Sibling Names: Stick with the theme?

They need a 4-letter name that starts with E....or do they?

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

They’re looking for an E name to honor a loved one, plus they’d love to stick with their 4-letter name pattern. Options abound, but which fits best with Levi and Kali?

Hillary writes:

Help! My husband and I have decided to name one of our baby girls (expecting twins) with an “E” name in honor of my deceased grandfather.

It seems like we would have lots of great choices, but to make things trickier we want a name with just four letters.

We have a four-letter theme going because big brother is named Levi and her twin sister is likely to be named Kali.

Our current favorite “E” names are too long (Emanuelle) or too short (Eva). We like Eila, but fear dooming the child to explaining how to pronounce her name for the rest of her life. We also like Ellis, it resonates with Ellis Island where her great-grandfather immigrated through, but we worry it sounds too much like a last name when she will already have to deal with two last names.

The Name Sage replies:

There are plenty of great four-letter E names. But before we get to that list, let’s pause and consider if you really want to consider this a must-keep pattern. I know a family who just named their twins, babies three and four, sticking to a four-letter theme. The upside? It can simplify your search.

But if you find yourself ruling out great names because satisfying two rules is too much? Parents should always give themselves permission to relax one – or both – of their qualifications. There are many ways to find an honor name, and lots of ways to make siblings feel like they belong, even if their names don’t share certain characteristics.

In this case, it feels like the honor name requirement is more pressing, so let’s stick with the letter E.

Are Emma and Ella ruled out because of popularity? They do share sounds with Emanuelle from your list. I’m guessing that you’d like something slightly less familiar, like Kali.

I’ll also skip names vintage picks like Enid and Elma. They’d work well for lots of families, but don’t quite sound like your style.

Happily, four-letter E names abound!

Eden – I’d call Eden a modern name with roots. That makes it a good sister choice for Biblical Levi and current Kali. Levi, Kali, and Eden all sound distinct and different, too. In terms of popularity, Eden ranks around the 150 mark, making it less common than Levi, but a little more familiar than Kali.

Edie – If Eden is almost-but-not-quite, sweetly retro Edie could work. Keira Knightley chose the name for her daughter in 2015, a signal that it’s trending upwards in use. Edie fits right in with Sadie and Elsie. I like it because the four-letter spelling is the most familiar one, unlike, say, Elly.

Elin – Speaking of spellings, would you consider this Scandinavian spin on Ellen and Helen? It’s typically pronounced with a long ‘e’ sound: EE lin. That could cause confusion in the US. Or it might feel like an intriguing update to those traditional names, a sleeker take on the quiet Ellen.

Elle Elle makes for an obvious four-letter E name for girls. While it is sometimes short for a longer El– name, it stands on its own. Credit the hero of 2002 hit Legally Blonde, the stylish and capable Elle Woods, for the name’s rise. It has continued to gain in use steadily ever since.

Elsa – Speaking of movies, I’d be all about Elsa. It’s a gorgeous name, sleek and feminine but still relatively unexpected. Except Frozen. Sure, Elsa’s story predates the Disney blockbuster by a lot. But will Let It Go become way too annoying? I’d risk it, but it’s not for every family.

Esme Esme earns its literary status thanks to JD Salinger, and is broadly familiar thanks to Twilight. Despite that pop culture tie, I think it’s a great option, gaining in use, but still not wildly popular. A fun twist: Levi, Kali, and Esme all end in vowel sounds – but they’re all different! You already have Levi’s long ‘I’ sound and Kali’s ‘ee’ sound. EZ-may adds a third.

Ever – If daring names like Eila appeal, maybe you’d consider word name Ever. It’s a much less expected Ev- name than Eva, with some of the same sound. One challenge: if patterns matter to you, Levi and sister Ever would share a ‘v’, while Kali would not.

Evie, Evey – Take Eva and Edie and mix, and you’ll arrive at Evie. Evey seems like another possible spelling. There is a popular Pokemon character called Eevee, but since Eve names have history galore, I doubt it’s a major problem. I’d be more concerned that Evie and Levi share so many sounds.

As for Eila, I think it works just fine. Yes, it’s a ticket to a lifetime of let-me-spell-it-for-you. But Kali also comes with multiple spellings; Callie and Kallie chart in the current US Top 1000, too. My first instinct was to pronounce it like Ayla, but our database lists the name with a long ‘I’ sound. And you’d probably hear Ella or Eela sometimes, too. Since you don’t mention which you prefer, let’s poll the readers and see what they guess – maybe that will give you a sense of whether it’s likely to confuse.

If you decide to keep the E and drop the four-letter requirement, your options expand. There’s Elena, Evelyn, Eliza, and Elise, or maybe even Everly or Emery. Emery could, I suppose, be re-spelled Emry or Emri and fit your rule. But again, that’s the kind of spelling that might cause headaches.

My favorite so far is Esme. It feels a little bit unexpected, like Kali. While it has history, it’s really only become popular in recent years, making it seem fresh and new. Plus, it’s a complete name that is logically spelled with four letters. For similar reasons, Eden ranks a close second.

Readers, what would you suggest to Hillary and her family? And don’t forget to vote, and tell us how you would pronounce Eila!

How would you pronounce Eila?

  1. AWith a long 'a' sound, like Ayla or Kayla
  2. BWith a long 'i' sound, like Isla or Lila
  3. CWith a long 'e' sound, like Mila or Sheila
  4. DI'm not sure!
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About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at
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40 Responses to “Sibling Names: Stick with the theme?”

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EasterBunny Says:

April 25th, 2017 at 11:43 pm

Some more options – what about Emme (Em-ee), Etta, Elva, or Enya? Or I keep thinking of Elsie, but that’s 5 letters… You could re-spell it to Elsi or Elsy?

Jorja Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 2:16 am

Lots of pretty names to choose from! I love Eila (pronoused like Eye-la) and Elin.

oftenoverseas Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 3:42 am

What about Echo?? I also like Eryn with her siblings.

Wandarine Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 3:48 am

The poll gave me a headache, I pronounce Eila, Ayla and Isla all the same.

paw Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 6:27 am

Eden is one of my favorite names so that would be my top pick for you. I also love Ella but I not sure I like that much Kali.

I also like the suggestion of Echo. I like the k sound in both Echo and Kali together.

Liamy Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 6:50 am

Would you perhaps consider Elia? It’s a fem/androgynous version of Eli so matches well with Levi.
Continuing the Hebrew theme, how about Ezri? Or Este/Esti?
An unusual choice I immediately thought of is: Emer. It’s pronounced Eem-er and is an Irish version of the more popular Emma. I know a couple of babies called Emmy, an Etty and an Etta.

Cordelia16 Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 7:02 am

I like Eden, Elsa, and Esme best. Etta and Emmy are also nice.

Erin fits the requirements, but maybe is too dated. Eris sounds a bit fresher imo (though she is the goddess of discord).

I like Evie, but more as a nn. Could use Evia instead.

flowermae Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 7:08 am

I’d say go with a name you love over satisfying a “four letter” rule too. I can’t imagine a sibling feeling left out because their name has a different number of letters than the others…it just seems so arbitrary to me. And there are so many great E names to choose from!

Would you consider spelling Kali as Callie? That is how I’d assume it was spelled if I heard it. Levi, Callie, and Eva sound great together! All well established names with some history.

And if you’re worried about an Eila having to explain how to pronounce her name you might want to consider that Kali will have to explain how to spell hers.

Good luck!

nell_07 Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 7:12 am

Personally I love Eira for you, it does flirt with some of the same issues as Eila, but I think overall it’s less likely to be mispronounced.

Plus it means snow, which, if you like the idea, would do a nice ying-and-yang opposites thing with Kali’s meaning ‘black one’.

rosemilk Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Eden and Echo are my favourite suggestions!

Mgw29 Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 8:51 am

On its own, nothing against the name Echo. But for a twin, the meaning seems a little inappropriate…

Abby Sandel Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 9:56 am

@Mgw29 – I wondered the exact same thing about a twin named Echo! Maybe I’m overthinking. Any twin moms out there want to weigh in?

@Wandarine – Oof! I thought I’d covered all the pronunciation options, but apparently not …

HaileyMichelle Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 10:10 am

I think Emmi (or Emmy/Emme) would go well with Kali and Levi. It’s also similar to one of your longer favourites, Emanuelle.

Yuma Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 11:28 am

I think Eila from the asker’s original list is the best fit with Kali and Levi that I have heard so far. I also like Eira. But the one twin may feel sort of left out without the “i” ending. Kali and Levi also don’t work very well together imo (though I really like them individually).

Kali & Eila
Kali & Eira
Kali & Ayla
Kali & Kyra

Titus245Mama Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 11:37 am

I think you might find it easier to go with a “2-syllable” rule instead of a “4 letter” rule. I think, for example, Elsie, with 5 letters and 2 syllables, sounds more the sibling of Kali than Elle, with 4 letters but only one syllable. Even if you branched out to just allowing yourself 5 letters, you’d open up a lot more choices for yourselves.

I pronounce Eila like “Isla”, but because Isla is becoming popular, I think the possibility of people automatically misspelling it is pretty real. I think it sounds amazing with your sibset, though: Levi, Kali, and Isla.

Bobcat108 Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 1:35 pm

A four-letter E name that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Elen, the Welsh version of Helen/Ellen.

tiannarose Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I thought Eden & Esme were the best suggestions. Both are astounding!

teacupsandtiaras Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 2:43 pm

I feel so phonetically challenged after taking that poll. I suppose I pronounce everything as “aye-la”?

fireatwill52 Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 4:22 pm

I also want to suggest Eira 🙂

Lizallergic Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I would pronounce Kali to rhyme with Sally.

lissylou Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 4:52 pm

I would worry more about baby girl not having the “i” ending like her siblings then about the number of letters. But then you run the risk of them all sounding too rhyme-y.

I love Eila. I pronounce it with a long A. I have a child in my class last year who was named Eila and that’s how she pronounced it. (It will likely be the middle name of our first daughter, after my late niece Ella.) Such a beautiful name! I wouldn’t worry about how people say it – it’s a memorable name so once it’s been corrected it will probably stick!

Emilie Cecilia Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Personally, I happened to notice the fact that both Kali and Levi ended with ‘i’ before the whole 4 letter thing. However, I think Eila is a beautiful name, and you were afraid of the spelling and pronounciation, but with it being short there is only so many ways someone can mispronounce it. Also, I can see that spelling taking off! If you love Eila,- go for it!

kennamoon Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 9:49 pm

I love Eden!

I also suggest

joquinta Says:

April 26th, 2017 at 9:49 pm

I like the suggestions of Esme, Este, &Etta. What about Evyn? It reminds me of Ellis with the gender neutral feel, but less of a surname vibe.

brookedevon Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 8:02 am

I love the name Elke !

denmama9 Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Don’t box yourself into a rule before you’ve even given birth. You have one child, and he has a four letter name. You don’t have a four-letter requirement unless you want one. I’d say pick the names you love for your twins, and let your choices show you what your style or rules are, instead of creating a rule for yourself based on hypotheticals. Throw out the rule book, pick names that make you happy, then step back and see what unifies them.

Beau Jean Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 10:52 am

My parents noticed after their third child that we all had four letters in our names so decided to continue it on with the rest of their children. There are six siblings and many different name styles, but having four letters each ties it all together. I really like the four letter rule and would stick with that over the starts with E one, however I don’t think you should give up either one.
When I saw Eva my first thought was to just add an -h and make it Evah. You will for sure have to tell people how to spell Kali and she might not like it if her sister’s name never has to be spelled out but hers does. Then again she might not, there is absolutely no way to know how someone will feel about their name. Just make sure you love it!

leespieces Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 2:05 pm

I really really love Eila!!!

bstevens09 Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Eden is my favorite choice!! I think it fits really well with Levi & Kali. Esme would be ok too!!

a_r Says:

April 27th, 2017 at 11:59 pm

I like the suggestion of Elke (or Elka)

loverofnamesX Says:

April 30th, 2017 at 12:48 pm

I love Emmanuelle. Would you be okay with a long name but always use Elle, Emma or Ella as a nickname, it follows you theme while also using a name you love. I personally prefer Elle.

brebradley Says:

April 30th, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Erin! 4 letters and an “i” just like the other two 🙂

oliviamcdonald Says:

May 1st, 2017 at 3:41 am

It might just be me but I picked up on a religious theme before any four letter one. Levi the Christian prophet and Kali the Hindu goddess. The four letters doesn’t seem like an obvious thing at all. I would say go ahead and use Emmanuelle, but then Kali would be the odd one out with a Hindu name when the other two are Christian names.

oliviamcdonald Says:

May 1st, 2017 at 3:46 am

Also seeing as they are twin girls maybe don’t use a name that means light, with Kali meaning dark one. It would be pretty cute but they might hate you for it one day!

obow Says:

May 1st, 2017 at 4:13 pm

If you’re looking to spell Isla but using an E, it’s going to look convoluted. Kali is a beautiful name, what about Elza? It’s a bit different than Elsa, and the meaning is God is my joy, with Hebrew origins. Then, as a previous poster wrote, each name has a religious background but from different faiths. I want to use it for a middle name to honour a grandmother Joy. Kali, Levi, Elza – They each share a vowel with each other, have one stand out consonant (K, V, Z) plus an L which they all share.

jmsouthern Says:

May 3rd, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Before I’d even reached the Sage’s advice. I was thinking Eden. Kali and Eden sound like sisters to me.

Alexa_Grace24 Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 1:40 am

This is kind of an unrelated question but I have been wandering for a while, what does the D stand for in DH, DW, DS, DD etc. I understand that the last letter is husband, wife, son and daughter but I am unsure about the D.

Alexa_Grace24 Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 1:42 am

*Wondering. BTW I like Enya or Eila

Abby Sandel Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 3:18 am

@Alexa_Grace24 – Either “dear” or possibly “darling” – Dear Husband, Dear Daughter, etc.

Alexa_Grace24 Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 5:42 am

@Abby Sandal
Thank you for clearing that up!

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