Hi Duana,

We are expecting a girl in January and need some name help!  For the last several years (as we have been thinking about and trying to get pregnant) I was sure I was set on Eleanor, but now I'm less excited about it, especially because of it's rise in popularity (having spent my life being one of a million Saras, I don't want her to have to live in a sea of Ellies and Ellas, although I like the option of Leni as an alternative nickname).

My initial parameters have been that I like more old/ vintage/ classic but not common names that also have good nickname options. I also like the idea of inspiration from historic/ well known women (I'm not tied to that, but have found it to be a useful place to start). Right now we are between Isadora and Ramona, Isadora jumped right off the list of ideas to my husband and it is definitely his favorite (we'd call her Izzy). I do like it, and I especially like Izzy, but Isadora sometimes feels like a mouthful to me.  I recently started thinking of Ramona and really like it, my husband likes it too, but I think he's less convinced to move away from Isadora.  I feel like a Ramona is just more likely to play in the dirt than an Isadora (although Izzy would), and playing in the dirt is a good thing!

We are also pretty set on Rae as a middle name (for a family name connection), and I could be convinced to use it as a first name, but am totally without middle name ideas for that. Does the alliteration in Ramona Rae sound nice, or is it too much?

Other names we've considered:
Amelia- I like it a lot on it's own but the nicknames (Amy and Mia) are out because of family connections.
Elliot- but then we run into the Ellie problem again
Ada- this hits the famous women in history part, but is probably too short.

For reference, the last name is short and a little sharp (one syllable with a K start), and with Rae as a middle name I think we'd be better off with a longer first name.

So I guess my questions are... What's my hang up on Isadora and am I just overthinking it? Is Ramona Rae too much alliteration? and what other great names haven't I thought of?




And now,  a digression that even I think is a bit of a stretch, but that I also fully endorse… 

You know how The Baby-Sitters Club has had revival after revival of interest? Or, between audiobooks read by Elle Fanning and graphic novels and etc, has had a million new lives? 

Has it ever gotten credit for how many names it introduced us all to? The babysitting charges included Byron and Margot (I know, but it was unheard of then) and Hani, and then the baby-sitters themselves had friends with names like Tansy and Laine (no y, obviously)… and there was a fair amount of education-by-accident involved? Like that was most definitely where I first learned about painter Ashley Wyeth, and similarly, I know for sure that, though I couldn’t pinpoint the volume, those books are where I first learned the name ‘Isadora’.  

I’m sure some dancer introduced the readers to the name, as in Isadora Duncan, but it hasn’t been used as much as I think it should have been, which is why my frame of reference is still a book published circa 1991. 

There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t choose it. Isadora has the same number of syllables as Isabella, and nobody has problems with that one. Plus ‘Dora’ is in line with Cora and other names that are popular right now – in fact, I blame Her Ladyship The Explorer for putting a ‘we can’t choose that!’ damper on the name Dora, because otherwise it would be huge right now.  Yes, you absolutely should choose it! 

The thing is though, in keeping with your thoughts about Eleanor and all the Ellies, you might also consider a nickname that isn’t Izzy, like Isa, for example, to distinguish from any other erstwhile Isabellas (though they’re all likely in high school right now). 

So the answer to ‘what’s my hangup about it’ is that I don’t know, and I don’t see one that you should have, though maybe what you’re reacting to is feeling like you have to say ‘Isadora’ to clarify that she’s not the kind of Izzy who is ‘just’ another Isabella? 

By contrast, Ramona is only ever Ramona, and it’s amazing as a result. I think that we really do have young Quimby to thank for that, because there was a world where, before the ‘Ramona’ books, it was seen as a name that was a bit formal or fussy, a little bit the way you see Isadora, I think, secretly – but Ramona Quimby and her messy hair and mud pies led the way for Ramona in Real Housewives, Ramona in Hustlers… 

And yet the name remains sort of iconoclastic and great.  It can’t precisely be defined, and can be romantic or kick-ass as is your requirement. I obviously have a bias here because it’s a name I really like, and because it has that great quality of both fitting in and standing out – but also it has just enough familiarity to get a smile of recognition from people, without being common.  And yes, by all means, use the alliteration! Ramona Rae is awesome, whereas (not that I’m trying to sandbag) Isadora Rae might make you feel like you were repeating one syllable twice, but not on purpose? 

I think that might also be a problem that arises with Vera, and though I think Ingrid is a super charming choice that speaks to your taste for both Ramona and Isadora, I guess I think that if you liked it that much, it would be higher on the list… 

But none of this should dissuade you from your little Izzy, especially if that’s what both of you like best. Imagine being able to say, in this day and age when everyone is dying for an ‘original’ name, that you were able to choose one that nobody has sent into this column before! 

Make sure to let us know!