Main Character Naming Troubles :(

I've been holding off on naming the main character, because I want the name to fit her perfectly. 

She is curious and observant. She isn’t really outgoing, but not shy, either. She can be impatient, and definitely overly perseverant most of the time. As for looks, she is smallish, with brown hair, pasty skin and hazel eyes. (I have more to it than that, but I just don't want to give it all away.)

There are some criteria to the name, though:

1) The name NEEDS to have 6 letters (because she has a twin and I want their names to have the same # of letters.)

2) The name NEEDS to end in "a" (because, again, her twin's name ends in "a" and I want that connection.)

By the way, her surname has 2 syllables. I’m flexible when it comes to middle-name choices – because, yes, even characters could use those, too. I wouldn't mind posters adding middle-name options, too - actually, I'd prefer you to, because I'm interested in what you'll come up with.

Thanks in advance. :)


October 20, 2012 2:40 PM

I just thought that it might be helpful for posters to incude nickname options also for the character name. 

Thanks again! 

By EVie
October 20, 2012 3:17 PM

Can you give us a bit more info about the style of name you want? Traditional, or contemporary? Currently popular, or obscure? What year was she born? Also, it would be super helpful if we knew what her twin's name was, because you're probably looking for something that matches it in style, or at least isn't completely out of left field. If you wanted to tell us more about her parents, that might also give us some guidance. What are their professions and education levels? Are they older parents, or younger? What is their cultural background?

October 20, 2012 5:06 PM

Yeah, sure.

Sorry it was so vague.

The book is placed in the future. No exact year, because I want to make it completely timeless. Though I haven't decided what naming styles there are then - I'm just naming the characters as they fit.

Her father works for a wealthy corperate business he runs himself. 

Her mother works for a military type thing - sorry, I can't really tell you exactly what without giving away the basis of the whole series. But it's to do a lot with the military, I'll leave it at that.

The family is considerably wealthy.

Her twin's name is Joshua (nicknamed Josh.)

A name CURRENTLY in-trend name for her, or at least not obscure, would work, since Josh is so popular. A non-Biblical name would suite the character best - maybe Shakespearan or something another famous writer came up with as a name - but Biblical would suite the parents preferences. I can easily come up with a reason why they would choose a non-Biblical name, though.

Straying away from any other religion would be best... I really don't mean to be prejuduce at all. It's just the parents in this particular story are Christian, and so naturally they wouldn't choose a name that was - say - Jewish.

October 20, 2012 5:29 PM

Um, naturally they did choose a name that was Jewish, i.e., Joshua.  You mention biblical names as a possibility.  Well, the vast majority of biblical characters are Jewish (or at least Israelite), and so are their names.


October 21, 2012 10:24 AM

Sorry... I didn't really think when I posted that names could have different origins, I knew they did, just didn't think about it - but apparently, according to 19 Kids & Counting, Josh is in the Bible as well... not sure if that's so reliable.

By EVie
October 21, 2012 2:20 PM

It's not that Joshua has multiple origins, it's that Jewish is the *only* origin of Joshua, as are most names that appear in the Old Testament (except for some that are Persian, Egyptian, etc.) Jesus is a Jewish name, too (or a Greekified/Latinized version of a Jewish name—in his own time and place he would have been called Yeshua, I believe. Which is actually a form of Joshua). You do know that Jesus was Jewish, right? And that Christianity evolved out of Judaism?

October 21, 2012 6:54 PM

I knew the two religions went hand in hand, and used the same names and stuff. But I wasn't sure which one evolved from which, as I'm not at all religious and haven't done much extensive research for my story... yet. I said the mulitple origins thing to be on the safe side, in case it did have multiple origins. The one on Baby Name Wizard says something about Jehovah - and, assuming Jehova would be short for Jehova Witness in this case, a type Christianity (I think being Catholic is different than Christian, but I`ll leave it like that for now,) I`m not sure if that would count as a different origin - probably not. I`ll be honest: I`m not a name or religion expert, though  - I am a writer. 

October 21, 2012 7:44 PM

If religion is to be any part of your writing and indeed just as a matter of general knowledge, you have a lot of research to do.  Judaism is much older than Christianity, and Christianity developed from Judaism.  Almost all of the individuals mentioned in the Greek Scriptures were Jews.  The name Jesus is the Greek form for the Hebrew name Yehoshuah (Aramaic Yeshua) which in English is Joshua.  Jehovah as it is used in the Namipedia entry for Joshua is the English expansion of the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter name of G-d.  No one knows what the correct vowels were for the name since it was never to be pronounced.  Your assumption that Jehovah in the entry is short for Jehovah's Witness is in error.  Catholicism is a form of Christianity.  All Catholics are Christian, but not all Christians are Catholic.

October 22, 2012 2:58 PM

Thanks, Miriam, for explanation 

But, just curious - if it is not from Jehovah Witness, do you know what it it means, then? 


October 22, 2012 4:47 PM

NQ, I did tell you what it meant.  Jehovah is the English transliteration-expansion of the Tetragrammaton, the never-to-be-spoken name of G-d.  The four letters of the Tetragrammaton are yod-hay-vov-hay--transliterated YHV (W)H.  Because the Hebrew alphabet has only consonants, no vowels, no one knows what the vowels in the name were originally intended to be.  Jehovah is one attempt in English to transliterate and add vowels.  Another spelling in English is Yahweh.  The root meaning of YHVH is probably related to some part of the verb 'to be.'

By EVie
October 22, 2012 5:27 PM

If it helps to clarify—"Jehovah" is effectively just the name of God, or a Latinized version of it (Miriam's explanation is much more nuanced, but maybe you're stumbling on some of the unfamiliar terms). "Jehovah's Witnesses" is the name of a Christian sect; they took their name from a verse in the Old Testament (Isaiah 43:10-12 "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen..." and so forth). Both the names Jehovah and Joshua arose thousands of years before the Jehovah's Witnesses ever existed (they only arose in the 19th century).  

Miriam is right that it's a really important thing for a writer to do enough research that you fully understand your characters and their backgrounds (I'm a writer, too, and I can tell you that I spend as much time researching as actually writing, if not more). If you wanted to make the family in your story nonreligious like the way you grew up, then it wouldn't matter so much and you could just write what you know, but if you want them to be Christian, then you need to understand what that means—people's religions have a big impact on how they live their lives. Maybe decide first what denomination of Christianity they belong to, and they start doing some background reading on that area? An easy way to decide would be to first determine what their cultural background is, as there are correlations between country of origin and religion. Families originally from Italy, Spain, France or Latin America are more likely to be Catholic, as are people who came to the U.S. from Ireland. If your family is German and/or from the Midwest, Lutheran is a good bet. From the northeast and of English descent, try Episcopalian (or, if you want them to be more strictly religious, Methodist); if Scottish, Presbyterian. If they're from the South, you could do Baptist. Evangelical is another very large denomination in the U.S., which is probably most closely associated with the religious right in politics and the mega-church culture. If the family are recent converts, this would be a good bet. On the other end of the spectrum, if they're pretty liberal and philosophical in their approach to religion, they could be Unitarians (although I wouldn't expect this so much of people who work in the military/corporate world). If they're from Greece or Russia or another Slavic country, then it's Eastern Orthodox. 

Obviously these are broad generalizations and there are a ton of other denominations that I haven't mentioned, but hopefully it's enough to get you pointed in the right direction. Good luck with your story, and please do tell us what name you choose in the end!

October 20, 2012 5:48 PM

The following names match your search criteria:

October 20, 2012 8:42 PM

My ten-year-old daughter suggests Eliana or Arista. I think both of those would work with your criteria.

By EVie
October 20, 2012 11:39 PM

sharalyns has given you a pretty extensive list, so you can certainly go through that and see if anything fits your vision. Since you say the family is Christian and the parents work in business and the military, and they have a son named Joshua, I would assume that they have relatively conservative political views and fairly mainstream/contemporary tastes in names. I would therefore recommend the following as the best matches:

Alanna, Alyssa, Amelia, Ariana, Bianca, Briana, Eliana, Eliora, Lianna, Marina, Selena, Serena, Sophia, Stella

If you think they might have more creative/modern tastes: Alaina, Alexia, Aliana, Alivia, Aviana, Sienna, Sierra, Vienna

If you think they might prefer a more 80s/90s style: Alicia, Amanda, Andrea, Angela, Crysta, Kendra, Monica, Pamela, Starla, Tamara, Tricia

If you think they might have more traditional/old-fashioned tastes: Agatha, Helena, Jemima, Louisa, Martha, Sylvia, Susana, Teresa

If you think they might like a more unusual but still traditional style: Acacia, Acadia, Adalia, Adelia, Althea, Amadea, Amalia, Anthea, Aurora, Azalea, Cassia, Dahlia, Elysia, Larisa, Linnea, Paloma, Ramona, Rowena, Samara, Sabina, Savina, Simona, Thalia, Zinnia

I did look for Biblical names, since you mentioned being interested in them, but the 6 letter/ends-in-a criteria doesn't seem to include many. Susana, Martha, Tamara and Simona fit (at least if you include variants of names in the Bible). Monica is also a very significant historical Christian figure (and saint). There are probably other saint names among the above, but I'm guessing your family isn't Catholic. 

October 21, 2012 10:22 AM

Thanks, everyone,

Those lists were pretty long.- a lot to choose from. I appreciate it. Thanks, really. I didn't think I'd get responses that quick... you guys must be pretty big name enthusiasts :)

Do you guys want to know when I choose something and what?

October 24, 2012 12:35 PM

I'm late here but do have a few thoughts to add. First, I think you've gotten some excellent advice from EVie and Miriam about research. Whether or not it turns out to be important for this particular story, it's a good idea to know the basics about the origins and occurrences of the world's major religious traditions and simply to recognize that religious heritage can be major force in people's approach to life, both in dramatic and more subtle ways. Recognizing this is just part of being of being a well-educated citizen in Western culture. It will help you understand better where people are coming from in real life, and as you develop as a writer you will be able to create more nuanced and believable characters.

Since you are interested in names in general, you will probably find it rewarding to explore their religious roots and resonances. Throughout history and across cultures, religion has been been a major force shaping the name pool. So many names are tributes to G-d, gods/goddesses, saints, characters from scripture, or invocations of blessings. Such names are so common and pervasive that people may not always be thinking specifically of the religious meaning when they choose them; for example, it may be simply a matter of liking the sound and being unaware of the history (as it seems you are drawn to Joshua), or it may be a matter of honoring great-grandpa, who just happens to have a scriptural name because so many people in our culture(s) have over the years. A lot of modern North American parents seem to be drawn to names from the Hebrew scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament (almost all of these names Jewish as has been said), not because they want to invoke Judaism or Christianity but because these names suggest an era of American history when such names were common (and did have religious significance for the mostly Protestant Christians who chose them). For these modern parents, Isaiah may more bring to mind a sturdy frontiersman than a prophet. But there are still many many parents who choose names with religious significance very firmly in mind. A name like Isaac, Ruth or Simon might be given not only with a knowledge of its meaning in the original language, not only in reference to the characters who bore them in the Bible, but specifically to invoke a particular scriptural story that is deeply meaningful to the parent. Many religions also have strong traditions or even very specific requirements regarding name choices, for example the use of saints' names by Catholics. But even here, as a writer concerned about authenticity, you need to be very careful that your understanding of tradtion isn't superficial: for example, Judaism places a heavy emphasis on religious names connecting a child to his/her ancestors, but different strands of Judaism (Reform, Modern, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox) have rather different requirements, approaches, and hence different pools of names to choose from. It probably isn't critical to the story you are writing now, but it's good to remember that names, and the act of naming, are themselves sacred in some cultures and religions.

As you think about naming your characters, there's nothing wrong with choosing names you like, but as you proceed you should be aware of the influences and motivations shaping your own choices. If you want your writing to be believable, you should also aim to make choices that reflect plausible influences and motivations for your characters' fictional namers, in their own time and place. This is especially true if you're writing historical fiction: it would be deeply distracting for your readers if the heroes of your short story set in the Great Depression are called Jayden and Ashley. But writers of fantasy too create naming cultures for their imaginary worlds, and the names they create typically fall into consistent patterns (and may even tell us something important about the culture at large, like its approach to gender roles or its attitude towards tradition, as well as the individual characters). Good questions to ask yourself are: What significance do names have in the cultural world of the story? What significance do names have to the parents who choose them (if any) and to the people who bear them (if any)? Sometimes a name is just a label for a character, nothing more - and that's absolutely OK; not every brilliant writer is obsessed with names. But character name choice definitely provides opportunities to get relevant info across to your readers (as well as to indulge your own love for certain names), and if you enjoy names and their multi-layered resonances you will seize those opportunities. It sounds like your fictional world is very similar to the modern day, in which case your answers to my questions are much less constrained: parents today have the widest ever pool of names to choose from, and it's equally plausible to picture a fictional parent picking something without much thought or due to a wide variety of reasons. I would expect the naming landscape of the near future, where your story seems to be set, to be similar and even more diversified. Thus, your fictional parents' choice can communicate a lot, if you want it to, about their values, priorities, and approach to life.

It's also worth picturing your name choices not only in the context of your immediate world and your characters' world but within the universe of fiction/myth/storytelling through the ages. The names of your characters, particularly if they are unusual, will evoke characters in other stories for the well-read and literary-minded reader. Certainly if you pick Biblical names, they will call those Bible stories to mind at least briefly, so creating parallels or contrasts with the Bible stories could add another layer of interest and complexity to your story if you want it to. No modern writer can create a character named Ishmael without connecting her story to Melville's classic; Cordelia will call to mind the Shakespeare's dutiful daughter; Persephone conjures the Greek myth of winter and spring. If you're concerned about unintended connections, picking common names like Josh is the safest path, and sharing your drafts with other writers and readers for feedback will be helpful here as in so many other ways.

When you say you are looking for the "perfect name," ask yourself why the criteria you've given are important. For starters, be clear whether these are simply the criteria you yourself would use for naming a child or are your fictional parents' criteria. In particular, since you're looking for twin names that "match," does giving matchy names communicate expectations about how similar the twins should be or act, and are those expectations in accord or in tension with the lived experience of the characters? (For real-life twins, matchy names can be a sensitive issue in defining their individual identities.) Do your characters actually like (or even care about) their names? Consider that sometimes a name that doesn't quite seem to fit can also be an important device in a story: the character could respond by feeling isolated from her peers or angry at her parents for choosing the name, or by embracing her (perceived?) outsider status, or by looking for other symbolic ways to connect with her name that reveal something about her character, or by vowing to never be like the terrible person she was named for ... etc. etc. All this to say that "perfect" as in you like the name yourself may be very different from "perfect" in the context of the story.

How important or flexible your criteria for the "perfect" name are should also probably reflect the role the names actually play in the story. For example, perhaps an author has some kind of numerological plot device in which all the good characters have six-letter names, the bad guys get five letters, and the man of mystery with a seven-letter name isn't revealed to be good or evil till the penultimate cliff-hanger chapter. (And if so, I'd wonder why the author would hang the plot on this artifice...) If that's not you, maybe a six-letter name isn't important. Ditto the ends-in-a requirement. Maybe it's just important that the twin names be "matchy" in some way, and giving them the same initials accomplishes the goal just as well, e.g. Jillian and Joshua. For that matter, if you're set on matching Joshua, how important is his name? If you picked Joshua because it's a form of the name Jesus and he's supposed to represent a Messiah figure, that might be one thing. But if it's just a plausible name that you happen to like, I'd suggest that you may be better off picking the "perfect" name for your heroine first, and then finding a name for her brother that fits hers in whatever ways seem important.

As for actual name suggestions, I love EVie's post outlining examples of names that would work in various style categories. I don't think I can improve on that, but let me make a few suggestions based on relaxing your criteria somewhat. If you'd like the ends-in-a sound but don't care about the spelling, I think Hannah would make an excellent match to Joshua: they're similar in being Biblical, currently popular, and common enough to be flexible in "fitting" a wide range of personalities. Similar names are Abigail, Leah, Rachel, Sarah; I know these fit your other criteria even less well though. If the -ah ending is close enough for you but you want something more distinctive, you could try Mariah (not a Biblical character but stylistically suggestive and of course connected to Miriam/Mary). If the Biblical aspect is less important, I like Amanda as a popular, current, every-girl name to fit with Josh. Alyssa could work too, though it feels a bit more dated to me.

I know I'm going on and on here, but one last unrelated point seems pressing to me. You say that your fictional family is religious and also that the mother is employed in military-related work. If you haven't already, I suggest you explore the possible intersections of these two facets. War poses ethical challenges that religious traditions have responded to in various ways. On the one hand you have religiously motivated warfare, like the Christian crusades or some Muslims' understanding of jihad. On the other hand you have religious pacifism, represented by, among others, Jains, some sects of Buddhism, and (among Christians) the historic "peace churches" like the Brethren and Quakers. Many denominations have wrestled with "just war" doctrine, i.e. attempts to outline under what circumstances warfare - or certain methods of warfare - are morally acceptable, justifiable or even required. Most individuals who are conscientious objectors (refuse to be soldiers), whether or not they belong to a pacifist faith, are motivated by their understanding of the religious commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." If your characters are people of faith living in times of war, their understanding of the conflict around them and their own role in it will be deeply shaped by their understanding of war as depicted in religious scripture (apocalypse? moral necessity? moral abomination? all of the above?). Also, through history the same religious texts have been interpreted to justify wildly contradicting positions, and whether your characters feel conflicted or firm in their convictions they will likely be aware of and have some opinion about differing approaches. It is hard to picture a story involving religion and the military that doesn't grapple with any of this at some level; indeed, I might expect it to be at the heart of your story. It's fine if you're aiming for light entertainment rather than deep literature, but to the extent that you have created any "good guys" or "bad guys," realize that you've already presented some moral judgments, so their/your moral understanding of war is not unrelated. And if you want your writing to feel urgent, vivid and believable, this is an area where I expect research will really pay off for you.

I know I've thrown a lot out here. Probably much of it isn't immediately helpful or perhaps you have already considered it. Maybe it will be useful to another writer who stumbles across this thread. I hope at least some of it helps you though. You certainly don't need to answer any of the questions here, and it may be that none of them get answered explicitly in the story either, but it makes sense to develop a detailed picture of the characters and their background even when if you decide not all of the details needs to be revealed in the story. (Faulkner and Tolkein are two examples of authors who actually published extensive notes sharing such "extra" details of the fictional worlds they had created, including geneologies, linguistic details, etc. You can enjoy their stories without having those auxiliary works on hand, but they may be interesting reading for you as you explore the process of how to develop a coherent and interesting fictional world.) Similarly, when you say that you want your story to be "timeless" keep in mind that good storytelling connects the reader intimately to the characters even when their lives and times are radically different from our own. I'd suggest that rather than avoiding any specificity about the time in which your story is set, do include those details: they will make the story more vivid and interesting and they will give you opportunities to dramatize your characters' choices in compelling ways. Of course, doing this well means more research. :-)

Anyway, good luck, and do tell us what you end up choosing!

October 27, 2012 9:32 AM

Thanks for the clarifications on the religion thing, EVie. I spend a lot of time researching, too, only I'm not sure which I spend doing more – researching, searching for names, or writing. This is my first time researching religion, so what you guys are telling me help a lot. I appreciate it. (I actually read this comment earlier; I just wanted to also include names I considered for the character in this post. It took a while to narrow it down, since there’s so many suggestions by sharalyns – thanks, sharalyns – seriously, it was a great help. :)

And just thought I’d mention, in response to the “Joshua” being a form of the name “Jesus” – I thought you might be interested to know that I didn’t choose the name for that reason. It was actually one of the first names I picked, before I thought about the characters’ religions, or before I even thought much about the plot at all. However, although I was aware of that name’s heritage for a while before I started toying with the idea of the story, the connection didn’t dawn on me until Kalmia brought it up – thanks for reminding me, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have remembered.

Oh, and if you had any surname suggestions (namely of Scottish, Acadian, or Irish origin,) would be greatly appreciated, as I’ve come to realise the surname I originally chose doesn’t sound well at all with any of the names I’m considering for her, and doesn’t work in general. 

Anyway, the Finalists of Names are:

Olivia – would be called “Livvy” by family & close friends and “Liv” occasionally (though I know someone with this name who could look a lot like the later-series-version of my character, by coincidence...) would it be acceptable to use this name?

Acadia – has her national heritage behind it, which is fantastic, but maybe too much heritage? (I can’t help thinking of the place named Acadia, and Acadia University whenever I hear it – might be problematic for both me writing the character, and for readers, too, possibly, when reading the name…) Is it just me who sees the place-name reference as a problem? Note: it might be challenging if I’d ever need to reference the place-Acadia, which will most likely come up at some point during the series. Plus: Her surname starts with “A” do you think alliteration would be a problem?

Alyxia – Unique, but not too out-there, like, say, “Zephrymiah,” and I mean no offence to anyone by that example, as I made up that name myself. (Alyxia doesn’t really go with Josh, though.) Also, I’m not really sure now to pronounce it: Alex-ia or Aleex-ia? I’m guessing Alex-ia. Again: would alliteration be a problem?

Lidiya/Lyydia – I’m not a big fan of the spelling, but that is easily changed, and not much of an issue. (Only problem is, I’m not sure I can see that name fitting for a teenager, later in the series.)

Your thoughts on my final picks, please?


October 27, 2012 2:08 PM

Of those choices, I would go with Olivia. 

Is there a reason Alexia wouldn't work instead of Alyxia? I could see Josh and Alexia working well also. 

Not a fan of Acadia if you're going to be referencing it in the story, and I'd avoid Lidiya/Lyydia like the plague. However, if you wanted to drop the need for 6 letters, I think Joshua and Lydia go very well together (plus you get an old testament and a new testament reference in there).


October 27, 2012 6:10 PM

I'm leaning towards the name Olivia. 

But does is matter if I know someone with this name who looks like the character? (not that she isn't a nice person, she really is, but...) Your thoughts on this dilemma?

Also, I'd like a first and surname name that flows really well together, and is catchy (ex: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson.) How does Olivia Jasper sound? Only, Josh Jasper isn't great, and their mom's name starts with a J, too. I'm thinking a surname that ends with -er or -y, they seem to work the best. And should I avoid "J" surnames?

I'd really like other surname options, too, if you guys could give me some, because my personal search isn't going very well. I don't like what's coming up on Baby Name Wizard very much - except Jasper is okay, I guess, not exactly what I'm looking for, though - and Google isn't any more of a help, either - it has a little too much selection.

Ideas greatly appreciated... :)

By EVie
October 28, 2012 1:12 AM

I think Olivia is the best, too, both in terms of the name itself and in terms of how it matches with Joshua. I agree with sharalyns that Alexia would be better than Alyxia (which, honestly, just looks made up—and I would pronounce it uh-LICKS-ee-uh, which would generate a lot of dirty jokes), and also that Lydia would be great if you could give up the 6-letter thing. Lidiya looks like a very Eastern European spelling to me, and Lyydia looks like a typo. Acadia is pretty, but I think it will be confusing if her family has a connection to the region, so I wouldn't use it. I don't think there will be a problem with you using Olivia—it's a common name. 

I think that Olivia Jasper sounds fine, but if you're looking for something Scottish, Irish or Acadian, Jasper isn't—it's an English form of a Biblical name.  

Other surname ideas—I'm better with English surnames than the ones you mentioned,, but I do have quite a few Scottish/Irish surnames in the spreadsheets I use for my own writing, so here's what I found for you. Just FYI, there is a lot of overlap between Scottish and Irish names, as the languages are very closely related, so some of the names I listed below could go either way. Names that start with Mac or Mc in either language are "son of," and you can interchange the spellings as you like (e.g. Macdonald and McDonald are both acceptable. Mc should be followed by a capital letter; Mac can go either way, though I think lowercase is more usual). O' in Irish names means "descendant of." Gil- or Kil- means "servant of."

A lot of British Isles surnames come from place names (from some ancestor who originally came from that town), so one fun way of coming up with ideas is to look at a map of the region that interests you and pick out cool-sounding names. Note: this won't work for Acadia, because Acadia was settled in the 17th century, after surnames were already developed. For Acadian names, I would suggest looking at maps of the area of France that most Acadian colonists came from—according to Wikipedia, "primarily from the Pleumartin to Poitiers in the Vienne département of west-central France."

Scottish: Gavin, Duncan, Finlay/Findley, Taggart, Grimmond, Caskie/Casky, Eason, Lacklison, Tosh, Parlane, Partlan, Bowie, Boyd, Brann, Cam, Campbell, Cashen, Catanach, Dewar, Glass, Malcolm, Meliss, Moir, Moyle, Nevins, MacNevin, Ogg, Orr, Toshack, Caird, Crearer, Gilbride, Gilchrist/Gillcrist, Gildea, Gilfillan, Gilfoyle, Gillespie, Gillis, Gilmichael, Gilmore, Gilroy/Gildroy, Gow, Grassick/Grassie, Mair, Gauld, Lachlan/Laughlan, Abercrombie, Anstruther, Arnott, Balfour, Barry/Barrie, Bonally/Bonnalie, Carruthers, Cathcart, Cogan, Corrie/Corry, Craigie, Crummay, Curwen, Dalgleish, Fiddes, Forbes, Fortin, Galloway, Glenn, Glendening, Hopkirk, Irvine/Irving, Kellock, Kellett, Kilpatrick, Kincaid, Kinghorn, Kirkland, Kirkwood, Knox, Linklater, Lundy, Maugham, Merrilees, Moffat, Pollock, Rayne, Roan, Snodgrass, Strachan/Strahan, Turreff, Tweedy

Scottish Mac/Mc surnames: Macrae, Macbeth, McGrath, McGraw, McGill, McKay, MacGowan, Macalaster/McAllister, Macarthur, McCarter, MacCalum, McCloy, Maclure, MacDonald, McFadden, MacPhee, Macintosh, McKenna, Macintyre, Maclaren/McLaren, Maclean, Macmillan, McNab, McNamara, Macpherson, Macrae, Mactavish, McCall, McKellar, Macfarlane, MacIver, MacLeod/McCloud

Irish: Branagan, Byrne, Callan, Cannon, Dempsey, Devlin, Donald, Donnelly, Donovan, Doolan, Dooley, Doran, Dockerty, Doyle, Driscoll, Duffy, Dugan, Flanagan, Flynn, Fogarty, Gallagher/Gallaher, Grady, Hennessey, Kelly, Kennedy, Lynham, Lycett, Madden, Malone, Murdoch, Murphy, Reardon/Riordan, Shane, Caffery, Kilmartin, Kilroy, Reaney,  Dermott, Briddock, Mulligan, Dougal, Dowell, Dwyer, Mayle/Mayles, Mangan, Troyt, Gill, Goff, Marmaduke

Irish Mac/Mc surnames: Macartney, MacCarthy, McElroy, Maguiness, Macaulay/McAuliffe

Irish O' surnames:  O'Brien, O'Hare, O'Connell, O'Connor, O'Donnell, O'Flaherty, O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Clery 

October 28, 2012 8:31 AM

Any ideas of surnames that end in -er or -y? I think those would sound good with Olivia & Josh. I don't care for the origin much, really, anymore, for those surnames, (though I will look up the origin once I decide on a surname, though.)

Olivia Jasper is O.K., but Josh Jasper - not loving it - and Olivia Jasper doesn't have the kind of ring to it I'm looking for. I know in real life, first names & surnames usually don't match up perfectly (though I've heard a few catchy ones,) it's nice to have a full character name with a ring to it.

To put you into perspective, let me ask you this:

Would Hermione Puckle (a surname J.K. Rowling considered for Hermione) be the same as Hermione Granger?

How about Draco Spungen or Draco Spinks instead of Draco Malfoy? (she actually considered those for Draco, they aren't just random examples.) 

I didn't think so. Just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? (Good thing Rowling changed their surnames, right?) Even if only one single person will ever read your book, it makes a difference.




October 28, 2012 11:53 AM

She listed quite a few ending in -er or -y that would work.

Finlay/Findley, Caskie/Casky, Bowie, Dewar, Crearer, Gillespie, Gilroy/Gildroy, Grassie, Abercrombie, Barry/Barrie, Bonally/Bonnalie, Corrie/Corry, Craigie, Crummay, Galloway, Irvine/Irving, Linklater, Lundy, Tweedy, McKay, Macalaster/McAllister, Macarthur, McCarter, McCloy, MacPhee, Macrae, McKellar, MacIver, Dempsey, Dooley, Dockerty, Duffy, Fogarty, Gallagher/Gallaher, Grady, Hennessey, Kelly, Kennedy, Murphy, Caffery, Kilroy, Reaney, Dwyer, Macartney, MacCarthy, McElroy, Macaulay

Personally, I'd stay away from the O' last names if you are set on Olivia. With Olivia and Joshua each having 3 syllables, I'd probably stick to a two syllable last name for both flow and to keep things simple for the reader.

Other ideas:

And of course anything that ends in -ski or -sky would fit the ending in "y" also.

By EVie
October 28, 2012 8:11 PM

I agree with you that Hermione Granger and Hermione Puckle come across very differently, but I don't think it's a matter of one having the perfect "ring". Rowling picked Granger in the end because she wanted Hermione to have a very ordinary, middle-class sort of name—she's Muggle-born, the daughter of two dentists, from a comfortable but totally unremarkable background.  Granger, as an occupational surname, fits the bill. Puckle would be a better surname for someone from a quirky wizarding background, as "Puck" is actually a very old and traditional name for mischeivous fairy/sprite/goblin characters, e.g. in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. I see it going along with other quirky wizarding surnames like Flitwick, Grubbly-Plank, Hufflepuff, Lestrange, Slughorn and Tonks. Malfoy, likewise, literally means "bad faith" in French, and so signals something about the character that Spungen or Spinks wouldn't. Other Rowling surnames are similarly significant—for instance, Finch-Fletchley signals that Justin is from an upper class but not wizarding background. Umbridge is a play on the word "umbrage," which means "offense or annoyance," and is derived from the Latin word umbra, meaning "shadow." 

In short, the reason why Rowling's name choices are considered so brilliant is because she puts thought into both what sort of family/status they signal and their meanings/derivations/associations. She doesn't just look for a name that sounds like it should be an iconic character. If you want to do something similar, I would suggest you think about what kind of characteristics you want this name to signal, and then try to find a name that matches that, because there are any number of surnames that could sound iconic with the names you've chosen. If you want to float some characteristics to us, I can certainly make some suggestions.

Regarding the ending in -er or -y, I don't think you need that to pick a name that flows well. I agree with sharalyns that two-syllable names sound good, and I also think that one-syllable can sound great (think of actress Olivia Wilde—isn't that a fantastic stage name? Her birth name was Olivia Cockburn, not nearly as good). 

November 8, 2012 4:21 PM

Thanks for the imput, EVie. 

I agree. And I might try something like that for some of the characters... 

I agree, a one syllable name would flow well with Olivia. But I've already considered a one-syllable surname for her, and then I realised it had no flow with her brother's nickname, Josh. I understand sibling name-surname flow isn't nearly as important, but, still - he's most likely going to be a supporting character.

I say "most likely" because I'm still working on the first book's plot. And it's going to be a series, so he might become of greater importance later on.