Kissing Cousin Names: Names that don’t look related–but are

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:


AURORA has the same meaning as DAWN


AZENOR is the Breton form of ELINOR

CHAVA is Hebrew for EVE

DAISY is a pet form of MARGARET

CHLORIS is the Greek goddess of flowers; the Roman is FLORA

DELIA is an epithet of the goddess ARTEMIS

DOROTHEA has the same elements, in reverse, as THEODORA

HADASSAH was the original Hebrew name of the Old Testament ESTHER

HOLLY Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s was born LULA


ISABEL was originally a Spanish version of ELIZABETH


JENNIFER is a Cornish form of GUINEVERE

MAUD started as a vernacular of MATILDA

NELL and NORA are both related to HELEN

POSY is a diminutive of JOSEPHINE

SINEAD is an Irish Gaelic form of JANET



ALISTAIR is the Scottish form of ALEXANDER

ARMAND is the French version of HERMAN

ARRIGO is an Italian equivalent of HENRY

AXEL is a cognate of the biblical ABSALOM

AZARIAS was the human name of the angel RAPHAEL

BARTHOLOMEW may have been the same New Testament personage as NATHANIEL

CASPAR is the Dutch form of JASPER

COLIN is a diminutive of NICHOLAS

CLOVIS has the same components as LOUIS

EAMON is the Irish version of EDMUND

HAMISH is the Gaelic form of JAMES

JACOB, in Genesis, had a name change to ISRAEL

MARS is an ancient god of war, as is ARES

ORLANDO is the Iralian form of ROLAND

PAUL, in the New Testament, was originally named SAUL

TORQUIL is a Gaelic name based on the Norse god THOR

ZEUS is the Greek supreme god, the Roman equivalent is JUPITER


VIOLA, in Twelfth Night, disguises herself as CESARIO, and is the twin of SEBASTIAN (Thanks, Karen and Rachel)

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.