Two sides to the same coin?

I’ve noticed a couple names that seem to be either/or names — meaning, if you use one for one child, it seems the other is really not usable for another. I don’t mean like Oliver and Olivia; I mean names that *are* different, but *just* too close. Like:

Theodore and Thaddeus

Evangeline and Genevieve (and Vivian/Vivienne)

Magdalene and Margaret

Theodore and Thaddeus both start with Th-, both have a d in the middle, and can both be nicknamed Ted/Teddy. Evangeline and Genevieve both have lots of v and n and soft g sounds happening, and both can be nicknamed Evie. Vivian/Vivienne strikes me as belonging to that group too, but Evangeline and Genevieve really seem two sides to the same coin to me. Magdalene and Margaret have the M and the g and can both be nicknamed Maggie.

But even as I think they’re too close to each other to be used for different-age siblings within a family, I could see them working quite nicely as twin names — a nice connection without being too matchy:

Theodore could be Theo and Thaddeus could be Taddy

Evangeline could be Evie and Genevieve could be Genny

Magdalene could be Lena or Maggie and Margaret could be Maggie or Greta

One hitch with this twin idea is that these names seem to represent slight but significant differences in taste. For example, it seems to me that people either prefer Theodore or Thaddeus — they don’t like them equally. Another pairing that makes this even more obvious to me is Sophia/Sophie and Sylvia/Sylvie — it seems to me that a person would prefer either the Sophi- names or the Sylvi- names, and whoever would choose the Sylvi- names likely wouldn’t be at all inclined to choose a Sophi- name, and vice versa.

Does this make sense? Do you get what my thought process is here or is it crazy? Can you think of other names like this?

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23 thoughts on “Two sides to the same coin?

  1. We have our Evalena, and I’ve always liked Magdalena, but once we had Evie, it eliminated the possibility of using Magdalena or Rosalena (another I was fond of).

    I agree with your assessment that these names represent different tastes, I prefer one over the other in each of your examples except Magdalene/Margaret I like them both! 🙂

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    • Oh yes, same endings definitely are a problem! I wonder — do you like Magdalyn as much as Magdalena? Rosalena is pretty!

      I too prefer one over the other in each instance except Evangeline and Genevieve — they’re both so pretty! But if I HAD to choose — it would be Genevieve, as it’s a family name. And I prefer Sophie to Sophia and Sylvie to Sylvia … and I think I like Sophie and Sylvie about the same, but *different* …

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  2. You just named like half my nieces, haha. Yes, speaking from personal experience, these names can’t easily be used together with siblings (my nieces are almost all cousins, not sister sets. We are better at having boys! ;)). But even with cousins, we trip up on their names. Evelyn and Vivian are two sides of the same coin. Throw an Elise and a Sylvia in there (yes, have slipped and called her Sophia – another cousin’s name), and it gets confusing. We often joke that the next granddaughter should be named Evasylvivian or Sylvalyneva or some nonsense :).

    I will say, I do almost prefer these names equally (my sisters pay me to say that :-P). Especially Theodore and Thaddeus (names we don’t already have in the fam). But I’ve already shared my fixation on “th” names.

    As a twin, I think the only way these pairs work is with the great nicknames you suggested. Otherwise, it’s too close!

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  3. Andrew and Annemarie – this might work spread out in a large sibset, but my baby is Andrew and while I’d love to have Annemarie or Anne Marie on my girls list it seems too close. Anyone have thoughts? i
    It worked for Raggedy Anne and Andy!

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    • Ha! Raggedy Anne and Andy! I don’t know Laura — I think pairing Anne with Marie distances it enough from Andrew … Andrew and Anne is tough, but Andrew and Anne Marie or (especially imo) Annemarie is much more do-able!

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      • Regarding Anne and Andrew, we had a similar dilemma with Anne and Nathaniel (try to say “Anne and Nathaniel” three times fast). Since we only have 2 so far, you are right that family size affects things. We solved this similarly to how Sancta Nomina is suggesting, except instead of Mary (never occurred to me that Mary and Mark are close, but indeed they are!), we chose Julianne. She mostly goes by the full name (and I consider St. Anne her patron even though technically “Julianne” is not an “Anne” name, but it’s origins are the male “Julian”). Occasionally she is called Julie, but it has yet to really stick. I agree that Annemarie might work in a larger family paired with Andrew. I also have always loved Rosemarie or Rosemary!

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    • Hmm … on second thought though … you’re totally right about spread out in sib set … but one right after another?

      I don’t suppose Marianne/Marianna/Marie-Anne holds the same appeal?

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      • Oh I love several double barrel Mary names – Mary Grace, Mary Eleanor, Mary Theresa, and Mary Elizabwth. But my 9 year old named Mark freaked out at the idea. So for now Mary and Mark are another pair of names too close for siblings – at least in our family.

        Hubby would call an Anne Marie or an Annemarie Annie so either way it’s close to Andrew.

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  4. I agree Rosemary and Rosemarie are both great – hubby can’t get over the horror movie associations. Also if one of my daughter’s middle names is Rose is Rosemary as a first name off limits?

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    • Aw, yeah, the frustrating horror movie reference. Rosemary (and Rosalie) are family names, so that’s how we dodged that (although Rosalie maybe could sidestep the horror reference? But now we’ve dropped both Mary and Anne! :)). I think when it comes to middle names, you can repeat. Especially if it’s a variation on the name. We have a lot of women with variations on Rose in my family for first and middle. It’s such a nice Marian reference!

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  5. We have a Joseph for a middle name (#3) and now hubby wants to use it as a first name for #8. Is that acceptable?? It’s not my favorite on our name list, so I’m hoping to talk him out of it.

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