Hi Duana,

My question to you is: what do you think of the name Lys for a girl? We really like a short sweet name and Lilith and Ariel were our second and third choices respectively, but Lys is a bit more unusual. We also want it to refer to France were we used to live until very recently. I do worry it's a bit pretentious though, especially with both her parents working in the art world. Also maybe it comes across as really bad in English speaking countries, due to some language difference that we are not aware off, with english not being our first language.

What do you think?

Another thing: we are also cannot decide on the middle name that goes well with Lys. We both liked the idea of giving her one of our grandmother's names which are Myra and Léa and although I like both of these names on their own, I don't like them in combination with Lys. Any advice on this is very welcome. We are both first time parents and this is all very new to us.

Thank you in advance


Okay, some judicious googling has confirmed for me that you want Lys to be pronounced as in “Fleur du Lys”. Pretty, and as you say, definitely unusual. I don’t have any ill associations in English, but I do think it’s going to sound, to the English ear, more like “Lise” which, if I’m not mistaken, has a slightly heavier “eeze” sound than the soft “s” you want in “Lys”. There will also be the occasional person who thinks it’s “Liz”. I know. I’m sorry. What can you do, though?

You have to be prepared for the fact that, if you’re in an English Speaking Country,  there will be some confusion over spelling and pronunciation. I can’t conceive of  anyone being deliberately dense or pronouncing it “Lies” like lye soap or anything, but you may have some queries. Also nobody will think it’s pretentious to have something associated with the art world because I think the number of people who will associate it with the art world is slim to none. If you were naming her Degas, then yes, but I don’t think this is a problem. If you secretly want people to recognize it and know that you’re artsy, that’s a different problem, but I think you’re going to spend most of your time going “You know, like fleur de lys. That flower? No…?”

None of that, however, takes away from it being a great name.

Middles, however, if you have such a short sweet first name I do think a more substantial middle will balance it out. Myra is better than Léa, not because it’s so much longer but because the different consonants help: Lys Myra Lastname.   However, you might consider something even longer – Madeline, though overdone in the first name spot a few years ago, might be quite nice for a middle. My next thought was Leonora,  which helps balance out the two “L” sounds. Lys Leonora is alliterative but not obnoxious. However, please don’t do this if your last name starts with L. How about Lys Miriam? Lys Mathilde? I have no idea how French you want to go, but either of  these would “fill out” the name a bit more?

Always super interested in these cross-cultural questions – keep them coming and let me know!

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