Miranda and Isabel have been on our sometimes short, sometimes long list now and it's just occurred to me that I rather like Mirabel. I have read that it is an old name but my concern is that it sounds too much like a modern mashup. Does anybody know about its historical usage? I like names with history and I prefer elegant over frilly femininity in names. Mirabel doesn't feel princess-y to me, but I've seen it described that way. What are your impressions of Mirabel and how does it compare to Miranda and Isabel?

The other names on our list: Ivy, Iris, Winifred, Juliet, Diana, Eliza/Elizabeth, Guinevere, Coraline. Current children are Sylvia and Theodore.


January 26, 2016 1:40 AM

Mirabel(le) goes back to the Middle Ages, but it has always been very rare.  But if you are thinking Miranda+Isabel=Mirabel, then it is in some sense a mashup, albeit a mashup that coincides with an old name derived from the Latin Mirabilis.  Reminds me of my high school Latin teacher who always went around saying mirabile dictu (wonderful to say/tell/relate.

January 26, 2016 2:29 AM

I know a Mirabelle!  Next time I see her, I'll ask her if she likes it.  I don't think anyone has any trouble with the name.  I just think of it as a pretty French name.  (My friend, incidentally, is from Singapore.)

Popular culture note: in the very popular Fancy Nancy children's books, Nancy's doll is named Marabelle.  This would make the name familiar to parents, teachers, and little girls (plus a few boys), but it's not a prominent popular cutlture association that you can't quite shake, like the name Madonna or something.





January 26, 2016 3:28 AM

I like Mirabel a lot! I think that spelling seems much more pared down and unprincessy than the Mirabelle and Mirabella variants. It doesn't strike me as a new name or an invention, but none of the Mirabel* names show up in the SSA data until 1982. I think the sense I get is that it's just been a rare name with a long history, and that it's merely been lying dormant until more recently, when -bel names in general have enjoyed a resurgence.

I know many Miriams called Mira, and also one girl named after the children's book Mirette and the High Wire... and recently got to know a Mirabai (an Indian name that also has a very long history -- instead of "bell" added to the end of Mira, it's "bye", at least as it's being pronounced by the parents in this family). I think all the Mira names are lovely, but I particularly like Mirabel. I think it would be an excellent choice for you -- very stylish, but still distinct.

January 26, 2016 6:27 AM

I like Mirabel. I have a bit of an allergy to frilly or princessy names, and Mirabel doesn't strike me that way at all (with that spelling). I also like the Mira, Miri and even Bel (with that spelling) nickname options.

I also like Isabel (that spelling or Isobel), though it's certainly popular these days, and Miranda. Miranda is the kind of name I want to LOVE for the Shakespeare connection, but its popularity in the 70s/80s, along with the Sex and the City character and Miranda Kerr kind of mess it up for me. Mirabel, happily, doesn't have that problem -- although neither does it have the Shakespeare.

Elsewhere in your list, I'm a big fan of Ivy, Iris, Winifred and Juliet!

January 26, 2016 10:48 AM

In the abstract, I would describe Mirabel as slightly fruity, like Clementine, rather than princessy or frilly. :-) As a concrete name on an actual person, I believe I would find it delightful.

As Miriam pointed out, Mirabel is a very old name, but it has never been common. It's found in the Middle Ages (1100s to 1300s) in England in spellings like Mirabella, Mirabilis, Mirabilla, Mirable, and Mirabel. It derives from a Latin word mirabilis meaning 'glorious, wonderful'. This is related to miranda 'worthy to be admired', which is assumed to be Shakespeare's source for the character name he invented for The Tempest.

I can understand why Mirabel may feel like a modern mashup: it combines the best parts of several currently popular names, without creating any unfortunate concatenations. (Some may classify the "rand" in Miranda as unfortunate, for example.) But I think there are still enough people around with an interest in Latin who would immediately recognize its origin, and you can seize the educational opportunity with everyone else.

February 8, 2016 12:07 PM

Definitely slightly fruity, as it's a type of plum found in France, spelled mirabelle- delicious! :)

January 26, 2016 1:17 PM

For me Mirabel is a very nice name! I love that it comes from the Latin word mirabilis that means wonderful or marvellous.

January 26, 2016 7:00 PM

Thanks guys! That was super helpful, I was able to cut my list down a bit. It's still a little large for a short list but hopefully now that I'm settled on middle names as well I won't feel the urge to consider any new names. 

January 28, 2016 11:50 AM

So the list as it now stands is: Miranda, Iris, Juliet, Elizabeth "Eliza", Guinevere, Coraline, Winifred, Ivy, Mirabel. We are not overly inclined to nicknames and don't like to use the cutest ones, although we find them adorable. Elizabeth would definately be Eliza by me, husband isn't determined on a particular nickname but prefers the whole name...on my own I would have just gone for Eliza as the full name. We like the nicknames for the others and might use the nickname Mira for Miranda or Mirabel, Gwen for Guinevere, Cora for Coraline and Frida or Freya for Winifred. Winnie is cute but I don't feel inclined to use it and I know Freya is a bit of a stretch but it feels like a natural progression to me. 

What names do you think go well with  siblings Theodore "Theo" and Sylvia who doesn't currently have a nickname? Any names you think don't work? We have middles picked out but I've been on the fence about sharing too much over the internet so we'll leave it for firsts for now. 

Which Guinevere spelling? Guinevere seems most popular and used in pop culture but I kind of like the look of Gwenevere the best. I generally prefer common or established spellings but there are so many ways the name has been spelled. Do you think Mirabelle would be a better more intuitive spelling? I prefer the look of Mirabel but also don't want the name to be too confusing. 

January 28, 2016 2:27 PM

I don't think either spelling is better or more intuitive. I'd go with the one you like better. People are going to be familiar with both -bel and -belle endings from names like Isabel/Isabelle. 

January 29, 2016 8:19 AM

Your list is really lovely, so it's hard to choose and as others have said, you can't really go wrong.

My personal favourite name is Winifred (especially with nickname Freya). I think it sounds different from your other children's names a little, but it is such a wonderful name.

My other favourites are Ivy, Juliet, Mirabel and Miranda (and Coraline, guilty pleasure, not sure why guilty).

I love Eliza but I can't get excited about Elizabeth in comparison to the other names in the list and particularly as a sister for Sylvia, which just seems to have so much more sparkle (I could see Eliza as a sister for Sylvia, but since your husband's not convinced it's likely she would often be Elizabeth).

I really enjoy both spellings of Gwenevere. Either way I think it will need spelling out fairly often. I know the most popular spelling, but I still have to think about it when I go to write it, because it seems inverted to how I say it (my brain pronounces it Gwenivere, and I'm always overriding that in writing).

Mirabel I only like (for you) with that spelling. Mirabelle seems like a Disney princess in waiting somehow, and doesn't ring high culture for me. It's definitely a pretty name, but just quite a different vibe from the siblings and the other names on the list.

As I said above though, you can't really go wrong with any of them!

January 29, 2016 11:39 AM

I like Mirabel better, visually, as it feels less frilly, but the plums are Mirabelle so I think it comes down to my being equally okay with either spelling. I think the -belle names are all subject to some spelling ambiguity so I think you'd end up spelling it out a bit either way you go about it.

I think Guinevere is the spelling I think of as being the current standard, but it's a name that's been spelled every which way for a long time, and I can guarantee you that it'll require guidance on the spelling anyway, so if you like the look of Gwenevere the best I think you should go for it.

January 28, 2016 7:00 PM

I like Mirabel.

I don't think it sounds princess-y, but I do think it's a bit different sound and style wise than most of your short list. 

Sylvia and Theodore are a very artsy pair for me. I assume you all live in a super chic loft and that Sylvia and Theodore know the names of all the paintings at the art museum. I mean all that most complimentary, of course! 

I think Miranda and Iris seem like the most natural fits, followed in sort of a tie for third by Guinevere and Coraline. Then Elizabeth/Juliet. 

I like the name Ivy a lot. It seems more.....conventional? than the story I've conjured up in my head about your family (purely in my own mind of course).

I may well have rooted for it in the past, though. I know I've commented on your list before, and I often contradict myself when it's such a good bunch.

I just personally don't care for Winifred, so I can't comment on it fairly. Diana does seem dated for me, and so tied to the princess. Of course, that is my generation/age showing. She passed away when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, so I remember it all particularly well. I might well be charmed if I met a young one irl.....

The only other thing I'll note with Mirabel, is that the obvious nns-Mira, Mia, Belle...are very much in style. Whether you see that as a plus or minus, is up to you! 

It was also the name of an elephant on a PBS children's program for a while, only she spelled it Mirabelle. I don't think it's on any more, so I wouldn't worry about that, but the theme songs for shows your children loved when they were small are sort of always with you! 

Really, you have a happy predicament with your list. You truly can't go wrong! 

January 28, 2016 7:31 PM

The PBS show was Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies, my stepson used to love it! We sure do tend to remember the kiddos' favorite shows, even if they grow and become mortified at the mention of them! It was a great show in my opinion, a bunch of African savannah animals--zebra's, elephants, giraffes--all teaching about animals and animal life in general.

I know for a fact that kids, particularly little girls, many times love to share a name with a favorite book or tv/film character, I say this because my neighbor has a young Els@ and my cousin has a M@deline who loves the show (I used to love it myself as a girl)... So I don't see it at all as something bad, I think it all works to make some more obscure names such as Mirabel for instance, more recognizable.

As for the different spellings, I find both very appealing, but with brother Theodore and sister Sylvia, I would probably stick with the less girly Mirabel.

January 28, 2016 9:44 PM

I think you are right about the sort of feel I am going for. We are into high culture and want to impart a love of music, art, theater, literature but in reality we aren't very chic and are kind of homebodies. I can't really explain why I'm so enamored with the name Mirabel right now, it does seem a little different from my usual taste. It's nice to hear that there is a well loved children's show with the name, hopefully that will make the name more familiar to their generation. It seems to me that a good deal of names that are fashionable these days are because of well loved children's entertainment. That's a theory I have anyway.

By alr
January 28, 2016 9:29 PM

I think Mirabel sounds great in your sib set! I do think it's a smide frilly to my ear, but that is only in comparison to my own daughter's name, Mabel. Overall, as long as you don't go with the Mirabelle spelling, I think it's still grounded and non-princessy. I think Guinevere is VERY princessy, I prefer Mirabel. :)

Compared to Miranda and Isabel, both of which I love, I'd say it is 'fresher' than Miranda and less expected than Isabel. 

On your list, and to fit with Sylvia and Theo, I like Iris, in addition to Mirabel. 

January 29, 2016 12:47 PM

My mother's name was Sylvia.  Her sisters were Blanche and Mildred.  I am not recommending those names for several reasons, including the fact that Blanche and Mildred were dead ringers for Cinderella's stepsisters.

January 29, 2016 6:47 PM

It's funny, Mildred has actually been starting to grow on me lately. Not enough to where I'd consider it though myself. 

February 7, 2016 5:48 PM

Mildred was my grandmother's name. 

She hated it, and no one in her family ever used it. 

Milly is cute, but that, "Dred," bit at the end is awfully hard to overcome, I think.

But everything seems to come back in style eventually! 

February 7, 2016 7:24 PM

The original form of Mildred is Mildþryð (Mildthryth/Mildthrith).  There's no 'dred' in that, but that pile up of consonants in the middle is very much not to current tastes.

February 7, 2016 1:03 PM

Mirabel is wonderful. (Isabel's lovely, too, but it seems to me that everyone and their dog is called Isabel at the moment, so I'd vote Mirabel by a mile.)

March 29, 2016 1:24 PM

Baby has arrived! Near the end of the pregnancy I needed a break from the naming forum so that I could name based our preferences taking precedence with everyone's excellent advice in the back of my mind but not at the forefront. I've seen too many people get caught up in worrying about other people's opinions and I know it's a trap I can fall easily into myself. So the break was very useful. During this time our list also changed a bit. The hospital list ended up being 10 names long! I went in confident we would be able to pick out a name and while we didn't know immediately this time, we were able to pick a name before leaving the hospital. The list we took in was: Anastasia, Juliet, Annabel, Mirabelle, Coraline, Iris, Miranda, Winifred, Elizabeth "Eliza", and Ivy. As soon as we had a minute to talk and get to know our daughter we crossed off over half the list and we were left with Anastasia, Juliet, Coraline, and Elizabeth "Eliza". The other names were just not right for her. By the next morning we had it down to two names, Juliet and Anastasia and that was a harder decision. We were both split almost 50/50 between the two names. We ended up going with Anastasia because we loved the nickname Annie and didn't have any nicknames we loved for Juliet. We love her name and think it's the perfect fit for her. We call her both Anastasia and Annie. I've heard people describe Anastasia as a princes name but that isn't how we feel about the name. To us it has a similar feel as Elizabeth or Charlotte or Caroline. Regal and elegant and classic with great nicknames but not as ubiquitous. It was the name we had agreed upon when we first started dating in fact. Plus I really like the meaning which seems very appropritate for a baby born around the start of spring. 50 shades of Grey had held us back for some time but I'm glad I got over that. Thanks everyone for your help!

March 29, 2016 3:08 PM

Congratulations! Beautiful choice.

April 6, 2016 4:58 AM

I think that's lovely and I really like Annie as a nickname. Anastasia is unexpected but goes well with your other children too!

April 7, 2016 1:54 AM

Congratulations! Anastasia beautifully complements your older children's names, and I adore the nickname Annie.

Thanks so much for letting us know the name you chose. 

April 8, 2016 9:01 AM

Congratulations.  Anastasia is a beautiful name.