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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby Naming Issues: Will and Kate as Sibling Names; Matching Name Endings

Elizabeth writes:
I'm 14 weeks pregnant with our 2nd child and starting to think about names seriously now. Boy or Girl we do not know, but will in about 6 weeks. We are pretty set on a boy name. Lucas James (James is DH's name) If its not Lucas (Luke) then our 2nd choice is William (Will, I love Will, but then I would have a Will & Kate??). Our DD's name is Kaitlyn Elizabeth (which I do not love Kaitlyn) most people call her Kate, Katie or Katie Beth. What do you think of having the same ending for a girl name? Madelyn (Maddie), Emmalyn, etc? I love simple middle names like Rose, Jo & Claire

Any suggestions would be great.

Two interesting questions here: (1) Do we think Will and Kate are still usable as sibling names, and (2) How do we feel about matching endings? I'll give my own answers, but I think opinions will be all over the spectrum on these---from "AAAAAAA NO NEVER!!" to "What's the big deal?"

I would not use Will and Kate as sibling names. Other sibling pairings that would be off my list: Charles and Diana, Brad and Angelina, my mom's name and my dad's name. Some two-name sets are so well known for belonging to a particular couple, hearing them together on siblings is highly evocative and sometimes even a little disturbing. (I remember, back when I was looking for names for my twins, finding a comment by a woman who said she'd named her boy-girl twins Romeo and Juliet. Oh...dear.)

But on this issue I can see how someone else might say that Will and Kate are both classic/traditional/popular names and there's no reason to reject them just because some couple is currently in the news (and in the case of some celebrity couples, might not be anymore by the time the child is in school). Some people might even say "Will and Kate? Who are they?" And certainly I would use Will and Kate before I'd use Romeo and Juliet. It helps that your Kate is short for Katelyn not Catherine, and that the order would more often be Kate and Will.

And there are plenty of couples whose names don't immediately trigger an association for me (er, at least when they're not all together in a list like this): John and Kelly, Sarah and Matthew, Michael and Catherine*, so clearly it's a complicated equation with many personal-association and particular-name elements. In short: while I wouldn't use Will and Kate for siblings, I WOULD use Michael and Catherine, and I probably would use my grandmother's name and my grandfather's name---so it wouldn't surprise me to find plenty of people who would use Will and Kate. It also helps if there are more than just two siblings, and if the names are separated by a sibling: Kate, Henry, Meg, and Will is far less of an issue. But I suggest avoiding the whole issue and sticking with Lucas.

Matching-endings is another area where I'd generally avoid it, but there are plenty of people who do it on purpose---so it's not anything clear-cut. If my top two favorite girl names were Katelyn and Madelyn, I might use them (especially if I planned to call them Kate and Maddy)---but I think I'd be more likely to change the spellings to avoid at least the visual element of the match: Caitlin and Madelyn, or Katelyn and Madeline. (It's too bad that the -lyn has already been used for Katelyn, because I really like the way the -lyn ending clears up the pronunciation question of the names Madeline and Emmaline.)

In short: I'd prefer to avoid repeating endings, but if I loved the names and couldn't think of any I liked better, I might go ahead and use them---changing spelling if possible.


What do you think? Would you use Will and Kate as sibling names? Would you repeat a name ending?

In fact, let's add polls, because polls are fun. There's one for each question, and they're over to the right. The "it depends" option is for things like "If Kate were short for Katelyn, but not if it were short for Catherine" and "Not this year with all the fuss, but maybe a few years down the road" and "Only if I planned to use nicknames that were less similar." [Polls closed; see results below.]

*Travolta, Jessica Parker and Broderick, Douglas and Zeta-Jones


Christy said...

My 'it depends' for Will & Kate is that I would absolutely do it if there were multiple siblings, but probably not for just a pair.

M.Amanda said...

I've actually just recently discussed this issue as my daughter is Catherine (Kate) and we are expecting a boy. My husband has had a name picked out for years that I am falling out of love with. However, the only alternate on my list that I think he'd be okay with is William, his grandfather's name. Even if nobody else noticed, I think "Will and Kate, the royal couple" would be in my head every time I introduced my children, which feels... wrong. Maybe it wouldn't bother me if they weren't the names of a couple who will likely be prominent in the news for many years, but I don't see the attention waning any time soon.

Personally, I would stay away from matching endings, but there's nothing wrong with it. It is just a matter of taste, like using a nature theme for all your children's names or giving them all the same initial.

mwikali said...

First, Go with Luke. Luke and Kate has an loose American vibe that I like, While Kate and Will (while classic and fabulous) is much stuffier.

Another option is to go with Bill has a nickname. Bill has been out of fashion for a while--possibly long enough to be cool! or Liam? Its still a solid nickname and has a more modern feel to it.

Kate said...

I am dating a William and we get Will and Kate all the time. All the tiiiiime. However -- they are such wonderful names that I would still use them both.

beyond said...

Personally, I would stay away from Will and Kate, or from Kate and Will. A few years ago I would have stayed away from Brad and Jennifer, too, but today that wouldn't matter, would it? : )
I would also stay away from names with matching endings, and therefore think Madeline (pronounced -lyn) would be a great choice for you.
My mil gave two of her sons matching beginnings, which I would stay away from as well. Their nn are just one letter difference, think Rob and Ron, or Phil and Phin. I often can't help thinking: Really? With all the great names out there?

Marjorie said...

I love matching names for children that are also spelled the same like Kaylee and Carlee. I say go for it and if you going to have matching endings, might as well have matching spellings! Looks uniform on holiday cards and the like.

I wouldn't do Will with Kate right now....I love Lucas James!

Kacie said...

My kids' names end with an "n" sound but I don't know if people even really notice. They are Jonathan and Vivienne. Visually there's no real similarity. A third very well may have an "n" at the end, I'll just take it on a name by name basis.

If it were Jonathan and Vivian maybe that would be more apparent.

Meg said...

If it helps I had to google Will and Kate to find out what the problem is. I didn't make the connection at all (especially since I think of the prince as "William", not Will). But I don't see and issue with William and Kate either.

I consider both names to be very classic. If the Prince and Princess were "Jayden and Addison" and you were considering those two as sibling names I might think differently.

Kylie said...

My 2 daughters each end in 'a' and the 3rd's nickname will too. It wasn't really intentional just the kinds of names I'm drawn to. So I can't really say no but to me it does seem more matchy matchy with endings that sound like 'lee' or 'lyn' but it could just be my preferences coming through too. I however would not change the spelling to avoid the ending. I think that would cause more people to be confused about pronunciation and especially spelling trying to keep straight which was which way.

Christine said...

I would also skip Will and Kate, but love Luke (Lucas), so that's where I would go with that anyway.

I wouldn't do matching endings ya know, I'm not too helpful on that front...But I like Madeline (Line, not Lynn) and Kaitlyn together, even though since I'm not into matching names at all - no matching first initials, no matching endings, I'd probably avoid anything that sounds matching...But this is me! I wouldn't find it strange if your kids' names were more matching, just my personal preference.

Good luck!

Jessica said...

I wouldn't call kids Will and Kate, but I would name them Katelyn and William if I planned to use different nicknames. It makes things harder that Katelyn is already Kate, but if you called William Bill or Liam, like mwikali suggested, it could work.

Leslie said...

Hm, I actually don't mind Will and Kate. I generally don't like naming after famous couples (such as the Romeo and Juliet example), but in this case, 1) it's Kaitlyn, and 2) the names are such classic standards that I don't think the royal couple has the same "ownership" of the names' connotations as they might with something more distinctive.

I answered the matching endings with "it depends." In general, I'd try to avoid it (especially if I had several name candidates I liked), but if I absolutely loved the name and it felt like the one and only perfect choice to me, than I would go ahead anyway. I do like the idea of using a slightly different spelling (Madeline or Madeleine, Emmeline, etc) if you're open to that idea.

Best of luck!

Lisa said...

My five kids all have names ending in "n". So I don't have a problem with it. It wasn't intentional until #4 and #5. I think if it has an ending of several letters (like "lyn" or "den") then it gets to be a bit much. I guess my 2 girls fall in that category, they both end in "gan" and it is confusing and I mix their names up. But I actually mix all my kids' names up! :)

Anonymous said...

I think I'd stay away from Will and Kate too, as (assuming the romance can it not, right? After spending that much on the wedding? But, they do seem to like each other) I was saying it's going to be a name combo that will last and become even more immutable once they make it on to currency and such.

Anonymous said...

With a great name like Lucas James as your first choice, I'd forget about William, for now. Both Kaitlyn and Lucas & Kate & Luke are such great names together, & quite a different energy from Kate & Will. Be assured that some people will associate the two names with the royal couple & mention it. I've two friends who both named their daughters Kate around the time of Will & Kate's engagement who've been asked if they're named after her!

I think that Kaitlyn & Madeline sound quite nice together. My issue would be with the proliferation of little Madelines & Maddies (as well as Madisons, Addisons & Addies!) While Kaitlyn has a familiar, classic feeling, Madeline has an over-used, saturation-point feeling to me. (Though, of course, all the little Maddies & Addies I meet are precious & unique!)

Would you consider any of your middle name choices as first names? I think Kaitlyn & Claire are so lovely together - not too matchy-matchy, but with a nice repetition of sound. I also adore the name Josephine with the nick-name Jo. Kaitlyn Elizabeth and Josephine Claire - Kate & Jo - are such smashing names, on their own & together. I want to have two more daughters just to name them this!

Jenny Grace said...

When Heath Ledger died I was SHOCKED to learn that he and his sister were named Heathcliff and Catherine for Wuthering Heights. Really? And incestuous sibling pair for your son and daughter???
I realize that's off topic, but.

Patricia said...

Just read a memoir by an author whose four children are named:
Lee (boy)

I didn't perceive the matchy 'ly/lee-ness' of three of those four names at first, but then that's all I 'saw'. The author and her husband are both well educated professionals, and apparently the names of their kids, who were born in the 1980s-'90s, didn't strike them as too matchy.

I think sometimes baby namers today are a little too analytical. ;-)

Kaitlyn and Madelyn or Emmalyn? Why not? I find the similarity kind of appealing, especially since both girls will probably have other nns they go by as well.

The Mrs. said...

Sometimes certain surnames just sound better with certain first name endings. If a last name ends with an 's' sound, most people feel that 'James' or 'Russ' seem too rhymey for a first name.

That said, I know of one family with three boys who all have first names that end with 'n' because they have a difficult surname that ends with 'er'. It works for them. It may work well for you, too.

As far as the 'Will and Kate' thing goes, plenty of people have named their sib sets 'Will and Grace' or 'Jack and Kate' (from Lost's TV fame) without batting an eyelash... only to have the rest of the world say, "Oh, like on TV!" It gets old.

With a perfect choice of Lucas, it seems like you're wisely sidestepping a tiresome line for years to come.

Best wishes to you and your growing family!

jeriley05 said...

Thank you so much for your opinions!! Can't wait to let you know what we have decided!