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Emily and David are expecting a baby girl in three weeks, and still haven’t settled on a name for her. They’ve thought of lots of nice names they could use, but each one seems to have its drawbacks, and they keep crossing names off their list and changing their minds. So far, they don’t really love one name more than another; none of them seem to jump out and say, “I’m the one – stop looking!”.

When they chose their first child’s name, it was much easier. David suggested the name Clementine, Emily loved it too, and straight away it seemed perfect and they never considered anything else. This time it’s been quite different, and they’ve found the process more worrisome.

At the moment they have on their list:

  • Cressida – Emily is slightly bothered by the car called the Toyota Cressida
  • Ottilie – concerned about spelling and pronunciation issues
  • Josephine – like it a lot, but doesn’t seem very exciting
  • Isadora – worried about references to Dora the Explorer, or that she’ll be yet another Izzy in a sea of Isabellas and Isabels
  • Mathilda – David loves Mathilde, but Emily thinks it’s too French and won’t be pronounced correctly; also aware of the popularity of Matilda, which isn’t a problem if it’s the right name
  • Francesca – loved it for ages, but a friend has just used it

Their name style is for names that have been forgotten by most people, a bit quirky, and with a vintage feel. They would like a name that is interesting and offbeat, but not “made up”. They seem to be leaning towards three-syllable names ending with -a, and Emily loves names that have a European/French vibe to them but don’t sound out of place in an English-speaking country.

David and Emily have a typically Scottish surname, such as Baxter, Cameron or Ramsay.

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Emily and David, I know you probably feel slightly desperate, with your baby due in only a few weeks, and still no name picked for her. However, I think you’re actually doing really great. You know what your name style is, and you have very compatible tastes in names. You’ve already drawn up a list of lovely names, and if your daughter was born tomorrow, you could probably use any of them for her.

I think you had such a dream run choosing the name for your first child that your expectations are slightly unrealistic. Sometimes the perfect name drops into your lap from the heavens, but you can’t expect that to happen every time. Finding little niggling things wrong with the names you like best is completely normal.

I’d stop trying to find the perfect name that ticks absolutely every box and has no flaws of any kind, and concentrate on finding one that you both like, and that you can imagine saying every day for the rest of your lives. A name that your daughter can grow into and grow up with, and a name that fits into your family and lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be “perfect” – it just needs to work for you.

Let’s have a look at your name list:


I’m extremely biased, as this is one of my favourite names and has been for many years. I love the upper-class eccentric feel of the name, and the crisp sound of the first syllable. The meaning of the name – “golden” – is also beautiful.

I know you’re a bit worried about the Toyota Cressida, but they stopped making them 20 years ago, which seems like ancient history to me. The Cressida isn’t a famous or classic car, and I haven’t heard it mentioned for decades (I actually forgot this car even existed) . In Australia, the car isn’t said the same way as the name either – it’s pronounced kreh-SEE-dah, whereas the girl’s name is KREHS-ih-dah (in the US, they say the car name “correctly”). On the one hand, that makes the human name distinct from the car; on the other hand, some people may try to say your daughter’s name like the car, and would need gentle correction.

The fact that you feel a bit excited about this name is a good sign, and the way it breaks one of your “rules” is also encouraging. You didn’t want another name starting with C, so the fact you are still seriously considering it means you must be very interested. I would definitely keep this one on your list for now.


I love the idea of this name, but like you, I’d be concerned about the pronunciation. I’ve listened to it being said by people from around the world on forvo, and it seems to be said quite differently in each country. The only English-speaking nation to contribute is the USA, and they seem to have two pronunciations – OTT-uh-lee, and aw-TIL-ee-uh. I actually don’t know how to pronounce this name correctly, and I’m unclear as to whether there even is a correct way to say it. I’ve tried saying all the pronunciations in my standard Australian accent, and I’m not impressed with the results. I think you’d have to be really certain you knew how it was going to be said, prepared to educate people on it, and to be forgiving if they mangled it. If this doesn’t daunt you, then you obviously love the name dearly, and should keep it on your list.


This is a great name, and a classic which has never gained high levels of popularity. However, I dislike it as a sister match to Clementine, as to me the endings of the names are too similar.


I think this name is gorgeous, and would make a lovely match with Clementine, and with your surname. I don’t think she would be “yet another Izzy”, as most girls called Isabella go by Bella as their nickname. I think you are worrying way too much about Dora the Explorer – Dora the Explorer is a positive character! She’s smart, kind, friendly and helpful. I would definitely keep this one your list, and give it serious consideration.


I sympathise with David – he’s right, Clementine and Mathilde are a great match. On the other hand, you’re right about the French pronunciation. Mathilda seems like a good compromise, and I think it’s worth keeping this one on your list too.


The fact that your friend has used the name, and you still have it on your list, shows that you have quite an attachment to it. Understandable – it’s a lovely name, and like Clementine, is fashionable without being popular. Whether you use it or not depends on how you and your friend feel about sharing your childrens’ names; whether you think that seems cute and fun and a wonderful bond between you, or whether it would cause problems in your relationship. It probably depends a lot on what kind of a friendship you have, and maybe even how often you see each other. If both of you are happy to share, then I’d keep it on your list.

You asked for more name ideas: I feel as if you have already thought of everything by now, having already crossed off a long list of possible names. However, here’s some more:


Like Cressida, this name means “golden”, and is a nice match with Clementine. To me it seems European, vintage and quirky. I’ve seen a few people in birth notices choose Aurelia as a middle name, so I can tell that parents like it, but haven’t quite the confidence yet to use it as a first name. I’d like to see it move out of the middle name spot.


You considered Eloise at one point; I thought this seemed an alternative to that. It’s pretty, French, and like Clementine is fashionable and underused at present.


You might think this is a bit corny, but I couldn’t resist matching your Scottish surname with a Scottish name. Lilith was on your reject list, and this has a very similar sound. As a clementine is a type of mandarin, Clementine and Lilias is a sweet “fruit and flower” sibset.


This is a Latinate name like Clementine, and I think Clementine and Miranda make a pretty and romantic sibset. Miranda is a name which is currently gaining in popularity while not being heavily used yet, and I think it would meet with widespread approval.

Rosamund or Rosamond

You already rejected Rosalie and Rosalind, so I thought I’d try you with another Rose name. It’s European, aristocratic and slightly off-beat, and Clementine and Rosamund make an elegant sibset.

Sylvia or Silvia

To me, this has a similar feel to many names on your reject list. It’s European and vintage, and definitely isn’t heavily used. I like the woodsy meaning, and the silvery sound of the name. Like Clementine, it’s not a nature name, but it somehow feels like one.

Readers, when you hear the name Cressida, do you think “girl” or “car”? Which names on Emily and David’s list do you like best, or which names would you recommend to them?

NOTE: The baby’s name was Isadora Mathilde!