The Curious Case of Twins

A find of mine from Hamleys, a board game called Chav

When I occasionally feel the need to be inspired by names, I pull up the website for the London Telegraph and flick through the names in the Birth Announcements section. This happened to me yesterday, and I picked up on a noticeable pattern in the boy/girl twin names. Here’s a quick selection:

Archie Jack and Ottilie Rose

Arthur and Honor

Benjamin George and Marissa Penelope

Kitty Bridget and Oliver Joseph

Martha Jennifer Hannah and Samuel William Barnard

Maya Rose Elizabeth and Thomas Eliot Riou

Notice that same thing I did? The boys seem to have more ‘mainstream’ names than their sister. The first one, Archie and Ottilie, was the one that I picked up on first. In terms of popularity, Archie is at #24 in the rankings whilst Ottilie is at #878 in the 2010 England&Wales rankings, but in terms of style, they actually go hand-in-hand almost.

It’s an interesting thing, really. I love seeing twin sets which go against what we believe to be twin names- think Madison&Mason and so forth; a set I always cite as a favourite example of twin-naming is the musicians Tegan&Sara.

Where do you stand on the issue? Does it really matter if one twin has a name much more mainstream than the other?

Categories: Twin Names | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Twins

  1. Awkward Turtle

    It depends. Sometimes names of the same style can get different popularities for no reason.


  2. namemuststay

    I might be among the few who sees no problem in twins sharing a first initial. Absolutely not to rhyme, but there are some families who stick to one letter, which in many ways binds the family together.

    And I do agree with Awkward Turtle – each of those twinsets seem perfect for each other, but as the list of girl names is so much longer than boy names, names that carry the same style won’t necessarily match each other in popularity.


  3. That’s a really interesting observation and I think it’s generally true. I don’t many sets of girl-boy twins, but in the few cases I do know, the boy does have a more popular name, although in most cases the popularity is reasonably equivalent.

    I don’t think it matters so much as the overall style – there are quite a few names that are both Top 100, but wouldn’t sound right paired together.

    And obviously rhyming names like Madison and Addison or Daley and Kaylee are going to sound pretty naff to most people.


  4. I like them. I do wonder if parents feel that their boys need more serious names, which I don’t like, *if* that’s the thinking behind it… if it’s a “well a girl’s name can be riskier because she won’t need to be taken as seriously,” then I think it’s pretty darn sexist. I say give them all risky names, if you like risky names, boys and girls, alike. Of course, one person’s naming style needn’t be super consistent; we can all like all sorts of different names, but my concerns might be better comforted if some of the pairs featured more traditionally named girls with riskier brothers’ names. Over all these are nice pairs, though.


  5. I’ve noticed the trend as well, but I think one of the reasons is that there are less unusual boys names than girls. I collect unusual names, and after making a real effort to get more boys names on my list, I still have at least 300 less, and I don’t think I’ll ever get it to even out.

    I also recall asking a five year old girl once what she would want to be if she could be anything in the world, and she answered ‘the ocean, because it glitters in sunlight’ followed by a heartfelt sigh and ‘I would love to be glitter’. If I asked a five year old boy the same question, he would probably say fireman or Spiderman depending on his current hero, already conforming to the idea that he most likely has to stay some form of human for the rest of his life. The difference is that girls tend to be sillier than boys and stay silly longer, so they might appreciate a silly/dreamy name more and longer than boys.


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  8. Sarah A

    While Sherri and Terri are kind of ridiculous, count me in the camp who’d prefer to see more “matchy” names on twins than completely unmatched. Maybe it’s because I never forgave my parents for not giving my sisters “matchy” names. One twin is Maryam after our paternal grandmother and the other is Hannah because my parents liked it and it works well in Arabic. I would have preferred Hannah and Leah. However, my sisters are a good example that you can give one twin a name out of the Top 1000 and the other twin a Top 20 name and they’ll be just fine 🙂


    • One cheesy thing I love with twins is that they belong to a “set” or a theme in some way, like Summer and Winter, Lavender and Rosemary or Jasper and Garnet.

      It’s even better if the theme isn’t immediately obvious. eg Adam and David – the names of the first and last humans mentioned in the Bible.


      • Awkward Turtle

        Same here. I like different sounds, but similar associations/meanings. So Lily and Milly = no, but Lily and Rose = yes.


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