Settling on the right one - help!!

Hi there! I posted this in the dilemmas board too, not sure which is more appropriate... I'm 14 weeks with my first child. We're not sure whether we will find out the sex or not. Right now, we're pretty well in agreement on a boy name but have a list of similar girl names that neither of us are sure we are in love with.

I consider the name choice of utmost importance and have been interested in names for years. Over the years my tastes have always tended to gravitate to names that subsequently blow up in popularity and then I abandon them. So frustrating. I want our choices to carry meaning for our children and offer them a unique identity without being too out there. The way the name looks and more importantly feels to say are also factors I'm considering. Something with long lasting appeal is most important. I don't like names that are too trendy and would prefer something with literary or artistic connotations.

Hubby seems to share similar tastes (mostly antique charm and biblical), but definitely gravitates to names that feel familiar to him yet is very influenced to avoid names that remind him of people from his childhood.

I would like to avoid a name that reads too ethnic specific, as our backgrounds are quite mixed: I'm Norwegian Italian and hubby is an adopted Korean with a German last name. It's a harsh sounding single-syllable name starting with R, and I find it hard to make most names sound nice with it. The first name needs to have a minimum of two syllables and avoid the letter R.

In addition, we are considering the addition of a second middle name to honor hubby's heritage. The name is Lee and would not necessarily be used for a girl but hopefully for a boy.

For the boy name, we are considering Leo as a top choice. Others on the lists have included Isaac, Silas, Levi, Henry, and Milo. I like the friendly sound of names like Sam, Max, and Jack, but they feel overused to me now.

For the girl name, Olivia has been a top contender for both of us for a long time... But I'm worried how popular it is right now. Its beginning to feel too run-of-the-mill as a result, rather than special. Whereas my second choice Amelia is much lower on the popularity list, but likely climbing. I also like how the middle name Frances sounds with Amelia better than with Olivia.

Other girl names on our lists that we can't agree on are: Caroline, Isabel, Phoebe, Laurel, Grace, Hannah, Madeline, Sophie.

My question is, at what point do you ignore the name charts and how do you tell a name will continue to appeal to you over time? Also any suggestions for first/middle pairings or alternate suggestions are more than welcome!!


April 6, 2013 9:21 AM

If popularity is of your concern, I'd suggest taking (I think), Sophie & Madeline off your list. Hannah is popular with kids born in the 1990s (late 90s, I think). 

But if the names you love are all/mostly all popular, I don't see that as a reason to take all of your most-loved names off the list.

Go with what feels right. 

April 17, 2013 4:46 PM

It might be helpful for you to look at your top name choices and their popularity according to your state.  Some names might be very popular in the NE but not popular at all in the Midwest where you live.  Just an example.  I have no idea where you live.  :)

Another thing you could do is go to the name voyager tab and look up your names.  It will show a graph of how the name has ebbed and flowed over time.

One of my friends used Signe (Sig-nee) as a middle name for her daughter.  I had never heard it before then, but I thought it was a nice sounding name.  It reminds me of Sydney but not as popular as that one.

My cousin's name is Kenna, and I've never met another one.  I've met some McKennas, but none of them went by Kenna. 



July 2, 2013 5:36 PM

I would definitely look up the naming stats for YOUR STATE - because they do vary by state. For instance, I currently live in Virginia where the top boys names are: William, Mason & Liam, but my husband and I are moving to Washington (state, not DC) where the top boys names are: Mason, Liam & Ethan. Interesting since the #1 name in the US is Jacob - and it doesn't appear on either state's top 3. So these things DO vary by state. And, even IN the state, the naming trends are going to vary by neighborhoods. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's true! I have never personally met a little Olivia, but my best friend (who lives 2 hours away) knows 6 under the age of 2. 

It really just depends on how much a name speaks to you. Amelia has been on my baby name list - I took Olivia off of my list because I didn't like how popular it had become, but Amelia - to me - is just as popular as Olivia, but it hasn't caused me to scratch it off yet. Why? Because I don't just think the name is "pretty". It speaks to me more than Olivia ever did. I still think that Olivia is a lovely name; it just isn't for me. 

Another example is that James has been my all time favorite boys name forever. Despite the fact that James has always been popular, it was ALWAYS #1 on my list because I just loved it SO MUCH. When a name speaks to you, it just does and there's nothing else you can do but go with it. (I wound up using James as my son's middle name because my husband's favorite name was Lincoln and we didn't like James Lincoln as much as we liked Lincoln James.)

The only other advice I can give you is to tell you this story about how we picked the girls name for our second pregnancy. Before we got pregnant, my husband and I sat down and really discussed girls names that we liked. We came up with two girl name options (first AND middle names) and considered it done. But one of the middle names just kept calling me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn't stop thinking about that name because it was OUR NAME and we had to use it as a first name. It's a one syllable name and we'd put it, originally, as a middle name because the idea of trying to come up with a middle name for it just seemed so difficult. I didn't want the name to sound "backwards". But I just knew I wouldn't be happy with the names we'd picked because this middle name wasn't being used as a first name. My husband confessed that he, too, had liked that name the most out of all four names we'd discussed. So we decided to just use it as a first name and worry about the middle name later. That came about, actually, on a suggestion from my best friend, and it just fit. I just got chills and knew that it was THE NAME and had to be used. And that was that. When you know, you know. 


July 3, 2013 1:51 PM

This is such great advice and I will definitely refer back to this if I have kids (right now I'm just a name fanatic!).  I agree that if a particular name speaks to you, you should use it regardless of popularity.  However, if the thought of having your daughter be one of five Olivias in her class doesn't thrill you then researching the popularity trends in your area is a fantastic suggestion. For what its worth, I have a relatively common name for my age group but being one of a few Laurens in class or at work never bothered me because I love my name.

As for your choices I think both Olivia and Amelia are beautiful names and they both work equally well with your chosen middle. However, Amelia is a bit softer which may balance a harsher sounding last name. I like Isabel, Laurel, and Madeline with the middle name Frances as well. I love all of your top boys names but I wonder if using Leo with a middle name Lee would be too redundant? As a second middle name it would probably work but it's something to keep in mind and I do love the idea of honoring your husband's heritage in that way.  I think Lee would also work as a second middle for a girl - Olivia Frances Lee is beautiful!

On another note, I am so glad to hear a comment regarding one syllable first names! I have a few that I love but always thought they'd be forced to the middle slot due to "flow" issues so thank you for sharing, Mrs. H!

July 3, 2013 2:06 PM

No problem! It happens a lot, I think. I've had a number of friends who confess that their favorite name is Claire or Rose, but because those names only have one syllable, they wound up using it as a middle name instead. And with the growing trend of those names being used as middle names, I think those friends are not the only ones who've done it. I LIKE both of those names, but am not in love with either - but my husband really likes the name Claire and kept bringing it up. But everytime I tried to combine it with any name, I felt like it sounded backwards: Claire Amelia vs. Amelia Claire. 

The name we had settled on was Violet Maeve. But Maeve just wouldn't let up and we finally just went for it. My best friend sent me a text a few days after I told her that we were going with Maeve and she just may not have a middle name since we couldn't find one we loved, and said "How about Maeve Cordelia?" And I lost it. I'm a gigantic nerd - including a total fangirl obsession with all things Joss Whedon and Cordelia was the name of a character from two of his TV shows. It was just kismet, we felt, because Cordelia was NOT a name that my best friend would ever consider (and, like most of us, the names she suggests are names that she would consider using herself), but she had a dream with it and knew that it was for us. So that's the name, if - in 23 days - we find out it's a girl: Maeve Cordelia. My in-laws aren't crazy about it (they actually keep saying "If you want an Irish name...Aileen is in our family..."), but I don't really care. LOL. THAT'S how much I love it and feel like it's the right name. I'm just so glad that I finally just went for it, versus sticking with Violet - which is lovely (and still on my list for future girl names), but just not ours this time around.

July 3, 2013 2:56 PM

You're so right about the backwards phenomenon. I have a friend who named her daughter Rose Amelie and it felt inverted to me. However, she now always refers to her as Rosie and the full name seldom comes up, so I no longer think about it.

July 3, 2013 5:49 PM

I love Maeve Cordelia! I'm hoping for a girl for you now so that you can use that name.  I too am a Joss Whedon nerd so I appreciate the significance and Inara is actually one of my guilty pleasure names!

July 3, 2013 10:24 PM

Ha! Malcolm "Mal" was on my boys list! And, because I'm a gigantic nerd, I have a dog named Zoey (although, TECHNICALLY, I named her before Firefly) and a cat named Kaylee and I want to get a little basset hound and name him Simon. =) I couldn't get my husband to go for anything that sounded too "out there" (like River and Inara for some reason and lets not even touch on Wash's names!) so I felt like Cordelia was the perfect option. In addition, we found it on my dad's family tree so that's how I'm explaining the usage of it to my in-laws (who just don't get the geek stuff). 

Thanks! I'm REALLY hoping for a girl also - although I'm about 98% sure it's a boy. Oh well! =)