Looking for help naming mah BABY! Daughter...
August 15, 2011 10:55 AM   Subscribe

BABY NAMES! *pistols fire in air* Yes, I'm that desperate curious to come up with a name for my daughter that I'm asking the internet. Can you help me name mah baby?

Oh FFS. My boy was nowhere near this difficult. It's been 8+ months and the Mrs. and I can't get anywhere close to an agreement on our daughter's name. THAT'S WHERE YOU COME IN!

The ethnic influences are Irish and Israeli.
The cultural influences are big urban city (NY/LA, etc).
The societal influences are attempting a name that can cross boundaries; i.e., one that could be published in a book store and one that could manage the book store. Neurotic enough?

So on my son we went biblical to the Torah, non observant as we are, and found Zachary. Works a charm. Strong, independent, yet classical (some yokels call this "new classic", whatever, sounds like new coke to me).

If we had another boy it would be something similar, Patrick, I don't know.

But it's a girl. Yay?! And there aren't a lot of strong girl biblical names (my opinion, I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend your take on the book), and I am running out of tiiiiiiiiiiime! So.. looking elsewhere...

Here are some samples to give you an idea of where our heads have been at. No, we can't use oneof her family's names because they're either still alive or way too ethnic sounding.

Current top (i.e. hasn't permanently been voted off the island):
Rachel (enh)

Recently Considered:
Abigal (Bletch), Samantha (enh), Miranda (Rights?!), Caitlin (wife hates), Simone, Emma, Shay(na)

No way in heck:

Thanks hive mind! I wuv you!
posted by cavalier to Society & Culture (178 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have recently become partial to "Esther." Unfortunately, that opens itself up to some awful schoolyard rhymes.
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ellen Ripley Cavalier
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:59 AM on August 15, 2011 [7 favorites]

posted by michaelh at 11:01 AM on August 15, 2011

posted by cocoagirl at 11:02 AM on August 15, 2011

Are you familiar with the Baby Name Wizard? They've got this thing called Namipedia where you can type in a name and get "sibling" names...might be useful for you.
posted by phunniemee at 11:03 AM on August 15, 2011

I don't meet enough Sigorneys or Angelicas.
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adina and Naomi are two biblical names I've always liked.

June and Evelyn are non-biblical but good.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2011

My wife and I are planning on naming our daughter Zoe (so count that as a "yes" vote).

Ruth is suitably Biblical. Dara is a little more exotic, but means "wise" (can't beat that).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ruby (a reference to "A woman of valor...")
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:06 AM on August 15, 2011

I was going to say Ruth. Or Tara. Nice and Irish.
posted by corvine at 11:11 AM on August 15, 2011

Jael! Strong Biblical woman she was, and a great role model for your little girl without being burdened by a name like Dorcas.

And then you can pair it with something nice and Irish like Fionna. Jael Fionna Cavalier.
posted by motsque at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I followed the advice of my girlfriend between deciding various female names: Don't choose a name that can work for a pole dancer. We ended up with Prudence.

I like Sophia (embodied wisdom), Lydia and Alexandra. For that old time feel, like Regency Romance bodice ripper, Phillipa is a rocking.
posted by jadepearl at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2011

My parents made a point of giving my sister and I names that were relatively uncommon (but also names that people would know). Although my sister's kind of backfired (there are at least five girls in her year at school named Caroline), I'm Ellen (which was suggested before) and it's worked really well for me.

I really like the name Zoe, but it's also been really popular lately.

If you're looking to go Old Testament/Torah, there's Ruth, Esther, Dinah, Lilith (sort of), Judith, Miriam, Naomi, and Sarah, among many others.
posted by naturalog at 11:14 AM on August 15, 2011

At the risk of outing myself on the internet, my name is Hannah and my sister's name is Miriam. Our parents are Episcopal priests and my mum is a feminist theologian (ish). So we are both named after strong women of the bible. Hannah's become a pretty common name, Miriam might be a bit more unique. I've also always like Margolit as a good Hebrew name.
posted by Polyhymnia at 11:14 AM on August 15, 2011

posted by rmd1023 at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2011

Nthing Naomi and Esther. Lovely names.
posted by feathermeat at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2011

Charlotte. Bonuses: nickname of "Lottie," or if she's a tomboy, "Chuck," which is just awesome.
posted by saladin at 11:16 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Eve, Irene or Violet
posted by readery at 11:16 AM on August 15, 2011

If you go Irish, I'm partial to Maeve.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by mareli at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2011

How about Erin? It's Irish, but it's also the feminine of Aaron which is biblical.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2011

Was totally thinking Yael! (Jael!), but, being in the south and all, I worry that while 'Zachary' will get high fives and handshakes, the pronunciation of 'Ya-el' might get starey eyes and whispers.

Thanks everybody! This is why I posted here.. lots of names we had not thought of/seen yet. It is so nerve wracking to be less than a few weeks away from seeing a little face and not knowing what her name will be!

And we were looking to the bible for strength,character, etc, it doesn't necessarily have to be biblical, in case anyone was wondering -- just was a good place we found to start.

(Side note, I have had more than one name soundly rejected, there is code for this now, "stripper". Apparently, lots of girl's names I like are stripper names. Who knew?! Not me! !!)
posted by cavalier at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2011

I feel like Leah always gets left out in favor of Rachel and Rebecca, but it's a lovely name.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:18 AM on August 15, 2011

Ruth, Clara, Jana Resa, Judy, Jean, Mary, Ethel, Celestine, Kara, Cora, Cindy
posted by JayRwv at 11:19 AM on August 15, 2011

Fiona, or if you want to go super Irish, Siobhan.

I am not a parent, nor do I plan to be, but I always throw out Ruby to my friends.
posted by waitangi at 11:20 AM on August 15, 2011

Nola is one of my favorite girl names and was on our short list the last time with our son. It's still a contender this time, but we may be leaning in another direction if we have a girl.

Rachel is always a good name, too.
posted by zizzle at 11:22 AM on August 15, 2011

posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on August 15, 2011

*we didn't know if we were having a son or a daughter*
posted by zizzle at 11:23 AM on August 15, 2011

Not necessarily Biblical or Irish, just throwing in my favorites:
Eden (Edie)
Sian (or Sean)
posted by hellochula at 11:23 AM on August 15, 2011

Some Irish names I have encountered that are a bit off the beaten path:

This is not counting the hyper-Catholic names like Immaculata.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2011

Finley...irish, means fair warrior. I know a little girl named finley (she is also in the south) and I think it is a great name.
posted by orangemacky at 11:27 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've known both Jewish and Irish Maras. Apparently, there's some connection with the name Noami for Jews, but it also resonates with the Irish surname O'Mara/O'Meara and the Connemara region of Ireland.

In fact, as I describe this it occurs to me that Meara would be a good one too. Kind of Irish looking, but phonetically identical to the Hebrew "Mira."
posted by celilo at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

While I'm not a huge fan of this name, Grainne was the name of a female Irish chieftain (technically twas Granuaille).

posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2011

posted by carmicha at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2011

Going with the Irish derivation OF a biblical name could be interesting, although the spellings get....weird sometimes. But in that vein:

Aoife (Irish for "Eva", and that's how that's pronounced)
Aine (Anglicized as "Anna", and that's also how that's pronounced)
Eilis ("Elizabeth", pronounced "eh-LEESH")
Maire (Irish for "Mary" -- incidentally, this can also be spelled "Muire", but Irish tradition reserves that spelling exclusively for Jesus' Mom; that's prounced like the name "Maura," which may be an easier spelling)

There's some fun "strong women" names in Irish tradition as well --

* Bridget is (depending on who you talk to) a canonized Celtic goddess or an early Irish abbess who became a saint. She ran her own abbey round about the time that St. Patrick was active in Ireland, and is one of the more beloved saints in Ireland. There are lots of derivations of the name kicking around Ireland (Breeda, Brigid, Breed, etc.)

* Maeve was a warrior queen who helmed an army in the Tain bo Cullaigne, an Irish epic story about a cattle raid. However, while she was a warrior, she was also a bit spoiled.

* Grainne (pronounced "GRAWN-ya") was another figure from a different Irish epic, sort of a "Juliet" figure in a " starcrossed lovers" story. However, during the 1500s, there was a lady pirate captain, Grainne O'Malley, who gave Queen Elizabeth a hard time. Sometime Grainne is rendered as "Grace" (and sometimes you'll see the pirate named "Grace O'Malley" as well).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please don't name your child something that requires a pronunciation guide.

Rachel is nice. As is Lauren. Single syllable names are ick.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Zachary and Zoey sound perfect, IMO.

Also, you're probably over-thinking it. Unless it's odd in some manner, the name doesn't make the kid, the child makes the name.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:37 AM on August 15, 2011


My brother named my niece that after the first horse he had .. . if she had been a boy she'd have been named Zac after the first dog he'd had.

His name is Jascha (very loosely based on a Russian name but mispronouced as Jaska). My family is big on making up kids names.

Not seeing why all the hate for the name Samantha but I'm biased as that's my name and think its a pretty awesome name :( Though I was almost a Petra or a Pippa.
posted by wwax at 11:38 AM on August 15, 2011

Tas-tee. Will look good as a neck tatoo.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:41 AM on August 15, 2011

I like Maisie so much that I named my cat that.
posted by Maisie at 11:42 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Didn't Sarah give birth to John the Baptist?
posted by Gilbert at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2011

If I were to have a daughter I would name her Miranda. After the character in The Tempest a bit, but mostly so I could whisper her name to her and imagine she goes crazy ninja River Tam.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Hah, see, I came in to say that if we have a girl we're going to name her Elena. But I see you're on board already.

I tend to look to classical Greek and Roman names first over Biblical names: Cassandra, Penelope, Andromeda, Lavinia and so on and so forth, they tend to be easy to shorten and beautiful.
posted by lydhre at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone! Oh my gosh! I had to run away for a bit and I got a deluge when I came back! Woot!

I should also point out that our last name, sadly, is a single syllable. Sooo.. that kind of neuters single syllable first names, and the like. So many we haven't seen yet! Woot!
posted by cavalier at 11:46 AM on August 15, 2011

A great resource is http://nymbler.com/. Putting your top three names into it comes up with: Elisabeth Nina Carmen Ana Susana
posted by bq at 11:46 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like old-school androgynous names: Kim, Robin, Leslie, Kerry, Darby, Erin, Gail, Joyce, Tracy, Shannon, Vivian.

An(n)a is easily pronounceable across many languages, which is an advantage. And speaking as someone with a rather unusual name with a rather unusual spelling, I personally would not name a child that will be raised in the US anything with a traditional Celtic spelling, as most Americans are not going to be able to cold-read "Siobhan" correctly, for instance. (But the lifetime of "no, it's...oh, fuck it. Yes, [approximation] is fine, whatever." is my particular baggage.)

You could call Elena, "Eli" for short (either "ee-lie" or "eh-lee"), which I like.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:47 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Though I was almost a Petra or a Pippa.

I'm a Petra, and I think it's a great name (surprise). And quasi-biblical as well.
posted by eunoia at 11:48 AM on August 15, 2011

You don't say which of you is Israeli, but I like Ruth in either case.

Ruth was a convert, and if you're Israeli your mother will appreciate the implication regardless of its level of sincerity, and if she is the issue isn't quite so fraught, but her mother will still be gratified-- plus it's a beautiful name.
posted by jamjam at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2011

posted by YukonQuirm at 11:56 AM on August 15, 2011

I happen to love, love, love Israeli names. Here are some of my favorites, though from what you've said some of them might be way too unusual in your area (or as you said, too "ethnic".) I associate many of these names with the smart/beautiful/accomplished older sisters of my friends so I might be biased in my extreme positive feelings about them.

Yael (yeah, I love this one too)
Neshama (means "soul")
Shiri (means "song")
Shifra ("lovely")
Juliet (apparently popular in Israel?)
posted by Ashley801 at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2011

Maeve (one syllable I know but worth mentioning?)
and also like Yael.

I do like Gaelic names like Saoirse and Aisling but I guess it is a gamble if your daughter finds it nice to have an unusual name or a hassle.
posted by Athanasius at 12:11 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, and two I forgot to mention are Daniella/Danielle, and Gabriella/Gabrielle.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:13 PM on August 15, 2011

Eleanor (Nora, Ellie, Ella)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 12:13 PM on August 15, 2011

Philippa (that's the standard spelling), shortened to Pippa.

The loveliest Hebrew girl's name I've heard is Ayellet, which means "fawn."

There's also Shira. A Jewish couple I know named their daughter Shira, and at the naming ceremony they translated one of the blessings to refer to God as "Master of the Universe."
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:14 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

my name is Siobhan.
i'm partial to it. i have met people who know a Siobhan but i have never met a Siobhan.
in fact, i normally don't hear it when people call my name who do know me because i gave up on answering in public years ago when it was usually Shawn or Yvonne being yelled for. i once had a class with a Sean and it was confusing for my auditory sensors.

but otherwise, i like my name.
posted by sio42 at 12:16 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anna (Annie)
Caitlin (Your wife should reconsider)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:17 PM on August 15, 2011

Spell it Yale! Even if maybe it sounds a little different than Jael. Then she can have a refined sort of highbrow mystique about her.
posted by motsque at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2011

Biblical - Damaris

Freakin' awesome: Waverly/Waverley
posted by Sassyfras at 12:19 PM on August 15, 2011


The world needs more Zeldas.
posted by cazoo at 12:19 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Penelope (Penny!)
posted by zoetrope at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2011

Pointing out the obvious about "Pippa": you run the risk of having people assume "oh, excellent, you watched the Will & Kate wedding too? Awesome!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I just had to chime in with a vote for Yael, too. I also really like Ayelet, but my all-time favourite is Vered ('rose'). Sadly my partner vetoed this one but I still dream of using it if we have a girl sometime down the track.
posted by rubbish bin night at 12:32 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by HandfulOfDust at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2011

I'm really fond of my name - Cara - no Israeli influence there, but the Gaelic and Latin meanings of the name are sweet.
posted by Catch at 12:36 PM on August 15, 2011

You're in central Florida so you should consider Zora!
posted by mareli at 12:36 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by thinkpiece at 12:37 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by Iris Gambol at 12:42 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by joost de vries at 12:44 PM on August 15, 2011

Okay my name is Greek so doesn't quite fit your criteria, but it has a lovely old-school vibe and is very versatile - it's Danae, pronounced du-nay (although I believe the correct Greek pronunciation is da-nigh). It has served me well over the years!

posted by ukdanae at 12:44 PM on August 15, 2011

I've always liked the Hebrew name Jerusha, but I think it means "possession".

Possession as in "owned by", not "haunted by".
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:46 PM on August 15, 2011

Myriam (it's the French spelling)

posted by Room 641-A at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2011

The world does need more Zeldas, but Zelda and Zachary is maybe a little weird?

My sister just named her daughter Stella, which is strong. I like Aviva, Rachel, Riva, Leah, and Tabitha. If you want to look into Irish names, rock on, but I beg you to spell and pronounce them correctly.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just came in to suggest Mara, but it looks like I was beaten to it. It's both Jewishish and Irishish, means "bitter" (how awesome is that?), sounds normal but is still unusual, works well with a single syllable last name, and has secret geek cred as the name of Luke Skywalker's wife, Mara Jade.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:59 PM on August 15, 2011

I don't like it but YMMV:

Naoimh (not misspelled, pron. "Nayv" or "Neve" or something like that). Super-Irish.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:00 PM on August 15, 2011

For an Irish girl's name, I love Mairead ('muh-raid'). She could be Maggie for short.
posted by kitcat at 1:01 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by zia at 1:07 PM on August 15, 2011

Susannah, Shoshanna (A bit biased I am)
posted by Kronur at 1:08 PM on August 15, 2011

so many Zoe-s these days.

Irish names are pretty awesome
posted by sully75 at 1:13 PM on August 15, 2011

Another vote for Sarah. It's often said to mean "princess", but it is also translated as "sovereign" - and that is very cool. You could go with one of the z variations: Zara, Zariah or Zorah.
posted by likeso at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2011

Naoimh (not misspelled, pron. "Nayv" or "Neve" or something like that). Super-Irish.

To echo DarlingBri, please tread with caution on Irish names - there's some bizarre ones in the thread here (and I'm an Irish speaker in Ireland). Apologies if you're drawing from a friend and I'm sure it's in use, ROU_Xenophobe, but 'Niamh' is a popular Irish name for girls pronounced 'neev', and 'Naoimh' is the vocative/genitive singular, nominative/dative plural of the Irish word for 'saint', a masculine noun.

More on topic, I was going to suggest Hannah but see it's been well covered - it seems like a nice fit with Zachary.
posted by carbide at 1:21 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have always loved my Irish roomate's name, Noeleen (pronounced like Joleen with an N). I also really like Joleen, but Noeleen would be pretty and unique and have the Irish influence. Congrats on yer baby!
posted by shortyJBot at 1:26 PM on August 15, 2011

I came on to suggest Yael and Tamar, both great biblical names. I also like Mira, Mara and Aviva (spring). Shoshanna (rose) is pretty and in the tradition of bringing back older names, I would totally name my daughter Golda if I were to have one (which I'm not) after the PM.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2011

Myfanwy for fans of Little Britain and the Welsh.
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:40 PM on August 15, 2011

I love the name "Ada."

Deirdre (which will likely become the nickname "Dee")
posted by bz at 1:40 PM on August 15, 2011

Can't believe nobody's mentioned Deirdre!
posted by pecanpies at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2011

Lydia or the old spelling (which I liked but my husband didn't) Lidia.
posted by Sweetmag at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2011

Hah - you know what they say about previewing...
posted by pecanpies at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2011

We went with family names, and had three read to go for when our daughter was born...wanted to meet her before deciding:

Elizabeth Mae (we went with this one and call her Betsy)
Elsie Augusta
Roxie Mae (yes, this was a family name, no, she was not a stripper--we were kind of daring one another on this one)

If you are looking for something unique, I would suggest avoiding names that start with E. They seem to be very prevalent right now.

I'd echo what Brandon Blatcher said, a name does not make a child, a child makes a name.
posted by fyrebelley at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2011

Oh, and congratulations!!!!
posted by fyrebelley at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by Buckshot at 1:54 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by hishtafel at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2011

Honestly? Don't work so hard. As a parent of twins, I can tell you that the important thing is that you like the name, and like saying it. They can always change it.

Having said that: Sadie is a wonderful name for a girl, as buckshot suggests.
posted by davejay at 2:02 PM on August 15, 2011

Hannah. It is a palindrome.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:05 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

There's Hulda the prophet. I also like the name Diana.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:05 PM on August 15, 2011

Also, how about Talitha?
posted by orrnyereg at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by jgirl at 2:10 PM on August 15, 2011

I love Israeli names too. The secular zionists of the late 19th and 20th centuries went with lots of nature names, which are great. Some of my favorites:
Kineret (Hebrew name for the Sea of Galilee. And also a lute, I believe.)
Ayelet (doe. A deer...)
Shoshana, Daliah, Ilana (Rose, dahlia, and Almond tree)
Nurit (plant)
Orli/Orly (Light. Actually, My Light)
Maya/Mia (Water)
Tamar (Palm)
Tziporah (Bird)
Hadassah (Myrtle)
posted by bluejayway at 2:20 PM on August 15, 2011

(my) Katrina was born in 2006. I tell people she's an unpredictable force of nature that destroys everything in her path. Not biblical but a powerful girls name, by any standard
posted by Redhush at 2:28 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know a girl named Suliana. They call her "Suli" for short. I think it's quite beautiful.
posted by Ostara at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2011

If I were going to have kids, and if I were to have a daughter, I would name her Sophie or Sophia. I've always been really partial to them for some reason.

Naomi is a good one too.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:45 PM on August 15, 2011

My mom messed up my perfectly reasonable name by adding creative punctuation to it, but I stand by Stella. I named my first child Sara, and if I hadn't, she might have been Audrey.

My ace-in-the-hole name is Alice. If I'd had another girl, that would have been her name.

Also, there aren't enough Ruths in the world for me. I love the name Ruth. I also love Louise and Louisa.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 2:53 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Simone is awesome! I love the nickname Si.
posted by keasby at 3:05 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by delight at 3:13 PM on August 15, 2011

I also like Ariadne. And you could call her Ari :)
posted by delight at 3:17 PM on August 15, 2011

I am not having children, but if I did have a daughter, she would be Valerie. I mean, you can't get much more 'strong' than that, right? I also like the OT names. My grandma and all her sisters had biblical names. Best of them all: Vashti. Yeah, it's really in there, I checked. And Judith is just awesome. She fucking *seduces and then beheads* a dude. Bad. Ass. ( And for the record, Sarah-- my name-- is the wife of Abraham, the mother of Isaac, and the Matriarch of Everything. She's also the only one in the bible to laugh at God.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:17 PM on August 15, 2011

I am chiming in to just say that I like Hannah with Zachary as well. As a southerner, there's no way I'd be able to pronounce some of the names in these threads but I think Hannah is lovely.
posted by quodlibet at 3:32 PM on August 15, 2011

Liat. It means "you are mine".
posted by oflinkey at 3:53 PM on August 15, 2011


You'll thank me later.
posted by mazola at 4:14 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came in to promote my name, but I see I was beat to the punch. But it is a good strong biblical name.

posted by deborah at 4:59 PM on August 15, 2011

AVA! It means "bird," it's a palindrome, and it looks cool upside-down.
posted by cyndigo at 5:08 PM on August 15, 2011

Meredith. Madeline/Madeleine. Adayla (phonetic version of my very strong grandmother's name, Adele (German pronunciation; nickname Delly). Sasha. Melinda.

If you guys keep disagreeing you could do what my parents did and give one parent middle name and one first name rights...

Vashti's a superstrong biblical name, as is Hannah and Lilith. Mira and Mara also get my vote.
posted by eleanna at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2011

I know both Nora and Eleanor have been suggested already, but I should chime in that as a Nora I can attest to the fact that, except for the stupid Dora the Explorer jokes, it's pretty much stupid playground joke proof.
posted by NoraReed at 5:13 PM on August 15, 2011

Stopping by to suggest Lydia. I searched Irish saint names hoping to find something that was also Biblical. I found Lelia which got me thinking about Lily or Lydia. Lydia was a New Testament seller of purple and friend of Paul.
posted by eleslie at 6:08 PM on August 15, 2011

I'm quite fond of the name Wilhelmina. There are many variations, each suitable for a different kind of woman, whoever she turns out to be. It's not exactly what you are looking for, but the more names the merrier, I'm sure. Congrats!
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2011

Seconding Lydia
Emmi (pronounced Emmy), a variant name of Emma
Reva (variant of Riva) ... you also might be able to use Reeve, which is a different origin completely but you could sell as a variant.
posted by gudrun at 6:37 PM on August 15, 2011

As a kindergarten teacher, can I just say, make it something the teachers can pronounce and she can write. Call her by her given name, whatever it is (she can shorten it later), and keep it short enough so that she can write it in her 5 yr. old handwriting without taking up the whole paper or need 10 minutes to write it. I always find that "Ann" will have her name on the paper and have finished the paper while poor "Esmeralda" is still struggling to write all the letters in her name.
posted by Flacka at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Clara is a lovely name.
posted by Hop123 at 6:42 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I second Adina. I think it's a very pretty name!
posted by raintree at 6:55 PM on August 15, 2011

I think Zoey is a wonderful name and vote for it wholeheartedly! We would have a Zoey if we didn't have a Nathan and and Evan and therefore hit our max capacity for children. I posted an AskMe for baby names for Evan, and the suggestions were wonderful, and we almost went with Zachary (but that's his middle name instead).

Zoey goes well with Zachary, and it works well with a monosyllabic last name.
posted by kpht at 6:57 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by JujuB at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2011

One name I love is Sivan. It is a month of the Hebrew calendar (usually coinciding with May or June), and it also seems like a Western-friendly nod to Siobhan, which is a name I love on paper but not so much spoken aloud.

I think technically the etymology is masculine, but I knew a girl named Sivan of Israeli parentage, so that information may be irrelevant.

I also love Avital.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:33 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:41 PM on August 15, 2011

I'm a Sarah and I love my name. Easy, pretty, and you get to go by your last initial if there is another one (way more awesome than people realize). Also, Helen.
posted by dame at 7:45 PM on August 15, 2011

Seconding many, I now see.
I made a Siobhan, and she has said she loves having a "weeder" name. Because people can't pronounce or spell any name. They'll mess it up no matter what your name is. My name is Caroline -- easy, right? No. I get Karen, and (always! always!) Carolyn. So name your kid a name that you think has good associations -- if you name her Mary, believe me, no fewer people will screw up her name than if you name her Xthryxiczgh.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:50 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've always been partial to Genivieve (with a soft g), and it can be shortened to a hard g homonym of "Jen" in case she ever goes through a "I hate my stupid name!" phase. The world could use more Sallys as well, though some think it sounds diminutive when applied to an adult.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:18 PM on August 15, 2011

Even though she's not the most savory Biblical character: Delilah is an awesome name. If you want a less ... umm... bad girl name, then you could shorten it to Lilah. My parents' neighbor and my friend's daughter both are both named Lilah.

Also I will offer up my super-awesome unisex non-biblical and non-celtic name: Layne
posted by baniak at 8:18 PM on August 15, 2011

Oh please! The correct answer to this question is

posted by raisingsand at 8:22 PM on August 15, 2011

Tonight in the car I decided that I would name my hypothetical daughter Harper Begonia.

But for you, I nth Zoey to go with Zachary. Maybe it will make them closer?
posted by bendy at 8:53 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by joannemullen at 9:07 PM on August 15, 2011

Gavrielle (sounds like Gabrielle)
Talia or Thalia
posted by Talia Devane at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2011

I love Mara. I met a lot of Mara's in Israel.

But also great: Keelin, Sula and Shona. I know you said no single syllables, but Grace is lovely too.

From your original list, my favourite is Elena.

As a public school teacher, I would plead for something that looks close to the way it's pronounced. After the litany of unpronounceable names I've had in eight years, I can say that neither your child nor their teachers will thank you for something esoteric enough to render it impossible to decipher.

Congrats on the baby! Make sure you tell us what you choose!
posted by guster4lovers at 9:53 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seemingly unrelated to the Irish / Israeli thing (apart from maybe some European Jews), but I quite like Saskia. Could be published in a book store and could manage the book store.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:54 PM on August 15, 2011

Alexandra is a Greek name, but was actually the name of the only known Jewish queen of Judea (i.e. not of another country - Esther was a Jewish queen of Persia.) Her full name was Shulamit Alexandra.

I like Susannah, which is the same name as Shoshanna.

Off the beaten path: Adili ("my ornament" in Hebrew.) "Aviva", Hebrew for "spring", and which I recently spotted on a list of upper class names, heh. Orli ("my light.")

There are some lovely names on this list! Congratulations to you guys, don't forget to update us. And don't worry too much about choosing in advance. Your baby may surprise you. Have a list, but don't be inflexible!
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:07 PM on August 15, 2011



Sonia (In the novel "The Namesake", protagonist's sister alters her name to Sonia and thus becomes "a citizen of the world.")
posted by Knowyournuts at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2011

You guys! My jaw is on the floor and I'm trying to use a powerjack to bring it back up to my mouth. I was thinking maybe 8, 10 people would respond, tops. Wowwww.... thank you, thanks all of you! There's a name in here somewhere.. I know it..!

And yes, when the light finally shines and the unicorns show up and Mrs. Cav and I agree on her name, I'll let you all know. It's like your part of the birthing process! Or something!

Wow.. <3 !
posted by cavalier at 11:04 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are we done? I hope we're not done. I'm not having kids, so here are the girl names of my fantasy children:

Tessa (can be a name on its own, or short for Teresa/Theresa)
Kira (popular now because of Keira Knightly)

Seconding Judith as a good Torah name. Tabitha is from the New Testament, but still nice. And Elena is my favorite of the names on your list.
posted by cereselle at 11:48 AM on August 16, 2011

posted by carmicha at 12:00 PM on August 16, 2011

I had a friend named Shayda. I always loved that name and if I didn't know her I would use it for a daughter I might have in the future. I also knew a Neva (nee-vah) which I think also is a great name.
posted by gwenlister at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2011

Tove (pronounced Toe-vah)
Zia (maybe not if your son is a Zachary)
posted by papaver at 12:56 PM on August 16, 2011

posted by delight at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2011

I'm partial to Karina or Marin.
posted by just_ducky at 5:03 PM on August 16, 2011

posted by willpie at 6:27 PM on August 16, 2011

Update from exhausted neurotic village (hey! she's not even here yet!) --

Dalia has joined Elena on the top 3 list.
Camille is still flittering around in her french ways.
Daddy still holding a candle for Caitlin.

(Dalia, Zoe, Camille, Elena, Caitlin)
(my brain hurts)
posted by cavalier at 10:06 AM on August 17, 2011

If you like Camille, how about Colette?

As for Zoe, I like the name, but I personally know 2 set of siblings named Zach and Zoe.
posted by bq at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

In a stunning upset, Sabrina has made its way into the top 3.

I thought it was French, but apparently it's Celtic?

With any luck the notion of "...the teenage witch" will not be present in 2020??
posted by cavalier at 10:36 AM on August 18, 2011

Also I'm not exactly looking for mind control or DTMFA but if somebody can empower with me a way to sow "Caitlin" deep into the recesses of my lovely wife while she's sleeping, I'm all ears.
posted by cavalier at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2011

wife's MIND. wife's MIND. Curses.
posted by cavalier at 10:38 AM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also I'm not exactly looking for mind control or DTMFA but if somebody can empower with me a way to sow "Caitlin" deep into the recesses of my lovely wife while she's sleeping, I'm all ears.

Y'all should sit down and watch some classic Degrassi Junior High together.

(Warning: Your SO might prefer "Spike.")
posted by Sys Rq at 10:47 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

How could I forget Shoshannah?! Love that name. Sabrina is good too. Oh, and I knew someone named Judith Joy and liked that combo.
posted by deborah at 4:19 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm somewhat embarrassed and mortified to report that after all this effort thus far, suddenly Olivia (Top 10 most popular name for like.. the past 10 years!?) has shown up to the party and !#)(%* slapped a few of the names around.

Still holding a candle for Caitlin.
Thank you for watching.

Olivia??? Hmm.
posted by cavalier at 4:15 PM on August 21, 2011

You know, Olivia is a fine, fine name. It isn't a unique snowflake, exactly, but it's a very pretty snowflake.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:03 PM on August 21, 2011

(Also it probably has a better provenance than Caitlin. Cait is Katherine; Caitlin is really a diminutive - Little Katherine. Kathleen is the English translation of the Irish diminutive. Messy!)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2011

Olivia fell out of grace when her name was on like 4 of the 8 classroom rosters we saw when we dropped my son off for prepre school yesterday. :-/

posted by cavalier at 10:10 AM on August 23, 2011

Olivia fell out of grace

posted by DarlingBri at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the three people still following this in Recent Activity, after much head banging against the wall, Samantha fell back out and is back to being a serious contender.

Also, I'm going to start drinking powdered formula mixed with tequila shots for every day prior to next week (BABY TUESDAY) that we don't have a name picked.

God. 2nd kid names suck.

love you all. mean it.
posted by cavalier at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2011

Fell back in? I already drank one.
posted by cavalier at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2011

There's another Google search you could try to get ideas. If there's a name you like but it isn't quite right, you can search to see what people who used that name named their other daughters. So -- "daughters Caitlin and" or "daughters Olivia and" and so on. Because a lot of those sibling names have a similar feel and a lot of the same qualities.

When I search "daughters Caitlin and," here are some of the names that come up on the first page or 2 of results: Cassie, Siobhan, Sarah, Jessica, Kailey, Johanna, Mackenzie, Chloe, Zara, Jenna, Julie, Alexandra, Kylie, Emma, Christin.

For "daughters Olivia and": Isabella, Bethany, Emily, Tessa, Marisol, Eva, Camille, Elisa, Allegra... Elena. Hmm!

For "daughters Elena and": Camilla (first result!), Danielle, Galina, Blaire, Maxine, Cristina, Erica, Zoya, Briana, Clara...
posted by Ashley801 at 8:52 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's so clever, Ashley801!

Still liking Sarah and Zara - and was going to suggest Chloe - but Allegra, now that's a great name.

Will now throw Zillah into the mix. Also suggesting it's time to consider going for a middle name combo if you've got two strong contenders (unless there's a family name already reserved for that purpose).

[cavalier, you could also try a White (Formula) Russian. Hang in there. We're thinking of you.]
posted by likeso at 1:37 AM on August 25, 2011

Allegra was a great name. It is now an allergy medication. Same thing happened to my favourite name, Aviva (which I realise nobody else likes, ever, but that's fine.) It is now a bus company, a health insurance provider and a major sporting stadium.

Other suggestions: if you have geek credentials, Ada is big in that circle because of Ada Lovelace. See also: Addy, Adeline.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:12 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

With all these "Z" name suggestions, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Aziza, which is Hebrew and means "Powerful." "Aziza and Zach" go pretty well together, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:41 AM on August 25, 2011

All right, since you are still looking, I will give you my favor girl name, which I will never be able to use because my husband hates it anyway.

posted by bq at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2011

Charlotte just showed up and she looks contentious.
posted by cavalier at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2011

Also Ashley you get a best answer -- no word yet if you win the race but damned if that isn't some clever research material!!
posted by cavalier at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2011

phunnimee had suggested a similar kind of approach earlier in the thread - although not using google-fu, but the baby name wizard.

Here's the historical graph for the popularity of Elena, for example (eg if the popularity or rarity of a name is a factor for you), and if you double-click on it you got various other details about the name, including real life sibling names.

Common sibling names for Zachary are apparently Aaron Abigail Alyssa Andrew Anna Ashley Benjamin Ethan Gabriel Hannah Jacob Joshua Matthew Michael Molly Natalie Nathan Nicholas Rachel Rebecca Ryan Samantha Samuel Sarah Zavery (no way I could find to filter for females only) - although these seem to be self-reported by users of the website, and not based on records from the birth registries, so there's no telling exactly how representative this data is.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:29 PM on August 25, 2011

All right, if you like those searches let's try them in other languages too, yes?


"filles Zoe et" -- Léa, Marion, Simone, Danika, Cléo, Alix, Zabou, Adèle, Malou, Édith, Clélia, Karina, Lilou.

Hebrew (rusty, sorry, if you know Hebrew you could probably do a better search than me since my reading comprehension is super lacking at this point):

"b'not Dalia ve" ("הבנות דליה") -- Hannah (חנה), Ofra (עופרה), Vered (ורד), Ro'i (רועי) (I think that's a boy's name), Yerusa (ירושה), Natalie (נטלי)...
posted by Ashley801 at 7:36 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Update pls
posted by bq at 11:21 PM on September 4, 2011

EEEE! Sorry everyone. We have added a healthy baby girl to the family and it's taken me about a week and a half to sit down long enough to upload some pictures. Charlotte showed up just a hair under 20 inches at 7lbs 6oz.

SOOO without further ado,

Charlotte! in the hospital..

Charlotte again! in mom's arms..

Charlotte.. uerhm.. last one. Yeah, the rocker thingy is not pink, it's one of her many inheritances from her older brother. lol.

In the end once she was born it became quite obvious that several of the names on the short list were just not right. This ended us up with Elena and Charlotte which drove the hospital registry people nuts as we did not give them a name until we almost left. Whew. If this ask me stays open long enough I'll upload more pictures when she's keeping her eyes open. You all earned that much at least. <33333 Did I say thank you? Thank you!
posted by cavalier at 6:09 PM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

(and yes it doesn't fit nearly any of the criteria I originally posted, huh? Life's funny.)
posted by cavalier at 6:10 PM on September 12, 2011

Mazel tov!!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:13 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yay, she's beautiful! And Charlotte is a beautiful name.
posted by bq at 6:30 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by rmd1023 at 6:40 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hooray for Charlotte! A lovely name for a lovely girl.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:45 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a big fan of Caitlin, I love Charlotte too! Congrats to you and your bride on a healthy, adorable, beautifully named baby!!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:56 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, cavalier, how lovely. Your baby and her name. Congratulations! :))
posted by likeso at 5:00 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yay congratulations and welcome baby Charlotte!
posted by ukdanae at 6:24 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's gorgeous! And she looks like a Charlotte!
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:54 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aww. Thanks y'all. <3 <3
posted by cavalier at 1:53 AM on September 20, 2011

posted by saladin at 1:41 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

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