sibling names

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Are These Baby Names Hip, or Hippie?

What do you think of names like Rose Dorinda, Fox Alexandria, and Raven Thalia? They are all girls' names I am considering. I wonder how far I can go with my name themes, because none of the boy names I like go in that direction (Killian Alexander, Ezra Raphael, Aedan Ezekiel). Are my favorite names too hippie/tree-hugger?

–Nature Lover

Trees deserve a hug now and then, don't they? So "tree-hugger" doesn’t have to be a negative. Not all nature names automatically fall into the "hippie" category (that is, too weird for mainstream), anyway. If you love nature, it's only natural that you're drawn to baby names that celebrate flora, fauna, and the outdoors.

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Do My Twins Sound Like a Married Couple?

My husband and I are expecting twins. For a boy, we really like the name James (my father's name), and for a girl, we're thinking about Lily (my favorite flower) or Lillian. We like the names individually, and we like how the names sound together, but I have two reservations.

First, does giving one child a family name and the other child a name we just happen to like feel unbalanced? Second, I grew up on the Harry Potter books. His parents are named James and Lily, and I think of that when I hear the pairing. I don't mind it, but how likely are other people to make that connection?

–Twins on the Way

Two babies, two questions! Let's take them one at a time. If you give one twin a family name, must the other twin have one too? With siblings, and especially twins, it's good to keep parity in mind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice your taste to it.

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I'm Looking for a Baby Name that Pops!

We have a daughter named Poppy and are having another girl. We're looking for a name that's equally as spunky, young, and unique. I had Luna and Nova picked out, but found out that both are on track to become very popular. What other unique names might fit? The middle name will be June or Ruby, but I don't like those as firsts; they sound dated.

–Seeking a Sister Name

Trying to ride the line between "unique and fresh" and "too popular" is very difficult. Names are unpredictable, and can suddenly rise and fall without a lot of warning. Plus, what sounds young and spunky to you may also appeal to lots of other parents.

What we can do is look at trends and see what’s happening. You’re correct that both Luna and Nova have spiked upward recently, while June and Ruby (for comparison) peaked a century ago—although both are rising again today.

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We’ve Already Used the Perfect Baby Name!

My husband and I are stumped on a girl name for our third baby. We both like Claire, but it is our oldest daughter's middle name. Is it weird to reuse a middle name as a first name? My husband suggested Clara. I love it, but think it is too close to our younger daughter's name, Nora. We also both like Stella, but our oldest's name is Adelle. What do you think?

–Mom in a Middle Muddle

This can be a tough call! Is it okay to reuse a middle name for a younger sibling's first name? There are strikingly strong feelings on both sides. In some families, every child has the same middle name (say, Dad's first or Mom's maiden name). In others, a middle name can return as a first name without a second thought. And in still others, parents feel it would never be fair to give a child a name that's "used." The older siblings, if old enough to have an opinion, might love the practice—or hate it.

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Are These Sister Names Sweet or Silly?

We are expecting our second daughter soon and are struggling with a name. Our firstborn is Rylin, named from my maiden name and my husband's middle name. For the next girl, we like Taylin, but don't know if they are too close. We also like Logan and Remy. We're running out of time to decide!

–Too Close for Sisters?

"Too close" is generally a matter of personal taste. Some parents deliberately aim for a matching set, like Ethan and Nathan or Kayla and Kayden. It seems like you don't want that, though; you asked whether the names were too close, not whether they are close enough. Two names ending in –ylin do come across as a thematic set.

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Does a New Home State Mean a New Style of Baby Name?

We are looking for a name for our third son, but are feeling stuck due to our other two boys' names. They were both born in Hawaii and have Hawaiian names: Kai (meaning "ocean") and Koa ("warrior"). This baby will be born in Kansas, which is obviously not a language! We like short names with a nice meaning, but never intended to stick with "K" names, necessarily. Any ideas on a third boy name that is unique and short, and works with Koa and Kai? Thank you!

–My Three Sons

How about Kan or Kas for Kansas? Okay, just kidding. But you do have a unique dilemma: How do you maintain sibling name equity, given the big cultural switch between sibs two and three? In my opinion, you should avoid a massive style switch based just on birthplace.

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Do These Baby Names Go with the Flow?

My sons are Hunter and Tanner. I am having a third son soon and would like the baby's name to flow with theirs and not be very popular (in the top 100). What do you suggest I choose?

–My Three Sons

The idea of sibling name "flow" is a new one for me. Name flow typically applies to a single name's different components—to the smooth sound pattern of first-middle-last name combinations rather than to an easy verbal transition between three sibling names. But whether you're worried about the three brothers' names falling trippingly on your tongue or have the more common concern of wanting your kids' names to "go together"—to sound like a matched set—you've got the same major issue at stake: To –er or not to –er?

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Are These Brother Names at War with Each Other?

I have a 3-year-old son named Pax (meaning "peace"). I'm now pregnant with another son. This time around, I want a name that's simple, classic, easy to spell and recognize. I like the sound and simplicity of Mark, and how it sounds with our last name. Problem is, Mark means "warlike." So we'd have "war and peace" in our household! Big deal, or not?

–Peaceful Mama

The meanings are not a big deal. Most people don't think of Mark as meaning "warlike" for several reasons: It's too common and classic a name for anyone to recall its etymology. The meaning isn't immediately obvious, as it would be in a word name; it comes via the Roman war god, Mars. Above all, the notion that Mark truly means "warlike" isn't terribly accurate. Yes, Mark comes from the Roman name Marcus. No one really knows the origin of that name, but scholars assume it indicated a connection or dedication to Mars.

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In Search of a Sibling Name with the Right Ending

We're having trouble coming up with a name that pairs well with our son's name, Easton. Names that end in the –on sound, such as Greyson, Ashton, Hudson, etc., are not what we're looking for. Our last name begins with R, so names ending with the –er sound are also out. Suggestions?

–Easton's Mom

Many parents who are drawn to this style of name run into this problem. Today's fashionable surnames for boys almost all end in –n and –r. That gets repetitive as your family grows. And then you have the added complication of a surname starting with R.

To preserve the style of Easton but break out of the ends-with-N pattern, there are a couple of other groups of surname-style names with different ending sounds to try.

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Will Vikings Ransack My Daughters' Names?

My husband and I fell in love with the name Thora. We like that it's feminine, unique, traditional, and from his family tree. My only hesitation is that our first daughter is named Freya, which is the name of the Norse goddess of love and beauty—and Thora is the derived from the masculine Norse god Thor. I don't want people to think my husband and I are Norse mythology fanatics! Or think my daughter has a masculine name. Are those too many strikes? We had reservations about Freya too, but we're so happy we decided to choose it for our first daughter after all.

–Freya's Mom

It makes perfect sense that parents who love Freya would also be drawn to Thora—and not, as you point out, just because they face the twilight of the gods together. Both names are short and impactful, clearly feminine but full of brisk, strong sounds, and contain a mix of soft and harsh elements. They fit together beautifully without rhyming or obvious repetition. Their shared Scandinavian heritage is a point of obvious union, but no more remarkable than a pair of sisters named Francesca and Gabriella or Bernadette and Jacqueline.

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