Hi Duana!

Just found out today that I'm having a girl! I'm writing you because I feel stuck on girl names. I don't know why but boy names came easier to me with my first born. I don't like girl names that are too flowery or overly cutesy.

I like the following names but not married to any of them and they aren't in any particular order:
Mabel (my late grandma's name, a contender for a middle name?), Rowan, Beatrice or Beatrix, Penelope, Bryn, Edie, Clementine, Matilda, Rosalind (I like Rosie as a nickname, my husband not as much, maybe sounds like too much a dog's name? :-), Isobel or Isabel

Here are a few names I like as well but are taken by friends: Georgia, Maisie, Maeve, Stella, Astrid.

So I like those names but will they go with my last name and my husband's? For my son, we used my last name as his second middle name and he shares my husband's last name. Mine is Chinese, it's Seid (pronounced Seed) and his is Irish, McLastName. I'd like to do the same with baby #2.

Would appreciate any help!


Often people write me letters and say ‘could you keep in mind this very specific identifying detail about our family, but could you not mention it?’. It’s usually a weird-sounding last name or something to that effect, and I’m happy to do it, unless the letter writer includes so much detail just for me that the letter doesn’t make sense to the reader.

But this letter didn’t have that – in fact, I’ve obscured one surname just for the sake of Googlability. It didn’t have your son’s name – the one that came to you much more easily. So I can’t make a diagnosis with as much accuracy as I’d like, but I also really admire that you’re so open to whatever names I suggest, unlimited by what’s gone before.


You have an acute case of boredom. 

It sneaks up on you, where names are concerned. Names sound fresh and new – and not altogether familiar to our ears, maybe even a little odd. Not so long ago people actively wrinkled their noses at Penelope. Then it begins to sound a little more familiar, and you congratulate yourself for having recognized it. This is a definite influence in names like Matilda or Clementine. And then, all of a sudden, you realize your taste is becoming lined up with other people, as you hear other names they’ve chosen. Have you finally found your people? Or are the names you like just becoming mainstream? Does anyone remember when Arthur was unusual anymore?

And then from there it’s just a screaming downhill slide to hearing about a child named Brycen and wanting to rip your ears off. Isobel, even spelled like that, is super-popular. Rowan is super-popular. Beatrice and Beatrix are oft-considered and quite often used. All of these names are, if not the names that your friends actually chose, ones they admitted to considering, or that their coworkers or sisters-in-law or mommy-group friends wound up using instead. You’ve heard them, even if you don’t know you have – and this goes double if your son is already in school or has friends who have siblings or etc. I know SO MANY Georgias, even though I don’t know any of them, you know? Ergo, you have to go and find new names of your actually very own.

What I’m proposing is hard, but you have to kind of anticipate what the next wave of names you’ll like will be, given that you’re kind of tired of the ones you’ve been hearing.

So for example, rather than Clementine, how about Valentine or Ermintrude? Yes I know, but ‘Clementine’ sounded ridiculous 10 years ago, until it didn’t. How about Jessamine or Eunice or Giselle? Rather than Matilda, how about Ilse (note: NOT Isla, which is very popular) or Frances or Freida or Ruth? If we’re all using our grandparents’ names – if Edie and Charlotte and Elizabeth are back in gear – then you have to think of what their younger siblings were called. Sybil? Sybil is SO ripe for a comeback. Or Esther or Alma or Deirdre or Prudence. Thomasina? (Or Nigella?) They may not seem so wearable, right now, but I guarantee you that when we were teenagers, not one of us assumed that every eighth little girl in a major city was going to be called Adelaide.

Again, I commend you on being so open. Let me know!