Hi Duana,

When I was pregnant with my first, my husband and I had a huge list of girls’ names, and absolutely no boys’ names. We found out at 20 weeks that baby was a boy, and he still went nameless for over 12 hours after birth because we struggled so much with names. We finally settled on Henry (never Hank), which although popular, isn’t huge in our city or extended friend groups. We love it, and it’s a perfect fit for the serious little guy he is. 
Now I’m pregnant with number 2, a girl. Due in early January, and suddenly naming a girl doesn’t seem so easy - help!
All of the names we like seem good in theory, but I just can’t picture them as our daughter’s name. 
Our last name is very Greek, 4 syllables, starts with a “D”, and is NEVER pronounced correctly, even by friends and family. For that reason, we want something 2-3 syllables, and easy to pronounce. For reference, one of our favourite names is Georgia, but with my husband’s first name being George, it’s just not an option. We might use it as a middle name, but only if it works with the first name we choose. Is there something we’ve overlooked that has a similar feeling?

Other possibilities include;
Ramona (Romy or Mona as a nickname?), but can I really name my child after the famous Ramona Quimby?
Clara - was a front runner if baby #1 had been a girl, now I’m not sure. 
Louisa - but I HATE the nickname Lou, is that a dealbreaker?
Margot - a strong like, but I don’t know if I love it. Feels like we’re settling. 

My husband has brought forth Virginia, which I’m not crazy about, and Harriet, which seems too close to Henry. 
Names I’ve suggested that he doesn’t love include Mia, Greta, Norah, Eliza, Astrid and Edith. Our two-year old son has suggested Jenna, Miami, and Donna the Boss! Good for a laugh, but not at all helpful.  

Please help steer us in the right direction!

*Note - I sat on this letter for a week and now cringe at all of our options. Why is this so hard?!


I mean, your two year old’s name suggestions are absolutely amusing – I love that ‘Miami’ and ‘Donna the boss’ occupy the same point of eligibility for him. But I also love the humour inherent in the idea that your last name is so unpronounceable even family gets it wrong.  And yes, I know it’s probably the parts of the family who don’t share the name, but let me have my fun, okay? 

What you’re looking for is, prescriptively, something fairly short or energetic – either easy to say or otherwise familiar, with a fair bit of style and spunk. After all, that’s why people like Georgia. Yes, it’s a feminine version of George but it’s also got it’s own energy, not least because (like Virginia the other day) of the geographic locations that bear the name. In your case, I understand why it’s not suitable, but I also understand why it’s attractive to so many other people. 

But your list has a ton of those names, so let’s get at them and then see whether there are any other names you’re missing.  But of course it’s hard, because it’s a dumb custom (that we practice worldwide, lol): “Here’s alllll the possible labels in the world, now you have to choose just ONE. But not the wrong one!” Lord. It’s actually amazing there aren’t more naming freakouts, now that I think about it. But let’s get to business.

Ramona is a great name and I’ve been thrilled to hear it bubbling up more often. It has vintage qualities but also energy, and yes, you can shorten it in a number of ways as is your pleasure. It’s always been one I loved, and as far as I can see, your only misgiving is “Can I really name my child after the famous Ramona Quimby?” 

I’m not sure if you mean ‘because everyone will associate my Ramona with Quimby’ or if you mean ‘because she was the kind of child who cracked a raw egg on her head’. Either way, my answer is ‘yes’.  I’m heartbroken to inform you that sometimes when Ramona Quimby comes up people think Judy Blume wrote the books, or that Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume were indeed the same person. You can rest assured I’ve had several browsing-Twitter meltdowns about it. But I bring this up because I think fewer people know about Ramona Q than you’d think – and that’s true whether your hesitation over the name is positive or negative. 

I also always think of the similar-but-different R names of a similar vintage – Renata and Rowena are both as charming but as rare, if the sounds appeal to you but there’s something about Ramona you can’t get to. 

Clara is another of my favourites, but I wonder why you’ve gone off it, other than thinking it’s been on the table for a long time. If it’s just feeling ‘old’, I can understand that, though I do think it’s a bit of a stand-alone name. Would Lara or Clarice or Yara or Tara feel a bit more suitable? I bet not, because I think you like the classical style of the name as much as the sounds, but if you find yourself attracted to them more, then I’d say it’s just a factor of having mused on it for so long. Or maybe Clara and Henry feel almost too much like they’re of a similar brand? Clarissa is a way around this that might make it feel fresh again – yes, a bit out of sync with the current style of names, but definitely distinctive, if, you know, frilly. 

Of course you don’t have to use ‘Lou’ for Louisa, you can use Lulu or Lucy or not have a nickname at all (after all, you said Henry is ‘never Hank’). People will follow your lead, and if you always call her Louisa, and she responds as such, then the first person to call her Lou will probably get a furrowed eyebrow before she says “Actually my name is Louisa”.  Caveat emptor though – you can’t control whether she in fact does love Lou, so if you can’t bear the thought ever, then I’d say yes, you need to strike that one from the list. 

As for Margot, I don’t think it’s settling at all, but you might be subconsciously feeling as though it’s similar to Henry – STRONG first syllable, ends in a vowel – in a much more distinct way, to my mind anyway, than Harriet is – unless of course you’re imagining they might be Henry and Harry, or Henry and Hattie.  

The other names I could suggest to you are all in a fairly predictable continuum, which isn’t to say they’re not great. You might love Imogen or Phoebe or Ingrid or Juno. I kind of like Henry and Phoebe quite a bit as a sibling pair, actually, but I think you have to kind of ‘get right’ with what’s wrong with the existing choices (particularly Ramona) in order to feel good about selecting any of the others, especially because I think you like a few of them quite a lot. 

Let us know what you choose (and whether your two year old has any opinions about it)!