The Names That Got Away

I absolutely adore the names that you chose for your children, and I was wondering if you have any names that got away?  If so, would you be willing to share? I have to say, I’m always curious what you would name another handful of children! Thanks so much. — Trisha


What a fun question, Trisha. I love the phrase you use: the names that got away. That’s perfect. I do have a list. Or at least a couple of little stories. When I was pregnant for the second time, and we’d found out it was a girl, we started chatting about names. I suggested Claire, (which I love!) And Ben started laughing. “Claire Blair?” he asked? Ugh! I hadn’t even thought about the first and last names together! When I realized they formed a full-on rhyme, which I was not okay with, I about burst into tears.

Then, when I was pregnant for the third time, I was positive I was having a boy (I wasn’t), and we starting picking out names. We really liked one of the Blair family names: Charles Sargeant Green, and we planned on naming baby number 3 Charles Sargeant Blair. But baby number 3 turned out to be Olive! And when the next boy arrived (Oscar), Charles Sargeant didn’t feel quite right, so we saved it for a possible future son. Since we’re done having babies, it’s now officially a name-that-got-away.

Other names that have made our short list over the years: Mabel, Maxine, Beatrice and Hazel. But I can’t remember any of our boy names. In general, we’re drawn to the names from our grandparent’s generation. We favor names that are:
-Easy to pronounce
-Easy to spell
-Currently uncommon
-A name with some history — a name our kids will discover as they get to know great books.

As a mental test, whenever we were talking about names, I would imagine my kids as 80-year-olds, sitting at a card table playing canasta. If the name we were considering fit at the table, it got a green light.

And now, I’m so curious I have to ask: Do you have any names that got away too? I’d love to hear them!

P.S. — What if it was illegal to keep your birth name?

184 thoughts on “The Names That Got Away”

  1. I have three children and don’t intend to have anymore but there are lots of names which got away! My three favourite names are Ethel, Edith and Arthur – all of which got vetoed as, living in Italy, it is difficult for people to pronounce the “th” sound correctly and I didn’t fancy having my children called Etel, Edit and Artur!

  2. For some reason we ended up with a short list of girls’ names that were four letters long. We knew it was a girl because it was SUCH a hard won pregnancy that I really wanted to know him or her right.away long before I delivered.

    So the short list was Nora, Lucy and Lily.

  3. I don’t have kids, but I really love the idea of the “names from our grandparents’ generation”, especially since in my family, they had some pretty great names: Elva, Hazel, Prudence, and Viola.

    1. So tricky, Maria! I’m sure you’ll settle on something lovely. It’s been fun for my kids to become familiar with the French pronunciation of their names — it’s like having an alternate name. They get a kick out of it.

    2. We chose the name Cosmo because we needed a name that sounded the same and was spelled the same in English, Danish and French (it also works in German and Italian) so that all of my husband’s family could pronounce it. We love the name and so does our son!

  4. I thought for sure I was having a girl… Gigi Bouvier. This name sounded like she would arrive wearing cashmere & a possible tiara. Instead we had a boy & decided he needed 3 names because I just couldn’t make up my mind. Luca Antonio Gustav. (Antonio after his daddy) Finding the perfect names was one of my favorites parts of pregnancy.

  5. I’m pregnant now with my first son, his name is Theo- but living in Brazil, it’s kinda very very different name… I just love the fact that the combo: jewish+living in Brazil could make awesome names, but my husband can’t even hear about it… My sister in law has her poland grandma name (Yoli) and as I understood, her and my husband kinda made a pact that none of their children will have unusal names. That made me lose: naama, naomi, liat, liora, noa, itay, beny, lior… I love almost all israeli names, but my husbadn thiks they’re hard to spell and understand around here…
    I also love: Matilda, Magnolia, Valentina, Nina, and all those he also hates…

    It’s really hard to find some great original names that don’t go around any soap opera’s actress (what is usual here in brazil),fashion model or funny stuff (we have here some people that don’t speak or understand english, but likes michael jackson or waltdisnei (from walt disney)- they usually think because it’s a foreign name, it’s fancy…)…

    Reading your post I loooved the “names from our grandparents’ generation” theme, (actually Theo was my granpa nick name- theodore) but, when we first thought about it, they turned out to be so biblical and unpronunciable (poland names) that we gave up… hahahahahhaha

    Love all your posts Gabrielle!!! <3

  6. What a fun discussion. I love baby names! I too love the name Claire, but I am biased because it is my youngest daughter’s name:) My youngest is Claire Madeline, my son’s name is Brendan Wesley and my middle daughter is Alexandra Lauren. I hope that my children love their names as much as my husband and I do. I think choosing girl’s names are easy because there seem to be so many great choices. However, we had a difficult time choosing a name for our son. Brendan was the only name that we both liked:)

  7. We have two sons. My favorite boy name has long been Louis. My husband’s fav name is Clark. Since we couldn’t have a Louis AND a Clark, the names canceled each other out and we went with Lincoln & Henry. :)

      1. This brought a chuckle.. :) With our first born, twin boys (now almost 15 years old!) we didn’t know we were having twins. We had the name Mason chosen as our boy name. (We also didn’t know the gender of our assumed-single baby.) My mother-in-law scoffed at it & constantly said “They’re going to call him Mason Dixon!” As if pre-K-2nd graders are familiar with the Mason Dixon Line. ;)
        Anyway, we joke that when we ended up with two and didn’t have a 2nd name yet, we should have gone with Dixon. (JUST in joking. That isn’t actually a name that tickles my fancy) :)

  8. Love this line: “A name our kids will discover as they get to know great books.” Our kids are Alex and Clio. Names that got away for girls are Theodora (Thora), Rosemary (Romy), and Isabeau. Oh, and Theodore for a boy – we couldn’t have Theo and Clio!

    1. Love it Norah! I announced to my husband that I had found the perfect name for our next child – Nell. Amidst giggles, he was quick to point out the Nell Nelson was bit much ;)

      I also love the names of my grand & great-grand parents generation. I think we (particularly females) tend to steer clear of names common for our generation. It’s very easy to remember an Ashley, Jennifer, Stacey or Stephanie who wasn’t so nice to you in high school, but very difficult to think of an Ethel, Hazel or Eleanor as anything other than tender and sweet.

  9. I always love to hear you talk about names. We also like Beatrice (my mom’s name) and Hazel (my grandmother’s name), but with our last name (Wessel — rhymes with ‘vessel’) we thought Hazel Wessel was a bit too rhyme-y. Beatrice (or Bea) is still on the short list, though. Our first is Nora and our second is Jonas (speaking of a name kids will discover as they get to know great books — one of the reasons we named him Jonas is because we both love the book “The Giver” by Lois Lowry). But we’re not done having kids, so I’m excited to see what we get to use still. I’d love to use Fern, Emmanuel (Manny), Atticus (another good book name!), Imogene, Kurt, and a few others! I think we may run out of kids before I run out of great names, though! :)

    1. Wow – Jonas from “The Giver” what an awesome choice and fantastic book! And a treat for him when he reads it! Love it.
      I’m due with my first son in January and we’re far from finding the perfect name.

  10. My boy is named Marco, which I looove, but I wanted a middle name, Kenai, that daddy did not approve at all so it was left out :/…
    Other named I liked were Milo and Luca, and if I ever have a girl she’ll be Live and as a middle name… possibly Summer…

  11. adelaide lucia (addie loo), oliver, henry…the list goes on. and yet my children ended up with names never on “my list” – but they felt right, so that’s how we ended up with luke and charlotte. well, actually charlotte came about because i married into the “brown family” and my sense of humor always outweighs my sense of taste – so, yes – we have a charlie brown (charlotte for future job applications – husbands are so boring!)

    and for fun – my grandmother’s name is olive (still kicking and feisty at 90) and has a gagillion granddaughters and great-granddaughters that everyone wanted to name olive in her honor – and she REFUSED to let anyone take her name. she was the youngest of a bunch of girls named after flowers (rose, lilly, etc) and they had run out of names by her and thus – olive. she never saw it as a blessing. i love it – thus the boy name oliver is on my short list…it’s my clever way of getting around her edict :)

  12. I love how you never thought of the first/last name combo! When I was pregnant we told everyone the baby would be named Taylor, boy or girl, then watch them puzzle that one out (Taylor Taylor). We have two boys, Benjamin and William. A third boy would have been Henry–love that name! We never had girls, but they would have been Emma (I love the Bronte sisters!) or Grace.

  13. I love what we named our two girls, but two of my favorite names “got away” Marielle and Lorelai. For the little conqueror we never had -Maximillian Frederick (family names).

  14. I had two boys only, so my favorite name that got away was a girl’s name that I had picked out before I was even pregnant: Anna Saskia (I am half Dutch, Saskia was Rembrandt’s wife’s name), also a bunch of boys’ names that sounded good in my native Spanish, but I am not a huge fan of in English: Gustavo, Sebastian among others.

  15. I always loved Trent for a boys name, but it is my husband’s last name and Trent Trent just seemed wrong. Although in utero we called my daughter Trent Carlos Trent for fun.

    My “got away” names were Guy for a boy after my grandfather and Fay after my mother, but my husband has a “no family names” rule. Basically, if we ever used a family name, his mother would throw a fit for not using his grandmother’s name. But 1) she was a nasty person and 2) she hated her name so there was no way we were using it.

  16. TIMELY POST! THANKS! I am due today (though that’s not happening) and we haven’t chosen a name yet. I have to see a baby to choose a name but we spend a lot of time eliminating names!

    We have an Archie so his sister’s name has to go with that – hopefully we will know it when we see her!

    1. Our teenage boys play basketball against a kid named Archie every year.. I always think it’s such a nostalgic name! One with good character, that we don’t hear very often in current generations.
      Best wishes with baby delivery!!

  17. When I was pregnant with our first child, we picked out the names Cameron and Delainey. That baby turned out to be Cameron, so we decided to hold on to Delainey for a future girl…and ended up getting a Jerame (pronouned Jeremy), a Brandon and an Evan! No girls for us and now we’re done. I’m thrilled with my little Army of boys but it seems strange that there will never be a Delainey for us.

  18. We didn’t find out the gender ahead of time for either of our kids and ended up with two girls’ names that got away – Hannah Grace and Annika Mariah. Our boys are named Paul Michael and Benjamin Lucas.

  19. I absolutely adore the name Valentine for a girl, and she is a good character in several books I hope my children will one day read. But I don’t think we’ll ever be able to use it because of a very unhappy connection with variants of that name on my husband’s side of the family.
    I am currently pregnant with our third, and if we find out it’s a girl I’m going to be so very sad that Valentine is not an option… it’s the only name I really have my heart set on right now. And I think it goes so well with our other daughters: Ellie and Olivia. I love their names so much and think they suit them so well… I hope that I’m able to find more names I fall in love with just as much. (Which, of course, is why I’m reading all the comments on here.)

    1. One of my favorite sites for baby name searches is I just mention it, because I know you’re on the hunt, Michelle. I hope you find something you love every bit as much as Valentine.

  20. I have a similar story to your Claire one. I love the name Duncan (we have a lot of Scottish/English/Irish in our blood), but with a last name like Downey, my husband would have none of it. Sounds too much like Dunkin’ Donuts. Sigh…

  21. My daughter is Clare… and luckily our last name made it possible to use without it sounded like a Dr. Seuss rhyme. :) We also picked names from a few generations back, and those that had history within our family. Our son Jackson is named after his great grandfather— and I love it.

    Have you read the book Namesake? I read it while pregnant with my first and it really made me think hard about what to name my kids. I remember a month after my daughter was born, taking a shower and thinking that we named her the wrong thing. I didn’t feel like Clare should be her name— and it was a scary moment. Well, 3 years later I couldn’t be more sure of it. She is a Clare and I love that little Bear.

    1. My youngest is named Anissa which is uncommon here in Australia. I also remember feeling daunted when she was a few weeks old, that I had made a mistake by using that name. Now she is 17 and loves her name (as I do!) Many people comment on how pretty it is.

  22. Eleanor Mae (Nora)
    Jane Meredith (Janey)
    Genevieve Regina (a little bit cabbage patchy, so middle might have to change to some other Catholic name for Mary) (nickname?)
    Mary Katherine (or Catherine) and call her Kate or Cait.

    Who we do have…

    Jacob Gregory
    Clare Bernadette Marie
    Maximilian Thomas
    Abraham Leo Kebede
    Jude Dominic
    Magdalene Louise Miriam
    Timothy Isaiah Zerihun

    With five sons you can see why my only names to get away are girl names. My husband would have loved a Francis (Frank) or Charles, but both were past boyfriends of mine so I just couldn’t go there.

    LOVE your children’s names.

  23. I have to laugh. My sister Claire married a man with the last name Bair. She could have been your Claire’s buddy.

    I also like the older traditional names — Beatrice and Mabel being two I love. However, my long lost favorite girl name is Delphine.

    Such fun to think about!

  24. I hope we’re not done having kids, but for our daughter we had picked out Margot Lynn or Alice Mae. She ended up Alice Renee (her daddy chose her name). Only after she was born did we find out that Alice was my husband’s grandmother’s middle name. I love that her name has a family connection. When we were deciding on names I was hoping for a family name, but none of the ones we found really stood out to us. Don’t know how we missed that Alice was a choice, but so happy things worked out as they did.

  25. Im due with a little girl next week. Just yesterday my husband and I fell in love with the name Hazel. I love names from the 19teens. Violet was a contender too. It was fun to see Hazel on your list too!

  26. What a great post! I love this picture of your kids. Really beautiful – I had a couple of names that “got away” . I ended up with 2 boys (I don’t know how you do it with 6!) but for my 1st one, his father wanted Sean – I wanted Ian (both derivatives of “john”) but we decided that his initials SOB (O’Brien) wouldn’t be too kind ;-). He’s Andrew Dolan If I had had a girl – she would have been Devon Rose – instead that is my home furnishings business name – Devon Designs – my third “child” :)

  27. we are done, and got two boys…they were hard to compromise on. the girl name was so easy and settle on……for the first it would have been
    Penelope Jane (with a nickname of PJ)
    and for the second it would have been
    Anslie Grey

    oh well….

  28. My husband and I have common names: Jessica and Jeff. We decided that when we had kids, we would name them something uncommon (but not difficult). We have two sons: Dade Elijah and Ronan Tobias. I love their names and they completely fit.
    I really like old-school names that have become uncommon too, but I like twists. I like kinda boyish names for girls like Bradlee Taylor or Charlie Elizabeth. We never had girls, so we never got the chance to name them this! I also really love the name Henry for a boy. So cute!

    1. I liked Charlie for a girl too, and really loved Scottie for a girl’s name.
      My husband wouldn’t go for it.
      We had 4 boys, and just one girl.. Lilly Drew. Lilly, beautiful like a flower, and Drew – meaning courageous & strong. It’s a mix that suits her well!

  29. My kids are Harper 16, Carling 8 and Finn 6. I love gigi, remy, poppy, and of course Oliver. Much to my surprise Harper is trendy now. When I named her Harper my Mother in law about fell over!!

  30. I love to ask people this question. I’m completely happy with my daughter Saffron and my son Hugo’s names, but I secretly wish we were having more kids because I love choosing names so much. When I was pregnant with my son, we thought if it was a girl we’d name her Wembley Lara. Even though Wembley could be a boy’s name, it just wasn’t for us. We also liked India for a girl too and that was almost Saffron’s name. Other boy names I liked are: Ira, Saul, Miles and Oscar.

  31. When I was pregnant with my second son I wanted to call him No’am (I’m Israeli and it is a biblical word in hebrew which means pleasantness, tenderness). I wasn’t sure about the name since it is a bit similar to my own name but when i was in labor in the hospital, while i was in contractions I spotted a religious book near the bed. the title was printed in gold on the brown: “Noam Elimelech” . In that moment it felt like a sign that this baby will be named Noam. later I found out that this book is considered to be helpful for women in labor and to give a safe and easy delivery.

  32. We only ended up with our one precious boy so I have TONS of names that got away, LOL! Mainly girls names though as Jack was always my favorite boys name so we went with that. If we’d had another boy he would’ve been Finn Henry–those were the only other names on my short list.

    For girls though the list is endless (and changes from time to time…..even though I KNOW I’m done having babies there’s always the (very) small chance we could adopt….maybe?!). My top 10 would include: Audrey, Daisy, Isobel, Isla, Hazel, Maia, Oonagh, Anabel, Beatrice and Scarlet. For years I loved Emma too, but then it became too popular for my liking unfortunately.

    It’s a good thing we don’t live in the UK as I believe that Jack has been the #1 boys name for the past decade or so. While it’s not uncommon where we live at least I don’t hear it everywhere.

  33. I love Bronte for a girl but my sister-in-law’s name is Bronwen and my husband thinks those are too similar.

    He also vetoed Blythe because he didn’t want to name a daughter after Gilbert Blythe (frankly, I can’t think of a better person to name a child after!).

    1. Me neither, Janssen! I love Anne of Green Gables, so anything related to that I love! Plus, Blythe is just so beautiful!

  34. We have a William Abbot, a Kieran Edward, and a Gwen Claire. They are all named (at least in part) for their grandparents and great grandparents and I love their names.
    My go-to girl name has been Maeve Claire for as long as I can remember. When I was pregnant with Gwen, two other families in our tiny town welcomed new baby girls and named them Maeve! So we switched things up and found Gwen, and I absolutely love her name.
    I didn’t want my Maeve to be one of three in her class, so I put that name on the back burner, but if I ever have another girl, I’d love to use it!
    I also love Brigid (nn Birdie!) for a girl.

    1. We have a Brigid and I call her Birdie (or Little Bird). I love the name Maeve, but our last name starts with M and the alliteration was too much of a mouthful.

  35. we have genevieve marie (evie), and twins john harrison (harry) and elisabeth lilly-rose (bette, or bea). we were going to name bea “amelie”, which our sister-in-law used a few months before we could :) i loved the names alixandra, josephine, and livingstone for a girl. for a boy, colin, edmund or edison.

      1. I think Josephine is a pretty name too! Ralph has a facebook friend named Josephine and I tease him that they’ll get married because I think the 2 names sound so nice together.

  36. We named our daughter Danika Grace (Grace is a family name)…I love the name Adrienne (but my husband said it reminded him of Rocky). Other contenders were Annika and Erika (obviously out for future siblings since they rhyme with Danika!) I also love names that end in -er, but since our last name does they are out since they rhyme (Sawyer, Conner, Taylor, etc.) Another name that I love is Allegra, but my husband said it reminds him of the allergy medicine.

    1. We had Allegra on my husband’s list and HE had not realized it was a medicine. I had Marina on my list and he pointed out it is where boats park. We went through so many names not able to decide, so each of our kids have three first names and two last names! The names that got away: Imogen, Leila, Nina, Mathilde, Ticonderoga (!), Mordecai, Sebastian, Penelope, Josephine, Miles,Tibalt, Beryl, and the most recent (for a girl) Mnemosyne. I’m kind of sad I didn’t have the gumption at the last minute for that one!

  37. my daughter was lydia violet until she was born. she came out strawberry blonde with big blue eyes that I just felt were going to stay blue (but her coloring was something of a surprise as I was dark haired as a baby and my hair only settled on auburn after I was a few years old and my eyes are dark brown).

    there was no way she was a lydia so I had to go back to the longer list from earlier and finally settled on luciana (with no middle name since there was a last minute request for two last names…). I miss lydia violet, but my daughter is very definitely a luciana (lucy and lulu for short).

  38. When I was pregnant my husband and I used to joke that we’d name a girl Melpomene (Mel-POM-eh-nee – one of the Greek muses) but we had two boys. Now I think back, I think we actually would have done it. Pommy for short.

  39. I have one girl, Sabrina Louise, and we sometimes call her “Lulu” after her middle name. And there will be some more after her in the future at some point. My husband loves the name Zeke for a boy…. and I just don’t. So for him, that’s a name that got away. Also another name that got away for my husband is Asher. I like the name, but my husband ruined it with the nickname possibilties of Ash when he said, “Get your Ash out of the tree.” And other variations on that theme.
    We also really like the names: Rogan for a boy, Andra and June for a girl.

  40. We have Christian, Elle, Ava, Mae and Juniper Pearl (Junie).

    My boy name that did not quite get away yet since all of my kids are begging me to have more, is Leif.

    Some of the girl names we considered for Junie were: Olive, Beatrix (Bex), Suvi, Jane, Scout, Charlotte (Lotta), River, Lake, Bette, Lis, Clover, and Wren.

  41. I’m having a boy, due Christmas Day. Had my heart set on ‘Grayson’ until it became trendy and I realized that ‘gray’ rhymed with our last name ‘Obray’. Our girls are Emeryn and Eden.

  42. I had quite a few names that we didn’t get to use. I found most of them on a picture hanging up at my mother in law’s house with faded tin types of past relatives. Levi was a standout, but alas, Cole didn’t look like a Levi. Now, I’m glad we didn’t pick it. Although Levis jeans aren’t super popular anymore, I think it could have been an easy teaser.

      1. We are expecting a baby boy and I love the name Salem. I don’t know anyone with the name, though, so I’m having a hard time figuring out if there are any issues with it. Obviously I know about the association with the witch trials, but being from New England I have lots of other associations with the name (as the name of the city, various street names, etc.) and it doesn’t bother me. Did you brother ever have problems with his name?

  43. I have a love/hate relationship with naming babies. So fun in theory, so difficult in reality! We have a Clara and are currently expecting baby #2 (gender unknown for one more week!) but we think it will be a Charlie (Charles), Henry, or possibly Betty if it’s a girl. Clara was my husband’s grandma and Betty is mine. We love looking to our family tree for inspiration. But one thing is sure — the name that will most definitely ‘get away’ (we’re not brave enough, despite it’s coolness) is my husband’s great grandfather Manly Horatio.

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