Sibling names too similar?!

My daughter Lillian (goes by Lilly) and we are considering Ian for a brother name. is it too close to Lillian or does it not matter since everyone  calls her Lilly? My husband and I don’t think it really matters since the emphasis in each name is different (if someone were to say them right after each other). For example the emphasis in Lillian is on the “LI“sound and the rest of the name just rolls quickly after, and the emphasis on Ian is the “EE” sound at the beginning. And also if you say “Ian and Lilly” there’s no issue. What do you all think?


October 16, 2018 2:04 AM

I think its fine - the sound at the ending of Lillian is different to Ian

October 16, 2018 3:29 AM

I agree that it's fine.  Lily and Ian is not too matchy at all, and even Lillian and Ian are sufficiently distinctive from each other.

True story: I have a friend with two children who have very matchy names, along the lines of Lia and Leo.  Not ideal, but you know what?  It's absolutely not a big deal in real life.  In their case, they were not looking for matchy names, but she's Israeli, he's Cambodian, and they speak English together.  The pool of names that worked well in three wildly different languages was very small and, well, these were the names they both also loved.  And they are SO glad that they did not choose a less-favorite name, just to sound more different. 

I think the matchy issue could be a deal-breaker, like if you were choosing between Ian and Amos.  But if Ian is the name you love, then that should be his name!


October 16, 2018 4:44 PM

For me and my family it would be too close, but I don't think it's horribly so and I think the more important point is that you and your husband are comfortable with it. Depending on your daughter's age you might ask her opinion too and see if she would mind as she's the other person really affected (but if she's under about 5 that probably won't work). You might want to consider if you like Ian because of it's similarity in sound to the end of Lillian, often that's the case when choosing names for subsequent children. 

I do agree with what cm said that if you have a few options you're considering I'd eliminate Ian on the basis of similarity but if it's the only name you agree on or the one you both love above all others then go for it.

October 16, 2018 4:47 PM

I agree. You can consider the similarity as one factor in the con column, if you're considering a suite of potential names. In my opinon, it's not a dealbreaker. 

October 16, 2018 4:51 PM

I think Lilly and Ian are fine together, but if you call her  Lillian regularly it could get confusing. It’s doable, but not ideal.

October 16, 2018 7:42 PM

It reminds me of my favourite multiple family, the Dilley sextuplets, three of whom are Ian, Julian and Adrian. I kind of like them all together, though I did immediately notice that they all share -ian. I would notice it with Lillian and Ian, but as others have said, it's not a big problem, especially if Lillian goes by Lilly.

October 16, 2018 11:15 PM

I think it works just fine.  

October 17, 2018 2:24 AM

I wouldn't use them myself: something about the second child's name being contained within his older sibling's name just doesn't work for me, symbolically, plus regular readers will know that I'm hopeless at muddling names when there are overlapping sounds, much less full overlap. I would tend to think of this as a slight case of "a name that you love so much because you've kind of already used it before". 

That said, if you and your husband think it doesn't really matter, then it doesn't really matter. This is the sort of thing that might get your family a brief feature in the occasional name enthusiast's private dinner conversation, but I expect no one will even mention anything about it to you directly, and ultimately, siblings spend most of their lives apart so it need not be a dealbreaker. The people for whom your children will always be a unit are you and your husband, and if you can enjoy saying and writing Lillian and Ian then it doesn't matter one iota how much it would drive me to distraction. 

October 21, 2018 5:43 PM

I agree on not being crazy about the names not just overlapping but one actually being contained within the other.

This might end up being just more of a pain than anything else, but what about using another "-ian" name (Julian, Adrian, Maximilian, Sebastian... There are a ton of them), and then having Ian as a call name? That changes the name pairs to "Lily and Ian" and "Lillian and Blank-ian", which doesn't help with overlapping sounds, but does at least eliminate the issue of one name being part of the other name. One additional issue you might run into, though, is that Ian isn't typically a nickname, which could potentially lead to paperwork or identification headaches later on.

October 21, 2018 5:52 PM

Ian to me is ee-an

Lillian Lil l yan

October 17, 2018 5:35 AM

I'm also in the 'too similar' camp.  Lily and Ian I have no issue with but Lillian contains Ian and with my accent if your daughter went by her full first name at all they do sound very similar - lill-ee-an and ee-an.  If Ian is the only name you love and your daughter goes by Lily virtually all the time it probably isn't an issue but I'd personally not do it.

By rfb
October 17, 2018 7:10 AM

I wouldn't do it. 'Lilian and Ian' sounds fine, but just imagine shouting their names: 'Lilly! Ian! Dinner is ready!!' sounds an awful lot like 'Lilian, dinner is ready!!'...

October 17, 2018 9:21 AM

Personally, I'm not a fan. Typically, I don't care too much if sibling names are similar, so long as they have unique-sounding nicknames, but having one name that completely contains the other is just weird to me. Maybe it's the length, because they do seem kind of mismatched. Another medium-long name with a short nickname would be more complentary, I think. But that's just the way I see things. 

October 21, 2018 3:39 PM

In my accent they'd be Lill-yan and Ee-un, so sonically they don't bother me. Visually it would drive me nuts as a parent, but it may not bother you. I do agree with some others that "younger sibling's name contained within the older sibling's" is not great symbolically.