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Is This Baby Name Too Like Tallulah?

My husband and I are having a lot of trouble finding a baby girl name. We have a 15-month-old daughter named Tallulah. We recently fell in love with the name Ayla. I worry it is too similar to Tallulah, especially as they will be so close in age. What do you think?

–Looking for a Sweet Sister Name

Picking a name is so much harder the second time. You're in good company with your questions about sib sets, as many of my previous columns on this subject show. While the whole world of names was open to you originally, now you've got another child to consider when debating your second daughter's name, and your striking, fashionable choice for your first daughter will foreclose other possibilities.

I'm not sure Ayla is one of them, though. A name like Talia or Delilah seems much closer in shared sounds, rhythm, and style associations. Other than that shared final syllable, Ayla and Tallulah are not much alike.

Tallulah is a retro choice, equal parts frilly and brassy, Southern belle mixed with Wild West showgirl. Derived from a Choctaw Indian word, the name is stylish but not common, having never ranked in the top 1000 girl names in the U.S. It's attention-grabbing and suggests an artsy sensibility.

While some claim Hebrew or Turkish roots for Ayla, its style and feel are all modern. I classify the name as part of the white-hot "raindrop names" trend—short, melodious names free of any harsh consonants. (Think Lila, Arya, and Mila). Ayla is very much a name on the rise, entering the top 1000 in the 1990s and currently sitting pretty at #260.

I think the manifold differences in the style, history, and trend trajectory of these names draw a strong enough line between them that friends and family won't feel daughter #2 is just a repetition of #1. Meanwhile, the repeated sounds in the two names help bind them together. But putting together the "perfect" sibling set is ultimately a matter of personal preference.  Some parents thrill for a set of shared first initials (Kardashians, anyone?) while others would give up a long-held favorite to avoid that. If Ayla is the only choice for you, embrace it knowing exactly what it shares—and doesn't—with big sister Tallulah.


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February 5, 2018 3:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Honestly, it wasn't until I start reading Name Lady's answer that I figured out why they would be too similar to use. I think Ayla will be fine with Tallulah.

February 6, 2018 1:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Tallulah and Ayla are perfectly fine together. The pendulum has swung too far from the bad old days when siblings were named Jamie and Jaime.

February 6, 2018 5:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don’t think that they sound too similar, but just looking at the history/style of those names could be an issue (if there is one!). It’s like they’re so dissimilar. It only would come to appraisal in certain situations but it’s like a sub set of Rose and Fern. Would their personalities jibe with that? Attention getter and Overlooked? Hmmm. There is one native word close to your “A” name that works other than it isn’t familiar: Aiyana. If your style is more the artistic side of things: Vivien, Gloria, Isobella, or Veronica. Happy for you!

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