What’s In a Name? Ideas for Naming Twins, Triplets and More

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Everyone has an opinion about how multiples should or shouldn’t be named. Whether to match or not to match. Whether matching should be limited to identical multiples, same-gender multiples, or available to all. How to choose first names, middle names, initials, nicknames. Whether to use traditional or modern spellings.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks everyone else’s opinion is wrong.

Naming one child is hard enough, but add in another baby or more, and it can feel impossible. Sadia spells out 8 ways to approach naming sets of twins, triplets, and more.The fact is that how you wish to name your children is a matter of family preference. As with all things parenting, someone will tell you you’ve made the wrong choice. Someone will snicker behind your back. As long as your kids eventually figure out which name belongs to which, it’ll be okay. Just, please, steer clear of naming twins Orangejello and Lemonjello (pronounced Uh-RON-juh-lo and Luh-MON-juh-lo). Because if you choose those, I’ll be the one snickering.

Similar-Sounding Names

My ex has twins in the family named Janet and Janice. I have a coworker named Jenn with a twin named Jan. I have distant cousins, twins named Maria and Malia. LauraC wrote about twins Alexandro and Alexandra. Their parents are celebrating the unique bond twins have. They’re representing the closeness they see in and hope for their children in that most personal of things, their names. They’re giving them a label they can carry through their lives that is a pointer back to their shared birth, no matter how far apart their lives take them.

You could be all over the map with this sort of thing:

  • Oliver and Olivia
  • Bernard and Bernadette
  • Jude and Julie
  • Anne and Anna
  • Emma and Emily
  • Carl and Charles
  • Caleb and Kaylyn
  • Stephen and Stephanie
  • Ayesha and Aliya

That last pair were our initial picks for our daughters’ names, a nod to my Bangladeshi heritage. They were too hard for Americans to pronounce and remember so we went with English names that would be hard for my family to remember. You can’t please everyone.

In American culture, it’s unusual for siblings to have similar-sounding names, so it stands out when people do. In other cultures, it’s a norm. In Bangladesh, where I’m from, different aged siblings regularly have coordinated names. My dear friend Shahirah has a lovely sister named Samirah. Their brothers are Mahbub and Mahfuz. I actually have a cousin named Nadia, although I’m pretty sure the coordination there was unintentional.

People in Bangladesh were frequently confused by my sister Farah’s name in comparison to mine. They really wanted us to be Sadia and Faria or Farah and Sara.

Rhyming Names

I’ve heard a lot of rhyming names in my time. I see this a lot with multiples of different genders.

  • Haley and Bailey
  • Casey, Stacey, Tracy and Macy
  • Jason and Mason
  • Kristen and Tristan

Some parents choose coordinated spelling. Others purposefully choose different letters for the rhyming parts, such as Mya and Leah.

A variation on this is to give the kids unmatched primary names with matching nicknames. They’ll be able to choose whether to match or not as they get older. Examples include:

  • Elliana and Isabella: Ella and Bella
  • Jaden, Clayton and Grayson: Jay, Clay and Gray
  • Mary and Carolyn: Mary and Carrie (works with some regional accents only)
  • Grace and Anastasia: Gracie and Stacey

Both Wiley and I have ended up in this boat without planning to. Despite our best efforts give our twin girls distinct first names, they’ve ended up with matching nicknames. Her Aletheia and Ariadne have become Allie and Ari. My Melody and Jessica are frequently Melly and Jessie.

Themed Names

Photo Credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton
Photo Credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton

In this type of name grouping, siblings’ names have similar meanings.

  • Flowers: Rose, Lily, Daisy, Violet, Poppy
  • Jewels: Sapphire, Emerald, Ruby
  • Other precious substances: Coral, Amber, Pearl, Jade
  • Music: Melody, Harmony, Aria, Lyric
  • Royalty: Earl, Duke
  • Biblical: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
  • Seasons: Summer, Autumn
  • Months: May, June, perhaps even Julie

I believe that my step-great-grandmother was part of such a set of sisters: Rupa (Silver), Shona (Gold), Mukta (Pearl).

Another variation on this is to pick groups of names that have the same meaning, but from different languages:

  • Paz and Shanti (meaning “peace”)
  • Leticia, Farah, and Joy (meaning “joy” or “happiness”)
  • Amnon and Fidel (meaning “faithful”)
  • Amy, Cara and Priya (meaning “beloved”)
  • Dieter and Gunnar (meaning “warrior”)

Shared Initials

One cute option for coordination that isn’t overwhelming is to have siblings with shared initials. My grandmother’s brothers were all M.R. Khan. Rachelle over at The Wilkinson Quints + 2 picked K names for all the girls and R names for all the boys.

Alphabetical Names

Some of The Moms have elected to give their multiples name that reflect their placement in the womb. Baby A becomes Aaron, Alex or Alicia, while Baby B is Bronwyn, Bethany or Brian.

Family Names

Multiples make it easy to acknowledge several members of your family. Perhaps your boy/boy twins can each be named after one grandfather.

Purposefully Different Names

This is the camp into which I fall. Once Aliya and Ayesha proved to be flops, we decided to actively pursue names that would emphasize our daughters’ individuality. I don’t usually use my girls’ names here on HDYDI. I don’t want their friends to Google them and come across embarrassing anecdotes. You only need to click over to Double the Fun to learn their names, so I’m going to go ahead and share.

Their names are Jessica and Melody. Jessica is named after her grandfather Jesus (Hey Zeus!), who goes by Jesse. Melody is a nod to our family’s music geekiness. We figured that they’d be labeled as a set plenty and we didn’t need to add to that pain. By happenstance, I find my tongue tripping over the names and producing “Jemelody.” It makes me smile every time. “Gemelli” is Italian for “twins.” And twins they would be, regardless of what we’d named them.

What was your method for naming your kids?

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The Nicknamer

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I had a lot of rules when picking names for my kids.  I didn’t want their names to rhyme or start with the same letter, I wanted them to be easy to spell and pronounce.  All names beginning with the letter J or H were ruled out, as were many names of crazy relatives.  One thing I did want, however, was the possibility for nicknames.  That’s one of the reasons we went with Rebecca over Sarah.

Ice Cream for Dinner

And yet… in over a year and a half, I never called her anything but her full name.  We would sometimes say “Dan” for Daniel, but by and large we used their full names all the time.  It felt a little silly, since I had picked these names in part because of their ability to be shortened, yet here I was saying the whole thing every time.

Enter: toddler language development.  Rebecca has always said “Daniel” pretty clearly.  Daniel called her “Nee nee” for a while.  And then, unprompted, he started saying “Becca.”  And now that they’ve started referring to themselves with their own names, she calls herself “Becca.”  The funny thing is that I almost feel like that has given me permission to start calling her that, myself. Weird, huh?

Ice Cream for Dinner

I think it comes down to who you expect to bestow nicknames on kids.  Growing up, I was always the full-on Elizabeth where my family was concerned. But somewhere in late-middle school, my friends started to call me Liz.  Liz has stuck and it’s how almost everyone knows me… yet my mother will never, ever call me anything but Elizabeth.  So, in my mind, I guess I expect peers to pick nicknames.

My aunt, on the other hand, was always a Liz because that was the nickname her mother called her.  My aunt Liz named her son Christopher, and was somewhat distressed when his peers started calling him “Chris,” because she didn’t call him that.  In her mind, nicknames are picked by parents.

So, what about you, dear readers?  Did you pick a longer name for your kids but always knew you’d call them by the short version?  Did you pick a nickname-proof name to avoid the whole thing?  What is your take on nicknames and who “gets” to decide on them?

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Funny names, funny words

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We’re in a very fun stage of language development at my house.  At 18 months old, the kids are picking up new words quickly.  My son, in particular, attempts to repeat a word in almost everything I say to him.  It’s a lot of fun.

As with anything developmental, I always think it’s funny to see how these two kids, from the same parents, being raised in the same household, do things differently from one another.  They make the same animal noises (meow is hands-down the favorite), and both started saying “na-na” for banana on the same day.  Yet other things the pronounce completely differently.

One of my favorites is what they call each other.  My kids are Rebecca and Daniel.  Rebecca has been saying a pretty clear “Day-yul” for ages, now.  Never called him anything else.  Just her very best pronunciation of Daniel.  He, on the other hand, seemed to not call her anything for a while… until I realized he had his very own name for her: Nee-nee.  That’s right.  Rebecca –> NeeNee.  I have no idea how he got to that one. Rebeecca, I can understand, is a mouthful. But I thought maybe he’d pick up on the “Becca” part? Nope. NeeNee.  We don’t have any nicknames for her that sound remotely like that.  But it’s quite clear, that’s the name he uses for his sister.

This also leads me to the question of how to deal with these odd words.  On one end of the spectrum, I’ve seen tons of parents start calling cats “meow-meows”, or ask the baby if she wants her “ba-ba” instead of bottle.  The parent adopts the child’s word or pronounciation.  On the other end, I’ve seen people get kind of harsh and insist on near-perfect pronounciation before they will concede that “bah-do” is the same as “bottle.”

I seem to be taking a middle road.  When Daniel says “Nee-nee,” I say, “that’s right, buddy, that’s Rebecca!”  When Rebecca starts shrieking “Meow! Meow!”  I say, “Oh, do you see a kitty cat?”  I didn’t give it a ton of thought before I started doing it, but I feel like what I’m doing is acknowledging that I understand what they’re saying, but continuing to say the “right” word in a non-critical way.  Seems OK to me, are there any speech people out there to tell me whether I’m doing the right thing?

What about the rest of you out there?  What do your kids call each other? Any idea how they arrived at silly nicknames?  And how do you approach mispronounciations or made-up words in general?

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