Hi Duana,

We're expecting our first child, a girl, in mid-August. My husband and I are on a bit of a stalemate with names - he has one he loves (Elodie) and I have one I love (Imogen, which oddly enough has cropped up a few times in your column recently). We both actually really like the other's choice of name, and were planning on waiting to meet her to see what name suited her most. 


My husband is really into nicknames and this is where I'm a bit torn. Imogen would be "Immy" and Elodie would be "Ellie," both of which we really like. The issue for me is this; Ellie was the name of my family's beloved first dog. She died just under 10 years ago. I'm not worried about immediate family, who would actually love the association, but rather my extended family who are a snarky bunch and would comment on it almost immediately, I'm sure. Am I overthinking this? I just don't want my daughter to be compared to a golden retriever!

Her middle name will be Oonagh after her granny, and she'll have a double-barrel surname starting and ending with hard Ks (5 syllables with a "Mc" thrown in the middle for good measure, the poor child!). Socially, she'll go by her dad's surname. 

Other names we considered but discounted are Lydia, Ingrid and Saoirse. It would take an impressive name to divert us from Elodie or Imogen at this point.

Thanks so much in advance for your insight!


I mean… look, I like you. And your husband. I like your name choices and everything, so I really want to be on your team here, especially because you basically have this wired. Buuuuut…


I have a problem with your premise. As follows: 

You chose an amazing name. More than one, actually – I love Elodie and Imogen, as well as your also-rans, Lydia and Saoirse in particular. I even love Oonagh (I’m Irish, it’s a rule) though I’m very interested in how many people lately are choosing the longer/phonetic spelling as opposed to ‘Una’. Don’t get fussed, I don’t mean ‘a lot’ of people are choosing it, I just mean of the people who are mentioning it to me, which is non-zero in the past year or so, the O-spelling is the one I receive. 

Okay, we’ve soft-pedaled enough, I think – right? Are you ready for the truth? 

Your concern about your daughter’s name being compared to a dog is not a factor because… there’s no way you’re going to nickname Elodie ‘Ellie’, is there?!? Say it isn’t so! 

Obligatory disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with the name Ellie. It’s a great name! Long history, great associations, no problems here. But it’s a *name*. In and of itself, which you know, because your dog was named Ellie. Why would you lessen the impact of the gorgeousness of Elodie by calling her Ellie? Please don’t do that to that beautiful name! 


Let me elaborate. I get that I’m on the opposite side of a lot of nickname lovers, and that I can’t expect everyone to agree with me, which is fine! I’m not anti-nickname because I’m some sort of cold unfeeling monster – it’s more the twin feelings of 1. Loving names in their infinite forms and 2. Thinking nicknames should kind of appear/develop/not be predetermined – though it’s worth pointing out that in a lot of my personal relationships, the nicknames are longer than the actual names. So sue me. 

But I also understand the idea of an affectionate, schmoopy nickname that nobody outside your house uses. Like I said, I’m not a monster. This is where you may be surprised, because while I don’t necessarily think I’d choose ‘Immy’, I get it, it’s clearly a nickname for Imogen (though fair warning that it might be misheard and repeated as ‘Emmy’), so I have no sort of existential issue with that one; but Ellie is a whole other name, and I worry that people will never use the beautiful, glorious Elodie because they… think her name is Ellie. You get where I’m going here? 

Maybe you’ll tell me she’ll never be Ellie outside the house, which is fine – until she tells someone that’s her name, you know? Maybe she won’t and it’s no issue, but just saying… and that’s before we get to your family members and their issues. 

As I’ve said, I love Elodie as it is and I think it should sing in the light, but if you want some other options, what about Elo? Or Lolo? Lodie? Doe? To me, those have the same, affectionate sing-songy qualities as you’ve listed above, but they all include the O sound which makes Elodie so special, and they’re all clearly short/affectionate nicknames that can’t be mistaken for a full moniker of their own. 

And also, they keep your snarky extended family away from a zone you’d rather they wouldn’t be in, which… isn’t that what we’re all looking for, all of the time? 

Curse my name or praise it, whatever you like, but please let us know!