Love you column and need some help!  We are due to have our second daughter in March and are struggling with a name…our first daughter is named Scarlett and we are looking for a name that works well with Scarlett but it also has to be a bit different.  My first choice is Harper but my husband is not down with it and thinks it is becoming too popular (Sigh…he might be right).  Our respective second and third choices are Katerina (Kat) and Eleanor (Lena for short).  Phoebe was on the table for a while until my husband deemed it too “hipster”, but I would consider it again if we could convince him otherwise.  If it helps, our last name is German and starts with an M and is only three letters in length.  I have poured through the baby name book and have bombarded my sister with ridiculous and creative ideas every day, all day.  For her sanity and the sake of our relationship, any other suggestions or is there a winner in the mix?

Thank you, thank you!


Buddy – your husband is right.

Take heart, that doesn’t happen all the time. I hear about a lot of dads that want to name their kids Kelly and Nicole because they went to school with girls who were named that way. So his opinions may make you raise your eyebrows, but at least they’re there.

I know that you’ve probably learned by now that Scarlett has its own pocket of popularity, so I probably won’t recommend something like Evangeline. You need something that sounds not necessarily as popular as Scarlett, but as current. Her name was almost unheard of a generation ago, so if I’d eliminate any name, it’s Katerina – it’s a bit more flowery and romantic as opposed to the sleek Scarlett.  

By kind of the opposite token, Scarlett and Eleanor should not work at all, but they both feel so much like they fit in the now that I don’t have a problem with the combination. You will probably meet a few other Eleanors of the same age – I know a couple – but I can’t tell whether 2015 will net as many Lenas.  It’s a great name and ripe for adoption.

I think it was just the other day that I was preaching that Phoebe should be used more than it is, so remind your husband it’s an ‘underused classic’ and that it’s a balance that doesn’t sound just like Scarlett, but feels similarly.

I think I have to nix Harper though. Not only are the names similar in style, they’re similar in vintage, in syllables, and in the type of femininity. They sound so similar that I fear you could run into a situation where Scarlett is talking about ‘Harper’ and you have to ask “Your sister Harper, your best friend Harper, or Harper from swimming?”  Not because Harper is like Jennifer, but because we tend to find ourselves around people who like similar things to us. Our couches, our books, and our baby names. So chances are you might want to look a little further afield.

Do you need inspiration? How about Verena? Eloise? Anais? Even Imogen?

Tell me! 

A note to name-nerd letter writers,

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