British-sounding names - an update, and opinions on middle name

Hi Knowledgable Namers,

I wanted to give an update on our search for a British sounding name for our second daughter, due in a couple of weeks‘ time. Our first daughter is Eleanor Mae (nn Nell) and we were struggling to come up with another girl’s name that we liked as much. I’m very happy to report that I was able to convince hubby  about Katherine (nn Kate) as a first name (may have had something to do with our daughter also taking a liking to that name, and repeating it to him A LOT). We are now looking at middle names ... thoughts please on the following:

Katherine Jane

Katherine Lydia

Our last name starts ‘West’ and is two syllables. Jane would be a nod to my mum (Janice) but I’m slightly put off by some negative associations (Plain Jane, Jane Doe). Lydia is a name that I like, hubby will tolerate (that’s as positive as it’s possible to get from him!), no positive/negative connotations. Happy to have other suggestions for a middle name, but I’m thinking there’s only so many more naming conversations I can have with hubby before he gets complete naming fatigue. 


Thank you for your help! 



February 13, 2019 8:48 PM

Katherine Jane is lovely, in a blandly forgettable way.  Lydia elevates the name to more of an "ooh that's pretty" while still maintaining the classic feel.

February 14, 2019 12:15 AM

Yes! Thank you - you’ve just articulated what I’ve been trying to say for a while. I‘ve said to hubby that Katherine Jane is nice enough, but it wasn’t quite right ... I feel like Katherine Lydia is a little prettier and more unusual. Thanks for your response! 

February 13, 2019 8:59 PM

Katherine jane is lovely. With Jane a mn, I wouldn't worry about plain Jane. Lydia is lovely. Honour names are nice, does Eleanor have one , if so I'd pick Jane. I like better and flows Luke Eleanor Mae does   others Anne  Claire rose grace hope Jean June Joan lea/Lee Ruth 4

February 14, 2019 12:25 AM

That’s a good point - Eleanor‘s middle name honours mine and hubby’s grandmas (Mae can be short for three of their names Mary, Margaret, Marie, and my grandma Norma’s name is in EleaNOR MAe). So it would be nice to have a name to honour other family members, but not a complete dealbreaker if it doesn’t work out that way. Jane would also be honouring my mum (Janice/Jan) but not so much hubby’s mum (Elizabeth/Liz) so that could be a little awkward. I like several of the other names you mentioned, particularly Claire, but that’s been vetoed by hubby. So I think I’m talking myself into Lydia :) Thank you for your thoughts! 

February 14, 2019 1:44 AM

To me, Katherine Lydia would make an excellent honor name for Elizabeth and Jane(t). That might not be immediately obvious, so I'll explain:

In Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice, the two eldest Bennett sisters are Jane and Elizabeth, and the two youngest are Katherine (Kitty) and Lydia! (The middle daughter is Mary, who you've already accounted for in Eleanor's name—which, incidentally, covers your Sense and Sensibility bases as well.) So Katherine Lydia perfectly evokes the grandmothers' names, without actually using either, and with impeccable classic British style.


*Of course, if you came back with a third naming challenge I would have to plump for Anne Emma or Fitzwilliam, which would be much less weird with a sister named Katherine than Elizabeth.

February 14, 2019 1:17 PM

I love the Pride and Prejudice reference, that’s something I would never have thought of myself, so thank you! It’s a nice way to honour both grandmas without it being too obvious or using their actual names. There’s a geographical link too as Mr Darcy’s estate is in Derbyshire, where my family live :) And probably no more naming challenges, hubby won’t be convinced on a third! 

February 14, 2019 6:56 AM

Katherine Elizabeth, Eliza, Lizbeth, ElizaJane

February 13, 2019 9:01 PM

Katherine jane is lovely. With Jane a mn, I wouldn't worry about plain Jane. Lydia is lovely. Honour names are nice, does Eleanor have one , if so I'd pick Jane. I like better and flows Luke Eleanor Mae does   others Anne  Claire rose grace hope Jean June Joan lea/Lee Ruth 4

February 14, 2019 12:53 AM

I think Katherine Jane is a win.  I like Lydia but I'm struggling with it in the middle name slot.  I think Lydia Katherine would flow better but that's not what you're looking for.  I don't think Mae is fancier than Jane by any means and I actually think the combo of Katherine Jane fits with Eleanor Mae quite nicely.

I've never understood "plain Jane."  There are plenty of names that rhyme with plain that people use with no issue---Blaine, Cain, Zane, Dane, Lane...

My other question is, what does Nell think?  Since she managed to persuade her dad on the first name, what are her thoughts on the middle?

February 14, 2019 1:22 PM

Good question - Nell came up with her own idea for a middle name: Lily. Which we did consider, but preferred Jane/Lydia. Of those two choices, she preferred Lydia, possibly because it sounds more like Lily. I love the fact that she is involved in the naming process, although trying to keep an almost 3 year old from telling everyone your name ideas has been proving difficult as you can imagine! I think I may have a future name connoisseur on my hands!

February 15, 2019 1:40 AM

I hear that!  My boys are 8, 6, & 4 and they all like different names.   though if it was up to my youngest  I really think we'd just go with names from Paw Patrol.  We've never been particularly tight lipped about it, so that's lucky because yes, the names get kicked around all the time  Every family gathering.  Every basketball game.  School.  The grocery store.  You get what I'm saying.  

February 14, 2019 5:39 AM

Have you mentioned Jane as a possible honour name to your mom? I ask because my mom is Jan, and I considered both Jane and June as potential honour middles, but she gave me to understand that she didn't associate either of those names with herself, and that Jane was very much "plain Jane" to her, and that also she didn't like her own name and didn't need the baby burdened with it. Whew! I think the nice thing about honouring grandmothers vs mothers is that they either aren't around to share their opinions or your parent feels honoured even if the grandparent doesn't like their name.

I like Jane a lot, but Katherine Jane is almost too classic in an age where it is nice to have the option of name branding, so I lean towards Katherine Lydia.

At the same time... since Nell's middle is so heavily an honour name, it would be nice if Kate's had some of that too (despite Pride and Prejudice I do not find Lydia to honour either Jane or Elizabeth). Are there any grandfather names you could feminize?

February 14, 2019 1:37 PM

Thank you for your response, you’ve given me food for thought there - I haven’t mentioned to my mum about honouring her through the middle name, so that could be something to think about. We’ve tried not to discuss names with family, but that might be a good reason to ask her about it. 

I agree about Katherine Jane being ‘almost too classic’ and I think that’s part of what’s holding me back from using it. We wanted something classic that fit well with Nell’s name, but also something that we love. I think Katherine Lydia fulfils both parts of that. 

And you make a good point about grandfather names - my dad actually passed away unexpectedly just over a year ago, and when I got pregnant I spent some time looking into female names that could honour him (Peter Maurice). Unfortunately I didn’t come up with much ... Petra/Peta aren’t really my style, and when I looked into the meaning of his name, there wasn’t anything that stood out as being something I would use. I considered Philippa for the ‘P’ initial, but after originally suggesting it, hubby decided he wasn’t a fan of the name. I’d be grateful for any suggestions of names you think would honour my dad. Hubby’s dad is Michael, but I wouldn’t want to use Michelle as that’s my middle name (and not one I’m particularly keen to pass on). 



February 14, 2019 8:14 PM

What about Pippa, or Michaela or Phoebe for the P initial. I still think Katherine Jane is lovely.  Shame about Michelle, my mn and my daughter s, my son's is Michael. What is Phillips MN, what about your DHS name or other family.  Or Maurita from maurice

February 15, 2019 6:57 AM

or Maura, Maurita, Maureen, Marice, Maricel, Maricello, Mauricette, Patrice, Letrice, Katrice, Beatrice, Maud, Maurelle, Maurette, Moriah, Morissa, Morelle, Morella, Morena, Morgan, Morgana, Moraiah, Samora  close to Maurice

Cybele, Alana, Rochelle,  means rock too, Petrina, Peta, Pedra, Petrica, Petula, Petronella, Petrina, Perpetua, Elspeth

from Philip - Piper, Penelope, Felicity, Felicia, Filipina, Felipa, Pippa, Philippa, Phoebe

from Michael - Michaela, Michelle, Makayla, Micaiah, Michaelia, Michelline, Micah, Makaylia, Makaylie



By EVie
February 14, 2019 4:18 PM

I agree with Emily here—I kind of have an aversion to some names that are similar to but not exactly my own (possibly due to irritation from correcting people who have mistakenly called me those names), so if someone told me they were naming their kid Elaine or Alanna in my honor my reaction would be more cringey than pleased. Is there a reason you aren't considering just Janice after your mom? It's a more dated form than Jane, sure, but it's more distinctive, and I actually find the combination Katherine Janice quite nice.

If your mom isn't bothered by the similar-but-not-quite thing, have you considered other less-plain Jane variants? Janet, Joan, Jo(h)anna, Janelle, Jeanette, Janine, Jean, Jeanne, Jana, Janessa, Jehanne, there are just loads of them. 

Katherine Lydia is beautiful, though, so you definitely can't go wrong there. And I personally am not bothered by one kid getting an honor name and the other not... we gave our first son family names for both first and middle, but by the time the second son came along, there were no family names left that we cared for, so we just picked names we liked and didn't sweat it.

February 14, 2019 5:36 PM

I hadn't even thought about it with regards to my own name. I think I would be fine with Emmeline to honour me, but I have always detested Emma.

I'm sorry to hear about your father, LisaW11. The first thing that sprang to mind based on his name was names that sound similar to Maurice: Marcella and Maureen being forerunners, but perhaps also Maura, Myrtle and Morna.

The second thing that crossed my mind was to riff off the meaning to Peter, stone, and use a gemstone name. My favourite for you would be Beryl, which to me sounds English and Victorian (probably due to a character of that name in The Hound of the Baskervilles), is striking and uncommon, and has some of the look of Lydia to it. Other gemstone names (which I realize are probably not all to your taste) are Jade (honouring Peter and Jane?), Opal, Ruby, Esmeralda, Jet... even perhaps Coral or Pearl though they are not really stones...

And perhaps EVie has a point and it doesn't matter about both having honour names, in which case Lydia is certainly lovely.

February 14, 2019 7:40 PM

EVie and Emily.ei, you bring up a good point that I hadn’t even really considered - how my mum would feel about an ‘honour’ name that actually wasn’t her name. I think I’ll have to talk to her about how she feels about Jane. I did briefly think about using Janice as it fits fairly well with Katherine, but unfortunately it turns into a bit of a tongue twister with our last name (too many -s sounds, the second syllable of our last name also has a -th sound which makes it more complex to pronounce with -s ending names, otherwise I may be considering options like Grace or Alice which are lovely but are too much with the last name). 

Emily, thank you for your suggestions on names to honour my dad. You went in the same direction I did with the rock/gemstone connection - unfortunately my brother recently used Jade as the the middle name for his daughter, otherwise that would be on the list. Beryl and Pearl were options I considered and liked (particularly Pearl as it also has the P initial) but I couldn’t get hubby on board, he felt they were a little too ‘old lady’, and I can see what he means, even if I don’t agree. 

The only history my family has of naming traditions is for the first born to have a middle initial M, and we ticked that one off with Mae (no traditions on hubby’s side) so there’s no pressure for the new little lady to have an honour name. Katherine Lydia is looking more likely, I would be genuinely excited to give her that name :) Thank you for all your help, it’s wonderful to have a group like this to bounce ideas off! 

February 15, 2019 3:54 AM

Looking further afield for non-Petra honor names for Peter seems like a good time to mention that I really love Petrichor, both as a thing (it's the ozone-rich smell after a rain) and also as a word. It is not in current use as a name as far as I know (it could certainly be used at lower rates than 5 births/year), but I think it would be make a great, if very unconventional middle name, when paired with a very timeless classic in the first name. 

ETA: hold the presses, someone used it in Alberta!

Further ETA: it should be noted that this is a character in the popular space-opera graphic novel Saga, which is probably why it felt namey to me!

February 15, 2019 9:42 AM

I think if you are genuinely excited about it, then it is very likely the right name. :-)

One more stone name to honour a Peter: Peridot. Just because it's a beautiful stone, starts with a P and contains all the sounds of Peter, and has an appealing, British-sounding nickname in Dot (not that a middle name needs a nickname, of course).

February 15, 2019 1:28 PM

Wow, I always assumed the T was silent, French-style (in fact, the OED tells me the word does come from French, where the last syllable would be more like d'oh!, but it's been -dot in English for a long time). Apparently I need to spend more time discussing gemstones with jewellers or something :). I think it's a brilliant Peter connection (though I still really like Katherine Lydia).

February 15, 2019 4:16 PM

Oh, me too on the thinking it was peri-DOH. Time to spend more time at the jewellers for both of us! I do like it, it's a great choice!

My kids are constantly squabbling about things being NOT FAIR so I would find it of utmost importance to have an honoring name for the second-born, ideally also a family honor name.

February 16, 2019 5:47 PM

Sorry, the t IS silent (used to work in a gemstone store). I meant it contained all the sounds in the d sounds like Peter in an American accent way, or "stretching it, it contains all the sounds." But I still think this wouldn't rule out the nickname Dot (if required) as the letters are all there in that order!

By EVie
February 16, 2019 8:24 PM

Hah, I think NOT FAIR is one of the most oft-repeated phrases in our house, and I only have one child capable of speaking English thus far. I don't see family honor names being the sort of thing he would stress about, but then, there was at least one time, at about age 3, when he told me it was NOT FAIR that my name is longer than his. That did not stop me from giving his little brother a name that is also longer than his :) Tough cookies, kid. (He hasn't mentioned it again, fortunately, and I'm not going to point it out). 

February 17, 2019 9:25 PM

Jane is a classic name, and quite commonly used as a middle name, whciw, given that you have a classic, commonly used first name chosen, can be seen as a positive or a negative. My gran, I, and my daughter all share it as a middle name, while having different first names. It goes with a multitude of names, even my daughter's non-Anglo name.

As for "Pride & Prejudice," Jane is the sweet, beautiful, darling eldest Bennett sister, while Lydia is the horrid self-centered brat who runs off to elope with a scoundrel, with no thought to how her actions could ruin her sisters' marriage prospects. ;-p Jane wins all the Austen points.

All kidding aside, both are solid choices, with my ear giving a slight tip to Lydia, unless you'd enjoy a compound nickname like Katie-Jane.

February 17, 2019 9:58 PM

I think Katherine Lydia would be the more interesting choice, but I like the symmetry of Mae and Jane as middle names for sisters. You can't make a bad choice here!