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Josephine and Stephen are expecting their second child later this year, a brother or sister for their daughter Olive. They picked Olive’s name out years in advance of her conception, so didn’t have to think of any other girls’ names. They never managed to agree on a boy’s name during the first pregnancy, so it really does feel as if it’s back-the-drawing-board time!

Josephine and Steve prefer classic-sounding names with an old-fashioned feel, but don’t want anything too popular. Josephine believes that Steve’s tastes in names is more conventional than hers as many of her name suggestions are rejected for being “too weird”.

The family surname is similar to Harley. They don’t mind names that start with H, but aren’t keen on ones that end with an EE sound in case it sounds too rhymey. They aren’t fussed about the meaning of the name, unless it means something completely appalling.

Names that have been discussed:

GIRLS
Cora – Steve’s favourite name, and Josephine likes it more and more as time goes by. This is probably their front runner at the moment.
Nell – it’s the name of an elderly dog owned by one of their parents. Josephine doesn’t think this is a problem, Steve isn’t so sure.
Harriet and Agnes – rejected by Steve

There will be two middle names, which is a family tradition. Possible middle names: Nell, Cora, Harriet, Agnes, Ivy, Maggie, Mabel, Adelaide, Poppy. The middle names just have to be ones they like which flow well together when matched with the first name.

BOYS
Felix – this is probably their current front-runner.
Henry – they both love this name, but is Henry Harley too much? Also a good friend just had a boy named Henry.
Angus, called Gus – Steve isn’t keen.
Mack – Josephine really liked this name, but feels less and less certain about it. She liked that it was a nod to her surname, which starts with Mac, but wonders if it is too casual and nicknamey? Is it too aggressive, like a Mack truck? Steve is neutral.
Rupert – Josephine’s favourite boy’s name, and her choice for Olive if she had been a boy. Loves the nicknames Ru and Bear. Steve cannot be persuaded.
Joe, Fletcher, Ned, Hugh and Jock – rejected by Steve.

Again, two middle names. Possible middles: Felix, Henry, Angus, Mack, Rupert, Joe, Fletcher, Ned, Hugh, Jock, Chester, August, Winter (a family name).

Josephine wonders what people think of their name list, and if there are any other names in their style they might like.

* * * * * * * * * *

Josephine, I have had a few parents write in when looking for a name for a second child after the first was utterly stress-free. They may have had a favourite name picked out for years, like you did, or both immediately loved the first name either one of them suggested. Then the second baby is due, and there’s a real feeling of “What do we do now?”.

In a way you are almost first-time baby namers again. Everything was already decided before Olive was even thought of, and now you’re stuck doing the hard yards of thinking up names, discussing them, crossing them off, starting again, and so on.

Perhaps this process even feels awkward or unnatural to you, but it’s actually completely normal and you are in fact doing great. I know you are going to pick a name just as good as Olive’s for your second child even if it takes more effort.

I love Steve’s suggestion of Cora! It’s strong yet feminine, and Olive and Cora sound adorable together. I don’t really think Steve’s taste is overly conventional – Cora doesn’t seem more conventional than Harriet, for example. I think some men just say names are “weird” when they mean they don’t like them.

I’m glad you are warming to Cora. I think it would work well with the style of middle names you have picked out, such as Cora Mabel Poppy or Cora Nell Adelaide.

Nell is sweet, and Olive and Nell are lovely. I’m with you – I don’t see much of an issue with the dog, especially as it’s a very old one. However, some people feel as if once a name is given to a pet, that makes it a “dog name” forevermore. If Steve remains hesitant, Nell could always be a middle name.

I think maybe Henry Harley is a little too much for me. It’s not only that the names begin and end with the name sound and have the same number of syllables, which is rather nursery rhyme character in sound, but that Harley is sometimes given as a first name, and Henry is occasionally a surname.

Like Rowan Regan and Libby Lacey, a name like this is perhaps too whimsical for me, although I’m sure some others would really like it. Henry would, however, make a fantastic middle name.

I like the idea of Mack honouring your surname. I notice you have selected several nicknamey names for boys, like Joe and Ned, but Steve rejected them. He also rejected or hasn’t committed to names which you planned to use a nickname for, such as Angus “Gus” and Rupert “Bear”.

Is it possible that Steve just isn’t as keen on nicknames? (Come to think, he hasn’t committed to Nell either). He’s remained neutral on Mack, and I wonder if that’s because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by rejecting a name honouring your surname.

If both of you are hesitating over it, perhaps Mack could be one of the middle names? Or maybe you could pick a boy’s name that has the letters MAC in it, like Cormac or Malcolm, or the same sound, like Maxwell? (sounds like Mack’s well).

That leaves you with Felix, which fortunately is great! Felix would be a wonderful choice with your surname, and as a brother to Olive. It could also work well with your chosen middle names, such as Felix Henry Mack or Felix Winter August.

I know you’ve really only agreed on one name for each sex so far, but one name is all you need, and Cora and Felix are both brilliant choices.

Other names that seem to be in your style might be Clara, Ada, Nora, Iris, or Hazel for a girl, and Jasper, Leo, Finlay, Griffin or Lewis for boy. But I actually like Cora and Felix better than all these names.

Good luck with your name search Josephine and Steve – I think you’re going to be fine. You already picked out one nice baby name, and I’m sure you’ll be able to do it again.

POLL RESULTS
People’s choice for a sister for Olive was Cora, with 71% of the vote. Their choice for a brother for Olive was Felix, with 59% of the vote.

82% of people were not in favour of using the name Henry Harley, with 61% thinking it was a little too much, and 21% thinking it was completely over the top. 14% of people thought it was fine, and 4% actually loved the idea.

57% of people didn’t see a problem with Mack, with 29% thinking it was fine and 28% thinking it was great. A sizeable minority of 43% were not in favour. 30% thought it was too casual and nicknamey, and 13% that it was too rough and aggressive.

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