Category: Sibling and Multiple Names
By Kara Blakley
Twin names and honor names are some of the hottest topics on the Nameberry forums.
Some folks like a direct approach, sticking with a shared first initial or passing down identical names from one generation to the next. Others like a more subtle approach. For the subtle crowd, I like the idea of ‘cognate’ names: names that are either the direct meaning of a name (e.g., Margaret means pearl), or names that share a meaning. These names can add a subtle connection between siblings or generations, or alternatively, they might be names you want to avoid using in the same combination.
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Both his first and middle names honor his great-grandparents, Charles and Al. Cal is the name of my favorite character from my favorite book, East of Eden, and Alasdair is a cheeky nod to Alexander the Great and the fact that we were deployed to Afghanistan at the time of his conception. It’s the perfect name for him and our family.
The problem is coming up with a name for his little brother, due in March, with a similar traditional feel, cool-but-not-too-common nickname-ability, and family significance. We like strong, classic boy names, but I have always wanted to avoid the Top 100 — though I obviously made an exception with Charles.
Some of the family first names we’re working with are John, William, James, Thomas, and Raymond — all of which are too familiar for my taste, as they are — and Bertsch, Rhodes, and Stokes as possibly transformable last names. I’d also be open to using honor initials, like J.D. after my father or T.R. after my husband’s grandfather, but we just can’t think of any combination of names that we’re in love with.
As a middle child, I know what it’s like to feel overshadowed by my older sibling, and I really want this baby’s name to be just as special as his brother’s. Can you offer any advice?
The Name Sage replies:
Here in the US, some of the most popular twin sets include names like Matthew & Michael, Daniel & David, Hailey & Hannah or Ella & Emma. Yet others are even matchier such as Lillian and Jillian, Bryan & Ryan or Jesse & Jessica. While there isn’t technically anything wrong with matching names together like this, there are plenty of ways to be more creative when naming twin while still allowing them to have their own identities.
I’ve come up with three ways to help parents make sure their twins won’t have overly matchy names. We will examine twin names that are linked together by meaning while still being different from one another, names that sound very different but still work together stylistically, and names that share a common sound without rhyming or being too sound-alike.
1. Linked by meaning
These names don’t rhyme or sound alike but they do share a similar meaning. This is great for parents who feel the urge to make twin names matchy but don’t want to rhyme or have the names start with the same letter.
Or the rare instance where the meaning of a name is also a name:
2. Very different sounds
These names may be of a similar style or origin but they do not sound the same. They do not rhyme; they might not even have any of the same letters in common. These names stand together but have their own identities.
These names share a similar sound or two, but they are not overwhelmingly similar and they do not rhyme. Often, these sounds will be emphasized differently and the names will have different syllable counts.
What do you think of this list? Whether you like or dislike the idea of making twin names overly matchy, perhaps you can share in the comments some examples of names that you appreciate on twins. Do you have twins of your own? Do you have twin names picked out just in case? Where do you draw the line between the names being subtly linked and being too close for comfort?
By Linda Rosenkrantz
This is one of those months when every Berry choice seems to be sheer perfection—down to each name, first/middle combo and sibset. And some wonderful naming backstories to boot.
Here’s the complete rundown.
We have twin girls called Beatrice Willow and Amelie Isobel. We also had a little boy called Finnian Robert, sadly stillborn at 36 weeks. We are now expecting another girl in November. Any suggestions for something that would go well with our older kids’ names?
The Name Sage replies: