Baby name consultant: Classic + modern for little green bean

Amanda and her husband are expecting their third baby any day now — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 She writes,

The whole baby name discussion is a difficult one to have with my husband because we had a girls name we both loved and were sure we were going to use it…since before we were married.  But when our oldest, a girl, was born, it just didn’t work for us.  And, it’s now not even on our list…I don’t think we’d ever use it.  [The name we originally loved but most likely will never use: Annika.] So, he thinks it’s useless to talk names before a baby is born.  I think we should at least discuss it and have it narrowed down to a few names per gender to make naming easier at birth.  But we really struggle on agreeing on boys names, and I think suggestions for girls and boys names would be great!

This wee babe will join big sibs:

Olivia Rita (“We had a list of 10 girls and 10 boys names, but were really planning on using Annika for a girl, and our list of boys names were not really either of our favourites.  We had both gone through our baby name book, and chosend our favourites, and then kept the ones on both our lists…which weren’t really either favourites.  When she was born, we looked at her and said, “Not Annika…” After sleeping on it, I was thinking Olivia.  He then spoke and said, “How about Olivia?”  That was it.  It was on our list … Rita was my husband’s maternal grandmother’s name.“)

Zachary Claude (Zach) (“We kind of had the same lists going as the first time, never really spoke about names, but both agreed early on that we liked Zachary.  And it stuck.  But we call him Zach more than anything … Claude was my paternal grandfather’s name“)

Great names, right? Classic and modern at the same time, love them!

They have a few guidelines they’d prefer to stick to:

  • nothing TOO crazy/modern
  • we like traditional
  • something that is relative to the faith/Biblical/Saint name (though last night, after I mentioned Jonah, Isaac, Benjamin, he said, “Nothing too biblical”)
  • middle names are after grandparents/great grandparents
  • traditional spelling
  • can be pronounced in French (My family is French, and my mother in law is also)


“… we think this baby’s middle name should come from my husband’s side. We’re considering Margaret for a girl’s middle name (though I kind of want to keep it for a future first name). That was his paternal grandmother’s name. His mom’s name is Laurel. His Dad’s name is Rob, and his paternal grandfather’s name was Howard.

Girl’s name we’re considering: Elizabeth Margaret (I love it, but kind of feel it’s a big name for a baby…lots of weight to the name)
Other Girls names we like:
– Charlotte (though with the Princess Charlotte, I’m not sure I want to name my baby that)
– Lucy (I love this name, but my husband thinks it’s too popular…)
– Dominique (My husband doesn’t like Dominic for a boy…but I do)
Also, we both like Luke/Lucas for a boy, but with our last name [beginning with Lu-], I won’t name our son that…I don’t want a boy nicknamed ‘Little LuLu.’  Plus, my sister in law just named her son Lucas … Also, we were talking about maybe Patrick Howard for a boy. My husband likes Ethan, and I really don’t.

So first off, I was so interested by their Annika story! How funny that a name that was so sure completely dropped off their list! I love the name they used instead—Olivia is lovely, and Rita’s an unexpected middle name, perfect. How awesome too that Amanda was thinking Olivia before her husband even suggested it! Wow! And Zachary/Zach is great too!

Regarding names they’re considering for this baby, I’m going to make a strong case for them to either consider Margaret for a first name now, or save it for possible future use. It’s a controversial topic—I wrote about it here — so if they decide to use it now anyway I totally understand! But it really seems like they love it, and I can see what they mean about Elizabeth Margaret having a lot of weight—Elizabeth and Margaret are both heavy hitters! (Although my brand new niece has a similar name, and it’s so lovely on her.) I love both Elizabeth and Margaret, I think they both make fantastic first names. If they decided to continue with honoring Amanda’s husband’s paternal grandmother in the middle spot, maybe a shorter version of Margaret, like Margo? Elizabeth Margo feels a little less weighty. Or Elizabeth Greta? Or Elizabeth Megan? The only potential problem with these ideas is that I would think they still knock out Margaret as a future first name. But maybe not? I do know of some families who don’t mind reusing middle names as first names for subsequent children.

Charlotte is a fantastic name, and having the same name as the beautiful little princess doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me at all! Charlotte is quite popular currently (and it was so before the princess was born)—it came in at #9 in the newly released name stats for 2015—but let’s talk about popularity for a minute because they have an Olivia, which has been in the top ten since 2001 and was #2 for the last two years, and they love #9 Charlotte, and they’re strongly considering Elizabeth (#13), but Mister thinks Lucy is too popular? It’s currently at #55—much less popular than their other ideas for girls! Maybe they live in a Lucy pocket? I don’t think popularity is a bad thing anyway—it’s often because a name is a really fantastic name that it becomes popular. So I wouldn’t let the popularity of Charlotte or Elizabeth or Lucy deter them! (For reference, Annika’s #572, pretty rare, and Dominique’s #906! I love Dominique—I’m surprised that Amanda’s hubs is really okay with it!)

As for boys, Dominic’s one of my favorite names, so I’m sorry Mister isn’t into it—it’s actually a fairly good fit for their style, especially Olivia. Ethan made me laugh—it’s an exact match for their style! You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity—Ethan is listed as a match for both Olivia, Zachary, and Luke! But if they don’t like it, then they don’t like it, I get it. I also quite like Patrick Howard, very handsome!

Okay, so based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard and my own mental files, these are my ideas for this family:


(1) Sophia

Sophia’s a style match for both Olivia and Dominic, and Sofia is a match for Annika, so I really liked that it’s a name that sort of bridges all their styles! It is very popular—right behind Olivia at #3—but it’s a gorgeous name and full of faith meaning (Sophia means “wisdom,” and is the name of a saint). They might also like to consider the French version Sophie, which is much less popular at #104.

(2) Abigail or Hannah

Both Abigail and Hannah were pretty equal matches with Olivia, Zachary, Elizabeth, and Luke, so I thought I’d put them in the same suggestion here. They’re both Old Testament names, but they’re so well used that I think their biblical-ness is not as obvious (not like Isaac, for example). Abigail’s #7 and Hannah’s #28, so they’re right in the zone of names Amanda and her hubs tend to like. I like them both for them! The nickname Abby’s awesome, and Hannah is so soft and sweet. Hannah Laurel is striking me as a really pretty combo with a nice flow.

(3) Emily/Emilie

Emily is a style match for Patrick and Ethan, which I thought was pretty good as far as being a style bridge. It also reminds me of Elizabeth with its E and L, and I thought Emily Margaret has a lighter feel than Elizabeth Margaret. It also reminds me of the French Amelie, which made me wonder if they’d like the spelling Emilie? So pretty! Today’s the feast of St. Emilie de Rodat.

(4) Madeline/Madeleine

Madeline was another name that was a match for both Olivia and Dominic, and I like that it has the French influence—there are the Madeline books, which are set in Paris, and the French spelling Madeleine is the same as St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (known as St. Sophie). (The teething toy Sophie the Giraffe is named after her!)

(5) Chloe

Chloe is another of those biblical names that doesn’t hit you in the face with its biblicalness (St. Paul spent time in Chloe’s home as reported in 1 Corinthians), and it’s a style match for Zachary, Olivia, and Ethan. I think it’s such a fun and spunky name, and pairs well with longer middle names like Margaret.


(1) Timothy

Timothy is my favorite idea for this family! It’s biblical, and not only a style match for Zachary and Ethan, but also for Patrick! Timmy’s adorable for a little guy and Tim’s solid and handsome for a man, but I’ve also been digging the nickname Ty for Timothy lately, so cool!

(2) Nicholas

Nicholas is very much in keeping with the style of Olivia, Zachary, Elizabeth, Patrick, and Ethan—a great fit! It’s got great nickname options too, from Nick and Nicky to Cole.

(3) Alexander

Nicholas and Alexander basically have the same style profile—Alexander’s another great match for Amanda and her hubs. Alex is a great, traditional nickname, and I’m hearing Xander every now and then as well, which I quite like.

(4) Noah

Noah’s been the #1 name for the last three years, which isn’t surprising, since it’s such a great name. It’s a style match for Olivia, Zachary, and Ethan, and is equal parts serious Old Testament patriarch and modern cute boy.

(5) Owen

Owen’s a little bit of a departure from the basically biblical style I feel like they prefer for boys, but it’s closer to their idea of Patrick and was actually listed as a style match for Olivia, Charlotte, and Ethan! I love the name Owen.

And those are all my idea for the little brother or sister for Olivia and Zach! What do you all think! What name(s) would you suggest?

I’m not currently accepting any new consultation requests, but past consultations and birth announcements may give you just the inspiration you need! 


18 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Classic + modern for little green bean

  1. LOVE this subset and love all your suggestions Kate!

    The first name that came to mind for me was Caroline. Caroline is one of my absolute favorite names and it just feels like it would fit for them. Olivia, Zachary and Caroline 🙂 Also, like Charlotte, Caroline is a femeninization of Charles, but it’s a lot less popular! Caroline Margaret would be gorgeous! Also, Caroline works perfectly in French (seeing as it is a French name, lol).

    It’s very popular, but I just feel like the name Emma would work for them. I kind of weirdly like the idea of Emma Howard, even though it sounds like a first/last combo.

    Stella and Nora came to mind as well for them. I love the idea of Stella Margaret or Nora Margaret!

    Boys were tougher for me to think of names for them.

    Maybe Henry? Olivia, Zachary and Henry sounds quite nice to me. Or maybe Jack? Both of those are kind of popular, but maybe they don’t know many?

    Also thought of Miles for them. Miles Robert would be really nice!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love your suggestions, Kate! I don’t have any ideas for boys, but Felicity popped out in my mind as a possible contender. Though that may be because I have a personal obsession with the name, and think everyone should use it 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sophie was the first thing to come to mind, and I see Kate thought so too. Also, Gabrielle. Instead of Elizabeth, what about Eliza or Elise? They both go well with Margaret but are a tad less weighty. As for boys, I feel like Zach is one of those names that could fit in so many different types of groups. I do like Patrick a lot. What about John, called Jack? Isaac, called Ike is also cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the idea of shortening margaret into margot or margo. I would also suggest Amelia as an alternative to Elizabeth, altho Emily would be pretty great too. Julia, Juliet, Ruby, Sadie and Violet also came to mind.

    For a boy I would suggest Asher, Caleb, Samuel, Nathan (not too biblical, right? :))

    From their list I like Charlotte and Patrick

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dominique and Annika both have a “ni” sound in them. I wonder if she’d like Antonia. Olivia, Zachary, and Antonia sound great together. I really like Antonia Laurel.

    Penelope seems like a natural match for them. I love all of the nickname possibilities, especially Penny and Poppy. Penelope Margo is my favorite with Olivia Rita.

    Seth for a third born is so biblically appropriate, but the name doesn’t scream BIBLE name to me. Seth Howard is a nice combo.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Lucy, Margaret, Sophia, Hannah and Madeline. All great options for this family! I agree that Elise is a good way to avoid Elizabeth Margaret. Another name I like to see next to Olivia is Rebecca.

    And for a boy, I think Benjamin (Ben) would be a perfect match to Zachary (Zach).

    Liked by 1 person

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