Two Cute Names?

 So we're having a hard time choosing between 2 names we like for a little girl. We came up with Sanorah together but we also like Selah (SAY-luh). They both have pros and cons for us.  They're both beautiful but I think Sanorah might be a little too bizarre, but I haven't shared it with anyone yet and Selah may be too close to a family name. Which would you choose? Do you like the name Sanorah (sa-NOR-uh)? 


April 9, 2017 10:07 AM

I responded to Selah in the other thread so will just address Sanorah here. I keep misreading it to be Sayonara, the Japanese goodbye. Knowing it is wrong, I re-read it and go to Sanoran, like the desert, which I catch myself partway through. Snore-uh? No. Then I carefully re-read and commit my effort to suh-Nora. All to just repeat it seconds later when I see it again. It comes across as difficult, clunky, and lacking in melody or association to me.

Might I suggest some similar names?


You could do two names together as well. Selah Nora. Sadie Honora. Sarah Eleanora. Shay Norah. (Or Shea or Shaye Nora). Sparrow Eleanor. Sorcha Leonora. Sylvie Lenora. Suri Lenore. You'd get a similar sound without the confusion.

April 9, 2017 11:12 AM

Haha we spelled it that way because the original spelling kept auto correcting to Senora, the Spanish word for lady or ma'am, I'm not sure which I don't speak Spanish! I didn't think about sayonara! I love the name Norah, but I like Sa- because it makes it our own. Is that tacky?


April 9, 2017 11:28 AM

I don't tend to call any names tacky, but adding a letter or syllable to the front of a name (like La or D') is generally associated with belonging to a lower class and/or minority ethnic group and not with making a name one's own.

How many girls named Honora or Lenore do you know? Have you ever met one? I don't think you need to worry about such a name not being able to be your daughter's own. Instead, you want to make sure she can make it her own and not that the name is so big or unusual that it makes her identity for her, with the name detracting from or framing the person she is.

April 9, 2017 11:43 AM

Well actually I was teased by a girl named Lenora in school and Honora sounds forced. And tbh we ARE ethnic minorities and we don't mind our name being associated with being a minority since her face will be lol. 

April 9, 2017 11:58 AM

Lenora is off the list then! :) 

The trend this year for girls' names is to mask their physical attributes with gender-neutral or masculine names which do not reflect ethnicity, nationality, or religion. If she will be living in a pocket where Sanorah is more naturally accepted than Elliot, Emerson, Sailor, and Sloane, then it makes more sense to use it. You should be aware when she moves out of that pocket that a large section of her peers will have names and experienes that express individuality by blending in and not by standing out. There's no value (right or wrong) in this, just awareness of the cultural trend.

April 9, 2017 2:10 PM

If you want to have a name that you made up especially for your daughter, i think Sanorah is nice.

If instead you're looking for something recognizable but unusual, perhaps you could consider spelling her Sonora (like the desert--also a state of Mexico); i don't think people will really confuse it with Señora, even if it does autocorrect.  My rhyming suggestions are Zipporah (like the wife of Moses), Zora (like author Zora Neale Hurston), Zamora (a city in Spain), Adora, Annora, Andorra (like the country), Pandora, and Evora (city in Portugal, pronounced EV-oh-ruh).

I also like Selah, and since i'd never heard it spoken before (only read it in books), my guess at pronunciation was SAY-luh.  I don't really have a sense of how confusing that pronunciation might turn out to be, but i prefer it to SEE-luh, which sounds like you're calling your daughter a seal.  (Nothing against seals--i'd just rather name my kid after someone else, like maybe an otter.)  And i don't think it's too close to Leia.

April 9, 2017 12:56 PM

Sanorah is not really my style but I do think it's pretty. Unlike the previous response I actually find that the easier name of the two to say (Selah my brain wants to break after the l instead of before SEL-ah) and would have guessed at the pronunciation you're going for. Having said that I think you/your daughter are likely to get many instances of mispronunciation/misspelling with either name, which shouldn't at all be a dealbreaker but just somehing to be aware of. 

I don't think Sanorah is "bizarre" at all, especially not in today's naming world.

By mk
April 9, 2017 3:49 PM

I don't like the ending H, but that is a personal preference. Otherwise I like it. i don't find it unusual or widely different than other names.

I googleed it and the first hit was novelist Sanora Babb.

April 9, 2017 4:22 PM

I am uncomfortable with the claim that De- and La- prefix constructions are lower class name innovation and I think it's also silly to beat around the bush with association with "certain minority groups". Real talk: These are distinctively African-American naming pattens, though they have been subsequently adopted by certain European-American communities, such as Utah, as well. (I have had a white student named LaKiesha, as well as many black students with similar La and De name constructions.) Suggesting super white names like Leonora and Honora as alternatives strikes me as kind of culturally... insensitive, or at least tone deaf? Let's remember that not everyone who posts here is naming a white baby, and not make that the default assumption.

I like Sonora better as a spelling because it is more intuitive for me with the sound, given the place name. I would not worry about the Spanish word for woman: that has an enyay (tilde over the n) and makes a different sound -- senyorah. (Interestingly, my great-aunt by marriage was actually named Senorita (the tilde got dropped in official documents, but it was pronounced just like señorita, going by Rita...   Her family background is upperclass African American, not Latina.) Anyway, for me, the Sonora spelling adds majesty and an association with the striking beauty of nature. The San- spelling reminds me more of santitation, perhaps because I see it in nlame creations for products like the signs for Sanibags every time I use a bathroom on a ferry.)

i also love Selah, though, and it seems like a name that would wear well on a child of many different racial backgrounds. I wouldn't worry about similarity to the cousin's name as you decide!

April 9, 2017 5:48 PM

This is a fair criticism, although I was restricting the offered names to those which use the poster's desired sound of Nora which is limited to northern Europe and it's diaspora. The use of rhyming names above is far more inclusive.

April 10, 2017 6:37 PM

I think the entire point of the African American name constructions is that this is a culture that has been systematically severed from its linguistic roots through slavery, and that the culture that arose in the wake of slavery not only tried to echo African naming customs (which is hard because Africa is a contintent that comprises hugely diverse naming traditions, and before the advent of genetic testing people often have no idea what areas their ancestors actually even hailed from) but also has had to construct new names from the (northern European) elements that had been imposed. 

Also I can point out that Jinora, from Avatar the Last Airbender, is a pop culture invention from an Asian-inspired fantasty universe that is currently enjoying some use on real babies... as is Sanora (6 born last year).

April 10, 2017 9:55 PM

Another point: people who belong to denominations/religions that have rituals in which infants are named (e.g., infant baptism and newborn circumcision) tend to have naming choices limited by religious considerations. Likewise denominations that practice adult baptism or which do not have religious naming rules will have a wide variety of names, some newly coined, amongst adherents.

Thus, Louisiana creoles of color who are largely Catholic tend to follow French naming guidelines: canonical and classical names. African-Americans who belong to Baptist churches do not have any religious strictures on name choice and thus feel free to choose or construct names from a variety of sources. Similarly Jewish males who are named at circumcision receive names from a pool of roughly 150 religiously acceptable names, while since traditionally there was no naming ritual for girls, Jewish women were given names from a variety of languages, most having no religious significance, my favorite being the medieval woman named Licorice. I am no expert, but my assumption would be that the LDS church does not have an infant naming ceremony, and thus LDS parents have free naming choice.

April 9, 2017 11:41 PM

Thank you! For a second I'm like well there goes another baby naming forum. I didn't think I'd ever find one accepting of African American sounding names! I'm like whenever I post something should I have to put the disclaimer that my child will be black so I don't get European suggestions? It's not that I don't LIKE those kinds of names, it's just I'd rather not name my black baby Hannah. And to assume that's lower class? I thought this was 2017 smh. 

April 10, 2017 12:36 PM

Yay African-American babies and African-American sounding baby names!!!

(Also I didn't know that Mormon namers also went in for La- and Da- names. That's interesting.)

I agree that Sonora looks really nice, and it reminds me of sonorous. Lovely. 

A word of caution about syllable+Nora names, though. I met an Annora the other day, and I misheard her name as Nora. "Oh, hi Nora," I said. Her big brother, in a very exasperated tone, said, "For the hundredth time, its AN-Nora." So there's that. I think being one syllable shy of a common name can be less unique and more a pain in the tuchus.

The problem with Selah for me is that I know it can be pronounced SEE-luh, so the SAY-luh spelling isn't intuitive. No biggie, though. 

So... What's my suggestion then?

I think go for Sonora (that spelling rocks in my humble opinion) or Selah if you love them. Other ideas:

Naima (I think it's a variant of Naomi, but you might want to look into it). 

Anokhi (Hindi for "unique," but when I thought about naming my daughter this, people thought it sounded like an African name). 

Amalia (actually European, but I know Amalis and people with similar names who hail from Muslim countries, so there is a hint of international flavor that takes this name beyond Europe for me).



April 10, 2017 8:38 PM is a good site if you want to spend some time immersing yourself in the very distinctive naming subculture of Utah... and has an annual roundup that is worth reading if you don't mind a very snarky tone.

April 10, 2017 7:43 PM

You're welcome! Sadly, even in 2017 there is a whole lot of equating black with "inner city" and lower class, which is something that makes me do a lot more than shake my head.

I do think that providing cultural context for names can help prompt the most useful suggestions -- there's a whole universe of names that I love but that would be really culturally appropriative or just inappropriate on my particular baby. While anyone who was paying attention would be able to infer from the sorts of names you were asking about, sometimes making cultural/ethnic/racial identity an explicit part of the conversation greatly reduces well-intentioned bungling about in parts of namespace that are not relevant to this particular situation. (For example, being a member of neither group I can have a hard time distinguishing black and Mormon baby names from one another, especially without generational context.)

April 10, 2017 7:45 PM

Also, I would for one greatly welcome more representation of African-American naming perspectives on this board, so if you're someone who is inclined to stick around and talk names even when you're not actively naming a child, please do!

April 10, 2017 8:13 PM

I couldn't agree more, lucubratrix. More diversity on this forum would be great.

I enjoy the input of almost everyone, but sometimes I can tell by language and name preferences (AA, but others too) and cringe when others don't seem to get it. 

BTW, white women I've known from small town Texas:

2 LaDonnas



AND, I'm the one who knows a D'Neen!


April 10, 2017 1:20 AM

I like them both, and I don't think Selah is too close to the cousin's name, so I would go with whichever is more meaningful to you both or most makes your heart sing. One method of deciding that is often suggested here is to flip a coin, then pay attention to how you feel when it lands: if it comes up Name A and you think Yes! then that's your name, but if you get more of a sinking feeling, then go with Name B :).

One other association with the spelling Sonora would be the adjective sonorous, as in the deep, resonant sound of a big bell. I want to pronounce Sanorah slightly different from Sonora(h), though, maybe a little more like SUH or SAH for the former and a little more like SO for the latter. It's a very slight difference, and it might not actually even be noticeable in actual speech, but just something to keep in mind.

April 10, 2017 9:16 AM

In the abstract/written form, Sanora(h) makes me think of "sanitary" (like in "s. napkins"), but I don't think this association would even occur to me in person or orally. I think in real life, I'd be more likely to mishear it as Sonora, like the desert/state of Mexico, and like the word 'sonorous' (which is a neutral-to-positive association).

I wonder: would Sunnora work? 'Sun(ny)' + (Eleo)nora....

Selah fits modern naming tastes. This comes with a risk of sounding date-stamped a few decades from now, but it's still a bit too rare for that to be a strong risk. I think as a name, it's often pronounced like Sarah with an L instead of the R (with all the pronunciation variation inherent in that analogy), although the naming sites all have /SEE-la(h)/.

I'll echo another poster's advice: pick whichever one makes you happier. The coin-toss method can help you identify which one that is.

April 10, 2017 12:40 PM

We used the coin toss. Also calling the baby by each name for a day and then figuring out which we were happiest with. Also, write out the full name and consider which looks nicer. 

Good luck!!

April 16, 2017 11:37 AM

I'm a bit late to the party having just returned from vacation, but I agree with the title of your post that these are both cute names. I rather like Sanorah and think it does a good job of both standing out while fitting in with current sounds. Selah strikes me as ambiguous in terms of pronunciation, but that can be said of many names. Your friends and family will learn quickly which is your desired pronunciation. You've got two winners!

April 22, 2017 7:40 AM

Sanorah is pretty,  but I first thought of the Japanese greeting too.  Selah is ok,  I pronounce it see-la


Shanoah is another pretty name or Shekinah, Sariya, Shakira, Tallulah