, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kate and her husband Steve are expecting their second child in late January next year. Although it may seem they have plenty of time, they are currently at a stalemate when agreeing upon names for a baby of either sex.

They had these naming issues with their first child as well. They continued discussing and arguing over it for eight months of Kate’s pregnancy, and chose their daughter’s name while actually in the hospital. Feeling pressured by family expectations that they choose a name immediately, and with her husband refusing to back down, Kate agreed to Steve’s choice, which was Madeline – a name that he loved, and would consider nothing else. The middle name was a family one from Kate’s mother’s side given to all first-born daughters.

Although Kate is fond of her daughter’s name, it was not her first choice, and this time she really wants the baby’s name to be something that she loves. Steve is willing to let her choose whatever name she likes – providing that he doesn’t hate it. The problem is, Steve seems to hate most of Kate’s favourite names. She is getting frustrated that he seems to be vetoing almost every name she suggests, while not making many suggestions of his own.

Names for Girls Considered

  • Kate’s favourite names for girls are Clementine, Olive, Ivy, Mabel, May, Nell, Lillian, Clara, Maeve, Dorothy, and Eloise. Steve detests all of these, but least dislikes May and Eloise.
  • Steve has expressed a preference for Kayla, Eleni, Lani, or Zara. Kate dislikes these names, with the exception of Zara, which she can just tolerate.
  • Neither of them has a preference for a middle name, and they don’t really mind what it is.

Names for Boys Considered

  • Kate’s favourite names for boys are Henry, Flynn, Hugo, Sullivan, Oscar and Archie. Steve hates the name Henry, and doesn’t mind Sullivan or Archie, but isn’t thrilled about them either.
  • Steve hasn’t made any serious suggestions for boy’s names, but has mentioned Lachlan and Noah. Kate doesn’t dislike either name, but does feel that Top 10 is a bit too popular to consider.
  • They both like the names Jack and William – alas, everybody else seems to as well! If only Jack or William were Top 50 rather than Top 5, these would be their choices.
  • The middle name will be either John or Timothy, which both honour much loved family members. They will go with whatever middle name fits best with the name they eventually choose.

Kate and Steve’s surname begins with H and ends with -er.


Kate, if it’s any consolation to you, your baby name problems are ones that many couples share. The most common complaint I hear from women is that they suggest name after name, and their other half rejects all of them, yet doesn’t seem to contribute many ideas of his own.

I think the situation with your daughter’s name isn’t that unusual either – while women often seem to have at least a dozen “favourite names”, if men have any at all, it’s often only one. With just one egg in their basket, they can be prepared to fight for it, and in this case, it seems as if Steve did fight for his favourite, and prevailed.

I think it’s lovely for a little girl to have a name chosen by her daddy, and her middle name is from your side of the family, so her name connects her to both of you. You can take heart that despite all your disagreements, you actually did a good job together, which means you’ll probably do a good job again. It was generous of you to agree to your husband’s choice on the very first baby – I’m not certain most wives would have done that.

It seems obvious that since Steve picked the first name, it’s only fair that it should be your turn to pick the second. Yet to be equally fair, Steve picked a name that you may not have loved, but are fond of – he didn’t force you to accept a name that you hated. And that’s the sticking point. Steve didn’t have to compromise on the name that he loved, but you may have to. Or else Steve will have to compromise this time around, which is something for you to negotiate together.

Another thing you might want to consider is that it can be harder choosing the second name, because you already have a child, and may want a name that goes well with hers. I know some people aren’t bothered by sibsets going together, so if you are one of them, just ignore this bit.

If you want a name that doesn’t clash with Madeline, or seem too matchy, there’s probably already a couple of names on both your lists that could be crossed off. I love the name Clementine, but I think it’s too matchy with Madeline because they almost rhyme, while to me, Eleni and Madeline is a style clash.

It seems it would be easier for you both to compromise on a girl’s name, since Steve has already picked his one favourite name, and should be more flexible this time around.

Possible Compromises

  • Since the girl’s middle name spot is vacant, you choose the name, and Steve picks the middle name. Dorothy Lani may sound a slightly odd combination, but big deal, you’d have a baby name chosen by both of you.
  • You use the two names of yours that Steve hates least, and call the baby Eloise May.
  • You use two names from each of your lists you least dislike, and call her Eloise Zara.
  • You combine the sounds of names from your list with ones from Steve’s list to make names that sound similar to both. For example: Olive + Kayla = Livia. Eleni + Clementine = Elaine. Dorothy + Zara = Daria. Lani + Eloise = Louise. And so on.
  • You choose a name that you like, but only if Steve is able to make a nickname from it that he likes eg Eloise nn Lulu, Olive nn Liv.

With boy’s names, it almost seems as if you are getting close to the right name. Steve has only completely vetoed Henry, and you’ve actually agreed on several names, only to be put off by the popularity. I think it’s just a matter of finding names in a similar style you both like, that aren’t in the Top 10. Or you may decide that a Top 10 name isn’t so bad after all – William has never left the Top 50 in 111 years, so it’s more of a perennial favourite than a trendy popular .

Once you’ve got a little list of possible names together, see which ones sound best with Madeline, with the chosen middle names, and with your surname. Out of what you’ve got so far, my pick would be Archie John.

If it was up to me, I’d say Eloise May for a girl, and Archie John for boy (or else William). But you didn’t write to me so I’d pick your baby name, you wrote to me for suggestions of names that I think both you and Steve might like. So here goes:


What I noticed you and Steve had in common was you both tended to like quite popular names, or names coming (back) into popularity. You also both preferred girl’s names that were recognisably feminine, but not particularly frilly. I tried to think of names that fit these criteria, and also seemed to make a nice match with Madeline’s name, while not sounding too awful with your surname. I also tried to pick names that were easy to make contemporary-sounding nicknames from, in case the nickname pleased more than the name itself.

It’s hard to find a perfect compromise between retro names and modern ones, so I concentrated on names that have never gone out of fashion, ones that are coming back into fashion, and modern classics. There’s a couple of wildcards thrown in, just on the off-chance!

  • Audrey
  • Cassandra
  • Cecily
  • Claudia
  • Daphne
  • Eleanor
  • Eloise (the one on your list your husband least hated, and goes best with Madeline)
  • Emmeline
  • Evelyn
  • Florence
  • Genevieve
  • Isobel
  • Josephine
  • Leila
  • Louisa
  • Lucia
  • Natalie
  • Penelope
  • Rosalie
  • Rose
  • Saskia
  • Sophia
  • Susannah
  • Victoria
  • Violet


It felt like boys names were one you would have an easier time agreeding with, as you each identified certain groups of names that you either liked, or could live with.

Timeless classics, like Jack and William

  • Charles
  • Edward
  • George
  • James
  • Nicholas

Retro names like Archie

  • Austin
  • Felix
  • Frederick
  • Leo
  • Rex

Scottish names like Lachlan

  • Angus
  • Callum
  • Duncan
  • Lennox
  • Logan

Irish surnames like Sullivan

  • Cassidy
  • Quinn
  • Rafferty
  • Rowan
  • Tully

Simple Old Testament names like Noah

  • Abel
  • Ezra
  • Jude
  • Micah
  • Reuben

Homework for Kate and Steve:

I’d be very surprised if you read through this and said, Oh yes of course, Genevieve for a girl and Felix for a boy, that’s perfect. These lists are just for window-shopping, and for trying out names, so you can identify and narrow down what you both like and dislike. Don’t make a decision just yet, it’s far too early. Give yourselves more time to think things through, and keep trying out names. When the time’s right, I’m sure the perfect one will fit into place.

If you still feel stuck in early November, please write in again with your new improved name lists, and we’ll have another go. And whatever happens, don’t let yourselves be railroaded into a decision at the hospital again – you’ve got 60 days after the birth to pick a name, and there’s nothing wrong with taking the baby home with you before naming it. Absolutely no need to rush or panic!

Readers, what do you think is a fair system for Kate and Steve to compromise on choosing a baby name? And what names would you suggest to them?

NOTE: The baby’s name is Lewis John!