Last week we discussed whether or not sibling names should go together. The plan was to follow up with a list of different sibling name patterns and some tips for these types of sibling sets in real-life. Once I started working on this project I realized I had a series on my hands.
Over the next few weeks, possibly with breaks, we will discuss different types of sibling name patterns, what is super matchy and what is super clashy. Let’s start with the classic, possibly most common type of sibling name pattern.
Name Pattern 1: Same First Initial
Chances are you know families who followed this pattern. It is one of the most obvious (and common) sibling name patterns. At one point my name snobbery kicked in and I wanted to run far, far away from this pattern. As I’ve gotten older and mellower, I’ve begun to find the charm in this pattern in the same way I find the charm in buildings shaped like giant hamburgers, hot-dogs, and ice cream cones found along Western U.S. highways. Or the same was I find the charm in white bread names like Joan. There is something about a complete disregard for “of the moment” that earns my respect. But… and there had to be a but…
…there are appealing and unappealing ways to repeat initials. Some approaches come across as either super matchy or super clashy.
The Super Matchy Approach
As a kid, out of boredom, I actually created alternate universe names for me and my brothers. I kept one of my brother’s real-life names, which was also my father’s middle name, and picked alternate A names for me and my other brother. Our real-life names all begin with A, but one of my brothers goes by a nickname that doesn’t begin with A. When I was a kid this used to bother me. As an adult being bothered by this seems trivial, but I was a teen with too much time on my hands. Here’s what I come up with:
Allison, Alan, Alexander or
Allie, Alan and Alex.
After saying the names to myself, I became humbled as I realized I could not name us any better than our parents. Notice how the names don’t just begin with A, but repeat the first two letters. This is beyond cutesy. Especially when you use the nicknames, which is what my parents automatically did in real-life. Alan and Alex are way too close for brothers.
Another example of too matchy would be repeating the beginning and ending letters in such pairs as Caitlin and Colin. Twins may be the exception here where parents can get away with more matchy-ness. However, even with twins, the names must be different enough to be distinguishable. To that end, I would avoid Troy and Roy or Annie and Andy, even with twins.
The Super Clashy Approach
On the other end of the spectrum are people who believe as long as names begin with the same letter, the names automatically go together.
Do these names go together?
Ashley and Agnes
Cruz, Charles, and Cassia
Harold, Hayden, Huxley, and Harley
Jane and Jupiter
One could argue this is all subjective, but most will probably agree that these sets are mismatched, pairing vintage with modern and inventive with established names.
Here are some shared initial siblings that go together a little better than the above examples:
Ashley and Alexa
Calvin, Charles, and Caroline
Avoiding Super Matchy and Super Clashy Same Initial Sets
While I appreciate matching initials more than I used to, for my own kids I preferred each one have their own initial. Part of the reason for this is because I feel if someone follows a pattern they should see it through. I wouldn’t repeat initials for two kids and give the third kid a different initial. And while I only planned two kids, I didn’t want to make that kind of commitment. This was the main reason I never seriously considered Felix for my son despite Felix being one of the few names Rob and I both liked. I didn’t want a Fiona and a Felix.
On the other hand, I have known of parents with more than three kids who go out of their way to avoid repeating an initial. If there are more than three kids, I feel repeating an initial with two of the kids is fine. The idea is to avoid one kid being the “odd kid out” with an initial different from his siblings.
Matching initials is not a name pattern for parents who aren’t planners. For those intent on following any type of sibling name pattern, some planning ahead will help tremendously.
If you want all of your kids’ names to start with the same initial and plan to have two kids, I would list at least three boy names and three girl names you like that follow the pattern. Add one more boy and girl name for each kid you plan. Therefore if you plan on three kids, list four boy and four girl names.
If listing three boy and three girl names becomes a struggle, then I suggest abandoning the pattern.
Adding the extra name for each gender gives you wiggle room. We all know at least one person who had one more kid than they planned. You may hope for a boy and a girl and end up with three girls.
The tone of this piece, and others in this series, may come across as a bit opinionated, and I’m aware of that. The Super Matchy / Super Clashy series is not for everyone, but I hope it will help certain readers.
Readers: What are some of your favorite matching initial sibsets, from real-life or make-believe?