Dear Duana

Sadly The Name Therapist is not published here in Australia so I needed to be way more organised than I was when it came to ordering a copy! Perhaps my current dilemma - a nameless 10-day-old daughter - is karma for not having done so!

Our new baby girl joins her big sisters Eleanor Maisie and Hazel Frances. As with each of the girls, her gender was a surprise. And again, like her sisters before her, the names that were on our pre-birth list still don't seem quite right.

We took a week or so with our two older daughters so clearly we are not the hyper-organised types, but this time, we are really struggling. HELP. Top contenders this time around are Iris, Martha, Winifred and Cilla but we would love your advice ---Duana.


Maybe it’s early Monday morning, but I was all set to solve your problem, no sweat – by offering your daughter one of her sisters’ middle names. Oops. However, I really like where you’re headed, so no sweat…

First of all, consider tweaks. If Iris, Martha, Winifred and Cilla aren’t right, maybe it’s Maris or Wilhelmina or Celia? As for Iris, the immediate name I think of is a bit double-edged: Ilse, not to be confused with Isla in any of its permutations, is great and seems to fit well with Eleanor and Hazel… but I know, I know why it might be problematic, in a world with millions of Islas – then again, maybe there aren’t where you live, in which case, govern yourself accordingly.

I am inclined to go for names that feel right to say, whether I think they are quite within your… let’s say, ‘threshold of activity’. For example, ‘Eleanor, Hazel, and Dinah’ comes to mind. ‘Eleanor, Hazel, and Ainsley.’ Or Lucia. Bianca? If Bianca is a bit too frilly – and I’ve gone back and forth over the course of writing this article whether it is, or is not, too ‘frilly’ for your other names - then, Blanche – that is, pronounced like the French word for ‘white’, not like The Golden Girls character, would fit nicely.

I also have a weakness for Camille, but that’s because it works so many places. So does Claire, of course, but it’s not quite the same style. Camille or Celia or even Celeste feel like a better fit.

But I love Winifred, and I love Martha (Merritt? Mae?) and I think you’re circling right around the right place. But go further afield – Phoebe or Zinnia or Alice – until you feel like it’s right, or until her older sisters choose the name that becomes obviously hers… as I have heard can happen.

And let us know!