Hi Duana,

I’m so happy to be writing to you! It’s taken us awhile to get here and I’ve been reading your column and book for a while, hoping to write someday with a name question of our own.

We are due this fall, and we found out recently that it’s a girl!! Pretty soon after finding out we were pregnant, the name Juliette was in my head and hasn’t left. Luckily, my husband really likes it, too. When we compared lists, his top choice turned out to be Giuliana, which I also really like. So we are definitely on the same page for the first name.

However, both of our last names are multiple-syllable Italian names with quite a few vowel sounds, and we are having problems making a full name flow. Baby will likely have my husband’s last name. I’d love to make my last name the middle name, but just don’t think it’s the way to go due to the length and vowels.

So we are discussing other middle names and not finding any great solutions. My husband likes Rose, which is fine, I guess. I love Pearl, but my husband doesn’t. Other middle names that haven’t been completely vetoed are: Geneva, Adele, Teresa, Wren, Violet (with Giuliana only), and Hazel. Still, I feel like we may be missing something. A single-syllable name might work best, but only Rose and Wren are current contenders. Or maybe Giuliana has the better overall flow? I know full names aren’t often spoken in entirety, but are there certain sounds that should be avoided due to the last name’s excessive vowel sounds?

One more question: what do you think of the nickname “Lettie” for Juliette? I’m not as fond of other possible nicknames, and think Lettie is really cute. Is it too much of a stretch?

Thank you so much! We are just so excited!


I know the quote I pulled for the title is about a middle name, not a first, but I highlighted it because I think it’s going to feel familiar to everyone who’s ever given – or has – a middle name. I know that I have said nobody ever knows your kid’s full name except you and the receptionist at the doctor’s office. Which is true.

But it doesn’t mean it has to be a shrug and an “… I guess”. Often long names mean you want something tidy or crisp, but there’s a reason Lynn, Marie, and now Rose are stereotypical middles. Sure, they ‘go with everything’, but they’re generic to the point of being almost exhausting.

So what do you do when you feel like nothing fits? First of all, stop looking for ‘neutral’. That is, my first thought was ‘Thea’ even though that’s not so goes-with-anything. What about Cleo? Juliette Cleo has a rhythm, as does Giuliana. I think your instincts with Adele were quite right, and a name you might not have thought of that serves the same purpose is Giselle. Juliette Gisele, Giuliana Giselle. Sure, they start with the same letter or sound, but it works, right? Where middle names are concerned it’s more important to have different sounds at the end than different sounds at the beginning – so names like Iris or Jane or Bronte or Daisy or Agnes all work well; names that work with Juliette, but not Giuliana, are Vera, Willa, Jocelyn or Dinah, whereas Giuliana can take Yvette, Ingrid, Lucy or Kate. Laurel or Alice or Heidi or Gwen?

I love how many options you have and of course you can use Lettie with Juliette! No, it’s not too far a jump. One of these days I’m going to rant about nickname tyranny and why I think it has gone too far. Too far!