Naming another human being is hard

I need help, haha.

We are not finding out the sex, so I need/would like a couple girl names AND boy names. In general, I want to stay away from trendy names and old timey grandparent names. I'm desperately trying to draw on names from other countries that are somehow related to my and my husband's heritage to find that sweet spot between uncommon and too "unique". My husband is a mix of Metis, French Canadian and Scottish. Both of my maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands (I feel very close to my Dutch heritage because my grandparents were a big part of my childhood), and I've been told my paternal heritage is Icelandic and maybe Aboriginal. We live in Anglophone Canada.

For girls' names, I'm currently totally in love with Maelle (I would go with the "my-ELLE" pronounciation). I'm also pretty set on the middle name of Cornelia (it is my grandmother and mother's first name, and my middle name). So her name would be Maelle Cornelia, with a three syllable hyphenated last name (starting with M). I would love feedback on how this sounds to new ears.

For boys I like both Adrien/Adrian and Riel. I knew two guys with these names about a decade ago and they were awesome and French. I always thought Riel was named after Louis Riel (famous historical Metis person here in Manitoba) but recently learned it is a short form of "Gabriel". I think the middle name for a boy will probably be either Warren or James (our fathers).

Opinions on these names would be awesome, also new name suggestions along these lines (French/Dutch, to a lesser extent Scottish/Icelandic) would be most appreciated. Sifting through lists of names is just too overwhelming!



July 13, 2014 1:13 AM

Adriaan (so-spelled) is a common Dutch name, with the nicknames Ad and Arie. A variant is Arjan. I know Dutch people with all those names. Since you will be using Cornelia (Dutch nickname Corrie)for a daughter, perhaps you would be interested in Cornelis for a son. Again that's a common Dutch name--I have a Dutch friend Cornelis. Dutch queens have in succession been named Emma, Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix. The current young crown princess is Amalia. Willem is the quintessential Dutch male name--nicknames Wim and Pim. Dutch people living south of the great rivers often use Latin names and three to five of them per person. I have a dear friend named Jacobus Petrus Lambertus, otherwise known as Jack. Other Dutch male names: Dirk. Geert/Gerrit, Jan, Harm, Henk/Hendrik, Jeroen, Joris, and lots of others. I should note that the distinctively Dutch names are rather out of fashion, and Dutch children are often given names that are internationally popular. The top 5 female names for 2013 are Tess, Sophie, Julia, Emma, and Lisa. The top 5 male names are somewhat more distinctively Dutch: Sem, Levi, Bram, Daan, and Finn.

If you go to this page on, you will see lists of names by country/language. You can scroll through and see if something strikes you. Iceland has very strict naming laws, and there are lists of the legally permissible names. If you want an Icelandic name, then you must choose from the official list. Here is are listings for approved Icelandic male and female names:
Here are the commonly popular names in Iceland: Some distinctively Icelandic names that would probably suit in Anglophone Canada: Einar, Gunnar, Bjorn, Ari, Magnus, Olaf, Frey(j)a, Katla, Elin, Bryndis, Sigrun.

Names like Emma, Oliver/Olivier, Alexander, Daniel, Gabriel, Emilia, Anna, Eva, Iris are popular in all or most of the cultures you cite.

July 20, 2014 8:27 AM

Hi, Even I am  aslo searching for unqiue baby names on baby names sites  and  in one of my searches I found out that there is a free baby names book download with some cool ideas for baby names. Here it is, but I  am still debating about the right name , what do you think is better Emma or Alice ? Please help.

July 31, 2014 1:22 PM

I'm in a similar boat, so I feel your pain! I'm 3/4 French-Canadian, but I feel a strong attachment to my 1/4 Scottish/Irish/Welsh side (maybe because it's so small?). My husband is mostly Irish with some French, but his last name is Irish, so we've got that base covered. My last name is French, so we're using that as the middle name. That leaves me inclined to choose a Scottish name. It's so difficult! I'm the same way... I want the names I choose to have personal meaning/heritage links. I don't like random names!

In your situation, I think maybe you should try for a similar approach? If your last name is French-Canadian, you're covered there. Maybe choose an Icelandic, Dutch, or Scottish middle name and one of the others as the first name? I just think it might be difficult to find a perfect name that works in ALL cultures. I know you're set on Cornelia as a middle name, but perhaps you could have 2 middle names so you have more room to meet all the requirements (at least for a girl)?

If you like Maelle, what about Maelys as another option? That's in my top 3 for girls names, and it's French. It's origins are Mael, as is Maelle:  I like it because Maeve was also on my list, and Maelys was kind of a nice balance of French/Scottish. It usually has the accent (Maëlys), but I personally prefer the pronounciation to be May-leese as opposed to My-leese, so if we choose it I'll be dropping the accent. As for a Dutch girls name that could pass for French, what about Anneliese/Annelise? I spent some time in Iceland, so I know that they have some pretty awesome names there, though the strict list is limiting... maybe that's a good thing if you choose to honour that part of your heritage? I'm afraid I'm useless on the boy front--I'm stuck myself on that front! Good luck and keep us posted!