Isabella is currently the third most popular girl’s name in America. Not wishing to give their daughter a name that was “too popular,” former BFF actress Jessica St. Clair and her husband decided to give their daughter a relatively uncommon variation of Isabella: Isobel.
I understand their thinking. But I don’t agree. The good news: Isobel won’t have to share her name with two or three other girls in her nursery school or kindergarten class. The bad news: She’ll be constantly correcting the way people spell her name and the way they pronounce it. Should it be pronounced IZ-o-bell? or IZ-ah-bell? Probably the former; but most people will probably use the latter pronunciation—which may drive Isobel and/or her parents crazy.
Better to have selected Isabel, which isn’t the third most popular name in America and won’t produce either spelling or pronunciation problems for their daughter.
That said, I’m also uncomfortable with the way all three names sound together (no matter how Isobel will be pronounced). Pairing two great Irish names (Kelly O’Brien) with an unusual Spanish name (Isobel) gives me the impression of a mismatch. If you’re going the “Irish” route, you can’t beat Kelly O’Brien. (As Tony the Tiger would say, “It’s Grrrrreat!”) So stop right there. But, if Kelly is a family name and you’re sort of stuck with it (from a political standpoint) I’d pick a three-syllable Irish name like Devina.
Jessica and Dan are going to hate me for making all these suggestions after the fact. But if they had tried out the name on friends and relatives, they would have heard many of these same concerns. When you announce your baby’s name and your friends and relatives say, “Hmmmm! Here’s another option you might want to consider,” you know that the “mix and match” strategy you were using didn’t work.
If you’re a regular reader, you know I don’t always use “thumb” ratings in my reviews of celebrity baby names any more, except when I really like or don’t like the name. I’m giving this one two thumbs down.