This blog is adapted from our most recent book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby
Twins offer a rare opportunity for parents to choose two related names at the same time, but also multiply the potential difficulties of sibling naming. With twins, it can be more tempting to use rhyme, sound play, and same initial names, but in our opinion pairings like Eddie and Teddy, Faith and Charity, or Nicholas and Nicole should be relegated to a time capsule.
While same-initial names that are clearly distinct from each other – Garrett and Grace, say, or Susannah and Simone – are okay, different-initial names are consistent in style and tone are preferable.
Some celebrity examples that work: Brad and Angelia’s Knox and Vivienne, Julia Roberts’ Phinnaeus and Hazel, Patrick Dempsey’s Sullivan and Darby, and Marcia Cross’s Eden and Savannah. Although each of these sets of names is very different in style and feel, they all embody the qualities that matter most in twin names. Each name in the set is distinct from the other yet they make a harmonious pair – exactly what most parents would wish for the twins themselves.
Gender compatibility may be more important for twins than it is for siblings. One pair of starbaby twins whose names don’t quite work as well as they should: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Jessie James and D’Lila Star. Both are girls, yet Jessie’s name seems thoroughly boyish while D’Lila’s is feminine to the point of frilly. Melissa Ethridge’s twins are Johnnie and Miller – but unless you know their middle names, you wouldn’t guess that Johnnie is a girl, Miller a boy. Such gender confusion seems needless, well, confusing.
Lookydaddy.com’s Brian Sargent, today’s guest blogger, is the stay-at-home dad of now-four-year-old twin girls and a third-grader. Those are his daughters, above.
My wife and I knew it would be tough to name twin girls, so we assigned ourselves jobs. My wife’s job was to suggest possible names for consideration. My job was to say I didn’t like them.
Not to be immodest, but I did my job well.
“You’re not even trying, anymore, are you?”
I did my job so well that toward the end of my wife’s pregnancy, I began to fear for my life. With each passing week, in an attempt to sleep comfortably, my wife had stacked foam pads, sleeping bags, pillows, and even an air mattress on her side of our marital bed, and as the twins’ due date approached, I knew that all she would have to do was roll over in the middle of the night to literally crush the baby-name objections right out of me.
I kid, of course. My wife could have never rolled over without my help.
Finally, exasperated with the selfless way in which I saved my children from names that belonged to my ex-students or had too many Ys, this is what my wife did: She wrote down a list of her ten favorite names, posted it on the refrigerator, and informed me none of the names could be removed from the list unless they were replaced with better ones.
So there they stood: Ten names. Who knows where they came from? Some I recognized as my wife’s coworkers. Some may have been from TV shows. And some were there simply to make me wonder why I had ever thought my wife and I had enough in common to successfully raise a child together. And, unless I could come up with better, two of them would become my twin girls.
I never came up with better. The two girls currently pulling on my arms as I type, giving my spellchecker a run for its money, bear names that came from that list of ten. And you know what? It’s fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. When I look back on it, I’m not sure why I was such a jerk about the whole name-choosing process in the first place. My girls, my beautiful, wonderful Lila and Victoria, are beautiful and wonderful no matter what we call them. And besides, they turned out to be identical, so it’s not like we use their names anyway. Beats us who is who.
But, happily, neither of them are is Hester.
First for the good news. Here are the starbaby names which we consider to have found the right combination of originality, charm and substance this year:
Full name Clementine Jane Hawke projects the image of a sweet but strong, prim but pretty heroine of a Victorian novel, and brings to mind the song lyric ‘Oh my darlin’ (never mind that her shoes were #9). It was previously the starbaby selection of Cybill Shepherd and Claudia Schiffer.
We applaud this choice that moves beyond the more common Puritan Virtue names like Grace, Hope, and Faith to one that projects an even more righteous image, but has rarely been heard in this country. An honorable decision.
The award for best twin names of the year goes to the always inventive but never quite over-the-top serial baby namers, the Jolie-Pitts. Knox continued their tradition of boys’ names ending in ‘X’ (as in Maddox and Pax), and also has family connections to Brad‘s grandfather, as does Vivienne‘s middle name, Marcheline, that of Angelina‘s mother. Runner-up twin names: Coldplay drummer Will Champion’s lively Juno & Rex.
In the name garden overgrown with Roses and Lillies, Violets and Daisies, it seems fitting that the granddaughter of the late iconoclastic comedian Richard Pryor would have a more exotic flower name. With its languorous feel, the lotus holds intriguing significance in several cultures.
An unusual but sunny day-of-the-week name, inspired by an Australian artist’s patron named Sunday Reed, it’s in tune with other current calendar names like January, May, June and August, as well as the seasonal Winter and Summer. Some people did think it strange that Sunday was born on a Monday.
And now for what we judge to be this year’s losers:
Poor little Bronx got nothing but Bronx cheers when his name was released, especially as paired with the name of the Disneyfied Jungle Book boy. If his parents thought this New York borough name would catch on the way Brooklyn has, they’re in for a big disappointment.
Is he a bulldog? Is he a prizefighter? No, he’s a baby, whose rambunctuous name will not do much to encourage his sensitive side. An example of the alarming trend towards giving doggy names (Lucky, Princess) to babies.
It could just as well be Cadence Klover, within the paradigm of using the initial letters C and K interchangeably, leading to regrettable innovations like Kasey, Kassidy, Karolyn and Kaleb. Fortunately, the trend seems to be waning.
Taking Max–which already means “the greatest”–to the max. INXS, we’d say.
The General Hospital star explained that this had been the nickname they used “when he was in mommy.” OK, good luck explaining that to him when he’s six feet tall and applying to Princeton.
We’d love to hear your nominations for the best and worst celebrity choices of the year, and won’t be surprised if you have very different opinions. Let’s hear from you lovers of Harlow and defenders of Kadence!
Here are a few other exotic reversals, giving a nouveau twist to an old name. You could probably come up with some more yourself–perhaps as a way of creating a namesake for someone you wish to honor:
So Elvis‘s only child has given birth to twins and named them Harper and Finley. The questions that immediately pop to mind are: Are they boys? Are they girls? Are they one of each? Do we need to peek inside the diaper to find out?
Well the news is out that they are twin girls, but their names are typical of the unisex choices that are epidemically popular these days, which includes both names that have long been used by both genders, and names like these that have just recently started to cross over.
HARPER has a solid tradition as a female name, dating back to To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, for whom it was a family name. It was more recently used for their daughters by Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos, and by Dixie Chick Martie Maguire.
FINLEY was a 100% male name until Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn bestowed it on their daughter in 2003. A good old Scottish royal name (it belonged to Macbeth’s father), it’s part of a whole clan of Fin names that are rising in popularity–Finn, Finlay/Finley, Finola/Finula, Finian, and Finnegan. And that’s not even counting Julia Roberts’ Phinnaeus.