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phoebe

Siobhan and her husband are expecting their third child in a few weeks, who will be a sister to their son Douglas and daughter Lucinda (often called Doug and Lulu).

Their front runner is the name Phoebe. It has a sentimental connection, as Siobhan’s mother is named Fiona, so both names have a similar sound, and the nickname Fi can be used for either name.

Although Siobhan isn’t sure that anything will be better than Phoebe, she is still looking as this is their last child, and would like a great sibset. Siobhan loves sibsets that have a “matchy yet mismatched” sort of feel – ones that go together well, without seeming too obviously a set.

She likes names that are familiar but underused or have a slightly dated feel, and a cute nickname is a bonus. If the baby had been a boy, he would have been named Montgomery and nicknamed Monty.

Other names that are still on the list are Eva, Edith, and Cecilia, and Siobhan has no idea what the middle name will be at this point.

Siobhan welcomes people’s input and ideas.

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I know what you mean about those matchy-yet-not-matchy sibsets – I like them too, as they can be charming and unexpected. To me Douglas and Lucinda seem slightly hipster and vaguely Scottish, and Phoebe does fit in with this, as it’s something of a favourite in Scottish songs and ballads.

The names all have quite different popularity profiles: Douglas is a classic which peaked in the 1920s and is now in limited use; Lucinda is a modern classic which has never been popular but is fairly well used; while Phoebe is a retro name which has been popular since the 1990s, but never reached the Top 50. I guess you could say all of them are under-used in some sense.

What makes Phoebe special for you is that you connect it with your mother, and I don’t think you can go past a name that has some kind of meaning or positive association for you. It sounds as if it is the FEE in the name, or the potential to use Fi or Fee as the nickname, which is the main drawcard. There are other names which could give you the same sound and nickname, but perhaps you have already considered and rejected them.

Felicity can also have Fee has the nickname, and it doesn’t seem wildly different from Fiona. Like Fiona it peaked in the 1970s, but never became very popular, making its profile similar to Lucinda – a modern classic which is underused, but remains in reasonable use. It somehow reminded me a little of Montgomery, too.

Another one is Josephine – the original long form for the French nickname Fifi. Josephine is a classic which peaked in the 1910s, so quite similar to Douglas. It hasn’t been popular for many decades, yet has remained in constant steady use, so is very similar in popularity to Lucinda.

A third one that occurs me, and is perhaps something of a stretch, is Daphne. It’s a Greek name like Phoebe with a strong PH in it ending in an EE sound, and it peaked in the 1920s like Douglas. Like Phoebe, it’s a retro name as it has recently come back into fashion but is still underused and has a similar popularity level to Douglas. Fee seems like a cute nickname for it, and more modern than Daph and Daffy.

When you are completely stuck for a middle name and literally have no ideas, then family names can be a good option – although as you are already using a spin on a family name upfront, you might find this a bit much. If so, the unused names on your baby name list can be a go-to resource. It’s especially safe for you as you are not planning on another child and don’t have to worry that you might be “name stealing” from a future daughter.

From your list, I think Phoebe Cecilia is very elegant. I admit that I’m probably very biased though, as I have Cecilia as a middle name on my own name list! I think I would prefer it matched with a longer name like Cordelia or Vivienne, but something short like Phoebe Jane or Phoebe Kate would also work well.

To recap, I think Phoebe makes a great addition to your family and has a wonderful association for you. It’s not the only name you could use that fits the bill, but I think Phoebe is probably where your heart lies. I don’t think you would have any serious problem finding a middle name to go with Phoebe.

Good luck with your name search, and do let us know what name you eventually use!

POLL RESULTS
90% of people approved of the sibset Douglas, Lucinda and Phoebe, with 39% thinking it was great, 27% thinking it was nice, and 25% thinking it was fine. 10% of people weren’t fans. 32% of people thought this sibset was better than any other suggested – 10% more than the next choice, which was Douglas, Lucinda and Josephine.

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