Hi Duana!

After months of being totally stuck on a name for our baby girl, my gf suggested I write into you and get some much needed HELP! We already have a little boy, and after being in boy-land for so long I am really struggling to find a name for a little lady.

Basically my problem is I HATE everything! My poor husband, family and friends have listed hundreds of names, and I am just a no, no, no.... every name seems to have some reason why I can't see it for our baby girl!

My must-haves are: I want a 'girls' name, nothing unisex. While I want feminine, I don't want too cutesy (Maisey, Sadie etc are not for me). Also, nothing too popular - growing up as an Ashley born in the 80's I spent my school days as 'Ashley-B" and it still irks me to this day! Finally, something easy to spell and say......you think this would be easy but nothing is coming to me!

Names that have been shot down include things too flowery (Rose, Violet), too old (Constance, Eleanor), too taken (friends and fam recent names include Emily, Natalie, Liv, Emma, Ayla, Eva, Vivien, Erika, Cathy, Kate), or I'm picky about shortened versions (I don't mind Genevieve but don't like Jen or Jenny, Samantha vs Sam, or Alexandra vs Alex).

My husband loves Hannah, but I feel like Hudson (our first), Hannah and Hilliard (our last name), is just too matchy-matchy, so would like to stay away from the H category. He likes Makayla, Mackenzie, but the 'mc' doesn't jive with me, nor do other suggestions like Nicola, Danika, or Madeline.

A lot of no's - I  know! One of the few I do sort-of like is Farrah, but everyone is saying it's too 'Fawcet', but really how many kids born in 2016+ will even have a clue? Or Aspen, which was our pick for our first if he was a girl, but it feels like its chance has come and gone and we are not feeling it this time around. (Despite liking Aspen, I am not a huge fan of nature-y names either.)

If you can take all that and give us a few suggestions you would be my hero! Our little girl is fast approaching and at this point might be stuck forever as Baby Girl!


Please know I’m not mocking anyone or anything with that title. I just love that one of the things that makes this column different from others is people who freely admit they hate certain names, or swear at their unborn progeny, or other ways we point out that babies are great but we’re still people. Anyway, on with the show:

You need a very specific type of name that is only a name in and of itself, with no real nickname potential. You need the kind of name that is never shortened, except with affection, and even then people go ‘oh that’s sort of weird, to do that’.

These names are often known but never popular, they’re often admired but less often copy-catted. They’re the perfect names hiding in plain sight. But they’re not what’s going down these days, even they’re in no way off-trend or out of style.

Sasha is a name like this. Actually, so is Malia. But one of my beloved names, Daphne, fits here, as does Claudia. Daphne’s cousin Delphine. Lana, which I’ve been on about lately. Paloma. Meredith. Celeste. You know I don’t always go in for unisex names, but this kind of situation is precisely why ‘Devon’ was co-opted so hard for the girls.

The other thing you do by choosing a name that has this sort of not-that-popular association is you don’t automatically assign your kid to a given decade based on her name. I can tell you exactly how old the Sophies are, and the Madeleines, and the Jacobs, and if you choose a name like Eleanor or Violet, your kid is date-stamped. 
I share your feelings on Aspen – I think it might have been nice 10 years ago but in the age of Jaden-Braden it will get lost in the shuffle – and where Farrah is concerned, I’ve always kind of onomatopoeically associated it with the hairstyle.  Sort of feathery and not concrete. There’s not a lot in “Farrah” to hang onto, and while I’m usually the one screaming that TV and film characters aren’t going to be remembered in the same breath as your child, a certain MTV star gives me a fair bit of pause where that name is concerned.  Shudder.

Look through your old yearbooks. Browse old books. Find the names that have always been there, never shouting for attention, just being quietly stylish. I feel like, Girls-aside, Marnie is a name like this. Nina definitely is. Delia. Paige. This is why people really like Kate. Raina fits here, as does Anna. Phoebe. Portia, give or take your particular circle’s familiarity with the Shakespeare version as well as the Boxter version. Renata.

You will find the right name, it’s just that you have the opposite problem to lots of first time parents, who sometimes don’t listen enough to the names around them.  You’re listening too hard, and it’s good – but it might be shielding you from some of the names that are hiding in plain sight. JUDITH.

Let me know!