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Naming siblings as a set?

Dear Name Lady,

I love interesting combinations of sibling names. It's so sweet to meet families with multiple children who have intriguing names that go well together. For instance, Sarah Palin caught my interest with her children's names Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.

However, when it comes to naming my own children, I have long cherished a group of sibling names, but I don't really care for some of the names when they stand alone. It seems foolish, but I can't give up the sounds of the names together, nor can I find equally suitable alternatives. Help!

- Naming in Bunches

I'm a big believer in thinking about siblings when you pick a name. The names don't have to match like a set of china, but they should be equal in the ways that count. For instance, if one child has a middle name, they all should have middle names. It's the same story with wildly creative names, family namesakes and so on. But it's possible to go too far, and you, my dear, are about to cross that line. How do I know? It's simple. You're breaking the Golden Rule of Baby Naming:

It's not your name. It's the baby's name.

Naming babies should be creative fun for parents. Never forget, though, that this isn't really about you. We parents only get to choose the names because babies are, well, babies. A newborn isn't in any position to weigh the benefits of Ella vs. Chloe. So you make choices on her behalf, trying your best to prepare her for a healthy, happy, successful life.

When you start talking about choosing names because of how they sound as a set, you're thinking too much about yourself. I understand the impulse, believe me. When you love names as I do, naming fantasy families can be irresistible. But this is your child's one and only name and she deserves the best you can give her, siblings or no siblings.

Remember that life is unpredictable. You may start out with a dream of three sons and three daughters, but end up with six sons ... or you may have a single, cherished child. So when your baby is born, celebrate that singular miracle with a name you can love for a lifetime.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

September 24, 2009 8:28 PM
By Kedens (not verified)

Well, My parents had my older sister first and named her Mollie, and then they had me and my dad spelled my name wrong on my birth certificate as Kelly (without and "ie"), and then they had Shellie my little sister. My whole life I've had to tell people that my name is different, but still sounds good with my sisters names. I like it, mostly bc I get to say it... Mollie, Kelly, Shellie.

October 4, 2009 2:13 AM
By anniebear (not verified)

I always like to say all the siblings name's together to see how they "fit". The names need to work together. Not always match, but at least have a sense of unity. I love my kids names: Skyler, Annie & Jack. I went a little more creative with my first, but then the last 2 I stayed traditional, and with my baby, I love how his name is like a period. It's short, sweet, but with all 3 together, there's a little rhythm to it.

October 6, 2009 8:14 AM
By Jennifer (not verified)

I think having some idea of future child names is important so siblings don't sound like they are completely random. Like me and my brothers names go together well him being Jason and me being Jennifer... Original, I know, but coherent none the less, we also have the same initials, which I'm not sure is on purpose... I also know that my mom wanted to name me "Snow" (my last name is white.........) so I am glad my dad spoke some reason, plus Jason and Snow don't go together too well... =D

October 29, 2009 6:54 PM
By NameLover (not verified)

It's fun to come up with Sib Sets, but just understand, it's more of a name pool than anything. I don't think you can really know the name until you see the child! And you really do want your children to have distinctive names that flow together.

Alice and Trevin aren't exactly from the same era.

November 1, 2009 10:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Huh. I'm the oldest of 4: Sara, Adam, Ian, and Christopher. There's a pretty good mix of traditional vs. unconventional, classic vs. trendy, long vs. short, easy to spell vs. complicated, easily nicknamed or not.

I think this is really only a consideration if you are planning on having 20 kids like the Duggars, or if you think you're dumb enough to accidentally name them something weird like Simon and Garfunkel or Hughie, Dewey, and Louie.

November 8, 2009 3:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I knew someone who had a family tradition of naming all their children with the begginnining letter as whatever the firstborn's was. Everyone would mix up Amy, Amanda, and Anna.

November 24, 2009 6:14 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

That's funny... one of my best friend and her sisters are carly, lesly and molly (all have the same mn).

December 13, 2009 8:31 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I come from a large family (10 kids). I am 23 and the youngest is 7 months. My parents named the first 7 of us with the same ending sound:


Then they decided to go a different path:


When I tell people our names they almost always comment on the difference. On a side note, my husband's boss and his family all have J names (Jon, Jennifer, Jacob, Jared, Jesse).

February 6, 2010 2:22 PM
By Mommy2Many (not verified)

I never set out to have matchy sibling names, but it happened. I guess because I was too stubborn to take names off the list that were already too similar. Now it really drives me insane.
I like the names seperately but as a group they are too similar. I would say Im the opposite of -"naming in bunches".

May 27, 2010 6:53 PM
By Steph (not verified)

I have two younger sisters. My first sister's name is Breenah, my parents love it and I've never met another one. Stephanie & Breenah sounded fine together but weren't matchy. When my other sister was born my parents never thought to say all of our names together and named her Hannah, after a favourite aunt. Breenah and Hannah sounding alike drives my mother nuts, and she calls them by the wrong name all the time. Just make sure you say names together and that they don't sound so much alike that you're going to be confusing them.

June 15, 2010 7:28 PM
By speed dating nyc (not verified)

As a newbie, this article was really helpful, thanks for sharing!

June 21, 2010 8:53 PM
By killer sudoku puzzles (not verified)

its not sudoku though it see slike it, naming children is not as easy as one might think, takes a lot of thought

September 10, 2010 7:27 PM
By Palindrome (not verified)

As a very pentecostal child of the nineties, I grew up listening to a up-and-coming gospel group, the Katina Brothers. Their names were Joe, John, James, Jesse, and...Sam. The kicker? Sam was the oldest. Even at six I thought it was hilarious and couldn't believe a parent would allow one kid to be so isolated from his siblings.

January 6, 2011 4:48 AM
By Disater (not verified)

Thank you for your nice article. There are many useful information.

January 8, 2011 8:07 PM
By make your own beats (not verified)

Just chose the name that you like and don't spend a long time thinking just make your choice once forever nd yoiu will not regret it.

January 13, 2011 3:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Your view is definitely something Id like to see more of. Thanks for this blog. Its fantastic and so is what youve got to say.You make a great point.

January 14, 2011 4:53 AM
By sit up bar (not verified)

thanks for this nice article, may be naming babies be creative fun for parents, but a funny name would really affect the kids happy succesful life

January 22, 2011 1:29 AM
By low fee payday loan (not verified)

Proud to be that i have gained some knowledge by reading the informative post.I was searching the net and finally i ended up in the nice post.

February 14, 2011 2:42 AM
By Maria Koh (not verified)

Establishing a name from siblings can be an awesome idea. How about names from your grandparents? My little nephew got hi name from his grandfather.

May 19, 2011 9:31 PM
By Breville (not verified)

My girlfriend and I named our daughter Lily and since then it seems everybody we run has a Lily or knows a Lily. If we do have another girl we may do a name like Rose or something.

June 22, 2011 6:26 PM
By Alicia (not verified)

I grew up down the street from a family with 4 boys, Eric Michael, Michael Brett... and then I forget Brett's middle name because it wasn't Zack, the youngest's first name. It seemed so weird to me, even as a kid, that they broke the pattern (it was a weird pattern anyway, but I'm the logical type).

Although it doesn't seem to bother them, it also always bothered me that my father Michael had siblings Maureen, Patricia and Matthew. Patricia breaks up to M pattern nicely, but I always felt bad for Aunt Pat being the only P.

August 10, 2011 7:41 PM
By gregory hudsen (not verified)

I guess I have to start to check my credit rating and have some debt consolidation advice now that I am having a baby. I know it is not easy to start a family now a days. With another recession on our feet we will think again.

May 9, 2012 3:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My brother-in-law's family are (parents) Jim and Joyce, then 3 boys, James, Donald and John. I always thought it was weird and felt bad for Don He was the only non-J!

May 21, 2012 11:50 PM
By Chrome Dividers (not verified)

Iwant a boyish name for my coming girl child.

July 24, 2012 1:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't like the same first letter used for ever kid. I do like the names to go together and make sense when you say them.

I love the names:

& Elijah


September 8, 2012 6:52 AM
By Car Broker Brisbane (not verified)

I named my baby boy summer and my little girl Rain. Pretty cool weather isn't it?

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