Paul and Peter?

We have a Paul and are expecting a second boy.  We are devoted to family names (which makes having a second boy hard!), and the best option for number two so far is Peter.  Is it too much to have a sibset Paul and Peter?


June 11, 2018 6:23 PM


Paul and Peter are definitely similar because of the initial P, but other than that, they don't have any similarities in sound. Some people may think you used all P names on purpose, but typically two is a coincidence and three's a pattern. I think they are both lovely, well-recognised names. However, it's ultimately up to you - do you mind? Do you think it'll be confusing? Good luck! I hope this helps.

June 11, 2018 6:48 PM

It would be too much for me, but if you are prepared for a lifetime of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" jokes (and complaints from Peter, possibly) I don't think it has to be a dealbreaker. I think I also would probably assume a religious motivation (probably Catholic) for the names, so it would be worthwile considering whether that would be a plus or minus for you.

June 12, 2018 6:43 AM

I agree with this. In and of themselves the two names are not too similar; for me it would be too much because of how much of a matching set they seem, plus the added factor of people being likely to make silly jokes, and then the fact that I think Peter and Paul as a sibling set screams 'religious family' would be a major negative for me. But if you don't care about people making assumptions about your religion (either because you are Catholic/Christian or it just doesn't bother you if people guess you are) and you can take (and teach your sons to take) any jokes in good humour then I think you could use Peter. Certainly if I met a family with boys called Paul and Peter I wouldn't think much of it.

One other thought: You say having a second boy is hard because you want a family name, have you considered a cross-gender namesake? People here can be very good at coming up with names if you gave us some of the female family names you like or would want to honour. Similarly if there are men in your families that you would like to honour but you just really don't like their names we may be able to come up with a linked name that could work for you. Or how about looking at maiden surnames (yours/your mother or mother-in-law/grandmothers) to see if you like any of those?

June 11, 2018 7:01 PM

I'd also expect adults to ask where Mary is. It would definitely be too much for me personally, but if I meet brothers with those names, I'd probably chuckle to myself then move on with life. 

June 12, 2018 4:13 PM

Yup, I was coming to say that it's probably fine as long as they don't name a subsequent girl Mary.

I do think it helps that Paul is the older brother. If they're introduced in order of age, it cuts down on the association a little.

June 11, 2018 8:51 PM

Paul and Peter is a far better pairing than Jacob and James, and I know brothers by the latter.

As others have said: it's up to you. How much would the inevitable stupid jokes bug you? Would the matching initials trip you up? (That's their only point of actual similarity, so any other confusion will be independent of the names themselves.)

Peter is one of my favorite boy names, so I'm inclined to say go for it. Children aren't in a "set" with their siblings very long or often, especially when they're different ages.

June 12, 2018 4:04 AM

I think they go well together - both underused classic names

June 12, 2018 9:20 AM

Thanks for all the helpful feedback.  All the concerns about the names being a "set" ring true to me.  We are not at all religious, but it doesn't bother me if people think we are.  


Other family names that are still on the list, but we aren't in love with, are:






Family names that we don't like are:







Female names that we would happily use, but I can't come up with a male equivalent:











June 12, 2018 10:07 AM

I think the lack of neutrality to the robbing Peter to pay Paul saying would bother me, too. I think it’s worth noting that if you anticipate more children in the future the effect would be greatly diluted by the presence of other children in the mix. Just not Mary. ;)

I love Floyd, for what it's worth, and it's worth noting that Ninjago makes it very appealing to the young generation, so I think it's a name that will read as far fresher and cooler to kids than to grown ups. (The other characters are Kai, Zane, Jay, Cole and Mia to put it into context. Grownups will see this as a clear case of "one of these things is not like the others" but kids don't get that layer at all. They just skip right to thinking of Floyd as a cool name.) 

 I know a little Walter and it fits right in to the slightly fusty revival names that are in locally right now. I wonder if Walt as a nickname could help freshen up or transform the name for you?

Edward is another one that has a lot of nickname choices, from Ned to Ward to Teddy, some of which might make the name more palatable. 

Of the cross-gender namesake options, how far afield are you willing to go?

The most obvious are Sylvia which could yield Sylvester (on my own list) as well as the more sleek Sylvan or Sylvain or Silvano (especially if you don't live in an area where Spanish is spoken, I have a hard time unseeing the ano ending). Apparently Silvanus (which I cannot recommend on account of the ending) also becomes Silas in many translations, Behind the Name points out that in the New Testament Silvanus/Silas is a companion to Paul, which might be fun or a reason to avoid for you.

Aurelius is also an obvious direction to go in, and one I quite like. It's a big name, but I think there are nickname options to pursue if you found it too long: Ray for example.  Aurelio is another clearly honoring option, which has the very on-trend o ending. Some languages apparently use Aurel as the male form, which could also work as a nickname.  

Dara leaves open a lot of choices, from Darius to Darren. I know a Dario, too, which is striking and stylish.

An Annette could be honored by Anton or Anselm, as well as Andrew. For bonus points combine with an -et containing middle name, like Everett or Rhett or Garrett or Emmett or Beckett or Brett or Jet(t). 

Behind the name also points out that Lilian (one l) is a masculine form in French. It would be a more bold statement, but I know boys named Ashley and Jayne so I think it can work in the right family.

Agatha apparently has a masculine form, Agathon. I find it to be very wearable in these ends-in-n times. If the Agatha being honored went by Aggie, that would open up a lot of male names which also have a plausible Aggie nickname, but I think without the Agatha considering Aggie a part of her identity some of those would be more of a stretch, especially if you would like for the Agatha or her family members to FEEL honored.

The other women (Margaret, Heidemarie) might require some more creative thinking, but I'll get back to it. I would find a cross gender namesake to be incredibly pleasing if it could work out for you... and you could name a future daughter Pauline or Paulina or Paulette.


June 12, 2018 1:17 PM

Mario or Marius or Marcus or Mark or Marcel with Garrett as a middle name would I think be a the most obvious honoring of a Margaret, but you could consider either of those names alone, too. Again it might depend on what the Margaret went by. If she was Greta to most people in her daily life, then Garrett alone would start to feel more like an honor.

For more "stretch" type names I think it matters whether your goal is to give you and your son a pleasant association to think of when you think of their names, or whether your goal is to make the honoree feel honored, or to make their immediate relatives feel like their late mom/sister/etc is being honored. In the former, I think using more nebulous connections is just fine: if *you* think of your grandmother's brickwork hobby when you think of her then Mason is a fine way to honor Heidemarie, or if she loved Elvis then you could call him Presley, or whatever works for you.

However, if you want someone besides you to also feel that it's an honor hame, I think often the more direct the connection, the more likely it is to make the family member feel honored. So I would probably go with Marcus Garrett and Anton Emmett as I think I'd want to make the connection as obvious as possible... but if your goal is primarily for YOU to have the pleasant feelings and for your son to have a positive name story, and the honorees are long deceased, then I think it's fine to go further afield into names that make you think of your female honorees.

June 12, 2018 1:39 PM

Heidemarie: Hayden Marius?  Hayes Demarius?

As a Jennifer who often goes by Jenny, I think I'd feel very honored by a Jensen or a Jennings (or even a Jentry), but I'd feel less honored by a Jayden or a John or a Ferdinand or by a March (birth month), and even less so by a Fisher or Poseidon (because I really don't get into astrology so it doesn't matter to me one whit that I "am" a Pisces). So I think I'd focus on the first or most prominent syllable of the name if you don't feel like using the first and middle to honor the namesake.

June 12, 2018 10:47 AM

For Dara, you could use Darren for a boy. Sylvan, or Silvan, could get you a male equivalent to Silvia. Or, maybe a reach, but August for Aurelia? Good luck!

June 12, 2018 1:11 PM

I dont really see Peter and Paul being too religious - lots of people that arent religious use Biblical names - they are just 2 good strong classical names - pass the easy to spell and pronounce test,  well known and not too popular - perfect

others Euan, Ewan, Reuben, Edwin, Edmund, Owen, Elliott, Lleyton, Philip, Wallace, Timothy, David, Robert, Mark, Matthew, Stephen, Michael, Thomas, Jonathan, James, Aaron, Simon, Andrew, John, Joel, Luke, Daniel, Silas

June 12, 2018 2:35 PM

For me, the religious association is much more striking with these two names than two other random biblical or saint names (like Paul and Noah or Paul and Anthony) because these two names, in particular, are so frequently linked in a religous context.

This ranges from the origin of the "robbing Peter to pay Paul" saying (supposedly because the ornaments at some historical St. Peter's church/cathedral were taken to decorate a new St. Paul's church/cathedral) to various churches with a joint name to books and treatises comparing the lives of the two men. I'm not Judeo-Christian, so I'm not sure why this pairing makes sense (were they both apostles?), but it's common enough that I've noticed the pairing.

It's also a strong enough association that (at least in the US) I would assume the parents intended to make a statement with it (nothing radical, just something like "we're Catholic and proud/these two biblical figures are really important to us--enough so that we don't mind the idiom and folk song associations"). Of course that's not a problem unless said parents would be bothered by that kind of assumption. I also agree that the association is diluted a lot if there are other siblings in the mix, especially between the two age-wise.

June 12, 2018 6:13 PM

I agree that Paul and Peter together sounds more biblical than either name does on its own, or than other pairings of names from the bible.  Even something like Ethan and Caleb - names that I individually associate more with the bible - doesn't have the same impact.  I wouldn't necessarily expect Ethan and Caleb's parents to be religious, but Paul and Peter sound like a pair of altar boys.


Robbing Peter to pay Paul came to mind immediately.

June 12, 2018 8:56 PM

Just to comment on why Peter and Paul are always so closely linked -- speaking from a Catholic perspective, Peter was one of the original 12 apostles and the first pope; Paul came later and was a huge persecutor of the Christians (he was known then as Saul) until he had a massive 180-degree conversion and became one of the most zealous Christians (and became known as Paul). Peter and Paul are regarded as the two pillars of Christianity, with different but complementary strengths -- Peter is sometimes called the apostle to the Jews and Paul the apostle to the gentiles -- and they share the same feast day (the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29). 

June 16, 2018 8:50 PM

Eugene: Eugenius, Gene, or even Flynn/Ryder due to the Disney associations of the character Flynn Rider, whose real name is Eugene.

Edward: Edmund, Edwin, Ward, Eden

Andrew: Andrei, Andrius, Anders(on)

Anthony: Antonio, Anton, Antoine, Tony

Philip: Phineas, Filmore, Filbert, Felix

Lynn: Lane, Landon, Lyndon, Lake

Margaret: Rhett, Garth, Marian, Marley, Martin, Marvin, Mauro (MOW-row,) Gareth, Garett

Heidemarie: Helmut, Hendrik, Henry, Desmond

Agatha: Agathon, Theron, Tobiah, Agnus (or Magnus,) Agustin, August, Augustus, 

Lillian: Ian, Louis, Liam, William

Dara: Darius, Darian, Dorian, Darby, Darcy, Dare, Dariel, Darragh, Darren, Darwin, Darryl

Annette: Bennett, Tanner, Nate, Aiden

Silvia: Silvan, Silvian, Silvius, Sylvan, Vaughn, Vin(cent,) Virgil, Silvio, Van, Sal

Aurelia: Aurelius, Arie, Aurel, August(us,) Ryan/Rian, Elio, Ezra, Eli, Elijah, Struan


I hope this helps!

By mk
June 12, 2018 5:23 PM

Over the years I have known several families with siblings named Peter and Paul, so it's a common pairing to me. It wouldn't even register to me as anything other than two classic names.

June 13, 2018 6:45 AM

Would you consider turning to family surnames as “family names”? (Assuming you are looking for other options besides Peter). Peter and Paul are a bit too much Bible for me, but as long as that’s not an issue for you then I don’t think it’s a problem.

I doubt any of their peers will notice “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

June 15, 2018 4:20 PM

I seem to be in the minority, but I don't find them that Biblical together. I wouldn't be surprised if brothers Paul and Peter came from a Catholic family, but they are both such mid century classics that I certainly wouldn't default to that assumption.

June 16, 2018 12:49 AM

I'm with the majority that it reads quite religious to me and makes me think of 'rob Peter to pay Paul'.  If neither of these things bother you then I think they work well together. Siblings aren't always associated with each other but it does happen enough during childhood (and adulthood) that I'd probably avoid it.

June 17, 2018 10:17 AM

While both nice names, I would absolutely assume Peter and Paul's parents are conservative Christians. lot

In 20 years the kids won't be together as much but at least where I live, the kids go to play at Logan and Lucy's house (for example) even if one kid is mostly friends with Lucy. So unless your sons have a large age difference they are likely to be mentioned together a lot.

the robbing Peter to pay Paul is something kids won't know in preschool but will probably hear from adults or read in a book by age 10 or so. Long lasting sayings are hard to avoid.

June 20, 2018 5:26 AM

In terms of deriving boy names from the feminine ones on your family tree.... you might be able to, well, disaggregate them into something you like.  For example:


Margaret  --> Mark Rhett


Agatha --> August Thad (nickname Aggie?)  Okay this is stretching it


Lillian -->Lyle Ian



Silvia --> Silvester Ian.  That said, I'm totally grooving on the Sylvan etc names above but someone beat me to it.