Hi Duana,

My sister is expecting her third daughter later this spring and is stuck on coming up with a name that fits with the Russian/Hebrew tradition of the first two (Raiyah and Mila) but doesn't also end in an -a. There have been soo many good ones we've decided to forego because of that, amongst them: Aria, Hannah, Sasha, Anya. [For reference: my sister's name also ends in an -a - Sheva, another sister Aleyah, so there's a lot of that in the family already]

The strong contender at the moment is Miriam but we wanted to see if there's anything you might suggest - more options on the table would put Miriam to the test!

The middle name will most likely be Gabrielle.

I should add that Naomi (so pretty but very popular in the area), Ruth and Esther have all been considered but my sister isn't into them.

Thanks again!!


I used to think Miriam was the ultimate in an old lady’s name. It struck me as right alongside Marion in terms of just being utterly steeped in sensible cars and ‘women’s separates’. But I met a young girl with the name recently and she breathed new life into it. I heard the prettiness of the three syllables all calling to each other. Miriam.  

But I do think it’s somewhat different from the other two names. Raiyah and Mila and Miriam actually sound like they fit together a little bit,  as long as the Miri-part of Miriam comes up front so that it’s not “Meeeeer-yum.”  

But what else is there? What other names that aren’t so similar (I assume that’s the reason for being so anti-a in the first place) still fit the bill? (As a side note, Raiyah reminds me of Raisa, which I love). So let’s be honest, this is not the easiest task – almost every Russian name ends in an ‘a’ so I had to get creative. Is it just because you don’t want more As? Okay, enough of me whining about the difficulty of the task – here’s what I came up with.

Mayim? Yes I know who it’s associated with. I guess your feelings about attachment parenting might colour your feeling for the name. But when it comes down to it, it’s a lovely name. MAYim. It sounds like your other nieces in that it starts with the accent on the first syllable, but it’s unusual and it’s pretty. And yeah people will say “Oh, like Blossom?” but none of her peers will know what that is.

If it’s not right, what about Limor? It’s Hebrew and not Russian, but it’s beautiful and underused and I have a great story about Limor that I will tell sometime. I would love to see this name see the light of day. Maybe? It’s been pronounced to me as “LeeMOHR”, not “Lim-more”. It’s gorgeous, right?

If not, how about Meirit? Marni? Even Maren, which is Latin, but ticks some of your boxes? Or of course there’s the gorgeous Tamar? I love this name and though I suspect it suffers from being mispronounced, is that enough reason to leave it on the table?

I am so curious about how this goes. Let me know where you – and she -  land!

A note to name-nerd letter writers,

I love getting your letters. In order to give them the best chance of being answered in a timely fashion, could I please trouble you to include the due date in the subject line of your email? Also, please send only one email – duplicates are deleted and may result in your email not being answered. Thanks!