Desperately need help with baby girl name!

My husband and I CANNOT agree on a name for our new daughter. We both have definite opinions and they are not even close to being on the same page. Its kind of to the point where name searching is no longer fun and I'm getting irritated...

We have a few names be both "like" but they're not "the one" for various reasons (i.e. we both like Stella but its too close to being overly popular for me and our family members have Streetcar Named Desire on the brain). I have a few criteria - prefer feminine sounding names (ending in -a), no more than three syllables, not in the top 50 nor trending that way, no obvious nicknames, and would like a nature related meaning if at all possible (like how Sylvia means "from the forest" not how Meadow means literally a meadow). My husband wants something that "sounds pretty", "is not weird", and has "no immediate pop culture references"...which is very subjective! 

My list consists of: Serena, Sabrina, Sylvia, Lydia, and Tessa 

His list consists of: Audrey, Brooke, Savannah, Lyla, Elaina


He hates Serena, Sabrina, and Lydia because they have pop culture references (apparently). He says Sylvia seems foreign? And Tessa is a girl he didn't like in highschool...

I feel like Audrey and Brooke are just a little basic. Savannah has the nickname potential for "Vanna" and seems trendy to me. I want to like Lyla/Lila but it just seems a little too soft or delicate to me. I also want to like Elaina, but I worry its too much like Elena, which I think is more used in Spanish speaking cultures?

I would LOVE some suggestions of names that fall in line with both our criteria. I am kind of digging my heels in that I don't want to settle and it would be great if come April we aren't in an arguement in the hospital because I am choosing to trump him on this....after all, we all have his last name right? ;-) Please help!


January 10, 2019 4:51 PM

Hmm, this is a tough one! Of the names you list, it seems like Savannah might be the best compromise. It fits your criteria for feminine ending, length, and nature-theme. I know a couple of Savannah's and have never heard either of them called Vannah. It would probably not have occurred to me as a nickname at all, actually. I also don't think it's terribly trendy, unless trendy to you means non-traditional. It has certainly risen in popularity, but over the course of several decades--it's not overly of-the-moment. 

Other than that, maybe it would behoove you both to generate and compare longer lists. I think there's hope for overlap yet! 

January 10, 2019 5:13 PM

First of all, if name searching is no longer fun then I suggest you take a short break from it.  Plan something for the coming weekend when you'll be too busy to think about or discuss names.  You have until April so maybe you need to agree not to discuss names for a period of time (say a week or so) then come back at it a bit calmer and with fresh thoughts.

Once you've had a break, here are some suggestions that might help:

Selene is one of my favourite names and quite similar to some of yours.  It means "moon" in Greek so is nature-related.  Of course your husband may dismiss it because it sounds like Celine (Dion).

Helena might be similar enough to Elaina for him to like it, and also comes from the Greek word for moon, yet is just that little bit further removed from Elena.  

A compromise between Lydia and Lyla might be Lyra, which comes from the lyre instrument and possibly has a connection with a constellation?  Although might be a bit unusual for him?

Esther and Eloise also seem like names you might like.  Esther possibly means "star".

Good luck.  Please update us with your final choice.

January 10, 2019 5:24 PM

I dont see Elena as used more in Spanish speaking cultures.  I know a few and none are from Spanish cultures,  what about Alana too, or Audra.  Susannah,  I also wouldnt think of Sylvia as foreign.  I wouldnt worry about Vanna either,  what about Zannah

Estella, Lola, Brooklyn, Vanessa, Havannah, Arabella, Athena, Hannah, Liliana, Fiona, Vivianna, Selena, Leah, Tahirah, Tallulah, Ada, Ida, Aisla, Cora, Eliana, Bianca, Clara, Clarissa, Anika, Ariana, Malia, Leticia, Helena, Kyla, Laura, Lisa, Marissa, Mia, Miranda, Nadia, Natalia, Sarah, Petra, Phaedra, Saskia, Tamara, Ximena, Cressida, Cordelia, Calanthia, Kahlia, Zahlia, Xanthia, Viveka, Portia, Odelia, Gracia, Mahalia, Greta, Katrina, Galina, Evanthia, Delia, Azaria, Ambrosia, Annalisa, Arcadia, Cassia, Cassandra, Acacia

January 10, 2019 5:49 PM

I'd like to know more about your husband's interests. For example, if Serena (Williams?), Sabrina (Teenage Witch?), and Lydia (...Heroes, maybe?) are pop references, I'd like to know from where, because that will also inform on what other references would need to be avoided.

If he's worried about Sylvia being foreign, and you're worried about Elaina/Elena being foreign, then I might suggest avoiding the ends-with-a rule altogether. There have been some broad convergent trends in naming around the world (Emma and Sophia are popular everywhere), but -a endings do tend to do better in Spanish-speaking cultures. Part of the reason I say this is that a way to cross Lydia with Lyla and still keep the nature theme is the name Lily, even though it's more popular now in Northern Europe. 

If you're looking for a name that (as far as you're concerned) is not trending, and (as far as he's concerned) sounds pretty and is not weird, then you might consider popular name lists from 20 years ago. Given names like Brooke, Tessa, Serena, Sabrina, Audrey, etc., you might find something there of interest.

January 10, 2019 7:02 PM

Your name lists are really awfully similar in style.  I agree with the poster who said that you'll probably find overlap if you each expand your lists beyond the 5 names you've listed here.





Audra, Clara, Etta, Willa, Aria, Celia

January 10, 2019 8:37 PM

The namematcher suggests


January 11, 2019 3:32 AM

I agree that your taste and your husband's are really not that far apart, and I'm sure you can find a name you both like. You've had some good suggestions so far! Some other ideas ...


Based on Serena, Sabrina, Sylvia, Savannah: Samara, Sienna, Sarina, Sylvie (and I second Saskia, Susannah and Sasha)


Based on Lydia, Lyla: Laurel, Lorelei, Luna, Livia, Lilia, Lula, Louisa (and I second Leila)


Based on Elaina (which I think is perfectly usable in an English-speaking context): Eleanor or Eleanora, Lena, Leonora, Elodie or Elodia, Elisa


Based on Tessa: Tara, Tia, Teresa, Tova, Talia


Based on Audrey: Adria or Adriana, Aurora, Aura


Based on Brooke: Brielle, Brynn, Blythe, Bella, Brisa


I also want to add that if you do really love Stella, then maybe that's a good choice! Or how about Estella?


By EVie
January 11, 2019 5:29 AM

Based on your current lists, I think that Lyla and Elaina present the closest points of intersection—in part because your reasons for not liking them seem much less concrete than for any of the other names you've listed. Would it help to know that both have nature-y meanings—"night" and "light," respectively? I like the suggestion of Lyra as an alternative to Lyla, and I'll also throw out Leila, which comes from the same root as Lila but via a different language (Persian rather than Hebrew/Arabic). And any interest in Delilah, which would maybe give it a bit more weight while still allowing the Lila nickname?

Elena is not just Spanish, it's really pan-European. I know because it's my name ;) My family is Italian. I've never been mistaken for Hispanic, though I've been asked if I'm Russian a couple of times (but only in contexts where there were a lot of Russians and the question made sense). The most famous one in the U.S. right now is Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who is Jewish (and a great role model, in my opinion). I much prefer the traditional spelling to Elaina, but then, I'm biased.

I also think you should really reconsider Stella, unless you know for a fact that it's trending in your area and have encountered a lot of them. Popularity is not what it used to be, and you could go through your kid's entire childhood not meeting another one even for more popular names... or you could end up with three in a class of something much less popular. The national trends don't really predict what's going on at the local level. And yes, A Streetcar named Desire is the major cultural association with Stella, but why is that a problem? Do you dislike the play or the character? Your family will chill out with the association after they get to know the baby and she becomes the predominant reference for them. 

More generally, in a stalemate situation like this I think it helps to reframe your thinking and stop worrying about "settling" or looking for "The One." Try generating a very long list to work down from, rather than working up to build a list. In the list generation phase you want to be inclusive, looking for reasons you like names rather than reasons you don't. Try cutting your criteria way back—say stick with "sounds pretty" from your husband, and "feminine-sounding" from you, which sound like they should interesect a lot (and "feminine" doesn't have to mean ending with -a—there are plenty of very feminine names that don't. Think of names like Juliet, Isabel, Rosalie, etc.)

It's also important to remember that the single best name for your *family* may not be your single most favorite name ever—it's going to be the name that best bridges your preferences and your husband's. That might mean you both have to "settle" for a name that you like, that is "good enough," but isn't your top choice. That's ok—you will grow to love it because it's your child. Neither of my kids have a name that was my Favorite Name Ever, but both of their names were the right choice for our family and I wouldn't change them if I could go back and do all the choosing myself. 

January 11, 2019 1:03 PM

Once he put Audrey on his list, he forfeited his right to veto based on pop-culture associations ;) I'm sure I'm not the only one to think of Audrey Hepburn! (Funnily, she played Sabrina.)

What's his reference for Lydia? I read through the Wiki list of real and fictional people and came up with two potentials: A character on The Walking Dead and Aunt Lydia from The Handmaid's Tale. Unless he's a hardcore Mrs. Doubtfire fan... Either way, that's REALLY reaching. I suspect that he simply doesn't care for the name, which is a shame because it's a beautiful one.

I think that Vanna from Savannah is a non-issue. If you just don't like the name Savannah, fine, but Vanna would only happen if you wanted it and made it happen.

I really love the above suggestion of Linnea! It has similar sounds to several of the names that you and your husband like, it's feminine, ends in -a, and it has a botany connection!


I know that it feels like you're running out of time, but you're really not. Take a break. Step away from the conversation and come back when all those negative emotions have had a little time to mellow.

By EVie
January 11, 2019 1:51 PM

I feel like I've seen people on here veto Lydia for the Pride and Prejudice character, but I somehow suspect that most dudes aren't thinking Austen. ;) And if he's missing the Audrey Hepburn association, I would guess that his Sabrina association is more the teenage witch.

By mk
January 14, 2019 2:29 PM

Lydia was Winona Ryder's character in Beetlejuice, which is probably the first time I heard the name.

I wouldn't consider that a strong pop culture reference though.

By rooo
January 13, 2019 3:19 AM

Your style is very similar to mine (though I love NNs), so here are a few others I love:

Sabine, Sadie, Leona, Lena, Cecily, Cecilia, Siena, Rose, Hadley, Violet, Miranda, Marissa, Poppy, Naomi, Esther, Anna

FWIW I love the name Elena and have seen it used across many cultures. I much prefer that spelling to Elaina. Alana and Alaina are other variations you might like. 

January 14, 2019 4:10 PM

This sounds a lot like what my husband and I went through. We even had similar lists! Ultimately, our baby girl (coming soon) is going to be Audrey. 

One name that immediately jumped out at me from reading this thread was Eliana. It is similar to Elaina but maybe meets a little bit more of your criteria. Other ideas: Fiona, Carissa, Juliana/Julianna (I know this has nicknames associated, but I think you will be hard-pressed to find something that meets ALL of your criteria and that you both agree on to be honest).


Good luck!

January 14, 2019 5:12 PM

I was thinking maybe Esme? It can be traced back to a meaning of Emerald which is sort of natural? It is not in the top 50. Incredibly feminine and I can no one comes to mind in pop culture. Also maybe Sylvie instead of Sylvia. 

If I can think of any more I will add them in. Also CINGRATULATIONS you must be so happy!


January 16, 2019 3:45 PM

Thank you to everyone for the thoughtful replies! I should've been more specific on his pop culture issues lol - Sabrina is in fact in reference to the Teenage Witch, Serena to the tennis player, and Lydia apparently is something about Lydia being used to rhyme with Chlamydia. I couldn't find too much about that on the internet and suspect that is just the teenage-boy-trapped-inside-of-a-man with no idea about names coming out... I pointed that out to him and he didn't disagree. But- after making another long list as someone suggested and considering all the other options from the replies we are down to a short list that is workable. He's also conceded a little bit because while this is important to him, its a little unfair that I am agonizing over research and he is just agreeing to or vetoing choices! So for now, the list is: Cora, Stella, Elaina, Sylvia, and Sienna. If I was flying totally solo on this decision, I'd add Serena, Sabrina, and Lydia back. None of those associations are overwhelming off putting to me. But we are narrowed down to five that we both can "accept", so that's a win! three months to go so just hoping something will grow on us now. Next step is to add middle names and see if that makes a difference ;-) Thanks again!

January 16, 2019 8:45 PM

I like Cora and Stella the best from your list,  what about Elena, Eliana, Eliza, Ella, Emma, Erika, Eva, Amelia, Lisa, Alyssa, Cara, Cassandra, Clara, Kira, Krista, Lara, Lana, Leticia, Laura, Livia, Selena, Samantha, Samara, Sophia, Ariana, Bianca, Liana, Nina, Danica, Anika, Miranda, Matilda, Nadia

January 16, 2019 11:04 PM

Good to hear you and your husband are more on the same page. Of your current options I think I prefer Elaina (though I'd spell it Elena, but Elaina would be more consistent for pronunciation), but none of them would be a bad choice.

January 17, 2019 9:20 AM

I think you have a really solid list.  I like them best in this order:

1.  Sylvia

2.  Cora

3.  Stella

4.  Elaina (though if it were spelled Elena I would prefer it to Stella)

5.  Sienna


Once you find some middle name pairings you like with these, you can always go into the hospital with a short list and wait until actually meet her to see what fits. 

January 17, 2019 5:53 PM

I would order them the same way, with a big gap between two and three (that is, I like Cora much better than Stella).  If it were Elena, the gap would be between three - Elena - and four - Stella.

January 21, 2019 3:39 PM

I agree with these gaps.

By EVie
January 23, 2019 11:44 AM

Hah, is your husband from New York by any chance? When I was in high school, there was a public health ad on the subways with a rhyming comic strip about a Lydia who gets chlamydia (always use protection!) I had totally forgotten about it until now. It's possible that it was used elsewhere as well, or that someone somewhere else came up with a similar idea.

ETA: Apparently there is also a parody song about a Lydia with chlamydia, to the tune of Lydia, the Tattooed Lady. Which is another pop culture reference that might turn people off. 

January 21, 2019 2:04 PM

Names that I might suggest that are feminine and nature related:


Luna - meaning Moon. a bit trendy now, but honestly so beautiful that I'd consider it for my own child.

Selena - meaning moon, beautiful

Tara - meaning hillside, and the alternate spelling, Terra, means Of The Earth. Tara also means Star in Sanskrit

Lesley - meaning "Garden of Hollies"

Dara - means Oak Tree

Isla - meaning Island

Daphne - meaning Bay Tree or Laurel Tree

Laurel - I know it`s a bit on the nose, but hardly anybody would immediately connect Laurel to its specific derivation 

Cala - Cala Lillies, but again, not many people would immediately associate with the flower.

Lara - meaning Laurel Leaf - also a beautiful Nymph from roman mythology

Maya - the month of May was named after her

Gaia - mother earth

Noelle - meaning Winter

Dalia / Dahlia - means Flowering Branch, also there was a famous botanist named Anders Dahl

Rhea - means Flowing, also means River

Ishana - meaning Female Energy

any variation of Cassiopeia - constellation name. (Cass, Cassie, Cassandra,)

Ophelia - one of Uranus` moons

Pandora - one of Saturn`s moons

Halley - Halley`s Comet - great reference

Aurora - the Northern Lights are called the Aurora Borealis 

Elara - one of Jupter`s moons

Cordelia - another planet`s moon

Bryony - meaning ~to sprout~

Lindsay - meaning `a lake; a place of linden trees`

Brenna - believed to be a gaelic word for the bird, Raven.



January 21, 2019 11:45 PM

I really like your new list!  I'm glad you guys have squared up a little!

January 24, 2019 1:27 AM

such gorgeous names!

some names that you coud consider and might be good for both of you are

saskia - good varient for sabrina, serena sylvia and savannah

flora - means flower, ends with 'a', 

sabine or sabina - ends with 'a', similar to preferences

rosa/lie - nature vibes, ends with girly sound

aurelia - roots to meaning 'golden', ends in 'a'

river - same sounding end as 'a', obviously a very nature orientated name

wren - although not ending in a girly vowel, it still has nature roots and can sounds very cute

lacey - super feminine and a less delicate version of lyla

eleanor/a - meaning light/bright, ends in 'a'

aaliyah - meaning to ascend, ends in 'a' sound