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Emma and her husband Matt are expecting a baby later in the year. If they have a girl, Emma’s choice would be Rosamund – a name she has loved for many years. She loves the history of the name, the meaning, and the fact that it has ties to her favourite book, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Matt is willing to go along with it, but dislikes the -mund ending.

Recently, Emma discovered another name she likes – Lillia. She would be willing to give up her beloved Rosamund for Lillia, because Matt loves it. However, Emma is worried that Lillia is not distinctive enough. Not only is Lily very popular, but there are lots of other similar names in the Top 100, such as Lola, Layla, Lila, and Olivia.

Emma found it annoying to grow up with a very popular name, and swore she would never put her child through that. Now she wonders if a Lillia would experience the same issues she did, only with names that are highly similar instead.

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Lillia is what we name nerds describe as “not trendy, but on trend”. You almost never see it, but it has instant recognition as being similar to many other popular or rising names. Although L-L and LL names are a huge trend for girls, I wouldn’t worry so much about Lola, Lila, Ella, and Milla (etc etc) – it’s difficult to avoid zeitgeist.

Even though there are lots of popular girls names with a strong L sound in them at present, I don’t see how having several other girls around her with vaguely similar names would negatively impact a Lillia. Maybe once in a while there would be a Did you say Lillia? Oh, you wanted Olivia moment, but I don’t see how that would be a real problem.

The only thing to really think about in this regard is the highly popular Lily/Lilly, and the rapidly rising Lillian, especially if your daughter ended up with the nickname Lili or Lil. I can see that even though Lillia is a very uncommon name, it’s not impossible she’ll be one of a few Lilys/Lillys/Lilis.

Of course, the popularity of a popular name today is nothing compared to what it used to be. If you want some exact numbers, last year there were 1403 girls named either Lily or Lilly, and 176 named Lillian. That’s just over 1500 potential Lily/Lilly/Lili name twins, out of more than 150 000 baby girls born in the year – around 1%, even combining all the names together. Does that sound a bit less scary?

I think Lillia is a beautiful name, and I can quite understand why you are taken with it, and Matt loves it. It has a soft lilting sound without seeming weak or frilly, and clean, elegant lines. I think its similarity to other names gives it familiarity, so that it fits in with current trends, while still seeming different. To me, it doesn’t get lost in the crowd, and if you were worried about Lillia being another Lily, you could use Lia as the nickname instead.

Rosamund is a gorgeous name too, and also fits in with current name trends, because almost every week in the birth notices I see baby girls named Rose, Rosie, Rosa, Rosalie, Rosemary, or even Rosabella. What an enviable baby name dilemma you have – choosing between two such lovely names! Either way, you can’t go wrong.

UPDATE: The baby was a boy named Arthur!

POLL RESULTS
79% of people were in favour of using the name Lillia. 32% thought it blended in with the crowd, rather than getting lost in it, while 16% thought that its rareness automatically made it distinctive. 31% thought it was a bit too much like currently popular names, but was so nice it didn’t matter. 18% of people were against using the name Lillia, believing it sounded like too many girls names in the Top 100, while 3% were undecided.

It was a close contest choosing between Rosamund and Lillia, but Rosamund had the edge at 45% to 42%. 13% of people liked both names equally.

(Picture is of Melbourne’s White Night festival; photo from the Herald Sun)

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