I am pregnant with my second child which I am hoping so badly is a girl, due in December. I have a 2 year old son William who we call Will or Wills for short. I have always loved the name Olivia for a girl but it is way too popular right now. My husband is British and our last name is a classic two syllable that starts with B.
It’s been a bit of a challenge finding names we both like, especially since there are cultural differences in how we see the same name. For example, I really liked the name Liam for a boy (which is why we landed on William which is also a family name on my side) and Victoria for a girl, which my husband and his British family/friends said were ‘chav’ names in England.. lol
If it is a boy we are pretty sure it will be Alexander, and we call him Alex. We like more traditional names but don’t want them in a class with other kids with the same names. Here are some girl names I have so far but don’t love any of them. If any other boy names come to you I would love to hear those too!
Please help - I love reading your advice!
You know, I was all ready to be crusty about the idea of chav names, but I think that this is actually one of those British things that North Americans will never really understand – not that some names can be downmarket and overused, which I think we all know, but that there’s an upper-crust-ness in using nicknames or sort of dowdy unfashionable names and resuscitating them.
Obviously trendsetters do this all the time – Sadie is the name I always point to as an old-fashioned name reborn as desperately trendy – but we don’t seem to assign that same in-the-know spirit to it on this side of the pond. Which, frankly, I think is fine. Worrying about classiness or comparing is never going to make you feel confident.
I sense a bit of hesitance from you, but I want to be clear here: I write this column because I love it and because people need an outside opinion, not because I think it’s possible to do something wrong where names are concerned, as long as you abide by the Golden Rule of loving the name. I think that has to come first, and everything from the supposed class of the name to the expectations of Great Aunt Ursula is way behind.
What I do think, though, is that you can embrace a little of the spirit of what the Brits in your life are inferring by choosing a name that still has your style (a bit decorated and girly), but that you maybe feel a bit shy about using because they’re not in the mainstream. You don’t have to wait for someone else to anoint a name as classy or cute or usable to choose it – and the more you explore, the more you’ll find something that suits you.
For example, I thought of Aurelia. Not as spare as Audrey but 10 times more original – or one of my old favourites, Anthea. Or you might like something like Viveca (the original spelling, no disrespect to Ms. Fox), or Cordelia or Lydia or Lavinia or Adeline, or my beloved Felicity. Leonora? Winifred? Georgina? I feel you hesitating, but I promise you can use these names without anyone checking your passport or other credentials.
You might also surprise yourself by loving what I consider to be the next upcoming trend – the spare, Rosie-The-Riveter style 1940s names, mixed with a dash of Enid Blyton’s boarding school characters (but nothing else, ahem). I have said before that I think Jean is going to be one of the first 40s’ names out of the gate to be back in style, and I also think you might be unexpectedly charmed by something like Rita or Hilary or even a twist on something you already like – Claudine instead of Claudia might be just the ‘fresh’ you need.
Where boys are concerned I think you’re pretty settled, but I’d remind you that Alex is a favourite for a reason, and a lot of other people may feel the same way. The proliferation of Alex is why a lot of people have defaulted to short-but-strong alternatives like Emmett or Aidan or Roman/Ronan, but you might want to look further, to Julian or Simon or even something like Hugo. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, you can do it.
Can’t wait to hear what you choose – go with the gold in your gut!