Amazing right? As Amy explained, “both names are long, french in origin, honor saints and are names of places (Adelaide, Australia and Clairvaux, France).” They did such an amazing job choosing names that share characteristics without being matchy!
Now they’re expecting their third baby girl!! I was so excited when Amy emailed me for a consultation — I love her taste and couldn’t wait to come up with some ideas for Adelaide’s and Clairvaux’s little sister!
“I’d love for this little girls’ name to follow suit [meaning: “long, French in origin, honor saints and are names of places”] …
Some other girl names we love are Gemma and Isla but I have some reservations being that they are short and not at all french sounding. I may feel more excited about them, especially Gemma if I had a long, french feeling middle name and bonus points if it’s also a place.
If we found a perfect first name that fits well with Clairvaux & Adelaide I’d be open to a more masculine middle name like Adelaide’s (more than likely “James”)
We clearly don’t mind if a name is unique and we love if they have nickname options. (We often call Clairvaux “Vauxie” but love that she can go by Claire one day if she desires a less out-there name, etc)
The only name my husband has ever liked (without my prompting) is Kyla but I can’t bring myself to agree.
Names I proposed but he has declined: Hawthorne, Genevieve, Hildegard, Xavia, Vivienne, Juniper
Names ending in x are no longer an option.”
Alright, so though Amy said she’d like this little girl’s name to follow suit, and I certainly went on a hunt for the unicorn name that would check all those boxes (and had a blast doing so!), I wondered if finding a name that exactly fit all that criteria would be too limiting for them in the future? That is, I think they can easily find several long French saint names … or long place names … or French place names … or long saint names … but “long French saint place names” is, I think, hard to keep up in the long run! So when I was researching ideas for Amy and Ryan, I tried to include a mix of all those, even if they weren’t exactly perfect.
Before I get into my ideas though, I want to address their other ideas. I love Gemma and Isla too, and I thought Isla was a great way to nod to the sounds of Kyla while still finding a name they can both agree on. I kept Amy’s idea of long French middles in mind when I was coming up with ideas — I think several of my ideas could work as middles for Gemma and Isla. I also love the idea of James (or other male name) in the middle like they did with Adelaide’s middle name—I can see that being a nice complement to the perfect first name.
I used all the names Amy mentioned that they both like (Adelaide, Clairvaux, Gemma, Isla) as inspiration in my research, as well as Kyla, Genevieve, Vivienne, and Juniper (my trusty Baby Name Wizard [which, as you all know, is my right-hand man in baby name consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity] doesn’t have an entry for Hawthorn, Hildegard, or Xavia, and I actually used Claire as a stand-in for Clairvaux, and I think the results were helpful!). Okay, so based on all that, these were my ideas for Amy and Ryan’s littlest girl:
I totally understand if you’re all tired of me suggesting Juliet(te) a lot in other consultations, I just love it! And it seemed like such a good fit here—using the “ette” ending totally makes the name obviously French and lengthens it out as well. And it’s so feminine that it can easily take a masculine middle—I love Juliette James. I thought it would also go great as a middle—Gemma Juliette sounds pretty great to me (I love alliteration). I did a spotlight on it a while ago, which offers some good faith connections too. AND on a whim I googled “place name juliette,” just in case, and discovered there’s a Juliette in Georgia!!
Juliette and Immaculée were tied for me as coming immediately to mind as I was reading Amy’s email. I love that Immaculée’s a Marian name, and a French name, and though I didn’t find it as a place name, I think it’s so tied with Immaculée Ilibagiza that Rwanda comes right to mind when I hear it. I like that Adelaide has Australia, and Clairvaux has France, so they could think of a little Immaculée as having Rwanda. Maybe? Immaculée James works really nicely, and I like it as a middle too—Gemma Immaculée and Isla Immaculée both sound fine to me. It would certainly be easier in the middle spot, especially with the accent, but if they used it as a first name, Imma is so similar to Emma that it’s quite do-able as a nickname; others that might work include the boyish Mac and Max, and maybe even Molly.
(3) Vienna or Vienne
One idea I had was to suggest Amy and Ryan pick a place name they like and use the French form of it. Vivienne on their list made me think of Vienna, which I think is one of the best examples—it’s gorgeous and very namey, and changing it to the French form Vienne is really lovely. Though it’s short, I had the thought several times while working on this that they could lengthen (and “Frenchify” even more) certain names by adding Marie and making it a hyphenated first name, as is so common. Marie-Vienna or Marie-Vienne are lovely examples. (But would Ryan still decline it, because it’s basically Vivienne with the “Vi” cut off?)
Though this isn’t a long name, it was one of my favorite ideas for Amy and Ryan. Maylis is a town in France, and though I couldn’t find a definitive source that said so, most places I consulted say it’s a combination of “Mary” and “lily,” from the French title “Marie à la fleur de lys” (Mary of the Lily). I also found three acceptable pronunciations: may-LEES, may-LIS, and MAY-lis, all of which I think are workable within America, and I’ve seen Maëlys and Mailys connected to it as possible variants. Such a pretty name!
Salette is for La Salette, which you all probably know is a Marian apparition site in France, and I think it’s such a gorgeous, delicate name. I’d never thought of it as a given name until I saw it on this family’s short list, and I loved it right away.
Since Lourdes is such an obvious one for their criteria, I assume they considered it and decided against it? But just in case, I couldn’t not include it! Lindsay’s little Lourdes is a perfect recommendation for this beautiful name (and she also has a Clairvaux!). Also, Mia Farrow’s given name is Maria de Lourdes, gorgeous!
This is a Marian name that I’ve fallen in love with. Liesse means “joy” in French, which is an amazing meaning, and refers to Our Lady of Liesse/Our Lady of Joy, AND there’s a town named after her in France! The only criteria this one is missing is length! And again, I think adding Marie can fix that easily. Marie-Liesse is beautiful!
So I had a lot of L names for them! Haha! Landry’s another that I’ve long loved—it’s an old French surname, and as a first name there are a few Sts. Landry—all male and it’s currently no. 805 for boys, probably because of former Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry (which I realize may be a deal breaker for Amy and Ryan, depending on their football loyalties)—but the BNW lists it as a girl’s name, and it’s a place name—there are towns in France, Canada, and the U.S. with the name. Because it’s mostly used for boys, I wouldn’t pair it with a male middle name, but Landry Immaculée or Marie-Landry sound lovely I think.
(9) Madeleine or Magali
So, we have basic perfection here: a long, French, saintly, place name! Madeleine is the French for Magdalene, which of course refers to the place Mary Magdalene came from (Mary of Magdala). Magali is the Occitan form (Occitan is a language spoken in southern France, as well as parts of Italy and Spain; I believe “Provençal” refers to the dialect of Occitan spoken in France). Madeleine is likely more popular than they’d prefer, especially when you add in all the other forms: Madeleine is 350, Madeline is 91, Madelyn is 62, and there are other spellings as well (Madalynn etc.). But having a more common first name makes an unusual middle name more possible; Madeleine James is beautiful. Magali’s certainly more uncommon—it’s not in the top 1000. I met a Magali once and loved her name. However, I hope I’m overthinking this, but I keep feeling like both Madeleine and Magali are too similar in rhythm to Adelaide—do you all agree? I do love Isla Madeleine though …
Those were all my official suggestions, but I also wanted to list several place names of French origin that might have appealed to Amy and Ryan for first names or middle names: Lorraine, Laramie, Marietta, and Normandy.
Also, along with the idea of adding Marie, I also thought they could Frenchify some non-French place names in the same way, like Marie-Avila or Marie-Siena. And though this gets away from the place name idea, they could incorporate their affinity for boy names in this way as well, like Marie-James and Marie-Becket — so feminine and unexpected!
Finally, I was struck by the fact that there was a name that was listed as similar to both Gemma and Isla: Zara! I had to list it here, just because of that.
And those were all my ideas for Amy and Ryan! I’d love to know what other names you all would have recommend for this family, but only in order to help other families who might have similar sensibilities because … in the time between when I did this consultation and today, Amy and Ryan have chosen their girl’s name!! Go check it out on their Instagram announcement — I looooove it!!