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How Can I Prove I'm Right?

My husband and I are expecting our first child in May. Unfortunately, we can't agree on a girl's name. I love the name Eleanor, but he thinks it's much too old fashioned. I did mention that there are nicknames that go along with this name that are modern and lovely (like Elle, Ella, etc.). He likes the nicknames, but would rather they be our child's actual name. I like these nicknames, but I would really like her full name to be Eleanor. Can you give me some information about the name so that I can convince my husband it won't have an "old lady" stigma??

-Hopeful mom-to-be

Your husband is trying to explain his negative reaction to Eleanor in logical terms. That's respectful of him; he knows that "No, because I say so" is a lousy approach to marital disagreements. Choosing a name, though, isn't like choosing a mutual fund or an infant car seat. It's not about facts and figures, it's about emotions.

Imagine that instead of "old-fashioned" your husband had said "unattractive." Would evidence that other people are attracted to the name mean that he's wrong about his personal taste, and that Eleanor actually does appeal to him?

You're not the first couple to go down this road with the name Eleanor. For some reason, the name is a particular flashpoint between moms and dads. I could line up dozens of women to attest to its classic, elegant dignity, and dozens of men to attest to its mustiness.

So instead of arming you with statistics about the rising popularity of the name Eleanor, I'd like to encourage you to rethink your approach. If you're determined to bring your husband around on Eleanor, don't waste your time on facts and figures. Try to move the emotional needle.

Talk in positive terms about the way the name makes you feel, and the connotations it brings to your mind. Maybe the warmth of your emotional reaction can help thaw his own. You might also think about Eleanora, a classic variant that some men prefer.  

Please don't press too hard, though. As much as you love Eleanor, the ultimate goal is a name that warms both of your hearts. If he just can't feel that for this name, you may have to move on.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

December 16, 2013 12:32 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Proving you're right is not a good way to go about choosing names. Besides, both of you are right. Instead of trying to force the issue, I think you should move on and come up with some names that you are both happy with.

December 16, 2013 12:46 PM
By J. (not verified)

Compromise does NOT mean you giving in on everything. He should give a little too. Eleanor on the birth certificate with Ella as a nickname is a perfect compromise.

December 16, 2013 1:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Lenore/Lenora is also a nice variant that men seem to like more.

If you think it would help, go to the Social Security baby name website and show him the stats for Eleanor for the last few years. Seeing that it's been on the rise might help convince him that the name isn't old fashioned. However, it won't help him like it anymore. If he still doesn't want to use the name, you'll need to move on.

December 17, 2013 1:09 PM
By Anne (not verified)

If you think choosing a car seat isn't about emotion, you don't hang out with me and my friends. Lol.

I actually would say back off and see if it grows on him. Did that with one of our girls' middle names and it worked.

December 17, 2013 1:12 PM
By Jenai (not verified)

She's his daughter too, and she'll want to be daddy's little sweetheart. Pick out a name that both of you like.

I do see where he is coming from. I like the name Ella, but find Eleanor stiff (and I generally like old fashioned names). Nor can she always use her nickname; for all formal and legal purposes she will have to use Eleanor.

If you really are stuck on Eleanor, watch "Gone in 60 Seconds" with him [Either the 1974 or 2000 version, though 'Eleanor' (a Ford Mustang) actually received star credit in the '74 version]. He might warm up to the name if it's paired with a classic car. ;)

December 17, 2013 1:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have an Eleanor who's 8 now, and she's always gone by Ellie, which I think feels very sweet and modern and little-girlish, though I like knowing that she has something more formal to fall back on later, if she wants to. We also know another little Eleanor with the nickname Nora, which I think is also lovely.

December 17, 2013 1:41 PM
By Kate (not verified)

I'm also expecting a baby in May, also a lover of Eleanor, and sadly, my husband also dislikes it. But I think the name lady is right--it's so important to find a name BOTH parents love, or at least are very fond of. I gave up on Eleanor but luckily there are so many girl names I like for the same general reasons that don't cause my husband to pull out his veto stick so quickly. I've been having fun making a long list of ideas to start with. Nora, Evelyn, Louisa, Charlotte, Josephine, Lillian, Alice, etc . . .

December 17, 2013 1:43 PM
By Faith (not verified)

Proving you're right is probably the LAST thing you'd want to do. It would probably make your husband dig his heels in more. Plus there's the more mature option of compromise.

Personally, I think your husband is right. The name has always sounded old & stuffy to me. But I can see your point too, in giving your daughter a more formal name. Perhaps this is a situation where you need to find another name which you can agree on, maybe using Eleanor as a middle name?

December 17, 2013 2:44 PM
By HayleyKate (not verified)

Why not just name her Ella? You both like it. Why is it so important to you to have Eleanor on the birth certificate if she's just going to be called Ella any way?

December 17, 2013 4:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


December 17, 2013 4:22 PM
By Sadie (not verified)

In the past I would have found Elanor a bit stuffy but since older-fashioned names are becoming more popular now it makes sense to me why somebody would want to use it.

I think using Elanor and going by a nickname is a fair compromise. My name is Sadie and I love it, but sometimes I feel like it's almost too little-girlish or old-lady. Since I'm in my late 20s now I've gotten past it, but it might've been nice to have a more professional sounding name to fall back on and a cute nickname to use.

Heck, my husband and I named our son William after my grandfather and even though we are both happy with his name we still call him Wiley because I actually prefer uncommon names. But William is on his birth certificate and if he hates Wiley later he can go by any number of names, Will, Billy or straight up William, which I think is the real benefit of names like William or Elanor that do have many nick-names.

But you can't prove you're right when it comes to names because it's about feeling, not statistics. I love having an uncommon name and wanted that for my son but William is the top name in my state... However, even though we had less common options William won out because it had the connection to my beloved grandfather and allowed me to use the middle name to honor my father. Wiley as his nickname was our solution but we love to also call him William.

December 17, 2013 4:25 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

For what it's worth, here in the UK a lot of teenagers and twenty-somethings are named Eleanor. It's very common. Not an old-lady name at all. My friend Eleanor was named after her great-grandmother so maybe for our generation it was the kind of name that had come back round. Look at popularity statistics for the name to see how common it is on younger people where you are.

December 17, 2013 4:48 PM
By Sallyo (not verified)

Maybe it's the "or" sound he doesn't like? To check, try mentioning Laura, Victoria, and Cora. Some people have a problem with a particular sound in names, but just as often they don't. For example, someone who wants to call a child Regan probably won't be impressed if someone else tries to get them to swap to Megan or Tegan, although these names all rhyme in either pronunciation. (I have a Tegan. I could have been swayed to Regan, but not to Megan. I know it's probably the most classic of the three names, but to me it sounds similar to "meagre". I like the Meghan variant, but in Aus the Meeg-an pronunciation is the most common,

December 17, 2013 4:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


1. Find another name that you both love. Use Eleanor as the middle name if you cannot let it go.

2. Choose Ella, Ellie, or Elle as the full name if you both actually are happy with those. I know women those names as their full names. Ellie still sounds like a nickname to me, but Ella and Elle are both fine as full names.

December 17, 2013 7:57 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Not pregnant yet but just had to echo that we too are among the "dozens" Name Lady could find. My husband literally screws up his face over the name Eleanor but you mention Ella and it's like a different language entirely. At least I've noticed we have similar tastes as he's liked other ideas of the same style like Evelyn and Ava.

December 18, 2013 10:19 PM
By CM (not verified)

Wow, this is the first time that I've disagreed with the Name Lady! If your husband doesn't like Eleanor, everything she said is right. But it seems like he likes it fine, especially given the nickname options.

If he's afraid that his beloved daughter will be answering to something akin to Mildred or Bertha, by all means, show him the stats! 2,360 baby girls were named Eleanor in 2012.

December 19, 2013 11:37 PM
By Marina (not verified)

He may be interested to know that in 2012, Eleanor was a more popular baby name than Jessica, Jennifer, or Stephanie.

January 5, 2014 5:42 PM
By 3sgc3 (not verified)

Sallyo, it's funny that you say Tegan, Regan and Megan all rhyme, because I would pronounce all 3 differently...Tegan would be TEE-gan, Regan would be RAY-gan and Megan would be MEGG-gan (like egg). I guess that's a difference between where you are in Australia and here in the US?

January 12, 2014 4:07 PM
By L (not verified)

Sorry, but "Eleanor" reminds me of a grandmother who died too young from smoking and an abusive husband, who was her third husband and not my grandfather. I just don't care for this name. It sounds elderly, not youthful. Even as a little kid, when this grandmother was mentioned, I thought it was a harsh sounding name. As a fiction writer, I would only use this name on an elderly lady character. In my humble opinion, names like Alicia, Alyssa, Melissa, Kristina, Ava, etc. are much prettier.

January 18, 2014 6:16 AM
By Yepi 2 (not verified)

Indeed, men always look real difference in the work to make this decision. I quite like the name that you like.

February 3, 2014 12:55 PM
By bornin1980 (not verified)


Just an FYI. I would assume that a character with any of the names that you mention (other than Ava) was born in the 80s and is in her 30s (they sound like my classmates from elementary school). I am in my 30s and am pleased by the idea of sounding youthful, but the stats don't really bear that out.

March 11, 2014 12:08 PM
By Niamh (not verified)

i have an 18 year old daughter called Eleanor and she loves her name. She thinks is makes her seems smart and serious when need be and she calls herself Ellie when she is having fun. She was born in England was has lived in the States for half her life. Her older sister is Isabelle another nice old fashioned name. My name on the other hand is Irish and hardly anyone here can pronouce it!

March 18, 2014 3:46 PM
By Nora (not verified)

I don't have much to say about it other than that Eleanor as a name and going by a nickname IS a compromise.
I'm just here to beg that if you officially name her a shortened version please do not let it be "Nora". I have spent my entire life introducing myself in a very over-enunciated way only to be met with the following:
Me: "Hi, I'm Nora"
Stranger: "Laura?"
Me: "Nora, with an N"
Stranger: "Lauren?"
Me: "NO-RA"
Stranger: "Dora?"
Me: "....fine, yes."

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