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OlivesSophie and Michael are expecting their second child in a couple of months, who will be a brother or sister to their daughter Mary. If it’s a boy, he will be named Harry, which is a family name, but girls names have proved harder to decide upon. Sophie and Michael’s surname begins with a hard C and ends in an OH sound eg Carrow, and they are hoping to use family name May in the middle, but for the right name they could change it.

Sophie and Michael’s Name List

  • Olive – this is their first choice, but Sophie is worried it could become too popular in the future
  • Alice – a name both of them like
  • Tabitha – Lucy’s choice
  • Gertrude – Lucy’s choice; a family name
  • Annabelle – Michael’s choice

Names Rejected

  • Matilda and Millicent – don’t want another name starting with M
  • Cate – really like it, but doesn’t match with surname

Sophie is very concerned about popularity, and definitely wouldn’t consider any name in the Top 20. She loves that she has has never met another little Mary. They are looking for a name which is original, but not too “out there”; ideally an under-the-radar classic which is clunky, currently under-used, and enduring. They prefer shorter names which can’t be abbreviated to a diminutive form.

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Your Name List


This is a spunky little name which sounds nice with your surname and would make an adorable sister for Mary. No wonder it’s your favourite choice! Realistically, if you had an Olive she would be statistically unlikely to share her classroom with anyone else of that name, but I can see you might be worried about future popularity.


A pretty classic which isn’t even in the Top 50 in your area, and rising sedately in popularity. I’m crazy about Mary and Alice as sisters, and if you decided that Olive was too “risky” a choice for you, despite being more popular, Alice would probably be safer.


Very cute name which I think would be an excellent choice. If popularity is a real concern, then Tabitha is very under-used, and likely to remain so.


I think Gertrude would be quite a hip choice, and Mary and Gertrude definitely make an old-style name set. Gertrude is easily shortened to Gertie or Trudy though.


Very pretty and feminine, and now losing popularity rather than gaining. I would prefer the Scottish Annabel spelling with your surname though, and Mary and Annabel somehow feels a better match than Mary and Annabelle. I read on Nameberry somewhere that men prefer Annabelle though!

Other Names You Might Like


A simple vintage name which has just rejoined the charts, and has the same V sound as Olive. If Olive has gone from hip to fashionable, Vera still feels like it’s at the hip phase.


A similar sound and feel to Alice, but more fashionable and much less popular (although rising nicely). I like Mary and Florence together, and I think this sounds fantastic with your surname. Florence does lend itself to several nicknames though.


Reminds me of Tabitha – both three-syllable clunky-stylish Biblical names with animal-related meanings that joined the charts in the 1960s and have never made the Top 100. Neither of them have an obvious nickname either.


Has the same clunky sound as Gertrude, yet while Gertrude is at the proto-hip stage, Greta has been hip seemingly forever. On and off the charts, it’s often in use, but never come anywhere near being popular.


Lydia has that quirky upper-class feel of Annabelle and is from the New Testament like Tabitha. This name is a genuine underused classic, having never left the charts while never joining the Top 100.


Simple, pretty vintage name with a fashionable OO sound, and a great match as a sister to Mary. You couldn’t use May as the middle name, but June Annabelle is cute.


Has never charted in Australia, but fast becoming a hip name choice. I could see this as the Olive of the future … a nice long time in the future!

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I wonder if you would have already decided on Olive if you weren’t worried about its future popularity? Olive didn’t even make the Top 100 in your area last year, but that’s probably not much comfort. It’s a fashionable name, has got a celebrity “buzz” around it, and you’ve already seen little Olives appearing in your neighbourhood. You may have even read my article where I note that Olive is currently on the same trajectory that Ruby was 15 years ago.

I think you have to ask yourself exactly how upset you would be if Olive became popular down the track, and exactly why it would bother you. This is something far more likely to bug you than your daughter. Children usually like their own name, and often bond with others who share it.

I’ve noticed that girls who were given a name rising in popularity nearly always love their name, probably because they are receiving constant subtle reminders that others value it. Your own name is more popular now than it would have been when you were born – has that really been a problem for you?

You also have to ask yourself – what happens if you don’t pick Olive, and the name never does become that popular? Would you be regretful that you didn’t go with your first choice, based on something that might happen?

At the very least, if you did go with Olive, you would be doing so with your eyes open, knowing that it could become popular in time, and resigned to that happening.

In my experience, savvy parents who choose the name they love best even while foreseeing future popularity don’t end up with many regrets. There might be an occasional twinge of annoyance at meeting yet another baby with their child’s name, or an eye roll when the name data comes out, but in general they are happy they went with their favourite name, and glad that they got to pick it while it was still fresh.

You don’t need to make a choice now – you don’t even know if you’re having a girl, and you already have a great list of names up your sleeve if you ultimately decide that Olive isn’t right for you.

Good luck, and let us know what name you went with!

UPDATE: The baby’s name is Olive!

POLL RESULT: People preferred the second choice of Alice for Mary’s sister, at 21% of the vote, but Olive wasn’t far behind in the #2 position at 18%.