Duana Names: You Only Know If You Know

Duana Posted by Duana at March 29, 2017 20:48:51 March 29, 2017 20:48:51

Hi Duana,

We're English and I am currently pregnant with my second daughter and we can't find anything we LOVE. My first daughter is Lara (middle name Emilia) and we adore it. I still get a little thrill every time I tell people her name. It's simple but it fits her perfectly - she's a real firecracker.

Our last name throws up a real issue for me - it's Windsor. It instantly writes off so many names as it's not exactly hard to sound pretentious (example - someone suggested Arabella - which is lovely, but is a bit much).

Names we think are "fine" are Alexa, Seren and Nell, though we are by no means crazy about them.

Any ideas would be really gratefully received!

Thank you!

___

I’ve been talking a lot about our bubbles, lately. How we self-select people who are like us, and how that can be terrible because we spend all our time going, “HOW can people not think the way I do!?”, but also allows you to surround yourself with support and warmth, which we all agree is good. I don’t know, maybe we declined as a society as soon as Facebook made it so you could mute someone you hate but not actually unfriend them, because God forbid you have someone be mad at you. We’re not great with dealing with anyone who’s not like us.

Of course, this can all be positive—like if you live in my bubble, where Lara is my very best friend, then the little thrill you describe makes perfect sense to me.

But I have to admit that the ‘Windsor’ surname doesn’t. I think you feel this way because it’s the official last name of the British royals, but as we discussed on a recent Show Your Work episode, I have a healthy knowledge of the royal family almost in spite of myself, and yet I don’t associate the name with them all that much, so I suspect that some of the pretentiousness that you think comes from an Arabella-type name is self-selected; there are lots of people who might think that name was vowel-heavy or lacking in Ds or a bit whitebread, but who wouldn’t necessarily think it was ‘a bit much’, as you fear—it’s one of those things you only know if you know.

That said, and looking at Lara, Alexa, Seren and Nell as guidelines, it’s clear that you like clean, spare, nice-but-rare names that have style, but no frills, so that’s a nice place to start—and to separate yourself from any other Windsors.

I thought immediately of Cecile. Something about your style made me think you wouldn’t want another name that ended in A, and Cecile shares something with Lara, in the repetition of the name’s own sounds, without being a replica. Then I started thinking about other easy, slightly out-there names, and thought about how much I love Petra, and how rarely it’s used. Lara and Petra? Or something like Ivy, in spite of my personal exception to flower names, which I don’t gravitate towards?

You want something more crisp than Eliza, which sends me towards Alice—I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Alice never quite took hold with the ferocity it was supposed to (and which scared so many parents away). There’s Renata, which isn’t as clean or as spare, but somehow works with the spirit of Lara very well.

For many people, of course, Lara is synonymous with Dr. Zhivago, so you could lean into that impression (and away from anything too British-feeling) with a name like Daria, or even Dasha. Another name that keeps coming to mind is Phoebe—you’ve suggested no Lilys or Emilys or Olivias, and so ordinarily I would avoid a name that ends in the ‘E’ sound, but Phoebe’s rarity, and the way it looks on the page, protects it from a lot of the associations a name has if it ends in a ‘traditional’ E sound. And if you want to up the level of difficulty, I think you could do very well with Hana, pronounced the right way (that is, not the same way as “Hannah”) but I know, I know that humans are strange and too hard to teach new tricks to and this may be too much to ask.

I’m not trying to suggest it’s easy. I keep wanting to suggest Faith, but though the sound is right, the style isn’t. Fleur, though, may get you where you want to go. Esther Windsor is too rhymey, but Esme Windsor has plenty of whimsy. Phillippa Windsor walks way too far into an Anglophile world even if you have no idea who the royal family is, but Imogen Windsor could do the trick. Odile? Ingrid? Paloma? I have no idea what you’re going to choose, but I am so envious at all of your options! Let us know!
 

Photos:
iStock/ Getty Images

Tags: Name Nerd
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