Hi Duana,

I'm expecting my second daughter in January and my husband gets to pick the name since I named our first daughter Cynthia (Aka Cyn or Cindy) after my mom who passed away ten years ago.

His top pick is Cadence and I have to admit I'm not fully in love with it. It's growing on me. Marie will be her middle name after my Gramma.

His other suggestions that aren't on the table anymore are Samantha, Leah, Valerie and Hazel.

I would love to hear your thoughts or other ideas of what a good name for Cynthia's little sister could be.

We are looking for something that's not super popular.


My hat remains off to all of you who are able to have this kind of egalitarian one-for-you-one-for-me naming arrangement. I couldn’t do it, first because there’s no situation that isn’t made better by my opinion (everyone I know will write me letters about this statement), but also because names exist two ways. They’re their own thing, but they’re also part of a family and especially, part of a sibling group.  Names are said together all the time. Sarah and Amy and Michael! Roberta and Stephanie! Jason and Andrew! Beckett and Soren!

Not only do they become their own little two-person brand, the styles kind of influence one another. Hear Melanie and Phillip in the same breath, and you start to think ‘yeah, maybe Phillip is more 80’s-trendy than I thought’. You learn of Dominic and Mordecai and go ‘well…I guess so’ (please email me if you know brothers named Dominic and Mordecai. I will also accept Dominic and Malachy!).

As such, Cynthia and Cadence really doesn’t work for me, so I understand your misgivings. Cynthia is a proper name, even if you use the cutesy-nicknames of Cindy or Cyn while she’s young. It’s recognizable as a name that is only used as a name.

Cadence is not a name, it’s a thing. I understand how people can use it as a name, and I don’t absolutely hate it on its own, though it’s far from my first choice. But a cadence is a thing, an inflection or a sequence of notes. A Cynthia is not a thing, it’s a person. That’s what makes them so dissonant together. If one kid is named Query and the other is named Thomas, it doesn’t add up – it makes them too different.

So I strongly encourage him to go back to some of his other choices. Samantha feels like an 80s throwback but it kind of matches the fanciness of Cynthia; Valerie is similarly vintage but feels ready for a comeback, and Hazel is very, very on trend right now – not a bad idea but maybe will make Cynthia feel less ‘popular’.

Other timeless-not-popular names he might want to look into are Veronica, Emmeline, Sabrina, Rosemary, or for a real match that’s also a throwback, Christina.  What’s HIS mother’s name? Or is there anyone else you’d like to honour?

Or if he really likes the sound of Cadence, how about Prudence, called Prue, or Rachel, or Raina, or even Shana or Shona? Remember Shona, you guys? Remember the 80s?

I’m not sure of the rules of hinting in a certain direction. But you are not wrong – his name choices are off-base, and you should steer him toward the light.