Sibling Names: The Ultimate Guide
Sibling names add a whole layer of complexity to naming a baby. Naming your first child may have been challenge enough — finding names that you like, agreeing on a single name with your partner — but naming a sibling comes with its own set of tasks.
The goal of naming siblings is to strike a balance of coordination — sibling names should feel cohesive but not interchangeable. Each child in the sibset should have a distinct connection to his or her own name yet feel like a part of the larger group.
That means you have to take your other children’s names into account when naming their sibling. In fact, it’s best practice to begin considering potential sibling names when you’re naming your first child, to ensure that your eldest’s name is coordinated with the style of any future siblings.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry! We’ve created the definitive guide to sibling names.
Here, our top considerations when naming siblings:
Style Consistency in Sibling Names
The number one thing to think about when naming siblings is cohesion — that is, how well do these names go together? The best sibsets are those with names that hit the same style notes. Keira Knightley’s Edie and Delilah both have a warm, feminine, and vintage feel, while Gwen Stefani’s Kingston, Zuma, and Apollo have names that are both high-energy and modern in usage.
Sibling Names with Complementary Origins
Oftentimes, a shortcut to style consistency is origin. Names that come from similar backgrounds tend to be compatible. Alec and Hilaria Baldwin’s children — Carmen, Leonardo, Rafael, and Romeo — have names with Italian or Spanish origins, both of which are Latinate languages. Milla Jovovich chose masculine Scottish names for her three daughters — Ever, Dashiel, and Osian.
Name origin can extend beyond nationality, too. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s daughters are Hazel and Violet — names that trace their roots to nature, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s children North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm, each have unique word names.
Letter and Sound Matching in Sibling Names
You may be tempted to choose sibling names with matching initials or sounds. There are times when this can work well — think Jessica Alba’s Honor, Haven, and Hayes, or Natalie Portman’s Aleph and Amalia. But too many children with highly matched names can veer into gimmick territory. One of the most famous examples is the Duggars, a reality TV family whose 19 children all have names that begin with J.
More subtle is to match the number of syllables, as with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hal and Kit, or the ending sounds, such as Chance the Rapper’s Kensli and Marli. In cases such as this, it’s best to vary the primary sounds — Marli and Marni would have been too similar.
The general rule of thumb is that three establishes a pattern. Had Michael Phelps chosen another B name for his third son to match Boomer and Beckett, he’d be painted into a corner for a fourth child. Instead, the choice of Maverick — which fits stylistically with the brother set — allows for more flexibility.
If you do need to break a pattern, make it less jarring by coordinating the names along other aspects. Chip and Joanna Gaines intentionally chose single syllable D names for their sons, Drake and Duke, and two-syllable E names for their daughters, Emmie and Ella. But when they unexpectedly became pregnant with another boy years later, they were out of D names that they liked. The Gaineses named their son Crew, choosing to continue the single syllable theme rather than the more salient letter theme. Crew, which is consistent with Drake and Duke in both syllables and style, feels like a natural addition to the sibset despite its differences.
Gender Compatibility in Sibling Names
Some parents will find that they have different taste in girl and boy names. Although this is shifting, boy names have historically stayed more constant over time than girl names, as they are less subject to trends. It is very common to come across sibsets with Baby-Names-for-Boys”>classic boy names and trend-conscious girl names, such as with Bar Refaeli’s children, daughters Liv and Elle, and son David.
A certain level of disparity between girl and boy names is fine, and sometimes expected. However, in all sibsets, but particularly those where there is already a gender style gap, it is important for girl names to work with the sister set and boy names to be compatible with the brother set. Daphne Oz and John Jovanovic achieved this with their sibset — their son has the very traditional, Slavic name Jovan Jr., while their daughters have long, romantic names with Greek and Italian roots — Philomena, Domenica, and Giovanna.
Using masculine-leaning names for girls or feminine-leaning names for boys is wonderful, but it can get confusing when children of the same sex have names that differ strongly in gender breakdown. Jessica Simpson’s children are named Maxwell Drew, Ace Knute, and Birdie Mae — but without knowing that two are girls, it’s difficult to tell that Maxwell and Birdie are sisters.
Of course, if you favor unisex names, you may choose to use them for both sons and daughters, as Alanis Morissette and Mario Treadway did for their children Ever, Onyx, and Winter. The additional benefit here is that these names are less likely to carry assumptions of gender.
Coordinated Middle Names for Siblings
Coordinated first names are not in the cards for all families. Perhaps you have a specific honor name you want to use for your firstborn child, or you realized you used a style outlier name the first time around. Enter: coordinated middle names, which can tie disparate first names together or enhance the connection that is already there.
Rebecca Romijn chose the mismatched names Dolly and Charlie for her twin daughters, but in the context of their full names — Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip — the twin names are much more compatible.
Siblings’ middle names can also be a good place to carry out a theme if you didn’t want to do so with first names. Zooey Deschanel’s children — Elsie Otter and Charlie Wolf — both have animal middle names.
Blended sibsets with children from multiple partnerships are a special kind of challenge. If there is a large age gap between half-siblings, it may not be worth the trouble to attempt to coordinate names. It’s not a big deal that Alec Baldwin’s daughter Ireland’s name is incompatible with her sister Carmen’s because they have a 17-year age difference and aren’t viewed as a part of the same unit.
If harmonious sibling names are a priority, you may have to work with the previously established style. Many celebrities have done this well. Stanley Tucci has three kids from his first marriage named Isabel, Camilla, and Nicolo. When it came time to name children from his second marriage, he and wife Felicity Blunt chose Emilia and Matteo for their daughter and son — with their Italian roots, they perfectly match the names of their older half-siblings.
The most difficult sibsets to blend are those where both partners have children from previous relationships, but it can be done. Take Richard Gere and Alejandra Silva’s blended sibset, for example. Each came into their marriage with a son from a previous relationship — Gere’s son Homer and Silva’s son Albert. Though not entirely incompatible, Homer and Albert feel different stylistically. Gere and Silva named their next son Alexander, which matches Homer in Greek roots, and Albert in aristocratic vibe, unifying the three brothers.
The best celebrity sibsets are those that feel well-matched, but in which each child’s name is distinctive. Some of these sibsets consist of names that share an initial or origin, but the bottom line is that the names in each set are perfectly coordinated when it comes to style.
Popular Sibling Names
The top names for siblings are well-coordinated in style. Particularly popular are sibsets that feature repeating sounds, such as Ella and Emma for sisters, Logan and Lucas for brothers, and Chloe and Owen for a sister and brother.
Here, popular sibling names from the official US Top 100:
Unique Sibling Names
There are infinite combinations when it comes to unique sibling names. Needless to say, the best sibsets are matched in style, but we also love those that connect across a subtle theme. The sibsets that do this successfully contain names that are clearly individuated. Blythe and Felicity mean “happy,” Pierce and Prewitt are surnames beginning with P, and Leilani and Makai are Hawaiian names with connections to nature.
Below, some of our favorite combinations:
Unisex Names for Siblings
Unisex names are increasingly common among both girls and boys, and more parents are choosing to use them in sibsets of mixed gender. No matter the sex of your children, you may desire a unisex sibset that won’t announce any one child’s gender.
The following unisex sibling names work for children of any combination of sexes: