Super Matchy to Super Clashy Sibling Names: Same Initials

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?

Photo credit: Siblings / Hamburger / Ice Cream Cone

Comments

  1. I am not bothered by siblings having the same first initials, as long as the names don’t fall on the two extremes you mentioned. The Duggars are a good example of a family with super matchy (Johannah and Joy-Anna, Joseph and Josiah) and super clashy (Jinger and Jedidiah). If I planned to have a family of more than five children, I would also not plan to give them all names with the same first initial.

    Other than my mom and aunts, I don’t know any families who’ve given their kids names that all start with the same first initial. My best friends in kindergarten-second grade were twins named Lauren and Lindsey. One of my aunts named her twin boys Ezra and Elijah, although their names were changed by their adoptive parents. Her other set of twins is Kaleb and Jakob.

    • I thought I knew so many people who have all their kids names with the same initial when in reality I don’t know too many but rather the few I knew were simply very memorable.
      Growing up I remember a Julie and a Jody. Now I remember a Kaden and a Keegan. I know someone with “kkk” kids. I won’t list those names because they are somewhat unusual to the point of being a privacy invasion.

  2. British American says:

    I’m a Jennie and my brother is Jordan. My Mum also has a J name. Growing up, I never really thought much about us having two-syllable matching initial names.

    As a mother myself now, I personally really like being able to label things with just initial for my three kids, which I guess my parents couldn’t do for my brother and I. I like that each of my kids have their “own letter” – especially since my 4 year old learned the alphabet and he learned “his letter” first and then his sister’s letter next and finally his baby brother’s letter. He learned those ones much quicker than the rest of the alphabet.

    My Mum once told me that she wanted my brother to have a K name, to match our Dad – just like my initial matched her name. But that didn’t happen. My mother’s maiden name initials were JEN, so she sort of named me after herself too.

    I know a family who has a Lily and a Lucy. That’s too close for my personal tastes. (Though they have another daughter in between the two L names, so that makes it a little less noticeable. Plus an older son with a non-L name.) I know I’d personally get confused though, as I still manage to mix up my two son’s names, despite than starting with different letters and having different number of syllables.

    • I like having different initials for labeling too. But when I grew up in a family of kids with all A names, that didn’t seem to be an issue. My brothers even shared the same middle initial. I don’t think my parents completely planned for my brothers to have the same middle initial; that might have been coincidental.

      But I do remember when I grew up in the 80s, monogrammed things were a fad, and my brothers happened to share a room. My Mom thought it was great that they could have monogrammed things in their room, such as a lamp and a trash can, without duplicating the items in order to get one with both monograms. For example, they had one monogrammed trash can in their shared room with their shared initials, A.P.S. (S wasn’t really the last initial).

  3. milly mary jane says:

    I know so many people who think “it is a great way to match the siblings together”. My mum joked that if my family all had the same initials it would be L and she said it would be like this names in brakets are are actual names as you can see my parents are not too fussed about the matchiness:
    Louise “Lulu” (Charmaine “Charli”)
    Lauren “Lo” (Jacqueline “Jaxie”)
    Lucinda “Lucy” (Michaela “Miki”)
    Lillian “Lillie” (Mollie “Mo”)
    Lisbeth “Beth” (Emily “Milly”) I can’t imagine being a Beth know and I could have been but for Bethany
    Livia “Liv” (Erika “Rikki”)
    Luella “Ellie” (Dorothea “Dottie or Dodo”)
    Lynette “Lynnie” (Harriet “Hattie)

    My eldest sister has twins named Sophia and Samuel which is fine if it was Samuel and Samantha I would have killed her especially if her eldest daughter Emma was Samara.

    • Many of those L names are nice. I love Lucinda, Lisbeth and Livia. I just don’t like them together, especially on that many kids.

  4. My names Brianna and by siblings are Benjamin and Brittany. Are these too close?

    • While this set may not be ideal, it is not terribly matchy. A terribly matchy sibset would be Brianna, Brandon, and Brittany, with all names beginning not just with B, but Br. I’ve found most real-life sibling sets don’t coordinate perfectly. Most parents aren’t obsessed with perfectly matching sibling names or if they are, there are other variables beyond their control that make the perfect sibset difficult, namely family pressure. In summary, while you and your siblings’ names may not be the name-nerd’s dream set, it’s fine in reality.

  5. I found your article because I’m going through this exact problem. My first born son’s name is Declan and we agonized over number twos name. We knew we were having a boy and I had a list of lovely names that my husband didn’t like. The week before he was due Donovan resurfaced as a name he liked and when we left the hospital that was our chosen name however I honestly had never thought about what it would sound like with Declan and then hated that they had the same initials and sounded so matchy. I hadn’t ever thought through the sibling set names. Donovan is three months old and I’m still trying to convince my husband to change it! I love the name by itself but not with Declan!

    • I know what its like to have all of these great names and not have them appreciated by the husband. Under those circumstances I can see how sibling name coordination could get overlooked. In this situation, finding a name you both like is a huge step, and everything else seems secondary. Your story is a great example of how super matchy names aren’t always the result of parents trying to be cute, but rather they are often unintentional.

      Unintentional matchy-ness is more likely than some may think because people tend to like similar sounds. For example, my daughter is Fiona, and some of my other top 5/top 10 girl names include Ione and Viola. Notice the repeating io. Notice how Fiona and Viola share all the same vowels in all the same places and have the same number of letters.

      If you are planning on having more children, perhaps you could mention to your husband that you have sort of painted yourself in a corner. For example, if you had a third boy, Declan, Donovan, and Duncan seems a bit gimmicky.

      From what I gather, it sounds as though your husband can’t imagine your son by any name other than Donovan. This is tough. I understand the pressure to want to change your son’s name sooner rather than later, but I also realize you need to have your husband on board.

      Perhaps you could start calling your son by a different name paired with Donovan before officially changing it, and see if it sticks. For example, you could start calling him Seamus Donovan, in the hope that your husband could get used to that and then you could drop the Donovan or perhaps keep it as a middle name. And then after your son is known as just Seamus (as a random example), you could convince your husband to go through with making the paperwork change.

      Getting a name that flows well before Donovan is a challenge, and maybe you already have a meaningful middle name. But in the case of an existing middle name you don’t want to drop, perhaps giving your son Donovan as an extra middle name would be a necessary compromise.

      You could also say Donovan first with the new name second for flow. This would still give you the option to drop Donovan later. For example, Wallis Simpson was named Bessie Wallis, and was called Bessie Wallis as a kid, but dropped Bessie as an adult. But I would try to relegate Donovan to the second name if you can swing it.

      Maybe some of these combos would appeal to you and your husband (Some of these ideas I got by entering “Donovan” or “Declan” at numbler.com. I don’t know what names your husband has vetoed):

      Liam Donovan / Donovan Liam
      Rourke Donovan / Donovan Rourke
      Flynn Donovan / Donovan Flynn
      Tierney Donovan / Donovan Tierney
      Darby Donovan / Donovan Darby – If you like alliteration. Declan and Darby is an example of a set that shares initials but doesn’t share the N-ending, making it a little less matchy.
      Conroy Donovan / Donovan Conroy
      Noah Donovan / Donovan Noah
      Keane Donovan / Donovan Keane
      Clancy Donovan / Donovan Clancy
      Riley Donovan / Donovan Riley
      Riordan Donovan / Donovan Riordan – came up for both Donovan and Declan, but I am uncertain of pronunciation.
      Murphy Donovan / Donovan Murphy
      Benjamin Donovan / Donovan Benjamin
      Shea Donovan / Donovan Shea
      Owen Donovan / Donovan Owen
      Colin Donovan / Donovan Colin
      Killian Donovan / Donovan Killian
      Malachy Donovan / Donovan Malachy
      Cormac Donovan / Donovan Cormac
      Kieran Donovan / Donovan Kieran

      Nymbler has some great ideas, and I could go on, but wanted to keep the list manageable.

      And while this may be little consolation now, perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that when your sons grow up, they will not be known as a pair, and will be distinct individuals, with separate friends who may not even give a second thought to their matchy names.

      I think other readers would enjoy reading your story. I will try to post this as a new post where it can get more exposure, since this post is a little older.

      Good luck.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Matchy to Super Clashy Sibling Names series. Last week, the first part in this series featured siblings sharing the same initial. This week we are going to discuss another type of pattern that isn’t as common as shared […]

  2. […] 1. Name Pattern 1: Same First Initial Part 2. Name Pattern 2: Rhyming (or Almost Rhyming) Names Part 3. Name Pattern 3: Shared […]

  3. […] reader found the first part of our Super Matchy Super Clashy series on siblings with shared initials when searching for help with her real-life dilemma: her sons’ names ended up being more matchy […]

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