Baby name consultation: Some initials-specific rules (hopes) for baby no. 2!

Happy last day of January! I always feel more hopeful when January is over — February brings with it the promise of spring, after all!

I start work again today after the Christmas break, so things will quiet down a bit around here. That said, I do have some posts already scheduled for later this week, and I hope (hope hope hope) that I can keep adding content each week — I’ll have consultations from Theresa to post as she has them (email her if you’d like one at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com!); hopefully more birth announcements; and I’m going to try to be better about doing meatier/nitty gritty posts too. We’ll see! My intentions are good, and hope springs eternal! I’ve so enjoyed my more frequent posting over January (maybe January isn’t so bad after all!), and reading all your comments, and doing some consultations. I will never not be so so grateful for this beautiful ministry and community!

Here is the fourth of the five consultations I opened up for January — I hope it makes your Monday a little brighter!

K and her husband are expecting their second baby and second girl! This little lady joins big sister:

Eleanor Lynn called Nora (Hubby “loved the name Nora but I prefer a more formal option which is how we eventually settled on Eleanor“)

I absolutely love their daughter’s name! Eleanor Lynn nn Nora is so lovely, and I love that Eleanor nn Nora was a way of marrying K’s husband’s preference with her own. Perfect!

K writes,

I may be a bit quirky with my name preferences … and that’s exactly where I think you’ll be so helpful! I don’t want to repeat any initials so J, K, E, and N are out as well as H as I don’t want to be alliterative with our last name. We’d like something that has formal options and a modern nickname for daily use. A true wish list is a name that, like Eleanor, starts with one initial but whose nickname has another. That feels kind of like a unicorn, so not a must. An obvious and common reference/tie to a saint is also preferred.” 

Family names that they would be open to using include:

  • Martha (husband “is not sold, but I would love to use this name somehow. It was my grandmother’s name and is my aunt’s name … I think I could convince him if it was in the middle, or masked a bit … like Emmy for Martha Elizabeth“)
  • Elizabeth
  • Katherine 
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony (for K’s father)

Names they can’t use include:

  • Madelyn/Maddy
  • Chloe
  • Ruby
  • Wren
  • Mary

And names that they like but can’t commit to include:

  • Gwendolyn (“I like nn Winnie, he’s not sold … Gwendolyn Martha is also the only name I’ve found where Martha fits in the middle“)
  • Margaret
  • Lydia (“doesn’t feel like it strikes the right balance of formal and nickname“)
  • Audrey (“same as Lydia“)
  • Claire (“same as Lydia“) 
  • Claudia (Hubby likes, “but it doesn’t fit with Nora in my mind and I can’t think of a good nickname“)
  • I like Teresa (Tess), Matilda (Tilly) and Vivian (Vivi) but haven’t been able to convince him on any

I’m just dying over K’s hope for a given name with a nickname that starts with a different initial. How fun! Such a great challenge and goal! I will say, though, that since she doesn’t want to repeat initials, having given names and nicknames with different initials will deplete the pool of acceptable initials pretty quickly — just something to keep in mind going forward. I do have to say — I would be completely blown away by a sibset that had all given first names with different-initial first names! That would be amazing! I would love to help K and her husband come up with names like that for all of their future children! But like she said, that would be a total unicorn, and probably not very realistic given that she and her hubby have different tastes in names. (Which is fine! And good! Not a problem at all!)

So first, I’ll offer my thoughts on the names K mentioned liking, in case they’re helpful:

  • Martha: I love this challenge as well — trying to find a way to work in Martha. It would be so great if K could find a way to use it that her husband is okay with! Her idea of Emmy for Martha Elizabeth is ah-MAZ-ing!! It seems to check all K’s boxes — this is definitely one of my favorite ideas for this family!
  • Elizabeth, Katherine: Both Elizabeth and Katherine are great names; I also thought K might like to consider Beth and Kate as middle names — they might flow better with certain first names than the longer Elizabeth/Katherine. I wanted to suggest Elizabeth as a first name, since it has a bazillion nickname options, most of which don’t start with the letter E, but not only does Elizabeth repeat Eleanor’s initial, it also repeats the first two letters of Eleanor — that does seem a little much. It’s fantastic as a middle name though (see Martha Elizabeth above!).
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony: This is such a nice idea! Tamsin is my favorite feminized Thomas name — it’s a contracted form of Thomasina, and I actually love Tamsin with Eleanor, as Tamsin is a traditional Cornish name, which makes an Eleanor-and-Tamsin pair of sisters feel like characters in an English storybook. How fun! If they like the idea of Tamsin, Tammy’s an obvious nickname, though that doesn’t feel like their style … They could maybe do a mashup nickname, like Tamsin Elizabeth nn Tally? Tamsin Kate nn Tate? Tamsin Katherine nn Tarin? Or put Tamsin in the middle, like Martha Tamsin nn Missy? Or maybe they’d like the full Thomasina? Thomasina Kate or Thomasina Beth nn Tamsin, or nn Tommy/Tommie? Missy could work as a nickname for Thomasina too (I love Missy, I think it’s so sweet). I’ve also seen Sina as a nickname for Thomasina. As for Anthony, Antonia is actually a style match for Claudia on K’s husband’s list! It would be a really striking and unexpected middle name; as a first name, they could do Annie, Andi, Tia, or Toni as nicknames. I also have a friend named Antoinette (she goes by the full Antoinette) and a little girl in one of my boys’ class is Antonella — both of those are lovely options to honor a man with Anthony in his name. Or … Toinette is a short form of Antoinette (a legit name) and I’m just thinking that Martha Toinette is kind of gorgeous! Mette could work as a nickname, said like “met,” but also Mette is a Danish diminutive of Margaret and is said like “meta.” Kind of cool!
  • Gwendolyn: Like with Martha Elizabeth nicknamed Emmy, I think K’s Gwendolyn Martha is a fantastic combo! I love the rhythm — I agree with her that Gwendolyn and Martha really sound nice together. Winnie is a great option as a nickname; Wendy can also work. One thing I can’t figure out is if I love that it ends in -lyn, thus mirroring Nora’s middle name, or if I think it’s a bad thing to have Nora’s middle name Lynn and a first name for their second daughter that contains “lyn.”
  • Margaret: Margaret’s got some great different-initial nicknames, like Greta, Daisy, and Rita. I also like Meg, Maggie, and Molly as nicknames for Margaret (Molly isn’t actually related to Margaret, being that Molly is an Irish form of Mary, but I do hear of little Margarets called Molly from time to time. I really like Molly as a sister to Nora!).
  • Lydia: I can see what K means here … if it helps, I love the nickname Liddy and had it on my own list as a nickname for Elizabeth; it obviously works even better as a nickname for Lydia.
  • Audrey: Lydia doesn’t really feel like Eleanor’s sister to me (though if they love it, then who cares!), but Audrey does! There aren’t any obvious nicknames that I can think of for Audrey though … the work “tawdry” actually comes from the name Audrey (specifically St. Audrey) — it’s not a good word, but it makes me think of Tawny, which is kind of a cute name — maybe Audrey Katherine nn Tawny?
  • Claire: Yes, it is a bummer that Claire also doesn’t have any traditional nicknames! (Though there are some people who find that aspect of Claire perfect for them). I like how Martha Claire sounds — maybe a mashup nickname from that? Like … Maggie (like Mackey, but not), Molly (from the L), or Marley? I could see using a longer nickname like Clairey for Claire … or using a longer name with Claire/Clare as the nickname, like Clairvaux or Claret. Or even Martha Claire who goes by her middle name — I actually really like that idea!
  • Claudia: Claudia is such an intriguing name to me — it’s so classic and traditional but I almost never hear it in real life, and even less on a baby! I think maybe it’s because it’s got clunky sounds that haven’t recently been in style — but I think they’re coming back! Think Agatha and Barbara, for example — both names I’ve heard on babies recently. As for nicknames, I feel like the mashup idea could work. Maybe Claudia Katherine nn Cla(i)re or Carly?
  • Teresa/Tess: Tess is one of my favorites!! It was pretty certainly going to be our second girl’s name, as a nickname for Elizabeth (but we had all boys, so never even got to our first girl’s name!). Maybe it could be a nickname for Tamsin?
  • Matilda/Tilly: This is a brilliant option — I love Matilda as Eleanor’s sister, and I love Tilly as Nora’s sister. And it’s a given name with a different-initial nickname! Amazing!
  • Vivian/Vivi: I love Vivi, I think it’s such a cute nickname! I have some other Vivi ideas below.

So I think K and her hubby have a lot of good ideas already, and a lot of good potential ideas as well! Now on to new ones!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, keeping an eye out for any different-initial firstname-nickname ideas, and of course avoiding repeating any of the initials they already have in their family. I actually really love when there are a lot of rules — it makes for a really fun challenge! I’m excited to see what K and her hubby think of the following:

(1) Amelia nn Amy, Lia, Mia, Millie, Melia

Amelia is a specific match for Eleanor, as well as for Matilda, and has a bunch of non-A nicknames (as well as an A nickname, if they decide not to worry about that particular thing): Amy, Lia, Mia, Millia, and Melia. They could do Ally/Allie, too, if they like. Of those, I particularly like Millie as Nora’s sister, and its similarity to Tilly and Winnie makes me think K will like it! Unfortunately, it does mean that Tilly would be out for the future, which K will have to come to terms with if she likes this idea …

(2) Penelope nn Penny, Pippa, Polly, Posy

Penelope is a match for Gwendolyn and Matilda, so great! I’ve seen Lola offered as a nickname for it, which fits K’s different-initial hope, but I’m not sure Lola feels like this family to me? (Though I love Lola!) Nell is another different-initial nickname, which feels a lot more like them, but repeats Nora’s initial. So maybe the P nicknames are best to consider — there are some great ones! I love Penny, Pippa, Polly, and Posy as ideas, so sweet! Abby from Appellation Mountain did a whole post on unexpected Penelope nicknames here. I also love how Penelope Martha sounds!

(3) Caroline/a

Caroline is a match for Katherine, Margaret, and Claire — such a beautiful, classic name! I love it as Eleanor’s sister. Carrie and Carly are C nicknames; I’ve suggested Lola to other parents as a nickname for Caroline; and if they do Carolina, they could consider Lina as well. Or — maybe Caroline nn Clare could work? And Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter’s name is Claire Caroline Wren and she goes by Clio! I don’t mind Caroline Martha — it doesn’t sound bad at all!

(4) Isabel

I’d actually already scribbled down Isabel for this family when I was reading K’s email, before doing any research, because her Martha Elizabeth/Emmy idea reminded me of a little girl I heard about once whose name is Isabelle Verity and she goes by Ivy (I.V.) — I thought that was cool! (I posted other ideas like that here.) And then I discovered Isabel is a match for Claire! I really love it as a sister to Eleanor, too — there’s a sophistication with the pair that is lovely! I still like the Ivy idea; they could also consider Belle/Bella (even with the Isabel spelling), or Isa. I don’t think Isabel Martha sounds terrible!

(5) Veronica

I was surprised (pleasantly so!) to see that Veronica is a match for Claudia, Teresa, and Vivian! It’s such a beautiful name, and so Catholic, and it can take the nickname Vivi that they’re already considering! Other nickname ideas include Ronnie and Ricky, which don’t repeat initials; Nica and Nicky, which do; and Vera, Vero, and Vica.

(6) Genevieve

I wonder if K and her husband might be interested in Genevieve with the nickname Vivi? I like Eleanor and Genevieve together, and I know of several Genevieves who go by Vivi. I don’t hate Genevieve Martha together — the rhythm isn’t quite as good as Gwendolyn Martha, but I don’t think it’s terrible either.

(7) Annabelle nn Anna, Annie, Belle

Annabelle is a style match for Eleanor! I looove the name Annabel(le) — I included Annabel in my book of Marian names because I discovered that it arose in Scotland in the Middle Ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis. I love that! The spelling Annabelle adds in the Anna+Belle idea, which is lovely. Nicknames include the same-initial ones like Anna, Annie, and even Abby, and the different-initial ones like Belle/Bella. I also love Annabelle Martha — a very cool combo! — and it could also allow for the nickname Amy (like Missy, I love Amy — such a sweet, old-fashioned nickname that is dropping in popularity after a huge resurgence, which makes it perfect in my opinion).

(8) Susanna nn Zuzu (or Anna/Annie)

I spent some time trying to think of names that have different-initial nickname possibilities, and after weeding out the ones that repeat K’s family initials (like Josephine nn Sophie or Posy and Julia nn Lia) or that don’t seem their style (Dolores nn Lola; Magdalena nn Lena or Dolly), one of the ones that was left that I love for this family is Susanna with the nickname Zuzu. While I’m nervous for K and her hubby that going down the path of trying to stick with different-initial nicknames while not repeating any initials already used will set them up for running out of names, Zuzu is the kind of nickname that is unlikely to cause problems because there are so few names that begin with Z — I don’t think using a Z name now will reduce their future possibilities at all! Zuzu is a traditional nickname for the Susan names (and the name of George Bailey’s daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life!). If they like Susanna but not Zuzu, they could also do Anna or Annie as different-initial nicknames (Susie/Suzy/Sue are also possibilities of course).

(9) Lucille or Louisa nn Lucy

My last idea is 100% inspired by Nora — Lucy is a style match for her, and since K specifically said that Lydia, Audrey, and Claire don’t “strike the right balance of formal and nickname,” I thought she might like the idea of Lucille nn Lucy or Louisa nn Lucy. I particularly like Louisa as a sister to Eleanor, though I know that Lucy is not a traditional nickname for it (I think it’s brilliant though!).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) and nickname(s) would you suggest for Eleanor/Nora’s little sister?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

32 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Some initials-specific rules (hopes) for baby no. 2!

  1. Lia could be a nickname for Claudia. Eleanor and Claudia. Nora and Lia. Calla is another possibility.

    I love Therese Isabel (if we had had a fourth daughter, that would have been her name).
    Eleanor and Therese. Nicknames could be Tess, Tessa, Thea, Reba, Tizzie, Tibby, and probably more, but I should be rushing to work now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So many beautiful names!

    Out of their list, I like Audrey Katherine best. I’ve always liked Audrey, but I’ve never seen a nickname I liked. Tawny is fantastic!

    Of your suggestions, I like Amelia nn Milly and Isabel/la Martha nn Belle/a for this family best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know a family with a Pauline nn Aully, and I think it’s so cute and different and would fit with this family’s rules! Lina/Lena could also work as a nn and sounds sweet with Nora!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Annalise Martha nn Lily
    Annabeth Martha nn Beth
    Rosalie Martha nn Zelie
    Charlotte Martha nn Lottie
    Juliet Martha nn Lily (doesn’t follow the rules but sounds amazing)
    Claribel Martha nn Belle
    Gianna Martha nn Ann
    Camille Martha nn Milla
    Alexandra Martha nn Lexi

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe Maristella nn Stella?
    Or Regina nn Ginny.
    Marietta nn Retta.
    Aurelia nn Goldie.
    Winnifred nn Freddie.
    Victoria nn Tori.
    Primrose nn Rosie.
    Marigold nn Goldie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Many of my ideas have been said, but I wanted to comment anyway in case it’s helpful to have things restated. My main thought is that while the initials rules seem restrictive, they don’t have to be.

    How amazing would it be to find that sisters named Nora, Greta, Rosa and Anna were more formally named Eleanor, Margaret, Primrose and Susannah? And when both the formal and nicknames work together so beautifully!

    (Depending on your perspective on honour names, I also wondered if Margaret couldn’t be a tiny nod to the Martha’s in your family?)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another really fun consultation, Sancta Nomina!!
    Of your suggestions my favorites are:
    Amelia nn Millie
    Genevieve nn Vivi
    Margaret nn Daisy
    They all sound so good with Eleanor/Nora! I also like the nickname Evie for Genevieve, but I don’t know if that breaks their rule, being another “E”?

    And wow Mary-Agnes! Those are awesome ideas!
    Really love Marigold nn Goldie 🙂

    How about:
    Catherine nn Kate or Kitty
    Dorothea nn Thea
    Marceline nn Celine or Cece
    Rebecca nn Becca
    Ramona nn Mona
    Virginia nn Ginger or Ginny (This is my favorite; I really like Nora and Ginger!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Our 6th child would’ve been Genevieve nn Jenny (my grandmother was Sarah-Jane nn Jenny), if he’d had the grace to be a girl, which he did not. And the third was Luc!e C@ther!ne nn (for some of her childhood) Elsie [LC].

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not all of these are necessarily a style fit, but the mismatched fn/nn initials is a fun challenge! I generally avoided repeating initials, but where they do repeat, it’s a nickname repeating a full name initial or vice versa.

    Charlotte nn Lottie (I can’t believe no one’s suggested this. Charlotte and Eleanor are practically default sister names in my head, and Lottie and Nora is darling)
    Philomena nn Mena
    Beatrice/Beatrix nn Trixie
    Natalie/Natalia nn Talia/Tallie
    Romilly nn Millie
    Rhiannon nn Annie
    Anastasia nn Tacy
    Rosalind nn Lindy
    Violet nn Lettie
    Adelaide nn Della
    Lavinia or Lavender nn Vinnie
    Thomasina or Tamsin nn Ina
    Margaret nn Ari, Etta, Pearl
    Martha nn Ari, Thea
    Abigail nn Gail
    Therese/Theresa nn Reece
    Rebecca nn Bex
    Lorraine nn Rainey, Annie?
    Alexandra nn Xandra, Lexa, Lea, Sasha
    Rosalie nn Lia, Zelie
    Ariana nn Ria
    Marilla nn Rilla
    Cecilia nn Lia
    Sylvia nn Vivi
    Alice nn Lissy, Lise, Izzy, Isa
    Catherine nn Trina, Rina, Ina, Attie/Addie
    Bellamy nn Amy, Mia
    Hazel nn Zelie
    Louisa/Louise nn Izzy, Isa
    Caroline/Carolina nn Lina
    Clementine/Clementina nn Minnie, Ina
    Madeleine nn Addie, Ada, Della, Lina/Lena, Ina, Minnie?
    Wilhelmina/Willemina nn Minnie, Billie, Emmie, Mina, Ina, Nell/Nellie? (the “hel” element makes me think of that… and it does have all the letters)
    Lucille nn Cilla, Ceil/Cille
    Hilaria nn Aria
    Anthea or Cynthiia nn Thea
    Alethea nn Thea, Lettie, Lea

    Liked by 1 person

  10. FE mentioned the name Susannah. I think Sunny would be a great nickname for Susannah.
    Eleanor and Susannah. Nora and Sunny.

    I also love another name from FE — Primrose! Eleanor and Primrose. Nora and Rose/Rosa, Prim, Pip, Pippa.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun challenge! I’m probably repeating some initials here and the styles may or may not fit, but these could get them thinking some more.
    Faustina nn Tina
    Katherine nn Rindie/Rendy
    Azelie or Azalea nn Zelie
    Adelaide nn Laidey
    Colette nn Lettie
    Loretta, Coletta, etc nn Etta
    Aurora nn Dawn (shared meaning)

    Like

  12. Martha Claire called Claire seems like a perfect sister to Eleanor Lynn called Nora! Love that idea!!

    Claudia nicknames that are probably a stretch to all but Kate and myself could be Lottie, Clia or Clio (especially with O as a middle initial i.e. Claudia Opal).

    Antica is a version of Anthony. This makes me think of Annika which is related to Ann, not Anthony, but if it would call Anthony (and therefore your dad) to mind, it could still be an honor for him.

    Although it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I think Martha Bess would be adorable!

    Like

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