SUPER MATCHY TO SUPER CLASHY SIBLING NAMES: Rhyming Names

This is the second part of the Super 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 initials, but has been around for a while, at least since the 20th century.

Let’s try a little exercise.

If you went to school with sisters named Chelsea and Kelsey raise your hand. All of you with raised hands stand in the Generation Y / Millennial corner (born between mid. 1980s and 1990s).

If you went to school with sisters named Tracy and Stacy or Shelley and Kelly raise your hand. If your hand is raised, stand in the Generation X corner (born between mid. 1960s to very early 1980s).

And if you went to school with a Larry and a Gary or a Larry and a Terry raise your hand. If your hand is raised, stand in the Baby Boomer corner (born between mid. 1940s to very early 1960s).

Name Pattern 2: Rhyming (or Almost Rhyming) Names

For almost every generation there is a go-to rhyming sibset. I’m not sure if there is a go-to rhyming set for the pre-WII generation born before the mid. 1940s. Perhaps Jane and Elaine.

I can tell you with certainty the latest go-to rhyming sibset for the youngest generation born after 2000 is Chloe and Zoe, the inspiration for the title of the post which inspired this series, Chloe with a Side of Zoe: The Matching Sibling Name Debate.

That title may imply that Zoe is nothing more than her sister Chloe’s sidekick. That is probably not how Zoe is viewed by her parents of course, but that is the impression rhyming sibling names leave. For this reason, I usually try to discourage them.

My opinion on rhyming names might seem controversial. Parents who like rhyming names who stumble upon this post will leave quickly. I can live with that. Upswing Baby Names is not for them.

While rhyming sibling names is not something I wholeheartedly encourage, there are a few under certain circumstances that work. And some names classified as rhyming for the purpose of this discussion, don’t rhyme perfectly. In some cases rhyming is a term used loosely to describe names that share endings or nearly rhyme, but may be off by a syllable.

Rhyming names may seem obviously super matchy, but names that rhyme can also be super clashy. Before delving into super clashy rhyming names, let’s talk about just how matchy sibling names can be.

The Super Matchy Approach

There is rhyming and then there is only switching out one letter. For example, Milly and Molly or Molly and Polly. Calling out these names in succession on the playground will become a tongue-twister. They fail the “playground call out” test.

These names fail another practical test. Some of these sets are also nearly indistinguishable. Call out Molly’s name, and Polly answers or both kids answer or neither one answers. The madness will cause any Mom (or Dad) to rue the day they decided to be cute with their kids’ names. These sets go overboard even on twins.

Closely related are names that don’t exactly rhyme, but are close enough they might as well rhyme. I’m thinking of Troy and Tory. These names don’t just share the beginning and ending, all the letters are the same! The good news is these names are distinguishable. And the word-play is clever. The bad news is if there is a surprise third kid, coming up with a third name using the same four letters becomes a brain teaser.

The Super Clashy Approach

How can rhyming names clash? Think of modern spelling experiments and the answer is clear. If you are a tasteful baby namer, and since you found this blog you are, I don’t have to tell you that Chloë’s sister should never be Zooey. Or that Zoë’s sister should never be Khloe. If modern spellings are used, they should be used consistently. If you are going to use Khloe, and her sister’s name must rhyme, Zooey is the natural pick.

While I thought I had seen everything, I have yet to see rhyming sibling names with clashing spellings. This practice doesn’t seem prevalent, and therefore,  I almost omitted this section. But decided to keep these examples hoping to amuse you by demonstrating how even rhyming names can clash.

The Rhyming Grey Area

Felicity and Cecily – do they rhyme? The names are undeniably very close but don’t perfectly rhyme. Another example is Seraphina and Euphemia. These names don’t rhyme perfectly, but share so many of the same sounds.

Even these names might seem a bit too close for some people’s tastes. Sets like Felicity and Cecily or Seraphina and Euphemia are best left for twins. For non-twin siblings, they are a bit too close.

The best rhyming-like names for non-twins are those that share endings. For example, Carter and Spencer or Isabella and Gabriella.

Avoiding Super Matchy / Super Clashy Rhyming Siblings

As with shared initials, planning is essential if you would like your kid’s names to rhyme or almost rhyme. The suggestion given in part 1 of this series also applies here. The suggestion is to list one more boy name and one more girl name to the number of kids you hope to have. Therefore, if you are planning two kids, list three rhyming boy names and three rhyming girl names.

Now is a good time to mention that breaking a name pattern or theme is easier with opposite sex siblings. This applies to any type of name pattern or theme, such as shared initials featured in part 1 of this series. Michaela, Madeline, and James seems fine, especially if James happens to be a Junior.

Breaking a name pattern or theme for the opposite sex is especially applicable, and encouraged, in the case of rhyming siblings since they are very difficult to execute.

Here’s a mini-reader challenge: Quick, off the top of your head, list as many boys names as possible that rhyme with Chloe and Zoe. I’ll wait until you are done.

I’m back. How did you do?

Coming up with a third girl name to fit the Chloe / Zoe pattern is hard. Boys are even harder.

Even if you can complete the rhyming puzzle, should you? What impression do you get when you hear of sisters named Chloe and Zoe with a brother named Bowie? Does it sound like a group of circus performers? Are you giggling? The impression is not one most name-conscious parents want to leave.

Here is a review of guidelines for rhyming siblings:

  1. The closest rhyming names should be avoided, even with twins. Shelley seems like nothing more than Kelly’s sidekick. Molly and Polly are nearly indistinguishable.
  2. Names that sound a lot alike, but don’t rhyme perfectly, such as Felicity and Cecily, might be OK with twins, but should be avoided with non-twin siblings.
  3. With non-twin siblings, shared endings might work. For example, Miller and Fletcher is fine.
  4. Breaking a rhyming pattern for the opposite sex is encouraged. For example, Isabella, Arabella and Marcus is fine. You will be hard pressed to find a boy name ending in -ella. Even if you found that name, your son probably wouldn’t want it.

Readers: Do you know of any real-life siblings with rhyming or almost rhyming names?

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Comments

  1. I went to school with sisters that were less than a year apart named Aubree and Audrey, and a former supervisor of mine was Anita, which I thought was okay, until I learned her twin sister was Wanita. Their parents purposely misspelled Juanita to make it look closer to Anita.

  2. My dad and his sister were Jerry and Sherry…

  3. I’m a Lucy, and my younger sister is called Sophie; I’ve always found that our names sound almost exactly the same when someone shouts them.

  4. I’m having a Linus next month, but really like the name Alice for a future daughter. Sometimes I think they are too close.

    • The names don’t look much alike, but they do sound somewhat alike. But you might be OK using both names. I say the names together and I don’t get tongue-tied and I can distinguish them.

  5. I love Ruby and Lucy as sister names but am worried it rhymes too much. Do you think it’s usable?

    • I know how you feel. I love Felicity and Cecily but fear they are too close except for twins. I feel the same way about Ruby and Lucy – I love the idea on twins. While I do feel those names sound close, I don’t feel they are so close that you would run into practical problems. I you have two daughters and would regret not using both names I would still use them.

  6. I have a son Leo but love the name Margot for a girl. Are they too matchy?

    • Hmmm. They look different. When I say the names side-by-side, they definitely rhyme. The different appearance keeps them from seeming as cutesy as Gerry and Larry, but I would personally not like the rhyming – but that’s me. In your shoes I would ask myself what would be the bigger regret: having two kids with rhyming names or not using both names if given the chance?

      • Thank you for your response! What about names that look similar but sound different? For example I love both Evangeline (een) and Emmeline (line) and feel torn about choosing one because I’m not sure if it would be strange to use both.

        • My opinion is names that sound alike are cutesier than names that look alike. My only real concern about this set is that some people might assume since the names look like they rhyme, they must rhyme. Consequently, more people could mispronounce one of the names (e.g. Evange-leen and Emme-leen). This might be an issue, if it even is an issue, that would lessen over time. I suggest you determine if you love both names enough to overlook the matchy appearance or possible confusion with pronunciation. Would I pick both names? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be a terrible sibset.

  7. My mom is Jennie (pronounced Jenny, for some reason everyone says it wrong) and her sister is Pennie. It’s kind of cute and would have been fine but they have a baby sister named Rachel. It seems like she does not belong. If she was a boy it probably would have been fine.

  8. I am not a fan of rhyming sibling names…but I really like complementary names for siblings like Sagen and Roma.

  9. Great article! What’s your opinion on Emerson and Tennyson? My son is Emerson and we are having a girl and really like the name Tennyson. We’ve gotten mixed reviews about the “match-ness” of the two names. Thoughts?

    • That’s a tough one. I think that Tennyson is a cool name, albeit not my style. However, I think the matching endings is a no – go. Also, to be honest, if I heard a boy/girl sibset of Emerson and Tennyson, I would assume that Emerson is the girl and Tennyson, the boy. Is the name a specific honor name, or just one you like? Maybe Tenley or Brynn or Briony would appeal.

      • I didn’t get a chance to reply as quickly as I hoped, but your suggestions are perfect Kayt. I agree a sibset of Emerson and Tennyson makes it difficult to distinguish which child is the son and which is the daughter.

  10. What is your opinion of Owen and Edwin for non-twin brothers? Would likely use Eddie as nickname, but not exclusively. I can’t decide if they’re too close or I’m over-analyzing…

    • The names do seem like twin names to me. For non-twin brothers, they do seem a bit repetitious. Instead of Edwin, you could try Everett. When I search for Owen alternatives, I keep thinking of all these n-ending names that could still seem repetitious. Other names that seem to go with the n-ending are other t-ending names like Wyatt or er-ending names like Archer or Spencer. Good luck!

  11. I totally agree with your thread, my sons (non twin) are Ethan and Aiden now I’m stuck for names for our 3rd baby .. yep another boy! (suprise baby!) I think two names similar are ok but three, no way! Lol I have a girls name which is a beautiful name that doesn’t rhyme and fit perfectly together but struggling on a boys name.. Any ideas?

    • Isaac could work. Like Ethan and Aiden it has two syllables, an accented first syllable, and follows the pattern of beginning with a long vowel sound. Owen or Owain is a possibility, but they are definitely matchy with your sons’ names. Best of luck to you!

  12. I have a daughter Katie who is often called Kate. I’m expecting a boy and love the name Nathan but worry about having a Nate and Kate. Thoughts?

    • I know a family with a Nathan and Katherine and they often go by Nate and Kate and it never bothered me, it seemed more fun than anything else, especially since they had separate “formal” forms and other siblings.

  13. I grew up with 7 cousins named Kathleen, Colleen, Maureen, Eileen, and Helene. Thank goodness the brothers were Michael and John. Another set of cousins are George Andrew S., Gregory Allen S, Gerald Adam S and Gail Anna S. A lot of GAS in that family! Ii also knew a classmate in college named Kimberly Irene M (initials KIM) and her sister Pamela Ann M (PAM) and her brother Cameron Andrew M (CAM).

  14. I was thinking of Clementine(for the first) and Caroline(for the second)? Other options for the second would be Valentine or Madeline(like the French cartoon). Clementine is guaranteed so I need inspiration for the second. Clementine and Valentine might be too similar. The shortness and different noise of Caroline leaves me to believe that would be the best choice.

  15. We have a 3 year old son named Blaise, and we are expecting a daughter in one month. Our last name is 10 letters and 3 syllables long, so we want something shorter for our kids’ first names. One we are considering for our daughter is Jade, but I wonder if that’s too similar-sounding to Blaise. Thoughts?

  16. My two boys are names Markus and Lukas – I think that would fall under ‘kind of rhyme’. We actually never planned on having matchy names for our kids but those happened to be the only two boys names my husband and I loved and agreed on. It bothers me that they rhyme, but I still love the names individually – I didn’t want to not chose a name I really loved just because it kind of rhymes with the name of our other child

  17. My oldest son is named Theodore but we call him Theo. We want to call our second Leopold but are afraid everyone will call him Leo. Hence, we will have a Leo and a Theo. Too much?

  18. What about Zaylen and Yaidden? Too close? Our son is named Zaylen and we are trying to find a name for our next born. My husband really likes Yaidden but it sounds so similar to me.

  19. I’m having trouble rhyming with Alice, I can’t find any good MALE names that rhyme. I kind of like Alek, but I was wondering if there was a better one.

  20. My dads name was Kurt and his sisters names were Kim, Kay , karie, and Karen

  21. How about Graham and Sam? Don’t like that they rhyme but like the two stand alone names?

  22. I have a Beau and thinking naming my second Blair. Beau & Blair? Is that silly ?

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