Sib Set

This question is actually about a story I wrote several months ago, which included a large family. At the time, I knew the names I gave to the kids didn't really go together, but I didn't think it was that much of a problem. Then the other day I took another look at the list of names, and I had to laugh. Some of them go together well, while others are definite outliers, but I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly which names can stay, and what to replace the rest with to give them a more consistent feel. 

This is the list of names (in age order):

Desmir nn Des (b)

Mira (Can't actually remember where she fits in, but she's older than Nairoba)






This family does live in America. The other characters in the story have very normal names.


My thoughts on each one:

Desmir: I'm not particularly attached to the name, but I do like that it starts with a D (I feel like he should have a D name, though I couldn't say why) and I love the nickname Des. I'd like him to keep a nickname with the same feel.

Mira: I like her name, and I think it fits in better than some of the others with the other names, but I'm not attached to it. In my first draft her character was actually a friend named Katie. I would like it if she keeps a relatively normal name though, to reflect her laid back personality.

Katriana: I'm more attached to her name than to any of the others, because she's a much more important character than any of the others. If I did change her name it would probably be to something like Katharine, or Karolina.

Nairoba: Yes, I know, it's horrible. I like to make up names to fit my characters, but then end up going back later and wondering what in the world I was thinking. I'm probably going to change it to Nyla or Naomi, unless I can think of another name with a bit more flair -the whole reason I picked the name Nairoba originally. I'm still hashing out my feelings for Natasha -I don't tend to love names with sh's- and Natalia, both of which go well with Katriana.

Tacia: Her name was originally Tatiana, but I changed it so it would go better with Aria, Lia, and Mira. Now I'm thinking Tatiana might actually be a better choice. On the other hand, she and Aria are nothing but filler characters, and I'm seriously considering taking both of them out, or at least not mentioning their names.

Aria: Not attached at all. While I love the name Aria, I really dont care about the character. Her only function is to take up space between Nairoba and Lia.

Lia: I like the name for her, but I think it would work better as a nickname -Lilia, Liliana, Natalia, Juliana... If I did change her name, I'd rather something short and sweet, or something with a short and sweet nickname. She's very young.

Thank you so much in advance to anyone who replies to this. I know there's a lot to think about, but I'm hoping I can eventually come up with appropriate names for all of them.

Have fun! :)


By EVie
February 20, 2014 11:25 AM

I would probably keep Aria, Lia and Mira, which I think match each other really well (maybe a little too well, to be honest, though in a big family it's not as striking), and make the following changes (trying to stay in the original spirit of the names, but going for real, established names):

Katriana --> Katrina, Catriona, Katriona or Katia

Desmir --> Desmond

Nairoba --> I like Nyla or Naomi, or Niobe (pronounced NYE-oh-bee) fits well, though it's more esoteric than your other names. Where did you get Nairoba, anyway?—did you just change the ending to the name of the city in Kenya?

Tacia --> Tacey (this is a real name and not made up, though it's very old and won't be familiar to most people), Tavia, Talia, or this one could be Natasha and called Tasha. Or you could just go with Tatiana. 

I tend to find that made-up names in fiction are distracting, because I keep thinking "Is that a real name? Where on earth did they get it?" It can work if there's a compelling in-text explanation of how the character came by that name, but sometimes it's awkward to work those in. It can also work in fantasy novels where all the characters have invented names, but then it still depends on the skill of the author in inventing realistic-sounding names—names that are strange or confusing to pronounce are also distracting (George R. R. Martin is pretty good at this; Robert Jordan was not). If I came across a Nairoba in a book, every time I saw it I would think "Like Nairobi with an a! Did they mean to reference the city?" instead of paying attention to the story. 

February 22, 2014 8:58 PM

Lots to mull over here! My immediate reactions to a few of your suggestions:

I love Katriona! And Katia would make a fabulous nickname, though I don't love it as a full name for this particular character.

Desmond is a neat option. If I change his name, which I probably will since I agree wholeheartedly with your comment on using made up names in fiction, I'll likely use Desmond.

I really like Tacey, though I'm not quite sure it fits in well with the other names. I'm also familiar with the name Tacy (as a nickname for Anastacia), so it's not much of a stretch from what I've heard before.

Strangely, Nairoba was originally a stretch from Naomi. Naomi > Niobe > Wait is that a name? > Nairobi > Wait that's a city > Nairoba. Or something like that. I totally agree with you about made up names being distracting. I usually try to avoid using them because of that, so I really don't know why I went so off track with this particular family.

February 22, 2014 4:30 PM

After looking at all the names, the biggest thing to me was too many "uh" ending names. I think Desmir is a really good name (Des is perfect) and works well with Mira and Katriana (I really didn't like the name at first, but the more I think about it I think the names suit each other quite nicely.)

As for Nairoba, that name I think reflects your initial intention on uniqueness, but doesn't really compliment the others. I personally really like the name Nym. It's short, but also uncommon and kind of whimsical.

I'm not sure how to pronounce Tacia, I'm assuming something like tah-see-uh, but I would take her out probably if she's only a filler.

As for Aria, I would leave it, or I think the name Cree also sounds good with this sib set because it compliments the harsh k in Katriana as well.

Lia I would probably make into a nickname. I feel like Camilla could be shortened to Lia (I seem to like that harsh k sound with this set.) However, I wouldn't use any form of Lily, it's too common in my opinion. Juliana is also a good option, and for someone young, maybe even Milliana.

So overall, my list would be:

Desmir (Des)





Milliana/Juliana/Camilla (Lia)


Goodluck to you! I hope this helps you in some way!

July 11, 2014 10:56 AM

I really love the name Desmir! My first thought actually wouldn't be that it's made up, but rather that it's uncommon, which I like. Desmond could work well, but I think I prefer Desmir, partially because Desmond reminds me of the female name Desdemona, which I'm using in a book I'm writing. (But that's completely me- most other people won't think of that, so Desmond is a good option.)

Mira is a cute name, and pretty normal. But if you're going for a more common and easy-going type of feel, Mira could easily become a nickname for something else. Mirabel, Miriam, and Mirim are all fairly recognizable names that Mira would be a good nickname for(Mirim might be a bit of a stretch, but it's a variant of Miriam, so you get the idea.)

Katriana is pretty, and my first thought was "It's a variant spelling of Katrina." To be honest, I like Katriana much better than Katrina, but you could easily change it to Katriona, and it feels like a mix of Katrina and Fiona (which is awesome). I wouldn't change it too much if she's one of the more important characters.

Nairoba is a beautiful name, in my opinion. I actually didn't know about the city... however, it seems I'm in the minority, so it might be best to change it. Niobe is one of my favorite names after hearing it in a book series, and I hade no problem pronouncing it. Plus it keeps with the style of Nairoba, which I appreciate.

I like the name Tacia alot better than Tatiana... Tacia is short, sweet, with a little flair. It goes well with the other names, too. Tatiana is longer and has a much different feel, at least to me. I would keep this name.

Aria is a good name for a filler character. Much like Tacia, it's short and sweet. I sense a theme within the siblings, and it fits. It goes really well with Tacia and Lia, which is cute for the three youngest.

Lia is a really good nickname for something you're talking about... I knew someone named Julia and a nickname for her was Jia, which you could use that as a tactic. Talia might be a good name to go with the nickname of Lia. And although Natalia is a good choice, I would go with something shorter.

Hope this helps! :)


July 26, 2014 8:51 PM

After much thinking it over, I have come up with what (I hope) will be my final list:

Desmond nn Des




Tacia (I pronounce it Tay-see-uh, sometimes slurred to become Tay-shuh)


Emilia nn Lia (She's never actually called Emilia in the story, but she feels more real having a full name behind her nickname)


What do you think? Are there any obvious standouts? I think Desmond is a bit of an outlier, but is it distractingly so? After all, he's also the only boy.

August 14, 2014 8:46 PM

I really like Desmir, I don't know why it doesn't sound made-up to me (thought it was a rare name until I looked it up -- and nothing).

But I second Desmond nn Des if you're set on changing it