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Are These Names Too Close for Twins?

I am an expectant mother of twin girls and I have been toying with the idea to give them matching names. The names I like best are Elodie and Edolie. The name Edolie is even more special because it is the middle name of one of my best friends. My husband is worried it may be confusing, and a friend mentioned that twins having matching names could end up sounding lame. Is it a bad idea to give my twins matching names, especially when they're as similar as Elodie and Edolie?

-- Mother of Two

There's nothing wrong with choosing sibling names that make a set. In fact, many parents --and especially parents of twins -- seek out names that "match" in one way or another, a kind of not-so-secret code that says, "these kids go together."

But as in all style matching, it's possible to overdo it. Pants that pick up a color in the pattern of your sweater? That's a match. Pants and sweater in the same hunter plaid? That pushes matching over the line.

If you're wondering whether the names you like match too closely, here are some questions to ask yourself. Are other people likely to get the two names mixed up? If you holler upstairs to one child, will your kids be able to tell who you're asking for? Do the names require one another to make their impact, or do you love each one on its own? Does it feel like you gave each child a distinct identity?

Some over-matches to watch out for:

Shared roots. Isabel and Isabella, Mary and Marie, Andrew and Anderson.

Rhymes. Stella and Ella, Kay and May, Payton and Dayton. 

Gimmicks. Jack and Jill, Summer and Winter, Elvis and Presley.

Tongue Twisters. Bryan and Byron, Kirsten and Kristen...and yes, Elodie and Edolie. I'm sorry.

Each name is fine independently.  But as a pair of twins, they're just too much. As your husband correctly points out, while Elodie and Edolie are separate names, they are so close as to cause confusion, failing the mix-up test and the holler test.

Twins, especially identical twins, grow up sharing so much. People will inevitably treat them as a set, and maybe even have a hard time telling them apart. I'm sure you don't want your daughters to seem interchangeable.  Let each twin have her own unique name: one that stands apart from her sister's, even if it "matches."

If you like the idea of twin names having a special connection, there are plenty of ways to find themes. You can choose names with related meanings or origins, like gemstones or biblical prophets. You can find pairs with the same initial or rhythm. Or you can even use anagrams like Elodie and Edolie, if they're not too close. In the past, I've given my seal of approval to the anagrammed twin set Alice and Celia. ( also has a list of reverse-spelling names like Aidan and Nadia.)

But if your choice was more about your love for the name Edolie and its special meaning for you, go ahead and give it to one of your twins.  Then find another name that you love just as much, with its own special meaning, for her sister.


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

March 19, 2012 8:35 AM
By Kayt (not verified)

I think they're too close for first names, but what about using one as a first name and one as a middle name? Or maybe using them both as middle names. It would still allow you to use the names you like, but not be as confusing.

March 19, 2012 8:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Dorothea and Theodora

March 19, 2012 9:08 AM
By British American (not verified)

Way too close! How about using them in the middle spot instead?

March 19, 2012 9:21 AM
By Sarah (not verified)

I have a friend with non twin boys named Ian and Aidan and I am forever saying the wrong name by accident. I like Kayt's suggestion to make one a middle name instead.

March 19, 2012 9:38 AM
By kateliz (not verified)

It's an awful idea to use what appears to be a simple misspelling of one name as the name of the other. Give them their own distinct names, people will have enough trouble just trying to remember which person is which.

March 19, 2012 10:03 AM
By starrynight (not verified)

These are way too close. Case in point: As I read the question, I thought you wanted to name your daughters Elodie and Elodie. Yes, I thought you were asking whether you should give your daughters the exact same name.

Take the Name Lady's advice and give more distinct names to your daughters. I like the idea of finding two different names that have the same meaning.

March 19, 2012 10:48 AM
By Devin (not verified)

I actually had to squint at the page to spot the difference between these two names. They're both nice, but I think it would be confusing on a set of twins. I like the idea of using one as a middle name. You could match first name to middle name on both girls. For example Edolie Caitlyn and Catherine Elodie.
That way, they match. You know they match, but people aren't overwhelmed by it. And b/c it isn't in your face matching, it can be something special, and slightly more private that your daughters can share.

March 19, 2012 11:15 AM
By mk (not verified)

Please do not give them matching names!! It's hard enough for twins to get people to recognize them as individuals. Don't make it even harder for them. Edolie and Elodie are way too close. Like some of the other posters, I thought you were asking if you could give them the same name, that's how close they are. People are going to constantly call them the wrong name or even think you gave them the same name.

If you must use these names, use them as a middle name. But I think you should just give one twin the name Edolie since that has meaning for you, and find an entirely different name for the other twin.

March 19, 2012 12:28 PM
By Cecily's mom (not verified)

They are both beautiful names but far to similar both in spelling and speech. I once worked with twins who's names were very similar. I didn't dare call them by name for a long time for fear I would have it wrong, and I'm usually pretty good with names and faces.

If it were me, I would choose the one that is the most special and then keep looking for something else that I loved. Good luck and congratulations.

March 19, 2012 12:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Way too close. Elodie is a lovely name; Edolie looks like a typo for it. I'd keep Elodie, and find something just as lovely and distinctive for her sister.

March 19, 2012 1:33 PM
By Susan (not verified)

Edolie and Lydia for first names or Isabel Elodie and India Edolie (or something like that if matching initials are important to you).

March 19, 2012 1:58 PM
By Susan (not verified)

As a twin, I can attest that, as mk pointed out, it's hard enough for twins to find their individuality without having extremely similar names. My parents chose names for my sister and me that are distinctly different, but not so different that they seem incongruous, and I'm eternally grateful for that. Even names that are less similar than Elodie and Edolie could pose problems for your twins when they get older.

I think this can be hard for non-twins to understand. For people who didn't struggle to distinguish themselves from a twin, the idea of twins with matching names, matching outfits, etc. seem charming, especially applied to small children. But it's important to keep in mind that your babies will one day be adults who, if they are to be happy and well-adjusted, will have to find their own sense of self independent from their twin. Names can play such an important role in building one's identity, so the right naming strategy can set up your twins for a greater chance of success or can hinder their efforts.

March 19, 2012 2:31 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

All you have to do is spend a day saying that name the dozens or hundreds of times you'll have to use each name ever single day once they are born, and you'll realize what a bad idea this is.

Elodie! Edolle! Dinner time!

Edolle, did you see where Elodie put her library book?

Elodie can't make it to piano this afternoon because I have to take Edolle to the dentist.

Edolle, you leave Elodie alone!

Now Elodie, this is Edolle's sippy cup.

And that's assuming your children will magically be able to pronounce their own names correctly as toddlers. My daughter's name, similar to Elodie, mixes up the consanants ALL THE TIME, and we expect that to continue for a year or more. THat's how speech works. Imagine if mixing up the consanants gives you your sibling's name instead.

And on and on. You do not want this tongue twister in your life, and you don't want ot force it on anyone else either, especially your children.

March 19, 2012 3:51 PM
By lothelena (not verified)

I have twins. Please don't do this, if they're identical it will be even worse. My twins have totally non matching names and you still say the wrong one. You'll drive yourself mad and friends and family will have a terrible time figuring out who's who. If you like the combo, do middle names or one middle and one first.

March 19, 2012 7:10 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

I had to re-read the names because I thought they were the same at first.

As a twin, my advice is to give different names. My sister and I have completely different names and people still get our names mixed up because they seem to find it difficult to tell which name went with which twin.

I like the idea of names along the same theme (flowers for example) but which sound completely different.

March 19, 2012 7:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Do you like any variants of Elle/Eleanore and Edie/Edith - that would give you Ellie and Edie which are still over-close in my mind but at least easier to distinguish and nearly the same as Elodie/Edolie.

Melody and Eden
Eloise and Melody

March 19, 2012 10:36 PM
By Jan (not verified)

I think you could use Elodie and Edolie as middle names. But for a first name I would go with Elodie and something else...I like the suggestion of Eden..maybe something like Isla, or a French name i.e. Camille?

March 19, 2012 11:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Please don't do this. It's an awful idea. Use them as middle names if you must use both.

March 20, 2012 2:31 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Use one of them for the first name of twin A, and the other for the middle name of twin B. You can even make a more "subtle" match by doing the same with the moddle name of twin A/first name of twin B (either the same of same root name.) For examnple, say you liked Lauren as a first name, you could have Elodie Lauren and Laura Edolie. Still connected, but not so glaringly as before.

March 20, 2012 11:54 AM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

I have non-twin nieces named Ofelia and Odelia. I can never remember which is which. I also have a cousin whose non-twin daughters are named Melissa and Carissa. I also can never remember which is which. It sounds cute to name babies matching names, but when they're grown it will be much harder for them - and the folks who know them.

March 20, 2012 11:55 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I had to read the question three times because I kept seeing "Elodie and Elodie!" I think those names are both lovely, but they're way too similar.

March 20, 2012 11:58 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

As the mother of adult fraternal twin daughters, I totally agree that this is a bad idea. Let them have separate identities from day is so important! My daughters literally gag when they hear of cutesy/rhyming/too similar twin names!

March 20, 2012 12:03 PM
By Paula (not verified)

I work with someone who has dyslexia, and should your daughters wind up with this condition, or come in contact with someone who has it, you will have created a nightmare if you use these names!!!! Dyslexia affects the way a person's brain processes written or printed characters, and transposing letters and numbers is a common mistake dyslexics make. Also, as unusual as these names are (I'll have to admit I'd never heard of either name!), I could EASILY see, for example, their school believing they are one and the same person and getting their records extremely mixed up! Please make more of a distinction and make sure that whatever names they are called are different enough to avoid confusion!!!

March 20, 2012 12:05 PM
By Julie (not verified)

I'm not a twin, but the holler test is an incredibly important one. My sister's name is Emilie, and while Julie and Emilie aren't particularly close to sounding alike, they both end in a "lee". This caused confusion constantly as we grew up. Often all we would hear when mom called was the last syllable of the name.

March 20, 2012 12:11 PM
By Jenn (not verified)

I agree with everyone's comments here - they're both lovely names, but as someone who swore that I would never mix up my kids' names when I was calling from them (much less mixing their names up with the dog's??), I'm here to tell you that even YOU will mix up their names. Don't do this to them, don't do this to their friends and teachers, don't do this to yourself. I know it sounds like a really cute idea now, but it won't be cute once what's done is done.

March 20, 2012 12:28 PM
By Sara A. (not verified)

When I was in high school there were identical twins named Jessica and Jennifer. I could never tell them apart because I could never make a distinct impression on either name or either girl. I always had at least one class with one of them and it never stuck with me that I had science with Jennifer and English with Jessica.

March 20, 2012 12:43 PM
By Mama2Clara (not verified)

Mine are Clara and Caleb, non twin, but have names that begin with the same letter,and I get them confused...If you must use both, use the one you cherish the most for a first name and the other for a mn, like pp suggested. Or use both as mn. Good luck.

March 20, 2012 12:50 PM
By almk42 (not verified)

I like the suggestion of using them as middle names, but I agree that they are too close to use as first names. As a teacher, if I had your girls in the same class I would forever be confusing their papers and grades and attendance just because it's easy for the eye too transpose the letters.

March 20, 2012 1:41 PM
By Rayne of Terror (not verified)

I am a twin and feel strongly that twins shouldn't even have matching initials. Matching names leads to many many administrative screw ups down the road in school.

March 20, 2012 2:35 PM
By Corhea (not verified)

I agree with the other comments that these names are way too similar to use as first names. Like many others, I had to look very closely to make sure it wasn't the same name written twice! I think the "holler test" is one of the most important things to consider in this situation... these names do NOT pass the test. How about something that doesn't match at all?
Elodie and Adelaide
Elodie and Adalie (still matchy but not it the way that it looks like a typo)
Elodie and Cecily
Elodie and Isla
Elodie and Rosalie

March 20, 2012 2:57 PM
By With an E (not verified)

I can't even figure out the pronunciation of either of the names--Elodie like Melody? Eee-low-die? eddy-lee? No no no.

March 20, 2012 4:33 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Adding to the chorus: the names are too close. My husband and his twin have very similar names, and they have received official documents that were meant for the other - Social Security statements, etc. They will have similar SSNs, same birthdate, initials, address, etc. It's very, very confusing. Please don't do that to them. Please put them first!

March 20, 2012 7:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

But if your choice was more about your love for the name Edolie and its special meaning for you, go ahead and give it to one of your twins. Then find another name that you love just as much, with its own special meaning, for her sister.

Amen, sister.

March 20, 2012 7:08 PM
By DivaMomCarol (not verified)

Simplest Answer - YES, they are too close. Sorry...I think the holler test and the administrative nightmare test have failed with these names being so similar in spelling and pronunciation. Sounds like you really only LOVE one of the names and the other is just kinda will you decide which one gets which name...see..already you're playing Favorites! Good Luck!

March 20, 2012 9:31 PM
By Brandi (not verified)

My sister and I are two years apart, and we STILL spent the first 20 years of our lives both answering to Brandi or Brianne, because no one could keep us straight. As adults, we 'share' fewer people, and we're a lot more individual than when we were kids, so it's less of an issue now - but it was relatively annoying and sometimes gave my insecure adolescent mind the feeling that "people don't even care enough to learn my name". Even my dad used to call us both "Birdy" - we didn't find out until very recently that it was because he had trouble keeping our names straight. Haha! Also, as weird as life is - I wound up marrying a Brian. And while we do go by '2 Bs' to some, we have vowed to never name a kid anything that starts with B...

March 21, 2012 2:26 AM
By nedibes (not verified)

I asked my nine year-old twins (b/g) if they would have liked to have more "matchy" names; they said immediately and vehemently NO. My daughter added "everyone knows we're twins, so why would we need special twin names?"

Overall, I have heard many stories (first and second/third-hand) of twins who wished they had less similar names, but few if any who wished their names were more thematic.

If you do have to have a theme, go with something less obvious like Celia and Alice or Selene and Aurora. DO NOT go with matching initials--as another poster said, having the same DOB, same last name, and sequential SS#s is hard enough--adding the same first initial is just begging for trouble.

For this reason I would also be leery of the First-Middle/Middle-First suggestions offered above (ie. Edolie Breanne and Brenna Elodie), as tempting as they may be. In daily life it might not be confusing, but it could easily lead to bureaucratic identity nightmares.

And it really does bear repeating--very few twins want their personal identities to be inextricably tied up with their twin-ness. If you can start right now thinking of them as individuals rather than a unit you will be doing them a great favor. They do share a special relationship, which they will have to work out between themselves (with your help), and if you find two names you love which reflect this complex bond that's great. Just don't try to pound two pegs of as-yet-undetermined shape into one RomulusandRemus hole.

Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting multiples!

March 21, 2012 10:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Ellica and Edolie? Melodie and Edolie? Eloise and Edolie?

March 21, 2012 3:40 PM
By Heba (not verified)

What about Odelia to go with Edolie or Elodie (I like Elodie better)?

They're still close enough that it will probably be confusing, but it's better than starting with the same letter and they are almost anagrams of each other, which you seem to like.

They also don't rhyme which I think helps to make them less confusing. And they could have pretty different nicknames like
Lia and Elle or Delia and Lodi.

Congratulations :)

March 22, 2012 12:42 AM
By jomo (not verified)

If you do go with Elodie/Edolie, extended family, classmates, and friends may nickname them as a survival skill for keeping them straight--maybe Ellie & Ed or Eddy. If you really love the full names, then I suggest you pick one and don't make it compete with the other.

March 23, 2012 6:00 PM
By elleireland (not verified)

Twins shouldn't even share the same first initial. I grew up with a Merrily and Merrilyn and it was too much, only one letter differentiated them.

You could END with the same sound. Amelie, Ainsley, Celie, Sari, Ivy, Clary, Jolie, Chloe, Delaney.....lots of choices there.

They will be beautiful! You are so blessed.

March 26, 2012 12:01 PM
By Beth (not verified)

My friend has younger twin brothers named Brendan and Brandon. It is terribly confusing.

March 26, 2012 6:30 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The human mind is known to read words as a whole as long as the first and last letter are not changed. Because I saw Elodie first I automatically read the second name as Elodie as well. Imagine your daughters are applying for college at the same school and those reviewing it read Elodie's application first. Upon reading Edolies application they think its the same person and group her scores together. This is just a random example but I for see a lot of mix ups in the future with two names so close like that

March 26, 2012 8:21 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

At my kid's school are identical twin girls named @NALISE and @MARISE. (Obviously the @ is an A.) That isn't even as matchy as your suggested names, and yet I can't remember which name goes with which girl.

I can understand the temptation, but in practice it just isn't viable.

March 27, 2012 11:56 AM
By Paula (not verified)

No doubt the Jessica and Jennifer problem was most likely compounded by the fact that they had the two most popular female names in America for a number of years! Betcha they were in classes with LOTS of other Jessicas and Jennifers!!!

March 27, 2012 12:01 PM
By Paula (not verified)

I wondered the same thing! How DO you pronounce Elodie and Edolie? EL-o-dee, EE-lode-ee, E-LODE-ee, or E-LOD-ee? ED-dole-ee, EE-dole-ee, E-DOLE-ee, or E-DOLL-ee? Never heard of either name before reading this column!

March 27, 2012 12:04 PM
By Brenna (not verified)

You could make it Edolie and Melody, so there were similar sounds still, but different spellings (and different nicknames, eventually).

March 27, 2012 3:33 PM
By Genie (not verified)

Those names are *way* too close. I had to look a second & then a third time before I realized the two names weren't identical. Sorry!

March 27, 2012 8:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Elodie is pronounced as El-oh-dee (like Melody without the M):

Edolie, I assume is Ed-oh-lee.

I think Edolie and Melody are still too close.

March 28, 2012 6:56 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Elodie is so close to edolie that you could infact say that elodie was named in honor of your friend Edolie. I love names that go together but not in a so obviously matchy sort of way.

As a mother or twins. I researched and experimented a lot with names that go together.

My favourites are Coralie and Lorelei. Miranda and Sabrina. (I ended up having a boy and girl).

I absolutely love the name Elodie. I would pick another french name so they "match". There are some absolutely lovely ones.

Elodie and Adeline (even Madeline)
Elodie and Eloise
Elodie and Lilou
Elodie and Charlotte

I think you are onto a great start.

March 31, 2012 3:21 AM
By Bar (not verified)

Elodie is a French name (it rhymes with melody), not so frequent, but certainly not uncommon in France. I've never heard of Edolie, but I love it.

A friend of mine told me once about non-twin sisters named - each after one grandmother - Cady (kay-dee; short for Acadia if I remember it correctly) and Catherine. They nicknamed the second daughter Cathy, but as she started school, the children started to call her Katie, and she preferred it, too. Luckily enough it was in England, not the USA, so the pronunciation was not so close, but still it caused a loooot of confusion.

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