Hi Duana!

We have a son named Grant and a daughter named Lucy. I love both of their names and they are both the only ones in their class and have family history, but now we are struggling with #3! We had always said we'd name our hypothetical future children Sebastian and Sylvia...but it was more of a joke because we thought we were probably set with the two. Now that it is a reality, I'm more in love with Sebastian which was my husband's choice and now he isn't as into it and vice versa with Sylvia.

If it is a girl, one of the names I had randomly contributed from family history was Blanche and my husband immediately said we could call her Biddy (her initials would be BID.) Is this way too old ladyish/crazy? Are there any legitimate nicknames for Sebastian? My husband would want to call him Bassy, which I am not on board with.  The only other boy name on our list right now is Joseph.



Okay, this is a funny one. Do you believe that thing where people are who they are from inception? I mean, I allow myself a heavy eye-roll when people are all “Oh no I knew he was going to be a gymnast because he was tumbling all around even in utero!”, but I’m amused that this third kid you didn’t think you were having is all like “A, I’m coming. B, you thought you were going to be ahead of the game and plan my name? HA”.

One of the reasons I think you’re having some cognitive dissonance with Sebastian and Sylvia is that even though they’re beautiful names, and ironically go kind of well together, they’re much more decorated than the names of your other two children, to whom you’ve managed to give clean, crisp, energetic names that, I should say, I think go beautifully together.

Which means I think Blanche would fit quite nicely. I always pronounced this name the way Bea Arthur did, but when I was in school I knew a ‘Blanche’, pronounced the French way. I think the more Americanized pronunciation suits your family, though, and as for Biddy, I am kind of scandalized and kind of in love with it. I don’t think it should be her all-the-time name, but if you want to say it occasionally, I’m into it.

As for Sebastian, I’m not sure I buy ‘Bassy’, but there is a legitimate nickname for Sebastian that is single-syllable – actually, two. ‘Seb’ is always going to sound unfinished to me but I know there are people who use it, and ‘Bash’ is an accepted nickname, though a word to the wise, it’s also the name of the lead character on the upcoming ‘Cruel Intentions’ sequel/series. Sash or Sascha? Not traditional, but totally understandable still—for those who think I’m on a gender-bending tip, Sascha is generally accepted to be the male spelling, though I’ve seen both men and women with the ‘alternate’ spellings.

I’m trying to tread lightly here because I think you’ve done the impossible, a little bit – you’ve chosen names that aren’t super common, but are easy and stylish and timeless. It also seems as though you’re trying harder than necessary to create a nickname situation, since your other two don’t have any. Am I misunderstanding?

The caveat here, of course, is that you could use Joseph, but it’s interesting enough to you that you gave it eleven words total in your letter, so there we go.

So, staying classic but not at all popular-influenced, what about names like Nell, Sybil, Cilla, Darla? Nina? Maya? Faith? Jessa? Elise? It’s worth noting here that Sylvie, though not Sylvia, might fit your style—does it appeal to you at all? If it feels too close to Lucy, what about Shea? As a note, I’m doing my level best not to suggest Claire (or Clara), since they seem almost too obvious, but the flipside is that they feel really, really fitting here.

On the boys’ side, I find this somewhat easier—Dean is on the tip of my tongue: Grant, Lucy, and Dean. But if it feels a little more modern than you were intending, what about Drew? It’s one of the rare names where the short form is infinitely better than the ‘long’ form of Andrew (or possibly I’m just lifetime-fatigued of that name). Carlo?  Neville? Russell? Riley may be too close to Lucy, but what about Rhys? Dexter or Blake? Dalton, despite being one of the ending in ‘en’ names, really appeals here, but might feel too surname-y for you, but maybe Brady?  Claude? Bruno? Desmond?

Let me know which way you go—I really believe in your first two, so I hope you’ll indulge me taking the last kid in a direction you didn’t directly anticipate!