These Twin Names Match, But Aren't "Matchy-Matchy"

Nov 24th 2015

Is naming twins different from naming any other two siblings? For some parents, the answer is no. They simply choose the two names they like best, in two nearly independent choices. For other parents, "twinness" defines the naming experience and they want to revel in it. They turn to thematic pairings like Hope and Faith or Jaylen and Jayden that mark their kids as a set.

Is there a middle ground? Can you acknowledge the special bond that twins share while letting each name stand alone? And can you do it with an eye toward style, so that each name can win the same parents' hearts?

For parents who seek that middle, here's a starter list of names with a meaningful connection and compatible styles, but independent spirits.

(While most of these names are traditionally gender-specific, some are unisex in usage. Rather than separating the lists by gender, I leave it to parents to decide how they'd like to use these names.)

Alice/Celia: This subtle anagram yields two charming classics with completely different sounds.

Beckett/Marlowe: Two playwrights representing two of the hottest contemporary name styles, double-t names and hidden-o names.

Zoe/Eve: These Greek and Hebrew "life" names look similar on paper, but not spoken aloud.

Orion/Lyra: These twins would share the night sky as constellations.

Matthias/Nathanael : Two apostle names that mean "gift of God"/"God has given." Both names balance a scholarly biblical flavor with simple, unassuming nicknames.

Rima/Amir : These mirror-image Arabic name make a smooth, trim pairing.

Laurel/Daphne : Daphne is the Greek form of Laurel. Both names are thoroughly familiar, but neither has ever been common.

Tristan/Gavin: Two Knights of the Round Table, but far less conspicuous than Lancelot and Galahad.

Aydan/Nadya: These alternate "y" spellings bring the classic mirror image names Aidan and Nadia closer together.

Indigo/Sienna: Straight from your local Crayola 64-pack, these color names share a creative spirit.

Shira/Ronen: Two Hebrew names derived from words meaning "song."

Tyler/Austin: Two Texas cities, two snappy surnames.

Skye/Iona: While these names have different spirits, they're both short, bold and striking – and Scottish isles.

Jules/Edgar: You can honor pioneers of science fiction and mystery, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, with these gentlemanly throwback names.

Phoebe/Rhea: These twins pair old-fashioned sweetness with the power of Greek Titans.



Related post: To match or not to match

What's Your Choice for Name of the Year?

Nov 19th 2015

Every December, honors one name that shaped, and was shaped by, the year that's been. And the nominations all come from you.

Your past suggestions have ranged from Renesmee to Pope Francis. They've including baby names, not-quite-names, and not-quite-human names. Each selection is a miniature time capsule that reminds us of how names are woven into our lives and our culture.

What name do you think captures this moment in time? Please post your nominations in comments here -- or tweet them to @BabyNameWizard, or comment on Facebook. Feel free to second others' nominations, too.

As you're thinking about the year in names, keep a lookout for these criteria:

- A dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning
- A reflection of a broader cultural theme, or influence on broader style trends
- The "naminess" of a story or issue. How essential is the name to the story?

And remember that your comments themselves count! The number of nominations factors into in the NOTY choice, and compelling arguments in support of your candidate count most of all.

15 Fresh Celtic Girls' Names

Nov 17th 2015

 baby name roundups by theme

With a dash of Ainsley, Kennedy, and Brynn, and a splash of Finley and Isla, this country's top names for girls are heavily peppered with Celtic choices as the perfect counterpart to Liam and Aidan. The wealth of names that herald from Celtic nations (Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) offer a very broad variety beyond what we're used to seeing in the top ranks of today's names. That's why we're exploring the unexpected with these refreshing Celtic girls' names that could be tomorrow's trends.

  1. Madigan: It's two letters away from the contemporary star Madison, making this rare Irish surname a sweet little secret for those in search of an alternative. Madigan also allows for the nickname Maddie, giving girls with this name the option to fit in or stand out a little bit from the crowd.

  2. Ailsa: Distinctively Scottish and full of charm, Ailsa has its roots in Scotland's Ailsa Craig, a rocky island inhabited today only by birds. Puffins and gannets aside, this sweetly gaelic name is unicorn twins with Frozen's Elsa, but it hasn't received any of the sort of attention a Disney princess can garner. Last year there were only 11 baby girls given this name.

  3. Carys: Some parents are beginning to rediscover this Welsh standout meaning love, but it's far from the top 1,000. Carys sounds like a sweet alternative to Paris, and with its charming meaning we think this name should be getting a bit more love. Last year, 113 girls were given this name, and it was chosen by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas for their daughter in 2003.

  4. Bevin: Actress Bevin Prince brought more awareness to her name while playing the character Bevin Mirskey on One Tree Hill. And yet, this intriguing Irish name is collecting dust in the US while the English form Vivian rides a wave of popularity all the way to the top 100.

  5. Rhian: This modern Welsh name isn't too far from today's hits like Mia or Regan, but it's much more unique. It has an on-trend sound with an uncomplicated cadence that makes it a breath of fresh air, all supported by its modern Welsh heritage.

  6. Teagan: Coming from the Irish gaelic male name Teague, this name transformed into a fashionable choice for girls. It's been near the 250 mark for about six years, proving that Teagan is has a charming image and some reliable staying power.

  7. Carrigan: Two things happened in the ‘90s that put this Irish surname in the spotlight—Nancy Kerrigan was the face of figure skating in two Olympics, and a character from the movie Casper helped some parents envision it for their daughter. Today, this name is still a unique choice that allows for the darling nickname Carrie (though some still see Carrie as a child of the ‘80s).

  8. Keeva: Heralding from the Irish gaelic name Caoimhe, this name means “lovely, grace” and is a definite head-turner. While not in the top 1,000 names, it seems there are more baby girls named Keeva born each year. It's a rare Celtic gem with an energetic personality.

  9. Tierney: This loveable Irish gaelic choice is, sadly, not on most parents' radar. But that makes it an undiscovered gem that will meet with a bit of surprise as well as approval. The late actress Gene Tierney adds some timeless Hollywood glamor to the name as well.

  10. Enya: Ethereal singer Enya, born with the original Gaelic spelling, Eithne, made the anglicized version of her name accessible to Americans. It's still a rare choice in the US, but with similar names Arya and Ayla in the 200s, we say Enya is pleasantly on-trend.

  11. Tamsin: This cheerful English form of Thomas comes to us via Cornwall, a Celtic nation that championed the name for centuries. The name is very rare here in the US, but it has an easy charm that makes us want to steal this name from across the pond.

  12. Mirren: The fact that Mirren is a top-100 choice in Scotland stands in stark contrast to the mere seven American girls who were given this name in 2014. While Mirren may cause a few (hopefully delighted) raised eyebrows in this country, it's a Scottish form of Marian with an easy appeal that capitalizes on the -en endings we're loving lately. The actress Dame Helen Mirren's last name was anglicized from Mironoff, but she gives this name both elegance and familiarity.

  13. Emlyn: It may look a bit made up, but Emlyn is actually a traditional Welsh name used for boys. Here in the US, it has loads of potential to sit alongside feminine choices like Kaitlyn, Evelyn, and Emmalyn. But Emlyn will catch most by surprise, as it's rather rare in this country.

  14. Wynne: This simple, one-syllable name is elegant and charming, and has potential for the sweetly old-fashioned nickname Winnie or Wynnie without the frills of Winifred. It's a Welsh name, also spelled Wyn, that's been around for an extremely long time.

  15. Maisie: A reliable top-100 choice across the UK, this Scottish pet name derived from Mairead and Margaret leaped onto the US charts last year at a rank of 658. We can see why—it has a sweet, Victorian feel that easily rivals its more contemporary sound-alike, Macy. The young Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams likely has a lot to do with this country's newfound interest, boosted along by characters in the bestselling novel series Maisie Dobbs and the CW's Arrow.

Love these names? You are bound to love names from our recent article Romance! Adventure! Surprising, Overlooked Celtic Baby Names.