Expecting #1 - second guessing a name in tentatively 'themed' sibset

I was just coming online today to officially delurk and ask for help with this naming delimma, so the forum was a nice surprise -- takes some of the pressure off just jumping into the post threads. Sorry in advance -- just realized this is a bit long:


After a long time TTC, my husband and I are finally expecting our first in December. We've been married for two years, but we've been a couple for nearly ten, so we've had a lot of time to talk baby names and narrow down our different tastes into a list of two full names for each sex. The plan is to use family names for middles, which is a compromise I made with DH. Our last name is two syllables, starting with H.

We chose the first three names a few years ago, and after a lot of debate, we have not wavered in these names being our favorites since then:

Girls:  Caris, Sofia

Boys: Tobias

I immediately saw a theme in the letters these names share (A, I, S), and I felt strongly that all other names should follow suit. DH agreed and ever since we've been going back and forth between the names Isaiah or Josiah - leaning toward Isaiah. (I actually prefer the name Matias/Mattias - mah-tee-us - but DH doesn't care for it as much.)

Obviously, the whole 'theme' rests on our having two boys and two girls -- we'd like four children, and are under no delusions that we can choose the sex. But I'm getting a bit worried about the fact that our three favorite names have locked us into a theme, and it has been really difficult over the past two years to find other names that have a similar feel and sound in case we end up having more (or all) of one sex compared to another. So far I've come up with:


  • Isla (doesn't seem to quite fit given the sound)
  • Sonia
  • Silvia
  • Asiya (a-sigh-ah: the feel of this one seems off -- it's a name I sort of 'made up' several years ago back in college, and that DH has always been partial to even though I've cooled on it quite a bit)
  • Sarai (again, the letters are there but the feel seems off)


  • Isaiah
  • Josiah
  • Elias (don't like the near-rhyme with Tobias)
  • Nikolas (seems wrong)
  • ???

Please share your thoughts. Now that the possibility of naming real children is approaching I'm worried about not having a true favorite second name (or third...) name for a boy. I'm also worried that maybe the theme seems a bit cheesy, as well as the fact that it really narrows down the field of names we have left to choose from. Nymbler and I have been very well acquainted over the years and I feel like I'm going in circles -- I could definitely use a third party opinion.

Our two favorite names are Caris and Tobias - we're 99% sure these will be the names of our first girl and first boy, should we have one of each.

What am I missing? Are there other names with a similar feel containing A, I, S for either gender that I haven't thought of?

If we start from scratch, keeping only Caris and Tobias, what other names do you think would be great in a sibset? (It has always worried me just a bit that Sofia/Sophia/Sophie is such a popular set of names these days -- Sofia is one of DH's top names and has been a longtime favorite of mine, also.)


April 12, 2012 8:16 PM

I wouldn't worry too much about carrying the same letters through with the theme.

I'd also suggest that your favourite names may change before you have more kids, so it's really hard to plan a whole sibling set in advance.

We have two boys and we didn't know what gender either of them were before they were born.  So for our first, we had picked out Sophie Rebecca.  I still think it's a nice name, but after Joel was born and we started going to playgroups and meeting more families with small kids, I realized just how popular Sophie and Sophia were.

So only 21 months later when our second son was born, if he was a girl he would have been Leah Rebecca.  Leah was a name that my husband vetoed the first time, but grew to really like.

Now expecting number 3 we've changed our girl's name one more time!  Now we like Anna.  So in only 3.5 years, we've changed our minds 3 times.  You just never know what you're going to like a few years down the road!

April 13, 2012 10:24 AM

Thanks, Carly! I bet you're totally right. Yesterday I was adding my name list to my profile here, and even though I included all the names from the list, there were several that made me go, "Yuck - I like this name?" So even in the two or three years since I've been keeping an actual electronic list, things have changed.

April 12, 2012 8:31 PM

I think you'd find a lot more options if you opened yourself up to an S-sound instead of an actual S (so you could have soft C's).  And a C would still share a common letter with Caris.  I'm not great at sibsets as far as style goes, but here are some names that share common letters/sounds:

Girl: Sadie, Isabel, Alexis, Cassidy, Celia/Cecilia, Maisie, Lucia, Alice, Elisa, Marissa
Boy: Sebastian, Silas, Sullivan, Isaac, Matthias, Austin, Tristan, Atticus, Cassius

Silas is my favorite boy's name but it sounds awful with my last name so I'll never get to use it- so I have to suggest it to others :)


April 13, 2012 10:27 AM

You're right -- a soft C opens things up a lot. From your list, I really like Celia/Cecilia, Lucia (although our dog is Lucy so probably can't use this one), Elisa, Matthias, and Atticus (especially love this one since Caris is was a literary choice for us and I love "To Kill a Mockingbird").

I will have to further explore the soft-C option!

By Guest (not verified)
April 13, 2012 12:16 AM

I think you are limiting yourself too much.  Until you pointed it out, I didn't even notice the shared letters.  I think this is a theme most people wouldn't notice.  Pick names you love (which is how you got Tobias, Caris & Sofia) and let that be your theme.  

April 13, 2012 10:42 AM

Funny that you didn't notice! I imagine this is probably one of those things that sticks out to namer but isn't all that obvious to the casual observer who isn't looking for that pattern, which is honestly good to know. I think the difficulty I'm having with the fourth name (second boy's name) is that the shared letters A, I,  S, is very glaring to me, and that if the fourth name didn't match it would be very noticeable -- but, maybe not!

April 13, 2012 12:46 AM

I know that it gets all a bit overwhelming once you have a real baby on the way, no matter how much planning you've done it is a totally different ball game when you are about to use a name on a real live human.  I think you are just over thinking things at the moment.  Tobias and Caris are great names and a fantastic set.  It is clear you love both of them. It seems like all the rest are good but you mostly like them because they fit a theme.  

If I were you, I'd keep listing names you like based on sound and style and see how you feel down the track. You might find that after the first baby you start liking other names or some names get crossed off because you know other babies with that name, friends use the name etc etc.  In the 5 -10 years between the first baby and last (or however long it is for you) your taste might change a lot. I had a baby last year and while my taste hasn't changed I have added a few names to my list and crossed some others off so the list will be different next time around.

If you want to not stick to a theme and just think of names that go with Caris and Tobias (btw, I have been trying to get someone to use Tobias for ages!!) I like:
















Isla (I do think this fits in)

April 13, 2012 10:36 AM

Glad to see another fan of Tobias! I've liked that name for years and years and even though I worry that it might one day take off and become super popular, I'm always a little surprised that no one seems to have really heard of it (guess Toby - as a nickname or a given - is more common?). 

And yes, we were totally fine with our list of names until DH's parents began asking for hints about the names we were considering. When DH told them that we didn't plan to share (we also don't plan to find out the sex before birth) but that we'd had names picked out for at least a couple years, they said, "Well, don't count on liking those names once you meet the baby." And it really threw me off and made me start questioning everything.

We really LOVE Caris and Tobias, and maybe those should be all we should consider for now; there's no reason why we can't start from scratch later (especially once we start hanging around people with small children more and see what names are being used among our own circles).

From your list, I love Elijah, Theodore, and Isla. We're leaving ourselves the option to use Louis/Lewis as a middle name for a boy one day. Also like Gabriel and Annika, but we have close friends/family who have children with those names.

April 13, 2012 2:03 AM

I think you are a) overthinking things, and b) defining your 'theme' too strictly. Every single name in a set doesn't have to match all the criteria in order to fit in. Sometimes they fit in because they have one thing in common with one name and another with another name - e.g. if they contain some of the same sounds:

A-I -- O-I-A -- O-S -- S-A

(I don't have actual names in mind, I'm just trying to describe a possible pattern in a generic way).

Tobias and Sofia are a little too rhymey for my taste with the repeated o-i-a vowels, but to each their own. (And I hear the common O-sound stronger than e.g. the S-sound).

Names you may like with some of the same sounds: Louise/Louisa, Odessa, Norah, Beatrice, Margot, Otis, Morris, Francis, Sander, Samuel, Jonah/Jonathan.



April 13, 2012 10:40 AM

Good points about commons sounds between two names rather than among all of them.

I hadn't noticed the 'rhyminess' of the Os in Tobias and Sofia, but now that you point it out, it is a bit more distinct. Something to think about it.

I love Norah, Margot, Sander, and Jonah from your list. Louise is a family name we're considering for a girl at some point, so we like that one too.

By hyz
April 16, 2012 3:47 PM

Anna, how are you pronouncing Tobias and Sofia?  Toh-BEE-us and Soh-FEE-ah?  I'm assuming the OP is using the standard US pronunciation for Tobias, which is Toh-BYE-us, in which case it does share the initial O with Sofia, but doesn't rhyme.  I think they are a pretty match, but to get back to the main question, I agree with everyone else that the pattern doesn't need to be so strictly defined.  I'd say stick with Tobias and Caris, and any other names you like after that should fit fine--worry about it later, IF it ever comes up.  :)

April 16, 2012 5:48 PM

The default for me would be toh-BEE-as (and soh-FEE-ah), but I'm also familiar with the toh-BYE-as pronunciation. It's not that I can't tell Tobias and Sofia apart - the strong T-sound in Tobias is enough for Tobias and Sofia to pass the yelling-at-playground test. For me it's more about the look on paper with the repeated o-i-a vowels; just a little too matchy for my eyes (and maybe ears). But it's a matter of taste and preference - look vs sound - and I mainly brought it up to encourage the OP to look beyond a-i-r names.

I like all three names, and I'm also gravitating towards the sounds they contain - a, s and o. (Except no o in Caris, but I still like it). I guess I'm hearing those sounds "louder" than I'm seeing the common r and i letters, and that's why I'd look for names with (some of) the same sounds to complete the sibset. 

April 13, 2012 4:59 AM

I see a trend for unusal or alternative versions of Biblical names in your list as well as the vowels.  I know a few families with similar tastes (I know a Matteo and an Elias) so I hope I can help.


Talia (TAL-ya)















April 13, 2012 10:49 AM

Yes, I've noticed this, too -- at least with boys' names. My husband and I are actually not religious at all, so it's always been a bit of a quirk that I seem to be partial to Biblical/Hebrew boys names. Don't know where it comes from, honestly, but I definitely can't deny it. 

For instance, none of the girls name from your list really appeal to me, but four of the five boys names you listed really do: Micah, Liam, Eli(jah), and Caleb (although this last one is the name of the family member so we wouldn't use it).

Some others I like are Joel, Jonah, Judah, Matteo, Nathaniel, and Theodore -- it wasn't until I had made a list that included name meanings that I recognized all the similar origins and meanings ("Gift of God," etc.). Interesting.

April 13, 2012 5:00 PM

how do you pronounce Caris?

April 14, 2012 8:54 PM

I believe the name is pronounced like Care-iss to rhyme with AIR-Kiss.

April 14, 2012 9:05 PM

It depends on your accent!

Much like how I do not call myself CARE-in, which *many* people do, my accent is such that I would never say CARE-iss. I would say it like Gladys: GLAD-iss. (I know that's very very difficult for many to do.)

Here is how people from the UK say it (since it is a Welsh name, and all).

April 14, 2012 9:41 PM

Okay Karyn-I can be on board with that. In that case I think my approximation would more be typed to rhyme with the A in Cat :)

April 14, 2012 10:32 PM

:) That's what I always try when people try to say my name like I do.

"Say 'cat'. Say 'hat'. Say 'rat'. Say 'Karyn'."

April 15, 2012 1:27 AM

In my mind I was pronouncing it CAR-is.  Thanks for the links, it helped.

By Guest (not verified)
April 16, 2012 5:45 PM

Yes, this ("care-iss") is how we're planning to pronounce it.

By Guest (not verified)
April 16, 2012 5:51 PM

This is the OP by the way. Forgot to sign in :-)

April 13, 2012 10:21 PM

MzLucy-I agree that the theme of AIS all shared between all the names is a bit limiting. I like the idea of shared sounds throughout the sibset though. I often suggest similar sounding names when people ask for ideas. I also think that despite the similarity in sound that your names match together well. I can't quite put a finger on the style but it wouldn't bother me to hear of a sibset of Caris, Tobias, and Sofia. You've gotten many great ideas from posters already. If you do decide to stick with your theme I will throw a few others I thought of out to you:

Alistair; Alise; Aislin or Aislynn; Isla; Isabelle(a); Lisa; Marissa; Basil; Julissa

If keeping just Caris and Tobias, I tried to keep the S sound so I think names like the following:

Stella; Rhys; Verity; Isla; Felicity; Nicholas; Melissa


By Guest (not verified)
April 16, 2012 5:46 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!

April 14, 2012 11:18 AM

If Nikolas seems wrong to you, have you thought about using the more European "Nikolaj / Nikolai?"  If I remember correctly, Tobias is popular in Germany and Nikolai would fit thematically and still shares an "o" and "i" but avoids the shared "s."  I have a Scandinavian cousin with that name and always wanted it to make the jump over to North America. For what it's worth, I don't think your theme is cheesy.  As long as your kids don't all have literally rhymed names (which they won't, looking at your list so far) , I think you'll be fine!

By Guest (not verified)
April 16, 2012 5:49 PM

Thanks! I do like "Nikolai" - I'll have to run this one by DH. I do think I like the two names for the potential if using Niko as a nickname but I don't think my husband cared for that as much when I talked to him about Nikolas.

April 16, 2012 2:53 PM

I agree with others not to get too locked in here. Maybe your "theme" isn't really "letters you love" - unless you were committed to A, I, and S in order to, say, honor grandparents who had those initials or something. If the theme is simply "names you love," which, unsurprisingly, you love in part because of a particular shared style and sound, then the options really open up.

Based on Caris, Tobias and Sofia, I'd define your style/sound as: traditional European (a mix of Celtic and classical/biblical) and established in English, clean sleek pronunciation with mostly open vowels and no consonant clusters. Caris and Tobias are a bit off the beaten track; Sofia is a current international megahit but with that spelling leans a little more exotic - Eastern European or Spanish - in English. With respect to these parameters, my thoughts on your other suggestions are:

  • Isla: reads more trendy than Caris and Tobias, without the weight of history that grounds popular Sofia; this combined with the lack of hard consonants makes it seem a bit slight next to your other choices. Scottish usage a nice balance with the Welsh roots of Caris; light and elegant.
  • Sonia: too close to use with Sofia, feels more Eastern European/"international" than your other choices
  • Silvia: a good fit, though still a bit close to Sofia (borderline for me); this spelling (Shakespeare's) good with your spelling of Sofia; less popular than Sofia if you're trying to choose between the two and care
  • Asiya (a-sigh-ah): a made-up name seems out of place with your classics, and as with Isla the bare whisper of a consonant makes it feel less substantial than your other choices
  • Sarai: used very little outside of the Old Testament story, so compared to your other choices is likely to read more exotic or more religious to others, depending on their familiarity with the story


  • Isaiah: could work; best of your boy choices in my opinion
  • Josiah: a near-rhyme with Tobias to my ear, so I would not use both
  • Elias (don't like the near-rhyme with Tobias) -> I agree
  • Nikolas (seems wrong) -> more familiar than Caris and Tobias, so probably feels to you to be lacking some flair. I actually think it fits pretty well, especially including more popular Sofia, but agree it seems less special; the previous suggestion of Nikolai works better for me. I also probably would not do three names ending in s (or s sound) - two (Caris and Tobias) are fine, but three starts to feel a bit limiting.

If you do decide you love the letter theme, here are my suggestions:

Alistair/Alasdair, Basil, Casimir, Caspian, Elisha, Isaac, Ishmael, Ossian, Sebastian, Taliesin, Tavish, Tristan

Aisling, Cressida, Cosima, Elisa(beth), Isabel, Josefina, Justina, Sabina/Sabrina, Saskia, Serafina, Simona, Tamsin

And these A,I,S names are not in keeping with your style - or too similar to your top three - but just for fun (it was an interesting challenge) and in case it inspires some more productive brainstorming:

Achilles, Aristide, Aristotle, Atticus, Ashwin, Austin, Blaise, Brandeis, Cassius, Christian, Darius, Dashiell, Davis, Frasier, Garrison, Gaius, Harris(on), Hastings, Hussain, Icarus, Jamison, Justinian, Marius, Marquis, Matthias, Midas, Misha, Narcissus, Paris, Patricius, Phineas, Qais, Rashid, Rawlins, Sailor, Samir, Samwise, Shiva, Silas, Stanislaus, Swainson, Tavis, Tiresias, Travis, Vasily, Watkins, Zacharias

Addison, Ainsley, Alessia, Allison, Anais, Anastasia, Anise, Anneliese, Avis, Callista, Cassia, Cassidy, Chastity/Chasity, Christa/Christina/Christiane(a), Clarissa, Daisy, Despina, Faustine(a), Gisela, Janis, Jasmine/Jessamine, Jessica, Julissa, Katniss, Keisha, Ksenia, Larissa, Lassiter, Lindsay, Lisa, Madison, Maisie, Marisol, Marissa/Mariska, Mavis, Melisande, Melissa, Narcissa, Nerissa, Nisha, Paisley, Priscilla, Risa, Rosita, Sadie, Safiyah, Sallie, Samira, Sarojini, Sapphire, Severina, Shaina, Shari, Sheila, Sienna, Sita, Sybilla, Thomasina, Trisha, Vashti, Wallis


April 16, 2012 3:49 PM

Wow, kalmia-it's amazing how many A I S names there are isn't it?

April 17, 2012 7:41 PM

Kalmia, this is GREAT! Very helpful -- a lot of names that I haven't seen before that still fit the original pattern (even if we decide to move away from it). I also appreciate your description of our naming style -- it's hard to put a finger on personally but I think you described it very well! Thanks again!

By EVie
April 17, 2012 10:33 PM

I would note that the name Caris isn't necessarily Welsh/Celtic. The Welsh name is spelled Carys. Caris could be an alternate spelling of that, or it could be an alternate spelling of the Greek Charis (pronounced the same), which means "Grace" (as in one of the three Graces, goddesses of charm, beauty, creativity and a bunch of other nice things). Obviously, you can choose whichever interpretation you like better, but I can't help but prefer the Greek since Tobias and Sofia are Greek as well. 

April 19, 2012 4:54 PM

EVie, thanks for clarifying this. This thread had Caris on my mind, so I suggested it to a few other posters, found myself writing Carys (which is how I think I've seen it most often), and was then second-guessing myself! I'd forgotten about Charis, but I like this too.

Also, to follow up on some of the further discussion above, I have some difficulty with the Tobias/Sofia "rhyme" too and find myself wanting to pronounce the "i" the same way in both names. It doesn't help that I've encountered Tobias pronounced "To-BEE-uhs" in my European travels, and the same time I'm well-acquainted with Sophia pronounced "so-FIY-uh," as this was the name of the founder of my alma mater. Back in the day, "so-FIY-uh" was the standard pronunciation of the name in English, a pattern which held true for a fairly large group of classical-derived names that have in many cases but not all since shifted to the "continental" pronunciation.

Growing up I knew two sisters Rita and Lila who found that they often became either "RYE-tuh and Lila" or "Rita and LEE-luh" when people tried to read their names aloud together ...

April 19, 2012 8:12 PM

I have some very religious (Catholic) friends who named their daughter Charis because they liked the fact that it is embedded in the word "eucharist".

April 20, 2012 3:34 PM

Oh, excellent point!

April 24, 2012 2:55 PM

You're right EVie.  "Carys" is the spelling that I originally came across and fell in love with, but initially, DH was not on board. Then we listened to an audio recording of World Without End by Ken Follett during a long roadtrip, and DH grew to really like the name by the end of the story (it's a very long book). In Follett's book, the name is spelled "Caris."  At the time, I was trying to get DH on board with the name Tobias, and both thought that Caris and Tobias looked a little better together than Carys and Tobias, espeically if we added Sofia to the mix. If we look at Caris and Carys as two different names with two different orgins, the meanings of the two names are different (I believe Carys means 'love') but we liked that both meanings were positive.