I recently did a segment on HuffPost Live about multiples. It was a conversation among six women, each of whom had been touched by twins in some way. Of the six, two were a set of twins themselves, utterly lovely and unambiguously delighted with their twinhood. The point of the show was to discuss the challenges inherent in having two babies at the same time, but the presence of these two adults turned the table on the argument: raising twins is a different creature from being a twin.
I find this heartening. And also worrying. The unique bond that twins potentially share is the carrot dangling in front of the flummoxed parent of multiples. For me, as the mother of two two-year-olds, it is the prize looming in the distance, visible yet slightly out of reach. The difficulty of having twins is front-loaded. You stumble through the incapacitating pregnancy, the early months of sleeplessness, the first years of snatching and biting in the hope that it will give way to something grander: a relationship more intimate, a relationship more profound than the one between consecutively spaced siblings.
One of the most interesting blog posts we’ve done – interesting from a research standpoint, I mean — was on individual names with the same meaning for twins.
So today I decided to spin that idea a bit differently and look for compatible names with contrasting meanings, for twins or for siblings.
I tried to come up with pairs in a range of styles. This is an exercise with near limitless potential, of course, so if any of you are inclined to search nameberry by meaning for other pairs that fit the bill, we’d love to hear your ideas.
Here, the opposing meanings and names that go with them (and each other):
Beautiful & Brilliant
When you find out you’re having twins, your baby-naming duties get more than doubly complicated. The moment my husband and I saw that second jellybean on the ultrasound, some of our plans went out the window. Since then, we’ve learned about many challenges and much confusion over twin names–some before naming our daughters, and some after.
Nameberry has already touched on several of the pitfalls of naming multiples: the matchy-matchy names, the rhymes, the names so different that anyone they meet will think one kid got the “good” name. The following are some more of the surprises that parents of multiples encounter.
Equal weight: If you’re into the meanings of names, finding comparable names for your kids can be challenging. In childhood, my friend Craig was taunted by his sister Cynthia. “I’m named after a goddess,” she told him, “and you’re named after a rock.” They’re not even twins. Thinking about that made us decide against giving one of our twins a mythological name and the other the name of a flower.
Initial difficulties: Cute as it may seem to name your kids with the same first letter, it can cause problems. I have heard twin moms say that their insurance tried to deny claims as double-billing, based on the first initial and birth date. And if originality is important to you, limiting yourself to one letter may backfire. I know three different moms who named their twin daughters Hayley and Hannah (with spelling variations).
“Which one is the boy?”: Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples. Many well-meaning people will simply assume that one of your kids is male and the other female. Gender-ambiguous names, such as last-names-as-first-names, add to the confusion. If you’re naming your boys Cooper and Edison, brace yourself for compliments about your “daughter’s” long eyelashes. Which one they call the daughter will vary.
They can’t even tell the names apart: Have you ever heard a restaurant hostess call “Denise,” only to have a peeved-looking Dennis stand up? Not everybody is good at phonetic spelling. To many of the people your kids will encounter in life, Casey and Cassie look like the same name. Your children will almost certainly share a birthdate, and if they’re same-sex, they may look a lot alike…it’s better if at least their names are different.
Funny that the most popular twin names in the U.S. are still what we’d call too matchy-matchy, with the same first initial and separated by only a letter or two: Taylor and Tyler, for example, or Ethan and Evan.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t want to give your twins names that seemed as if they came from different planets. A pair like Kaylee and Eleanor sound like a cheerleader and a valedictorian, while Theodore and Logan might have been born centuries rather than mere minutes apart.
Since choosing twin names is among the most baffling tasks for parents, and present one of the most fun challenges on our message boards, we thought we’d make this the topic of our next group-produced blog.
What’s the best set of twin names you’ve ever heard — or that you can dream of — and what’s so great about it?
And what’s the worst? Over to you….
This blog is adapted from our most recent book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby
Twins offer a rare opportunity for parents to choose two related names at the same time, but also multiply the potential difficulties of sibling naming. With twins, it can be more tempting to use rhyme, sound play, and same initial names, but in our opinion pairings like Eddie and Teddy, Faith and Charity, or Nicholas and Nicole should be relegated to a time capsule.
While same-initial names that are clearly distinct from each other – Garrett and Grace, say, or Susannah and Simone – are okay, different-initial names are consistent in style and tone are preferable.
Some celebrity examples that work: Brad and Angelia’s Knox and Vivienne, Julia Roberts’ Phinnaeus and Hazel, Patrick Dempsey’s Sullivan and Darby, and Marcia Cross’s Eden and Savannah. Although each of these sets of names is very different in style and feel, they all embody the qualities that matter most in twin names. Each name in the set is distinct from the other yet they make a harmonious pair – exactly what most parents would wish for the twins themselves.
Gender compatibility may be more important for twins than it is for siblings. One pair of starbaby twins whose names don’t quite work as well as they should: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Jessie James and D’Lila Star. Both are girls, yet Jessie’s name seems thoroughly boyish while D’Lila’s is feminine to the point of frilly. Melissa Ethridge’s twins are Johnnie and Miller – but unless you know their middle names, you wouldn’t guess that Johnnie is a girl, Miller a boy. Such gender confusion seems needless, well, confusing.