The BEST girl name!
May 15, 2012 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for girl names needed! We've got a few contenders, but nothing seems exactly right.

It's time for another name my baby post! There have been some great posts on this in the past, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

Some info: We live in New England, our last name is obviously German (starts with an L, ends with "nn"), we're nerdy/outdoorsy types. We're leaning strongly toward Frances as a middle name.

Absolute NO's: Anything starting with a K (overabundance in family), anything ending with an -ee sound, must not be too popular

Our preferences: Names of two syllables or less, strong sounding female names, names that were popular 100+ years ago but are more obscure today. My husband has a preference for nature names, which I'm open to, but it seems hard to find many non-hippie sounding ones.

Top 3 Contenders - feel free to give opinions:
A couple more we've considered:
Maya (is too popular in our state so has been eliminated)
posted by smalls to Human Relations (99 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm partial to Posy, which means flower, ever since reading Ballet Shoes as a child.
posted by lalex at 6:19 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rowan. "The European rowan (S. aucuparia) has a long tradition in European mythology and folklore. It was thought to be a magical tree and protection against malevolent beings.[4] In Celtic mythology the rowan is called the Traveller's Tree because it prevents those on a journey from getting lost."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:20 PM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Ida, Ina, Lila, Lily.
posted by Xalf at 6:21 PM on May 15, 2012

Paige is lovely. I also like Willow and it's still fairly uncommon.
posted by superfille at 6:21 PM on May 15, 2012

Ivy, Hazel, Laura/Laurel, Adeline.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:22 PM on May 15, 2012

Of your list, I like Willow and Iris.

In general, go for good solid names that aren't ever-so-purposely misspelled just to be 'different'. (Caitlin/Kaytlin/Katlyn/Catelynne, Madison/Madyson/Mattesyn/etc.)
posted by easily confused at 6:22 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:22 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by Nomyte at 6:25 PM on May 15, 2012


I think Iris is beautiful.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:26 PM on May 15, 2012

Laura. Awesome all around.
posted by pearlybob at 6:26 PM on May 15, 2012

This might violate your no-K rule, but I have been absolutely ADORING Cora as a classic, underused girls' name lately. I think it's beautiful, easily spelled, and legions prettier than its more common cousin Cara.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:26 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by meinvt at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by fingersandtoes at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by Sassyfras at 6:29 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Plants plants plants! Our daughter is Rosemary, which violates your no -eeeee rule, but her friends Linden and Hazel might be contendahs.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:29 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh yes, names with many possible or intentionally odd spellings are definitely out.
Love Laura/Lauren/Laurel names, but one of those is my sister's name so it's a little too close. "L" names in general are also a little tricky with our last name.
posted by smalls at 6:30 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would you consider German names? I love the name Petra. Apparently it is (or was for a time) extremely common in Germany, but I've only known Petra in the US.
posted by kaybdc at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Also Maeve is super trendy per the name wizard. I like it, but she may not be the only one in her class.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2012

Eleanor is great.
posted by mercredi at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2012

If your last name has 3 syllables, Willow or Georgia. If your last name has 2 syllables, Paige or Iris. There are a million names out there, but you have come up with a solid list.
posted by bleep at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2012

Iris and Willow were both on our long list. Some others we liked that may qualify: Violet, Pearl, Coral, Opal, Sage, Ivy (ee sound ending but still strong-sounding). Petra's slightly farther out there but I love it unreasonably and it has a similar feel.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:32 PM on May 15, 2012

Ilse/Ilsa. That was our girl's name, that we will never get to use!
posted by yarly at 6:33 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sabine/Sabrina? I also love Paige and Willow.
posted by jabes at 6:33 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:38 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by marble at 6:40 PM on May 15, 2012

Iris is my favorite!

A few other suggestions:

Margaret (means "pearl")
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:41 PM on May 15, 2012

Eve or Eva?
posted by barnoley at 6:41 PM on May 15, 2012


I love Iris too.
posted by gaspode at 6:43 PM on May 15, 2012

I love discussing names! Ivy. Gemma. Zoe (Kind of popular, but so awesome!) I've always thought Anna was a strong, beautiful, classic name. Clare.

posted by Aquifer at 6:44 PM on May 15, 2012

I have a personal fondness for Margo.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:46 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

strong sounding names

Whether or not you are a Game of Thrones lover, Brienne is a wonderful name.

I know this isn't a two-syllable name, but I love the name Willhelmina (pronounced willamina). Lots of shorter names to be has there, too. I'm also partial to my own name, Elizabeth.
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:47 PM on May 15, 2012

In my neck of the woods, Stella is super popular, so though I love it, stay away from that one.

I had a boy, but my considerations were similar to yours (last name starts with an L, didn't want an EE sound, not too common but not "weird"). We considered:

Willow (it's hugely popular thanks to Buffy, though, so we ruled it out)
posted by dotgirl at 6:47 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by JayRwv at 6:49 PM on May 15, 2012


How many syllables in your last name? That would help to know.
posted by zardoz at 6:51 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by bluesky43 at 6:51 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by minervous at 6:52 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 6:52 PM on May 15, 2012

Lydia will always be my favorite name.

Millicent (loooooove it!)
posted by Sweetmag at 6:53 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by travelwithcats at 6:53 PM on May 15, 2012

I'm also partial to my own name, Elizabeth.

I recently had a colleague (American but of German ethnicity) named Elisabeth, who went by Bess. I presumed that using the "s" in place of the "z" was the German variant of the name and almost suggested it as well. The great thing about the name Elizabeth/Elisabeth is that there are seemingly hundreds of wonderful diminutives to choose from (Bess, Beth, Bette, Elisa, Liz, etc.).
posted by kaybdc at 6:55 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anna is about a quarter as popular now as it was at the turn of the 20th century, and is a traditional German name. Strong, short, unmisspellable, goes well with Frances.
posted by escabeche at 6:55 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I love Elliott as a female name. Also sounds nice with your middle name. Elliott Frances Lynn?
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:56 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I vote for my name, Margaret!
  • She's classy: name of princesses, queens and saints (not to mention Margarets Sanger, Bourke-White, Atwood, Gyllenhaal, Cho, Smith, Mead and Mitchell)!
  • She's timeless: Margaret has been in the top 200 names for girls in the United States without fail since at least the 1890s, yet it's uncommon enough that your daughter may be the only Margaret in school!
  • She's versatile: Margaret has a bajillion nicknames (Maggie! Daisy! Peggy! May! Rita! Margo! Pearlie! Meg!), yet still stands well on its own!
  • She's sneaky: Margaret looks like three syllables, but is (in America at least) only pronounced with two!
  • She's international: when your daughter travels, her name will be instantly recognizable to those who know their local Małgorzata, Maret, Marged, Mairead, Margareta, Margarete, Margarethe, Margarita, Margit, Margita, Margriet, Marguerite, Marit, Maritta, Маргарита, or מרגלית!
I've kicked her tires and taken her on a test drive for you—she runs great!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:56 PM on May 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

There are two syllables in our last name.
So many people liking Iris... this was my husband's choice and I was kinda "eh" about it because it seemed a little too delicate. I might need to reconsider.
posted by smalls at 6:58 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by OsoMeaty at 7:03 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Berit, Brita, Magna, Inga, Maren, Marit, Maiken, Astrid
posted by Area Man at 7:10 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think MonkeyToes' suggestion--Rowan--is just lovely.

Strength: Linnea, adapted from Swedish biologist Linnaeus, pronounced either Linn-ee-uh or Linn-ay-uh.
posted by aintthattheway at 7:16 PM on May 15, 2012

...and of your choices, I really like Iris, too.
posted by scody at 7:17 PM on May 15, 2012

Lots that I already like. I'll add:

Maple (from the Robert Frost poem)
Alexandra (a bit long, but you can call her Alex)
posted by elizeh at 7:19 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mildred (Millie!)
posted by MoonOrb at 7:25 PM on May 15, 2012

Another vote for Eleanor Frances.

posted by faineant at 7:33 PM on May 15, 2012

Old-lady names are on the rise. You might want to take a gander at the Social Security website to double check the popularity of your name.

I also know quite a few Eleanors in the mommy-blog circuit, so it might be gaining in popularity. Or that could be a skewed sample.

My own personal vote would be for Maeve or Maude! I like Iris... but not necessarily Iris Frances.

Nuala (pronounced Noo-la, alternately spelled Nula) is an Irish name that I became acquainted with via a baby at playgroup and I love it. It helps that the Nuala I know is an exceptionally adorable baby.
posted by sonika at 7:48 PM on May 15, 2012

Pop all the names you like into Nymblr. Pretty much everyone I know with great kids names did this. (Mother of Thatcher.)
posted by k8t at 7:52 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ada - as in Ada Lovelace.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 7:57 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Liesl. My daughter has a direct German lineage and we chose a family name, a variant of Elizabeth. Bonus points if you're a Sound of Music fan but we didn't choose it for that reason. You could also go with Liesel, another popular spelling.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:58 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

One small tick against Iris: while I love it on its own, with Frances it sounds a bit weird to me. This is assuming you pronounce the names the same way I do (AI-riss FRAN-ciz).
posted by ocherdraco at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seven! jk-sort of. I love Iris myself and Gretchen or Agnes are pretty awesome as well.
posted by karlos at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2012

We named our daughter Silvia, which means "from the woods." We chose the Shakespearian spelling. Here's what Shakespeare said about Silvia:

Who is Silvia? What is she?
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she:
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness:
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness;
And, being help’d, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.

If you like Iris, maybe you'd like Irena too. Nina was another favorite -- my great grandma has this name and she pronounced it Nine-ah. I love Elsa as well. Of the ones you listed, Willow is my favorite.
posted by Ostara at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know a pretty new baby whose name is Ava and I think it's nice and classic.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:11 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regarding Iris, you could pronounce it as in Germany, which is more like Ear-us, although that doesn't solve the duplicate last syllable issue with Frances that Ocherdraco noted.
posted by carmicha at 8:12 PM on May 15, 2012

I'd like a little further recognition for Georgia. I LOVE Georgia! Such a beautiful little name. I also love (and had never thought of) Cora, as mentioned above.

Also, Astrid.

Or following in the footsteps of my favorite little music artist right now - Azealia (Azalea).
posted by triggerfinger at 8:15 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by plinth at 8:18 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by backwards guitar at 8:28 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by meepmeow at 8:33 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by erstwhile at 8:38 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by BibiRose at 8:38 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by BibiRose at 8:42 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by ob1quixote at 9:18 PM on May 15, 2012

(I always vote for Artemis!)
posted by troublewithwolves at 9:37 PM on May 15, 2012

My children's last name is also 2 syllable, starting with L and ending with n. Our daughter is Else, pronounced "Elsa". If our last child had been a girl, we liked Astrid and Freya. Ava and Ivy are pretty but getting a little more popular around here.
posted by purenitrous at 9:59 PM on May 15, 2012

My daughter's name is Petra, so of course I agree with the recommendations for it. Easy to spell, you won't find many other kids with that name, and it's sort of a nature name.

Be sure to check your favorite names on the Baby Name Voyager to see what's trending.
posted by mogget at 10:03 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by ambulatorybird at 10:13 PM on May 15, 2012

posted by Hakaisha at 11:18 PM on May 15, 2012

Ibbie. Hebrew name meaning "God's promise."
posted by phaedon at 11:45 PM on May 15, 2012

In support of the name Eleanor I'll point out how awesome Eleanor of Aquitaine was. Other spellings: Éléonore (french), Eleonore (german), Leonor (spanish).
posted by joost de vries at 12:49 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cassia - a relative of cinnamon
posted by benzenedream at 1:48 AM on May 16, 2012


French for "dolphin", also sounds close to the flower called delphinium, so there are two nature connections there; and it sounds lovely with Frances.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:50 AM on May 16, 2012

My favorite older ladies names:
posted by Blisterlips at 1:56 AM on May 16, 2012

Some that haven't been mentioned:

posted by dekathelon at 2:05 AM on May 16, 2012

posted by sciencegeek at 2:21 AM on May 16, 2012

Thanks so far, everyone. The baby name sites were driving me nuts with their Rylees and Maddysins, so this is refreshing. A lot of these recommendations are names we've considered and ruled out for some reason (cora, sabrina, wren, sage, ivy, linnea), so we're definitely on the same wavelength. Definitely a few we hadn't thought of on here, so we'll be looking at our list again tonight. I'm thinking we'll go in with 3-4 names and decide once we meet her.

Georgia was our favorite, and we still love it but we have some reservations. This is a really popular name in other countries right now, but hasn't gotten back up there in the US (probably due to the state name). Cora had been lurking as a possibility, and I'm considering it again. I think it's an equally classic but cooler version of Clara.

Oh, and I will not be using Frances with Iris!
Feel free to keep them coming!
posted by smalls at 4:34 AM on May 16, 2012

What about Orla?
posted by HandfulOfDust at 5:29 AM on May 16, 2012

Iris is not as delicate as it seems. Iris Murdoch was one tough cookie. That's my favorite of the ones you have listed so far. Not only is it easy to pronounce, short, two syllables, but how many names start with an I? I think it has a lovely tone to it. You also have the iris of the eye, which makes it kind of deep, as eyes are the windows to the soul. Also, when she is older and has people beating down her door for a chance to see her radiant smile, they can bring her a bouquet of namesake flowers, and irises are gorgeous. Hell, they can bring YOU a bouquet of irises when you deliver your baby!

Good luck! I named my baby daughter Cleopatra, by the way. I got some sh*t for it when she was an infant, but now that she's a headstrong almost-4-year-old, I think people recognize that it suits her just fine.
posted by tk at 6:37 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Elise Frances is a pretty name.
Millicent Frances with Millie as a nickname.
Aubrey Frances with Bree as a nickname.
Brooke Frances?
I also love Skylar just because!
posted by blista at 8:19 AM on May 16, 2012

Nora? Hope? Those both work well with Frances as a middle name.

I do love Iris. And Ivy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2012

posted by French Fry at 8:55 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fern is my favorite nature name but not a great fit with Frances in the middle. More nature names not yet mentioned: Verna, Myrtle, Aster. Pearl, Beryl and Opal are of a piece with the current popularity of Ruby and are (great-)grandma names but less common. Lois is another (fairly) old one that fits your criteria. Bernice or Eunice are strong as well.

I know a pair of small sisters named Eleanor and Frances, another friend has a four-year-old Georgia, and I've met a couple of Maeves in the last five years too, so if you're trying to achieve uniqueness I'd go a little further afield.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:47 AM on May 16, 2012

I am personally partial to Ruby.

My friend recently had a baby and named her Iris. She is my favorite baby ever.

Don't use Ava, I personally know of 3 people in the last year who have named their kids Ava.
posted by waitangi at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2012

There are two Mefites whose handles I always liked: Miko and Misha. Both are female. I once had a doll, a friend of Barbie's, with the former name.

Anneliese is very pretty (and I know a beautiful young woman with that name). Gabriela and Vanessa are also very pretty (and the two young women I know who have those names are also very intelligent and very pretty).

Maria, Marina, and Mariana are also very lovely.
posted by discopolo at 10:49 AM on May 16, 2012

The post that mentioned Miko, reminded me of the Nica, another name that I love and that for some reason doesn't seem popular in the states. I worked with a very fabulous Nica once (she had a 2 syllable obviously German surname).
posted by kaybdc at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2012

I rather like "Amaryllis". It's a flower, hence has nature elements, is quite uncommon, and if she decides she doesn't like being too oddball she can always go by "Amy".
posted by jackbishop at 1:11 PM on May 16, 2012

Cynthia (nickname: Cindy)
Deborah (very strong: she was a Biblical judge)

and of course, there's always the old Puritan 'attribute' names, like:
posted by easily confused at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2012


I once met a woman who went by FernAnn, not sure if it was one name orher first and middle name but It really grew on me
posted by Teeth of the Hydra at 4:07 PM on May 16, 2012

Another vote for Elinor Frances, but note the spelling change.
posted by deborah at 10:33 PM on May 16, 2012

posted by heffalump at 3:52 PM on May 18, 2012

Constance (nn Tansy)
posted by purpleclover at 9:04 AM on May 21, 2012

Of your names, I like Georgia best.

Fern (not with Frances!)

*though I do know two baby Claires
posted by semacd at 5:07 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Estelle (star)
Chandra (moon)
Astra (star)
Danica/Danika/Dannica/Dannika (morning star)
Zora (dawn)
Stella (star)
posted by carmicha at 8:24 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Exonym at 3:05 AM on May 31, 2012

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