This is the first of my advice column posts. I’d like to make this a regular weekly feature on the site, so if you have a name question or need name suggestions that meet certain criteria, please feel free to email me at the address found in the sidebar.
Danielle Hurlock writes:
Here is my dilemma: My husband and I are expecting our first baby in September. We aren’t finding out what it is. But, since the time I found out I was pregnant, I also found out that I had kidney cancer. So, exactly one month ago I had surgery to remove my kidney. Now, I am completely cancer free, and the baby is healthy. We feel that if I was not pregnant, we wouldn’t have found this so quickly, and who knows what the outcome may have been. This baby is our gift in more than one way. We are completely set on a boy name which is Cooper James Matthew. (Cooper is my mother’s maiden name, James is my husband’s middle name, and Matthew “gift of God”,). We weren’t going to do the “2 middle name game” but, decided to after the surgery. Now, we can’t find a girl name that we like. Here is where I thought you may be able to help us. These are the names that we like but aren’t set on…Caroline, Josephine, Lillian, Sophia, Cecilia, and Charlotte. I know that you may have other suggestions based upon those names. We also want a family name as one middle name, those include: Sue, Lynn, Jane, or Jean. Then we want a middle name that has meaning. (love, strength, gift of God, etc.)
First of all, Danielle, congratulations! I like the name you’ve chosen for your son, and I love the fact that each part of his name has special meaning to you. Great job!
I love the girls’ names you’re looking at as well. One thing to consider, if popularity matters to you at all, is that Sophia and Lillian are pretty common right now. They’re lovely names, but I tend to feel if you have names on your list you like just as well, it’s best to go with the ones that everyone else isn’t using. Other names that might appeal based on the ones already on your list are Eleanor, Lucia, Eliza, Clara, Adeline, Amelia, Lydia, and Louisa. Another factor to consider, if it helps you narrow down your list, is this: If you have a daughter this time, are you still planning to use Cooper should you ever have a son? If so, do you like or dislike the idea of having two names with the hard C sound (e.g., Caroline and Cooper, Clara and Cooper), or does it not matter to you at all?
As far as middles go, I know you’ve said you don’t want to adapt the family names at all. Jane, Jean, and Lynn stand well on their own. I may have a hard time working with Sue, since name combinations with two middles tend to feel rather formal and Sue feels so informal, but I’ll do my best. Jane and Jean actually mean “God is gracious,” so they seem particularly fitting for this baby.
Here are some other ideas for meaningful middles:
- Dorothea/Dorothy/Theodora: all mean “gift of God”‘; I think Dorothea is particularly lovely, but Dorothy feels ready for a comeback, too.
- Mattea/Mateja (ma-TAY-uh): means “gift of God”; Italian and Slovene feminine forms of Matthew
- Charis (KAR-iss or KAIR-iss)/Charissa (kuh-RISS-uh): mean “grace”
- Anne/Anna/Hannah (or any name containing Anne): mean “grace or favor”
- Amabel: means “lovable”
- Carys (KA-riss or KAIR-iss): means “love”
- Kerensa (keh-REN-zuh): means “love”
- Valentina: means “strong, vigorous, healthy”
When making a three-name combination, it’s good to vary the rhythm of each name as much as you can. Here are some of my favorite ideas. Keep in mind that since Jane, Jean, Lynn, and Sue are all one syllable, they’re mostly interchangeable here:
- Charlotte Dorothea Jane Hurlock (my favorite — I actually love any of your first name choices combined with Dorothea Jane)
- Charlotte Kerensa Lynn Hurlock
- Cecilia Dorothy Sue Hurlock (or Cecilia Dorothy Susan?)
- Cecilia Anna Lynn Hurlock
- Josephine Mattea Jane Hurlock
- Josephine Charis Lynn Hurlock
- Caroline Amabel Jean Hurlock
- Caroline Valentina Jane Hurlock
Readers: Which first name do you like best for Danielle’s baby? Please vote in the poll , and feel free to suggest other similar first names, meaningful middle names, or name combinations below.