Twin Names: A Mom’s Dos and Don’ts

Guest blogger Laura Blackwell offers some practical advice for naming multiples–based on her own experience.

When you find out you’re having twins, your baby-naming duties get more than doubly complicated. The moment my husband and I saw that second jellybean on the ultrasound, some of our plans went out the window. Since then, we’ve learned about many challenges and much confusion over twin names–some before naming our daughters, and some after.

Nameberry has already touched on several of the pitfalls of naming multiples: the matchy-matchy names, the rhymes, the names so different that anyone they meet will think one kid got the “good” name. The following are some more of the surprises that parents of multiples encounter.

Equal weight: If you’re into the meanings of names, finding comparable names for your kids can be challenging. In childhood, my friend Craig was taunted by his sister Cynthia. “I’m named after a goddess,” she told him, “and you’re named after a rock.” They’re not even twins. Thinking about that made us decide against giving one of our twins a mythological name and the other the name of a flower.

Initial difficulties: Cute as it may seem to name your kids with the same first letter, it can cause problems. I have heard twin moms say that their insurance tried to deny claims as double-billing, based on the first initial and birth date. And if originality is important to you, limiting yourself to one letter may backfire. I know three different moms who named their twin daughters Hayley and Hannah (with spelling variations).

“Which one is the boy?”: Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples. Many well-meaning people will simply assume that one of your kids is male and the other female. Gender-ambiguous names, such as last-names-as-first-names, add to the confusion. If you’re naming your boys Cooper and Edison, brace yourself for compliments about your “daughter’s” long eyelashes. Which one they call the daughter will vary.

They can’t even tell the names apart: Have you ever heard a restaurant hostess call “Denise,” only to have a peeved-looking Dennis stand up? Not everybody is good at phonetic spelling. To many of the people your kids will encounter in life, Casey and Cassie look like the same name. Your children will almost certainly share a birthdate, and if they’re same-sex, they may look a lot alike…it’s better if at least their names are different.

Sometimes they run together: At some point, any parent will scroll partway through the names of their kids, their spouse, and a pet or two before arriving at the one for the child they’re addressing. This happens to twin parents more often. If you name your kids Chester and Easton, it’s a matter of time before somebody calls the latter “Cheeseton.”

Their middle name is “and”: You probably try on entire names, running from the first through the middle the last. Say you’re having two girls. “Erica” is a meaningful name with a nice Nordic ring to it, and so is “Danica.” String their two names together, though–as will happen from birth through high school graduation–and you get “Eric and Annica.” Look for names that don’t just sound good together, but sound good with an “and” in-between.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast set of rules. My husband and I concentrated hard on these first two ideas before choosing two celestial names: fiery, angelic Serafina (Fina for short); and serpentine Tanith, goddess of the moon and stars. The names suit them beautifully, and we wouldn’t change them for the world. That said, some of the other points raised here come from the puzzled looks we’ve seen on grownup’s faces when we introduce our children.

Some of these things may matter to you, and some may not. They’re just issues that come into play with twins more than with other siblings. It’s good to start thinking about twin names early on. Once the two bundles of joy arrive, you’ll have enough on your minds (not to mention your hands).

Laura Blackwell is Downloads Editor at PCWorld. She writes fantasy reviews and fiction for various publications.

 

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50 Responses to “Twin Names: A Mom’s Dos and Don’ts”

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Eezair Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 1:15 am

My name is Heather and my little brother is Theodore (Ted). My mom sometimes calls me Tether.

AliceVictoria Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 4:40 am

My sister has just had twins – Isabel and Lola. I think they are different enough but still go nicely together.

Joy Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 7:07 am

I’m a twin. My mom went with the virtue names for us. I’m Joy and my older half is Cherish. They don’t sound alike but they have virtue meanings.

People always comment of how “smart” my mother was for giving us our names. Since Cherish is first my mom calls us by “Cherish and Joy!”

Stella Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 8:02 am

80s twin names I know: Megan and Mandy, booooring. Caitlin and Meghan, better but still boring.

Seraphina and Tanith are great.

olivegreen Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 8:55 am

I know of G/G twins named Reagan and Hazel. A little too different, in my opinion.

Tara Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 10:01 am

I know of G/G twins named Mariely and Sharon. Mariely? Pretty. Sharon? Not so much. But Serafina and Tanith are gorgeous! I love the ice skater Tanith Belbin!

Taffy Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 11:43 am

Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples

Really? Can that possibly be true? I think B-B, G-G and B-G combos must be equally likely.

Liz Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

You were much thoughtful than the parents of twins I knew growing up. At my school, we had Cassidy and Chassity, Mandy and Brandy, and Kristy and Misty! And one of my co-workers is also a twin: Linda and Brenda. My grandmother, born in the 1920s, is a twin: Mary and Ruby. At least their names didn’t rhyme!

Amos Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

My favorite twin set I’ve ever encountered is Max and Leo. The worst was Taylor (g) and Tyler (b).
Other nice twin combos I’ve seen: Ross and Chase, Nicholas and Natalie, Margaret and Michael, Jacob and Ryan, Timothy and James, and Erin and Emily.

Becca Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

My husbands dad was a twin. They were named Renee and Randy. It’s my husbands generation to have twins and I really hope it happens! If that happens I don’t think they will have same first name initials or matchy names. Maybe close or equally nice meanings to the names. This is a great blog! Thanks!

JNE Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

@Taffy:

Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples

Really? Can that possibly be true? I think B-B, G-G and B-G combos must be equally likely.

They are… but they are equally likely as G-B too… so, you have B-B, G-G, G-B, and B-G – with stats each of the fetuses is a 50/50, so there are two routes to a girl and a boy for twins – technically just about twice as likely to get a mixed set than a single-gender set.

Tracy Says:

June 11th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Having boy twins..considering either Oliver and Elliiot or Oliver and Finn (short for Finnegan). Any words of wisdom?

Elizabeth Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 5:49 am

Are gender twin sets still the most likely when you figure in identical twins?

Kathy Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 8:20 am

@Tracy–LOVE Oliver and Elliot!

danielle8933 Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Twins I know in no particular order:

Connor and Devon (BG)
Connor and Devon (BB)
Sophie and Emma (GG)
Ian and Dillon (BB)
Steve and Frank (BB)
Danielle and Nicole (GG)
Henry and Oliver (BB)

Ranging from infant to college-aged.

@Tracy – I second Kathy. Oliver and Elliot is great! The only potential problem I can see people bringing up is that Elliot is starting to be used for girls, but I still love it on a boy and think it’s fine with a boy/boy combo.

Tracy Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I really love the Oliver and Elliot combination. My concern is that since they are paternal twins…kids might call them “Ollie and Ellie”. Am I being paranoid and silly? 🙂

julie Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

having boy girl twins. Thinking Clara & Miles, any advice?

Tracy Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

(and they are boys!)

Jenny Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I can’t believe I never considered the ‘and’ factor. I’m not a twin and I responded to “JennyandAli” until I was 14.

http://pencilsandwhatnot.wordpress.com/ Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

What a great blog, with some really valuable information, especially the insurance double-billing and the …. and …. factor. The Craig and Cynthia story had me chuckling for ages, too.

Serafina and Tanith were great choices!

On another note, Pam or Linda, I have an idea for a blog written up – if you’re interested, is there some way I could send it to you?

Coralie Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

@ Laura: Serafina and Tanith are fantastic! 🙂

@ Tracy: Oliver and Elliot are perfect together! 🙂 I don’t think that people will call them by nicknames unless they actually choose to go by them (and I don’t think that any guy would want to be known as Ellie…).

@ danielle8933: Henry and Oliver are great! 🙂

A few twins I know:
G/G: Abby and Ally (they’re nicknames, but the girls only ever go by them)
B/B: Jorge and Jose
G/G: Josephine and Katherine
G/G: Kyra and Kyana
B/G: Marina and Mario

With the exception of Josephine and Katherine, I think that they’re all too matchy.

Laura Blackwell Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Congratulations on your impending boys, Tracy! I love the name Oliver, and I think either Elliot or Finnegan would be fine with it. I like it that Oliver and Elliot both sound very English. Finnegan is a little more different, both in sound and in origin, and I like it for that.

I hadn’t thought of “Ollie and Ellie,” though. You brought up a great point…with all the matches you try out, it’s good to try the nicknames, too. This one may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s something to think about.

Jenny Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I mentioned the ‘and’ factor to my husband tonight and he told me about brothers he knows. The older brother is Rod and the younger Kurt, but as soon as someone called them KurtandRod (think window treatments), it stuck.

Nicolette Sari Says:

June 12th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I cant believe I never considered the “and” factor before hand. I have a Charlotte and Francesa. Lottie and Fran..

Elizabeth Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 4:37 am

I am a twin. My name is Elizabeth Anne and her name was Rebekah Sue. We were Beth Anne and Becky Sue.

kgibbons Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

My dad and his twin sister are Donald and Dorothy (b. 1940). Their middle names also start with the same intial and are monarchist inspired- Edward and Elizabeth. They went by Donnie and Dottie as kids.

Pamela Redmond Satran Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Donnie and Dottie are a classic Bobbsey Twins pair!

Becca Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

@ Tracy I like Oliver and Elliot and Oliver and Finnegan. The nn’s could be Ollie and Eli but Ollie and Finn are cute too!

Becca Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Oh I have also heard of twins named:
Zachariah & Geoffrey bb ( elementary age)
Maddox & London bb ( elementary age)
Sherri & Terri gg ( I think in their 40’s)
that’s all I can think of now!

Laura Blackwell Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

@Elizabeth: I’ve been looking for the answer to your question, and it looks like about 2/3 of twins are fraternal.

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/977234-overview

If multiple births continue to rise, we will probably see more fraternals but no more identicals. That’s been the trend so far.

@Julie: I really like Clara and Miles as a set. The genders are obvious, and they’re both English-sounding names from a Latin root, so they go nicely together. My only caution is that when you have a name that ends with A, you end up having to pause a little when you introduce that child first. We got used to it pretty quickly.

Carolyn Arianna Rose Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Speaking of the Bobbsey Twins, which were a favorite series of mine when I was little, they were two sets of twins: Freddie and Flossie, and Bert and Nan. I could never figure out where Bert and Nan came from since it was such a strange pair of names together, but Freddie and Flossie sounded like great to me for twins. I think it’s cool to have the same first letter for twins’ names…but never thought of the double-billing issue!

Laura Says:

June 13th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I am having boy/girl twins and we are thinking Owen and Claire.

I like Miles and Clara too!

Meredith Says:

June 14th, 2010 at 9:28 am

@Becca- Fraternal twins don’t run on the male side. It’s only hereditary if the mother has it in her family. Dad has no influence whatsoever on twins being conceived.

I am currently expecting girl twins and we are narrowing down our names. It’s tough picking two that go together but don’t match!

Jamie Says:

June 14th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

@Meredith –
Fraternal twins are hereditary on the male side except the male is just a carrier of the gene. Therefore if he has a daughter she may have the gene to have fraternal twins or not.
I’m an identical twin and my husband is a fraternal twin and we have no greater chance than a regular person to have twins but our children will have a greater chance from both his side and mine.

Pamela Redmond Satran Says:

June 14th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Jamie, very interesting on how the likelihood of having twins is passed on! Makes it clear how it “skips a generation.” Thanks!

Meredith Says:

June 15th, 2010 at 10:03 am

Jamie- Thanks, you’re totally right! I just meant if a woman’s husband is a fraternal twin, they do not have an increased chance of having twins. And isn’t crazy that identical twins are completely random and aren’t hereditary at all? Even doctors don’t know for sure why it happens.

Patricia Says:

June 15th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Regarding Bobbsey twins Bert and Nan, perhaps their given names were Albert and Ann and as such their names would have been alike in the same way the names of the younger Bobbseys Freddie and Flossie were. Bert is the short form of Albert and Nan, a diminutive of Ann. The Bobbsey twins debuted in 1904, when Albert ranked 16 among names given to baby boys and Ann, 78.

Cassandra Says:

June 16th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I know a Lorie and Larie twin girls. Not the most original.

I would love twin girls! I would so much enjoy naming them… something much more original.

Jacey Says:

June 17th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

My twins are Dino Vincenzo and Elvis Lorenzo. Indeed the middle names do rhyme but not completely on purpose. They are named after Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, and middle names are after my mother (Vincenza) and my father in law, (Lorenzo).

Marissa Says:

December 1st, 2010 at 4:53 am

There G/B twins in my 1st and 2nd grade class along time ago named Sierra and Gabriel.

@Tracy congrats on the B/B twins!! I think that both Oliver and Elliot and Oliver and Finn work beautifully.

@Laura Serafina & Tanith are a beautiful pair.

dester’edra Says:

January 19th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Oliver and Elliot sound a little too close to same letter madness to my ear, but that’s just me–both have short vowel sounds followed by L, both have dactyllic meter…but then i’m not fond of anything with a singsong lilt.

If someone were stuck on the same letter thing, i suppose one alternative would be names with the same letter but very different pronounciations, like Psyche or Phoebe and Pelagia or Calix and Chamania.

Lena Says:

February 26th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Twin names I know:

Katherine & Christopher (GB) college
Abby & Ally (GG) toddlers
Katy & Chris (GB) college
Ron & Don (BB) 40’s
Connie & Bonnie (GG) 40’s

Sassy Says:

March 7th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I knew a Cynthia and Natalie growing up. I always thought that was a great pair. In highschool I knew an April and Amber (their middle initials were the same too), Bruce and Bryan and a Jennifer and Jessica. I always swore if I was ever to have twins they would NEVER have the same first initial. Way too matchy for me. Oh, I just remembered I knew an Andrew (he went by Drew) and Amy too.

Twin Names: Your perfect pair? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

June 1st, 2011 at 12:17 am

[…] you go the old-style twin names route and give them matching initials or names that […]

*person* Says:

June 1st, 2011 at 7:48 pm

There were only “don’ts” in this post, no “do’s” you mistitled this article

*person* Says:

June 1st, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Don’t give them names that only don’t good with “and” in between.
Anne and Yvonne sound pretty TOGETHER, but separately you have a boring person type-name and a stripper-in-the-making type-name

Stac Says:

August 3rd, 2011 at 5:11 am

Twin names I abesolutely adore together because they are not too cutesy or overused together. Although some do have a bit of a theme to them.
GG-
Cecelia and Daphne
Grace and Mercy
Nora and Claire
Evangeline and Celeste

BB-
Bowan and Conall
Desmond and Malcolm
Gideon and Matthew
Padraic and Alistair

BG-
Francesca and Benjamin
Evangeline and Preston
Ivy and Vincent
Ember and Blaze
Ginger and Atticus

Although some of these names have a theme to them (Ember&Blaze, Grace&Mercy, Evangeline&Celeste) they are different in such a way that they arent too cutesy/rhymey. and others like Ivy&Vincent are just adorable.

SarahC Says:

March 1st, 2012 at 10:32 am

My cousin has two sets of twins (and a singleton, too!) and I can’t imagine having to try and match all of those name combos!

Twins I know:
Clark & Elizabeth (teens)
Holly & Haley (identical, college)
Jack (given name is John, but he always goes by Jack) & Charlotte (late 20s)
Brynn & Brandon (school age)
Abigail & Erin (school age)
Austin & Hunter (identical, college)
Erica & Lisa (identical, college)
Elizabeth & Virginia (identical, late 20s)
Jack (again, given name is John, but he always goes by Jack) & Louise (she goes by “Lou”) (late 20s)

Referencing Holly and Haley, I only actually knew Holly because her sister lived in a different city. Whenever people would find out she was a twin and then ask her twin’s name, everyone would kind of go “Oh” in a surprised and kind of “Why would your parents name you two with such similar names??”

Lindseylou026 Says:

May 1st, 2012 at 5:25 pm

My Twins will be if 2 boys Kendall-James Francis and Logan Phillip if 2 girls it will be Natalie Rose and Karrie and and if a boy and a girl will be Kendall-James Francis and Natalie Rose trying to avoid double lettered names such as A & A, B & B, C & c ect. so I’ll call Kendall-James KJ and Natlie Nat or Rose.

cannebella Says:

June 17th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I twins that I know are

Thomas and Benjamin (Late teens)
Serena and Josephine (Late primary school)

Triplets are
Sarah, Mhairi and Stephany

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