Name Sage: Choosing Classic Names for Boy-Girl Twins

Name Sage: Choosing Classic Names for Boy-Girl Twins

Dorothy writes:

We have six children:

- James Alexander

- Jason Matthew

- John Nicholas

- Hannah Caitlin

- Kathryn Elizabeth

- Abigail Grace

We are expecting boy/girl twins and just cannot come up with names. We obviously like traditional names but feel like we’ve already used those that we really like!

The Name Sage replies:

This challenge sounds so familiar – but that doesn’t make it any easier! As families grow, inevitably lots of favorite names get used up and other possible choices have to be ruled out because, well, Hannah’s sister can’t be Anna.

Chances are I won’t suggest any name you haven’t already heard a dozen times. But that’s sort of the point, right? Classics succeed because they’re familiar and storied. They wear beautifully on a child or an adult.

In other words? No one is ever going to meet your kids and say, “James! What an unusual name.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean your children’s names won’t stand out. In a sea of more modern possibilities, classics sound surprisingly fresh, even unexpected. And when you feel confident that you've chosen well, then it doesn't matter if your baby's name is unique.

Let’s take it one baby at a time – your son first, then your daughter. The marvelous Swistle – a twin parent herself - often advises to approach choosing twin names as if you’re naming your next two children, and I think that wisdom applies here.


Do you want to find another J name for this son? It’s tempting to suggest Joseph, a rock-solid classic that fits right in with your older boys’ names. But I’m guessing that if Joseph were a contender, you might not be writing for suggestions.

Let’s consider some other classics that deserve a closer look.


Do you shorten Abigail to Abby, or lengthen John to Johnny? If you’re open to affectionate nicknames, Charles-called-Charlie could be perfect.


Maybe you’re more of a use-the-name-in-full type. In that case, David seems like a distinctive choice that works well with your older kids’ names. Plus the meaning is unbeatable: beloved.


Maybe you’re thinking of another J name, but Joseph isn’t quite it. Would you consider Jude? It fits so well with Old Testament picks like Hannah and Abigail. While it’s not quite as classic as James or John, it’s certainly a name with plenty of history.


Michael held the Number One spot most years from the late 1950s well into the 1990s. And yet, it feels fresh and surprising on a baby born now. Maybe it’s because that earlier generation tended to be Mikes, while more recently arrivals are often Michael, no nickname required.


Are any of your children’s names inspired by family? Theodore reverses your name exactly, but keeps the same meaning: gift of God. I would’ve almost certainly suggested Theodore with your older children’s names anyway, so the subtle nod to you? That’s just a bonus.


What boy wouldn’t want to share his name with Thomas the Tank Engine? But this is an enduring classic of a name, worn across the ages. Thomas offers plenty of buttoned-up appeal, and Tommy is pure sweetness. Plus, Thomas means twin – which is perfectly appropriate!

My favorites are probably Michael and Thomas – Michael Theodore or Thomas Jude, maybe?


Hannah, Kathryn, and Abigail sound very much like sisters, and it also feels easier to suggest another girl’s name. Maybe it’s because there’s no temptation to continue with the same initial? Then again, the pool of possible girls’ names that feel traditional and current runs a little deeper.


This name has everything. It carries all the sweet storybook vibe of Alice in Wonderland, but it also feels capable and strong.


Along with Charlotte, Caroline is a feminine form of Charles. So while I wouldn’t name twins Caroline and Charles, I can see either name fitting in with your family. While Caroline has ranked in the Top 100 since the 1990s, it’s never reached the same heights as Top Ten favorite Charlotte. That makes Caroline a classic, but maybe not one you’ll hear as often.


An Old Testament name with modern energy, Leah falls somewhere between 21st century favorite Mia and more obscure Biblical choices like Keturah. Brief and complete, but still with plenty of style, Leah makes a great stands-out/fits-in kind of name.


A venerable classic with nicknames galore, Margaret is truly a timeless choice. If it doesn’t work as a first name option, it could make a great middle, too.


Spare and elegant Rose is too often tucked in the middle spot. It’s a stunning first name, too! And Rosie is darling for a baby, sparky for a child.


A Top Ten favorite from 1970s into the early 2000s, we all probably know a few mom-aged Sarahs. (And Saras!) But it’s falling in use for our daughters, and that might make it a great name to consider in 2021. After all, everybody recognizes it. But while your daughter might share her name with a kindergarten teacher, chances are she won’t have another Sarah among her classmates.

Besides Margaret, I wonder if a name like Isabelle or Celeste would appeal as a middle? I think my favorite combination is Leah Margaret or Leah Celeste, but I’d put Rose Isabelle a close second.


My vote goes to Michael Theodore and Leah Margaret, with Thomas Jude and Rose Isabelle close behind.