Kissing Cousin Names: Names that don’t look related–but are
When Matthew McConaughey chose the name Levi for his son, he was, in a subtle way, naming the baby after himself. How so? Because in the New Testament, Matthew and Levi are two names for the same person.
There are many other such pairs of names with close connections that aren’t immediately evident, whether they be different ethnic versions of the same name, double identities for the same person, having historic or literary ties, or as sharers of linguistic elements. Being aware of this can be a useful tool for baby namers seeking not-too-obviously linked twin or sibling names or, like McConaughey, another less egoey version of your or your spouse’s name.
And of course it could also come in handy when looking for a more modern substitute namesake for a fustily-named family member. As much as you may have adored your Grandpa Roland, for example, you still might prefer the more dashing Orlando for your baby boy.
Here are a few examples, though of course there are countless other ethnic-switching possibilities out there:
SINEAD is an Irish Gaelic form of JANET
AZARIAS was the human name of the angel RAPHAEL
MARS is an ancient god of war, as is ARES
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on July 6th, 2009 at 6:59 am
*Viola* disguised herself as *Cesario*, and her twin (who was frequently confused with her) was Sebastian.
on July 6th, 2009 at 7:21 am
Cool list! I love the Holly/Lula connection!
on July 6th, 2009 at 9:19 am
Nell can also be a nickname for Eleanor. This was a very nice and informative list.
on July 6th, 2009 at 9:27 am
Yes, very cool list. I had no idea that Axel and Absalom, Torquil and Thor, and Joan and Sinead and Joan were related.
I wish more parents would pay attention to etymology. Surfing recent birth announcements, I spotted a James Seamus and a Levi Matthew. Lots of Levis these days!
on July 6th, 2009 at 9:39 am
And we know why!
ailsa gray Said
on July 6th, 2009 at 6:49 pm
Also, Laura/Laurel/Lauren (from the Laurel tree) means the same as Daphne, although I think we have a way to go before Daphne is resurrected as a good choice for a baby.
on July 6th, 2009 at 8:26 pm
My name is Jennifer, like millions of other girls from the 70/80 era. Except I was named after my grandmother Guinevere. Now that I have to identify myself as The Jennifer S. With Red Hair Who Lives In XXXXX. Because of course there’s another Jennifer S. With Red Hair where I work. Who just moved to XXXXX, a block away from me. Gah! I wish I were named Guinevere!
on July 6th, 2009 at 8:58 pm
Some of my favorites that are related are Jude / Judah and Thaddeus which are all used to refer to one of the apostles.
on July 6th, 2009 at 9:31 pm
sorry, but Chava is the Biblical Hebrew for Eve, not Chaya which means life.
on July 6th, 2009 at 9:43 pm
I’ve seen both given, but looking at the most authoritative sources, I can see that you’re absolutely right–I’ll change the blog. Thanks.
on July 7th, 2009 at 1:39 am
Technically, Sinead is the Irish form of Janet, not Joan (which is Siobhan) – though both are related back to Jane/John.
on July 7th, 2009 at 9:28 am
Thanks, PP, I made the change on Sinead. The Oxford Dictionary of First Names translates Siobhan as Jane–which as you say they all relate back to.
on July 7th, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Both Dorcas and Tabitha are used for the same person in the New Testament.
on July 10th, 2009 at 8:55 am
Actually, @ailsa, I know two little Daphnes.
ailsa gray Said
on July 17th, 2009 at 4:26 pm
Interesting, Tracey, I think Daphne is sweet. I work in a toyshop and daily quiz my customers on the names of their little people in their prams, so am constantly having my expectations challenged. The other day, we had twins in – Freya Rose and AUDREY Hope. Up til recently, I had thought of Audrey as one of those names that was not due for resurrection (my own godmother, Auntie Audrey, is 96, which coloured my judgement). Seeing little baby Audrey made me view the name in a different light.
on November 29th, 2009 at 10:32 am
First, I really like the list.
Second, Nell is also short for Cornelia. I had a teacher named that and everyone called her Nelly.
Also, I read somewhere that James is a derived version of Jacob. It appeared as a result of the name Jacobus sometimes being spelled Jacomus.
on May 20th, 2010 at 8:32 pm
What about Daphne and Laurel? they both mean Laurel tree and is by far one of the nicest sibsets (twins actually) that I have heard.
on January 20th, 2011 at 10:21 am
What about all the Ann’s (Hannah, Anne, Anneliese, Nancy, Annette, Annabelle, etc.)? They all mean Grace. I really like Hannah, Grace, and Nancy as siblings.
on May 17th, 2011 at 6:20 pm
Eos (EE-ohs) also means dawn, and it is one of my favorite names. One of the few Greek mythology characters that doesn’t murder their parents or something (well, her husband turns into a cricket or grasshopper or something like that, which isn’t that bad). Nameberry should add it to the database!
on September 5th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
Where did they get that picture? I want to know the website they got it from!
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