We're having a girl and have decided to name her Mae. The thing is that although we both like this name, it is a compromise chosen through a process of elimination. My first choice would be Lisa and my husband's would be Celia.  These two names seem so close in sound that I can't believe there isn't something in between that we would both love.  We'd prefer to stay out of the top 100, but would like something recognizable.  Any suggestions?


So, when you say decided to name her Mae, you mean “settled on”, which is never ideal. There’s nothing wrong with Mae, of course, as Whitman or my grandmother could tell you – but you’re right, it doesn’t sound anything like Lisa or Celia, so let’s see what we can do here.

Neither name is in the top 100 – in fact, Lisa sounds so much like a girl born in 1971 that I have to assume this is an honour name of some sort, am I right? A beloved aunt or etc? With either name, she’ll not only be out of the top 100, but out of the phases of Isabella and Emily and etc that are her peers. No problems here, but just so you know you’re going against the grain.

The first name-in-the-middle that occurred to me was Cerise. Sounds like Celia, sounds like Lisa, and is unusual enough on its own. But – if someone told me they were naming their daughter Cherry, I’d be annoyed and rant about Supreme Court Justice and all that. So how about Celine?  Despite being the name of you know who, nobody can contest that it’s beautiful and kind of elegant – a kindergartener named Celine could be just about anyone, don’t you think? Another so-obvious-seeming one is Leah – sounds like Lisa for you and Celia for him. It’s quite popular, but still kind of timeless and lovely.

How about Cecelia? Too close to his? How about Lisette? For that matter, remember Original Becky from Roseanne? The actress’ name was Lecy, which I assume was pronounced “LEEsee”.   Is that your daughter’s name? What about Patrice? How about Caprice? Anisa? Elise?

Keep going. Keep making up sounds and words and rhymes until you’ve found something. There’s nothing wrong with Mae, except that for you two, it sounds like a cop out. Your name is out there.

Let me know!