Hi Duana!
I desperately need your advice as baby number two is due in 10 days! We're having a little girl and we have no names, no shortlist, nothing. She has an older brother and his name is Jeremy. I'm after some ideas for his first and middle names that will sound well together and will flow well with her brother's name. His middle name is after his Daddy but I don't want to use either of my names for her as they are too long (I like short and sweet for the middle name). Traditional or out there, I'm open to anything. Please help us! A


Whoa! I’ll be honest, A, I was panicked because of your deadline – but also because your letter leaves this so completely wide open. “Any names. Any. At all.” I can’t remember the last time this happened with no initial issues or mothers-in-law to honor and I’m not actually sure I can do this with no restrictions! But let’s try. 

In order to cut through some of the nine million names available to name fully half the species, A, I’m going to keep in the same relative neighbourhood as Jeremy, so…well-liked/used but not necessarily recently, longer rather than shorter, bonus points for me if a 90s band used the name in a song.

Jeremy is, let’s face it, the quintessential boy from the 80s, and so I started to think about girls’ names from that era. The first to come to mind was Larisa. I know Vanessa is the better known, but if feminine is your bag, then either will work well.   Can you stomach the double-s-a ending?

There are a couple of songs named “Helena” and since Helen, Elena, and all their variants are back with a vengeance; this might be an up-to-date name that doesn’t feel too out there. However, I’d assume the pronunciation “Ha-LAYN-a”, since “HELL-en-a” and “JERE-a-me” might sound a little too rhyme-y.

Speaking of beloved characters from the 80s, what about Ramona? Or for that matter, Renata? Both are unusual enough but familiar to the ear. I don’t know how old Jeremy is, but if he’s young, either of these may start with a “w” in his parlance for a  while – which might be super cute: “Wamona”. For that matter, this reminds me of the Bridget (do you like Bridget?) Jones character “Woney”, which is actually an infantilized nickname for Fiona. Fiona and Jeremy is actually really nice. Even though it’s an Irish name, it long ago stopped feeling shamrocky, and could be a lovely combination.

Finally, as I started cruising song titles with girls’ names in them, I remembered about Rhiannon. It’s not for everyone, of course, but since Jeremy is a little on the softer side, a slightly less-obviously feminine name would be a nice balance. Could she live in your house? Rhiannon, sister of Jeremy? Then again, when I look at the pronunciation, I’m told it’s  “REE-an-on” as opposed to the “Ree-ANN-on” I’ve heard most often. So tread carefully. 

As for middles, my guiding principle is not what you should do, but what you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t choose Rose, Grace, or Elizabeth just because they’re easy.   You should choose something that means something, even if it’s “With a week to go, we saw this name on a nametag of a lady at the bank and boom!”

But since you ask, I think Lucille – and Lucy – are suffering from everyone freaking out about the popularity of them and ditching them almost too soon. What about either for a middle name? Renata Lucy is pretty cute.

You have 10 days. Did I at least give you a  jumping-off point?