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Can I Give My Daughters the "Same" Name?

My two-year-old daughter's name is Elizabeth. Since Isabella is the Spanish version of the name Elizabeth, should I not name my new baby Isabella? The two names sound and look completely different to me, but will this create a lifelong problem for my two daughters? - Isabella Lover

Don't we all create lifelong problems for our children? Luckily, choosing the names Elizabeth and Isabella ranks low on the scale of Ways To Give Your Kids Complexes. I'd say it comes in just above making them wait until high school to get their ears pierced.

That's not to say I'd recommend it. I've weighed in against other close sibling pairings, like naming John's little brother Jack. Sibling rivalry can be a powerful thing. and discovering that you and your sister have variations of the same name could strike some uncomfortable chords. With so many names in the world, why risk it?

On the other hand, as you point out, Elizabeth and Isabella look and sound very different. And unlike John and Jack, neither is a nickname of the other. You can also give the girls some extra personal space with distinctive nicknames like like Liza and Bella, rather than Lizzie and Izzie. So while the pair wouldn't be my first (or second) choice, I doubt that your daughters will suffer identity crises.

Part of parenting is giving your children positive emotional tools to negotiate the world. I think it's a good sign that you're already considering the potential implications of your name choice. Tackle this head on. Make it clear that you chose each name because it was beautiful and you loved it on its own, but don't try to hide the connection. Call it a secret bond for your daughters to share.

That positive attitude will be important in facing down another challenge, too: name-knowledgeable busybodies pointing out to you that your daughters "have the same name." Don't rise to the bait and get defensive. Respond with your warmest smile, and explain that the names are simply lovely relations. "They started with the same roots but grew into two complete individuals -- just as siblings do!"

Comments

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October 25, 2010 11:36 AM
By anon (not verified)

Would you do something like this for twins though?

Would twin girls Mary & Molly be terrible, as Molly is a nickname of Mary? Or perhaps Maggie & Daisy (both from Margaret)?

October 26, 2010 1:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am not a big fan of naming siblings variations on the same name. I know too many brothers named Sean and John and brother/sister combos named Michael and Michelle. Those are more obvious pairings than Elizabeth and Isabella, though.

I'm sure you already know this, but Isabella is a super trendy name right now and not only would your Isabella share the same name as her sister, but she'd most likely end up sharing it with many other girls in school.

As for Maggie and Daisy, I think most people would assume that Daisy came from the flower name and wouldn't associate it with Margaret.

October 26, 2010 4:52 PM
By mc82 (not verified)

I've known multiple families with Stephens and Stephanies, Christophers and Christinas, and even a Taylor/Tyler sibling duo. Elizabeth and Isabella seem worlds apart to me, and in no way make me think of a Stephen/Stephanie duo. I think you're fine.

October 26, 2010 4:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Really I don't see what the big deal is with naming your daughters Elizabeth & Isabella. So they have the same meaning, so what? There are lots of names out there with the same or very similar meaning. I think the names are different enough that it wouldn't be an issue. I think it could actually be an unspoken bond between sisters and if you like both names I say go with it!

October 26, 2010 5:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think they are actually a nice pairing. And as far as Isabella being "trendy--that really just means it's a name a lot of people like. Is that really such a terrible thing? I work with 7 Jennifers, all of them lovely, unique, interesting people who live successful lives despite their trendy names. Pick the names you love--the names that mean something to you. If anyone else seriously thinks less of you or your kids because of their names, then they have some major problems! :)

October 26, 2010 8:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think they are fine together. I prefer Isabel a bit more than Isabella -- but go with what you love, I say! ... :o)

October 26, 2010 8:47 PM
By Katsy (not verified)

My mother would say no way, but in this time I don't think it's really that big of a problem. I don't think I would do this, but I honestly see no problem in it. I actually think it's a nice pair!

October 26, 2010 11:50 PM
By Lisa O (not verified)

My first name is Lisa and my sister's middle name is Elizabeth. My mom didn't give it a second thought. When my sister had a little girl her middle name was Isabel and it works because it's related to both Elizabeth and Lisa. 2 birds with one stone! I'm not really one for matchy names but Elizabeth offers so many diverse variations I think it's an exception to the rule!

October 28, 2010 8:12 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

As someone with a trendy name, I have always had to deal be called by my first name and last initial. It was annoying to be one of "The Sues."

I like your name choices! I think they're pretty and they go together nicely.

October 28, 2010 1:37 PM
By chelbel (not verified)

The question didn't ask about how wise it is to give a child a popular name; it asked about giving names to siblings that were of the same derivation.

I think there are three conditions that should be fulfilled when considering names of the same derivation: (1) The names must be considered names one would give in their own right, not nickname names (like Katie or Maggie, whom everyone would assume are Katherine and Margaret whether they are or not); (2) they must not be nicknames of each other (like Jack and John, which pass test #1 but fail test #2, as Jack is a known and used nickname for John as well as being a name in its own right); and (3) they must have their own unique sound (so Michael and Michelle or Stephen and Stephanie, while passing tests #1 and #2, sound too similar).

Based on these three principles, Elizabeth and Isabella are a fine pairing.

October 28, 2010 3:24 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

I think Elizabeth and Isabella are quite beautiful together. They share a sweet sound and make a nice pair, while being able to stand on their own as unique names.

I also think the ending "a" on Isabella differentiates the name from Elizabeth slightly, giving it a younger, more Latin flair than the traditional sound of Elizabeth. Isabelle with an "e" also paris nicely, but seems closer, more derivative to me.

October 28, 2010 9:12 PM
By joye (not verified)

I'd be more worried about daughter #3, if she ever should come along. Either you dig up another form of Elizabeth, or she's the odd girl out.

October 29, 2010 3:03 PM
By Lisa O (not verified)

@Joye- That's an excellent point! I had a little girl Nadia and when I found out I was having a boy I seriously thought about Aidan since they'd be anagrams, but then what would baby #3 do? You don't want an odd man out. I guess it depends if you're done having kids!

October 29, 2010 9:51 PM
By Janelle (not verified)

Joye and Lisa, good point on what to do with Baby #3, but I have your answer:
Liesl. Sounds nothing like the other two, is a recognized name itself, and even begins with a different letter!

As for the Aidan/Nadia problem, I'd like to recommend Diana. Or, perhaps for a boy you could stretch and try Daani? :)

October 30, 2010 6:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Hee! Janelle, you're right on the money. There are so many different members of the "Elizabeth" set of names that it could probably accommodate an entire family.

As an aside, I've always thought the original Hebrew version - Elisheva - was the loveliest.

November 1, 2010 9:59 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

After reading this I have to share the choice a co-worker made in naming her four children. Their names are Alexus, Alexander, Alexandria, Alexavier. When asked why she did this, she responds that when she wants all four children to come, she can just yell "Alex!" When asked what she calls when she just wants one of them, she'll tell you "that's easy, I just call them by their last name."

November 2, 2010 12:30 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Nobody will even know that those two names have anything in common, so I think you're totally fine there. In fact, it'll be an interesting fact to tell people. I think you should name your daughter that just because of that. Besides, if that's a name you love and one that sounds so good with the other name, there's really nothing stopping you. If you decided not to tell anyone that the two names mean the same, it'll be as though they don't because nobody will know any different.

November 2, 2010 12:57 PM
By You Can't Call It "It"! (not verified)

I'm on Team Go-With-Something-Different, ESPECIALLY considering the fierce popularity of Isabella.

May I suggest:

Calista
Cecilia
Isadora
Julianna
Juliet
Louisa
Lydia
Octavia
Ophelia
Mariella
Mirabel
Theodora
Sabina
Sylvia

November 9, 2010 12:46 PM
By PiiNK (not verified)

My sister and I have the same name meaning. I'm Jill and she's Julie, which both mean down-bearded youth (or youthful heart from some sources) When I first realized this, I confronted my mother and she said that she was unaware of their meanings and just liked the names.

November 9, 2010 12:46 PM
By PiiNK (not verified)

My sister and I have the same name meaning. I'm Jill and she's Julie, which both mean down-bearded youth (or youthful heart from some sources) When I first realized this, I confronted my mother and she said that she was unaware of their meanings and just liked the names.

November 9, 2010 12:46 PM
By PiiNK (not verified)

My sister and I have the same name meaning. I'm Jill and she's Julie, which both mean down-bearded youth (or youthful heart from some sources) When I first realized this, I confronted my mother and she said that she was unaware of their meanings and just liked the names.

November 10, 2010 5:50 PM
By Cecily's Mom (not verified)

Dear Isabella Lover,

"They started with the same roots but grew into two complete individuals -- just as siblings do!"

This would be a great thing to say to inquiring minds.

Do we really know which came first? Elizabeth and Isabella are both fabulous names.

Sometime ago I read a comment on this blog stating that the writer had a friend who named her 1st daughter Ella and the 2nd Alle: this is an inferiority complex waiting to happen.

As long as your girls know that you chose each name because of a love of each individual name and not just because you liked one first and wanted a copy for the other.

Good luck!

November 10, 2010 7:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know identical twins called Sean and Shane and all I can think is that the parents aren't smart enough to know that these are variations on the same name!

December 7, 2010 8:09 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with 11/10 comment on thinking the parents are not smart enough to realize they're the same root. I knew siblings named John and Shawna, and I never bothered to ask if the parents "knew" and might have intended it as something special...I just assumed they were too dumb to notice or research their kids' names. So while in theory the explanation that "they started with the same roots but grew into two complete individuals -- just as siblings do!" seems nice, most people will just assume you missed the connecation and giggle behind your back.

March 1, 2011 1:39 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

i love both names, but just think of the nicknames too....lizzy and izzy? it could happen .....would u be okay with that or would it be too confusing? I love both names though

November 15, 2014 10:56 PM
By Ky-Lara (not verified)

How about Arabella instead of Isabella? Similar sound, non-matchy and DEFINITELY not as popular. :) I think it is a pretty name.

Good luck with whatever you do, I think they are fine together but would be put off by the popularity issue. Would not hesitate based on same derivation. MANY people will not "get it" at all. :)

November 16, 2014 11:46 PM
By Chrispy (not verified)

I would agree with the folks that think that others would be snickering behind their backs if I didn't constantly come across people who have no idea what their own name means or what their child's name means. Usually they don't seem to car much either.

I think Elizabeth and Isabella are fine. I probably wouldn't use them myself because I couldn't un-know that the two names are variations on a theme.

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