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Which Name Comes First?

We're having a baby naming problem. We can't decide on Cruz Emanuelle or Emanuelle Cruz for our little girl due in a few months. Can you help?

- Torn

Middle names can seem like a gift to name-loving parents. If you've narrowed down your name list to two beloved choices, you don't have to give either up. You just have to choose an order. Right?

Yet the order is the decision, and it's often a tough one. In most cases, the name finalists share most of the same virtues. They both reflect the same parental tastes, after all. So the decision usually comes down to something like "Samuel Benjamin vs. Benjamin Samuel," where the two choices make similar impressions.

That's not the case with your favorite names, Cruz and Emanuelle.  Both are names of Christian reverence, which brings them together to make a coherent and powerful full name. But individually, Cruz and Emanuelle will come across very, very differently to the people your daughter meets throughout her life. (If you're counting on her going by the full two-part name, don't. An uncommon five-syllable combo will almost surely get trimmed along the way.)

Emanuelle is long, French (in the traditional spelling Emmanuelle), and lushly feminine. Cruz is short, Spanish, and strongly masculine in the United States. Boys named Cruz outnumber girls by a whopping 40-to-1, and among non-Spanish speakers it's an occasional macho-styled choice, pronounced "cruise."

I suggest you put first things -- and first names -- first. Pretend the middle name doesn't exist, and reframe the question as "Cruz vs. Emanuelle." If you were a girl today, would you like the punch, androgyny, and surprise factor of the name Cruz? Or would you prefer the smooth elegance and gender clarity of Emanuelle? That's your real decision, no matter how much you love both names.


January 6, 2014 11:10 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Emmanuelle Cruz

January 6, 2014 11:56 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I much prefer Emmanuelle Cruz, but like the namelady said, which name is the one that you want to call her? Put that one first.

January 6, 2014 12:02 PM
By Allison (not verified)

I would choose Emmanuelle as the first name. Lots of nickname options, it's feminine, etc.

January 6, 2014 12:29 PM
By Kayt (not verified)

I think Emmanuelle Cruz is a beautiful combination. The rhythm of Cruz Emmanuelle is kicky and similar to the rhythm of my son's name. However, Cruz doesn't sound particularly feminine to my ear. Emmanuelle is soft but strong, with several punchy nickname options. It also sounds similar to the masculine Emmanuel, which can give you that masculine touch, if that's what you like about Cruz.

January 6, 2014 6:54 PM
By Amy (not verified)

Emanuelle for sure looks distinctly feminine, but if you just hear the name out loud you may think it's Emanuel which is distinctly masculine.

Both are nice names but this factors into the gender clarity issue.

January 7, 2014 1:15 PM
By Faith (not verified)

Although I think Cruz Emanuelle *sounds* better, I like Emanuelle better as a first name. I'd go with whichever name you like better & plan on calling your little one as the first name.

January 7, 2014 1:27 PM
By Brandy (not verified)

I would go with Emanuelle because if the gender issue. If you don't care about that, then select which you love best.

January 7, 2014 1:31 PM
By Jereza (not verified)

If you want her to go by a nickname use Emanuelle first because that will become shortened whether you want it to or not. Otherwise use Cruz first.

January 7, 2014 2:00 PM
By Joanne (not verified)

I agree completely with Brandy!

January 7, 2014 2:41 PM
By Annee2009 (not verified)

Well, I think it depends on your last name as to which one sounds best as the first name. Does your last name start with an "L"? If so, I'd skip Emmanuelle as a first name. Does your last name start with an "S"? If so, I'd skip Cruz as a first name. Is your last name one syllable? Then, again, I'd skip Cruz as the first name.

January 7, 2014 3:33 PM
By L. Smith (not verified)

Also, which name sounds better in combination with the *last* name? Keep in mind that no one outside immediate family will ever know what her middle name is.

January 8, 2014 12:51 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If you're just thinking about what sounds better, I agree with other posters that I think both combos sound great, and they're both great names, but your baby girl will hear her first name/last name combo WAY more than her first name/middle name combo. Try out both Cruz and Emanuelle in combination with your last name and see if one really sounds better than the other.
If both sound good, pick the fn that you love more.
If you're looking for opinions, I prefer the sound of Cruz Emanuelle personally.

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January 13, 2014 5:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

As just "Cruz Emanuelle" or "Emanuelle Cruz", I would say "Emanuelle Cruz". BUT, knowing that there's going to be a surname on the end of it, I'd say Cruz as a first-name.

January 14, 2014 8:51 AM
By bookworm134 (not verified)

When I first read the second name Emanuelle Cruz my mind when straight to Penelope Cruz...Which is personally a turn off for me. So I would vote for Cruz Emanuelle. I love androgynous names so the sorta male-ness of Cruz does not bother me...But I was raised Catholic so when I think of Emanuelle I think of Emanuel and automatically think male too much to name a girl that. Like I would never name a girl Mark, but I would name a girl Taylor. Unless you are going to pronounce it the French way I would be careful naming her Emanuelle first. You could go with Emmanuella or Emanuella and have that strong "la" sound at the end that brings to mind female and beauty.

I think Cruz Emanuelle is beautiful...I agree with Annee2009 and as long as your last name is not one syllable or starts with a "S" I think it will sound great. Cruz Smith is a mouthful, but Cruz Holloway is beautiful.

January 15, 2014 8:01 PM
By Grace (not verified)

Which they could have to be the same more than anything having it. - Charles Brennan

January 21, 2014 7:18 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

I would like to go with Cruz, as it seems to be come. I am a professional blogger and has done Learnerships and Internship Jobs in name branding sections. So according to my personal point of view Cruz fits.

January 28, 2014 1:27 PM
By Divine (not verified)

I think the baby should be named Emmanuelle (with this spelling) since SHE is a girl.

I love Cruz Emanuell (and vice versa) for a male more than a female.

February 19, 2014 11:07 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Please do not make the first name anything hard to spell, like Emanuelle. You'll just make the poor kid spend a lot of time discussing his ethnic heritage, plus the hassle of misspelled documents from report cards to credit cards. If you must give him / her a nonstandard name, at least put it in the middle.

February 20, 2014 7:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love androgynous names so the sorta male-ness of Cruz does not bother me...

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