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. This post made my day! What a lovely picture of your children too.

    My kids are Lucas, Ezra, and Willa. Names that got away were Silas, Elliot, Abel, and Matilda. I’m not done yet and don’t completely count them out, but their time mostly feels past. Silas is the only one I really experience the occasional pang for at this point after all these years. Names at the top of my list that I think I might be able to get away with are Cleo, Maude, Zelda, Bess, and Felix.

    1. I have a Silas (Brinkley), and I love his name, still, after eight years! Also a Ruby (Frances) that has turned out to be VERY popular -she has to go by her first and middle name, always (her best friend is also a Ruby). We gave both kids family names for their middle names. Sebastian and Lucia got away…

    2. I adore Lucas and Willa..
      Lucas was on our list for a long time! And if we have a girl Willa will be a possibility, I have only met one Willa!

    3. We have a Gus Silas and our daughter is Willa Lainey. We are still pondering what the third will be (due 4 weeks from today). We were pretty set on Nora until I saw it on the top 10 for next year so back to the drawing board. I like easy to pronounce, not so common names. The boys name contenders are Otis and Blaine right now.

  2. I have 5. Margaret Emma, Brigid Grace, Olivia Barry, Ella Kathleen, and Rose Patrick. When the writing was on the wall regarding boys, I was sad to give up Hank as a name. I always had girls names on hand and never boys. I could still name 5 more.

  3. Love this discussion and hearing your name back story. Kind of jealous you had so many opportunities to decide! I had my one shot with my twins, but have heard so many other names since that I love. We used our Mom’s names Susan and Virginia for our girls’s middle names, though I also loved my grandmothers’ names June and Mae.

  4. I love thinking about names! I currently have a Robert Duncan and Elizabeth Eleanor. We seem to wind up going for the classic British feeling names. My husband has an unusual name (at least it was when he was growing up, now I see it all over the place) and he really wanted our kids to have names that everyone would recognize and be able to pronounce. Lizzy is of course named after one of my favorite heroines (Elizabeth Bennet). We are hoping to have more kids, so I am hoping for an Evelyn (called Evie) and Katherine (called Kate) with maybe an Arthur, William or Charles thrown in there somewhere.

    I have more kid names than how many kiddos I am planning to have! We thought girl names would be easier than boy names because there were so many more that we liked, but that just turned out to be harder because there were so many options!

    1. “We thought girl names would be easier than boy names because there were so many more that we liked, but that just turned out to be harder because there were so many options!”

      I think that’s so true! Picking boy names was easier for us too.

  5. Clara, Eloise, Eleanor, and Johanna were on my short list when Brigid was born. And she was almost named Lily or Lillian because the our water lilies bloomed for the first time the morning she was born.

    On our short list for boys names were Liam, Ewan, and Heath.

  6. This post reminds me of something that made me think of your family a few weeks ago- the CBS Sunday morning show did a piece on a “Betty” convention…I think in Nebraska- The Bettys were lamenting that their name, once so popular, had fallen out of style…it made me think your Betty could be their youngest member- and mascot. It might be a fun field trip when you return to the States!

  7. What a great post! I love names. We kept our daughter’s a secret until she was born just in case anyone had an opinion to share (her name is Mercy Naura).

    Others I loved were Eden and Zoe. For boys, I love Jonas and Moses.

  8. Joseph Adam, kind of. Our first born is named from our fathers’ middle names. Our second was named for our mothers’ sides of the family, so our third and last we decided to name after us. My middle name is JoAnne, but in college I went by Jo and was called Joseph by my FHE Bros. His middle name is Adam. If we had a boy it was to be Joseph Adam but since we had a girl she is JoAnna Eve. So neither way would have been completely after us but I love the play of both names.

  9. It was fun to see that Mabel was one of your names that got away. My mom always regretted not naming one of us daughters Mabel after her mom. My husband and I don’t have any kids yet, but are hoping to very soon. I can’t wait to be parents and I love to talk about baby names with him. He will humor me, most of the time. Our last name is Evans, which is Welsh, and I’d like our possible future son to have a Welsh name like Rhys (pronounced ‘Reese’), Broderick, or Maddock/Maddox. As for girls’ names, I am a children’s librarian and am drawn to names of famous characters and authors, especially Charlotte, Louisa, Beatrix, Philippa (“Pippa” for short), and Hermione. I don’t know if I am brave enough to name my kid that last one though.

  10. Such a great post! Love reading everyone’s baby names. I have a Hannah Jean and a Claire Marguerite. I, too, love old fashioned names. Their middle names are both family names, which I love. The ones that got away…Theodore and Zoe <3

  11. I don’t have kids yet but I have a feeling my favorite girl’s name will forever be the one that got away. I’ve love the name Eire Elizabeth forever. Eire is the Gaelic word for Ireland is pronounce “Air-a”. Elizabeth is after my Nana. I hesitate to go with Eire because no one will ever be able to spell or pronounce it. I’ve had a hard enough time with people spelling my name. I don’t want to do that to one of my kids. One of my favorite boys names has always been Declan but everyone in my family thinks of a friend’s dog that had the name. We’ll see what I come up with when it’s my turn for babies.

  12. i was blessed with only one child, and as i had gotten divorced from her father before she was born, and didnt remarry until she was 13, i was not going to be blessed with a second one. my father’s name is Frank, and his siblings were Frances, Louise, Edwin, and James. *if* i had had a second child, it would have been named either Frances Louise, or Frank Edwin James; nicknamed Frankie. but we have two cats, and their names are Ghealach Friday and Réalta Thirteen. Ghealach means “moon” in Gaelic; she was found on Good Friday in a full moon. Réalta means “star” in Gaelic; and she has thirteen toes on her front feet.

  13. Two names that I looooved when trying to name our little girl were Cecelia (think Simon and Garfunkel) and Naomi. They both got vetoed, sadly.

  14. abbeyviolet (@abbeyviolet)

    I do! We just had a baby 12 weeks ago and had a very difficult time naming him. I, for example, love the name Bennett— but already have a son named Brendan, and a husband named Brent so we deemed it too close. (The baby’s name is Everett Ambrose instead). We also have loved and let go – Bingham, Emmett, Wallace, Winston, Aubrietta, Belle, Violette, Liam, Dexter, & Declan, among others. For the record, we also have a daughter named Marguerite (Maggie) Jewel.

    1. My son’s middle name is Ambrose too! He was named after my grandma Ambrosia and have never come across another Ambrose! Great name!

  15. We are done having kids and while I like all of their names, if i could do it again, i think I may chose a different name for most of them. My grandfather recently passed away with my grandmother a few years earlier. I still have one grandfather left and now have such a wish that I had used all of my grandparents names as first names. I didn’t have the courage for a Mac (great grandfather), Ford (grandfather middle name), Marshall (grandfather first name) for my boys and while they all have nice names they are just that and I love the idea of having a really meaningful name of someone very special. Thankfully we did give them family middle names.

  16. Hi Gabrielle! I too adore your kids’ names. As a 17 year-old ‘name nerd’ I do give a lot of thought to these kinds of things, so perhaps it’s not a huge coincidence that I have wondered before what Blair names ‘got away’. Based on your choices I had guessed: Frank, Felix, Rufus, Hugo, Calvin & Walter for boys and Pearl, Hazel, Clara, Edith, Willa, Esme, Mabel & Alice for girls. It makes me very happy and just a bit smug to see that I did get a few right!

  17. I always loved the name Elsa, but when I started using it for my then unborn daughter it just didn’t feel right. I liked Flora as well, but it rhymes with my own name (Nora) and I didn’t like that idea :) So we went with Thea instead. If I ever have another, Elsa will definitely make the list again!

    For a boy I always liked Ben (we couldn’t use that because my boyfriend’s name is Ben as well and he didn’t want a Ben Jr.).

  18. We have 3 girls. Hazel, Sadie and Elsie. I was so so sure our last baby was a boy (so sure I didn’t check for quite a few minutes) how surprised I was that the baby was not a Moss as I had planned. But oh how we love our Elsie.

  19. Is it terrible that we don’t even have children yet, and I already have “names that got away”? Haha. My husband has already vetoed some of my favorites:


    *Sigh* Such lovely names to let go. But, we’ve come to a compromise, and decided that our first child will either be Lathan Grey or Phoebe Kate.

  20. Hi everyone, love this post and love so many of the “names that got away”. When I too young to even think about motherhood I wanted to name my baby girl (if I had one) Annabelle. My middle name is Ann after an aunt who passed away from cancer before I was born. But then I married and took my husbands name. Bell! So, no Annabelle Bell. When I was pregnant I read Mary Wesley’s Camomile Lawn and fell in love with the name Calypso. That is my name that got away as EVERYBODY in the whole wide world told me I’d be crazy to name my daughter Calypso. Except my husband who simply said “no way!” We named our baby girl Carys, which is Welsh for beloved and her middle name is Jane. My name, Sian is Welsh for Jane, which means gracious. And she is both beloved and gracious.

  21. Hi all,
    DesignMom, I like your comment about picturing your kids as 80 year old adults sitting around at a table, and the name needing to fit. You are so right. What may sound cute on a two year old, might not seem right for an adult, a business professional, etc. We chose Nolan for my son. It has always been important that my child wasn’t one of many in his/her kindergarten class, although the name Nolan has become increasingly more popular. My daughter’s name is Silvia. We chose to spell it with an “i” rather than a “y” because we felt it was more modern, and it is also the traditional spelling in italian. I am Italian. We call her Silvie for short. I like grownup names, which is why I really like your kids’ names :)

  22. I love that…the names that got away. I am trying for a baby. Secondary fertility issues suck…but I’m still holding onto a few names.

    Gone from the past though are some I still adore and just didn’t use. Beckett Charles. (Beckett is what I wanted to name my son, but my husband won that battle. I wouldn’t use it now, however I do love it.) Tristan Gabriel. Meghan, Isabella and Sydney.

    Also I lost a baby and named her Piper. It is her name and always will be, but oh how I adore it.

  23. My first pregnancy, everyone swore she was a boy except my stepdaughter and MIL. We had chosen a boy’s name (Nathanyl Christopher Hezekiah) and girls name (Josephine Alexandria Issybella)…my husband wanted them to have two middle names, and I was saving my vetos for crazy names so agreed. Who uses middle names much anyway? When I was in labor, I had this overwhelming feeling that if it was a girl, she had to have Issybella as her first name. The hubs thought I was crazy since it was so clearly a boy, but agreed. It is the perfect name for our now almost 14 year old. There weren’t a lot of Bella’s around then (thanks Twilight) but the spelling being different suits her so much. And it is so pretty to write out, all those loopy letters.

    My next pregnancy, we found out it was a boy early on and his name was set as Nathanyl Christopher right away. And again his name suits him to a T. I know they are strange spellings, but he usually goes by Nate or Nathan anyway, and he loves that it’s spelled that way.

    As a teenager, I always thought I would name my daughter Cassandra Bethany. I still love those names.

  24. We’re expecting our third and if it’s a girl, her name will likely be Claire… or Clare — hubby and I haven’t quite settled on this. It’s the only girl name we both seem to like. We never seem to have a problem with boy names. We’re still struggling with a middle name for Claire. It has to be some meaningful as opposed to just a name we like so we’ll be looking to family names or other names that are special to us for one reason or another.

  25. This is such a great post! And I’m loving reading all the comments above. Our son is adopted from Korea, so we wanted a name that was unusual around here… but not unheard of. And most importantly, it had to fit with his birth name. We ruled out every single name on our short list as soon as we saw his referral photo. And then it took us a month to land on the name that he carries today, Spencer Seojin. Our deciding factor?! Mocked up business cards for his career as a banker, computer genius, or rock star. (OK, so the last one was really a mocked up album cover…)

    We’re in the process for child #2, so I don’t want to think about names that got away – yet! Although, I will never get my Beckett due to the fact that we live in Red Sox country and until recently, they had a pitcher named Josh Beckett.

  26. We have two daughters. Our little boy names that got away are Andrew Thomas & Owen Patrick. I wouldn’t trade my girls in for anything in the world… but sometimes I do wonder what it would have felt like to call out those names in our home!

  27. I always have loved the name Beau. Only the hubby always said “NO” because our last name has eaux at the end. Stinks since I could not name a boy BO either. Boo hoo. I did end up with a Randall, Luke & Cooper. And they are just wonderful!

  28. I loved reading this post and the comments!

    Carter Jesse, Ruby Jane, and Amelia Lucy are my three kids’ names.

    I have long lists, but off the top of my head, a few names that got away (or that I hope to pull from in the future) include:
    Georgia, Hazel, Leila, Molly, Olive
    Bennett, Caleb, Ezra, Miles, Oliver

  29. Oh, that picture of your children is SO BEAUTIFUL! My top names that got away are Ada, specifically Ada Bliss, and August. Though I did manage to use Augusta as a middle name. I love British/Southern names like Georgiana and Imogen, and I also love the name Rowan–for a girl.

  30. I have four kids. Delia, Milo, Eloise and Oliver

    Both the girls had different names for a few hours and there are still times that I miss those names. Delia was Beatrice for almost a full day and frankly there are many things that still scream Beatrice to me about her. Eloise was alternately Clara and Mabel. Again, I see so much of a Mabel in her still that I try not to feel any namers remorse about her actual name.

    The boy names I loved but never used. Felix, Charles and just plain old John.

    Beatrice, Clara, Mabel, Felix, Charles, and John. Goodbye. May another family take you home and love you!

  31. We ha e an Erin Sophia who was very nearly Emilia Rose. Looking ahead to a future sibling I love Theo, Charlotte, Jonah, Molly, Teas, Piper, Pippa and Sanu. I know quite a few of these will be vetoed sadly!

  32. I like your name “test”. I had a couple of them. One was I practiced yelling it to see if it was something I could holler effectively. :) The second one was to try it out with serious job titles (Dr, The Honorable, Senator, etc.) to make sure that our names sounded like the responsible adults that we want them to grow into.

  33. Gabrielle was number one…that was it after a possible Bianca…but I had a son, hence, George who was named for his father…easy, done:)
    I did go through a phase liking Remy (Italian) for a boy, but it never happened.

  34. Saoirse…the Irish word for freedom. I already have my lovely Iris Siobhan and a Simon Jude. The kids have our first names as their middle names and use both of our last names, so each have 4 names. I am still waiting for my little Saoirse Ainthe Isolde. Saoirse is pronouced Sare-Sha or Seer-Sha, depending on your accent. And Ainthe is like Anya.

  35. Libby, Scout and Angus are the names that got away ay my house. When looking into the family genealogy, don’t forget the towns or counties the families are from. My daughters are named after places. Logan county NC is where my grandfather was from.

  36. Gabrielle – I never thought of names from our grandparents until I found your website, I like your reasoning behind the names and I like all of your children’s names.

    I don’t have kids yet, and they’re really not on the horizon anytime soon, but I have always loved the name Sophie for a girl and it is actually a form of my name. I am kind of sad that it is quite popular now. My sister and I are Sonya and Leah and I appreciate that we have names that are not super common but they’re also not off the wall either. Other girl names that I like but don’t think I could get away with: Natalia and Natasha. When I get married next year my last name will be Riefenberg – no one can ever spell it or say it. So, I think when and if the time comes for children, we will go with simpler names. :)

  37. So funny because my SIL is in the middle of trying to name her 2nd born and I am holding a name that baby contest. Love hearing all the suggestions. I love my kids names… Mason, Lola, and Fin

  38. I was as big as a house each time I was pregnant, so we were constantly asked if we were having twins (never happened, but it does run in the hubs family, lol). So our twin names would be the ones that got away…
    Zoe Isabelle G.
    Zane Alexander G.
    and they would be nicknamed Zig and Zag (of course it would have also been dependant on who arrived first, lol).
    As it is, I’m happy with who we did get…
    Emily Jeanne G.
    Sylvia Grace G.
    The first names are ones I’ve loved (Emily of New Moon, anyone?) and the middle names were from my hubs and my favourite grandmothers.
    What fun to reminesce about baby names!!

  39. the minute i got pregnant with my daughter my name radar was on full tilt. i had quite a few names in mind already as i think all girls tend to have. the top of my list was Tallulah {Lola} which my husband veto’d. for both my kids we had their names by 5 months old. firm. my daughter {since we didn’t know her sex – the umbilical cord was in the way} was to be Aydan Georgia Betty for a girl or Dax Nolan Anthony for a boy. alas she was Aydan. Georgia came from my husband wanting a song for her second name and it was between that or Caroline – i chose Georgia…and Betty was my grandmother’s name and i couldn’t think of a better way to keep her with us always. I just wished i had the guts like you to give her that for her first name. my only regret.
    when my son was born we found out quite soon it was a boy and while watching the movie “the right stuff” one night my husband looked over and me and said “what do you think about Cooper Gus?” {after astronauts Gordo Cooper and Gus Grisam} and i looked back and said “i think i like it.” so he is Cooper Gus Anthony. if by chance he ended up being a girl the name was to be Savannah.
    people asked why we didn’t go for Dax on round two but it just didn’t seem to fit anymore. i do have some names on the back burner though in case he stork strikes again: Savannah for a girl for sure, Andrew, Riley or Tad for a boy or maybe something real country club like like Preston.

  40. Oh, I love this! For me it’s definitely Phoebe. Our second child was going to be Phoebe but then he was a boy … Alas. Eloise also one we almost named our daughter. In the end we went with a family name (Grace). I still think about my Phoebe, though!

  41. Ahhh…Emma. The little girl we never had. Three boys….the Syed is my husband’s Pakistani family name. All the men have it at the beginning of their name. It isn’t their first name though…it is just a family name. The second name is always the actual first name.
    Syed Elijah Jamal (Jamal because the first son is always named after Daddy and Elijah because it was the ONLY name on the list that my husband liked…this became a trend for him…hardest person to pick a name with IN THE WORLD)

    Syed Nathaniel Hunt (Hunt for my mom’s maiden name, to honor her and my grandparents and Nathaniel because I loved that and Daniel but Daniel is VERY common in Indianapolis and besides…”The Last of the Mohicans”…ahhhhh, love it)

    Syed Alexander William (Alexander so I could call him Alec and William as a male version of Wilhelmina….my husband’s beloved grandma, Minnie)

    A little girl would have been Emma Elizabeth or Caitlyn Elizabeth. Emma was my favorite, though. Just SO common right now. :/ So, we probably wouldn’t have picked it in the end.

  42. We’ve got a little Mabel Ruth running around the house and it fits her perfectly. She was almost a Nanette, which I still adore, and sometimes I think I should have named her Alice (and called her Al). Boy names are so hard! I’m bookmarking this page for our next bundle…

  43. I think we’re done having babies – too many rough pregnancies :( So this baby in residence would have been Evangelina, making that the beautiful name that got away. It was a combination of the name my hub and I chose and my daughter’s addition. So sad.

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