What is a good name for our daughter?
January 8, 2004 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Help us name our daughter! We just found out we are having a girl (!!!) and are struggling coming up with cool / interesting / not overly-popular names. What are your 2 or 3 favorite girls names that escape the orbit of "Brittany / Ashley / Sarah / Etc."
posted by limitedpie to Society & Culture (139 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anais has always been my favorite.

Regina sounds pretty as well.
posted by lotsofno at 8:13 AM on January 8, 2004

more: We have been scouring the many babyname databases on the 'net, and while we have found a few names we like, we are way more interested in learning the thoughts of the witty, erudite, thomcatspike-wordsmithing, languagehat-ting thoughts of our favorite online community! (So, no need to point us to resources on the net, unless they are of the kind that most likely escaped the most thorough googling... thanks all!)
posted by limitedpie at 8:14 AM on January 8, 2004

My niece is named Helen. It's classy, a bit offbeat, but not so weird she'll get made fun of.
posted by notsnot at 8:14 AM on January 8, 2004

You could be unoriginal and go for Moonunit (hey, if it's good enough for Frank it's good enough for you too... ;-))

I'm going to be a father to a girl in a couple of weeks too (actually we'd said we wouldn't tell anyone the gender, but I have a hard time thinking of Mefites as people ;-)), we finally settled on Daisy, after narrowly discounting Molly and Sian.
posted by bifter at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2004

Any name that gets you made fun of as a kid makes you cool and different as an adult. Doesn't seem to have caused Orlando Bloom any problems, for example.

As girls names I like Cloda and Gretchen.
posted by skylar at 8:20 AM on January 8, 2004


My Official List of Names for the Girls I'm Never Having, Because I'm Never Having Children:

Ana Flavia - I had a friend by this name when I live in Brasilia, and she was a charming and elegant person, thus I associate this name with those positive traits. It has a bit of an international flair without being too odd.
Kirsten - I had a friend by this name when I visited my grandmother in Germany. I don't remember much about Kirsten, but I remember loving the name. It's a bit like Kristen or Christine, but different and softer. I think it's a very pretty name for a girl. It does suffer from having a -ee nickname, though.
Fiona - Perhaps not as uncommon if you're British, but not a particularly popular name in North America (though after Shrek, who knows). I just think this is a name that sounds graceful and elegant and would carry well into adulthood.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:22 AM on January 8, 2004

I always thought that Felicity was a great name for a girl. Kinda rare, not too weird, not too hard to spell, and it's a family name from way back.

Then that damn TV show came out.
posted by Vidiot at 8:25 AM on January 8, 2004

It would be helpful to know your last name.

Here are my fave names: Laur (not laura), Thel (not thelma), Marika, Omita (pronounced oh meeta), Karin (ka-reen), Plum, Pash, Vib (rhymes with fib), and Dess. These are all women I've dated and they're all very strong personalities--bold women. (I believe a person's name can affect their outcome.)
posted by dobbs at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2004

Regina sounds pretty as well.

Growing up near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, many people's nickname for the city was Vagina. I never called it that though.
posted by kelrae3 at 8:31 AM on January 8, 2004

My "normal" suggestion - Sophie.

My not-so-normal suggestion - Wren. I don't know why, I just like the sound of it.

My friends named their daughter Zelda Dare. I thought it was awful at first, but I've come to love it, and her. It totally fits her.
posted by starvingartist at 8:31 AM on January 8, 2004

I like Olivia (with middle name Paige), Genevieve (Elaine), Sophia (Grace), and Annalisse (Catherine).

A daugher has not been born in my husband's family for over 200 years.
posted by ferociouskitty at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2004

Francelia - a favorite because it's my name. Can use Franny or Celia for short, though Franny doesn't pass the playground test - I STILL get called Fanny, which is particularly amusing to Australians.
Margaret, because I like the name Maggie
I like Gretchen a lot too, skylar

What about family last names that can be used as a first name? We have a zillion of those in our family, and it makes the grandparents very happy. For instance, Parnel is a family name for us, so I have a niece named Mary Parnel, and she goes by Nelly.
posted by pomegranate at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2004

I've been telling my wife that Maude needs to make a comeback. I don't think she's going for it. You, however, have the power. Reclaim the Maude moniker for the hipsters of tomorrow!
posted by fletchmuy at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2004

My sister and her husband are going with Stella for their new little one. I think it's got a nice funky/artsy vibe to it.
posted by crumbly at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by Frasermoo at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by COBRA! at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2004

You could let her name herself. My friend is pregnant. Early on in the pregnancy, she was thinking of terminating it due to some personal issues. She had a dream of a little girl standing in front of her with her hands on her hips, yelling- "My name is Violet Vita Lee and I'm on my way!" My friend knows no one with either of those names, but the message was so strong that she didn't doubt it for a second. It looks like Violet will be born in a couple of weeks.
posted by pomegranate at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2004

My sister and her husband are going with Stella for their new little one. I think it's got a nice funky/artsy vibe to it.

...except you'd sound all "Streetcar" whenever you'd call her in from the playground...
posted by Vidiot at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2004

I like Rosemarie - for whatever reason, I think it sounds classier than Rosemary. I also like Isabelle and all the variants of it.

One thing that I am adamant about with my daughter, is that we do not and will not ever use the diminutive. My daughter will always be called Kate or Catherine, never Katie.
I don't care if she's America's sweetheart (or whatever they're calling her these days), Katie Couric's name sounds like she's 8 years old.
posted by Irontom at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2004

So then you all have quite a backlog of girlynames, ferociouskitty! That's amazing.

We determined to name all our children palindromically. However, Hannah's younger sibling was not the "Otto" type (that is, male), so we folded up the tent.

On preview -- Man this thread is red hot!!!
posted by luser at 8:39 AM on January 8, 2004

Scarlet, with optional added t or te.
posted by Orange Goblin at 8:41 AM on January 8, 2004

Vidiot: "Shane" has a similar defect.
posted by luser at 8:41 AM on January 8, 2004

I second "Margaret," but I like "Meg" as a diminutive. There's also "Eleanor," which is not great by itself, but "Ellie" is a wonderful nickname.

As a "William" who goes by "Bill," I urge you to select a name that has a common diminutive. It's fun to have an official name that goes largely unused. I don't know why, but those of you who always use the name on your birth certificate are missing out on a little something.

Irontom: "Kate" is a diminutive as well.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:46 AM on January 8, 2004

Wow, some wonderful suggestions so far! The thread has doubled our "short list"- thanks all, and keep 'em coming :-)
posted by limitedpie at 8:48 AM on January 8, 2004

I agree with lotsofno and frasermoo. Elizabeth Regina limitedpie has a great ring to it. As long as you stay away from stuff like moonunit its probably just random as to to whether your kid will like it.
Irontom: My sister over her lifetime has had every diminutive of Catherine but hates the name itself (but of course she still gets it from the family).
The annual top twenty boys and girls names in the UK was published recently, that might give some ideas.
posted by biffa at 8:48 AM on January 8, 2004

Be careful. I remember when the name Caitlin was rare, rare, rare. So one daughter's middle name was turned into the name du jour. Don't use any cool tv name or you may have the same fate.

Let's see...Octavia, Danae, Risa, Bethany, Maggie, Allie, Phoebe, Julia.

(heck, Conolia. Looks a lot less stupid than with a K.)
posted by konolia at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2004

Congratulations! Please name her Esmarelda if she is born with lots of black hair or Paula if you think she will grow up to be a blonde. Oh and I have a cousin Regina who I still call Vegina.
posted by oh posey at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2004

Mayor Curly: Yes, technically you are right. However, it doesn't have the "ee" sound on the end that I associate with playgrounds.

(I never said I was rational about my prejudices. They're mine, and we're very happy together.)
posted by Irontom at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2004

Jin Ju

My partner's name is Cinnamon, and a friend nearly named her daughter Canela (said spice in Spanish) after her -- instead she's Elizabeth, with Ella her nickname.
posted by me3dia at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2004

I'm a fan of Anika and Michaela, myself.
posted by aclevername at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2004

I'm quite fond of my name: Natalie. It's not too weird, it's about middle-range popularity (so weird to me, because I never knew any other Natalies when I was a kid and now there are little Natalies all over the place and it freaks me out at the mall when I hear my name shrieked in the direction of a misbehaving 3 year old), and there aren't any stupid nicknames for it other than "Nat"--which is (for me) barely tolerable.

Other names I'm fond of and that I may name my hypothetical future girlchild: Jean (my mother's name), Frances (my mother's maiden name was Francis), Isabel, Margaret, Katherine, Rose, Anne, and Maureen.
posted by eilatan at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2004

My faves? (And presumptive genesis)

Penelope (as in Houston, Pitstop, or maybe it goes back to the Odyssey)
Hana (it means "one" in Korean, "flower" in Japanese, and it *still* sounds vaguely Hebrew)
Phaedra ("Some Velvet Morning," natch. I ain't no classicist.)
Phoebe (every male writer I ever met has a crush on Phoebe Caulfield)
Emma (Peel?)
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2004

Linnea is a nice name for a girl, I think.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2004

My mother spent a lot of thougt mine and my siblings names and come up with Vincent , Valerie and Kenneth.

so Valerie!
posted by kenaman at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2004

I like Ruby. It's a name you don't hear too often anymore. It may result in your daughter ending up a truck-stop waitress and/or a character in a Tom Waits song, but that can't be bad.

Of course, "Jubilex, the Faceless Lord" is always nice too.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2004

I love older names like Evelyn, Irene, and Hazel. But I also like what a pair of friends named their daughter: Kestrel, after a small hawk. She's been nicknamed "Kest" already which sounds appealingly like "kissed" to the ear.
posted by clever sheep at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2004

I have narrowed down names into three piles.

I like all the E names: Emma, Emily, Ella, Etta

I like names that end in A like Regina (that's one I've always liked) and Mia, since I can't pick names that end in Y (molly haughey sounds stupid).

but lately I've been thinking it'd be cool to mix cultures. Have a son named Omar or Mohammed, and daughters named Frida or Lucia.
posted by mathowie at 9:05 AM on January 8, 2004

Alice. Its a normal yet uncommon name, and as a bonus you get to be the heroine of a great book.

Also, the geek in me thinks that a good name for a girl would be Peregrin (as in Peregrin 'Pippin' Took). I'm not sure I'd ever act on that, though.

Some friends named their daughter Mecedaidh (me-KAY-dee), which they regret now that she's in 1st grade. She can't spell it (she's commonly called 'Cady' which she can spell) and her teachers have no idea how to say it.
posted by anastasiav at 9:07 AM on January 8, 2004

Whatever name you pick, tell it to a seven year old boy and see what he comes up with to make fun of it. My cousin is named Daria after her Lithuanian grandma - you can imagine what all of the kids at school called her.
posted by pomegranate at 9:10 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by heather at 9:13 AM on January 8, 2004

With due respect to Konolia, please don't use Bethany as that's MY name. Damn it.

I would have suggested some already listed here, but will just add two that haven't been - Quinn and Juliet.
posted by orange swan at 9:23 AM on January 8, 2004

I really like Louise. It's old fashioned and pretty, I think, and my mother's middle name, and the nickname is Lou, which I think is clever. Also my grandfather chose it as my mother's middle name because he thought it was beautiful, so that gives it extra weight for me.

I've always liked the idea of naming any possible future children after members of our family (my middle name is from my great-grandmother, mother of the aforementioned grandfather), so maybe there are some beloved relatives or ancestors who can give you some ideas.
posted by jennyb at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2004

I always figured the best names were lurking in the SSA lists, probably in the middle third of the index for, say, 1900-1910. You'll have to pick through Harriet, Ernestine and Myra, but there's also Corinne, Eleanore, Bernadette and Therese; those may not suit you but even the really dorky have a less synthetic feel than the "Madisons" and "Britneys" of today.
posted by coelecanth at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2004

My first girl (or boy) will be Alex. Alexandra, Alexandria, or Alexis. Or spelt with an i. Just Alex.
posted by kelrae3 at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2004

I named my daughter Elena. I think it's the most beautiful and elegant of the Helen-derived names (Ellen, Elaine, Aileen, Eleanor, Helena).

Plus it's easy to pronounce, easy to spell, and very international. She can travel the world and people will (mostly) pronounce her name recognizably.

There are no other Elenas in her class. She does have an Ella and an Emma though.

Please, for the love of all that is good, stay away from trendy names.

I still resent the tyranny of the hordes of Jennifers I grew up with. There were like five in every class, it was ridiculous.
posted by beth at 9:30 AM on January 8, 2004

Arianne (ok, I am biased on that one)
Miriam (the diminutive is "Mimi" which I just love)

Just FYI, the names I hear most often around the daycare and elementary schools are: Hannah (there are about six of them), Ella, Ellie/Eleanor, Katie/Katherine, and Lily/Lillian. You might want to avoid these.
posted by whatnot at 9:31 AM on January 8, 2004

My best friend named his girl Story. I've always liked that.
posted by Tacodog at 9:31 AM on January 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

Whatever name you choose, say it to five people and ask them to spell it. If they come up with more than three different spellings, or if they all come up with something other than what you had in mind, choose a different name.

Your daughter will thank you in years to come.
posted by ook at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2004

Ooops, I meant not Alexandra, Alexandria, or Alexis.
posted by kelrae3 at 9:35 AM on January 8, 2004

The only thing important about a kids name is that the combination of the first and middle names work together well enough that when yelled together by you they elicit the appropriate level of "oh shit I'm in trouble now"
posted by mss at 9:37 AM on January 8, 2004

Schoolmates will always find -- or manufacture -- a reason to make fun of a kid, whether it's because of their name, their appearance, the way they talk, the way they dress, or countless other factors. Trying to dodge this bullet is an exercise in futility. Hopefully, we develop slightly thicker skins and a bit more insight into human behavior as a result.

My best advice is to choose a name that you feel is distinctive and will complement (and/or compliment) them as people throughout their lives.
posted by Danelope at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2004

I also like Emma (or Emily), but unfortunately it's the name Rachel gave her daughter on Friends, and it's skyrocketing in popularity already. Siobhan is waaay overdone now, as is anything that's a placename (Madison, India etc).

I really like names with meanings - Joy and Grace are beautiful middle names. I like Lucy/Luciente. Sophie/Sophia. Kyra/Keira. Sara (pronounced like cara). Zoe. Rowan/Rhiannon. Nuala (pronounced nula). Mia/Zia. Cecilie. Charlotte.

I always thought Saga would be a beautiful name - in Norwegian it has the connotation of a magical, ethereal story - but my partner has nixed it, saying in English it sounds more like a dull/drawn-out epic. Bummer. Saga Magdalen was one of my favorite candidates for years.

And I second (third?) the recommendations above - look through your genealogy and see if there are names that appeal to you. You could always make it a variation. And last names can sometimes make great first names - that's what I'm planning to do when we have a daughter.
posted by widdershins at 9:39 AM on January 8, 2004

Schoolmates will always find -- or manufacture -- a reason to make fun of a kid, whether it's because of their name, their appearance, the way they talk, the way they dress, or countless other factors. Trying to dodge this bullet is an exercise in futility.

Yeah but why saddle a child with something that has a big huge bullseye on it, on purpose? I grew up with a kid named Marijuana Alexander, fer chrissakes.

All I remember is she was ceaselessly made fun of, and cried frequently. Poor kid.
posted by beth at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2004

And congratulations, btw!
posted by widdershins at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2004

anastasiav - I met a girl once named Peregrine! She was very cool.

whatnot - I call my paternal grandmother Mimi. She's from Texas, and apparently that's a fairly common name for "grandma" there. Her real name is Geraldine, Geri for short, which I also like very much.
posted by starvingartist at 9:46 AM on January 8, 2004

I grew up with a kid named Marijuana Alexander, fer chrissakes.

...and that child had stupid parents who chose a name that wouldn't complement their child throughout life. There's a bit of difference between naming your child something stupid and avoiding a pleasant name like "Regina" because of its potential for mockery.
posted by Danelope at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2004

Traditionally a place name, but I think it'd be a nice name for a girl: Brighton.
posted by GeekAnimator at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2004

One more, simply for the sake of talking about this. I love this thread!

One of the coolest girls' names I ever came across belonged to a girl I dated in high school. Her name was Sirkka - it's Finnish onomatopaeia for the sound that crickets make.
posted by starvingartist at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I think that "Zoe", which means "life" in Greek, is beautiful. (And I'm waaay out of the loop, so I have no idea how cool or totally uncool this might be at the moment - it's just a name that I would love to have for myself!)
posted by taz at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2004

Don't want to claim to be an expert at baby naming, but the site I work for has a lot of baby naming resources. For girls, the Brittany/Ashley/Madison names are still pretty popular in America. (What do you call them -- yuppie names? It's as if they been ordered from the Eddie Bauer catalog.)

But among celebrities -- always a source of new trends in baby naming -- I've been seeing a lot of what you'd call classic names (or "grandma names"). Names like Rose, Emma, Grace, Helen, Sophie. Many of the suggestions so far seem to fall into this same category. So, if you want to be trendy, definitely go with something classical.
posted by eatitlive at 9:53 AM on January 8, 2004

Oh! How could I forget "Ulrike" and "Gudrun"? Sexier still than Huey P. Newton, yes.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:54 AM on January 8, 2004

Mother in law has the coolest name. Her name is (I swear) Meta (German, pronounced May-tah).

Allison(Elvis, and can give you an Allie or an Alice)
Sister is Erin, which has always seemed cool to me.
Wife is Linda Evelyn. Evelyn has grown on me, as Evvy would be a cool shortened version.
Daughter is a Jessica. She's been a Jess, insisted on Jessie(as a teen), and now(at 21) insists on Jessica, but we still call her Monkey(don't ask). It was about 2535th most popular name the year she was born, and went to the top 25 within 5 years. Faith Popcorn could save a lot of time and just follow my wife around.
posted by dglynn at 9:55 AM on January 8, 2004

Another placename: Jasper. Not traditionally female, but our kid's making it more so. It's low enough on the cultural register these days (hovering right around 500 in the top 1000 boy names for the past 30 or 40 years) that folks aren't phased by the gender issue. At least, not to our faces. We've heard of at least one other Jasper girl in Seattle, so I expect it's on it's way up.
posted by daver at 9:56 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by leotrotsky at 9:57 AM on January 8, 2004

...also, went to school with a Naimh, (pronounced 'Nee-ave' ) It's very popular in Ireland, I understand.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:03 AM on January 8, 2004

daver: jasper has been in our top three or so ever since your(!) comment in this thread, way before we even conceived! When I read your comment way back then, I jotted the name down and oh-how I love it! To everyone else, the list has now grown to about 20. AskMeFi is incredible: thanks!
posted by limitedpie at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2004

natasha is my favourite.

personally, i'd avoid place names since they come particularly loaded with connotations (possibly negative ones - who wants to be named after a seedy place full of old age pensioners?) and re-spellings of traditional names, which (to my cynical mind) have the subtext "we wanted to be different, but didn't have much imagination."
posted by andrew cooke at 10:09 AM on January 8, 2004

Famke is my current favorite female name.
posted by tristeza at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2004

Can I suggest you stay from the following?

"Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermot, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendall, Caitlin, Noah, Sascha, Morgan, Kyra, Ian, Lauren, Q-bert, Phil."
posted by keswick at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2004

Glad to hear it LP, and congrats on your new addition!
posted by daver at 10:13 AM on January 8, 2004

Let her choose her own name! My wife told me about what they do sometimes in Thailand if a monk is unable to help. Get a short list of half a dozen names, then buy that many cheap similar-looking (girl) dolls. Give each doll one of the names from your shortlist, then put them in a circle round your duaghter. The one that she reaches out for first is the name that she gets. It's a cool thing for her to tell people when she's older; "I named myself".

I don't know whether it'll work with a newborn; in Thailand, kids have a birth-given monosyllabic nickname by which they are invariably known amongst family and friends, so it doesn't matter if they don't choose their "offical" name for a few months.

Our shortlist for girl's names were Marina (which we went with), Jasmine and Kanjana / Kanchana (meaning "gold" in literary Thai)

Congrats, btw
posted by Pericles at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2004

Oh, I forgot....what about Nikita?
posted by konolia at 10:18 AM on January 8, 2004

We named our daughter Jillian (no diminutives allowed), and still love it six years later. It fits her perfectly.

Congrats, and best wishes, limitedpie.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:20 AM on January 8, 2004

I like Xuan.
posted by Grod at 10:23 AM on January 8, 2004

Scottish suggestions:
Isla (eye lah)
posted by bonaldi at 10:25 AM on January 8, 2004


Seven, maybe? Or Soda?
posted by Wet Spot at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2004

Maisie. There are a few out there, but it's not a name you hear every day, nor is it weird. It will get mis-pronounced and mis-spelled, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2004

As a Jonathan (not Johnathon or Johnathyn or whatever the hell else people want to do with it) I totally agree with the spell check method. Those of you in favor of "Fionnula" have no idea how annoying a lifetime of "How do you spell that" and "How do you pronounce that" are to a person.

The best way to avoid trendy is to stay with one or two syllables and avoid diminutives. My list: Grace, Emma (though overused at the moment), Lisa.

I realize now how trendy Jennifer and Lisa were to the parents of those in my generation, but now it seems pretty normal. Will this happen to the Madisons and Britneys of the world in 20 years?
posted by PrinceValium at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2004

I like Madeline.

Also Arathena, of which I have only ever known one, and she says her parents made it up. But a very pretty name.
posted by Aaorn at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2004

Or, dare I say it...

posted by Wet Spot at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2004

Ina (pronounced "Eena," but I don't care for that version) or Indira. Natasha. Alana. Gabrielle. Seye (pronounced "Shay-ah"). Jaye. Penelope. Denise. Zoey. Natalie. Pamela. Rudy. Ashley. Veronica.
posted by *burp* at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by t r a c y at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by Prospero at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2004

Pamela. It means 'honey,' and I just think it sounds poetic.
posted by stoneegg21 at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2004

Isolda. (eye-zolda)
posted by dobbs at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2004

Friends have recently named daughters Macie and Avery. I like the name "Avery" much better than "Macie", though.

Margaret (could also be "Margie", "Peg", "Meg")
Elizabeth (could also be "Beth", "Bess", "Liz")
Emilie or Emily

Or, if I were more evil than I actually am, Kaycee Nicole.
posted by Vidiot at 10:51 AM on January 8, 2004

Hurrah! Congrats on your new addition! I actually know a female Jasper, and while I was suprised at first (I was an Avonlea addict, so the name had certian connotations), it's entirely perfect for the red-headed, outdoorsy Mainer she is.

Do be aware that certain names carry certian expectations/memories/connotations for some people, so my only piece of advice is to say, write, yell, etc. all the names on your list as many times as possible (along with your last name!!!), and make sure it's something you will want to call your daughter when she's 2, 16, 28 and so on. Watch out for mixing very ethnic names, as things like "Keiko O'Connor" are just goofy, and try to avoid annoying allieration, rhyming, overuse of connsonants etc when considering her name as it will appear on her diploma. Believe me, your daughter will thank you!

My own top five favorite girls names are:

(this is the traditional Irish spelling, though it occasionally is Aisling, and I have a friend Aislynn)
posted by nelleish at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2004

posted by grabbingsand at 11:01 AM on January 8, 2004

I remember when the name Caitlin was rare, rare, rare

I remember when the name Caitlin was not only rare but correctly pronounced (cat-LEEN). I really wish trendy folk had left it to the Irish. Hearing KATE-lin drives me up the wall.

Some friends named their daughter Mecedaidh (me-KAY-dee), which they regret now that she's in 1st grade. She can't spell it (she's commonly called 'Cady' which she can spell) and her teachers have no idea how to say it.

Let this be a lesson to all parents with the urge to pick a cute foreign name; Irish names in particular are very hard to spell and pronounce and probably best left to the Irish. (See Caitlin above.)

Schoolmates will always find -- or manufacture -- a reason to make fun of a kid, whether it's because of their name, their appearance, the way they talk, the way they dress, or countless other factors. Trying to dodge this bullet is an exercise in futility.

Right, so let's dress them funny too! I've never understood this philosophy. Personally, I got made fun of very little as a kid, and I'm deeply grateful my parents didn't call me Fotheringay or (a boy named) Sue.

what about Nikita?

Fine name if you happen to be a Russian male. Anywhere else, not only is it not a girl's name, it's got unfortunate associations (fat shoe-banging ex-dictator).

Me, I like plain old names like Helen, Barbara, Rose, Dorothy, Alice, Susan, Grace. If you want to go farther afield, you could try Alexandra, Azalea (added bonus: she'll have a gorgeous Duke Ellington tune as her theme song), Isobel, Larissa, Lisette, Rosalind, Tamara (among other associations, the name of Georgia's greatest ruler), Tatiana, or Vivienne.

I would avoid Hephzibah, Thecla, and Prunella, but it's your call.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on January 8, 2004

Sorry for the cardinal "Ashley" sin. May I replace it with "Persephone"? Thanks.
posted by *burp* at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2004


I would name a girl Pony, or a boy.
Or Astrid.
Astrid or Pony.
posted by darkpony at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2004

Summer. Simple, rare without being weird, and happy without being drippy.
posted by furiousthought at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2004

to borrow from dobbs, Isolde, after the Gottfried story. Though some versions of the tale are a little seedy.
posted by trharlan at 11:17 AM on January 8, 2004

How about Brianne Rhiannon...oops..you want ideas for , not ideas that should never ever be used....sorry...

Margaret (Maggie)
Catherine (Caty for short. Not too weird but a little different.)
Someone mentioned Sasha. I love that name.

If only I'd not gotten fixed. Dang the luck!

Congrats and best wishes.
posted by damnitkage at 11:18 AM on January 8, 2004

As a person with a somewhat unusual spelling, I've always enjoyed having a distinction from the "Leah"s and "Lea"s of the world (I was named for my mom's friend Leah, but spelled like Princess Leia).

That said, I wouldn't recommend the ununsual spelling on a very unusual name (ie Pursefoni for Persophone).

I've been enchanted by my grandmother's names of late: Evelyn Marie and Iris June.
posted by LeiaS at 11:19 AM on January 8, 2004

leotrotsky beat me to Beatrix. I'm a big fan of names with the letters x, z or v in them - Roxanne, Roxalanna, Vivian, Veronica, Violet, Zoe, Hazel.

I also like my name, Melanie, which suits me better than my parents could've ever known it would.
posted by MsVader at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2004

Randomly generated names based on English letter frequencies in real English female names. This page is refreshed daily, so go back regularly if you don't see something you like. Some of these will make you laugh ("Pamaron"? "Julisty"? "Brothy"? "Courist"? "Ashleks"?) but others come out to be real names and others are never-before-seen combinations of letters that could actually be beautiful names, if someone would just take the courageous step of giving them to a child...
posted by kindall at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2004


Being a James Joyce freak, I would easily name a girl either Nora Lucia (his wife and daughter's names) or Anna Livia (from Finnegans Wake)* -- both lovely combinations that are slightly unusual without being hard to pronounce or spell, etc. Aside from that, I'm also in the camp with everyone who likes classic, so-called old-fashioned names -- such as Elizabeth, Katherine, Isabelle, Sophie, Maisie, Juliet, Violet, Jane, Helen (my dad's mother) or Evelyn (my mom's mother) -- probably because I have one myself (Sara Louise) and really love it.

I agree with others who've said to consider whether or not you will be comfortable with likely diminutives as well as how the name will sound on an adult. And no "unique" spelling outside traditional variants! Choosing between like "Sara" or "Sarah" is fine, but "Cerrehh" (which I saw recently) is a travesty.

*And yes, that means I really would name a boy James Aloysius (or James Ulysses) or Stephen Dedalus -- at least keeping the "weird" name in the middle, where he could hide it until such time he realized it was actually cool.
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2004

I actually knew a Nikita back in the early 70's. He was an African-American kid with a lot of brothers and sisters. Oddly enough we didn't associate the name with a certain shoe-banging Soviet.

BTW my Caitlin does have an Irish last name with the ancestry to go with it- but thanks for the pronunciation info-had never heard of that before..

The name Siobhan (sp) looks cool but who the heck can pronounce it?

There is also Marlene, which can be pronounces "Mar-len-ah"

or Mar-leen. I think the former sounds cooler..

Also, I think I have heard that in the Phillipines parents make up names with particular sounds they happen to like. Whether they do or not, the idea still sounds intriguing.
posted by konolia at 11:36 AM on January 8, 2004

Names of some of my relatives that I like (Latin American/Italian family)

posted by vacapinta at 11:39 AM on January 8, 2004

Konolia: Siobhan = (roughly) Sh'vaun.
posted by scody at 11:40 AM on January 8, 2004

What's wrong with Mulva?

But seriously:
Ethney (or Ethnae)

And I'd second Summer, or any name that is also a Spring month (April, May/e, June).
posted by tr33hggr at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2004

Calista or Emmalee
posted by lola at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2004

Forgot one of the most beautiful names I've ever heard: Mirella.

And I was going to add Vivien and Tatjana, but languagehat beat me to it (as usual). Ava and Thalia (though they seem to be getting more popular lately).
posted by widdershins at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2004

How about some from Shakespeare? Here's a judicious sampling from this list:


posted by starvingartist at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2004

posted by 111 at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2004

Moira or Eva
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:26 PM on January 8, 2004

Vera. As an added bonus, if you like Pink Floyd, you can sing out "What haaas become of you?" when you're looking for her.

Or Eunice, my Mom's name. However, while being remarkably uncommon (she says she has met only one other person over the course of her life with the same name) it is also impossible for people to pronounce properly if they're reading it. It's supposed to sound like You-niss, but invariably, people say You-nice or You-neice. Just, y'know, FYI.
posted by Monster_Zero at 12:37 PM on January 8, 2004

Margaret many times suggested
Cameo My wife's name
posted by jazon at 12:51 PM on January 8, 2004

Congrats on your good news!

My personal list of girl names: Nancy (family name), Aislinn, Celia, Austen, Aerin, Alienore/Alix. (I like entirely too many "A" names for my own comfort - don't want to be naming all the kidlets with the same letter! =P)

Other names I like: Tessa, Piera, Olivia, Stella, Ruth, Nina, Fiona, Stacia, Claire, Miranda, Ramona.
A friend of a friend is named Ivelisse (nicknamed Ivy) and I always thought that was pretty.
More unusual: Evaine, Damaris, Sidana, Halah, Hester, Aelith, Iona/Ione, Jacinta (my grandmother's middle name), Penthe, Thel.

My family has quite a thing for Irish names so Niamh, Doireann, Siobhan, Saoirse, Ailis are (sort of) under consideration, but the snags you run into with pronunciation (as languagehat said above) are a detractor.

It's my personal theory some male Irish/Celtic names are going to popularly jump to being used as female names pretty soon: Aidan, Kieran, Liam, Keegan.

We named our five-month-old son Aidan. I've loved it for years and it was always comfortably obscure. Well, it's #63 on last year's SSA list - and growing more popular by the minute since every other baby boy I hear of shares it or some variant. Moral? If trendiness bugs you, *check the name*! Some names I never would have thought of as "trendy" like Emma or Hannah seem to be wildly popular right now.... of course, I'm probably living under a rock and there must be some reason we are all suggesting the same names to you. I don't think most of the names listed in this thread are really popular but the fact we are all coming up with similar names means they must be.

I too like Jasper (as suggested above).
posted by Melinika at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2004

scody- what about "Marion Tweedy" as a first and middle?

"Rudolph Virag" for a boy? Only if you had a ton of kids, I expect.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:27 PM on January 8, 2004


and mazel tov!!!
posted by amberglow at 1:34 PM on January 8, 2004

Jessamyn has always worked for me, and there are not very many of us. It was nice growing up and having people say "Oh that's a pretty name." it sort of beats "Huh, how do you spell that?" which I also sometimes got. On the other hand, if I had a daughter, I'd name her Astrea and a son would be named Jason Anywhere.
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on January 8, 2004

I'll add my daughter's name: Mackenzie
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:05 PM on January 8, 2004

Other interesting names of girls I've known in real life:
Leilie ("lay-lee")
Lokei ("lo-kee")
Senoe ("Sen-oh-ee", I think, but definitely not like "canoe")

Trillian is probably my favorite made-up name. It sounds good and is nonpreposterous. (Bort is a close second, but it's for boys and is definitely preposterous.)

I'd also like to tell the Leslies and Charlottes of the world that they also have very nice names thank you very much.
posted by furiousthought at 2:14 PM on January 8, 2004

kindall, I wrote an interactive tool for Parenting.com that generates random names using a similar algorithm, except you can choose to base the names on a list of names from a given category (French, Shakespearean), specify the length, and start with a particular letter. It's pretty cool how the made-up names come out sounding distinctively French or Arabic or whatever even though they're randomly generated...

Unfortunately, it's only available to AOL members and Parenting magazine subscribers at the moment, but in case anyone can get to it, here it is.
posted by staggernation at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2004

posted by joaquim at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2004

This thread is awesome.
posted by oissubke at 2:59 PM on January 8, 2004

oissubke: I *totally* agree; but of course I am so, so, so biased! We are going to get a name we (and I am extremely confidant- our daughter) will *love* out of it :-)
posted by limitedpie at 3:07 PM on January 8, 2004

and you'll tell us what you choose, right?? :-)
posted by anastasiav at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2004

Chiara is nice - pronounced Kiara; & I like Maribel (short for Maria Isabella) too.
posted by misteraitch at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2004

I'll add my daughter's name: Mackenzie

That's supposed to be on the increase in the UK as a boy's name, the report I read attributing its popularity to Mackenzie Crook from the TV show 'The Office'. Not much of a role model I would have thought.

Personally I've been convinced by starvingartist's suggestion of Sirkka, I think that's lovely.

Agree with anastasiav though, you have to tell us what you pick.
posted by biffa at 3:25 PM on January 8, 2004

anastasiav + biffa: absolutely! In fact, this AskMeFi has been so cool in helping us to think about the question differently and more richly, I am thinking I'll post the "finalists- short list" here in a few days / week to get feedback on the final cuts. (For example, hearing languagehat's comment on Nikita was extremely useful- that name didn't make the cut, but I can easily see how the depth of knowledge and experience here can help us from such inadvertent schoolyard disasters in waiting. Or, another example, from several great suggestions we have axed some woefully too-hard-to-spell names.)

Once we choose *the* name, I'll share the pick in MetaTalk (I think that is the right place for that, no?) If it is true that "It takes a village to raise a child" then it makes sense to me that a "community weblog" could help us get to the best name for our family, thanks all!
posted by limitedpie at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2004

posted by gleuschk at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2004

No, no, no. Paula's are not supposed to be blonde, says the brunette/fake redhead in the corner.

While I do happen to be partial to my own name (I was named after my dad, Paul), my mom keeps wanting me to name a little girl, "Savannah", after my grandmother. The older I get, the nicer it sounds.
posted by thatothrgirl at 4:24 PM on January 8, 2004

Make sure the first name you choose harmonizes gracefully with your family name. Two syllables in each name, for example, is always pleasant. If you give your child a middle name, run the first letter of first, middle and last names backwards and forwards to be sure that it doesn't spell out something embarrassing. And have a look here for name meanings.
posted by Lynsey at 4:46 PM on January 8, 2004

i second lynsey's initial suggestion (nothing's worse than UGG or EEK or PU)
posted by amberglow at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2004

Molly. Lise or perhaps Lisette or Elise. Madeleine. All those E names, especially ones you can have short variations just as pretty--Emmy, Em(me), Enny, Elle. Zoe(y). I don't like Josephine but I lovelove the name Jo. Lola. Ada. Helen. Joan (hey! that solves the Jo thing...). Nina. Leda (but there is that swan connotation, unfortunately). Something whose short version is Tess. Mae. Lucille. Robin. Lena.
posted by ifjuly at 5:49 PM on January 8, 2004

We are going to get a name we (and I am extremely confidant- our daughter) will *love* out of it

And you can give her a framed printout of this thread! (And Matt, I think the kid should have automatic membership from birth.)

I like gleuschk's suggestions too (especially Moira).
posted by languagehat at 5:54 PM on January 8, 2004

posted by Soliloquy at 5:58 PM on January 8, 2004

Nell, Nadine, Nadia, Corin or Corinna, Celia, Dora, Neve, Ona, Vera, Selene or Celene or Selena, Naomi so it'd be Nomi.

Out there but I like: July, Cid or Sid (yes I know it's normally a boy's name), Bree, Devi, Marillion, Elsa, Jann, Manny, Sera, Nisa, Sora.

Agree completely on Eva, Allie/Ally, Maude, Marlene, Astrid, and all of those similar M onesi (Myra, Miriam, Marie, Mia, Mimi), Gillian, Shane, Imogene, Bea, Mayzie, Joy, Lael even.

Story is really cool and I'd never heard that before.
posted by ifjuly at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2004

languagehat: the printout of this thread is definitely going in the scrapbook, next to the ultrasound and the Dr.'s handwritten note telling us that we are having a girl! (We made him write it and seal it in an envelope, instead of telling us in the grotesquely burdened clinical environment, so we could open the envelope-- like the Academy Awards-- at a wonderful family dinner.)
posted by limitedpie at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2004

I'll bet you haven't encountered this list. Don't knock it 'til you've looked a bit.
posted by mischief at 6:47 PM on January 8, 2004

I like Iris, Violet (though i never thought I'd like flower names; hmm), Genevieve, Sylvia, Simone, Ivy, and Valerie.

If you want to avoid super-popular and trendy names right now, don't use Emily, Emma, Ella, Isabel/Isobel/Isabella, Hannah, Sofia/Sophia/Sophie, Caitlin or any of its ridiculous spelling variants, Mackenzie, Madison, Madeleine, Gabrielle/Gabriella, or Grace. (I like some of those names, but coming from someone who was named Lisa in 1970 ... it sucks to always have your last initial added to your name.)

posted by lisa g at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2004

(Also very popular right now: Olivia and Ava.)
posted by lisa g at 7:17 PM on January 8, 2004

Some Grandma (or Great-Grandma) names that are due for a comeback: Ida, Bess, Sylvia, Tess, Frances, Eleanor, Priscilla, Gloria, Jackie, Dorothy, Doris, Judy, Betty, Joan, Margaret, Helen, Joyce, Marilyn, Phyllis, Marjorie, Vivian, Rosemary, Anita -- you could be ahead of the curve (and it's so funny how dated most of these names sound) : >
posted by amberglow at 7:34 PM on January 8, 2004

Ariadne (airy-ad-knee) [character in a book]

posted by cyniczny at 6:15 AM on January 9, 2004

oh i'm late to the game! congratulations!

however, in addition to the oh so many wonderful suggestions above, I quite like alethia/alethea and alette (truth or plays on the greek for truth).

also: daphne, hera, jocasta, mara.

(more greek names here.)
posted by lumiere at 1:26 AM on January 10, 2004

Speaking of Greek names, I once thought that if I ever had a girl, I would name her Evangelia (EhvangehLEEah - hard "g"), for her father (Evangelos) and grandmother (Evangelia), but also because it seems so wonderfully adaptable... she could go by "Evan" if she wanted something tomboyish, or "Lee" for something smart and jaunty; or "Eve", "Evi", "Eva", or "Lia". Or "Angelia", "Angel", "Angela" or "Vangie" (with soft "g"s in the English language tradition)... Pretty much a name yielding good nickname possibilities for a wide variety of personality types. Or she could go classical and use her whole name!
posted by taz at 5:49 AM on January 14, 2004

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