing one of your criteria? For example, I would think going with a two-syllable name would open you up to many beautiful options, and strikes me as less of a "compromise" than choosing a name that you don't otherwise love just because it fits the pattern.
I agree, I've suggested it a couple of times to prospective namers here as a Sophia-alternative, but afaik no takers so far.
Oh, now that's interesting. A cross-gender namesake could explain the variations-on-a-theme middle names. Any chance there was a bump in Della C___ names in 1953? Or perhaps Dolores or Darlene or similar.
Since you've only been poking around for a few days, you probably aren't aware of the many discussions we have had about this name and its variants in the past. Several other users have had the same questions you have; the answers probably haven't changed. You can read some of them here:
I agree, it's still too soon for Jemima. White people may not be very conscious of the syrup's highly offensive history, but I think most people of color are well aware of it. It strikes me as a rather tone-deaf choice in the US.
The traditional spelling of the first name on this list is Bryony, for the flower. Briony looks like a misspelling, though I suppose it would be justifiable if honoring a Brian. The scientific name for the flower's genus is Bryonia, which would make a pretty alternative for parents who prefer a more elaborate version.
Hmm, maybe Wallis? It's a surname-turned-first name, with a double letter, a femme fatale namesake (Wallis Simpson, the woman King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for), and a medieval ballad namesake (Sir William Wallace, of minstrel and Mel Gibson fame). The surname has traditionally been given to males, but its derivation ("Welsh" or "foreigner") and sound don't strike me as unremittingly masculine.
Now I'm starting to think Bartleby, nn Barto, would be a cool name...
Ah, input direct from France! I love it--hope you will stick around to weigh in from time to time.
Alcmene, have you seen this list of the top 500 names in France in 2010? This version is on Behind the Name, so it links to name origins where available. It includes several gems that I hadn't seen before on the more reputable English naming sites. Something like Zelie or one of the Maëlys variations look fairly nickname proof. Maybe Anouk? Instead of Gabrielle, maybe Gwenaëlle if you don't mind Gwen?
Congratulations! I'm so glad you used this cool name--thanks for coming back and updating us.
(And as an aside, out of the 11 names we've given to our four children, Martin is the only one my in-laws like. It's a second middle for our oldest son, after their surname, so not surprising, but maybe it's also a general crowd-pleaser!)
I have no idea about Old French, but in modern French the main difference between hôtel and hotel is that the h is not pronounced. However, it sounds significantly different from hostel, which is the earlier English borrowing (mid-13th century vs mid-17th) and shows the pre-reduction vowel-s.
Well, without an existing middle name, it would make changing your legal name a bit simpler--you could either give yourself a very feminine middle name, or even shift your current name to the middle slot. You could still use your given name if you wanted, but you'd have that little bit of legal, paperwork-y evidence that might smooth your road a bit.
If it's something you decide you want to do at some point (after this baby is named, maybe!), there are folks here who have experience with adult name changes, and we've had a number of threads about the topic over the years. My impression is that the name change itself isn't usually too difficult, but changing your name on all your accounts and records can be kind of a hassle. Less of a hassle than immigration issues, though!
I know it's probably not possible to change your husband's stance, but in my experience what constitutes a "likely-to-be-nicknamed" name is really different for our kids' generation than for ours.
My husband is a David, who always gets called Dave by certain demographics (largely men his age and older, especially if they're blue-collar). But even my college students named David go exclusively by the full name, and I would be shocked if a baby David was nicknamed without the parents' permission.
On the other hand, my one-year-old, who has what I would have thought was a pretty un-nickable name, seems to collect and inspire them everywhere we go. Think "Tate", called Tatey by one set of cousins, Tateser by another set, Ta-Ta by some random folks in town, etc.
I really can't pin down what makes a name likely to be shortened. Among my older kids' friends (mostly middle school age), Isabelle is almost always Izzy, but Annaliese is never anything but her full name; Sofia is sometimes Sofie, but Sophia is never Sophie; J@sper is J@ss to his parents but the full J@sper to everyone else, while his brother ₵he$ter is ₵het-₵het to everyone; etc. My SIL thought she had picked a nickname-proof name in Henry, but he gets called Hen. (Her daughter's already-short name also gets shortened to ∟uce.)
I guess where I'm going with this is that if the primary consideration is whether the name is going to be shortened or altered, there's just no predicting, and you may be deeply disappointed if a less-beloved name that you thought wouldn't be shortened ends up getting nicked all the time. If you can possibly talk your husband around (maybe show him this thread?), I would consider cutting only names whose likely nicknames you actively dislike, not just names that might be shortened to something that wouldn't, on its own, bother you.
I like them both, and I don't think Selah is too close to the cousin's name, so I would go with whichever is more meaningful to you both or most makes your heart sing. One method of deciding that is often suggested here is to flip a coin, then pay attention to how you feel when it lands: if it comes up Name A and you think Yes! then that's your name, but if you get more of a sinking feeling, then go with Name B :).
One other association with the spelling Sonora would be the adjective sonorous, as in the deep, resonant sound of a big bell. I want to pronounce Sanorah slightly different from Sonora(h), though, maybe a little more like SUH or SAH for the former and a little more like SO for the latter. It's a very slight difference, and it might not actually even be noticeable in actual speech, but just something to keep in mind.
Oh, wow, I'm glad I checked in just now! Congratulations on a healthy baby and a truly lovely name! It sounds like she will have several great stories to tell about her name :).
This was my thought, too--an honor name of some sort. Especially considering that they seem to use the more clearly feminine Romy most of the time (which also might be why "Jeremy" didn't immediately catch the mom's attention).
This is what I would expect, too, based on my familiarity with the surname Boas as in Franz, the famous anthropologist. Plus then it sounds less like feather boas (or the constrictor kind).
I like it! Martin is my husband's bachelor name, so I can't really judge it aside from those associations, but I also know a boy with that name who is a great kid and who wears it very well. And I'm also a sucker for Classical names. The only possible issue I can see is the inevitable jokes about having the weight of the world on his shoulders (and possibly shrugging), but I would think that would be a very minor issue and unlikely to come up until he's grown. So I'd say you have a winner!
I like your whole short list, and lots of the suggestions you've already received. Just a couple of thoughts:
If you like Rosco, perhaps Rollo? It has a liquid sound that feels a little more gender-neutral, even though it's actually the name of a famous Viking king.
I wouldn't worry about finding another J name; two of my four have the same unusual ending sound, and no one has ever remarked on it (I suspect only name enthusiasts would even notice). I also have cousins where two out of three have the same initial, and that also passes as entirely a coincidence (which it is). I don't think there's any need to reinforce the idea that you have two "sets" of children. But if you find a J name you love, I wouldn't avoid it, either.
Yes, it must be dialect-dependent—I can't imagine those two sets of words having the same vowel as one another, let alone how it could be a vowel in any version of Anna!
Do either of you have any suggestions for words or names (in another language) to listen to to hear those vowels?
I suspect Mads is actually a not-uncommon casual nickname for a lot of girls and women named Madeline/Madison et al, at least in some places. I know at least one who goes by this almost exclusively, and others for whom it's an occasional shortening of either the full name or the already-nicked-Maddy. I think this argues for the name being usable at least in speech.
On the other hand, it does look different to me than Maddy or Maddie or any of the Mad- names, so I'm not so sure about it as a given name. I'm not sure why, but I see the word much more prominently in the shorter nickname than in the longer names and nicknames. And it is an association I've made with the Mads who I know, but not with any of the (very many) Maddies, even though I'm not sure I've ever seen her nickname written down. So I suspect there is a little bit of danger of some of the associations coming up in his life.
If you wanted to go longer-form/nickname, there are a lot of possibilities out there. In addition to the names already suggested there are Mateo, Matteus, Matas (and other Matthew cognates) plus Madai, Diarmad, Amado, and Amadeus. Also Madison if you don't mind swimming against the unisex-ist current.