Category: naming twins
It was early April in 2014 when my husband, Rick, and I learned we were pregnant. After a long struggle with infertility, we were stunned, cautious, and absolutely thrilled. My husband immediately got busy turning the home office into a nursery; I immediately got busy searching for the perfect name. As an academic who spent years studying naming practices, I was excited to finally put my research skills to personal use. And when I later learned that I was expecting twins – a boy and a girl to boot – I felt like I hit the onomastic jackpot. Choosing the perfect names for our little girl and our little boy became a top priority during the pregnancy.
By Joslyn McIntyre
My stepdaughter, Emily, is 17 and already has her first daughter’s name picked out. She doesn’t even have a boyfriend, but she has confidently repeated this name to me several times. To which I usually respond, “Don’t you dare have a baby for at least ten years.”
When I was Emily’s age, long, long ago, I too, wanted to have lots of babies, right away, and I had all their names picked out. In fact, I kept journals full of potential baby names I would use with my future husband, River Phoenix. I planned to raise a brood of nature lovers we’d call things like Meadow, Fawn, and Seashell. Luckily for my actual daughters, River Phoenix and I never worked out.
Here in the US, some of the most popular twin sets include names like Matthew & Michael, Daniel & David, Hailey & Hannah or Ella & Emma. Yet others are even matchier such as Lillian and Jillian, Bryan & Ryan or Jesse & Jessica. While there isn’t technically anything wrong with matching names together like this, there are plenty of ways to be more creative when naming twin while still allowing them to have their own identities.
I’ve come up with three ways to help parents make sure their twins won’t have overly matchy names. We will examine twin names that are linked together by meaning while still being different from one another, names that sound very different but still work together stylistically, and names that share a common sound without rhyming or being too sound-alike.
1. Linked by meaning
These names don’t rhyme or sound alike but they do share a similar meaning. This is great for parents who feel the urge to make twin names matchy but don’t want to rhyme or have the names start with the same letter.
Or the rare instance where the meaning of a name is also a name:
2. Very different sounds
These names may be of a similar style or origin but they do not sound the same. They do not rhyme; they might not even have any of the same letters in common. These names stand together but have their own identities.
These names share a similar sound or two, but they are not overwhelmingly similar and they do not rhyme. Often, these sounds will be emphasized differently and the names will have different syllable counts.
What do you think of this list? Whether you like or dislike the idea of making twin names overly matchy, perhaps you can share in the comments some examples of names that you appreciate on twins. Do you have twins of your own? Do you have twin names picked out just in case? Where do you draw the line between the names being subtly linked and being too close for comfort?
I am name obsessed. When I am reading at bedtime to my eight-year old son, I will pause as we encounter new characters, “Hmm … Polly, that’s a good name isn’t it?” before he puts his fingers in his ears and begs for mercy, “Stop the naming madness, Mummy!”
I scan the credits of every TV show, hoping for divine inspiration.
My own mother taunts me; “You have been making lists of names since you could write and you can’t even chose a name for your own daughter. But I don’t like Ruby, dogs are called Ruby, the stupidest person I know has a granddaughter called Ruby, I don’t want a granddaughter called Ruby.”
If a recent New York Times article is to be believed, naming a baby is more anxiety-inducing than ever before. So much pressure to find the one. perfect. name. But what happens when you need two perfect names and I don’t mean in succession. Like virtually everything else to do with having twins, is naming them double the trouble?
There is a real sense in which choosing a pair of twins’ names is just like choosing a sibling set. For me, the same basic rules applied. The names had to be complementary and of a comparable level of originality. They had to roll off the tongue together, because, lord knows, they will be spoken in tandem more often than you can imagine. It would be a bonus if they shared some common, but not overwhelming, feature: a group of letters perhaps or a vague significance of meaning. Better yet, a sense of style. I have seen, for instance, all of my children’s names described as “Antique Charm.” This was a happy coincidence for the first two. For the twins, as numbers three and four, it felt almost like a necessity.