How Can We Compromise on Baby Names?

Filed under: Baby Names

I'm currently in my second trimester with twins, a boy and a girl. We settled on our son's name easily, Nathaniel James. However, we can't seem to find the perfect girl's name. I would like to find a name that matches our son's. I'm in love with old names like Agatha and Celina, but she's more into modern names like Ariel or Harper. Any suggestions as to where we can find a good compromise?

- Mom of Nathaniel +1


Compromise is a tricky word when it comes to baby names. What's the midpoint between Agatha and Harper -- Agaper? Harpatha? To find real middle ground, you have to understand the styles on each side.

Your question shows just how hard defining baby name style can be. Ariel strikes you as modern, even though it's straight out of the Bible and Shakespeare. Meanwhile one of your "old names," Celina, hit its all-time peak in the 1990s. Placing names on the style map is complicated. So rather than finding middle ground, most parents just look for a name that one of them likes and the other doesn't totally hate. Worse yet, compromise often gives way to a contest of wills.

You, though, say you want a real compromise. This seems like a good time to take up a challenge from our sister site, BabyNameWizard.com. They invited me to put some new name-finding tools to my toughest test. I entered the names Nathaniel, Ariel and Harper into their "Name MatchMaker" and dared it to find not-too-common sister suggestions that bring the three styles together.

Here are some of the MatchMaker's top suggestions; the comments are my own.

Naomi - A biblical classic, but quirky and individual because of it's distinctive look and sound. A cute match with Nathaniel, without being too cutesy.

Scarlett - Bolder than Nathaniel, like a brassier, more feminine Harper.

Juliet - Like Ariel, this is a Shakespearean classic that somehow sounds fresh and new. Great balance.

Camilla - Perhaps a bit frilly for the Harper fan, but it walks the contemporary/traditional line quite neatly. Would the nickname Cam help?

Felicity - We have enough distance from the TV series by now that this name gets to be a name again. It stands up well to Nathaniel, but it's a mouthful.

Piper - A clever choice, as the one occupational surname that even traditionalists love. A tougher pairing with Nathaniel, though ... unless you call him Nate, in which case it's perfect.



The fascinating thing to me is that those names, taken together, do seem to share a style -- but I dare you to pin down what that style is. All we can say for sure is that it sits at the center of Nathaniel, Agatha and Harper. To my eyes, the names look a very appealing stylistic compromise, traditional, but fresh and lively. Perhaps a contest of wills isn't inevitable after all.

How do you deal with different tastes? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!



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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.