A colleague suggested I email you because I am stuck for a name. We don't know the gender of baby 3, and have a boy name ready, but cannot find a girl name. I'm 33 weeks, and time is running out. I am also a teacher, so I have the added issue that anything too popular reminds me of other children, and I can't bring myself to pick it for my own daughter. I'd love suggestions...

Our son is Walker John Ross, and our boy name for baby 3 is Barrett (Bear), with Nash and Wyatt as back ups.

Our daughter is Heidi Veralynn. I love her name because it's classic, but not common. It is cute for a little girl, kind of unique and cool for an adolescent, but nice and appropriate for an old woman. Her middle name, Veralynn, would have been my girl name, but obviously we've used it now, so I am stuck!

I like Lucy, Gweneth, Grace, Alice, and Larkyn alright, but none of those feel as perfect as my daughter's names. I want something unique yet classic, that works for all stages of life.

My husband likes Quinlynn, Harlynn (Harley), Reese, April, Ember, and Marley, but those all feel way too teenager/modern for me.

I have looked through thousands of names (not being hyperbolic!), and still can't find a name that is as good as my daughter's names. If you have any suggestions or insight into a name that works, I would be eternally grateful. 


Love this one, as I’ve written about The Teacher’s Curse before, and I know it’s no joke. Before we get to the conversation at hand, though, just a micro-observation: this is one of two letters in my inbox to be answered at this time of year where the (nick?)name Bear is being considered. No greater comment here, just commenting on a coincidence that’s maybe a micro-trend…

But the topic at hand is your possible daughter, and I agree with you that your first daughter’s name, as well as your son’s, set a high bar for your third if it’s a girl. I think you’re running into an expedited version of a lot a problem for a lot of people – you don’t like any of the names you’re hearing, and because you’re in a school, you’re hearing exponentially more names than the average parent does, so it seems like there’s nothing out there. 

Let’s get granular – Walker and Heidi are both, for various reasons, kind of out-of-phase stylistically and sound-wise. That’s great, and that’s exactly the path you want to go down again, which you are with Barrett, which I love. That has offbeat style in spades, and if it were my kid I’d always want to use his full name! The key is to find this in a girls’ name… 

Your characterization of Quinlynn or Larkyn or Ember as ‘teenager/modern’ rings exactly right to me – they seem like names that young girls would dream up, writing them in notebooks in stories before they fall in love with names like Calandra and Giselle. I definitely think you’re right to steer away from these, and into the land of what I’ll call ‘Forgotten Gems’… 

I think the key here is names that don’t sound like other names out there, which means avoiding the current rhythms and syllables of popular names and their imitators, while not skipping the stylistic things you like, either. For example, maybe Gretchen is an appropriate sub for Gwyneth. Maybe you’d like something like Esther, or Liesl. Do they spark something in you? Perhaps – but if the latter seems too matchy-Nordic, or the former rhymes too much with Walker, then maybe something like Ingrid, or Daphne, or Nadine. None of them are popular right now, and you might even find that while the souvenir keychain people have caught on to Evelyn and Adeline, they’ve left out these beautiful-but-offbeat choices. A related note here - I always have an internal debate about Adele. It has so many qualities that I associate with an upswing in popularity, like similarities with Addison or its origin name, Adelaide, and yet it ends on a confident downbeat consonant sound, so it remains a unique standout.

Maybe you’d like something like Malin or Iris or Phoebe, or even something like Faustine or Regina, or Cecile or Zelda or Sybil. They’re likely to feel a little strange at first, like a high-heeled oxford when you’ve been used to sneakers. But if you try them out for awhile I think you’ll discover that what they have is a singularity that you’ve been searching for – one that’s made you reject the more ‘common’, yet still beautiful, names like Lucy and Alice and Grace. They’ve been done before, and you want something that feels uniquely yours, which means they’re going to sound unique, and not necessarily warm, at first.  

But what’s great about that is the names have to stand on their own merit, and when you’re not thinking about another kid, or student, and whether their name can fit on your child – that’s when Belen or Nessa or Tamar gets to charm you on their own merits, which is kind of the best test of all. 

Let us know!