Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our second baby in March. We have a boy's name pretty much figured out but we're struggling to agree on a girl's name. We already have one child, a girl named Rose. We LOVE her name and are so happy we chose it. It's just what we like in a name: traditional, feminine, easy to pronounce and spell, and not too trendy. We toyed with the idea of going with another "flower" name if we have a second daughter but I think that might be a bit much (I can already hear the bouquet jokes). The top contenders at this point are Lucy, Jane and Elizabeth. I love Lucy (hah), but worry that it's creeping up the popularity list and will become common in the next few years. Also, I have a cousin who named her daughter Lucy. We're not close but I still think she might get annoyed. Jane has significance because my favourite book of all time is Jane Eyre. When I mention it to other people though they often say "Plain Jane"? Finally, I think Elizabeth is great but my husband doesn't. Also, I don't like the typical nicknames for Elizabeth (Liz, Lizzie, Beth). We're open to other ideas. We both have Scottish ancestory and have bounced around some Gaelic names. They're just so hard to spell and pronounce. We would really appreciate some guidance!!



There are so many letters lately that say the same thing over and over – our boy name is set, but our girl name, that’s a problem. I think this might look like it’s easier to name boys, but I think the truth is that there are actually two very distinct types of boys’ names – either familiar or WAY WAY out there, and people commit to a world between the two: either David or Desmond (yes I know it’s not that unusual, this is another discussion) and go on their way.

Girls are so much harder because there are names that sit overlapping between very common, common-but-still-“unique-feeling”, a little bit out there, and way out there.  People have differing impressions of names on different lists.

So given that, I approach your potential names as storybook names more than anything. Lucy reminds me of L.M. Montgomery more than anyone (though legend had it she liked to be called Maud). It’s a sprightly, easy name that is threatened for more girls than it actually turns up on. That is, I think you could name your daughter Lucy with relative impunity and not expect she’d meet another one in her class. In her grade, yes (or in her sister’s) but that’s a different story. However, the cousin thing is a problem of its own. I don’t know if this is a cousin you see often or one you’ve never met who lives two states over, but the fact that you think she might be annoyed tells me you probably should stay away.

My love for Jane is well documented but I must admit that Jane Eyre can strike some people as a little dark. You can reference Jane Bennett from Pride & Prejudice if you like, or Jane Levy the awesome actress, or Jane Lane the awesome Daria character -  in fact, I think if you look up many Janes in literature, there’s never been one who sucks. Not fictionally, anyway. And nobody would have the balls to actually call your child “plain Jane” to her face. Furthermore, nobody her age will have heard that and we don’t even refer to people as “plain” anymore. So there you go, you don’t need to worry about any of those reasons anymore!

As for Elizabeth – I know. I hear you. SO many of them and so many nicknames, all of which do feel steeped in book characters to the point where they’re not necessarily useful in life. But just for fun, here are some underused Elizabeth offshoots – Libby, Bess, Eliza, Lilibet. Any of these grab you?

But all these names are highly classic and absolutely seamless with your daughter Rose. Easy to pronounce and spell does preclude most of that which is Gaelic, although Fiona gets a lot of play for this reason, and has a kind of “floral feel” without being too on the nose. Other options could include some variant on Mary – maybe Marla or Molly are for you? Maybe you actually want to go just as short and sweet? Kate, Anna, Claire? How about Edith? Rose and Edith? I mean, you could take them to Downton today…!

Let me know where this lovely classic name game goes!