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Do My Relatives Own This Letter?

My husband and I have picked the name Matilyn for our daughter. The problem is that four of our nieces on one side of the family have names beginning with the same letter: Macy, Mckenzi, Malia and Melinda. I do not think the names are too similar, but thought I would ask for others' opinions. What do you think?
- Anonymous

You've entered a fascinatingly murky realm of name "dibs." If one of your nieces were named, say, Madalyn, then her parents could quite reasonably expect Matilyn to be off-limits for a cousin.  But can one branch of a family rope off an entire letter of the alphabet with a "no tresspassing" sign? And does adding a fifth M girl to the family put you in the running with the headline-grabbing Duggars and their 20 J-named kids?

I'm happy to reassure you that your name choice isn't tabloid fodder—and not only because you'd need fifteen more children to give the Duggars a run for their money.

First off, cousin-name sets aren't sibling sets. Siblings’ names appear together on school rosters, holiday card signatures, and playground roll calls. Unless your neices live in the neighborhood, any confusion should be limited. Second, all initials aren't created equal. M is one of the most popular name initials of the past century, from Mary and Martha to Madison and Miley. Five cousins with names beginning with X would raise eyebrows, but the letter M doesn't leap out at you the same way.

Finally, you didn't mention whether there are any other cousins in the family, or if you hope to have any more children. Add a couple of L-, S-, or J- names in the mix and nobody's likely to notice one more M.

So your name choice doesn't strike me as inappropriate, if that's your concern.  Sharing the same first initial could even be a special bond among the cousins.  If your real worry is that the name won't stand out within the family, or will get mixed up with all the other M girls, then yes, that's likely to happen. But if you can cut the grandparents some slack on the occasional name slip-up, feel free to go with the name you love.


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

July 31, 2012 9:34 AM
By Martha (not verified)

This has kind of happened in our lives with the first initial A! Many members of our family, including my husband's sister, two of my cousins, and one of his cousins have had children within a year of our son whose names start with the letter A like our son. We jokingly call them the "A" team and it has never been an issue. They see each other a few times a year.

July 31, 2012 10:59 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

No, it doesn't matter that several nieces have names with the same first letter. This is not an issue and of course no one owns or has "dibs" on one letter!

July 31, 2012 12:59 PM
By Nephialynn (not verified)

I come from a very traditional LDS family, and amgonst my family of 12 and 21 cousins, there were 3 Joseph's, 4 Nephi's, 2 Moroni's, and 4 Brigham's. Also, several of my brother's middle names are Nephi. Names aren't owned by anyone.

July 31, 2012 2:47 PM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

I don't see any problem here. The only potential issue I see with multiple cousins with the same first initial would be difficulty for someone trying to think of one girl's name on the fly, and that problem is already out there with four Ms. Plus, it doesn't seem like any of the cousins have names that would be shortened to anything like Maddie, so you're in the clear.

July 31, 2012 3:26 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

We have the same issue in my extended family. Lots of "A" names and "M" names. It just happens. And my MIL named all of her kids with "R" names - on purpose. Name your child what you love and everyone else will love your child, as well as the name, too.

July 31, 2012 3:54 PM
By ClaireP (not verified)

I knew a family in which the parents deliberately gave their kids "M" names. Two of the kids eventually changed to nicknames (example - from McKenzie to Kenzie). Just goes to show that ultimately you don't have control over such things in the first place.

July 31, 2012 4:08 PM
By Aniela (not verified)

Using the same first initial as cousins is not a problem. Using as terrible a name as Matilyn is.

July 31, 2012 4:33 PM
By JennaJ (not verified)

It doesn't really matter, unless they have the same last name and live in the same town. Even then, Marilyn is a great name and it's nice to see it coming back into fashion.

August 1, 2012 6:36 AM
By M E Foley (not verified)

I'd be concerned about what would happen if you have a second child and then do not give her an M name. How is little Jaycie going to feel when all the other cousins *and* her big sister are part of the M-club, and she's the odd one out?

August 1, 2012 12:47 PM
By Julia (not verified)

What Aniela said. Are Madeline and Matilda too highbrow or something?

August 2, 2012 1:55 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Is Matilyn the actual name you're considering or did you just misspell Marilyn? If it's the former, I'm sorry, but I really hope it's the later. What a strange name.

August 2, 2012 10:21 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I thought the same exact thing! That poor child.

August 2, 2012 1:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Eh, Matilyn seems fine to me. Seems like they just want to ensure the "t" sound in the name, unlike Madeline. I've seen much worse.

August 3, 2012 2:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

What Aniela said made water snort out my nose. perfect!

August 6, 2012 8:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The name IS Matilyn. No mispelling here. I have always loved the name and the t and the nickname Mati (instead of madi,maddy, maddie etc) is very intentional to honor a family member.

August 6, 2012 9:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

How about you change YOUR name to Matilyn and give your daughter your current name? If someone is going to be saddled with "Matilyn" it should at least be self-inflicted.

Not willing to do that? At least try making reservations at a few different restaurants and hotels with that name. Order coffee as Matilyn. Introduce yourself to strangers as Matilyn. Spend a few weeks experiencing the daily inconveniences you'd so blithely subject your daughter to. Then go with Matilda.

August 7, 2012 3:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think it's a great name, especially if it holds family/sentimental value for you. I don't think your daughter will be upset or inconvenienced by it.

August 15, 2012 11:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The problem in the name lies in the harsh pronunciation. Try saying "MaTilyn" instead of "Madeline". Something like "Matilda" works, because it's followed by an "i" sound that you draw out longer into the "l". Just trying to pronounce "Matilyn" feels rocky and rough. Likely, your daughter (and people) will go around pronouncing it "Madeline" with a 'd' sound where the 't' is. Yet she's saddled with the spelling "matilyn". It's just silly. There are other ways to honor family members.

September 26, 2012 12:13 PM
By Bookworm134 (not verified)

Don't listen to these people...I think Matilyn is a beautiful name! I thought so when I read it up at the top of the page also. It is just new enough not to get lost in the crowd but still old world sounding enough to be comfortable. And I love the nickname Mati! So cute for a girl...

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