Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our second child in 3 weeks, a baby girl. With our first I was obsessed with finding the perfect name to suit our tastes and we were successful in choosing one we absolutely love and never questioned once we found it: Keaton.

That first go ‘round I had the time to search and ponder and spend endless hours doing so to my heart’s desire. This time not so much! Having a 20 month old and a baby due in 3 weeks does not offer much free time when mommy is not totally exhausted and asleep on the couch the minute the little guy is tucked away in bed! So the searching has been limited and so has the discussion overall about what to call our baby girl – I’m hoping you can help us with your naming genius!

For the most part we are looking for something that goes with Keaton and our last name (Irish; ending in LY). We tend to prefer unisex names over feminine names and nothing with the I / Y sound at the end. Some names we have considered but have rejected for various reasons are: Mirren, Leila, Camille, Devon, Larkin and Rey.

Thank you so much for your invaluable help with this most important decision!



What’s pretty neat about this question is that I read it a few times before I could declare with confidence that Keaton was a boy. I don’t know if that will be helpful, necessarily, but one of the things I have learned is that not everyone’s idea of ‘unisex’ matches up, which I think is great, actually. If the idea is a name that could be used for anyone, then everyone’s perspective on what that is gets to be a little different. I’m quite down with that.

It does make me wonder, though, what the rejection factor was for names like Devon and Larkin. I totally get where they would have fit into the same sort of name pocket as Keaton, but maybe they sounded too similar? One of the things your son’s name has going for it is that it’s a bit unexpected in a couple of ways – I think our ears might be more conditioned for Keegan or Easton – so I suspect that when you’re searching for a name and find some of them don’t quite match up yet, it’s because you don’t yet have the surprise factor.

I also want to point out that, even though they might not be for you, my first inclination was some of the more popular surname-names, even if they do end in a ‘Y’ sound. Keaton and Tierney make perfect sense to me, as do Keaton and Delaney, for example. I don’t think it makes it super girly, it’s not the same thing as, you know, ‘Cyndi’.  Even though I myself have turned up my nose at some of the ‘ie’ names, because they can sound diminutive, it’s worth noting that there’s only a given number of vowel sounds for any name to end with, and we often like names that do. 

So what about Juno, or Sloane, or Drew? To be honest, they fit your style, but they’re a little spare as compared to Keaton. Then I thought about Darragh – pronounced ‘Dara’ and sometimes spelled that way, it’s a really nice balance to Keaton. Then I thought about Laurence – yes, a girl’s name in French – and then thought something like Garance or Genevieve or even Meredith might be close to what you were looking for in Camille.

You don’t want Sutton, or Logan, or Morgan, because they’ll wind up sounding too rhymey and too easy to be mixed up. Even though you like names of a similar style, you want each child’s name to be their own, obviously.  You might also find that Liesl or Tamsin, Thora or Imogen, might hit one of the buttons you want. But I wouldn’t be too too quick to throw out the ‘y’ sound, because something like Briony might be the one to hit you exactly where you want to be.

Let us know!!