Hi Duana,

My friend is a long time reader and suggested I reach out to you regarding the trouble my husband and I are having settling on a name for our baby girl (due in November). Having read through so many of your columns I think she is right!

This is our second baby and first girl. We had such an easy time naming our son. As soon as we knew he was a boy, we had decided on a name August William. Our last name begins with a W, is two syllables and the second syllable contains a Z. So, it is a strong last name. We felt so inspired by August, who we call Auggie, and are feeling so uninspired around baby girl names.  We had picked Hazel as the name we were going to use if our son ended up being a girl but that name is feeling so overused that it isn’t even an option this time around. My husband feels that I only like “prairie” names by which I think he means flower names – Daisy, Violet, Juniper, Fern, etc. - and he is right. He hates all flower names. We also just don’t have the same taste at all.  My husband has contributed two names – Eleanor and Ingrid – both of which I vetoed. So far on our list are Lilia, Vivian, Evie or Evelyn, and Leni. These names all seem a bit scattered to me. My favorites on the list are Lilia and Vivian. 

We have settled on a middle name – Jane. So at least that part is taken care of!

I feel very lost and stressed that baby girl will be here soon, and we don’t have any options that we both love. Really hoping you can help!
Thank you!


<cracks knuckles>

Welcome! Glad you’re here! Yes, we can do this. You’ve come to the right place.

We talk a lot in this column about all the categories and styles of names that people like – identifying yours is a first step towards finding a name you love, and finding one that you and your partner can agree on is another.  

What’s interesting about this scenario is that you managed to do it the first time, without realizing that in fact ‘August William’ was in a category you both liked. This might be because your shopping list for a boy name fell into a different category to begin with or – and this is what I suspect – because it falls into centre of the Venn Diagram that is your collective taste. I bet money that ‘August’ struck you as kind of romantic or old-fashioned-y but struck your partner as being kind of quirky or offbeat. 

It can be both! I promise it can. And the names that are currently on the list that neither of you have rejected – Lilia, Vivian, Evie, Evelyn, and Leni – I can imagine they got there because they don’t feel super ‘flower’, per your husband, but still have some of that romance that you like. As a sidebar, I don’t think Hazel is actually overused at all (though that may vary depending on where you are) but maybe you’re hearing it more; I would really check on whether you’re opposed to it because you know a bunch of people who have used it, or just because it doesn’t feel as much like it’s as private and special to you guys as it once did. If it’s the latter, and it still feels as good as Auggie, I’d suggest you take another run at it.

But if it’s not the one, here’s where I’d go for you guys: 

First of all, how about the kind of ‘celestial’ continuum? Luna, Vega, Estelle (or Celeste), Stella – even something like Aurora or Astrid or even something like Hermione or Beatrix? It’s okay if you don’t like any of them, of course, it just means this category isn’t for you, and finding something that appeals to both of you is going to exist in another category. 

There’s the ‘romantic but quirky’ continuum that I think your husband’s Eleanor and Ingrid might have come from so do you like Ramona, or Renata? Cosima or Juno or Margot or Isadora? What about Daphne or Simone or Marina? Maybe Ariel?  As a bonus, some of these definitely have nature, if not floral, elements… 

Not there either? Some of the shorter names you’ve listed – Hazel, Fern, Leni – have made me think you might like some ‘noun’ names, and if not in the floral sense, maybe in the colour continuum? Violet was the first that came to mind (and I promise I’m not going to Rose next) but you might also like something like Clover or River or Sage or Lake? Now, yes, at this point, your husband might point out that they’re floral or nature-oriented, but they don’t have the ‘prairie’ feeling he’s talking about – not across the board, anyway.  

And if I’m being honest, August makes me think you could go a bit more whimsical, and it actually could still feel grounded against all odds. Names like Story or Blythe or even Serena aren’t for everyone, but I think we should get into using them more. One category we don’t have, but should, is a new generation of virtue names, since the old ones (Faith, Hope,  and Charity are the biggies) can seem really outdated, but often had that crisp sound and feeling that I think a lot of people are searching for, but don’t want to dip into ‘new agey’ to find. 

Longtime readers will know that some of my all-time faves are included in the above, but if nothing lands the way you want, I’d also encourage you to think about Zelda or Lucille, Theodora or Geneva, as names that have a little something extra and attractive about them, but don’t make those first few strains of Little House On The Prairie start to play in your head.

And please, let us know what you choose!