Dear Duana,

I wrote you a while back in a panic because after what felt like an exhaustive search over the course of a few months, we had zero names for our daughter arriving in November. I'm pleased to report, we finally have a list of names, albeit small, and could use your advice on narrowing our search or hearing your suggestions.

However, our main issue at the moment is that I am totally stuck on the name Neve - it is strong, not too common, not too frilly and will fit well with our daughter's last name. But my husband is entirely opposed because our son's name is Everett, "Ev" for short, and he thinks it's completely ridiculous to rhyme our kids’ names. Am I way off base in thinking the rhyme isn't that big of deal? Be honest, do I really need to let go of "Ev and Neve"?

So, failing Neve, here are a few other names under consideration - we would love your thoughts and/or suggestions:

Thea - elegant and beautiful and has a nice resemblance to my grandmother, Thelma - but according to Nameberry is in the top names so far for 2016 which is a huge turn-off for us.

Elyse - another solid contender (strengthened by our love of Family Ties) - a definite maybe, but also growing in popularity.

And a few more possibilities - Drew, Liv, Jocelyn, Winter and my husband's favourite: Frances Rae (which I think is lovely, but just too hipster common at the moment).

I'm secretly hoping you'll support my argument for Neve - but either way, really appreciate your help and expertise in our search for the perfect name for our daughter. Thanks, Duana!


I am going to break your heart….at least a little.

Ev and Neve is a nonstarter. It will frustrate you so much more than it will make you happy, and I know that you don’t want that. Even if you start bargaining and going ‘We’ll never call him ‘Ev’ at all anymore, always Everett, well, Everett and Neve still really rhyme. They both start with the same sound, and if you refer to her first, “Neve and Everett”, you’re still back to the rhyming factor.

I’m so sorry. But I can offer you a couple of consolation prizes, or name hacks, to make up for it:

One is that when Neve Campbell first became famous, a whole bunch of persnickety Irish people went, “Well, that name is NEEV”. Never mind that the poor woman’s name is exactly what she says it is, you don’t argue with the Irish. They are referring, of course, to a phoneticized version of the name Niamh, which is pronounced ‘Neev’ – it’s not the same thing as the name that caught your attention, but it’s still really beautiful, if you like.

Next, some more good news! I love Thea too, and you can get it from Theodora or Dorothea if you want something a little more formal. And I can assuage your fears about popularity. You know I love my friends at Nameberry very, very much – but they, like me (and you guys), are big name nerds. So the ‘popularity on Nameberry’ number that you thought was super-high refers to how often that name is searched on the site, and doesn’t speak to how often it’s used in real life – Thea was #464 in the US last year…though it does rank in the top 100 in many European countries, if that makes a difference.

Similarly, Elyse (or my preference, Elise) is searched even more than it’s used, and it’s also well within the top 100 in Europe. Does this matter? It means the name isn’t unheard of, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be around every corner. What exact feeling do you hope to get?

Liv is also out, because everyone will assume it’s derived of Olivia and you will HAAAATE that. Would you ever consider Lydia or Lavinia?

Drew feels like much more of an outlier in your list of names, and I’m not sure it fits as well with your names – but you know what you could do? Use Dru, instead. She could be Drusilla, and you can be way, way down on the popularity list, and have Dru and Ev, and you’re choosing something unusual, getting the ‘Drew’ sound, and it will never, never be mistaken for Olivia…

Neither Jocelyn nor Winter feels right to me, and you’re right that Frances has a hipster factor that is driving it right into the popularity position. But some other names that might fit into that sweet spot? Maybe Jacinta or Winnifred or Esther? I am totally going out on a limb here, but what about Eugenia? Leora? Maybe even Zosia?

I’m sorry that I can’t back up your Neve dreams, and I hope you find another way to find a name, or a name hack, you love – let us know!