Dear Duana,

I am expecting a daughter in December. I already have a four year old son named Linus Nin Lum (whose middle name is in honor of a deceased great grandfather).

My husband and I are thinking of naming our daughter Linnea Jane Lum (her middle name would be in honor of a deceased grandmother).

Do you think that Linnea is a good choice in this context?

Thank you for your time. I very much look forward to hearing back from you at your convenience. 


Wow, do I ever appreciate the clarity and brevity of your message. So I’m going to be straightforward too.  Here’s what I like about the name choice for your daughter – she will share initials with your son. They both have honor-names in the middle spot, and I fundamentally love Linnea as a name. It’s underused and pretty.

But here’s what I don’t love – Linnea is lovely, but it’s really, really similar to Linus in spelling. Even though they aren’t pronounced the same way, people will start trying to say it that way “Lye-nea”, or will write Christmas cards addressed to Linus and Linua or Linea (like line-ah). I know this seems preposterous, but people are sometimes dumb. I might not necessarily feel this way if your children were, say, Nathan and Nadine, because those are both very established names. But the relative rareness of Linnea may cause problems, and given that few people will have problems with Linus, her name may seem like a variant of his, instead of one you loved on your own.

Having said that, I’m kind of heartbroken by my own advice. I love Linus and Linnea both and wish I could override this feeling – but I just typed Linus with two ‘n’s while in this sentence, so I think the struggle may in fact be real.

But I want to play by the rules – never point out a problem if you don’t have a solution. If you know me, you know one of my earliest solutions would be to call her Jane Linnea Lum. I love Jane, I think it legitimately stands alone, and it maintains your needs

If that’s not it, but you really want to keep another L in front, I really like Leonora and the shorter Leona, and realize one of the reasons we’re in this conversation is because of how well L and N seem to go together, no?

With that in mind, if neither of these appeals, how about Natalia? Nadine, as per earlier? Mirella? Nia? Lila? Leilani? Liesl?

Let me know. And if you decide to shrug me off and go with it? Let me know, too!