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November 17, 2018 11:24 PM

I have cousins with identical names, multiple cousins who share a name with a parent, and two brothers-in-law with the same name. Oh, and one of my cousins named her son after a friend who happens to have the same name as my husband. (Which is fine by me; if our daughter had turned out to be a son, I may very well have reciprocated with her husband's name, which happens to be one of my favorite boy names.) The repeats are an occasional source of amusement, nothing more. In our family, similar-but-not-identical names, especially of opposite sexes, would not even register as anything to remark upon.

Caleb is an excellent name, and while I wouldn't use it for a sibling to Kalyn, it's perfectly fine for a cousin, especially a much-younger cousin who'll only see his sound-alike a few times per year. There are families that inflict far closer homophones,  especially on twins, and somehow they all survive.

November 11, 2018 10:38 PM

Loosely Scandinavian: mostly Danish, if I recall correctly. Perhaps I should have said "Germanic" or "northern European". But in any case, they're both names from the same (not-primarily-English) naming pool.

November 11, 2018 07:53 AM

I like so many of your choices that I'm glad I'm not the one who has to choose!

Elke Saskia would double down on the Scandinavian origins, but would complete the sibling circle of initials. :-)

For a boy, Octavian nn Otto is possibly a front-runner, because of the twofer (and because Octavian is just such a cool name); I'd pair it with Emmerich or Tavish or one of the other not-directly-Latinate names in the middle, just for variety. But I also want to plug for Ambrose and Balendin; I would swoon with delight over either of those, too.

November 8, 2018 08:37 AM
In Response to Lana vs Vanessa

Ignoring the 'r's, which I'm sure you don't actually add to these words or names, do you really say "lawn" with an /o/ sound? If so, how do you say things with actual /o/ sounds, like "loan"? Or do "lawn" and "loan" (or "ball" and "bowl") sound the same for you?

November 7, 2018 10:08 PM
In Response to Lana vs Vanessa

Can someone please tell me what the difference is between LAH-nuh and LAWN-uh? To my ear, they're just different ways to indicate exactly the same thing.

November 4, 2018 11:49 AM

Alice and Cora as twin sisters would be a bit too much Last of the Mohicans for me. (As part of a bigger sibling set with several years age difference, it wouldn't be so in-your-face and would be fine, as they're both lovely names, distinct but of a similar style -- witness their use by Cooper....)

November 3, 2018 07:51 PM

I know a preteen Matthew who is always the full Matthew, to the point that a couple of years ago it was news to him that Matt is the same name.

Decades ago, I went to school with multiple boys called Matt. Interestingly, they all just used their surnames or initials to differentiate; none of them really used Matthew, and nobody ever called any of them Matty.

While there are a lot of dads out there named Matthew, it's not a dad name, because there are people of every age with this name -- you really can't tell age by name in this case. (Well, OK, if he goes by Matt he's more likely to be 30 or 40, and if he goes by Matthew, he's more likely to be 8 or 15, but it's nowhere near a certainty either way.)

I wouldn't worry about the Matty nickname. Nicknames are not automatic nowadays, and if a Matthew can go by Matthew for nearly a decade without finding out about Matt, then surely the much-less-common Matty can be easily avoided.

I think Matthew is a timeless classic that would serve your child well.

November 1, 2018 08:38 PM

The family that moved in at the other end of our street this summer includes a boy named Dakota and a girl named Brooklyn.

Other than that, without more to go on the best I can do is to suggest that you explore all the tools that this website has to offer: Name Matchmaker, Name Finder, the sibling clouds on Namipedia, and Name Voyager.

October 30, 2018 10:47 PM

Taking "goes with Harriet" in the historical sense of "names popular at the same time as Harriet", this list of Georgian names offers some good options:

I think Margaret, Alice, Agnes, Martha, and Georgiana are especially likely to fall into the same familiar-but-underused category as your daughter's name.

October 30, 2018 08:50 AM

I'm totally merged and can never remember which word is supposed to be which unmerged vowel, but it sounds like Karyn is saying that both her name and Gary should be written with two Rs. (I think I've encountered both Garry and Karren at some point, but if this was the reason for the second 'r', it was lost on me at the time.)

Part of the problem is that even without the 'r', American, British, and Down Under dialects use [e] (eta), [ɛ] (epsilon), and [æ] (ash) exactly backwards from each other. I can try specifying the eta sound with words like date, day, and pain, but Aussies would think I meant ash, and Brits would think I meant epsilon.

(There's a fascinating chart about this on Wikipedia:

October 27, 2018 02:41 PM

I would pronounce Elodie just like Melody without the M.

I know several Loreleis. The grandmother of one of them has had some memorable comments on her daughter's name choice: one, it's a name that looks misspelled no matter how you write it, and two [with two-year-old name bearer melting down in the background]: "they named her after a siren, is it any wonder she sounds like one?"

Your girl list is about half the length of our boy "short list" eight years ago, so I don't think you necessarily need to prune it, but if the tyranny of choice is adding stress to your life, I strongly suggest Laura W's technique of "narrowing up" (or upvoting). Write down everything you like about each name. For example, for Felicity I think sharing Dad's initial would be a fun link, especially for a youngest child. For Genevieve, she's the patron saint of Paris, which somehow lends the name an air of particular elegance: it's like the ultimate princess name but without being at all frilly, perfect for the little sister of a bunch of older brothers.

October 27, 2018 09:18 AM

My full name is ten syllables. It's a total non-issue.

Victoria nn Tora is lovely, both as a sibling to your first two, and on its own.

Immediate thought to go with Clare and Maeve: Brynn. It would rather paint you into a corner in case of a fourth, though, because all three names have five letters...

Other suggestions based on Name Matchmaker: Paige, Isla, Fiona, Chloe.

October 26, 2018 10:24 PM

Joining the "no, don't do that" chorus.

They're not just similar. They're the same name. Harriet originates as the English pronunciation of the 16th century French invention of Henriette. Both Harriet and Henriette were generally rendered in Latin as Henrietta.

Henrietta to honor a Harriet, or vice versa, would be fine. Sweet, even.

As sisters, they're an absolute no-go. Might as well name their brothers Henry, Harry, and Henri.

October 26, 2018 01:51 PM

No, it is not strange; it used to be totally standard and expected for children to be named after their parents, and even today, many families follow such traditions. Many more families, wishing to avoid exact duplication (to reduce confusion and to give children something that's their very own), bestow a slightly different form of the parental name. For example, my brother-in-law Ian has a son named John. As another example, my name is the first five letters of my daughter's (eight-letter) name. One reason we chose that name is that my name is the same as my mother's and her mother's. My daughter's name is the same as both of my mother's grandmothers.

October 23, 2018 07:57 PM
In Response to Erynn as a Boy Name?

A few things to keep in mind:

- Erin as in Ireland is spelled just like the feminine name in English. (In Irish it's Éirinn.)

- Replacing letters with 'y' is a common strategy for "feminizing" traditionally masculine names or surnames. (Think Camdyn, Madisyn, Rowyn, and the like.) The -ynn ending particularly strongly signals "female", because there are only a few traditionally male names that are often written this way (Flynn, Wynn).

- Not all dialects of English say Aaron and Erin the same way.

On the other side:

- In Welsh, 'y' is often the masculine form. For example, Gwyn is masculine, while Gwen is feminine.

- Conceptually or theoretically, there should not be anything wrong with being mistaken for a girl based on your name. How this actually plays out in real life is a different matter, and depends in large part on your instinctive reaction. (Culturally, it's still seen as a Bad Thing: once a name "goes girl", parents stop giving it to their sons.)

October 23, 2018 11:41 AM

If there were a current monarch named James, it would be the same story: he'd be called Jacob (or some local variant thereof) in any language that doesn't have the -m- variant of the name, such as German or Dutch. (Or Hungarian. I think this is why the sibling pairing really, really does not work for me. Jacob = Jakab. James = Jakab. It really is exactly the same name twice.)

October 22, 2018 07:13 PM

So many feminine names end in -a that two of them doesn't even qualify as the beginning of a pattern.

Looking at your family names, I noticed right off that Mary and Delores are related: Dolores comes from one of the titles of the Virgin Mary. So any Marian name ( could be a twofer for those family members.

Zelma and Linda are both ultimately derived from Germanic names (Anselma, and any of Ethelinda, Rosalind(a), Dietlinde, Gerlinde, Sieglinde, and Ermelind(a)), but they don't really have anything else in common, so I'm not coming up with anything much on this tangent. But hmm: the first part of Anselma is a "god" element, same as the El- of Elizabeth, so anything from Astrid to Michelle could connect to both Zelma and Elizabeth. (Others: Ariel, Danielle, Ella, Gabrielle, Isabelle, Michaela.)

If you like Alyssa but want to avoid the -a ending, Alice comes immediately to mind. (They're both forms of the same name, really.) Likewise for Ariadne instead of Ariana. For Vienna, you could always simply go French: Vienne.

The only alternative to Cassia that comes to mind is Cinnamon, and that would be rather more adventurous as a name than your elder two....

Alyssa Marielle, Ariana Michelle, Cassia Ariel, Vienna Astrid: I think any of these would fit perfectly well as a little sister for your children.

October 22, 2018 07:35 AM

Careful with that non-rhotic accent there...

For most people reading this forum, Lorna is [loʊɹ nə], while Lana as in /LAWN-uh/ is [lɑ: nə] (or maybe as far back as [lɔ: nə]). They have totally different first syllables: even if you ignore the specific vowel sound, Lorna has a closed first syllable, because of the 'r' sound, while both syllables of Lana are open (ending in a vowel).

(And for many people reading this forum, /law/ and /lah/ are exactly the same.)

October 17, 2018 05:43 PM

"Same name" is a fuzzy concept; nowadays, two names can sound identical and yet be considered emphatically different by their bearers, based on the specific spelling. (I'm thinking things like Debbie versus Debby.) By the criterion of interchangeability, it has been many centuries since Isabella and Elizabeth were the same name, but nothing will change the fact that they're the endpoints of different evolutionary paths starting from the same place, namely the Hebrew name Elisheba.

Isabella is by far the most common form in the U.S. currently; it was given to nearly five times as many baby girls last year as the next most common form, Isabelle. (It's not quite as overwhelmingly "standard" as Elizabeth versus Elisabeth, however: the 'z' spelling is about 25 times more common than the 's' spelling.)

October 16, 2018 12:37 PM

I know brothers named Jacob and James, which is the masculine version of Elizabeth & Isabella: different evolutionary paths of the same name. It has taken immense effort (and much complaint out of earshot) not to ask their parents whether they're aware that they gave both of their boys the same name. (I believe the answer would be "no, we had no idea.")

If Isabella were the one and only name you and your partner-in-naming could possibly agree on, then you could just own the commonality ("meet our daughters, New York, New York, oops, sorry, I mean Elizabeth and Isabella"), but with lots of other lovely options on the table, I recommend choosing something else.

My personal favorite from the current list is Agatha, but my eight-year-old daughter would absolutely choose Annabel. (In fact, she has done so, for various gaming avatars and toys.)