"For this baby, my considerations are similar to what they were for Lillian – pretty, not ‘popular’ but also not strange, preferably a name that hasn’t already been used by family, friends (and for me even friends of friends – which makes this a difficult task). I’m not a huge fan of names that will automatically be shortened to nicknames (eg if people call Lillian ‘Lily’ I get annoyed – that is not her name, in my opinion it’s a different name entirely). My husband just wants to find a nice name we agree on, and isn’t concerned about popularity, or if it has already been used, and nicknames don’t bother him. Plus the difficulty this time is it has to go nicely with Lillian, which obviously wasn’t a consideration the first time round.
The middle name for baby #2 will likely be Jean – not a brilliant choice, but it is the middle name of both our mothers / the grandmothers, and so should keep both ‘sides’ happy.
We are Scottish, but currently living in Singapore (baby will be born in Singapore). And as the baby will be born near Christmas, should we consider a Christmas / Scottish / Singapore influence in the name?
Names currently on our shortlist, and pros / cons:
- Polly – this is our current favourite, and the name we agree most on. Like Lillian, it isn’t popular but also isn’t too unusual. (645th in Scotland for 2015). Our concerns are, would a ‘Polly’ get teased (eg Polly had a dolly, Polly put the kettle on, Polly parrot etc), and is it a serious enough name for a teenager, a grown up (not just a baby)?
- Flora – this was my favourite for #1, and was on our shortlist going into hospital. But my husband wasn’t convinced then and still isn’t convinced now (I sort of feel this is my second chance to use it). I like Flora for its Scottish sound, and links, such as Flora Macdonald helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to Skye, and the Skye Boat Song (over the sea to Skye) was what I walked down the aisle to at our wedding and a very special song for me).
- Ava – my husband really likes this, and I do like it but it is just the popularity that puts me off (6th in Scotland for 2015). Plus I feel it is quite short.
- Zara – a recent addition to our shortlist. It is nice, and would fit most of the criteria, but I might take some convincing.
- Megan – I suggested it as a sort of joke but now my husband thinks this is his favourite! It's nice but I wouldn't be keen on "Meg" as a nickname.
Other names we have considered but are not suitable (for reasons such as friends or family have used them, they won’t suit the surname or middle name etc): Matilda (friends and family have used); Georgina (I like but husband doesn’t, and wouldn’t go with Jean as a middle name); Willa (recently used by a friend); Sophie, Olivia (too popular); Hannah (was on the shortlist for #1, but we are not so keen this time).
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I have to admit, I'm in camp Polly. It's a lovely vintage name: upbeat and feminine without being too frilly -- just like Lillian. As for teasing potential, I really don't think it's an issue these days. Children are exposed to so many different names that they just accept them as they are. And other associations don't seem to bother them much. I've known many Billys who don't care about the saying "silly Billy."
And as for being serious, I know a few grown women named Polly who are perfectly feisty and suit their names well. Plus, any Pollys today is part of the same generation as Millys, Mollys, Poppys and Ellies.
I also love Flora for you. If it hadn't have been on your list already, I would most certainly have suggested it for you. I love it's sweet Scottish roots and gentle vintage style.
Annabel – A pretty name which is historic and fresh at the same time. It is also a Scottish name. Originally Amabel (from Latin amabilis "lovable"), the name was rendered as Annabel in medieval Scotland and later spread beyond. Both Annabel and Annabelle are below the Scottish top 100.
Clara – Ranking #134 in Scotland, Clara is a sweet vintage gem that sits beautifully next to Lillian.
Sylvie – A gentle, delicate name which isn't too fussy or frilly. It is easy to spell and pronounce but only ranks at #416.
Thea – Chic and sleek Thea is perfectly ladylike with a quiet strength.
Estelle – Sweet Estelle is feminine without the frills -- much like Lillian. It also ranks below the Scottish top 1000, making it accessible yet uncommon. Both Estelle and cognate form Stella (also worth considering) mean "star" which feels quite appropriate for a child born during advent.
Marnie – Easily accessible and ranking at #182, Marnie is a sweet vintage choice that feels perky and upbeat.
Rosa – Also ranking jointly at #182 is Rosa. Feistier and bolder than dainty Rose, but just as sweet and feminine.
Pippa – Like Polly, Pippa is an upbeat and lively name. Universally known but not popular, Pippa also has a symmetry like Lillian.
Adeline – Pretty Adeline a elegant and stylish. Accessible yet uncommon.
Elspeth – A gentle, ladylike Scottish heritage name which ranks at #300.
Mirren – In a similar vein to Megan is Mirren, with the added advantages of it being Scottish, less common (ranking #177 to Megan's #66) and also pretty nickname-proof.
Morven – An even rarer Scottish choice is pretty Morven. It shares similar sounds to Megan with the stylish 'v' of Ava.
Robyn – The cute robin bird has been tied to Advent and the Christmas period for centuries. Robyn is a frills-free feminine choice which makes an understated seasonal choice.
Eira – A perfect winter choice is the Welsh name Eira meaning "snow."
Celyn – Holly is the perennial favourite name in the run up to Christmas (it always hits the top 10 most popular names every December). For a rarer choice, consider the Welsh Celyn "holly." Or there is Amara, one of the holly species names.
Winter – My wild card suggestion is Winter. Just as pretty as a name as Summer but ranking at #379.
I hope this has been of use. Best wishes with the name hunting.