We could really use some help. We are expecting in two weeks (yes cutting it close) and although my husband thinks we've landed on names, I'm feeling very uncertain. We are both francophones. Baby will have his last name (two-syllable French last name that starts with F). We also do not know gender of baby.  We have an awesome 2 year daughter named Éloïse (which is not too popular and comes with a very unanticipated but fun nickname Élo). His favourite names are the same for boy or girl Alexandre/Alexandra. I just worry that they are soooo many Alex's out there! We've also toyed with Philipe (which I think is great but having a hard time getting over the alliteration issue with the last name). I also love Margot but he is not sold due to a family link. Also the rhyming between Margot and Élo might get a little twee. I want some that "goes" together, as you've so aptly put in the past.

Clearly, we are a bit traditional in our name choices but I still want to be unique! How does one succeed within these parameters?! Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Okay, let me start first off by telling you that despite being delighted with the name Éloïse and happy to know more than one, I don’t think I’ve ever yet come across the nickname Élo for it – guard that you’re about to start a trend.

So though you haven’t explicitly said that you’d like a French name, that seems to be the goal here –and in my experience with Francophone parents, they’re usually looking for a name that transitions seamlessly from French to English and back again, which means the choices they happen upon, which are usually very stylish, also wind up being well-loved and well used – which is why there are a lot of Sophies and Alexes running around. 

So to address your concerns in order, I agree that Alexandre/Alexandra are very, very popular – and by plenty of Anglophone families too, meaning there may be a higher proportion of Alex out there than you realize. I will say it seems to have faded off a little bit for girls, but there’s also the pop culture factor – Alex, for both genders, is a go-to character name and so even if it’s not in the classroom, it may be in books and shows and etc. Up to you whether that’s a positive or not.

I have to say I wasn’t bothered by Philipe F – partly I supposed because they’re different letters, but also because I think that ‘sound-alike’ thing can be really stylish. Philipe and Eloise go together, and it’s your call what nickname he might get to go with Élo – Phillie? Pip? I don’t know.

Have you considered Adrien, or one of my most beloved and underused names, Alphonse? Yes, there’s also an F sound in the middle, but you get to call him Alphonse or Alfie! Maybe my beloved Damien can find a home in your family? Eloise and Damien? Gabriel, Simon, even Henri, if you’re prepared to correct people’s pronunciation from Henry?

As for girls, I am honour-bound to suggest Simone, which still hovers on the periphery of being known but not really known; Nathalie, which is somehow still in the doghouse after its 1970s popularity but really deserves to be resurrected; and, though Elaine may be too close to Eloise, I can’t help but suggest Helen, or Helena if it helps distinguish the two. Finally, I kept thinking of Emilie, then rejecting it both for its popularity and its closeness to Eloise. But from there I made the jump to Millicent, which, despite officially being of German origin, seems like it feels very French to me.

Let me know which way you go!