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Unusual Twin Names: 8 Fresh Ways to Link

November 9, 2012 Pamela Redmond
unusual twin names

Unusual twin names are a special breed, intriguing, unique, and rare.

It’s always so disappointing to see the most popular twin names in the U.S.   The majority are connected in such obvious ways, or in several obvious ways at the same time.  They’ve got the same first initial, they rhyme or at least have a similar rhythm, they share a derivation and/or a meaning, they’re identical in style and/or popularity and/or image – and often they’ve got all those factors going on at once.

Dominant pairs include Jada and Jayden, Taylor and Tyler, Ella and Emma, London and Paris.

But we think you can do better, much better, and we’re going to help you.  The point is to find unusual twin names that share a strong bond yet remain distinct individuals, just as you would wish for your children.   Some ideas for fresh links between names are below — you might want to use these for finding compatible sibling pairs too!

Same first initial, different sound

Connecting twin girl names by using the same first initial may feel like the easiest and, let’s face it, most predictable and boring way to link.

But you can give the powerful initial connection a fresh twist by choosing names that share the initial but sound different.  Some first initials accommodate this idea better than others.  A few examples:

Cybele and Clio

Genevieve and Gwendolyn

Imogen and Isla

If you want to use a first initial that sounds the same no matter what, at least vary the second letter to give the overall sound of each name a distinct feel.  Examples:

Danica and Drew

Mabel and Murray

Different first initial, same sound

Maybe you prefer to fool the eye rather than the ear by choosing names whose sounds match but initials don’t.  Examples:

Callista and Kieran

Selena and Cyrus

Georgiana and Jessamine

 

Unusual twin names with shared meanings

We’ve blogged before about twin names linked by meaning, which can be one of the most subtle and, well, meaningful ways to come up with a pair that’s compatible in a private way.  Some examples:

Dorothea and Jonathan – both mean “gift of God”

Felicity and Laetitia – both mean “happiness”

Redmond and Shanahan – both mean “wise”

 

Uncommon twin names with shared origins

For a shared ethnic origin to work as a link for twin names, it has to be obvious but the name also need to be distinct from each other.  Some ethnic pairs that we think work:

Consuelo and Teo

Maeve and Finn

But names can also share an origin of a less obvious kind.  They might both be ancient Roman names, for instance, or may both derive from the works of Shakespeare.  This works best if the origin is neither too broad or too narrow.  Two Old Testament names may not even register as linked, for instance, while two flower names may be overly obvious.  Some pairs that work:

Benno and Lionel – both have animal roots

Leonora and Marguerite – opera names

Octavia and Miranda Shakespeare names

 

Shared sound

This can be a shared ending such as o or n, or a shared number of syllables, or a standout letter like x appearing somewhere in both names.  But you’ve got to stop short of too-cute rhymes like Haylee and Kaylee or Chloe and Zoe.

Felix and Maxwell

Lennon and Roman

Seraphina and Valentina

 

Same number of syllables

Is the number of syllables enough to link unusual twin names?  It can be a subtle bond between two otherwise-disparate names.  A few ideas:

Fleur and Rhys

Juliet and Vivienne

Orson and Rufus

 

Similar popularity standing

If you’re set on one name but stumped on where or how to find its perfect twin, you might try looking at the popularity standings for its companion.  Nameberry’s popularity list is divided into groups of 100 so it makes sense to look for uncommon twin names in that same 100-name group.  Of course you’ve got to consider other factors as well, but here are a few examples that work:

Audrey and Owen (from the Top 100)

Iris and Phoebe (from the 300-400 range)

Seamus and Callum (from the 800-900 group)

(Having just played it myself, I can attest that picking good twin pairs from each 100-name range is a fun name game.)Same style

This concept is a bit squishier.  Many baby-namers instinctually choose names of the same style.  The trick, as with the above, is not to pile on too many linking elements to make the point.  Thus, if the style of names you like is Modern, a pair like Archer and Hudson is good.  But Archer and Hunter or Hunter and Hudson take it one step too far.

Similarly, if your style is Classic, James and Henry work better than James and John, Caroline and Elizabeth better than Caroline and Catherine.

The link will be more subtle and more interesting if you refine the style a bit further.  Using an example from above, a sister for Seraphina, a Classic Romantic name, might be Gabriella or Rosamund, not necessarily a close sound match but more of a pairing of style and feel.

 

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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