I have just been loving Anne lately. Between the sound, look, history, and literary connections, what’s not to like? True, I have been reading Persuasion by Jane Austen lately, and the main character is an Anne, but I doubt that’s the really reason I’ve been loving it so much. There are other Austen heroines I much prefer.

First, let’s look at the spelling and usage of Anne. The e spelling that I’ve been using is the French form (of Anna). It’s my favorite one. It looks complete and refined, where Ann looks dowdy and incomplete. The Ann spelling peaked in the 30s, whereas Anne peaked in the 1910s. I know they’re the same sound, but this difference might be why Anne looks much less dated than Ann. Of course, these numbers don’t tell the story of the little filler that could: Ann/e was the middle name du jour for so many women, over the ages. Even if it is family, it has the possibility of being  boring in the middle, much like Elizabeth, Nicole, Grace (to go through 3 cycles of filler). The only way to avoid it is to put it after some more unexpected choices. Right now, Anne is 517 and Ann is 786. With Anna at 25, why not give simple Anne another try?

Of course, this similarity could be a strike against sweet Anne. If everyone’s going to mistake her for an Anna, why try? Well, for the sake of Anne! It’s a beautiful, history rich name, and, for me at least, more pleasing than Anna. Anna gets nasal for me, while Anne avoids it with its 1 syllable simplicity.

Of course, the problem I have with Anne is the same problem I have with pretty much every one syllable name; it’s hard to pair with middles! The flow always seems off, and you can’t put a vowel name after Anne, lest it sound like an indefinite article instead of a name. Anne Margaret is out, too. 😛 So it’s a bit difficult to pair.

What do you guys think of Anne?

See here for the explanation, if you can’t figure out what we’re doing here. 😉 (Note: I’m not doing nicknames as other forms, since, well, they’re nicknames. I might do a post on nicknames I consider passable as full names at some point. You won’t see Sasha or Ned here.)

  • Edward: Duarte, Eduard, Eduardo, Edvard, Edmund
    • Eduarda
  • Christopher: Christoph/e, Cristobal, Kester, Christian
    • Christine, Christina, Christabel, Kirsten
  • Joseph: Jose, Giuseppe
    • Josephine, Josepha, Josephina, Giuseppina
  • Alexander: Alasdair, Alejandro, Aleksander, Alesander, Alessandro, Oleksander
    • Alexandra, Alejandra, Alessandra, Alexandrine, Sandrine
  • James: Akiva, Diego, Giacomo, Hamish, Iago, Jacob, Jacobo, Jacobus, Jago, Jacques, Santiago, Seamus, Yakov
    • Jacobine/a, Jacomina, Jacqueline, Jamesina

If anyone’s got any more male names they’d like me to include, pipe up and I’ll throw them on here.

I know that many, many naming sites have exhaustive lists on how to honor a relative with an unsavory name, but I still thought it would be fun to do my own, considering I don’t always agree with their suggestions. You can always use the same first letter, of course, but if you’re more of a stickler for similarity (like me!), maybe you can find these lists of some help. I’m going to stick to different international forms of the name, but I might end up doing a “similar in sound” list later.

  • John: Johann, Ivan, Evan, Sean, Hamish, Ian, Jens
    • Jean, Jane, Giovanna, Joan, Joanna, Sinead, Siobhan
  • Richard: Ricardo
    • Ricarda
  • Anthony: Antony, Antonio, Antoine
    • Antonia, Antoinette, Antonina
  • Timothy: Timoteo, Timo
    • Timothea
  • Michael: Miguel, Mikhail, Miles, Milo
    • Michaela, Michelle, Michela
  • Robert: Roberto, Robin, Rupert
    • Robin
  • William: Wilhelm, Willem
    • Willa, Wilhelmina
  • David: Taavi
    • Davina
  • Thomas: Tavish, Tomas
    • Thomasina, Tamsin
  • Mark: Marcus, Marco, Marcello, Marcos, Marek
    • Marcella, Marcia
  • Charles: Carl, Carlo, Carlos
    • Charlotte, Carla, Carlotta, Caroline, Carolina
  • Stephen: Etienne, Stefan, Tahvo, Esteban
    • Stephanie, Estefania

Still completely charmed by Mary Augusta, Chanel’s brilliant Mary double barrel, so I thought I’d do a post on some double Mary names. I’ll be honest, usually I’m not a fan of double barrels because I think they have a tendency to sound either too Catholic, too pretentious, or too twee. Can you imagine “Mary Beatrix, can you come here, dear? Mummy needs you to freshen her drink,” or see Mary Agnes without picturing a nun? It’s a fine line you need to walk to make a double Mary name work. Some barreled names, such as Marybeth and MaryAnn, have become decently popular “smush” names, so they are to be avoided as well. As for the hyphen: no! The hyphen is just awful, in my opinion. My hatred of punctuation in names does not stop at apastrophes.

I’m going to try my hand at some double barrels with Mary. I probably wouldn’t use a Mary- name, so these might get a little fanciful! I think Mary works best with an unexpected 2nd half:

  • Mary Violet (saw this on a board I frequent and I love it)
  • Mary Scarlett (ditto)
  • Mary Alice (Love this)
  • Mary Frances
  • Mary Petra (Be still my beating heart! I love this one.)
  • Mary Zelda
  • Mary Charlotte
  • Mary Eden
  • Mary Iris

Of cpurse, there’s always the “First middle nickname” route. Mary Elizabeth called Mary Beth, Mary Katherine called Mary Kate. I think that’s a really good way to double barrel without fully committing, in case you’re not sure it would work for you. Mary Jane is beautiful too, but there’s that pesky drug connection. I’ve also got Mary Clementine knocking about, but I’m not convinced that it would be acually usable. Also, what would you do about middles with a double barrel first? I usually play with 3 name combos, so putting a middle in wouldn’t bother me, but if you ony want 2 names, do you add a middle or not? What are your opinions on hypenating the two names? What do you think of these names as a “genre?” I would love to hear your thoughts!

Now that we’ve discussed Margaret’s nicknames, we’ll discuss all the different forms this versatile name can take. There are easily as many forms of Margaret as there are of Elizabeth and Catherine, so this post will probably be a long one! Luckily, most forms seem to be fairly easy and intuitive for English speakers, so I won’t have to pull the hated “beautiful, but unusable” phrase often. (I’m looking at you, Katarzyna.) Well, there’s not much more to say, so let’s get started on the list!

So, like my previous posts on Catherine (1, 2) and Elizabeth (1, 2), I’ll be talking about the name Margaret in two parts. First, we’ll discuss nicknames, both domestic and foreign, then we’ll discuss foreign forms of the name.

To start with, I love the name Margaret. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you might notice that I use it (or a different form of it) in my combos. The primary reason is that Margaret was my late grandmother’s name; she passed when I was about 13 and was the only of my grandparents I knew. I loved her dearly and want nothing more than to honor her in my future child’s name. She was a kind and sweet woman, who never said a bad word about anyone, and was the epitome of Christian charity.  Of course, I may be idolizing her, but she really was one of the sweetest people I have ever known. I actually know the story of how she came to be Peggy; her mother admired Princess Margaret (and Queen Elizabeth, her middle namesake), and so named her child after her. I always thought it was sort of neat that there was an actual reasoning behind her name. Anyway, through constant use to honor Grandma, I came to love the name on its own merits; it’s extremely strong yet recognizably feminine, classic, and comes with a mass amount of nicknames, making it easy to personalize. And the nickname possibilities are what I will discuss today.

As usual, I’ll break the nicknames up into predominately English nicknames, and then foreign ones. Hope this list is informative!


I’ve been crazy for the name Alice lately. No clue why, as it’s not a family name and not a usual favorite. I’ve been finding Tom Waits’ album of the same name in every record store in the Philadelphia area, and it seems to be a sign. (By the way, I found it on vinyl. WANT.) You can listen to the eponymous song from the album here. It’s a lovely song, if sad, as most of his tend to be, at least a little bit.

Anyway, I just love Alice’s sound and girlish yet grown up sound, along with its healthy dose of Victorian feel. Sometimes I feel it’s too much Alice’s Diner and not enough Alice in Wonderland, but those episodes are usually mercifully brief, and I come back to it now and again. It’s been on my lists for a very long time, and seems to be in between upswings in popularity, sitting at 346. Of course, by the time I have kids, it will be Top 100, I just know it. 😛 That seems to be the way it works; everything I love gets popular!

So I’ll regale you with some Alice combos, most just made up here:

  • Alice Dorothea Elinor
  • Alice Eliza Daphne
  • Alice Pandora Margo
  • Alice Theresa May/Margo
  • Alice Cecilia May/Margo
  • Alice Cordelia/Cecilia Daisy
  • Alice Georgiana Fern
  • Alice Margareta Josephine
  • Alice Petra Philomel
  • Alice Philomena Clare
  • Alice Penelope Joan
  • Alice Felicity Eve

Seems as though I like a endings after Alice. I think they add a lot of bounce in a combo, if you know what I mean. I could add some more, but maybe later or another day. What are your thoughts on Alice? What do you think of my combos? (Remember they’re a work in progress!) What are your own Alice combos? Thanks for stopping by!

In our previous post we covered the various nicknames for the Catherine family. In this post, I’ll cover the myriad forms that this staid classic takes. This post is going to be a little special though, since the English spelling variations will get a section; there’s too many of them to just ignore. So let’s break down the spellings first, and then move into foreign variations. Remember, I’m trying to keep it to ones that are palatable to the English speaking population. So let’s go!


Since my birthday is coming up (it’s the same day as that other much less important holiday this week), I’m going to be a little self-indulgent and post about my own name. Like the Elizabeth posts we had recently, this will be a two part post. We’ll cover nicknames in this post.

So, if you’ve decided on Catherine/Katherine/Catharine/Katharine/Kathryn, originality is probably not your first concern. This name has been so popular for so long that only the truly delusional think it’s got a shred of rarity left. The good thing is that there are a few nicknames to help differentiate your child from others. Unfortunately, most of these are quite common, too, and there aren’t the same myriad options as there are for Elizabeth. Nevertheless, let’s discuss.


Yesterday we talked about the nicknames for Elizabeth, both in English and various other languages. Today, let’s talk about the various forms. For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into all of the forms, and try to stick to the ones most palatable in an English speaking context. Yesterday’s post was a bit of a novel, I’m afraid, and more for me than anyone else. Onwards and upwards!

  • Elizabeth: The venerable English classic. As I said yesterday, this is a truly timeless name with a long history of use. The passel of nicknames keeps it fresh and relevant to any sort of trend that may be going on, and it has remained in more or less constant use. Unfortunately, the popularity of the name sort of deadens any appreciation for it; everyone knows a Liz, and most people don’t think of Elizabeth as exciting. Variant Elisabeth gives the name a softer look and feel.
  • Eilís: The Irish Gaelic version of Elizabeth. On BtN it says that it is pronounced like IE-leesh, but I usually hear IE-lish, for what it’s worth. As IE-leesh, I don’t like it; it sounds like someone with a funky accent or speech impediment saying “Irish.” As IE-lish, it’s better but still comes off as a tad “Oirish,” a term that’s semi-common in the namenerd community used to describe people who want to “honor” their 1/64 Irish heritage by giving their kid an “Irish” name. These sorts of people generally just want a reason to follow the trend for Irish Gaelic names, and often confuse Irish with Scottish, which explains the popularity of the surname Mackenzie. Anyway, I like Eilís in a vacuum, but not too much in use.
  • Elisabet: BtN calls this the Scandanavian and Finnish form for our Elizabeth. It’s fresh sounding and a nice tweak, I think, but bound to get confused with Elizabeth constantly. I think it sounds better with a pronounced s sound instead of the oft-substituted z sound; this serves to differentiate from Elizabeth a little further. I think it’s a nice slightly offbeat choice that doesn’t scream any sort of ethnicity or culture-posing, so  give it a thumbs up.
  • Elisabeta: The Romanian form, it’s sort of like Elisabet but is another step removed from the English. I would expect to see someone of Eastern European descent with this one, but wouldn’t be put off if that wasn’t the case. It’s pretty and feminine, but the -a ending is a little less strong than the -t or -th ending of Elisabet/h, I think. Overall, a pretty choice that I would be pleasantly surprised to see. Another thumbs up.
  • Elisavet: Another slight variation, the Greek form of Elisabeth adds some Eastern European style. This one seems a little more culture-grabby than the others, for me, though. I would expect the parents to be Greek or of Greek descent, and would probably be a little put off if they weren’t. I do love the v sound in these names, though, and it’s quite trendy (Think Ava, Eva, and Vivian), so Elisavet could see a little bit of an upswing. I wouldn’t count on it though; it’s probably not “unique” enough for parents searching out these sorts of names. I’ll give it a thumbs up if culturally applicable.
  • Elixabete: The Basque form. I’ll admit, this used to be my favorite variant of Elizabeth; I thought the x was just so cool. From what I can glean off of the internet, it seems to be pronounced pretty much the way it’s spelled, El-ixa-bet. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s a neat name, sure, but I’d keep it in the middle unless you are Basque or have some connection to the culture. This is a rather fun name, isn’t it?
  • Elisheva: The Hebrew form, pronounced eh-lee-sheh-vah. I would just stay far away from this one unless you are Jewish; it seems a little unnecessary to use it otherwise. There are bound to be pronunciation issues and assumptions of your religion, which are annoying enough from time to time but would be really annoying on a regular basis. If culturally appropriate, a beautiful name that’s familiar without being outlandish. If not, the middle is probably the best place for this one.
  • Elspeth: I like Elspeth, I really do. It’s Scottish without being overtly cultural, and really easy to pronounce in English. For some reason, I don’t have much to say about it expect for this: I like it. Thumbs up. 🙂
  • Isabel: Commonly referred to as the “Spanish” form of Elizabeth, Isabel is actually a medieval form that retained more usage in Spain and Portugal, along with France. It’s definitely pretty, but very popular right now, so I would avoid using it if you care about popularity issues. I prefer the Scottish spelling Isobel, with a slight o sound; I don’t know if tha’s correct or not, though. I think it’s pronounced just like Isabel, but I like the o sound, damnit! Ahem, anyway, Isabel is a pretty name, but alternate spelling Isabelle sends it right off into fluffy frou frou land, in this blogger’s humble opinion. I also dislike Isabella; it’s too fluffy. I’ll give Isabel a thumbs up for sound, but a thumbs down for popularity.

Well, finishing up this post, I’m glad it’s not a total gabfest like yesterday’s! Elizabeth is really a timeless name, but your mileage with the different forms may vary. Out of this list, my favorites are Elspeth and Elisabet, with Elisabeta in third. What’s your favorite Elizabeth form?

*All pronunciatons, etymologies and usage data are from behindthename.com unless otherwise noted. If I’m wrong, blame them, not me!