I am pregnant with fraternal twin girls that are due in late February, although they might come earlier as apparently twins can do all kinds of unexpected things. Our last name is phonetically pronounced Bow-Lee-Ew and its background is French although neither of us speaks French.
My husband and I initially thought that naming twins would be easier because we get two kicks at the can so to speak. However, it has turned out to be much more difficult than we anticipated – at least for girls. Early on in the pregnancy, we mutually agreed with no tears, anger or resentment that if they were boys, the twins would be named Thomas and Grant. We love both names equally and would have had a difficult time picking one over the other if we were to have ended up with one girl and one boy. We like that these names compliment one another while retaining their individuality.
As you can see, we ended up on the other end of the spectrum without even one name that we can mutually agree upon. To make matters worse, we really want to find names that we feel as strongly about as Grant and Thomas. We want to love the names equally and feel that they are “right”. We really don’t want to pick one name that we love and another that fits with the name that we love.
To make matters worse, it appears that we have different naming styles when it comes to girls. I consider my naming style to be classic (and unfortunately I seem to like the popular names). My husband on the other hand seems to like names that were popular in the 80s and early 90s. I have struggled hard to try to merge the two styles and the only consistency that I can come up with is that my husband seems to like shorter names ending in ah or eeee and there are some classic names that can work with this. Unfortunately, I really prefer formal names that can be shortened to cuter nicknames. It is very important to me that the girls have names that would suit them as professionals, although I would love it if they had cutesy variations that they could use as children.
This brings us to the twin considerations. I really dislike rhyming names for twins. I would prefer the names to be similar lengths/syllables although choosing two different three syllable names (as an example) is not necessary. If one girl’s name can be shortened into a nickname, I feel that it is fairly important that the second name have a nickname as well. I would prefer that the names not begin with the same first letter although this would be less applicable if the names are otherwise dissimilar.
Finally (and this seems to be the biggest stumbling block of all) is the popularity factor. We have agreed on names that we “could” use. However, the names are both very very very popular right now. I don’t so much care about the girls knowing other girls with the same names, but what I would like to avoid is the names “dating” the girls. For example, the name Jennifer dates to the 1970s to me and the name Linda to the 1950s. I guess what I am saying is that I would really prefer the names to be timeless and this is perhaps the most important criterion of all to me.
Based on the above, I am sure that you have come to the conclusion that I am anal-retentive and obsessive about this topic (both true) and for that I apologize.
With that disclaimer out of the way, the names that my husband and I agree would work are Emily and Sophie.
Other names on my list that my husband dislikes because he calls them “old lady names” are: Catherine (Cate), Josephine (Josie), Eleanor (Nora), Clara and Eliza. Other names that he has vetoed for celebrity connections or other unknown reasons include Ellery, Elodie, Calista (Callie), Isla, Rachel, Maya and Tessa. Oh, he also vetoed Violet as well which made me cry. Names that I love, but have vetoed myself due to the trendy factor are Charlotte and Abigail.
Names on his list that I have vetoed include Cleo, Justine, Maureen, Bailey, Kayla, Bree and Dawn. I do like his suggestion of Chloe, but dislike that it is commonly used as a dog’s name and is so popular where we live.
The name Norah is appealing to both of us although I do wish that it had a nickname variant. My husband is also coming around to my suggestion of Hillary although I don’t want him to choose it just to avoid talking about the issue any further. We are also both ok with Tabitha and Meredith. Sabrina is also on the mutual list, but I don’t love it and we do know of a baby who has the first name Sabrina and shares our last name.
Names we would be uncomfortable using due to friend/family/pet connections include Lily, Audrey, Mia, Rose and Olivia.
Some questions for you and your readers …
1. Are Emily and Sophie “trendy” popular names that will someday date the girls to the 2010s or are they classics that are just more popular for the time being?
2. Are there any alternatives to Emily and Sophie that are classic but less popular? (Note – I have a hunch that my husband dislikes names like Ellery and Elodie because he has never heard of them before and thus thinks they are weird.)
3. Do Norah and Hillary work together? Are there any other names that would work with Norah or Hillary? Do any of the other names that remain on our mutual lists work with Norah or Hillary?
4. Are there other names that are like Norah and Hillary (e.g. somewhat classic, but not overwhelmingly popular)?
Suggestions are truly welcome as I want these girls to come into the world with names that we feel as great about as Thomas and Grant. Thank you for reading what is probably the longest inquiry you have received thus far.
I agree: Jennifer sounds like the '70s, Linda sounds like the '50s. But here's where I disagree: I don't think you should try to avoid that. Certainly, avoid trendiness spikes if possible (though it's not always possible), but names naturally rise and fall over the generations and I think it's a doomed goal to find a name that doesn't. Even a name like Elizabeth, which I consider the epitome of a timeless name, has nicknames that follow generational trends: Betty and Bess and Betsy, Liz and Beth, Libby---and now Ellie, which I resist because it's not a traditional nickname for Elizabeth but which my friend Mairzy says I must try to come to terms with because people are doing it anyway.
(As an aside, the name Linda was in the Top 100 from 1936 until 1978, and in the Top 10 from 1940 to 1965. And Jennifer was in the Top 100 from 1956 until 2008, and in the Top 10 from 1966 until 1991. ((Source: Social Security Administration.)) So Linda is actually more like a 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s name, and Jennifer is more like a 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s name. I'm not sure how this is relevant, except to say that time-stamping is complicated.)
Furthermore, have you ever read women's fashion magazines? They're constantly assuring us that we can buy a "timeless" blazer or a "timeless" skirt or "timeless" accessories that will be WELL WORTH the high price tag because we'll be able to wear them ALWAYS. And then the next year, some feature that seemed timeless, when it was in style, reveals itself to be not in fact timeless at all. It is the same with names. Right now people are saying they like "timeless" names---but these are names that one generation ago would have been kah-razy out of place among the Nicoles, Melissas and Michelles, and two generations ago even more out of place among the Barbaras and Deborahs and Susans. Names generally feel timeless to us when they come back into style after we no longer remember the generation that had them; it's not that they never belonged to a generation. And when a name is in style, as when a certain cut of blazer is in style, it's hard to believe it ever wasn't, or won't be.
So! Does it work if I tell you I release you from that requirement you're trying to meet? We don't know how the current crop of baby names will be remembered, or how firmly they will be bound to this generation of babies. Of course we CAN cut out names that are likely to be trendy, as long as we keep the word "trendy" (names like Madison, Kaylee, Cadence) separate from the words "popular" or "common" (names like Elizabeth, Emily, Sarah, Anna). And Emily, in the Top 100 since 1973 and in the Top 10 for nearly two decades so far (source: Social Security Administration), might be even trickier to time-stamp than Jennifer and Linda.
Which leads me to my second point, which is that there is no shame in liking common names, and in fact "common names" are generally a mix of the trendy names you'd like to avoid and the timeless names you're looking for. I don't think you should force yourself away from names you love just because they are more popular than you'd prefer---and anyway, you're cutting out names because of commonness when some of them are LESS common than names you're keeping. So can I also release you from that---from the obligation to find a name that isn't common, just because uncommon seems like it must be "better" somehow? If I could make one rule for baby-namers, it would be "Don't arbitrarily limit your options." There is no moral or ethical reason not to use Emily and Sophie if you love those names, and making up reasons you can't use them ("People might be able to guess the generation in which she was born!" and "Too many other people think it's a great name!") is going to leave you panicky and without any name candidates.
But to clarify: are you saying you both love and agree on Emily and Sophie, and it's only the popularity/time-stamping that bothers you? Or are you saying those are "fine" with both of you, and more like fallback choices? If the former, my work is done after I convince you not to make arbitrary and unnecessary rules (I have duct tape if I need it). If the latter, we need to keep looking.
[This second email came in when I was at this point:] Amy writes:
I just wanted to give you an update as I am now home from work and going a bit out of my mind. It seems that my husband and I have decided that Emily and Sophie are too popular though they are still on the shortlist.
We are also leaning towards Norah being one of the names. So, we are in the position that I really didn't want to be in which is loving one name and finding another to go with it. I still like the name Hillary but my husband is meh on it. He feels it is a name for a snobby girl. Fresh Prince of Belair anyone? In my class the snobs were Kellys and Karens so I don't get the snob reference, but even though he will let me use the name (he says it doesn't matter to him so much), but I really do want him to love the name.
What I like about Hillary is that it is strong yet feminine and also uncommon but recognizable. So another name that meets those characteristics would be great.
We are still tossing around the names Meredith, Tabitha and a few others from our list, but I am still searching for the name for Baby B as I have pretty much decided that Baby A will be Norah if we go with that.
Thanks in advance.
Need I emphasize again what a mistake I think it is to throw out a name due to popularity alone? But if that's the task at hand, I will see what I can do. I will warn you that Norah, Nora, and Eleanor-called-Nora are all climbing fast in popularity: it's possible you're taking the same problem but just changing the time-stamp. (I feel so conflicted, because on one hand I want to keep telling you how little I think this matters, and on the other hand if it matters to you ANYWAY I want to help you find what YOU want!)
There is nothing wrong with first choosing one name we love, and then choosing a name that goes with it: that's exactly what people do when they have their children one at a time instead of in pairs.
I think Norah and Meredith are beautiful together, or Eleanor and Meredith (same number of syllables) called Nora and Merrie or Ellie and Merrie.
I also like Hillary and Meredith.
Nora and Eliza would also be a very nice pairing.
I like the similar rhythms of Eleanor and Imogen.
Another possibility is to name the girls Eleanor and Margaret (SWOON) and call them Nora and Greta, and they'd also have Ellie and Maggie if they preferred.
Or Eleanor and Josephine (same number of syllables), but call them Nora and Josie. (I am kind of ignoring your husband's "old lady names" declaration, since this only shows that he is out of touch with the baby names situation, and because he might like the names better if he likes the nicknames.)
If he likes Cleo and Chloe, it seems like Clara isn't far off---but Nora and Clara might be too similar. Sophie and Clara would be pretty.
For a moment I thought Norah and Ellen would be pretty, but then I wondered if it would sound as if they'd split the name Eleanor between them.
A more current version of Maureen would be Maura. Not with Norah, but maybe with another of the candidates. Maura and Ellen? Maura and Rowan? Maura and Emlyn? Maura and Carys?
Pulling names from nowhere now: Celeste and Noelle. Philippa and Imogen. Fiona and Madigan. Holly and Laurel. Marin and Bridget. Annabel and Emeline. Phoebe and Stella. Felicity and Genevieve. Simone and Corrine. Cecily and Beatrix.
Name update! Amy writes:
After much discussion, my husband and I decided on the name Nor.ah without much arguing. Deciding on the second name was much harder. Although we both love the name Emily (perhaps even more than the names we eventually chose), it just didn't go with any of the other names that we like. It turned out that this was the reason for my hesitation about using the name and not its popularity. The name Gra.ce had been suggested to me by several people including swistle readers, my mother and my husband. Eventually, it grew on me and I now couldn't imagine our Baby B having any other name. I was worried to read that another swistle twin mom had used Gra.ce has her second twin name and thought that maybe it was the go to name for second twin girls. However, I have decided to let popularity issues go and have no regrets about our baby girls Nor.ah and Gra.ce.