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Are These Twin Names Too Much Alike?

My husband and I view family namesakes as very important. Grandmothers Ellen and Norma made Eleanor an easy choice for our first daughter, with my husband's late sister filling in the middle name. I'm now expecting twin boys, and I could so easily name them after our fathers. My dad is Eli and my father-in-law is Sylvester; he goes by Sy or Syl.

Early on, I said we'd name the boys Silas and Elias and that was that. Then I got told by several people they were too similar. While they certainly are, I don't know if they rise to the level of "matchy" the way Iris and Lily or Holden and Hayden would—and they are named after their grandfathers! Am I wrong here? Should I pick new names? For the record, the grandfathers both approve.

–Twin Trap

I often hear from worried parents-to-be about matchy twin names. While sibling pairings are frequently a concern too, having twins seems to up the ante (and the stress level) even more. As in many of these cases, your pair is borderline: Some observers will call it way too much of a match, while others will see no issue at all.

If it was a clear-cut case, you wouldn't be contacting me. Say the grandfathers were Ronald and Donald: I doubt you would consider those two names for your twins' first names. Instead, you'd come up with a creative solution, like you did for your daughter, or move the namesake names to the middle slot.

Interestingly, Silas and Elias are more similar written down than spoken aloud. You don't say whether you plan to shorten Elias to Eli. (Perhaps you were looking for a variation on your dad's name, just as Silas is a twist on Sylvester. If that's the case, you could also consider Elliot). Using the nickname Eli would be one way to cut down on confusion, at least in everyday use. Still, you can expect that people will get the boys' names mixed up sometimes (in writing and speaking).

But given that both names are classics that can stand on their own, I think they can withstand the potential for confusion and accusations of similarity. New, creative names tend to conjure the "matchiness" criticism more often, perhaps because it can seem like the parents built them to match each other. Since you love both names, and the grandfathers do too, don't let others' opinions interfere with your thoughtful choices.


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November 2, 2015 11:31 AM
By JenJen (not verified)

This fear of matchiness is getting as absurd as giving twins matching names was. As long as the twins' names don't start with the same letter, don't stress about it.

November 2, 2015 1:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think matchiness is subjective. To me, Silas & Elias are too similar, but I am also easily tongue tied. However, the OP's example of Lily & Iris don't strike me as a problem. The names are themed, but not "matchy."

I'll also suggest Sylvan & Elijah.

Or the OP might want to consider matching first & middle initials for each grandfather instead of aiming for a sound-alike namesake. Or use Eli & Silas as middles, with other namesake names in the first position.

November 2, 2015 1:26 PM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

I may not be popular but being a twin is a life long match. You will always share a birthday and, age and a special relationship with this person. I have known twins with the exact same first name which is wrong in my book, I would want twin names to seem like a matched set at least somewhat. They are a matched set of children and I'm not suggesting different versions of the same name. I think you should go for it.

November 2, 2015 3:59 PM
By Kat (not verified)

I find them not too matchy per say but too similar both visually and spoken. I said them allowed a few times and found it to be a tongue twister. I like the suggestion of Elijah and Silas, however that may be too matchy for you as they are both Biblical. Have you considered Elliot and Silas instead?

November 2, 2015 7:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think these are way too much. It might be just my pronunciation but these are perfect rhymes for me. The simple fact is that moms (parents) have to call for their kids a lot. And the first sound is sometimes lost in that. I am predicting a life of looking for one boy and having the other respond. And of you constantly mixing up their names when speaking.
I have 2 sisters whose names both end in "nah", they are less similar than silas and elias and they spent their childhoods not knowing if one or the other was being called downstairs, whose name had been called over the PA system at school, and having all of the people in their life accidentally call them by the others name.
Both are great names and I think its no problem to keep one of them, but I would swap in either Sylvan, Elijah or Eliot.
Unless you have plans to use a nickname predominantly for one, in which case I would then say this is a borderline call but you can probably get away with it.

November 3, 2015 12:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am an identical twin, and it's hard enough to form one's own identity as it is. "Matching" names just makes it harder. I say make them more different.

November 3, 2015 12:18 PM
By Alexis (not verified)

I think they sound fine together, both names are very nice new versions of their grandfathers' names. Honestly, I was thinking more about Twin B and Daughter #1 being Ellie and Eli. Do you call your daughter by that nickname?

November 3, 2015 1:02 PM
By Crystal (not verified)

For me, switching it and have Elias and Silas is easier to say. Every time I try to say Silas and Elias I struggle and I'm not sure why. I think they're a good pair without being too "matchy". Do it!

November 3, 2015 1:48 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Personally, I think they sound more alike than the IRIS and LILY or HOLDEN and HAYDEN. Yes, Iris and Lily are both similar because they are a species of a flower but they sound nothing alike. Holden and Hayden sound similar because they both start with an "H". However, Sirus and Elias are very similar to me because they rhyme. Bottom line though it doesn't matter what any of us just need to focus on if YOU and your partner are happy with the names.

November 3, 2015 1:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think one reason people worry about twin names being too similar is a concern that each child should have their own distinct identity and not be lumped together with their brother. This is bound to happen whatever their names are, but may be exacerbated by the names sounding so alike.

I would be inclined to go with Sylvan and Elias.

November 3, 2015 3:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Silas and Elias are perfect! Go for it and ignore any naysayers.

November 3, 2015 4:58 PM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

my sisters and I have names that are totally different and people were constantly calling us by someone else's name. I think that just happens.

November 3, 2015 5:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Silas and Elias are extremely matchy. Holden and Hayden is a perfect comparison.

Eleanor and an El- brother is pretty matchy, too.

November 3, 2015 5:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like the idea, myself. They're better than many 'twin name' sibsets.

If both grandfathers approve and your husband is fine with the idea, why not? They're really the only people you have to worry about, after all.

November 3, 2015 9:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think they're too matchy matchy, and Silas almost sounds like a subset of Elias. It reminds me of a set like Wayne and Dwayne.

November 4, 2015 12:35 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with others that LIly and Iris are not matchy at all. Silas and Elias, on the other hand, are. Eli is too close to Eleanor as well. A different suggestion: Silo and Linus.

November 4, 2015 1:41 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think Silas and Elias are "wrong", but I too place them on the matchiness level of Dwayne and Wayne. Not my taste, but certainly memorable.

Nevertheless, I love that you want to honor the grandpas. If Silas and Elias don't feel right together here are some ideas:

To honor Sylvester, you could also use Simon. Simon and Elias are great together.

To honor Eli, you could also use Elliot or Ellis. Alternatively, Felix has Eli in there, and it give some distinction from your daughter's name (As Eleanor is very similar to the other "el" names.)

My favorite combination is Silas and Felix, but Silas and Elliot or Simon and Elias work great too.

November 4, 2015 10:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think you should worry about what other people think about the names you and your family like - go with your heart.

And I don't think the names are as matchy as all that anyway. I think the different number of syllables makes enough of a difference.

November 4, 2015 3:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think Elias and Silas are fine and don't match at all. Even if they did, what I don't like is when one sibling is given a name just because it matches another sibling (especially with multiples). Names that are chosen individually but just happen to end up with the same initials or sounds are fine to me.

November 4, 2015 5:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Some people think of twins as two parts of a whole. If you're tending toward that line of thinking, Silas and Elias is a perfect way to express it. Those names are absolutely in "matching outfits" territory. People will believe you're that kind of parent. Are you?

November 6, 2015 7:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Personally I think it is fine. My boys have different names but one has a nickname that makes them very similar sounding - kind of like Anthony and Thomas - and it isn't really a problem. They are best mates and always together so they don't mind when people mix them up - if they didn't get along it would be different.

If you do decide to change one name Elisha, Eli and Elijah are all great options with Silas in my opinion. Not sure about Elliott and Eleanor - that seems closer than Silas to my ear.

November 9, 2015 12:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"People will believe you're that kind of parent. Are you?"

That was disturbing to read. What scares me most about having a baby is all the mom-shaming. I have a feeling that no matter what I do, I'll end up being "that kind of parent" in one way or another.

November 10, 2015 12:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'd keep Silas as a first name for twin A and move Elias to the middle name place for twin B because its too similar to both Eleanor and Silas. Then the twins would be Silas Middle and First Elias and there would be less confusion all around.

November 11, 2015 7:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am an art teacher in an elementary school and I teach 350 kids. I would have a hard time keeping these two names straight because they have such a similar sound. I also think this combo is a bit of a tongue twister.

November 12, 2015 11:43 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This is worse than sharing the first letter in my opinion. Their names are a perfect rhyme. Like naming your kids Hallie and Callie, Mary and Jerry or Kim and Jim. Also, Eleanor and Elias can have very similar nicknames. Ellie and Eli are a no-go for brother and sister too. I would groan if I met twins Silas and Elias.

November 12, 2015 11:44 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Even Eli and Si rhyme as nicknames.

November 13, 2015 2:10 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Ultimately they are your sweet boys to name and you should do what you want. However, if I could share this... I'm a mom of identical twin boys... They are constantly confused for one another and their names are nothing alike. I often call them by the wrong name, just in the moment. I know as they get older, this will really annoy them, especially as they will have to struggle more than others to create individual identities. Anything you can do to help others support their individuality is a win, in my book. I LOVE both Silas and Elias but I think friends and teachers will struggle. I HATE that people say, "which one is that one" and treat then as one person (amongst other things) , it will happen and if they have very similar names, people will put in even less of an effort to get their names right. Just my two cents, but bottom line, you're their mom and you get to pick! Good luck!!

November 13, 2015 8:50 PM
By Juli (not verified)

As an identical twin myself, I can see both sides of the argument here.

On the one hand, my sister and I have totally dissimilar names, yet people always get them wrong anyway. This has little to do with the names, and everything to do with their inability to tell us apart. (I can only tell who's me in old photos if I remember the clothing.) So if your children end up looking alike, no amount of difference in their names will help with the confusion.

On the other hand, I have cousins who are fraternal twins and look almost nothing alike (one's a blond, the other a brunette); their names are S@ra and N0ra. Within the family, I don't think anyone has ever mixed up their names. (It probably helps that S@ra is the spitting image of our grandmother's sister S@ra, while N0ra takes after their dad's side of the family.) Outside the family, however, people do get them mixed up: we've commiserated on the mental block that some people seem to acquire as soon as they hear "twins". Again, I don't think the phenomenon has much to do with the specific names in question, but I do wonder how much of it they'd get if their names were, say, Estelle and N0ra.

Personally, I'd go for Elijah instead of Elias -- the vowel sounds still repeat the ones in Silas, but the ending 's' is replaced with a medial 'j', which is a fairly strong distinction ('s' and 'j' are both "loud" sounds).

November 13, 2015 11:42 PM
By L. (not verified)

I think they are too similar. I know sisters Isabelle and Ella, and I thinks it's akin to that. They are definitely different names, different first letter and all, but when I think of those sisters, i think "Isabella" and "I can't remember which one is which."

November 14, 2015 11:14 PM
By Juli (not verified)

I met a young Elias tonight, and anecdotally, it's an easy-to-hear name: I had to ask his sisters Linne@, Me@ra, and R@ina to repeat their names several times, but I got his name immediately. This bodes well for a pairing like Silas and Elias: despite the similarity between the names, they should be distinguishable in daily use.

November 16, 2015 12:27 PM
By Lee (not verified)

I've never heard Elias pronounced before, but my first instinct would be to say EL-ee-us, which sounds perfectly fine with Silas. If it were pronounced Eh-LIE-us, it would be problematic since it kind of rhymes with Silas.

November 18, 2015 2:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My instinct for the pronunciation was also el-ee-us and I was baffled as to why everyone was saying they rhyme. What is it really?

November 19, 2015 11:36 PM
By Juli (not verified)

In English, Elias is pronounced /ə-LY-əs/ (middle syllable stressed and rhyming with 'eye'). It's a not-quite-rhyme with Silas /SY-ləs/.

December 8, 2015 3:00 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a cousin that named his twins Karina and Korina... Which I think is ridiculous, but, they aren't my kids so it really isn't any of my business. Now the girls go by Kari and Kori and it actually works out really well. I think if OP likes those names they are fine. No matter what you name your child, someone will not like the name or have some opinion about it good or bad.

June 20, 2016 6:53 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Not twins but my boys ended up with nicknames that sound very similar due to their own preferences (think James and Timothy calling themselves Jim and Tim). It actually isn't as much of an issue as you think. Most people know them separately and so get their names correct. Some people though are very rude and refuse to even *attempt* to learn their names - they say things like "I'll never work that out" and then proceed to get them wrong FOREVER, I often notice these people are just rude in general though, ironically, they get them wrong more often than half the time which implies they are being passive-aggressive.

Personally I would choose the two best names individually and not worry about the combo - I wouldn't want my name dictated by my sibling's. eg "we would have named you James but it didn't go with Timothy's name so we named you Herman instead".

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