For the Nth time…

Duana Posted by Duana at January 17, 2020 21:06:53 January 17, 2020 21:06:53

Hi Duana,
 
I have two daughters, Neve and Neko, expecting my third daughter in a few weeks. Having two girls whose names begin with 'N' was not intentional, and it seems I am landing on 'N' names again. I will feel like a Duggar or cheeseball when I call to them in the playground, but here we are.

Nell is up first. A beautiful name that means the same as Neve, four letters like the others and an 'Ne' like her sisters. Not a big fan of Nellie, though. Will I have to put a little bandaid under her eye?

Noelle is next. I think it is very beautiful, and I love Christmas. Not sure that it belongs to the same family of names as the other two. No shortforms here, though. I like that.

Naomi is another contender. Also beautiful and will likely not be shortened. My mother's middle name is Ruth and I like that their name stories are connected.

We also have: Jovie, Lise, Bryn and Liv...well, I do. My husband likes Jovie, but thinks Lise A*****g is too close to my name: Leigh A*****g. He also thinks Bryn is trashy. Liv is a nice Scandinavian name that fits nicely with her Norwegian roots, but I don't want people to mistake me for someone who is too cool to call their daughter Olivia.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Duana!


I loved this letter because the names you’ve chosen, and are considering – but I almost revamped my answer entirely to praise/chortle at your last line, “I don’t want people to mistake me for someone who is too cool to call their daughter Olivia”, both because we all know the kind of person you’re describing, and because I love that we’re now at the point in name culture where eschewing Olivia is a thing… 

But let’s take it allll the way back. I love your daughters’ names, and I want to up front say that my suggestions will fall into two categories: ‘N’ names, and faux ‘N’ names.  I’d suggest that the reason Jovie, Lise, and the others aren’t landing for you guys are because they don’t fall into either of the previous categories. 

First, I have a particular fondness for names that start with the underused letters (according to me) like B, D, F, I N, P, etc… so I’m in full support of what you’re trying to do, and some suggestions are en route. 

So – first the names you have that start with N. I’ve noticed lately a trend where I’m getting letters from people with several names that… they have no real issue with, so they’re essentially looking to run the names through an impartial assessor machine, i.e, me. So with the caveat that I generally will endorse any name that you have no problem with, here we go… 

The question about Nell and Nellie is interesting, and reminds me of our conversation about whether people would spontaneously ‘nickname’ (and lengthen) Alice, last week.  I think Nell is one of those names that seems not to need any further decoration, but I can definitely see people who would say ‘Nellie’ just because they could, and while your association goes to Nelly (and now I’m singing he & Kelly Rowland’s ‘Dilemma’, because I will always do that when the opportunity presents itself), I immediately still think of… yes, you guessed it. Nellie Oleson.  

I think there would be some people who would ‘nickname’ her this way, but not many who would use it as a go-to every time. I’d say they would be pretty easily shut down, especially since your older daughter is Neve. 

Then again… your older daughter is Neve. They’re not the same name, of course, but they’re similar in rhythm and length, Neve & Nell could be at minimum a tongue-twister/call-the-wrong-name hazard, though I’m not quite as concerned about it as I would be if you didn’t have a second daughter. 

This is where Noelle comes in, I guess – it distinguishes itself more clearly from Neve, but I agree that it seems a bit more mainstream than the other two,  mostly because it’s never been as rare as they are, and also because the use of ‘Elle’ is just so so common these days – funny that it hasn’t extended to people already choosing Nell though, isn’t it? 

Then there’s Naomi, and I love it a lot for several reasons – you’re right that it won’t be shortened, it’s quite rare but not at all unheard of, and – in my nerdiest of nerd hearts – I really love that if you chose it, your first daughter would have a one-syllable name, your second daughter would have a two syllable, and your third would have three… I know, I know. Nobody except me and everyone who reads this would notice, and it doesn’t matter, per se, but it’s neat, okay!?

Other names that come to mind that I think would work in your world include Nova, which I can’t believe is as underused as it is, and which has a different sound and feel from Neve despite sharing two letters, Nadia, which I think has maybe been on a bit of a break because it had a real uptick in the 80s, but which would feel completely fresh and novel on a baby today,  my perennial favourite Natasha, which for some reason was never shortened to ‘Nat’ the way poor Natalie always was, and, depending on your taste for names that cross cultures, Neha or maybe Naya, or Nalini. 

Now. If none of those names appeal to you, or if something makes you feel that you’re being too cute with three N names or etc, the trick is to go with the aforementioned ‘faux N’ names.  For example, Neve, Neko, and Una – the N sound is right there, even though the N isn’t at the front of the name. 

Other names that fit into this category (including several that have Scandinavian roots) include Annika, Ingrid, Geneva, Anisa, Anya – even Inez or Ina, if you love the Contessa… or you know, BeyoNcé, just to give you an idea of what we’re thinking about around here right now. 

I hope this gives you some food for thought, but you go into that category of namers with whom I want to stress, you’re on the right track. You.ve done this very well twice before. Please don’t overthink it, because your gut is good! 

(Also if you run into someone who is too cool to name her daughter Olivia, please let me know, I want to know what your face did while you were learning her name. 

Let us know!

Attached: Naomi Watts in SoHo on January 13, 2020.

Photos:
Raymond Hall/ Getty Images

Tags: Name Nerd
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