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Selecting Names for Multiples

It's All Relative


How many times have you seen your own name misspelled? With this in mind, be careful when choosing names that look and sound very similar, such as Marion and Marian or Danielle and Daniel. Errors in spelling could cause many a future paperwork nightmare for your twins when they have to straighten out the confusion.

Another strong multiples naming fashion is to choose names that are similar in other ways. They may be spelled nearly identically or be different versions of the same name, but they all share certain qualities (alliteration, etc.) that link them as names for multiples.

Letter Switches

These take the form of names that are identical with the exception of the first letter, as in:

  • Cara and Sara
  • May and Bay
  • Marla and Carla
  • Nora and Dora
  • Joel and Noel
  • Nan and Dan
  • Roy and Joy
  • Merry and Jerry
  • Tami and Sami
  • Seth and Beth
  • Ida and Ada

Or, names can be combined that are the same except for a change of letter in another position:

  • Britt and Brett
  • Clark and Clara
  • Kyle and Kyla
  • Cary and Carl
  • Ross and Rose

The advantage to these names is their very close linkages—if you see any of them appearing on a form of any sort, there's little question of them being anything other than names of multiples. However, this characteristic can also be a drawback, especially if the names selected are very close in pronunciation. They also can seem a little too cutesy as time goes on, and they generally don't yield a good number of pet names or nicknames since many of them are actually forms of given names.

Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl: Masculine/Feminine Combinations

These combinations are generally formed by adding a feminine suffix to a masculine name, as in:

  • Paul/Paula
  • Daniel/Danielle
  • Albert/Alberta/Albertina
  • Alan/Alana
  • Michael/Michaela/Michaeline

Or, they can combine a male and a female name that were derived from the same name but are no longer entirely similar in form, like:

  • Alexander/Alexis
  • Charles/Charlotte
  • Dennis/Denise
  • John/Joanna
  • Samuel/Samantha
  • Nicholas/Nicole

These names also carry a strong connection factor, but they're often more versatile than letter-switch pairs. Still, many of them are very close in pronunciation, which can lead to misunderstandings and mix-ups, especially if you're shouting for one of your kids and the other shows up.


If you really like playing with names, you can try rearranging the letters in one name to form another. Amy can turn into May, Reva into Vera, Jonah into Johan, and Mary into Myra. Personally, I think this approach takes up more time than it's worth, but if you have a lot of time on your hands, then why not give it a shot!

Form Combinations

There's nothing that says you can't use the full form of a given name and a derivative of it to name multiples. This can be a great approach if you have more than two multiples to name. Possible combinations include:

  • Alex, Lexi, and Lexa
  • Elizabeth, Liza, and Elissa
  • Alex and Sandy
  • Anne and Nina
  • Mary, Molly, and Marie

Next: Page 4 >>

More on: Choosing a Name

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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