What Do You Think?

Hello everyone! I am currently choosing between two names and I'd like your honest impression of them. One is Barbara. And the other one is Keira (the way I spelled). 

The mn will probably be Emma. But I am more interested in opinions on the names by its own rather then in connection with the mn. 

What do you think?


February 19, 2019 9:16 AM

I know Barbara is dated but is it more dated then let's say Karen/Susan/Diana etc.?

February 19, 2019 10:26 AM

I think Barbara is ready for a comeback! Keira definitely feels younger and my impression is that it wouldn't wear as well over a lifetime. Bring on the baby Barbaras! 

February 26, 2019 5:56 PM

Thanks for cheer up post !

February 19, 2019 11:33 AM

Barbara is my mother's name, so I'm biased, but it would have been a serious contender for our last baby if we'd had a girl. I also love Basia, which is a Polish nickname for Barbara and also a Latin word for "kisses" and which was on our list every time. (Though I think the Polish version is pronounced more like Bah-shuh and the Latin is more like Bah-see-uh, and we would have used Bah-zee-uh.) The name peaked in the late 1930s, so I think you'd be maybe a decade ahead of any revival. That means you'd get a few "oh, but it's so old-fashioned"-type comments from adults right now, but it would seem cooler as she grew up.

I also like Keira. It was also on our long list the first time around, thanks to a Star Trek: DS9 connection. It never had the huge popularity of Barbara, which was a top-ten hit for three decades, but I feel like it's similar enough to names like Kiera  Kyra Kara Kiara Kendra Keisha that it feels a bit dated to their big surge, which peaked in the late-1980s/early 1990s. That would put her on the steeper end of the downslope, which I think would make the name feel a bit more dated for more of her life, FWIW.

February 26, 2019 5:58 PM

Thanks a lot. And I completely forgot about DS9 connection!

February 19, 2019 3:32 PM

I prefer Keira much more than Barbara,  Barbara is very dated.   Actually I love Emma as a first name too

February 19, 2019 4:41 PM

Thank you everyone for the advice. Is it more dated than Karen/Sharon/Diana etc.? 

February 19, 2019 5:01 PM

I think Barbara is about as dated as Karen and Sharon, but more so than Diana (although Diana also feels dated to me.)

February 19, 2019 6:02 PM

Interesting question, each name has a very different feel to it.  Keira has a bland, blend in with all the other K- names kind of (non-)vibe, plus spelling issues.  So bring on Barbara!

I do wish I could think of a better nickname for Barbara though.  Barbie, Babs, Barb, Basia, Bobbie - am I missing anything here?  I kind of want to like Basia I don't know that I'm sold.

February 19, 2019 8:31 PM

These might be a stretch, but could work as a Barbara nn - Bree, Bebe, Bee, Bay ... or Bara or Ara? Maybe Abby?


To me, Barbara is still a really old name. I honestly can't imagine it on a baby, and there's something about it that I dislike - I think it's the "barb" sound at the beginning, because that sounds really harsh. I much prefer Keira, but agree that it blends in with a lot of other similar names.

February 19, 2019 8:33 PM

I know a Barbara NN Bee

February 19, 2019 8:57 PM

A usual German(ic) nickname for Barbara is Babette. My husband has multiple ancestors who got from that to Betty. (Confused me no end, when I first started working on his family tree.)

February 26, 2019 6:01 PM

Thanks, they are really completely different, I somehow manage to like both

February 19, 2019 9:07 PM

I can never remember how to spell Ms. Knightley's given name. If you go with Keira, be prepared to get Kiera at least half the time. (I'm assuming it's /KEE-rah/, like the aforementioned actress, right?)

But I much, much prefer Barbara: easy to spell, well-known but underused -- in short, the Holy Grail of baby naming. (Plus, I seem to have a thing for multi-syllabic girl's names.) I would be absolutely delighted to meet a baby Barbara, and would put the parents several notches above the parents of a Keira in the "name cred" department. :-)

February 20, 2019 4:39 PM

Dunno about the name cred, but yeah, Barbara avoids the spelling/pronunciation issues with Keira/Kiera. And I say this as someone whose favorite actress is Keira Knightley. (She's not immune to people not knowing how to spell her name: she was credited as Kiera in The Phantom Menace. Granted, that was very early in her career, but still.)

February 26, 2019 6:21 PM

To HungarianNameGeek- Oh big thank you ! Nice to read that you like Barbara!!

February 20, 2019 10:06 PM

I like Keira best, though I'd spell it Kira.

i know several nice Barbaras, but none under 50. Karen and Diana seem less dated. Probably because there are several popular names that sound similar, where Barbara is kind of on it's own. The lack of nicknames doesn't help. Bara and Barrie are possible and intuitive. 

February 26, 2019 6:05 PM

Thanks for sharing your opinion! 

For some reason I prefer spelling Keira. The name looks richer to me if you know what I mean. 

February 20, 2019 10:39 PM

Barbara is somewhat dated, but a classic, underused name.  Barbara Emma gives you "Be" which leads easily to Bee or Bea as nickname.

The wikipedia page on the name is full of promise: the name is quite popular internationally.

I hadn't heard Basia before, but I really like it.  Beso is kiss in Spanish (I'm not a speaker, I know a few words), which could also work.

February 26, 2019 6:22 PM

Didn't think of the 'Be' thing, thanks for pointing that out! True, Barbara is quite fashionable internationally.

By EVie
February 20, 2019 10:46 PM

This one is really comparing apples to toaster ovens. They're such completely different animals, it's almost hard to imagine the same people liking both names.

Barbara is certainly more interesting and distinctive in today's naming context, but as others have said, it's still very dated. I'm in the camp that doesn't think it's ready for a comeback yet, as that -rb- consonant cluster in the middle is still pretty unfashionable. I would probably assume that a young Barbara was named after a grandmother or great-grand. Just in terms of my personal taste, I have never found it very attractive, at least in the American English pronunciation, and the original connection with "barbarian/barbaric" is rather too obvious for me.

Keira is a little bland, a little once-trendy-now-passé, but I do find it simple and pretty. The spelling variants could be an annoyance, but I don't think it's a dealbreaker.

I prefer a lot of the other names you've considered to either of these, but if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Keira unless there was a compelling family connection with Barbara.

February 21, 2019 12:15 AM

Hello All!  I got busy around Christmas and somehow haven't logged into this site in months -- nice to see the regulars all still here!

I think Barbara and Keira are *both* dated, just different decades!  That said, I think Barbara is a classic lovely name which is ready for a comeback; while I personally prefer Keira, it strikes me more of a trend that crashed out a few years ago.  Yes, it's younger and fresher NOW, but when your daughter is 45 Barbara will still be a classic and Keira will peg her as at least a dozen years older than she is.  That said, they are both pretty names.  Which one do you LIKE more?

Are you absolutley set on Emma as a middle name?  Emily, Emmaline, etc would flow better with either of those firsts.

February 26, 2019 6:24 PM

to EVie - haha true, difficult to believe that the same person likes both names! Actually I've only started thinking of Barbara recently, never considered it before. Thanks for your response.

February 21, 2019 8:03 AM

I've been thinking on this one for a few days to make sure I wasn't just having a knee-jerk reaction to Barbara. I read other people's positive "it's a classic," responses and tried to see Barbara as beautiful and timeless.

I just can't. It's still buried in the past for me, and the sounds don't help (I am okay with names of a similar era and trajectory like Carol and Janet and even MAYBE Deborah). But I'm still not ready for Barbara (Barrrb!). And this despite the fact that the only Barbara I actually know was a Slovakian girl my own age, who spelled it Barbora.

I like Keira. It doesn't feel dated to me, though looking at the statistics I can see it's headed that way. I think it helps that it was nowhere near as popular at its peak as Barbara at her peak. I actually think this spelling is the one people are most likely to get right, as Ms Knightley is the only prominant person with this name by any spelling. Keira absolutely doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's not a burden of a name like Barbara could potentially be.

All that said, a cute toddler goes a long way to reviving any name. I know a toddler Inma, which is kind of the Spanish Barbara, and it doesn't seem strange at all now.

March 1, 2019 5:00 AM

Thank you so much, could never think someone would treat my post in such a kind and responsible way! Actually I've been also thinking about your response for a few days now! "Buried in the past", "burden of a name" - can't get these words out of mind!:)

February 21, 2019 1:37 PM

I like a lot of consonant clustery premature revivals (my son has a porch sitter name with three consonants clustered in the middle), and there are definitely boomer hits that I would be delighted to see in a baby (Judith!). That said, Barbara isn’t a name I particularly like - something about which consonants and the repetition plus the obvious link to Barbarian isn’t my favorite (and I love Conan the Barbarian in all incarnations). 

Keira is a name that’s kind of played out for me but I do know a little one with the name (different spelling). 

Both are fine names, but I’m not deeply enthused about either. In a binary choice I’d pick Barbara but that would hinge on greater availability of nicknames.

February 21, 2019 2:52 PM

In my opinion Barbara seems old and dated. Keira is more upbeat and newer.

February 21, 2019 5:49 PM

I am writing in defense of dated names!

I have a very dated name for my age group--I am in my early 20s, but most people with my name are between 60-90 years old (its popularity peaked in the 1930s). The youngest person I have ever met with my name was more than 30 years older than me. And, like the name Barbara, my name used to be very common (top 10 name) but now is pretty rare (not even in the top 1000). 

And I think having a dated name is great! 

There are some definite cons. There are always going to be people who are rude about giving your child a dated name--many people told my parents that they thought my name was weird on a baby and people have even directly told me that my name is weird on a young person. And as a child, I thought that other girls' names were much prettier than mine (I grew up in a heavy Emily/Emma Sophie/Sophia names area).

But, in my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons! For one, I have never once been in a classroom or a workplace where someone shares my name. In elementary, high school, AND university, I was the only student with my name in the entire school/university.  At the same time, people recognize my name and usually have no trouble spelling or pronouncing it because they are familiar with it. This is a rare combination in a name: to have a name that everyone knows yet no one is named.

My name has also helped me form bonds with an older generation. People my grandparents' age are often shocked but also delighted when they learn my name, since so many of them are named my name/have sisters named my name/have wives named my name. Because of this, I have had many lovely conversations and been told many stories. I've even gotten some side jobs through these name connnections. Once, I was even offered free piano lessons by an old woman whose sister had been named my name! If my name wasn't my name, these older people never would have talked to me. It sounds weird to say, but I really feel as though my name has provided a conduit for intergenerational communication. Everytime an old person overhears my name and asks me about it, I end up having a lovely time and I think they do as well! It's been such a continuously positive experience in my life.

I think people tend to think of dated names only in a negative way: that they're ugly, stodgy, or old ladyish. People are so quick to tell others not to use dated names. But I think this attitude makes people overlook the positive aspects that dated names can have, even if the child doesn't like the name itself. I don't  like my name aesthetically--and I definitely don't think it's a beautiful name--but I love the function of my name and would never exchange it for something else. 

Anyway, all this to say, if you love the name Barbara, don't worry about it being dated! Dated can be great.

February 22, 2019 6:58 AM

I'm still agnostic on using dated names, but just wanted to say that this was such a pleasure to read!

February 22, 2019 8:57 AM

Keira Emma sounds best

February 22, 2019 10:08 AM

I agree with Emily.ei--this was lovely!

February 25, 2019 12:41 PM

What a lovely testimony! Thanks for sharing your insights with us! 

March 1, 2019 5:01 AM

Thanks so much for that fascinating post!

February 22, 2019 3:10 PM

To answer the question about Karen/Susan/Diana, I put these in a 'younger' category than Barbara.

Someone not as lazy as me can look up the stats. But to me these names were used for people my generation - give or take 50 - 65 years old.

Barbara sounds more like the mother of Karen, Susan, and Diana.

Seems like I've seen and heard a lot of names similar to Keira. And that doesn't make me hate it, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

I think that Barbara is way more ready for a comeback than her above mentioned daughters.

I really like the post by the person with a dated name BTW.


February 24, 2019 2:21 PM

I just saw this post. Coincidentally, I ran across the name Barbara in a novel from the fiftiesI just read and realized I really like it now. I think its best not to nickname it. It's a dignified, adult name to me and I have positive associations with it-- Barbara Pym; Shaw's play, Major Barbara; an older girl I knew growing up who never had a nickname.

I like Keira too, but I agree that it's peaked. 



March 1, 2019 5:10 AM

Dear ladies, thanks everyone for all really helpful and 'professional' replies! 

I'd like to ask another question and would love your honest opinions!

Which of these three names do you prefer?




I am very much looking forward to your reples.


March 1, 2019 5:21 PM

I really like Alexandra - it's one of my favourites. I like that it has roots in different languages, but it sounds so comfortable in English as well. I don't love Alex as a short form, but Sasha is very cute.

I want to like Valeria, but my mum always used a herbal medicine called Valerian (for insomnia) so that's all I can think of. Valerie is growing on me - my older daughter, who started school this year, has a Valerie in her class, and it's very refreshing on a little girl.

And I stand by my earlier comments on Barbara :)

March 2, 2019 7:42 AM

I also like Alexandra , the only concern is that the name sounds too 'masculine', which means the individual will acquire similar traits during the lifetime...

Concerning Valeria.. To be honest never had the association with the medicine. My grandmother used to take it too though :)

Which name would make people feel less surprised do you think ? - Barbara or Valeria ? (US/UK area) I know you dislike Barbara :)

March 2, 2019 5:14 PM

I think Valeria would be the less surprising choice - we know girls named Natalia and Emilia, and Valeria fits in with that flowing, feminine name style.

I suspect most people in my generation (born early 1980s) would still see Barbara as an older lady's name. But maybe younger parents would see it differently, I don't know. (I'm in Australia).

I wouldn't be really surprised to see either name on a girl who originally comes from a different country, but Barbara especially would be a surprise on a Australian baby.

March 1, 2019 6:01 PM

I like them all, but I'll throw out there something a friend recently said about Valeria. She works at a huge elementary school and has two students named Valeria (she works with all 750+ students) who pronounce their names differently. Her mnemonic? "Oh, there's Valeria as in 'malaria' and Valeria as in 'diarrhea'." I haven't been able to think about the name as fondly ever since! I'd go with Barbara over Alexandra simply because it's more unexpected.

March 2, 2019 9:59 AM

Hah I think one can think of a hurtful nickname/mnemonic almost to any name. Does your friend work in a us school? (Just curious). 

March 2, 2019 2:00 PM

Yes, but there are students at the school from over 30 countries. I believe both of these girls have foreign-born parents, but I'm not sure from which countries they come.

March 2, 2019 2:09 PM

Oh ok I see. I thought Valeria/Valerie is quite an international name. Valeria probably sounds more latin.

Maybe Barbara is more suitable/common. 

March 3, 2019 5:23 PM

Of those 3, I like Alexandra.

Valeria is an awkward name to me because of the medical references others referenced, but I like Valerie.


PS, not everyone on this forum is a lady! :)

March 6, 2019 3:29 AM

haha sorry I'll know for next time! Thanks for your input. 

March 4, 2019 6:39 AM

Of those three, I like Valeria best. I'm not familiar with the medicine, but went to high school with a Mexican girl called Valeria. It sounds latin to me, but I could likely adjust my expectations.

Alexandra is a fine, unobjectionable name with an impeccable history of use for both sexes, including numerous princesses, so I really don't think it is "masculine." The nickname Alex is unisex, but plenty of other nickname options exist that read more clearly feminine. 

I stand by my Barbara comments too. In fact, I mentioned it to my sisters who are not particularly into names, and neither of them knew it was a "classic" name -- one thought it was an invented name from the early 20th century, the other had thought that until recently reading a historical novel with a heroine called Barbara, and both thought it sounded geriatric. Grumbles about nickname Barbie were also heard.

But again, babies can heal a range of naming ills.

March 3, 2019 5:21 PM

Hmmm. I'm not sure Barbara is ready for a comeback yet. I see it as a "grandma name," while the currently-popular names making a comeback are more of "great-grandma names."


I like Keira. But Keira Emma doesn't sound great to me.

Other options, if Emma's not set in stone:

Keira Emily

Keira Emmeline

Keira Emory

Keira Emerson

Keira Evelyn