Sibling dilemma

Hi all!

Our first DD is Elizabeth nn Ellie and we are talking names for DD2. Is Isabel a good match? I'm not sure how I feel about the "royal family" feeling of it or the Ellie-Izzy possibility. Am I overthinking this? They are both family names, but great grandma Isabelle went by Belle so there is the possibility of other -bel/belle names. Thanks!


August 18, 2016 1:25 PM

Elizabeth and Isabel are the same name (like James and Jacob or Miriam and Mary), so I would say they are all too good a match.  If it were me, I would look elsewhere.  Something like Annabel or Arabella might work for your situation.

August 18, 2016 1:33 PM

I echo what Miriam said. This would be akin to naming your daughters Mary, Marie, and Maria.

August 18, 2016 1:54 PM

I didn't realize that... Any ideas? We already have a cousin Annabelle. 

August 18, 2016 2:01 PM

Um, yeah, TOO good a match: as Miriam wrote, they're the same name. I do happen to know brothers named Jacob and James, but I pity their parents' ignorance every time I think of it, and I don't recommend bestowing the same name twice, no matter how far removed they've become in sound.

(Another non-obvious same-name pair: Alice and Adelaide/Heidi.)

A different 'bell' name would certainly work: Anabel(le), Arabel(la), Amabella or Mabel, even Belinda.

August 18, 2016 5:08 PM

Also: Christabel, Mirabel(la), Mehitabel, Jezabel.

August 18, 2016 2:06 PM

Another "what Miriam said" here: my sister knows brothers named James and Jacob, and while she has heroically resisted commenting on it to them, it has certainly, uh, influenced her opinion of the parents' education/intelligence, and not in a good way. Sisters named Elizabeth and Isabel would be even worse, because the relationship between the names is more obvious/more people know about it.

I'd echo the suggestion of Annabelle to honor grandma Belle, but if that's already taken, there's also Amabel or Arabelle, or mashups like Clarabelle and Marybelle.

As far as "going with" Elizabeth, it's such a classic that pretty much any other classic name will work as a sibling name. Catherine, Margaret, Mary, Martha, Julia, Sarah, Anna, Susan, Patricia, Jane, Lucy, Laura, Josephine, Rose, Helen... pretty much anything other than modern masculine-surnames-as-feminine-given-names, such as Harper, will coordinate nicely.

August 18, 2016 2:12 PM

Thank you all! I really had no idea that they were the same name (I mean, clearly they sound simliar but I didnt think much of it). So glad I asked! Other than -belle names, any other general B or I name suggestions?

August 18, 2016 3:39 PM

Beatrice/Beatrix, Blanche/Bianca, Barbara, Bridget, Bryony, Berenice, Bernadine, Beverly, Blythe, Bronwen, Bonnie/Bonita (connected by root meaning to Belle/Bella), Brianna, Brenda, Brielle

To go with Elizabeth, I would pick Beatrice.

Letitia (Elizabeth I had a cousin Lettice, so that would go), Larissa, Laurel, Lydia, Lavinia, Lenore/Lenora, Lorraine, Leona, Leonie, Lily/Lillian/Liliana, Lucy/Lucia/Lucille/Lucinda, Linnea. Lynette, Louise/Louisa

To go with Elizabeth I would pick Letitia or Lettice.


August 18, 2016 8:17 PM

I like Beatrice.  As a twist on Isabel, though, how about Isadora?  Ellie and Izzy are plenty different, or you could call Elizabeth by any of the multitudinous other standard nicknames (Lizzie, Beth, Betsy, Eliza, etc.), and/or Isadora could be Dora or Dori for short.

other nice I and B names: Ivy, Bianca, Iris, Irene, Iliana, Isla, Bridget, Belinda

August 18, 2016 7:48 PM

Belle is my favorite -bell name but below are other options:

Mirabel, Bellamy, Arabelle, Gabrielle, Campbell


Here are some "B" names

Bridget, Brynn, Bailey, Briar, Brighton, Beatrix, Blair, Baylor, Blythe, Brenna, Bea

August 19, 2016 11:54 PM

My vote would be to knowingly use Isabel as a middle name. And to use Grandma's version, not a -bel nod to her, when doing so. Embrace it!

If there was a family whose children were named Mary Catherine and Sylvia Mary, or Mary Catherine and Sylvia Marie, would you condemn the parents as uneducated? Not at all. You'd ask for their story. And what a great story you have for them to share a name with each other and their grandmother, while maintaining their own unique identities.

That's what the middle name spot is for. Use it!

By mk
August 20, 2016 10:04 PM

I agree with PlusOne. I'd probably just use Isabelle as the middle name.

Otherwise, I like the suggestion of Isadora instead of a belle name, or Arabelle/a.

August 21, 2016 9:30 AM

If we went with Isabel as a middle name, we'd probably do the first name after Richard nn Richy. Any ideas how to make that work? We though of Rose as a mn but DH doesn't like it as a first. I had thought of Rachel as a first name but Rachel Isabel feels clunky. Thanks! 

August 21, 2016 10:41 AM

Richenda! Like Richard, it's an old Germanic two-parter in which the first part is ric 'ruler'. (The etymology of the second part is uncertain.) It has been in at least occasional use in English since the early Middle Ages.

If you'd rather go with something better-known, then honor-by-initials seems the best strategy. Besides Rose and Rachel, there's Ruby, Rebecca, Rosalie, Ruth, Rosemary, Regina, or perhaps Teresa nicknamed Reese. I don't mind the repeated endings between Rachel and Isabel, and besides, it generally won't really matter, because most people don't use middle names on a day-to-day basis.

August 21, 2016 12:43 PM

Another relevant medieval variant is Richildis/Richilde.

August 21, 2016 12:56 PM

We're definitely looking for something more "standard" than Germanic. Thank you! 

August 22, 2016 2:09 PM

Note that Richenda is just as English a name as Richard. They share a Germanic etymology, but that doesn't necessarily make them German names. (I know, I know. "I'm not anal, I'm a pedant. Let me explain the difference...")

By rfb
August 21, 2016 4:15 PM

Maybe a bit of a stretch, but what about Charis or Patricia? Charis shares most of its letters with Richard, though it's pronounced with a K. Patricia contains the 'ric'-sequence and the nickname Trishy (or however you want to spell that) *sounds* like an anagram of Richy... 

August 21, 2016 6:42 PM

Richelle, Richardine, Rikki, Ricarda, and Riccarda are all feminine forms of Richard.

August 22, 2016 1:26 AM

What about Rosamond, called Rosie? Rosamond Isabel and Rosamond Belle are both very pretty and work well with Elizabeth. 

August 22, 2016 3:14 AM

They are variations of the same name, as others have mentionned, but I think the general population wouldn't know this, only name geeks would. If you like them, then I say go for it.

August 22, 2016 11:08 AM

What happens when little Isabel grows up and searches for the meaning/origin of her name and discovers that it's just a different version of her older sister's name? 

August 22, 2016 1:42 PM

I think any child who takes middle school Spanish is going to learn this quickly, since teachers usually try to pick the Spanish versions of the English names (and as an aside, that task must get more difficult every year!). I became Isabel in middle school Spanish class.

August 22, 2016 1:53 PM

You all have been so amazingly helpful. DH is not loving any of the R names I've suggested but seems to think that Charlotte has enough of the same letters as Richard that we can swing it. What do you think? And thoughts on Charlotte Isabel?

August 22, 2016 2:28 PM

Obviously you can name your child whatever you and your husband wish,  If by "swinging it," you mean that other people would see Charlotte as an honor name for a Richard, I would say no.  Charlotte is a form of Karl, nothing to do with Richard.  But if you and your family feel the similarity is sufficient, then who is to gainsay you.  You can tell your daughter that her name honors Richard because both names have char in them (even though the ch is pronounced differently), and she will have no choice but to accept that.

Charlotte Isabel is a lovely and fashionable name and will serve your daughter well for a lifetime.  In my personal estimation it falls short as an honor name for Richard, and Isabel is still a repeat of her sister's name.  But that's just my personal opinion.  If Charlotte fulfills your preference for an honor name for Richard and if you think that sharing the same name in different forms makes for a nice subtle bond between sisters, then the name itself is beyond reproach.

August 22, 2016 3:55 PM

My issue is that all of the feminine variations of Richard are not names that he would recognize or appreciate, regardless of the actual connection. Based on the responses here, we've decided against using Isabel as a first name for sure. As of now, no other R name appeals to both me and my husband, so we've had to start thinking outside the box. My DH was thinking that Richy and Charlie as a nn do have similar sounds even if they have no actual connection. We are still not sure about using Isabel at all but I'm more comfortable with it as a not used very often middle name. 

August 22, 2016 5:05 PM

How do you feel about namesakes connected by meaning, instead of sound? Richard derives from elements meaning rule/power and brave/hardy, and possibly the most famous namesake is King Richard the Lionhearted. So you could perhaps use a "lion" name like Leona/Leonie or Ariel, or one with a similar derivation, like Bernadine (which originally shared the "-hard"=brave ending).

You can see a lot of names with related derivations here:,lead,brave,rule,hardy

(I left in the masculine names, because many have feminine versions that don't show up independently in the list.)

August 23, 2016 1:20 AM

Charlotte Isabel is gorgeous.

I vote that you be content in having one honor name, with no corruption or stretch or explanation needed, and you find another way or time or place to honor Richard if you can't seem to make it work for this little girl.

August 22, 2016 4:47 PM

Keep in mind the posters here are more knowledgeable/aware of name meanings than the general population. Personally, I don't see a problem with putting Isabel in the middle spot at all in your case, because Isabel is a family name, and presumably both your daughters would be aware of the significance. I think the weight you put on it being great grandma's namesake will matter a lot more than how the names are derived (assuming it's only a middle name).

I know second/foreign language teachers do try to translate students' names, but in my experience it's not such a big shift as Elizabeth --> Isabel. More like Alexander --> Alexandre. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that I wouldn't assume all second language teachers do this. (I could be in the minority here). Even if a Spanish teacher decides to call Elizabeth Isabel in their class, if it's her sister's middle name, and we're only talking 1 teacher here, not the whole school staff... I really don't see the big deal. If Elizabeth has a problem with being called Isabel by one teacher because it's her sister's middle name, asking to be called Elizabeth and a simple explanation as to why should suffice. 

As long as you feel Charlotte honours Richard, and Richard feels Charlotte is a nod to him, then I think you're in the clear there. But just a warning that Charlotte will probably be perceived as more "royal" than Isabel, because of Princess Charlotte. 

August 22, 2016 5:06 PM

Queen Isabella the Catholic (Isabel la Catolica) of Castile was just as "royal" if not more so than Princess Charlotte.  Surely the schools still teach about Isabella and Columbus in the early classes of American history.

By rooo
August 23, 2016 1:48 AM

I like Charlotte as a first name. Definitely a stretch from Richard, but as long as it's meaningful to you that's fine.

Here are a few other names that you could consider a nod to Richard:

You could also go with Beatrice/Beatrix as a "mash-up" of Belle and Richard. Or reverse them and get real names Rielle, Risa or Ardelle. If you like either as the middle name, then just choose your favorite first name. Charlotte Rielle? Beatrice Ardelle?


August 24, 2016 12:40 PM

Elizabeth and Charlotte are lovely names for sisters!