Hello there,

I have a problem. I really kind of like/love this name, but it's a double unisex. I think I know how you feel about unisex names needing to be paired with a traditional male or female name as to avoid confusion on paper, and I agree. But aren't all names going unisex these days?

My hubs and I are expecting our first tiny in September!!! We're so excited, and I think her name might be Elliot Reese. Does that name do anything for you? You don't have to be polite. There are so many other names that we love too, but only a few that feel like they could fit or work with our last name. Some others we've been throwing around are Marion, Nora, Francis (Frankie), Juna, Mallory, and Liesel. I was really into Britta for a minute, until someone said it made him thirsty. Hubs is having a hard time seeing past the water filter.

Ultimately I want something that can be worn with style, and projects strength and independence. I picture our little girl as kind of a book nerd, but can handle herself in a situation. Obviously we'd want the name to grow with her as she becomes a successful whatever she wants to be.

Can you help us? Any and all suggestions are appreciated. Please and thank you :)


You know, when I read this through originally, I thought you were asking whether it was OK to name a boy Elliot Reese despite both those names now being used for girls, and my answer was going to be ‘yeah, of course’. Now that I realize you’re asking about a girl, I’m trying to see why my immediate reaction wasn’t to have my answer be the exact same.

Elliot has been used for girls, albeit occasionally – sometimes I’ve seen the Eliot spelling to denote that it’s a girl. As for Reese, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it on a woman except for that particular Reese – and remember, her given name was Laura Jean. So that one seems more traditionally male – not that it matters.

I guess my honest opinion is there’s no reason not to, if you love the name. I do like Elliot actually, and even though I’ve had my opinions about boys’ names on girls (tl;dr People tend to choose them for ‘strength’, implying girls’ names don’t have strength), Elliot as an extension of all the other E-l-l names makes a lot of sense.

Having said that – how come? Is there something female you’re trying to avoid?  Your list of alternates seems to say no, so that’s part of why I give my blessing. But it does seem like you’re determined not only to rid any female element but also to firmly datestamp your baby 2015. I promise that will become obvious.

I like a few of them – Nora, Juna, Mallory – and especially, especially Liesl. So if you’re wondering if those work elsewhere – I love Elliot Liesl or Elliot Nora, Mallory Reese (or Reese Mallory), Reese Britta? Tell your water drinking friend to get lost.  There’s toilet paper called Kimberly-Clark and you don’t see all the Kims in the world suffering.

I think you thought I would lecture, but there’s no lecture here. As for a book nerd who can handle herself – have you considered the inimitable Anastasia?

On another note:

Here are some grandparent names and stories that came out of this post. I loved these and I love that when you’re a grandparent you’re fully willing to be known by what amounts to a toddler’s malapropism. Your parents, your in-laws’ parents or your grandparents are variously called:

Gran; Grandma; Gammy; Gary – or Gee for short; Gigi; Dad-Dad; Gramma not Grandma; Glammy; Abuelo; Papa; Nana; Grampa; Ruma; Grandad; Nona; Aba; Mimi; Nan and Boy; Granny; CiCi; Goggin; Munga and Deda; MeMe and PePe; O.D., short for “Old Dave”; Hammer and Hamper; Wendy, after the character in Peter Pan (actually, Peter Pan came up a lot in these emails); and this great explanation…

“After learning of my birth my grandfather sent a telegram welcoming me to the family which he signed "Ntatemaholo or Holo for short". He explained Ntatemaholo meant Grandfather in the national language, Sesotho.  As far as I know Holo on its own is not a word and has no particular meaning in Sesotho. It does however have meaning to my family. My brother and I grew up knowing our grandfather as Holo. We were the only grandchildren that used this name but I don't recall ever questioning why.”

I love all your grandparent names – and the stories that came with them - so much, and I can’t really decide on a favourite, but if I could it might be Old Dave. That guy has some stories.

Note: Please send your name emails, once only, to [email protected] - duplicates or those sent to Lainey ‘just in case’ will be deleted.