My brother’s best childhood friend, Tim, who’s a former Major League baseball player, and his wife, Rosie, are expecting their third and fourth babies — twin boys! They join big brothers:
I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, so you know I love these brothers’ names!
“Tim and I have been having a tough time agreeing on names so finding two boy names that work well together is going to be a challenge! … Info that I think will help: Our 5 year old is Noah James. Noah is a name that I instantly fell in love with at the start of my pregnancy with him. His gender was a surprise but I had a strong intuition that he was a boy and went to the hospital pretty set with that name, with Benjamin as a back up. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves the name as I just saw that it is still the most popular name in California. I would love to come up with names that are not as popular this time around. James is Tim’s middle name. He loves the name and wants to consider it as an option. While I love the name I feel like it has to be crossed off the list since it is Noah’s middle name.
Our 3 year old is Levi Patrick. We did find out the gender with him. We both agreed on his name early and didn’t have a back up. Patrick is my dad’s name.
If we were having a girl I had my heart set on Ruth Clementine or Ruby Clementine.
Boy names that I have always liked but Tim is not crazy about:
Mattias — I’m not sure if the s ending works with our last name though?
Amos — ” “
Boy names that we both agree on:
Thomas — I like the combo of Thomas Everett, but again ends with an s
Nathan — my brother’s middle name
Luke — I feel like Luke may sound too similar to Levi?
The task of finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together feels overwhelming to me!
I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it. At the very least I want names that have a strong faith tie or meaning. I personally don’t have any emotional ties to Saint names as I was not raised Catholic.
Last thing — forgot to mention two names that Tim and I both like that we can add to our running list: Jeremiah and Julian (only hesitation with that name is that it does feel a bit feminine to me probably because we know someone by the name Jillian).”
I totally get how overwhelming it must be to do exactly what Rosie articulated so well: “finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together” — exactly! It was really fun to work on this.
I really love Noah and Levi as brothers—they’ve done a great job picking names that are similar in style, which helps mitigate the popularity of Noah, you know? If they’d named their boys Noah (no. 1) and Liam (no. 2), then it would be really obvious that they’re into super popular names (which even in itself isn’t the end of the world—I mean, names become popular because they’re great names!). But using Noah and Levi (no. 42) shows that they’re into biblical names more than popular names, and the biblical style is timeless and enduring. So I think they’ve done great!
I also love that Benjamin was the backup for Noah, and it perfectly fits the style they’ve got going so far. Unfortunately, it zoomed up from no. 10 to no. 6 on the national chart this year, which they probably won’t love, BUT it’s really important to keep in mind that popular names today aren’t nearly as popular as popular names in the past. That is, Noah, as the no. 1 name, isn’t given to nearly as many boys per year as Michael was during its longtime reign as no. 1. You can read more about that phenomenon here and here, it’s pretty interesting, and should soothe their worries about popularity a little bit.
I can understand not wanting to use Noah’s middle name as the first name for one of their twins. I know a lot of families who have done that kind of thing, and don’t mind it, and even like it (one example here), but there are so many great names that I’d love to try to find names that will be unique to each of their boys in their brother set. That said, I also know a family who used Catherine as the middle name for two of their three daughters — one was named after Grandma Catherine, the other after St. Catherine of Siena. So if Noah’s middle name was a nod to Tim, they could feasibly make the argument that naming one of their twins James is in honor of someone else. Is Tim’s dad’s middle name James maybe? If the same name is used for two different children, in order to honor two different people, it could start to feel like two different names, you know?
I also looooove Ruth Clementine and Ruby Clementine!! They have great taste in names!
As for the boy names Rosie said they like/are considering, Ezra was actually my first idea for them before I even got to that part of their email! It totally fits the feel of Noah and Levi, including the length of four letters! Mattias (and Matthias) is a favorite of mine, and Amos is another great four-letter name with Noah, Levi, and Ezra.
Thomas Everett is an amazing combo, but I totally get what Rosie means about its “s” ending (and that of Amos and Mattias) running into their last name. I have a similar sensitivity, but even still, because of family considerations and names we just love, half of our boys have first names ending in the same letter our last name starts with! It hasn’t been the end of the world — indeed, I love each one of their names — and honestly, I don’t even notice that same feature of other peoples’ names. I didn’t even really notice it about my own name—Kate Towne—til I was naming my own kids. So funny!
Nathan is also great, and I like that it has family significance for Rosie; it’s also nice that it’s a biblical name, but not as old-timey as Noah/Levi/Ezra/Amos, which allows them to move in a new direction while still sticking with their established theme. (Not that they have to stick with their established theme!) I think I agree with them regarding Luke … although, if they named twin no. 2 Luke, they’d have a child between Levi and Luke, which makes it a bit easier than if Luke followed Levi directly.
Jeremiah is very consistent with Noah/Levi/Amos/Ezra/Benjamin, a great name! And I can see their issue with Julian as well—a lot of people love it because it’s a “softer” boy name, but others don’t care for it specifically *because* it has a softer feel. Another name that’s similar, I think, is Micah—it’s a great Old Testament male name, but a lot of people have used it for their girls because it has that softer feel, which means less people are naming their boys Micah because they don’t want to give their boys girl names. (I still love it though.)
Anyway! All that said, I think Rosie and Tim have a lot of good ideas to work with, and I came up with a few more ideas that I think they might like (I’ll do ideas for twin combinations after I list my new ideas). You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, and my own ideas, this is what I came up with:
I was really taken with the fact that Rosie and Tim gave both their older boys four-letter Old Testament names, so I admit I was on the lookout for others that would match. Adam is one such, and I like that it’s both less “whiskery” (meaning “old man,” and I say that in a good way—it’s so in style right now!) than Noah and Levi, but it’s also less popular than both of them, while still feeling current and familiar.
I’m not sure they’ll love this with their S last name—some people love alliteration, and some don’t, and some don’t mind certain examples but not others. I love Peter Parker, for example—when done right, I love that an alliterative name can have a little superhero feel to it.
After Ezra, this was my second idea for them, before I’d even really gotten into the meat of Rosie’s email. Not only do I love that it’s four letters and biblical, but I also like that it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, just because it broadens their horizons a little bit (Levi has the cool distinction of being both Old Testament and New Testament, but I think it conveys more of an Old Testament feel). I also wondered if Jude might be helpful for them in their Julian discussions—the Beatles’ song Hey Jude was written for John Lennon’s son Julian, and I’ve seen parents use Jude as a nickname for Julian. Even if they don’t care for the idea of Jude as a nickname for Julian, maybe Jude mirrors the sounds of Julian enough to replace Julian on their list of possible names? It also has the extra bonus of being a nod to Tim’s mom (her first name is Judith, but she goes by her middle name) in a subtle way, if they wanted it to—only those who know her first name is Judith might get the connection!
If they like that idea, I wonder if there’s a way they could give the other twin a name that connects to Rosie’s mom’s name? Or they could also think of naming the other twin after Rosie herself, perhaps by using her maiden name as his middle name?
Cole is an interesting idea, and I’m not sure what they’ll think of it. On the one hand, it’s listed as a style match in the BNW for Luke, and because it’s four letters I jumped right on it. It’s also a traditional nickname or variant of Nicholas, which is a biblical name, so if it’s important to them to have that connection between their boys, they have it. But of course, it doesn’t come across as biblical, so maybe that makes it a great choice or maybe that makes it a worse choice?
Similar in appearance to Cole, but bringing it back to that Old Testament feel, Caleb is a sweet name that a lot of people love, but at no. 44 it’s not overly popular—in fact, it’s really similar in popularity to Levi.
I don’t think many people think “biblical” when they hear Ethan, but biblical it is, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “biblical” might make it a perfect choice for this family—in keeping with their theme but branching out a little too.
(7) Eli or Elias
In looking up names in the BNW, one of my favorite things is when I see the same name or family of names pop up over and over as a style match for a bunch of names on the parents’ list. Eli and Elias were those for this family! Eli’s a match for Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Luke, and the similar name Elias is a match for Mattias, Everett, and Julian! Wow! I love them both, though I can see Eli being a nice twin match for certain names, and Elias for others. Eli can also be a nickname for Elias, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to choose. (Elias is the Greek form of Elijah, and much less popular at no. 93 as compared to Elijah’s no. 9).
One of my favorite name books — predating even my beloved BNW — is Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, and in it she describes a lot of the kinds of names that I’m calling “whiskery” as “flannel shirts”—cozy, familiar, old timey. I remember distinctly that Gabriel was one of those, and that the nickname Gabe especially brought with it an “old immigrant” feel. I personally love that, and both Gabriel and Gabe, and I think they fit in really well with Noah and Levi.
Not only is Samuel itself a style match for Luke, but its nickname Sam is a style match for both Ruby and Ruth—I love that! I feel like it’s really consistent with the kinds of names Rosie and Tim like overall, and Sam is one of the friendliest nicknames (which I also think of Gabe as). I actually really love Sam with their S last name—it has that superhero alter ego feel, and it feels like a solid man’s name.
I really liked seeing that Andrew is a style match for both Patrick and Nathan—pretty cool that it fits in with two such different styles of name! Like Thomas, Nathan, James, and Luke, it’s a great New Testament name that retains their biblical theme while still breaking out of it a little bit.
So those were all the ideas I had that were mostly based on my research, but when I started trying to pair up names into twin combos, I had just a couple more ideas, which I’ll explain below. I should also say that different parents prefer different approaches when naming twins—some want something very matchy; some want them to go together nicely but not be too matchy; and some just want to name them as if they were naming non-twins, with no intentional connection at all. It sounds like Rosie and Tim are in the middle: I still love how Rosie articulated that they want to find names that they “both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together,” so I mostly tried to find pairs that fit that.
No matter which way a couple decides to go, I do think it’s important for the names to be fair. That is, I imagine that if one twin were named for dad and the other twin wasn’t given a name with any family significance, that second twin might feel hurt as he grows up. You know? Another thing that I personally like—which Rosie and Tim may or may not care about—is balance. That is, I find it really pleasing when both twins have short first names or long first names. Or one has a short first and a long middle and the other has a long first and a short middle. Or they have the same first initial, even if (especially if) the names are different lengths, or the first initial has a different sound in each name rather than the same. So a lot of my ideas here are inspired by my own preferences, and I apologize to Rosie and Tim in advance if they hate my approach!
Ezra and Jude: When I first started reading Rosie’s email, and I was so struck by the fact that Noah and Levi both have four-letter biblical names, I immediately started trying to think of others, and Ezra and Jude were the two I immediately came up with and love. Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Jude are such a pleasing set of brothers! I also really like that it makes them all sound less like two singletons and a set of twins, and more just like four brothers.
Benjamin and Jeremiah: I love that these names are both long, Old Testament names AND they have the same number of letters! I get a little overly excited about twins having names with the same number of letters! My only hangup is that I don’t have any great ideas for nicknames for Jeremiah. I’ve seen Jem, which is super cute, but I don’t think it’s to everyone’s taste. Similarly, I’ve seen Miah, but I suspect that’s too feminine for their taste. Jer and Jerry are natural nicknames, maybe they’d like that? Ben is one of those great friendly nicknames.
Benjamin and Gabriel: This pairing is less matchy in length, but I know a few Benjamin and Gabriel brothers, so the names seem to go together really well. Also, Ben and Gabe both have that same friendly feel.
Benjamin and Jonathan: This is perhaps a less serious idea than the others—Benjamin and Jonathan are my brothers’ names, which could be kind of weird for them, given my brother and Tim’s friendship. But otherwise, I’ve always thought these two are amazing names for brothers. Jonathan can be Jon or Jack or Nate, all of which go great with Ben I think. If they wanted to get a little crazy, Jonty is also a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and I’ve seen Jamie used for Benjamin, and I’m kind of dying over Jamie and Jonty, cuuute! Jamie might also be an interesting way to approach Tim’s love of the name James without actually naming their son James.
Nathan and Andrew: Speaking of Nate, I’m also dying over brothers nicknamed Nate and Drew. I love that pairing! I love that Nate and Drew are both four letters, which is fun with big brothers Noah and Levi, while their given names are New Testament and longer, which breaks them out of their short Old Testament style (if they want to do so). (Andy is also a great nickname, but for whatever reason I’m loving Drew for them.)
Andrew and Adam: If they like the idea of matching initials, this might be a nice way to go. Andrew can be Drew, if they like the idea of the formal names having the same initials but the everyday names be different. Adam and Drew make a nice pair.
Eli and Ezra: Speaking of same initials but still having a bit of a difference, I like that the E’s of Eli and Ezra have different sounds—the long E of Eli and the short E of Ezra.
Gabriel and Samuel: I like that these names end in the same two letters, and I love Gabe and Sam together.
Caleb and Ethan: Same number of letters, both Old Testament names, I love this pairing.
Ethan and Elias: There are those matching initials again! When I was a little girl I loved coming up with matching-initial names for twins, haha! So maybe that should tell me that this approach isn’t a good one. But I love how they sound together, and I love that they have the same number of letters.
Benjamin and Nathaniel: This is another great pairing because of similar lengths—they’re just one letter different, and Nathaniel might be a cool way to nod to Rosie’s brother without using his exact name (some people like that kind of thing—honoring without using the exact name). Ben and Nate are great!
Thomas and James: If they decided to go with James as a first name, it might be nice to pair it with Thomas, as then they’d both end in S, thus taking something kind of annoying (the S running into the S) and making it a twin thing that they could share, while still having really handsome names. Thomas and James both have that really classic feel that’s biblical without feeling too biblical, and it would be cool to try to find a middle name for James that’s as great and somewhat unexpected as Everett.
Thomas and Andrew: This is another great pairing—two NT names, same number of letters.
Thomas and Nathan: Ditto the same number of letters, and both NT names. My only hesitation with this one is that Nathan has family significance and neither Thomas nor Everett do (as far as I know).
Those are my favorite pairings based on the ideas I came up with for Rosie and Tim, but I couldn’t help thinking of a few other biblical names that might be interesting additions to the mix. Specifically, Jared, Gideon, David, Jacob, Joshua, and Asher. I also really loved the idea of Samuel and Eli, since they share the same beautiful story in the bible, but then I wondered if that was over the top? Abel’s another one that’s been on my radar recently, as has Abram, and Grace’s Abe has me all 😍😍😍. I also love Thaddeus … it ends in S, but it has that nice length that could pair nicely with Nathaniel or Jeremiah or Benjamin …
I feel like I could go on and on! And looking back on my ideas, even though Rosie said, “I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it,” clearly I just couldn’t bring myself to move away from it. So sorry if they were hoping for non-biblical ideas!
I know Rosie and Tim would love to hear your ideas, as would I! What name(s) would you suggest for the twin brothers of Noah and Levi?