This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: If Parents and One Child Have Same Initial, Should Other Child Have Same Initial?

Madeline writes:
Help! We're due with both our 1st & our 2nd baby (boy/girl twins) September 30th and we CANNOT agree on names!

Well, that's not entirely true. We can agree on a girl name (mostly). But! We even have a few issues with that.

The girl name that we both love is Mirabelle (love the sound/style, love the meaning {wonderful}, and love the nickname Mira) but my own name is Madeline & Hubby's name is Matthew, so if we give baby girl an M name do we have to give baby boy an M name too? These 2 will likely be our only children, so if we DON'T give our boy an M name, will he feel left out? But if we DO give him an M name is that just too many M's all in one family? And though we don't plan on having more children what if someday we DO ("surprise" pregnancies seem to happen quite frequently in my family) have another? Will we have to think up YET ANOTHER M name? Maybe we should scrap Mirabelle altogether just to avoid the headache of to M or not M?

Yet when I think of the name Mirabelle I see my daughter. That IS her name as far as I'm concerned, & I really can't bear to give it up.

So, here's the real problem. What to name Mirabelle's brother?

If we go with an M name...Well, I honestly can't think of ANY boy names starting with M that I like. Actually, I can hardly think of boy M names at all! We can't go with Matthew as we don't want him to be a Junior and I detest the name Mark in all it's variations...So what else is there? Why is naming a boy so much harder than naming a girl?!?!

We want something at least a bit unusual, but still familiar, you know? Our tastes seem to run toward more old fashioned names too.

If we weren't going with an M name (which I kind of think we should, but would really like your/your readers opinion on) these are some of the names we've been tossing around, just to give you a feel for our style:
Clifford (called Cliff)
Vincent (called Vince)
Elias (called Eli)

Any & all help appreciated!

To M or not to M?

If going with M as many suggestions for boy M names as possible!

If not going for M what name from our short list sounds best, and any other suggestions to add to it more than welcome!

His middle name will be Adam (after hubby's father) and our last name is Hunter, if that's any help at all.

Please help! Time is running out & at this rate I fear we'll end up just calling him baby boy M. Hunter forever!

P.S. Sorry this was such a novel! But I'm literally waking up in the dead of night panicking about this whole name situation. Ahhh!

Ah! Interesting question! I think of "same initials" issues as occurring MOSTLY among siblings---but on the other hand, one of the kids has the same initial as me, and I do feel a bit as if he "has to share"---while the other kids each get their very own initial. And when both parents have the same initial and so does one of the children, well that makes it even more of an issue.

A further issue is that I have a soft spot for twin names that coordinate a little bit: when naming my own twins, I was hoping VERY HARD for names that had the same initial or the same number of letters/syllables or ANYTHING that made them "go together" (Edward and Elizabeth are pseudonyms and exactly the kind of coordination I was looking for ((both E names and both royalty names)); their real names, sadly for me, have nothing in common with each other). So that makes me lean toward M names for both your twins.

Yet I ALSO think that the name itself trumps: that is, if you have a boy name you love, and it doesn't start with M, I think "We loved your name SO MUCH" is better and more important than "We didn't want you to feel left out."

And if you MIGHT have another child later, I'd say using both M names this time makes you pretty surely stuck next time: I'd STILL stand by "the name itself trumps"---and yet, geez, that would be hard to resist, especially with the first two kids having their twinness as well as their matching initials.

If you merely "loved" the name Mirabelle, I might suggest you look for other names you love. But if it feels like "your baby," then I'd say it's a done deal: her name is Mirabelle.

In short: I can see why you're lying awake. And since you already have excellent possibilities for a non-M name, I think what we should do is find you some M names. And if you decide to use an M name and then DO have an unexpected baby later on...well, then we'll find you ANOTHER M name!

Boy M names:

Maclane Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Maclane
Madoc Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Madoc
Maguire Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Maguire
Malachi Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Malachi
Malcolm Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Malcolm
Marius Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Marius
Marshall Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Marshall
Mason Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Mason
Matthias Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Matthias
McAdam _____ Hunter; Mirabelle and McAdam
Macallister Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Macallister
Mead Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Mead
Micah Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Micah
Miles Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Miles
Milo Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Milo
Mitchell Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Mitchell
Morrison Adam Hunter; Mirabelle and Morrison

My favorites for unusual-but-familiar are Malcolm, Milo, and Miles. I think Milo is my favorite from those: I love it with your surname and I love it with Mirabelle. Milo! I vote for Milo.

For something even more unusual, I think Maguire is a good choice. It's not even in the Top 1000, and yet it seems easy to pronounce. It's good with Mirabelle, and in fact I think it's a pairing that makes both names sound even better: Mirabelle and Maguire, Maguire and Mirabelle.

Mead(e) is another highly unusual choice---yet doesn't seem nutso in its spelling or pronunciation. I don't think it flows as well with Adam as some of the other options, but I think that's okay.

I'm not sure Malachi fits in STYLE with Mirabelle, but I like the way the rhythm of the two names goes together. Mirabelle and Malachi, Malachi and Mirabelle.

There are only two things keeping me from pushing you to use Macallister: (1) the repeating -er with your surname, which I think is okay but not ideal, and (2) I can't find a spelling I like. The name Alistair is hard to use in the U.S. but such a good name, and the "Mac" toughens it perfectly as well as giving a good nickname. But...McAlistair? MacAlistair? Macallister? Nothing looks right to me, and they all look so LONG.

Matthias is a variation of Matthew, and yet sounds so different it feels like a completely different name. The one problem: if both father and son want to use the nickname Matt.

McAdam is an interesting way to namesake Adam, and gives you the good Mac nickname. But it has the same spelling problem as Macalister and it leaves you stuck for a middle name.

Of the Mc/Mac possibilities, I think my favorite is Maclane. Mac nickname, and the spelling is okay. Mirabelle and Maclane, Maclane and Mirabelle. Mac and Mira---cute!

But I throw my support behind Milo. (For non-M names, my favorite is Felix.)

Name update 10-02-2010! Madeline writes:
Thanks so much for all of your suggestions! The twins were born September 28th @ 10:00pm & 10:02pm, healthy & beautiful at 8lbs 7oz 21 inches & 7lbs 9oz 21 inches respectively! We DID decide to go with another M name but not because we felt like we HAD to, only because there was one name from your list that we'd never considered but instantly fell totally in LOVE with.

We're so happy with our new babies, Mirabelle Jane Hunter & Milo Adam Hunter! & BOTH of their names totally fit them to a T!


janet said...

I love Mirabelle, nn Mira.

I don't think you need a M name for your boy, in which case my vote goes to Vincent.

But if you do end up wanting an M name then my vote goes to Malcolm nn Mac. So cute!

Lucy said...

I'm undecided on whether you should go with M or not. I think if you find a M name that you love then great, otherwise go with a name you love. My M name suggestion is Martin.

sara m said...

I think I'm on the "use an M" side of the fence. I love Milo for you, Milo Adam Hunter sounds great. I also liked Maguire as I was reading Swistle's list, even before I got to her comments. I saw Madoc on her list and it made me think of the Jolie-Pitt's Maddox, Maddox Adam Hunter. And I know a few Masons (not too many though, and spread out around the country) and I like the name Mason Adam Hunter, but I'm not sure about the two occupational names together.

If you don't go M, I like Elias from your list.

Love Mirabelle! Good luck!

Abby@AppMtn said...

I hear you! Our firstborn was named after his grandfather, Alexander. My husband and I are A names, too, so when we were expecting our daughter, a few people asked us if we would give her an A name.

There was an A name I liked, but we fell in love with a C name in honor of my mother. For a while I worried that she would feel left out, but now that she's here, no one mentions it.

I think that's the funny thing - if you're Jen and he's John and your kids are Jill and Jack, then everyone notices the theme. But if they're Jill and Bob, no one blinks.

Plus he'll have a family name, so it isn't as if your daughter got all the thought and your son just got whatever name you landed on in the baby book!

Go with Mirabelle and Something Else! From your short list, my choice would be Vincent - Mira and Vince, Mirabelle and Vincent.

Best wishes. :)

M.Amanda said...

I don't think there's any problem with giving one child an M initial and not the other. I'd stick with Mirabelle, since - like Swistle said - that name feels like "your baby" and not worry about M names for her brother.

If you go from the list, I like Elias (Eli).

If you really want to go with an M name, I like Mitchell or Milo.

Hope T. said...

I like Merritt for a boy. It sounds great with Mirabelle, too.

I don't think many people notice if the parents' initials match their child's initial. I think only you and your closest family members would care. Also, as a mother of boys, my guess is that a boy would not be concerned about his initial either so going with a name you love is more important.

Kristen said...

I am a twin and I personally never liked the idea of matchiness in twins. Its hard enough to get people to think of you as two separate individuals, but if you have too similar names it would be harder (I am Kristen, twin is Lauren... but I know a Jena/Jamie set and a Dan/Drew set. My thought for them is Ugh!).

I see nothing wrong with going with an M for the girl and choosing something you LOVE thats not an M for the boy. If you go with an M for both, I feel like you are stuck with M names for all future children. I don't think he will feel left out- his name will be chosen especially for him, not because you were stuck with it.

I love the name Elias, nn Eli. That is probably my fav boy name right now and one that I want for my baby, but my husband really dislikes it. Elias Adam Hunter.

Good luck and congrats!!

Swistle said...

Kristen- I don't like matchiness, either, but I do like coordination. Your name coordinates with your twin's name in a way I'd consider pleasing: same number of syllables, emphasis on the same syllable, and both end in -en. And with boy-girl twins, I don't think the "separate individuals" thing is as much of an issue. Still, I wanted to reassure you we're not talking about Sharon/Karen matchiness here---just about having some small way in which the names go together. Like sibling names, but with a slight extra teeny bit.

Lisa said...

I suggest going with Vincent. I also suggest a 3rd baby. After twins, you will love having a single baby and you will love the joy of a "second" baby without the worries and stress and being seasoned parents.

There, that solves it! ;)

I, myself, would be tempted to do a M name, or disregard Mirabelle since both parents are M's, but that seems forced. Focus on the name you love, it is a better way to go.

Miriam said...

Here's an M name that immediately came to mind but hasn't been mentioned yet. It may be too common for you, but I think it would go nicely with Mirabelle: Michael. Michael Adam Hunter. Good luck!

Erin said...

I am in the camp of no double M names. I do like a little coordination as discussed above, but more like Kristen and Lauren, not the same initial. So maybe a three syllable name for baby boy with some similar sounds would work best, especially if you are worried about a possible third. Obviously, just my opinion.

I wonder if you could do a long name where just the nickname is an M too? This isn't 3 syllables, but I'm thinking along the lines of Cormac and Mirabelle, nicknames Mac and Mira. Or maybe thats still too M heavy? I quite like Elias as a brother to Mirabelle, Mira and Eli are great together, and none of the M names jumped to me quite like that, so my vote would be for Elias. I do think that the three syllables and soft sounds/funkiness coordinate well with Mirabelle.

Anonymous said...

I think that once the babies are born that their names will fit them, no matter what their initials are. I wouldn't worry about -- give the boy the name you like.


Kate said...

I am the only sister in our family that does not share an initial. I actually liked it growing up, and never really felt left out. I think it is less of an issue since your children will call you 'Mom' and 'Dad' not by your first name. I would think this would be more of an issue if all the daughters had one initial, except one (like in my case).

My daughter's middle name is Mirabelle, so I am sort of biased I guess. If you love that name, and it feels like your girl - don't give it up. It is so hard to find a name that just 'fits' perfectly.

Leslie said...

I don't think you need to go with a second M name. Your son will share a middle name with his grandfather, which is a nice family connection; I don't think you need to do more than that. From your list, I like Elias and Felix. Elias has a wonderful sound to it, and Felix, like Mirabelle, has a great meaning: "lucky, successful".

If you DO decide to go with an M name, though, I like the suggestions of Milo (or Miles) and Merritt.

Best of luck!

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I don't think you need to go with 2 M names, either. First of all, it's the boy baby whose name will be 'different', and frankly? What guys have you met who care that much about that stuff? Not too many in my experience.

Secondly, like what one commenter above said -- both parents with the same initial, and one child with it too doesn't scream "matchy", but if you are an entire family of four with M names, it looks a lot more matchy-on-purpose.

Use Mirabelle, because you love it. If someone says, "Oh, Madeleine, Matthew and Mirabelle?" all you have to say is, "Well, it was a name we just loved, coincidence on the first initial!".

I like Vincent and Elias from your list for boys, and I think both would be great with Mirabelle. Go with what you really love, not based on initials.

beyond said...

I think a name that you LOVE is best. I don't think a boy would feel left out with a non-M name.
From your list I like Felix and Vincent. Mirabelle and Felix, I really like that combo! Felix Adam Hunter is great for a boy and an adult.
Good luck.

Christine said...

I vote against the M! But then I am generally against having all the kids start with the same initial, and I'm even more against obviously matchy twin names. Plus if there is a surprise pregnancy then you won't need to hole yourself into M names.

From your short list I think Vincent is great with Mirabelle.

Good luck and congratulations!

StephLove said...

I don't think the M is necessary, but Micah is a big favorite of mine, so I'd recommend that if you go for an M. It's my favorite name on the table, but I also like Malachi, Malcolm, Miles and Mitchell. One more I'd suggest is Merrick.

From your non-M list I like Elias and Felix.

Kristen said...

Swistle- I didn't mean to make it sound like I was ranting against your suggestions. :)

I meant that as a twin, I think using another M name would be too matchy, even with argument that its the parents' first initials too. Yes, Kristen and Lauren flow well together without being too much. I think that sort of matching is much better, just like with regular sibs.

Anonymous said...

Go with a boy's name you love. My kids happen to have different initials (not twins, though), and I find it really convenient for labeling their stuff. So, there is the practicality of having two different initials, not that that should trump using another M name if you love it.

StephLove said...

Here's another one: Marshall.

Caroline said...

I'm liking the matching "M," but I don't think that you have to go with that. If you fall in love with a non-M name I don't think anyone would feel left out.

Some M names I like for you:

Maxwell (nn Max)

I really like Maxwell, but it might be too much with Mirabelle. Maxwell and Mirabelle. Max and Mira.

I also love Mason, but I think it sounds like too many tradesman names strung together: "Mason Hunter."

So my votes are for:
Milo Adam Hunter
Maxwell Adam Hunter
Elias Adam Hunter

British American said...

I'm going to vote for *not* using an M name for your son. I think two M names would be too 'matchy' for non-twin siblings, nevermind twins. It is much easier to label items when you can just add a first initial.

From your list I like Felix best, though Elias is nice too, having the same number of syllables as Mirabelle.

Jodi said...

I totally agree with Lisa - use a non-M name if you find one you love, and then have another baby later with another non-M name. Problem solved :)

Joking aside, so many people's plans change somewhere along the line (says she who is in the process of adopting #5 and never would have imagined this scenario for myself in a million years!), or, as you noted, have their plans changed for them. If you already don't love any M boy names, that would be an uncomfortable box to be in for *another* boy down the line. You know, just in case ;)

Having said all that, I do *love* Milo for you. Super-duper love!

Katie V. said...

Malachai was my first thought. I think it sounds good with Mirabelle, even if they don't match for style and he could go by Kai so it doesn't appear at first glance to be a family of all M's but he won't feel left out either because he can be Malachai too

Anonymous said...

No M name. Go with Eli. :)

Anonymous said...

I've always disliked twin names that start with the same letter, or any siblings for that matter. I really favor naming the child a name that the parents both like, without trying to coordinate with the other sibling. If you had said you loved a certain "M" boy name, I'd be in favor of you using it. But you don't, so I vote for picking your favorite boy name with really no thought to how it goes with Mirabelle.

Maybe it would help to think of the twins as adults, independent and doing different things. Then, think about the name you like on each of them.

Bethtastic said...

I like an M name. But I'm from a sibling set of Bs. Brent, Brad, Beth. My husband happens to be from a sibling set of Ds...except for him. Dean, Dale and Harold. And he has always felt left out and has always hated his name.

I don't think I've ever heard of a sibling from a set of matching-initial names that hated it...but I have heard of siblings with the odd-ball initial that hated it.

So. My two cents. Whatever that's worth.

I really like Maxwell, Mitchell and Marshall. And I liked the idea of Malcolm with the nn Mac.

Max and Mira
Mitch and Mira
Marshall and Mira
Mac and Mira

Like them all!
Congrats on the new babies!

Karen L said...

I'd say forget about the initial and just pick the name that you love the most. I like Eli/as from your list.

I'm actually in favour of LESS coordination for twin names than other siblings. Individual identity thing and in consideration of a third sibling. My mother had two younger twin sisters and felt reminded of her exclusion every single time she heard their names.

stellafide said...

I like the idea of having their own initials--for labeling, individuality, the chance that you'll have another. What about Cormac? Cormac and Mirabelle. Mac and Mira are cute nicknames, but they will still have their own full name initials.

Melinda said...

I can totally see both sides of the M name issue. I would lean toward using the M name since both parents are Ms. I had a huge crush on a boy in high school named Merrick and I still love the name.

ksmaybe said...

I'm with Miriam, my first thought was Michael :)

Carolyn said...

What about Theodore?
Mirabelle and Theodore...Mira and Theo.

I love how they both have 3 syllables and that the emphasis is in the first syllable.

Good luck!


The Mrs. said...

My vote is 'no' on the matchy-matchy. I once knew twin girls: Sharon Kay & Karen Fay. Their parents rarely called them by their own name.
I also know a family with triplets (!) who all have names beginning with 'A'. They rarely get called by their assigned name on the first try.
So go ahead and make it easy on your kids! Otherwise, they might feel like "Man! My parents don't even know who I am!"

If you like Felix, do you like Leo?

Leo and Mira? Leo Adam Hunter.

If you like Cliff, do you like Declan with the nickname of Dec?

Dec and Mira? Declan Adam Hunter.

Otherwise, Stellafide's suggestion of using the name Cormac with the nickname of Mac is really pretty brilliant.

Whatever you decide, your kids are going to appreciate all the effort and love you've put into their monikers. Best wishes to the four of you!

Patricia said...

I would definitely name your daughter Mirabelle because you love the name so much and, therefore, with 3 M-names in the family, it seems to me that Mira's brother probably should have a name beginning with M too, especially since you expect the twins will be your only children.

My favorites are:

Miles Adam Hunter (called either Miles or Milo):
Miles & Mira (or Milo & Mira)

Michael Adam Hunter: Michael & Mira

Malcolm Adam Hunter: Mac & Mira

Maxwell Adam Hunter: Max & Mira

Melissa Haworth said...

I don't think you need to use an M name. Give him the name you love most. From your list I think I like Elias/Eli.

Good luck!

Patricia said...

An M-name that's somewhat popular in England, but less so here, is Monty (#368 in England & Wales) and a formal form of the name - Montgomery (#489). I've noticed this name in the London Telegraph birth announcements and just looked at that again, including:

...twins, Montgomery John Arnold (Monty) and Amber Trinity Georgia, a brother and sister for Morris. [Two M-names there.]

...a son, Montgomery (Monty) William.

Monty James

...a son, Monty Jack, a brother for Matilda Grace. [M & M brother and sister]

a son, Mungo Louis Felix, a brother for Maxi and Monty. [3 brothers, all with M-names]

Monty James David

Monty Edward

Monty Oscar Inigo, a brother for Maximilian and Poppy.

Montgomery Albert "Monty"

Montgomery/Monty would meet your requirements for an M-name that's "at least a bit unusual, but still familiar" and "old fashioned". I associate the name with the actor Montgomery "Monty" Clift, b. 1920. (I just read that he had a twin sister.)

Mirabelle Hunter "Mira"
Montgomery Adam Hunter "Monty"

Monty is a name beginning with M, yet it sounds very distinct from Mira, Madeline and Matthew.

Patricia said...

PS Montgomery and Mirabelle are at almost the exact same level of usage in the U.S. In 2009 68 boys were named Montgomery (Monty, 54), while 58 girls were named Mirabelle (Mirabel, 39). Montgomery and Mirabelle are rare names, yet both seem somewhat familiar, sound like traditional names (BNW calls Montgomery an exotic traditional), while the short forms Monty and Mira sound contemporary.

KMW said...

I also vote no on the "M" name. Choosing a name you love is so much more important. I love all of your favorites for a boy! It matters so much more that your son has a name he knows you love than he share an initial with the rest of the family.

Anonymous said...

Naming your daughter Annabel (or Annabelle) would solve the M dilemma.I generally prefer twin names that are compatible in some way(s but don't begin with the same letter. However with parents having names beginning with M, it seems that it would be best to both twins a name also beginning with M or neither of them a name beginning with M. Naming your baby girl Annabel (she could be called Anna if you want to shorten it) would give you free range when choosing your baby boy's name. Example: Matthew, Madeline, Annabel and Vincent.

Frazzled Mom said...

I'm always of the opinion that matching initials should be avoided. One argument I haven't heard yet against the M is that most adults won't really care that one family member doesn't have the matching initial. Children might notice and care, but when you were growing up, did you know all of your friends' parents' names? I didn't - not until I got to high school or maybe even college. When I was a kid, all adults were Mr. or Mrs. Las tname. But my situation may be unique.

Either way, I still say, if you can't find another M name you love, don't force it. I also agree that most boys don't sit around agonizing about their names the way girls do, based on my experience growing up with two brothers.

Your short list of non-M boy names is great. I like them all, and I feel all except Clifford / Cliff would go with Mirabelle / Mira.

Becki D said...

Mirabelle and Maguire is nice, but I think you should name him MAX! Mirabelle and Max - how awesome is that?? Yes, I am very partial to the name Max, and if we were to have another child and he were to be a boy, I'd be pushing for Max...but I also think it suits your needs perfectly!

Marie Green said...

I don't think you have to us an M name for your boy. Your children will call you mom and dad, not by your names (um, right?), so they'll probably be pretty old before they put together that there are 3 M names and one not M name.

That said, I love Micah, Miles, and Milo. If our youngest had been a boy, Milo was the name I was pulling for.

The Schwant Family said...

Great job carrying those big twins!!! I like the M's!

Jodi said...

Yay for Mirabelle and Milo! Swistle, that must be what makes this blog totally worthwhile. Those are some spectacularly well-named twins, all (well, half) thanks to you!

Patricia said...

Congratulations on Mirabelle Jane and Milo Adam! I love their names, separately and together -- absolutely perfect!