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Name Sage: Matching Sibling Names ... or Not?

Name Sage: Matching Sibling Names ... or Not?

Georgi writes:

Our daughter is Aurelia Rose. Do we stick with the ancient, Roman, Latin theme for our second … or not? We like some modern and girly names, too.

Our favorite girl name is Seraphina Belle, but we aren’t liking any nicknames.

For boys, we like Marcellus and Lucian.  

Can you help us with ideas that tie in our love of ancient names? Or maybe convince us to go with something more modern?

The Name Sage replies:

You’re facing one of those crossroads decisions.

Name Aurelia’s brother Marcellus, and it starts to feel like a theme.

Should you someday welcome a third child, choosing a name like Poppy or Kai might not feel quite right. They’d be short, brisk, and more modern – the odd one out when you introduce your children.

Even if no one else notices, the fact that you’re thinking about it suggests that it might bother you.

On the flip side, there’s more than one way to categorize any name, and very few families stick to a strictly defined style. 

Aurelia might also be described as romantic, a little bit elaborate, and relatively familiar – even if, at Number 644 in the US as of 2019, it’s fairly rare to meet an Aurelia.

Likewise, Lucian doesn’t seem as borrowed-from-the-Romans as Marcellus. Opinions will vary, but I don’t think of Seraphina as especially ancient, either.

Many of the names you love fit into a broadly borrowed-from-antiquity category. It’s a question of where to set the dial.

Do you choose only those names that really might have met at the Colosseum circa the year 100? Or something that generally fits that style?

If you’re hoping to grow your family beyond these two children, I’d suggest opting for names that you love, but that leave the door open to something slightly different.

But if this child almost certainly completes your family? Then bring on the most ancient of names.

ANCIENT BOY NAMES

CASSIAN

If Lucian is close but not quite, would you like Cassian instead? It doesn’t rank in the current US Top 1000, though its cousin Cassius comes in at Number 518. While it’s relatively rare, the name got a boost from a hero in Rogue One, the 2016 Star Wars prequel. A little bit like chart-topping Sebastian, with modern nicknames like Cash, Casey, or Cass, Cassian could be the best of both worlds.

FELIX

At Number 222, Felix is approaching the mainstream. Just like Aurelia, others will recognize it, even if it isn’t too common. The ending X makes Felix feel modern, but there’s no mistaking this name’s deep history. And many of us will instantly recognize the name’s Latin roots and positive meaning – happy or fortunate.

JULIUS

If there’s a middle point between Marcellus and Lucian, it might be Julius. At Number 350, it’s slightly more common than either Marcellus or Lucian. But it’s also unmistakably ancient Roman.

MAXIMUS

Or maybe that middle point is Maximus? Russell Crowe won a Best Actor Oscar playing Maximus in 2000’s Gladiator. Max names have been big across the millennia. And if nickname options are of interest, it doesn’t get much better than brief, timeless Max. At Number 228, Maximus feels almost mainstream – and Max is definitely a staple name for a son born now.

TITUS

At Number 322, Titus is relatively common, at least compared to other ancient names like the swaggering Tiberius or obscure Secundus. Because Titus appears in the New Testament, it’s been in use since the Protestant Reformation. It strikes a good balance between names we all recognize, like Julius, and the more obscure Cassians.

ANCIENT GIRL NAMES

CLAUDIA

If you’re looking for a strong girl name with roots in the ancient world, it’s tough to do better than Claudia. Everyone recognizes it, but the name doesn’t appear in the current US Top 1000.

DRUSILLA

I wonder if Drusilla might be the best of both worlds? While it’s quite rare – the name last appeared in the US Top 1000 back in the 1910s – it sounds like plenty of contemporary favorites. Plus, it comes with cool, unisex nickname option Dru.

JUNIA

Julia seems more classic than ancient. Juno comes straight from the Pantheon. Junia balances the best of both names, a little bit unexpected but every bit as stylish as Juniper or June. It's never cracked the Top 1000 in the US, but seems very accessible.

OCTAVIA

A freshly popular ancient name, Octavia benefits from two factors. First, it substitutes beautifully for the chart-topping Olivia. And then there's a fierce character from The CW series The 100 - whose named was inspired by Emperor Augustus' sister Octavia. At Number 371, it's climbed in use, but remains distinctive.

VALENTINA

Aurelia means golden and Valentina means strength. It seems like a great combination, mixing vibrant sounds, ancient roots, and enduring meanings. But at Number 65, Valentina is fairly popular right now.

Overall, my favorite for Aurelia's sister is Octavia. It's every bit as ancient, but at home in the modern world.

On the boys' side, I don't think anything tops Lucian. Cassian is a little more distinctive. And names like Julius seem more obviously drawn from the ancient world. But Lucian balances out all of those qualities - it's memorable, meaningful, and pairs beautifully with sister Aurelia. I know Nameberry readers will have some great suggestions for Aurelia's sister or brother. Please visit the forums to share your ideas!

About the Author

Abby Sandel

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 namesage@nameberry.com.