We are expecting baby girl #2 in October. Our first is Edith Maud (Edie, colloquially), and my husband is trying desperately hammer home Judith (Judy). Her middle name will be Yvonne, so on its own, I quite like Judith Yvonne - but I'm struggling with EdiTH and JudiTH - are they not too similar? Clearly we like old-timey names, but that are a little more unique, and not super flowery.
Appreciate your input!
So you know, this is an unusual situation in that I think the rarity of your names is what's causing you to notice the similarities between them. That is to say that, for all our discussions about what constitutes names for girls and women, and the vastness of choice; there are hundreds, or even thousands, of style categories or sources of names, but when it comes to how they sound, there are often only three (I know!):
-Ending-in-A (or an 'ah' sound, I would put Hannah in this category)
-Ending in an "ee" sound (whether spelled with a y, as in Kelsey, or 'ie ' as in Sidonie)
-Ending in a Consonant sound - everything from Helen to Grace to Jennifer goes here.
I find that people who have two or more daughters tend to choose the same aural style for each, but the names themselves sound different enough that you don't notice - for instance, Heather and Claire both end on an r, but almost everything else about them is different so you don't tend to notice; the same way Adria and Savannah have that sound in common, but not much else. Zoe and Naomi are closer, but still don't automatically make you think of "sound-alike".
I think you're noticing for a number of reasons. First of all, because the -ith ending is rare enough that it feels like a real style choice. I mean, it is, of course, but given the style you like, it could appear like you combed through looking for names that ended that way and rejected Lilith, Faith, and Meredith in favour of Judith.
And that's difficult because the names don't just have the same ending - they're close to the same all the way through. They both start with a long "says its own name" vowel sound, and then pivot on a strong D, and the nicknames are almost identical, both in their construction and their eventual sound - in addition to which, depending how you introduce your children and regional variances, Edith may stay Edith, but Judith is very, very often shortened to Judy.
So ..are they too close? I’d say they are if you’re thinking they are. That is, Edith and Judith each have long and legitimate histories, but as a duo they are very close. Some people don’t mind that, and I would never shake my head when I heard them, the way I would if it was Polly & Molly, for example. I also know, though, that sometimes with names, once you find a problem like this, you can’t un-discover it – and so if there’s something else you can find that you love as much, I’d suggest it might make you feel better, and less like you have to avoid using their nicknames because you don’t want them to sound like a singing duo.
So – Beatrice sounds right up your alley, for example. I’m not sure if it gets into the ‘flowery’ place for you, but I think it has a similar sound and feel to Edith without being a sound-alike, especially since often when you’re saying both, Edith, or Edie, will come first. Harriet is another favourite, and people really love Harry as a nickname – especially since I suspect parents of boys will take a break from it while the Sussexes are so much in the news.
You might like Frances, which parents choose not just because they like it, and because it’s one of those names that works both on a little girl and a grown woman, but because the nickname options really abound, whether you’re into Franny or Frankie or even something like Chessy (I know, not for you guys, but for someone!).
Florence, maybe? Edith and Florence are perfectly similar and perfectly different in equal measure – or maybe you’d like something slighty more unusual, like Imogen or Astrid? Helen doesn’t strike me quite right, especially with Yvonne in the middle – but Helena certainly does, and there’s a nice rhythm there. Or maybe you like something like Louisa, or even something like Lucille that gets you to Lucy?
Finally, thinking about Edith and Judith made me think a lot about Esther, which is one of those names that I think has a lot more energy when it’s spoken than read, so I’d encourage you to play around with it a bit.
And above all, let us know!