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Will This Name Make My Daughter Jealous?

My husband and I both like the name Astoria for a girl. The problem is we have a daughter named Emily and I worry that she might be jealous that her sister got a unique name while hers is very common. Should we choose a more tradional name? - Hesitant

I'm glad you're considering sibling harmony as you choose a name. Siblings are super-sensitive to fairness, so it's smart to think about how their names compare. But it's easy to take that thinking too far. The harmonious-sibling-set rule is meant as a guideline, not a requirement for your children to match like a set of silverware. Personal style is personal, after all. You should feel free to loosen up and enjoy the naming process.

Eclectic name sets can work, as long as they don't telegraph dramatically different roles or expectations for your kids. Imagine siblings named Princess and Joan, or Pebbles and Maximilian. These pairings aren't just stylistically diverse; they announce to the world that these kids are fundamentally different.

I'm happy to say that Emily and Astoria don't quite fall into this category. You can expect, though, that people will react to them differently.  Compared to Emily, which fits a lot of styles, Astoria makes a bold stylistic statement -- one that is sure to be more divisive than Emily. I suspect that many people will love it, but some (especially New Yorkers, thinking of the Queens neighborhood and the luxury hotel) will hate it. For this reason, it's as likely that a girl named Astoria would be jealous of her sister Emily's name as the other way around.

So how can you deal with questions about the differences in the names, from your daughters or from those outside the family? My best advice is to have an excellent origin story at the ready for each name. If you don't already have a thoughtful story about how you chose Emily's name to hand, now is the time to start working on one.


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

February 21, 2011 12:34 PM
By Allison (not verified)

I would expect a little Astoria to wind up being called Tori...and Emily and Tori would be a lovely match. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Emily may be the "girl next door," but who says Astoria can't be as well?

February 21, 2011 2:11 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

I love Emily but can't get behind any name that starts with the syllable "Ass"

February 21, 2011 2:21 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

But it's not ASS-storia, it's a-STOR-ia. Since the emphasis is on the second syllable, I don't think it's a problem. Don't overthink it.

February 21, 2011 5:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a very common name for my generation, while my brother has an unusual name, for any generation. They sound good together (maybe because I have heard them together my whole life). I did not realize how unusual my bother's name was until I was an adult (again because I was used to hearing it my whole life). Neither of us have any issues over the other one's name.

February 21, 2011 11:13 PM
By Missy (not verified)

If I were named Astoria I would be very jealous of my sister Emily. ... But as the name lady said, I'm a new yorker and it sounds awful to me. On the plus side it's a nice neighborhood but I can't think of it as a name. If you name her brother Hollis you've gone too far!

February 21, 2011 11:46 PM
By Juli (not verified)

I know sisters (late teens/early 20s) named Anastasia and Sara, which is not quite as unexpected a pairing as Astoria and Emily, but it's a similar case in that Anastasia never shared her name with a classmate, while Sara always did. I don't think anybody cared, least of all the sisters themselves. (They do make jokes about the length of the names, especially since Anastasia's middle name is 9 letters, and Sara's is 5.) Of course, we tend to shorten it to Anna anyway, which as another commenter pointed out is likely to happen to Astoria as well.

February 22, 2011 12:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It's just as likely for the jealousy to be the other way, especially when the girls goes shopping for pre-printed items. My older sister received a common, straightforward-to-pronounce name, while I received a very rare, very difficult-to-pronounce name. I hate my name (but couldn't change without deeply hurting my mom, whose father I was named after), and always wanted something simple and phonetic like my sister.

February 22, 2011 12:58 PM
By C. Andrews (not verified)

Astoria is NOT "unique." I don't understand why people use the word "unique" to mean "unusual" or "uncommon." That's not what it means.

As someone else said, Astoria would probably become Tori, so I don't see an issue.

February 22, 2011 1:02 PM
By Shammy (not verified)

I agree with others, I could see Astoria being jealous of the simple, straightforward Emily, not the other way around. My little brother has very normal, simple, easy to pronounce name, and I have a very unusual, very hard to pronounce name. I always complain that he got the "good" name, and I got stuck with some weirdo name.

February 22, 2011 1:07 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

Caitlyn was a very common name the year I was born, and most of my siblings have very unusual names. It never bothered any of us.

February 22, 2011 1:36 PM
By Heather (not verified)

My sisters names are Sunni and Starla (they are twins) while me and my brother (Nicholas) have more normal names. Although I wish that I could have a unique name, there was never an issue of jealousy. I love their names and the questions that it brings when I introduce them.

February 22, 2011 1:39 PM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

I know a "Sarah" whose younger sister is "Cherish". Sarah is not jealous of Cherish. I don't know if Cherish is jealous of Sarah.

February 22, 2011 1:43 PM
By mk (not verified)

Kids won't necessarily notice because the name won't seem uncommon to them. Many kids do go through periods where they wish their name was something different, but it could easily be Astoria wishing her name was more "Emily-like" (the example of finding item pre-printed with one's name is a good one).

I'm from New York City, so Astoria sounds horrible to me as a name. But I imagine outside of the tri-state area it won't be much of an issue.

February 22, 2011 1:43 PM
By jess (not verified)

cherish is probably super jealous, thats an awful name.

February 22, 2011 1:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Astoria could nn as Story...and you could occasionally refer to Emily as Emilia...just to be fun!

February 22, 2011 1:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I also think it's more likely that Astoria will be jealous of Emily. Either way, I don't think it's a problem match-wise. I had a non-top-1000 name growing up and my sisters were both in the top 50 and none of us has hard feelings about this.

February 22, 2011 1:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You've got Joni and Laser in "The Kids Are All Right," and Joseph and Sundance as the sons of Kerri Walsh. Personally, I prefer names that better "match," but kids seem to grow into their names whatever they are...almost as though they were meant to be.

February 22, 2011 1:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Oh, and let's not forget Nicole (Kidman) and her sister Antonia!

February 22, 2011 2:14 PM
By Mallory (not verified)

My older sister's name is Stephanie, and mine is Mallory. Both aren't the most common names in the world, but also aren't completely uncommon names either. However, throughout our lives, we've known/met a lot more Stephanie's/Steph's than we have Mallory's/Mal's. I like having the more unique name, and was actually bummed out when I finally had a classmate w/ the same name as me! I doubt Astoria would EVER have to deal with that, and as another commenter said, if she wants a more common name, she can go by Tori.

February 22, 2011 2:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My older sister has the more unusual name, made from an old family name into something short and feminine and special. You can imagine that my mother dreamed of giving her baby girl that name for years before she was born. I was the second girl and my name is ... well, a short, cute and unfortunately popular female version of my father's name, nothing special at all.

I remember being a little jealous of my sister for being special. I suppose it didn't help that she went out of her way to emphasize it -- she got the neat mysterious name whereas mine is just plain old boring blah. At least I never hated my name.

Now that we're grown up, I don't think anybody cares anymore. If my sister still thinks her name makes her special, then that's her problem. Kids will do anything to appear superior.

I guess like others have said, you won't know how the girls will feel about their names until they get there. I agree that each should have a special story explaining why you love their names so much. That way everybody gets to feel special.

February 22, 2011 3:01 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My name is very common while my sister's is pretty uncommon. While it is true that, like others have said, I didn't even notice as a kid, it is also true that ever since I got into middle school, I've been jealous as heck of her name.

February 22, 2011 3:10 PM
By Pamela S (not verified)

The first two comments both stated exactly what I was thinking. If you have to go with Astoria, call her Tori, and yeah... if a couple adults came up with the @ss problem right off the mark (yes, even knowing where the accent is) you can be darn sure the kids in grade school are going to come up with it.

February 22, 2011 3:26 PM
By Evie (not verified)

Oof... count me as another New Yorker who kind of cringes at Astoria. My first thought was the neighborhood in Queens, but the Waldorf-Astoria hotel is another strong association—an off-putting one, in my opinion, in the same way that Lexus and Chardonnay as names are off-putting.

N.B., the neighborhood in Queens was named for John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest man in America, who could see it from his home across the river in Manhattan (a much posher neighborhood...). The hotel is named for the same family. So, naming a child Astoria is a bit like naming her Trumpia, Gatesia, Buffettia or Bloombergia... except it happens to sound nice.

Hope I haven't offended anyone, this is just my immediate personal reaction as someone who grew up around this name. Obviously if you have strong personal associations with the name, they should trump most others.

February 22, 2011 3:41 PM
By Mikki (not verified)

I really like Astoria but I keep hearing that it's a name I should avoid. I however don't live anywhere near New York or know much of the hotel so I wouldn't let that stop me. I don't think Emily and Astoria are a bad match. They're very pretty together. Beats my Dad's sibling combo. His siblings had names like Rolf and Jenny. My dad got Hartmut. XD

February 22, 2011 5:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Another New Yorker here, I agree that the name is kind of unfortunate. Everyone else seems to think it's not a big deal if you don't live near New York, but what about your daughter for the next 80-100 years? If it was me, I wouldn't want to put a major world city "off-limits" to my kid. She could always go by Tori, which is cute, but she'll still have people at the DMV/HR department/City Hall rolling their eyes at her if she ever chooses to live in NY or nearby.

February 22, 2011 7:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

When I read "Astoria" I thought, "Star". When I read "Emily", I thought, "Emily of New Moon". I like both names very well. There may be a bit of a feeling that one got more "thought" than the other though. My sister's name is Anne (classic name) Elizabeth (classic name) Bonney (Mum's maiden name tranferred to a pretty girl's name). My name is Sally (diminutive of "Sarah") Patricia (classic name and Mum's first name). I did resent (just a bit) that my sister got a classic name PLUS the family name while I got a permanent diminutive, but then, Dad chose my name and he says "Sally is a happy name" so I know he DID give it some thought. He possibly didn't know it was a "dim". He called his cat Sally too. She was older than me!

February 23, 2011 12:53 AM
By astaria51 (not verified)

I never had sibling jealousy (because I was an only child) but the pre-printed item thing definitely got to me as a child too. Jessica, Sarah, Katie could find names on cups/shirts/keychains/snowglobes, but mine not so much. (Now, though, I love it.)

As you can see, my handle on the internet is quite similar to astoria. It wasn't intentional (it was actually meant to reference "stars" and "aster") but clearly those sounds sound good together to other people than yourself...

I think Astoria and Emily are both good names, and they both have an oldfashioned, slightly uppercrust sound to them. One happens to be more popular contemporarily, but they're both vintage (Emily Bronte?). I would really only worry about Astoria because of the location. It could sound a little ...I don't know, like a glorification of the Upper East Side/New York "old money". But it is, at its heart, a name, and it's a lovely name, regardless of connotation.

February 23, 2011 2:08 AM
By Nina (not verified)

I have a middle name en my older sister doesn't. It has never been a problem. Maybe I teases her with it 3 times in all these years.

February 23, 2011 4:04 AM
By The Foxymoron (not verified)

I have sisters with unusual names, yet my name is extremely common and plain. I have never been jealous of their names. I went through a stage of wanting a more interesting name, but I never wanted THEIR names. And now, I actually like having a plain name. So, I wouldn't worry about it.
Your friends/family may make comments - I know that when one of my friends gave her first son a very plain name, and then the next son a very unusual/rare name, a lot of us were surprised. But hey, it's no big deal really.
If you love the name Emily and you love the name Astoria, go for it! But I would worry that you may not like the name in the future, because it would seem you have more classic taste if your first choice in a girls name was Emily. How long have you liked the name Astoria for? Personally I would advise thinking about it for at least 2 months before you name your child it - if you still like it after all that time, it's a good test. Unless, of course, your baby is due any day!!!

February 23, 2011 4:36 AM
By Lisa (not verified)

Ok, so have one of the most popular names of the 70's, my sister, who is just 19 months younger, has a most uncommon name. Yes, I was a little jealous always having to share my name with 2 others in my class while my sister was a one and only. She didn't like that I could always get things with my name on - stickers, jewellery etc. Even now there's nothing with her name on it because it's still not common enough while wherever I go I'm sure to meet someone who shares my name!

I'm over the jealousy bit btw, it didn't really last that long LOL I think it was a primary school phase :P

February 23, 2011 11:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The other kids are not going to care how you prefer it pronounced. "Ass" toria will at some point be a target.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't choose it but I really doubt Emily will be jealous while they are children.

February 23, 2011 2:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

There are some options:

Tessa (has the s and t sound, but no embarrassing nicknames)

Maybe your Emily can go by "Emnme." That's a little more one-of-a-kind.

Good luck with your baby.

February 23, 2011 2:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

ha - I meant Emme

February 23, 2011 2:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

ha - I meant Emme

February 23, 2011 7:25 PM
By Darian (not verified)

My sister's name is Laura and I can fairly say that she has always felt cheated at not having an unusual name. She is younger and always taunts my parents "Why couldn't you come up with 2 unusual names?" but I've always thought that while Darian is much more unusual than Laura, they have a similar feel to them and you get a sense of my parents' aesthetics through their choice of names. I think the same is true for Emily and Astoria. (I love Astoria, BTW. GREAT name)

February 24, 2011 1:35 AM
By AnnaLisa (not verified)

In my opinion, I am not a big fan of astoria but emily might love it...orr she might hate it. If she is old enough after her if she likes the name or not and if she would mind.

February 24, 2011 1:36 AM
By AnnaLisa (not verified)

ask her if she likes the name or not i mean

February 24, 2011 1:37 AM
By Bianca (not verified)

I like emily better than astoria. Ask emily if she likes the name or not.

February 24, 2011 8:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

To me, Astoria is the seaside town in Oregon. (It's where they filmed the Goonies!) I don't know anything about any Astoria in New York!

I think it sounds pretty as a name, and it does sort of "go" with Emily stylistically without sounding too "out there". Go for it!

February 24, 2011 8:12 PM
By Bryony (not verified)

Well, I think of Astoria Greengrass as referenced in Harry Potter -- hadn't heard of the New York neighborhood, perhaps I live under a rock -- but I do like it and think it fits just fine with Emily. Neither of them are invented names; they're both quite real and classic. I'd say use it!

March 2, 2011 9:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

my mum is in her 60s and still talks about how jealous she was that her younger sister got a beautiful, special, unusual name while she got a plain one. I'd be careful!

To my ear, the names don't match at all. But you don't really have to worry about what others think if it works for you.

March 9, 2011 12:20 PM
By Reagen (not verified)

As the eldest of 3 I was christened with the name Reagen Alexis in comparison to my much more "normal" siblings of Jeremy James and Emily Lynn. While I can't recall any real jealousy over having a very different type of name from theirs I do recall being envious of the fact that you could always find their names on things (mugs, kid's license plates, keychains) and you could NEVER find mine or if you did it was a different spelling.

It's never been a bone of contention between us though I do comically lament the above fact to my parents on occasion. Above all though, we are who we are and I can't imagine being called anything else nor referring to my siblings by any other name than what they have.

As long as the advice offered of not placing different expectations on the child you should have no trouble. If you love the name and love the child, then all will be right with your world.

April 8, 2011 1:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

According to whom? The NYC neighborhood is pronounced more like Ass-toria than a-STOR-ia and that is what immediately came to mind.

May 12, 2011 6:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The Queens neighborhood is definitely pronounced asTORia. I lived there for 10 years.

Dublin, Brooklyn, London, Paris- all city names, clearly inspired by those cities. I think Astoria is an inspired choice.

November 16, 2011 11:54 AM
By Chelsea (not verified)

Well, everyone is naming their kids Brooklyn, and didn't some celebrity name her kid Bronx? so it was only a matter of time.

March 30, 2012 1:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Out of 10 kids in my family, only me and one other sister do NOT have bible names. Instead, we were both named after beloved relatives (Me after my great-grandmother, my sister after my dad's older sister). It was a little harder on me because my name - Jessie - always got the question "so...all your siblings have bible names...are you named after the male Jesse?" As I girl, I was too happy with that question... and no. My name is Gaelic in origin, with no connection to the male Hebrew name. And no connection to Jessica, either.

There was a point for about 5 minutes when I felt "jipped." My mom was choosing a name for an new sibling, and I suddenly realized I was on the minority side. However, I feel totally different now. I love my name, and the historical connection it gives me. I love that my parents didn't feel confined to give us all names in a "set." My parents choose names that they loved, that were full of meaning. Just most of them happened to be from the bible.

And, actually, I found out later there is a religious connection - Jessie, coming from my Scottish great-grandmother, from the Gaelic "Seasaidh" sometimes said to mean "gift from God."

Having a different name from siblings can cause momentary envy, but I think that like me, most kids end up loving and being grateful for their name.

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