Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Elisabeth and Julia Are Getting A Baby Sister! What Should I Name Her?

Brenda wrote to The Art of Naming on Facebook recently inquiring about name ideas for a third girl. She already has Elisabeth "Elsa", and Julia. I promised I would find 10 name ideas for her to consider.

First, a bit of background info.  Elisabeth is an alternative spelling to Elizabeth; some may even find the "s" to be even more feminine than the standard "z". Both variants are gorgeous, in my book!  Elizabeth comes from  the Greek form of the Hebrew name אֱלִישֶׁבַע ('Elisheva') meaning "my God is an oath".  I have written about Elizabeth's longevity in the past because she has proved to be the most enduring female name.

Julia is one of my favorite names. I used Juliet for my own daughter's middle name, and I have always been drawn to the Jul- names. Julia is the feminine form of the Roman family name Julius that was possibly derived from Greek ιουλος (ioulos) meaning "downy-bearded" which implies youthfulness. It can be said that the Jul- names mean "youth".  Julia is also a time-tested name, enduring from Ancient Roman times until today.

Now, as of 2018, Julia ranked at #93 in the US.  This spelling of Elisabeth ranked at #789, and Elizabeth was #13.  Both of these names are true classics, one Hebrew, one Latin.  I will attempt to find 10 more names with a similar, romantic classiness without using any of Elizabeth's many, many diminutives (like Isabella, Liliana, etc). 

So, here is what I might name a sister for Elsa and Julia:

1. Caroline or Charlotte

These two names are related and similar enough that I couldn't decide between them.  They both come from the Germanic name Karl meaning "man". Right now, Charlotte is the more popular of the two, ranking at #6 in the US in 2018. Caroline follows at #55.  Both of these names are in line with the classic vibe of Elisabeth and Julia.

2. Helena 

Helena is the English form of the Greek ‘Ελενη (Helene) probably meaning "torch" or "bright light".  With Elsa and Julia, I would probably pronounce it  heh-LAY-nə, but there's also HEH-li-nə, heh-LEE-nə.  This name choice is a bit more unexpected than some of the names on this list, but it is a romantic and beautiful choice. It's also less common, ranking at #458.

3. Vivian or Vivienne

Whichever spelling you choose, this name means "life" and is certainly a lovely choice. It has come a long way from the old-fashioned vibe it once had. Nowadays, it is quite modern. Elsa, Julia and Vivienne would be a gorgeous sister-set!  Vivian is more popular, ranking at #96, while Vivienne ranks at #268. If you ask me, there's something extra special about the longer, French spelling.

4. Katherine or Catherine

Where there's an Elizabeth, there's almost certainly a Katherine nearby. These two seem to go very hand-in-hand. At least in my head. Since you have an Elisabeth, I would suggest Catherine as the spelling choice. These two names have their etymology debated heavily, but the name-nerd world has seemed to decide on the meaning "pure" from the Greek  καθαρος (katharos). Right now, Katherine is more popular at #112, while Catherine ranks #204 in the US in 2018. Elsa, Jules and Cat would be cute and spunky nickname options for this trio.

5. Arabelle or Annabelle

These two names are similar in spelling, and might actually be related. It is said that Arabella is probably a Medieval Scottish variant of Annabel. Annabel was influenced by the name Anna, but comes from the Medieval name Amabel meaning "loveable". Annabelle is more common, ranking at #141, while Arabelle is uncommon at #1734. These are both beautiful options that would pair nicely with Elisabeth and Julia.

6. Scarlett

Reminiscent of the deep, romantic shade of red, and the popular character O'Hara, Scarlett is a bold choice. Yes, it is quite popular these days at #20, but it is a little more outside-the-box compared to classics like Elisabeth and Julia. The name itself is possibly derived from the Persian سقرلاط (saghrelat) and referred to a kind of cloth, or a person who made clothes from that cloth.  It's an interesting angle that you could take if you wanted something popular but different from your current sibset.

7. Valentina

Queue the romance. As a feminine form of the Roman name Valentinus, this name means "strong, vigorous, healthy" in Latin. Due to the association between Valentine's day and love, Valentina would be a gorgeous, romantic name option. It is also quickly gaining popularity, climbing the charts to #81 most recently. Valentina would be a bit bolder of a choice, but at the same time, it would pair nicely with Elisabeth and Julia.

8. Marianne or Margaret

When you think of classic names, Mary has to come to mind. However, it's a bit dated. With Elisabeth and Julia, I might look for a variant of Mary, such as Marianne, Marigold, Marilyn, Marie, Mae or even Miriam.  The other alternative is similar name Margaret (or Marjorie or Maisie) meaning "pearl". Plenty of options here that may go well with Elsa and Julia.

9. Seraphina

If you want something that sounds like it should be popular, but is actually still very under the radar, look no further than Seraphina. With the popularity of Sarah and Sophia, which sound similar, you'd think this name would be used more. It actually has never ranked within the Top 1000. It currently sits at #1098 but I could see it catching on soon. Seraphina is the feminine form of the Late Latin name Seraphinus, derived from the biblical word seraphim, which was Hebrew in origin and meant "fiery ones".  Elisabeth, Julia and Seraphina make a beautiful trio!

10. Camilla

Camilla comes from the Ancient Roman name Camillus which seems to have an unknown meaning. It may refer to a young religious or ceremonial attendant; someone employed in a church. Camilla has been in use for a long time in the US, but it has never been as popular as it is today. In 2018, it ranked at a high peak of #302 and I suspect it will continue to climb the charts. Elsa, Julia and Camilla sound just lovely together!

I suppose that was more than just 10 options, but you can use these ideas as inspiration!  Let me know what YOU would name a sister for Elsa and Julia.

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