Hi Duana,

My husband and I are having our first child this winter and I am stressing about names. My husband's last name is very Italian, filled with lots of M's and r's and syllables. Many of my longtime favorite names for girls (Zara, Cecelia) are either filled with those same letters or sound too long and cumbersome when combined with the last name. Any advice?


I’m speaking as someone who has many a vowel in her name. I don’t think there would be anything wrong with my name if I were called, say, Kate, but I think the fact that there are so many syllables and so many vowels works for me. The name flows the way it’s supposed to, off the tongue.

It seems to me that that would be the case with an Italian last name, too. IF it’s, say, Mastroantonio, I’m not sure that putting the name Jane in front is going to mitigate all those syllables. It might just sound incongruous instead.

Having said that, Zara Mastroantonio, I guess one could make the argument that it’s hard to see where the name begins and where it ends. I don’t personally feel that way, but you do. Right? Or are you getting defensive and thinking you can name her Zara anyway? (You can!)

If not, your task is to lean in – don’t try to make a left turn away from the types of names you like, just sort of course correct a little. So, not Maria, but perhaps Aurelia?  Not Cecilia, but Giselle? Not Zara, even though why not, but Elodie? Tessa? Athena?

Let me know where you land, but unless there’s a real reason to second-guess yourself, don’t fear the vowel!