Hi Duana -

The time has come when I need your naming skills!  My husband and I are expecting baby #2, a girl, beginning of July and we're struggling to find a name we both like. We love our first daughter's name - Summer Olivia - it's different but not "weird," and the first name isn't very common. It flows fairly well with our longish germanic last name ending in "er."  As we are both Ashkenazi Jews and are naming #2 after deceased grandparents, the baby's first name needs to start with an M, and the middle name with an A. Husband loves Madeline as a first name (and its subsequent nickname Maddy), and I do like it - but I'm not fully sold. Middle name could potentially be Ava, but husband isn't sold. For various reasons, Madison, Maya, Mila, Mirabelle, Michelle are all out. Please help us out!


I like this task, and I’m glad that you’ve eliminated Mila and Michelle and etc. below, because I think you need a more unusual ‘M’ name to balance with older sister Summer. I don’t think you need to go as far as Meadow, for example, but Magnolia came to mind. You can nickname Maggie if you’re so inclined, which sounds like Maddie, but if that’s not for you, what about Maren? It’s so rare and lovely and feels as fluid as Summer. Mercedes? I know, it’s a car name, but it was a girl’s name first! Sigh. No?

I’m sure Marlowe has been suggested to you already – it is really gaining in popularity, but it does have that not-quite-mainstream feel like Summer, and is a probably-as-yet-unused M name. Maeve? Very Irish, but very appealing to a lot of parents lately. Mathilde? I know a very French pronunciation of an English name may be a hard row to hoe, but then, someone must have thought that about Michelle, once upon a time. I know a delightful Miki, though it is more often pronounced “Mickey” than the probably more correct “MEE-Ki”

Oh, and how about Masha? I used to love this song we sang in choir with a line that went “Masha Dasha Tanya Olga lift your feet and dance the polka”. I might have been a nerd, but my loss is your gain because I love all four of those names. Masha! Or what about Mara? I didn’t always gravitate to this name, but it’s starting to really grow on me. I have a friend who is always referencing “my friend Mara” and I think ‘yeah, that does sound like a good friend’.

Anywhere close? I have to say this one was trickier than I originally thought! As for the middle – my thoughts on Ava are well-documented (mainly, that the name is well-documented) but moreover, Summer Olivia Lastnamer seems to have a flow, so consider something that has a similar hit to the first name you choose. Mara Ava may be too short, for example, but Mara Acacia or Mara Adine may give you more flow.

Wow, I’m really pitching for Mara all of a sudden. Let me know!

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