Thoughts on Viola

I have always loved names (spellings, meanings, culture and history) and now that I'm expecting I have an extra-good excuse for combing obsessively through names.

We don't yet know the sex (still too early), but my husband and I have already started discussing name options. For a boy, my husband has picked Mitchell Raymond, which I like as well (Raymond is a traditional middle name for his family).

For a girl, I love the name Viola and was thinking Viola Rae to incorporate the family middle name. My husband's reaction was strange, though. He said that it was "pretty, but would get made fun of". I haven't asked him exactly what that means yet, as I thought I would let the name sink in with him a bit first. So for now, I thought I would ask for opinions of the name Viola here, both on pronunciation and just thoughts in general.

For a bit more background, while Viola is a family name, it is not the name of any living or close relative (my entire family is big on names, though, so the idea of using even a distant family name would be considered an honor to that branch of the family tree). Another connection I like is that my grandmother has a Shakespearean middle name (which unfortunately she hates), so I can give a nod to her with another Shakespearean name without using the name she has never liked. I also like that it is an "old-fashioned" name, which seem to be in style these days, without being one of THE trendy old-fashioned names. So it can fit in without being a carbon copy.

On a side note, the girl name my husband has picked is Rachel. I like this name too, but I don't feel it is "the one" and am having a hard time coming up with an appropriate middle name (sorry, Rachel Rae is out for what should be obvious reasons).

Anyway, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Viola. Thanks in advance!


February 7, 2014 3:44 PM

I like Viola & I think it fits in nicely with the vintage revival style of names that are currently popular.  However, Viola has not been in the top 1000 names for the last 20 years, so I can see how some people might consider the name too unusual/weird/out there to use.  My guess is this is where your husband gets the impression that the name will get made fun of.

For a comparison, Violet has risen from #904 in 1998 to #89 last year.  I think as Violet continues to rise, we'll see more people turning to Viola as a less common alternative.  Perhaps showing your husband name stats for Violet & other vintage names will help sway his opinion?

Based on your husband's pick of Rachel, I'm going to guess that he was born in the 80's and probably knew several girls named Rachel when he was in school?  It's not uncommon for some parents (especially dads) to gravitate towards names that seem familiar, which usually means names from their own generation.  If it you think it would help, you could show him the stats for Rachel, which as been in steady decline since about the early 2000's.  Explain that it's a lovely name, but it may seem like a "mom" name to your daughter and her peers.  FWIW, I do think the full Rachel would make a lovely girl version for the middle name Raymond.

PS-baby name stats can be found on the social security baby name website.

February 7, 2014 4:44 PM

We are actually a bit older (more in the Melissa, Jennifer, Amanda generation), so I'm not sure where he gets Rachel. Being a Biblical name, it is a classic, even though it went through a trendy phase not too long ago. I could be happy with it, but it would definitely be a compromise, and at this point (with no real urgency to come up a name) I would rather keep looking for the ever-elusive "perfect" name.

Thanks for your comments, and I think the next time the subject of names comes up I will take your suggestion of showing him name stats for Violet and some of the other now-trendy old-fashioned names.

February 8, 2014 1:33 AM

I associate it with the actress Viola Davis, who won an Oscar recently, so I think it sounds quite glamorous. Maybe remind your husband of that famous bearer? I say VI-o-la, as opposed to vee-O-la, which is how I would pronounce the musical instrument. Maybe it's sharing a spelling with the instrument that he sees as for teasing?

ParentsConnect has some survey data from people with this name,asking how they like it and in what ways they were teased:

They also have a list of Shakespeare names you might like:

Bianca, Celia, Olivia, Rosalind and Rosaline... Those last ones might  appeal to him if Rachel does. Or how about Rebecca (Becca) or Leah, from the same Biblical source?

Naomi sort of splits the difference between you, since it has the same vowels and rhythm as Viola, but is more traditional/Biblical/familiar.

February 8, 2014 11:29 AM

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm still hoping Viola will grow on him, as it has the perfect combination of simplicity, beauty, and uniqueness in my mind. Love your suggestions, too! I love the name Naomi, but being the name of my great-grandmother has already been claimed by another family member, as has Rebecca. The perils of starting your family later--so many names already taken!

February 11, 2014 8:19 PM

Viola is a bit "offbeat" but still perfectly usable and not tease-worthy IMO. Since you like Viola and he likes Rachel, how about either Rachel Viola or Viola Rachel for the combo? Although Rachel has slid in popularity (making it dated to some) I think it's still a nice name that won't be as common in her generation.

February 26, 2014 7:25 AM

I love, love the name Viola. Viola Rae to me sounds perfect for you. I also like Violet as well if you husband would prefer that. On some more research I have found Violeta or Violetta and Violette.

As for Rachel though I like the sound of the name I can not get past the meaning which is "ewe" or "young sheep". I agree that Rachel Rae is out of the question.

Do you have any other names in mind?

Some suggestions for you...



Isabel/Isabelle or Isobel/Isobelle



Sophie/Sophia or Sofie or Sofia

Vivian or Vivienne 

February 26, 2014 8:16 AM

I don't think there's anything wrong with the name Viola. I just don't like it. To me, it seems sort of incomplete. I prefer the longer versions Violet and Violetta, but I don't really like those either. Sorry!

March 1, 2014 4:40 PM

I like the name Viola but I love the name Violet.

March 1, 2014 5:45 PM

I think Viola is a great name. Sure, it's quite uncommon nowadays, but it is very beautiful and I feel it can suit both a child and an adult, so you wouldn't have to worry about giving your child a name that is too grown-up or will sound too childish when she's an adult. I really love the flow of Viola Rae. I disagree with your husband, I don't think she would get made fun of for it. I know a Viola who goes by Violet, so there's always that option if she didn't like Viola. Overall, I think if you really like this name you should keep pitching it to your husband!

March 4, 2014 10:15 PM

Love Viola - in my experience with kids these days, name-kidding is not a big a deal as in the past. They usually find something, though, to kid each other.

Rachel is a perfectly nice name - but it has been used ALOT - Viola is great and fresher than Violet - which I like too.

February 13, 2015 3:25 PM

I named my daughter "Viola Rae"! She was born 5 years ago and named after my grandmother and for lack of another name I liked,  my middle name.  with a name like "Ashley" i didn't want my daughter to have a really popular name And I always loved the name " Viola". My husband liked the family name idea.

I am looking for abother girl name for my second daughter ans see "viola" is rising a little in popularity,  due to Viola Davis of how to get away with mirder", bit I doubt it will become a top 100.


March 6, 2015 7:54 PM

Viola is a beautiful name. Vintage chic! I'd pronounce it Vi-O-la.

I'm not too keen on Rachael as it is very common for my generation (80's). However, I do think it would make a great middle name, and Rae can be a nn for Rachael anyway so how about Viola Rachael? (That way you still incorporate the family name in the name, and your husband might like Viola more if Rachael also gets included).

Mitchell Raymond gets my vote. I don't know any Mitch's, old or young.

March 9, 2015 7:19 PM

Go for it! I have always been in love with the name Viola as well as the adorable nickname "Vi" pronounced "Vye". The name Vienna is another V name that I think is beautiful, but because of the connotation that it carries (sausages) my husband is not on board with it. I think most people would associate it more with Shakespeare (which is why I love it) than with food, and whenever I've pitched it to other people, sausages never even crossed their mind. Lol. If you can get over the potential connotation than it could be a beautiful alternative to Viola if your husband really has hesitations. I think men in general worry about any girls names that start with a V for potential teasing later on in middle school or high school for some obvious reasons, but I have never heard anyone with a V name teased in that way and can't imagine that ever happening. Maybe in like, the 70's and 80's but certainly not today.... haha. Would certainly not allow it to you hold you back from choosing a name you love! I agree with what some people have said above, that Rachel could be shortened to Rae if you really loved the combination of Viola-Rae. So pretty! I so hope you go with this name as I never get the chance to hear it but think it is just absolutely gorgeous and still very unique and special! Your husband may come around to the name- my husband and I were able to compromise with a name that I loved, and a name that he loved for our own daughter and are extremely happy with our choice, but it took about six or seven months of debating to finally get to that point! Good luck and congratulations :)

March 9, 2015 7:41 PM

This thread is over a year old, so the baby in question is probably running around and babbling up a storm, but I gotta ask: what does Vienna have to do with Shakespeare?