Hi Duana,

We were somewhat surprised to learn that we will be having a third baby. As we have a boy and a girl already, we are really struggling with a name. Keeping up with the "surprise" theme of this baby, we have opted not to find out the gender so need suggestions for both.

We have a three- syllable hyphenated last name for our children, so have opted for short (1 or 2 syllable) names for our other children, both which happen to be four letters. Our son's name is Nate, which suits him perfectly and is not short for anything. Our daughter is Leni, a family name that I had picked out for my future daughter when I was a child. We would like to keep on trend and find a four letter name for our next child.  Also, I would like the baby's name to avoid rhyming with one of his/her siblings, so nothing ending in "ie" or "eh" sounds.

Based on this somewhat limiting criteria, it comes as no surprise that our shortlist is very short. For a girl, we have it narrowed down to Mila or Isla, but I am concerned that these are too trendy. For a boy, the only name that my husband and I agree on is Alec, but I am also concerned that it is too common and I don't think either of us is completely taken with it. My son is adamant that he is having a brother named Finn, which is actually growing on us.

To further complicate matters, the baby is due Christmas Day, so we have been bombarded with suggestions like Noel, Holly, etc, which are NOT going to happen!

Looking forward to your suggestions!


It took everything I had not to send you an email back when I found this letter because I knew immediately that I had the perfect fix for you, and I got really excited about it.

What you need is Dean.

Dean is great. Dean is uncommon, easy, friendly, sharp, and short. It’s all you could want in one package. Do you feel better? I do. Dean, Leni, and Nate. You’re done.

I know you said Alec, but here’s the thing about that name, which I love. It’s only for books.

Why, you ask, is it only for books? It’s because it looks beautiful written, but 90% of people are going to hear ‘Alex’, and I promise you that Alec is going to start answering to it sometimes just for a quiet life, and the other people, when he specifies “No, ALEC” are going to go “Oh, okay, sorry, Nick” while thinking that Nick should take it easy, it’s just a name. Alec is a very hard one, even though I love it.

Other short, brilliant names include Reese, Jude, Ludo, Clive, Thad, and Seth. I KNOW! You forgot all about Seth, didn’t you? I cheated a little on the letter-count in some of those names so maybe Seth makes up for it.

Girl-wise, I have to say that while Mila seemed to be taking the lead a few years ago, the Islas are surging forth in popularity now so while your daughter will undoubtedly know some other girls with her name, do you want them to be older, or the same age? They’re both trendy, I’m not going to lie to you, so other options you could choose are Clea, Etta, Gina, Luce, Iris, or my beloved Jane.

You have the power to make this happen. A four-letter name you love that goes exactly with the ones you already chose. Let me know which awesome you go with!