Baby name needed: Middle name for Elle

Patience and her husband are expecting a baby girl in June. They plan to name her Elle, but they’re having a tough time choosing a middle name:

My maiden name is Lewis, and my husband’s middle name is Louis. […] I don’t like Louise…but it would be cool to play on the similarity of our names for her middle name. Then again I don’t know how I feel about: Elle L. Wagner.

(Their real surname isn’t Wagner, but it does start with a W and have two syllables.)

I’m not too sure about “Elle L.” either. Putting a name and a letter that sound exactly alike side-by-side will probably cause a lot of confusion. Also, Elle followed by any L-name is going to be tricky to say aloud.

Unfortunately, though, many Louis-derived female names start with L. Most of those that don’t (e.g. Clovia, Aloysia) are fairly exotic. The only two I’d consider are Gia and Gina, which are distant cousins of Louis via the Italian Luigia.

A compound name might work. Marylou, Marylouisa, Annalou, Annalouisa…any short-ish name could be the first element, and a Louis-based name could be the second. Length would be an issue, but Elle is quite short, so I think a longer middle wouldn’t be too much of a burden.

The only other idea I had was to look at names that have consonants in common with Lewis and Louis, such as:


None of the above are in the Louis family, but they could be seen as “tribute” names in a sense.

What other ideas would guys offer to Patience?

34 thoughts on “Baby name needed: Middle name for Elle

  1. Creative solution:
    Why not name her Eloise and nickname her Elle? Then there’s still the element of “Louis/Lewis” incorporated in the name. Elle is pretty popular these days (especially because Elle can also be a nickname for other popular names such as Elizabeth and Isabella — my former roommate was an Elle whose legal name was Elisabeth), but Eloise is a more rare find, so that’s kind of a bonus, too. It gives more options, and has a personal special family story connected to it.

  2. Angela, I had the same idea! Eloise is such a hidden gem of a name and should be used more often.
    Eloise Brooke
    Eloise Gail
    Eloise Pearl
    Eloise Quinn

    Otherwise with Elle, I’d go with…
    Elle Lucia – Lucia has a similar sound to Louis/Lewis
    Elle Clotilde – Clotilde is related to Clovia/Louise
    or just use your maiden name in full; Elle Lewis isn’t that melodious, but it has a great family tribute potential.

  3. I think Eloise is a good idea…but it’s very close to Louise, so I don’t know if Patience will be on board with it.

    Clotilde is a great suggestion for a middle, Julie. Clotilde and Louis are derived from distinct Germanic names, but those names have the same first element (hlud), and their second elements (hild & wig) have the same meaning. So Clotilde makes a neat substitute.

  4. Eloisa could work as well. Or something like Lois, and then be nicknamed Elle for the initial “L”?

    Just thought I’d throw it out there.

  5. More great ideas — thank you, Angela. :)

    I’ve tried to e-mail Patience, but my e-mails aren’t getting through. I’ll try again in a few hours…

  6. says of ELLE:

    Gender: Feminine

    Usage: English (Modern)

    Pronounced: EL [key]
    Diminutive of ELEANOR and other names beginning with El. This name can also be given in reference to the French pronoun elle meaning “she”.

    So how about Eleanor Lewis Wagner called Elle?

  7. I think Elle Macpherson may be the person who most influenced the rise of Elle as a given name, so I checked to see what her birth name was: Eleanor Nancy.

    While Elle is a cute nickname, I find it problematic as a given name. Elle, meaning “she” in French, looks like a French name but I very much doubt that French parents would name a daughter the equivalent of “She”.

    I think the name works best as a nickname for Eleanor, as in Eleanor “Elle” Macpherson.

  8. Actress Dakota Fanning has a sister called Elle whose given name is Mary Elle.

    The given name of ELLE LOGAN, 2008 Olympic athlete – United States – Rowing, is Eleanor.

    I think if Eleanor or some other “El…. or ….elle” name is used as the baby’s given name, it makes the name more substantial and works well with Lewis as the middle name from her mother’s maiden name and also associated with her father’s middle name. Here are some possibilities:

    Personally I like Louisa and Louise; either would be a reflection of her parents’ names Lewis/Louis. Eleanor Louisa — called Elle — gives the name a classic American image, while Gabrielle Louise — called Elle — would be a pretty French-sounding name.

  9. Thanks Patricia! Just look at all that research. :)

    Using Eleanor (or another El- or -elle name) would be one easy way to solve this problem. In the e-mail she sent me, Patience seemed fairly set on calling the baby Elle, but I don’t know if that means she’s also set on legally naming her Elle. Here’s what Patience said about her connection to the name:

    My husband and I love the name Elle…It is a variation of my late grandmother’s name.

    So it seems that her grandmother may have had an El- or -elle name. (Passing down that very name and using “Elle” as nickname would be an idea…but I’m assuming Patience has already considered/rejected that option.)

    P.S. Still haven’t been able to get in touch with Patience…

  10. Nancy, Elle is a word-name that has puzzled me, and I found it interesting to look into where its sudden use as a given name originated. I believe the French-founded fashion magazine “Elle” (or “She” in translation) also has influenced parents to think that Elle is a name possibility for a daughter. I just checked out Elle in SSA stats and see that it’s first appearance in the SSA top 1000 names was in 2002 at #613, with its most recent placement at #476.

    Patience may already know that Elle is a the French pronoun meaning she, as in “elle est jolie” – “she’s pretty”. As someone who knows some French, I always hear Elle as “She”. I’ve been surprised that Elle has gained use as a given first name and wonder if parents who chose to give their daughter that name realize that everyone who knows any French thinks “she” when they hear or see the “name”.

    Reading that Patience’s late grandmother had a name which lends itself to Elle as a “variation” helps explain the appeal of Elle for Patience and her husband. I’m wondering what that name is and if they might want to reconsider and use that name for their daughter with “Elle” as her nickname.

    BTW, I think that years ago El (spelled like that) was a usual short form of names beginning wit El. I recall my father referring to someone as “El”, but I can’t recall who that was.

  11. Elle Woods was the main character in Legally Blonde.
    We named our daughter Eleanor, but she goes by Ellie Claire. I thought about Elle. I think it’s a cool sounding name, but I also agree that it should be a nickname, not the given name.

  12. You’ve already gotten some great answers. I’m not sure if I have anything new to contribute, but I’ll second some things that have already been said.

    I definitely think it’s good to give a middle name with some significance, and sometimes that’s more important than sound. I love the idea of using either Lewis or a Louise variant as the middle name.

    Ways to make it work:

    –Give a longer form of “Elle” as the first name. My personal favorite is Eleanor. I also love Eloise — while Louise sounds dated to me, Eloise is much more contemporary-sounding, at least to my ears, so it might appeal to Patience even if she’s not fond of Louise. Combos:
    Eleanor Luisa
    Eleanor Louisa
    Eleanor Lewis
    Eloise _____ (choose a middle that honors a different family member, perhaps)

    — Leave Elle as her first name, and choose Luisa or Louisa as the middle. Luisa has a cool Spanish/Italian vibe, and it’s much more stylish than Louise. Louisa has a lovely 19th-century Jane Austen vibe. Elle Luisa Wagner or Elle Louisa Wagner actually sound rather good. While Elle L. Wagner might not give the ideal middle initial, I personally never sign my name with my middle initial. I’m either Emily Grey or Emily Joy Grey. I NEVER write Emily J. Grey. There’s nothing that says she EVER has to write Elle L. Wagner on anything. She can always choose to be either Elle Luisa Wagner or just Elle Wagner.

    Good luck, Patience! I hope these ideas help.

  13. Thank you so much for all of your comments and suggestions. I never considered using Elle as a nickname, and choosing another name–that is a possibility. I am not crazy about Eloise, but I do like Eleanor and Noelle–we have an Arielle and Gabrielle in the family already.

    My grandmother’s name was Elma, but she was commonly referred to as El. I’m not crazy about the name Elma….hence the idea to use my grandmother’s “nickname” as my daughter’s name.

    I also considered the literal french translation of Elle…but decided that was not a “deal breaker” in selecting her name. Despite the “L” middle initial thing, I really like Louisa and Lucia. At any rate, you guys have given me so many wonderful ideas, and a lot to consider. I’m going to share your comments with my husband and I’ll keep you posted on what we come up with. Thanks again!

  14. Patience, I agree with you about Elma. My husband’s mother’s name was Josie Elma — and she never liked either of her names and went by “Jo”. Now Josie is back in use, and I like it, but I think it’s unlikely Elma will make a comeback. Wondering where Elma originated, I just looked it up in
    Usage: Dutch, German
    Short form of WILHELMINE or names ending in elma, such as ANSELMA.

    That fits: my MIL’s father was the son of German immigrants and the next daughter was name Wilma. (Was your grandmother German too?)

    Have fun figuring out the best name for your baby girl — and please let us know what you and your husband decide.

  15. I looked again at and noticed these comments about ELMA:

    “Means “apple” in Turkish.”

    “Such an adorable name! I’ve met a little girl named Elma. She was so cute!”

    I also checked out ELMA in SSA stats: it was in the top 1000 from 1880 – 1955 and fairly popular from 1880-1924 — in the 200s, peaking at #209 in 1901.

    With further thought after seeing the comment about the cute little girl named Elma, I’m wondering if maybe Elma *will* make a comeback. Elma is similar to the very popular Emma (#3 in 2007) and Ella (#21) — sort of a combination of the two.

  16. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter named Elle Marie. It flows very well ,and we have gotten alot of compliments! Patience doesn’t have to name Elle after anyone, she can just pick a basic middle name like Marie or Elizabeth.

  17. I have a daughter named Elle Evangeline who was born in June 2008. Her first name is derived from my paternal grandmother’s name, Eleanor. Her middle name is my husband’s grandmother’s name. She goes by Elle or Ellie.

  18. I am due in August and plan on naming my little girl Elle. I am on the hunt for a middle name. I am considering Elle Christine and Elle Jamison, both family names. I’d really love to use a family name for the middle name but none seem to sound quite right. I’d love thoughts on these as well as any suggestions on non-family middle names that work with Elle.

    Also, for what its worth, I believe the rise of the name Elle began in 2001/2002, when the Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde was released.

  19. I have a daughter named Elle Ryan who was born in November 2007. We were going to use a middle name that started with “L” (my maiden name) but chose not to because of the same Elle L. debacle Patience is having. We love her name and get compliments on it all the time. Ryan is my brother’s name.

  20. We are also having a girl in August and naming her Elle, however the middle name just won’t come to me. Elle Wynne has been the only thing that flowed for me but we’d like to incorporate a family name of stevie. Anyone?

  21. @Angi – Female Stevies are often officially Stephanies…but I’m not sure about the combo “Elle Stephanie.” Doesn’t seem to flow too well.

    Another idea might be V-names (inspired by the -vie ending of Stevie): Valeria, Vanessa, Veronica, Violette, Victoria.

    Elle Wynne is nice, but I’d be wary of a few things. First, the initials EWW (if Williamson is the surname). Also, Elle Wynne may be mistaken for Elwin. Elle might not like that. :)

  22. I think for Elle L… you should make double middle names. Like Elle Anne Louise or something like that. Our baby’s name will be Elle as well. Love it!

  23. Hi,

    My name is Elle, as you’ve noticed. My middle name is Savannah. I’m not sure how I got that one but it fits me. I think you should pick the runerup for her first name, as her middle name. Having personal experience with teachers and kids saying “so is it spelled like L, or is it short for Ellie?” I don’t think that two Ls would be that great for your daughters social status. So i wish you luck from a 14 year old who has lived with the french word for she, and enjoys it.

  24. my name is Eleanor Rose ………. my nickname is elle
    i do like the name Elle Louise like eloise put together lol
    from Eleanor

  25. i hope this is still time relevant to help Patience. How about the name Cielle? pronounced Sea or See- Elle. it is French and means ‘from heaven or heavenly”
    Cielle middle name last name

  26. Hey, my name is Elle and i think my middle name would be perfect. Maye!
    Elle maye! Thats my name hehe! But i think Maye sounds good, you could spell it Maye, Mae, May. So many ways. I think Maye is good, but I would like to say that Elle does not mean heaven in French, it means woman, girl.

  27. My daughters name is Elle Marie. I always get told it is unusual and where did I get it from etc, but I always knew what I was going to call her. Ellie & Ella were too popular. Marie was named after family – but fitted perfectly. My girl loves her name and loves the compliments that come with it. Looking at her, she sure does look like an Elle Marie too :-)

    I hear the name Elle more and more since I had my girl

  28. My OB suggested the name Elle. I was having a really hard time choosing a name for my third child. My first was named after a Sopranos character I just loved the name Adriana. My son is Jaden. When my family heard Elle they loved it. The other names I was considering were Skylar and calling her Sky, Olivia, Sydney and I liked Brooklyn, but we on the last day at the hospital went with Elle Mackenzie.

  29. If we are having a girl, we are naming her either Elle Harper or Elle Olivia. It is such a beautiful, feminine and unique name.

    We find out in 2.5 weeks!!!

  30. I have a 14 month old daughter and her name is Elle Cecilia….we love it and it fits her perfectly. We have gotten some people lookat us funny but ot is usually older relatives who dont understand it. I like the fact that it means she in french…it is so feminine and elegant but at the same time simple. We didnt name our daughter after anyone…it is her name and hers alone. I absolutely love the name ava but decided on elle because it isnt as popular its a one of a kind name for a one of a kind girl!! We love it!!

  31. Hi,
    Our daughters name is Elle (not Ellie) and her middle is Sophia, Elle Sophia. It rolls off the tongue so nicely some people call out to her as Elle Sophia or just Elle. Elle means ‘Girl’ and Sophia means ‘Wisedom’ WE LOVE IT. I found one person said “is that it, theres nothing else to the name” (just an acquaintance)yep its so Pretty, Elegant and Unique. You either find ppl love it or dont. We of course LOVE IT! :)

  32. I don’t get what the big hang-up is with the name Elle meaning “she” in French. Big whoop! All the more for it to be a beautiful name for a girl…you can’t get more feminine! Furthermore, it’s a totally different language than English. I’m sure if you took many “American” names you might find that they are words used in any of the hundreds of languages used throughout the world…but that doesn’t stop anyone from using them. Lastly, the name Donna means “woman” in Italian but no one thinks twice about that.
    It is adorable for a little girl and “grows up” well. It is beautiful, feminine, simple, yet different. I love it. It is also my daughter’s name and I have no regrets. I have loved the name since I was in HS…I mean c’mon, Elle MacPherson?? She’s beautiful!

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