If it's a boy he will be Linus Winston. That's settled. We'll only have one, so I don't care about having the girl name "go" with Linus. But that girl name…
Our last name starts with L and is two syllables with a hard stop at the end - it's always made me think of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec. I absolutely love the syllable cadence of that name, the bum-BUM bum-BUM, and I love how the T and the L in Toulouse are picked up in mirror opposite with the L T in Lautrec. If I could find a girl’s name that started with a T, and had a L in the middle like that, with a similar cadence, I'd be in heaven. Short of that, something with the L in the middle (or start) would be nice.
Names that I like that have the L in the middle are Celine, and yes, SOLANGE. I think Solange is such a beautiful name, but it's obviously associated with Bey's sister. That would be okay, but I've been known as THE Beyonce super fan in our friend group since "No No No No No". I know that doesn't exactly set me apart in the world. Anyhow, some friends may chuckle if I named our baby Solange Lautrec, but DO I CARE? I DON'T KNOW.
Other names we like are: Louise (love the alliteration and the rhythm), Florence (maybe too popular now with Pugh on the scene?), Camille, Agnes, Simone, and Florence. I also love the way Solveig sounds ("sol-VAY") and my fam is Norwegian, but it sure looks hideous in print. I tend to like French names, but Nordic names are of cultural interest, as are Greek.
For context, this baby will grow up in Manhattan. We like names that seem feminine and stylish but maybe also a little clean with a bit of edge. I don't like things that end with A, or are extra flowery. It sounds weird with the "L." For example, when said aloud "Vera Lautrec" sounds like "Viral attract."
You are clearly very, very thoughtful here, and you have a lot of really strong ideas that are impressive and well thought-out. I’m not saying that to blow smoke in your general direction, but to remind you that you know what you’re doing in this regard…
…and therefore, you might have reasons to choose names even though they ‘belong’ to someone else. Maybe they had the same reasons! Solange is a beautiful name, it *did* exist before The Younger Knowles, and you are as entitled to use it as Miss Tina! Why wouldn’t you be? If you were concerned that a French name would sound strange with a last name like, say, ‘McDonald’, I’d still tell you to use it, but I would understand where you were coming from… but it’s a super strong option, and I think you should absolutely consider it.
Obviously Simone falls into the same category, as do a number of French names that you mention having the accent on the second syllable. You reference Celine and Camille, and I would also point out Giselle, Adele, and Lucille have that same rhythm. Agnes – from your inclusion here I suspect you’re leaning toward the French “Ahn-YEZ” which… YES.
Louise is great, as is Florence – yes, I read your caveat above, but AS IF HALF THE PEOPLE YOU ENCOUNTER ARE EVEN GOING TO KNOW WHO SHE IS, and also, what makes her more entitled to the name than your daughter?! Remember, you’re not naming her ‘after’ someone, you’re just determining, like every parent before you, what’s the criteria for the best possible name, and if you wind up having the same criteria (or different criteria arriving at the same answer) as the Pugh parents, that’s okay! You also remind me of the French girl’s name Laurence (actress Laurence Laboeuf is on the new NBC/CTV series Transplant), which is always pronounced ‘Lau-WRONCE’, but which I understand might be read as ‘LOR-rence’ in English – YMMV on whether that’s something you want to take on. Nadine is always a favourite for me, and I think could actually be a nice counterweight to the Ls, or if you want more alliteration/assonance, you could go with Mathilde or Rachelle.
On the Nordic names front, I think you’re right that some of the visuals don’t immediately register with our English-speaking brains, but a few I couldn’t leave behind include Lisbet, Ingrid, and the more well-known (but still really relevant to your preferences) Astrid. Then I started to wonder if a lot of consonants could mitigate an ending in A – what about Petra or Zelda or Zoya? True, they don’t have the accent on the second syllable, but I’d play around with consonant-heavy names to see if they give you a surprising thrill.
Other names that have the emphasis where you want it, even though you might not originally have thought of them – Esmé, Genevieve, Cecile, Ines (a really nice and surprising way to end on a consonant there)Lilith – you might even go with Alice. Sylvie? Delphine? Eloise? But I think you’ll really sink your teeth into my favourite not-quite-palindromic name duo; both Estelle and Celeste have the sounds, the bite, and the L-dominance that you’re looking for.
You’re allowed to choose the name that works, even if someone has had it before! Particularly if it’s a known name, I promise nobody’s going to be litigating whether you had enough independent love for it to be considered a ‘legitimate’ usage. Plus, imagine if you don’t use the name you love, and someone else does? How mad would you be then? Overall, please remember (and I know you know) loving the name is entirely reason enough.
(PS I love Linus.)
Let us know!