Hi Duana,
I am a long time reader of your column and now find myself in need of your advice!  I am currently pregnant with my second child, a girl. My husband and I have a boy named Leoardo and we are searching for a name to go with it. My husband is half Italian and has a very Italian last name. I am Guyanese with a very unique first name. I would love my daughter to have a unique name like mine, but maybe with less issues in the pronounciation department. Extra points if it starts with an "X" too but I'm not loving the other X options I see, aside from my own name.  I tried to sell my husband on X-centric names for our son, but in the end Leo was all we could agree one. Some names I love but that he's not sold on are: Zara, Avaline, Zadie, Layla. Essentially, I am trying to avoid anything too Italian. I want something ethnic but not too ethnic. Am I asking too much??? Help!!  I'm due at the end of May.

P.S.  Middle would either be Love (family name) or Marley (after Bob) if that helps.


Ah yes, I know what you’re looking for. The name that indicates ‘there are many cultures that have combined in a wonderful mélange to make the incredible child you see before you, not just the one you might think is dominant, so there!’  I’m being a bit flip for the sake of mocking my own petulance, but believe me, I understand. You want the name that does it all and says it all. I feel you, and so do so many people, especially Canadians, who blend their cultures every day and hope nothing gets lost in translation. Basically, what you want is Dmitri, but for girls, right? Kind of?

This kind of situation is, to me, what Jacinta was made for. My love for it is very public, but it’s still rarely used. Get in there! 

Okay? Good?

I know, even though it’s perfect, you want to see a few more just for balance, right? Ha – here are a few more ideas. The other name on the X tip that’s really got me lately is Xanthippe, which is no less excellent for having been used on Kimmy Schmidt and is easily and expertly shortened to Xan, as can the slightly slimmer version, Xanthe. And Leo and Xanthe go quite well, actually…  Or Xaviera, if you don’t associate it with a romance-novel writer (or maybe if you do!)?

Or what about Jamila? Or Saskia or Taja or Xolie or Solange (yes, really) or what about Yara? Ivana? Jocasta? Sometimes my solution to lots of name issues is to go Greek, but it so often works…

I love Zara and Zadie, of course, and Zelda and Anya and Britta and Sybil—but also Gisele or Hania or Ilsa (not Isla) or Iris.

Let me know what you choose!