Duana Names: In Which I Outlaw A Name

May 22, 2015 18:11:28 Posted at May 22, 2015 18:11:28
Duana Posted by Duana

Hi, Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our second girl around the end of Spring. We (meaning, I) like very traditional, classic names. Our first girl is Margaret. (And she goes by Margaret.) Our last name is one syllable, so a multi-syllable first name is a necessity. We also live in the South, so double names are certainly an option.

Names that we can both agree on so far are Charlotte and Caroline, or Mary Charlotte or Mary Caroline. I like Elizabeth, but he will only agree to it as a middle name. (I don't want to use Mary Elizabeth.) He likes Harriet and Eleanor (which I actually love, too), but I don't think that either would sound good with our last name. That's where we're at. I don't want to give her a formal name based solely on a nickname, either, since we will likely use the full name. More suggestions please?

My problem with Charlotte is that I am worried it's becoming the new Isabelle. There is already one Charlotte in Margaret's preschool class, and although I don't know any more at the moment, I am worried that this will be the case as Nameless Baby grows up. I have a super popular 80s name and was always one of 4 or 5 girls with my name, and although I don't want something off the wall, I don't want the baby to always be Charlotte [Last Initial].  (Thoughts on this, as we both do love the name?)

My problem with Caroline is that we know someone whose daughter has the first name Caroline but actually goes by her middle name so no one calls her Caroline. BUT there is some background with this person (and we have to see her/be friendly) such that I do not want to give anyone the opportunity to accuse me of "name stealing" or anything else. Caroline is actually my first choice this time around (and made the short list with Margaret), but I am incredibly hesitant to use it this time because I am afraid of the backlash. BUT this other child doesn't even go by Caroline, so should I throw caution to the wind and use Caroline anyway? Or am I obligated to choose a different name?

Should we go with Charlotte? Or choose something else entirely?

Please help! :)


You know, I do not ever say “You’re not allowed to use that name”. It seems too harsh, and I always want people to have the option of doing what they want. Most of the time. Unless it’s, you know, Caledonia. 

But you can’t use Charlotte for your second daughter. Not because it’s popular, even though it is, or because it’s now forever going to be associated with the princess, which it will. Those are all considerations for everyone else naming their daughter Charlotte, including your correct assertion that it’s the ‘new Isabelle’.  

You, specifically (this person’s name popped up in my inbox as “Generic 80s name Here”), can’t because Charlotte rhymes with Margaret.  Char-lit and Mar-grit. I know that both names are actually more subtle than that, but when people are saying their names as part of a list for their cousin’s birthday party, or as kids on the camp bus, they’re going to sound the same. That’s why Charlotte isn’t right for you, personally, but all of your overarching objections still apply. Also, my objections go double for Mary Charlotte. Mar-grit and Mary Char-lit. They’re more different in the sense that the syllables are different but it seems even more matchy.

So – I think go ahead with Caroline, if you want to. You have plausible deniability that you didn’t even know the other kid’s Stealth First Name was Caroline, and if they liked it that much, they would have actually used it for the name they called her!

Yes Caroline, yes Harriet – I’m not overly-well versed in double names, but could you do Harriet Mary?  Henrietta? I love Eleanor although it’s quite popular up here in the Northeast, so beware. I’m sensing a real old-school vibe here – can I suggest Eugenia? Mary Eunice?  OMG, Eunice! Also, someone talked to me today about Ursula, and I KNOW, but it’s a short jump to the way-more-palatable Una. Double  name? Una Marie? UnaCharlotte? The articulation of that vowel at the end makes me hear the Charlotte in a far different way than Mary Charlotte, maybe you could get away with it like that?

OK, I’m delighted here (even as I’m aware I’m drifting to a particular direction) – the double name thing is very new to me, outside of Southern girls in books. If you, letter writer, or anyone else who’s a double name expert wants to educate me on the conventions here, I would love to hear about them and share your expertise with the group!

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