Hello Duana,

When we were first talking about having kids I was so excited to pick names! I thought it would be the best part about being pregnant, but it’s turned out to be hard and exhausting in reality.

My husband and I are expecting our second baby [in mid-December]. We don't know the sex. We are pretty set on a boy name, but are having a hard time choosing for a girl. Our first child is a boy and we named him Ivan. We are so happy with the choice and want to love this name just as much.

If it's a boy we've pretty well decide he will be Walter, we'll call him Walt. I know what I like in boys names. Little old man names that still fit a kid.

But, for a girl it’s just so much harder. I think I gravitate towards names I enjoy saying. Something pretty but not too girly. I'm adamant it's a "real name" nothing that sounds made up. And I'm overly invested in it being not too popular or "now". I try to tell myself that doesn't matter, and you certainly can't predict the future, something I think is so original could become the hot name of 2019. So I'm trying hard to ignore those instincts and just go with what I love.

My husband doesn't really have a "type" of name he likes which makes it hard. Although he has said he likes unisex names. The names he has suggested so far are after characters he loves, not necessarily because of the name. He would name her Liz Lemon if I let him. We're actually negotiating that her middle name be Lemon if he compromises to one of my names.

How we chose last time is I had made a list of names I love and he picked his favorite, so I'm hoping that will work this time around.

He suggested:
Kira - which I feel like I SHOULD like in theory but I just don't. I don't like how it feels when I say it.
Elizabeth - very pretty but feels like a wasted opportunity to pick something more special.

I like:
Elliot - Our son would have been this if he was a girl. But I'm having second thoughts, I know she will get Ell/ie/a as a nickname and that is just so popular right now. But the full name I do still love.
Maeve - nn Mae or Mavy, I was gunning for this last time but my husband liked Elliot best.
Alice - two of my best friends named their girls Alex + Alicia so I might need to stay away from this one?
Vada - this one might violate my "made up" sounding name rule, but I do like it.

Please help, I'm hoping you suggest some fabulous name I haven't thought of. But I know you will at least hone in on what I'm going for even though I can't see it. 


It’s one thing when you know your name style, which makes my job both easier and more fun. But you know what I’ve realized is even better? When you include the name of the “If it was an X, they’d be called Sigfried” option. Obviously it’s great to hear more about your choices, but I think, when it comes to pinning down a sibling name, it’s good to imagine you’re going to have both.

Yes, I know, you’re having a heart attack and checking to make sure it’s not twins –but go with me here. If you apply your style to a girl, knowing what you’d choose for a boy, does it help to narrow things down? Instead of saying you have a son named Ivan and who knows what your daughter will be called if you have a girl, it can help to think: You have a son named Ivan, and a soon-to-be-named son Walter, or Walt, which I love – and a daughter named…? 

First of all, you’re right. Definitely not Elizabeth. Nothing wrong with this name ever, but it’s not as offbeat and quirky as Ivan and Walt feel in today’s culture – Elizabeth never doesn’t feel familiar and comfortable in an English-speaking environment, so I think your instinct is right there.

I also think you’re right that Kira should be right, but isn’t. A few months ago about I wrote about why Kira feels popular right now – even though it’s got some of the elements of an offbeat name, with that sort of twisty vowel in the middle, it feels a bit modern when compared to your two (!) dusted-off-from-the-closet boys’ names.

Now Amelia, by comparison…Amelia doesn’t feel like it’s too modern…not precisely, anyway. Ivan and Amelia, Walt and Amelia…Ivan and Walt and Amelia all feel like they could be running around Glen St. Mary with Jem and Rilla and all of Anne and Gilbert’s other children. Buuuuutt….

Amelia is super, super popular. Number 22 (but feels higher) in Canada, and Number 12 in the US. I bet you money it will increase in the next year. It’s got all the quirky qualities you want, but none of the rarity…the same, sadly, is ever-more-true for Alice. This one, surprisingly, is much more popular in Canada in the US – like 60 places more popular – but it’s in the top 100, so if you want to avoid that, well…you’ve got to avoid it.

At the same time, before we leave it, let’s point out one of the reasons it is so appealing – it ends in a consonant sound, and a rare one at that, it feels both classic and new; there are reasons to love it, so make sure you’re sure before you walk away – especially because Alex and Alicia have nothing to do with this name. Like, sure, Alex is a sound-alike, but it feels thoroughly modern, and has nowhere near Alice’s charms (though Alexandra can hold her own).

I’m not saying you don’t have a tough job here, by the way….but what I’m going to say, you won’t love.

It’s about Elliot.

You can’t name her Elliot.

It’s just not the name! I’m sorry. Elliot is a name for a girl whose brother’s name is Hunter or Keaton or Teague. Modern, somewhat unisex names that flow together and might as easily have been surnames. Nothing wrong with those choices, but they’re not the ones you’ve already made…old fashioned and offbeat, as you described. Elliot, which is marching, marching, marching to the girls’ side – take note, moms who love this name for a boy – is still a new invention where a girls’ name is concerned, and besides, you’re going to be frustrated at all the other Ellies and Ellas you run into. I tend to feel like Quinn, too, fits into this category – too sleek and unisex for the vintagey names you describe, as does Ellis, which I waaaant to recommend but can’t in good faith.

But you know what doesn’t feel that way? Tess. Tess is exactly as rare-but-known as an Ivan or a Walter. I totally buy that Tess is their sister, and though it’s short for Theresa I kind of love it on its own. I also think you could lean into Bess – could you? Would you?

I also love Vada. It’s not made up, it’s unusual. It is, to me, of course forever linked to Vada Sultenfuss, but that’s a good thing, and it’s so gorgeous beside Ivan. I so love it and endorse it…

But if you don’t, could you be interested in Ida or Edith? Marlo or Nadine or Odile? I feel like Winifred is too long for your style, but the essence of the name is right. Una? Winnie? Portia? Agnes? (Man, am I ever falling for Agnes these days, huh?) Even something like Yetta or Marlena or Deirdre? Offbeat but of a particular brand of offbeat…

Maybe this is the wrong direction, and the combination of all three of them makes you think ‘my family is way too far in the quirk lane’, and given that there’s only going to be one baby(!) you maybe want to steer into a different lane. But you don’t know until you try…

Let us know…