Unsure of name for future child

Hi all, 

I've always been a bit obsessed with baby names. I love them, and I even have an extensive list of all the names that I'd seriously consider if I were pregnant. 

And now I am, and my biggest roadblock right now is that there's a name that I absolutely love - it's been a solid favourite for well over the past 5 years. But my family and friends have been super dismissive of it because of its spelling and pronunciation.

It's Saoirse - pronounced like Seersha/Sirsha. 

Everything about it is a draw for me. It's Irish/Scottish, I'm Scottish/Irish. But I'm really scared now to propose it to my husband because I've had so many negative reactions to it in the past. I've hardly mentioned the name out loud for the past 2 years because of the reactions I got earlier into my love affair with the name, and I was always kind of anxious about jumping baby names on him in the first place.  And I have NO clue what kind of middle name would go with Saoirse R(3 syllable surname).

There's also the situation of honouring people in my life that have played massive roles for me. My aunt Lesley, my late grandmother Eleanore, my late friend Reed, the Wonderful Leonard Cohen and it's just a lot to consider. I feel like these names might flow better with the names down below, just because they're not complicated...

Realistically, though, here are some other names on my list that I'd be okay with.

- Angela

- Ingrid

- Lana / Leta / Lotje

- Martina

- Daria

- Irina

- Hermione

- Maya


I'm in some serious need of advice from baby name wizards... 

Thanks in advance for any comments and help!


January 21, 2019 4:31 PM

Actress Saoirse Ronan has made the name not-quite-so-unheard-of nowadays, but it is still a highly unusual choice.

I kind of want to find a 1940s Sean and ask him (and his parents, if available) about his name experiences. I think it would be comparable to choosing Saoirse today.

Who knows, maybe Saoirse will become just as familiar as Sean some day, so that the complete disconnect between sound and spelling will become just another one of those things....

(The Irish use the Latin alphabet just to confuse us foreigners.)

Would an Anglicized spelling (Seersha seeming the most straightforward) be an acceptable compromise for you? If yes, you could present the name to your husband as a choice: "I really love the Irish name /seer-sha/. It means 'freedom' in Gaelic. They spell it S-a-o-i-r-s-e, but I'm also OK spelling it S-e-e-r-s-h-a. What do you think?"

January 21, 2019 6:37 PM

I hadn`t compared Sean and Saoirse yet! That`s a great suggestion - I`ll see what I can dig up!

Something I HAVE considered is that Saoirse Ronan is becoming more well-known and that`s making this whole decision a bit easier. Before, it seemed to be a bit unpalatable but who knows. Maybe it`ll get to be more popular!


I don`t know how I would feel about spelling it differently :( I`m so used to spelling it Saoirse that changing the spelling just feels like an entirely different name. I will pose the question though! If Husb. is okay with the name, he should be on board with the spelling too. Might take some convincing, but the names he`s suggested have been fairly laid back. Simple spelling, simple name, nice and classic. Saoirse is a nice name to say, so hopefully, it stands up next to Amy and Eva. 

And if he really likes Eva, there is a totally neat Scottish/Irish spelling for that: Aoife. Super neat lol. I'd be down for Aoife but not Eva. So maybe the Saoirse will sound appealing to him even if the spelling is a bit different than what he expects.

January 21, 2019 4:47 PM

If I were you, I'd show your husband your list of names , including Saoirse, to see what he thinks. If you're worried about his potential reaction, it might be better to have it listed among a group of other names rather than saying "this is my favourite name of all time" and then to be disappointed if he doesn't like it.

This is what I did with my husband when we were expecting our first. It did shatter me when he didn't like some of absolute favourites, but of the girls' names he loved my second-favourite name of all time (which we used when we had our first daughter). And one of the names he dismissed from that original list, he then liked it the third time around and so we used it.

I think Saoirse Ronan has made the name more approachable, and I think most people are understanding of Irish names having unusual spellings. Will it make your daughter's life more difficult to be named Saoirse? Perhaps! But if it's the name that you truly love (and your husband gets on board with it) then it might be worth the spelling/prounication hassle.

Otherwise - you have some nice options on your list. I'm not sure what country you're in, but to me Angela reads a bit dated (but certainly there's nothing wrong with it), and the others have a bit of Scandinavian/Euro flair. As for the honour names, do you mean you'd use them (Lesley, Eleanore etc) as middle names? Or incorporate them into the first names somehow? Lana could honour Eleanore, and Eleanore and Leonard share a lot of letters, and Ingrid almost contains the sound of Reed.

January 21, 2019 6:41 PM

That sounds like a really great idea! 

And also, I hadn't realized that the names I like are so similar to each other with the Lana/Eleanore/Leonard. And Ingrid and Reed DO sound super similar too, which I'd never considered. Thanks!!


What names did you end up choosing, if you don't mind me asking? 

I'm worried less about the name being more difficult for her later on in life since it's so beautiful and has so much history to it. I think that she'll definitely learn to love the name, even if she gets mildly irritated when substitute teachers pronounce it a bit wrong at first haha

January 21, 2019 11:11 PM

We have Lew!s, Elean0r, J0hanna and Catal!na. Elean0r was my 2nd-favourite and Catal!na was the one he originally vetoed.

January 21, 2019 8:40 PM

Oooh, we have a lot of name overlap! Hermione was also on our list, and I love every -ina name! 

I think how you feel about Saoirse is how I felt about the name of my firstborn. It was the heart-eyes name and no one else really understood but I talked my spouse into it and I love it so much over a decade later. It is still a thrill to receive mail with the name, and he seems positive about his name too (and he's generally very vocal about all ways in which he feels wronged, so I can really assume this is one which doesn't register). Only my eldest's name is arguably far weirder, though - it only makes it over the 5 births/year threshold a few times, whereas Saoirse is not just regularly charting but actually thriving as far as nonphonetically spelled, unusual names go. There were 272 girls named Saoirse in 2017. I get where it feels unusably weird though, because none of use knew a Saoirse growing up... but it's now far less unfamiliar, probably propelled by Ms. Ronan's success as a household name.


Anyway, I advocate working on it early and often. I would not try to sneak it in to a name list like a Trojan Horse, but rather I'd let him know that it's your long standing favorite and you want special consideration. You're not looking for a reflex reaction because you love this name, you just want him to think about it for a little bit before you talk about it. I benefitted from having a good couple of years in between me bringing it up and us having an actual child to name meant that the name had a chance to "settle in" from being "super weird" to "that could be the name of my kid".

And people who think the name is weird... they'll probably still think that. But, it'll be the weird name of their grandchild or niece or kid's friend... and I think it'll settle into normal-enough naminess fairly quickly once it's attached to a bearer. Unconventional names won't be to everyone's taste, but I think that's fair enough -- if they were to everyone's taste, they'd be used more often. You will likely find a whole variety of fun misspellings which seem to go a new way every time, much like my son's name, but I find it mostly charming and amusing, as does my kid. The mispellings rarely repeat so that suggests that there's really not a "one best spelling" to pick. I'd just go for broke, use Saoirse, and then if people want to address cards to Seersha or Soarise or whatever that's fine, you'll know whose it is.)

As for middle name, what we did is pick a more normal, on-trend name from among the honorees if a child wants to seek refuge in it at some point. Eleanore is the most obviously stylish of your suggestions, but Saoirse Reed or Saoirse Leona or Leonie all sound fine to me. I see Lesley as being a bit dated, but I think the real mark of an honor name is using it in spite of generational trends. Great-Grandma Grace is bound to be honored multiple times over, Grandma Thelma astronomically less likely. So I'd go for it if you feel moved, and be much less worried about the overall sound.

ANd also as a PS - we thought about using Maya as a nickname for Hermione, incase that two-fer is interesting for you as well. However, I still think you should name your first daughter Saoirse!

ETA: a few more thoughts. I think that your daughter will get something tortured like "Sah-oh-ear-seh?" at the doctor's waiting room, and then you will say "Sir-sha's here!" and then a fair number of people will think or say, "Ooooooh, right, like Seersha Ronan!" and then they'll remember her name fairly well. They will when asked to write her name then probably still proceed to write something random and wrong, but people will be able to make the leap from seeing Celtic Alphabet Soup and remembering that it's "Sir-sha". I think a positive, "not a big deal" attitude about those mixups will go a long way to imparting the same in your daughter.  

I know a young Siobhan, an Aoife, a Radha, and a Niamh. Their parents do not harbor name regret; if you can talk your partner into it I don't think you would either. I think you could keep the option of phonetic spelling for convenience open for situations where it doesn't really matter, i.e. Starbucks or whatever, and I'd be open to the idea that your daughter might choose to respell at some point in her adolescence, but I wouldn't go there by default. You might STILL get celtic alphabet soup from people who are familiar with the actress enough to know that there are some strange vowel combinations in there. Case in point, trying to see what spellings I can get for the actress on google, I'm only getting Sorcha Ronan. (Which is also a name, but a different one.)

You might enjoy this video: https://www.vogue.com/article/how-to-pronounce-saoirse-ronan

January 22, 2019 5:57 AM

I agree with this: start working on your husband sooner rather than later, and insist on special consideration for this name. Ultimately, if he really doesn't like it, he is unlikely to agree to it and you have to respect that, but it is in your control to thoroughly familiarize the name for him: saying it often, pointing out Saoirse Ronan films, the works.

Like Lucubratrix, I have a child whose name was divisive at first (which is why I didn't mention it to anyone before she was born). The English side of the family couldn't pronounce it, and the more conventional Spanish side of the family thought it was weird. A couple of years later they are all okay with it, and can't imagine her being called anything else. It is worth fighting for the names you love!

Saoirse is unusual but has reasonably good exposure at the moment. I see some comparisons to Siobhan in the eighties (when it was used in my family). It was a difficult Celtic name, but it was THE difficult Celtic name that people were familiar with. I also have a Ni@mh and a M0rn@ in the family: everyone has survived their unusual names and unintuitive spellings.

January 21, 2019 11:25 PM

There are several names on your "I'm okay with" list that I think are fantastic, but I hate to think of someone using a name they're just okay with.  

I'd start with your husband, honestly, because to me he's the absolute only person you need to convince.  Nobody else needs to have an opinion and you don't have to tell anyone what you've chosen.  I dare say that once she's here, no one will comment.  I WOULD prepare yourself for a lot of spelling corrections especially if you're in the U.S., but if you're down with that?  I'd go with it!  

As for a middle name, I think I'd probably go with something single syllable and relatively familiar, especially with a three-syllable surname.  Saoirse Jane jumped to my mind---or Saoirse Rose, if that fits with your last name.

January 22, 2019 3:11 AM

I think if you love the name I'd go with it,  people will love little Saoirse and they will grow to admire her name

I know an Eilidh and Niamh,  pretty names,  people adjust and learn the spelling quickly

I think Saoirse Eleanore is nice or Leona

I like Angela, Ingrid, Lan and Maya from your list.  Dara would be nice too


January 22, 2019 7:42 AM

I am a huge fan of Irish/Scottish names, so I‘d encourage you to just go for it! Ignore all the other family members, the only person whose opinion matters is your husband’s - tell him why the name makes your heart sing, and give him some time to formulate his own opinion.

My son sat next to a Saoirse in class last year, and it was considered a perfectly normal name among the kids. However, our small community has several Irish families so we know several kids called Niamh, as well as Malliegh, Siobhan, Roisin, Siofre, Clodagh, Donnacha, and a few others.

As for the honour names, I’m assuming you plan to use these as middle names? To me, the meaning/honouring is much more important than how it flows or sounds. Don’t give up on a first name that you love and will use multiple times every day/hour, to use something that flows with a middle name that you will rarely use. 

January 23, 2019 1:29 AM

If you can get your husband on board, I say use Saoirse!  These days, if there's a name you don't know how to pronounce, it's so easy to just look it up online.  And of course there's a lot more diversity in names than in the past, so people won't be floored by a new/unusual name.

I don't know your husband.  But to make a generalization based on what I've read in name forums, it seems to me that male spouses tend to be more conservative namers, wanting something familiar, maybe names that belonged to kids they liked when they were growing up.  And really, we ALL like names better when associating them with someone appealing.  Therefore I think the best introduction to the name Saoirse would be with a photo of the actress right there in front of him.  That way his association with Saoirse will be initialized at "beautiful young woman."

Bonus if his first time hearing the name can be when it's said with an Irish accent.  Stephen Colbert has an interview on YouTube with Saoirse Ronan where he gets her to pronounce various Irish names, including hers.

January 23, 2019 12:23 PM

I think the big thing about men preferring the names of people we grew up with, is mainly due to the fact most men aren't exposed to present naming trends because they aren't around children. So, when they think of children, they see their peers when they were children themselves; that's all they've got. 

January 23, 2019 3:18 PM

This is an excellent analysis of the phenomenon, Linnaeus!

January 23, 2019 12:16 PM

Definitely Saoirse Ronan is the way to introduce the name.

Your husband likely doesn't know any Saoirses other than Ms. Ronan, so making sure he both knows who she is and how to say her name (a "making of" video or talk show appearance video or whatever helps immensely there) will help greatly. 

You want that good association with the name, call up images that he'd be proud to have in a daughter but not too worried about protecting. Thankfully, Ms. Ronan does project that image quite well.

March 8, 2019 1:59 AM

I like Saoirse! I actually know two of them - one is about 8 and the other is early 20's.

I grew up with a Siobhan, and while she got called "see-o-ban" sometimes, people learned to pronounce her name pretty quickly.

My second choice from your list is Daria.

March 8, 2019 5:07 PM

I love Saoirse!! It is a beautiful name and I am also Irish so I am used to the mispronounciation. I also love Hermione and it is my daughters name, although it does have the 'Harry Potter' link.