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Seeing Double: Twins and trends in this week’s baby names news

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Good things came in twos this week, as the baby name news was dominated by interesting sets of twins, and two new ends-with-R names for boys.

Let’s start with the letter R.

This past spring, the mainstream media picked up on a phenomenon we name nerds have long recognized: two-syllable, ends-with-N names for boys are big.  Whether we’re talking chart toppers like Aiden and Mason, or new inventions like Zennon and Dreyson, N has been the go-to letter for ending boys’ names in recent years.

Lately, though N has a rival: R, as in Hunter and Carter and up-and-comers like Asher, too.

This week, two high profile birth announcements both featured ends-with-R names for baby boys.  While their style was miles apart, it suggests that R really is the letter to watch.

The trend holds for girls, too, with the literary Harper and the musical Piper leading the pack.  But girls’ names this week were all about twins.  From the grass courts of Wimbledon to the Mediterranean island of Malta, interesting sister sets abounded.

The most newsworthy baby names this week were:

WilburKate Silverton is a familiar face for BBC viewers.  The television journalist has been on the small screen for over a decade.  Now she’s welcomed a second child with husband Mike Heron.  Daughter Clemency is joined by new arrival Wilbur.  It’s a quirky, decidedly British sibset, reminiscent of Doctor Who alum David Tennant’s Olive and Wilfred.  Wilbur, Wilfred – could all of those clunky Wil- names make a comeback in the US?  Or is Wilbur permanently reserved for the human companion of talking horse Mister Ed?  There was a Wright brother named Wilbur, and the name appeared in the US Top 100 back in the 1910s.

Kaiser – The second ends-with-R boys’ name in the news is very different, but just as much of a surprise.  Teen Mom 2 cast member Jenelle Evans and new boyfriend Nathan Griffith are now parents to Kaiser.  Yes, Kaiser – as in roll and Soze and Wilhelm.  Evans got her start on 16 and Pregnant back in 2009.  Her firstborn’s name, Jace, was among the trendy choices boosted by the reality series.  Along with Bentley, Jace is now in the US Top 100.  Speculation is that Evans will shorten Kaiser to Kai, though in interviews she talked about looking for an unusual name.  Then again, 62 boys were called Kaiser in 2013, compared to just 20 Wilburs.  Maybe Jenelle should have consulted with Kate.

Eugenie & Beatrice – Back to Britain for Wimbledon!  Montreal-born Eugenie Bouchard was the first Canadian to advance to the finals in the tournament’s history.  Bouchard is a twin, and her royal-loving mother named Eugenie after Princess Eugenie Victoria Helena of York.  Her sister?  Beatrice, of course, after Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary, Eugenie’s big sister.  Today, Beatrice is a fast-rising classic in the US, while Eugenie remains rare.  The tennis star answers to the accessible Genie.  Bouchard fell in the finals to Czech powerhouse Petra Kvitova, but here’s guessing that the Canadian’s future success could encourage more use of her lovely name.

Etoile Ella & Soleil Sophia – The tiny island nation of Malta is one of the few jurisdictions to cluster their popular name data.  Instead of just Elena and Luke, they list their #1s as Elena/Elena/Helena/Ella and Luke/Luca/Lucas.  Nancy has a rundown on all on their data here.  But the fact that caught my eye?  The prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, is father to twin daughters.  He and wife Michelle named their girls Etoile and Soleil – star and sun.  A handful of girls share Soleil’s name, but I couldn’t confirm whether Etoile has any imitators.

Morning Star & Evening MoonJust as I was pondering if Etoile and Soleil were too much for twin sisters, this twinset appeared at Names for Real.  Like Etoile and Soleil, the words Morning and Evening are tempting possibilities for given names.  But Etoile and Soleil are anchored by their conventional, popular given names.  Should the girls prefer more of a blend-in name, their middles await.  But Morning Star and Evening Moon are even more obviously paired, and the middles offer no opportunity to tone down …

Do you have a favorite ends-with-R name for a boy?  And what do you think of matched names for girls?  Would you ever give twins names like Star and Sun?

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