Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our first baby (a girl!) in a couple short weeks, and as the date gets closer, the naming decision feels a lot more daunting. I’ve had a running list of names in my cellphone for the last five years (at least), even though we weren’t quite there yet. Again – big name nerd fan - and I'd love your help and input!

I have an uncommon, but not unheard of, old fashioned name that periodically seems like it’s going to make a comeback but never quite has. My husband has a pretty common but classic name. He is the loveliest most easy going man, and so far has been very agreeable in the naming discussions. We want to find a name for our baby girl that is unique, but not unrecognizable and definitely not ‘made up’. Overall I love a name that will give a child options – artist/judge etc.

Our top names on the shortlist right now are Marigold or Margot (in that order). I love these names, although I’m not totally sold on the nickname potential…does that matter? Also, are either of these names on their way to being super popular and I just don’t know it? Oddly enough, I have an old friend who just named her daughter Marigold...

Other names that were on the list for consideration have been Mirah, Miriam, Esme, Leona. For names we don’t agree on, I love Blythe, Gloria, Ramona, and Sloane, my husband loves Sadie and Mary Jane.

For middle names, the tradition in my immediate family, which I've always really liked, is to have two middle names that are in tribute/honor of a family member. So far we have Jane as a first middle name (which we have also considered as a first name), but are looking for a second two syllable middle name. Since our last name is one syllable, I think a double syllable second middle name gives a nicer flow. So far we have Margaret (seems a bit overkill with Marigold and definitely with Margot), Charlotte, Evelyn, Elizabeth, Alice all after various loved ones. Otherwise we have also thought about having the second middle name as a wild card. Odessa because it’s fun? Sadie because my husband loves it so much?

We are so close now, and any certainty I had a couple months ago is gone now! I’d love to hear your thoughts, and any other name recommendations you might have! 


I love first-time namers. The world is so open, and they can choose anything, and nothing is in their way. This letter is a great example of that, and there’s no ‘but’ coming – I just wanted to point that out.

However (okay, so there is a but), I think it’s time we had a little talk about nicknames. I was about to say that second-time, third-time and-beyond parents don’t usually ask about this, because they know that nicknames just tend to happen – but I’m not sure that’s entirely true – and I think we need to check out what we think that means.

It comes down to what nicknames are for. As far as I can tell, there are two distinct, but related, types of nicknames. There are the ones that are meant to denote affection, either by shortening the name or using only the first syllable, or that have nothing to do with the name at all – silly, syllable-based affectionate baby names. “Shushee”, “Gogo”, BOOMER, Michael Phelps.

Then there are the nicknames that are meant to work as names on their own, with the sentiment that a full name is too formal for everyday use. Matt for Matthew, Bea for Beatrice, Lainey for Elaine. I understand how much people value these names, while not always understanding what they’re for. That is, if you’re introducing yourself as Matt all the time, how does that make ‘Matthew’ anything other than a name to use when you’re in court or otherwise in trouble?

In short, I don’t worry about the nickname potential of Margot or Marigold, even though they suggest many to me. Technically Margot is itself a short form (if not nickname) for Margaret, and with Marigold, the possibilities are endless! Merry, Goldie, even Ria if you want to be different. As for popularity, Margot is getting talked about a lot but I haven’t heard of it being used much yet… though I think the tipping point is coming. Marigold – nope, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be coincidences like the one you just ran into…

Other names along these lines seem to be Gloria or Hazel or Renata, or one of my favourites, Daphne. I would even recommend Cleo, but I’m at war with myself over whether you could use Cleo Jane Odessa – because I LOVE Odessa. So very much.

If it matters, the popularity factor IS coming up with the second-middle names. That is Evelyn, Elizabeth, Alice, Margaret (to a lesser extent), and especially Sadie and Charlotte are coming up more often, mainly because, like you, they exist in people’s backgrounds.

But your double-middle situation makes this name lovely and balanced no matter what. You can go with Jane Charlotte in the middle if you like, secure in the knowledge that should Goldie feel like even the formal ‘Marigold’ is too out there, that she can use her two middle names. You could also use the second middle to acquiesce to one another if you want, as per Sadie or Ramona or similar – or to let it be a source of last-minute inspiration.

But there are so many names here, none of them triggering the ‘tired’ meter, that I think you’re only spoiled for choice. As the next few days get a little bit nuts, your guiding principle should only be ‘what do we love?’ Ignore everything else, and go with the name that makes you feel happy to say it every time. And let us know!