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Constance is obsessed with names, and now she is living out many a name nerd’s fantasy – she and her partner Sean are expecting twin girls next month.However, she’s finding the reality is a lot more stressful than you might think!

Connie and Sean have different name preferences, which is proving tricky to co-ordinate with twin’ names. Sean’s favourite name for a girl is Martha, which Connie thinks is lovely, but has found that other people aren’t so welcoming towards it.

Her own favourite for a girl is Winter – nice and straightforward, yet being a name nerd, she can’t help dreaming up lists of other possible twin combinations. She feels that she has lost sight of which names she really loves, and which are just passing name crushes. (Any of this sounding familiar???)

What Constance and Sean would like in a name:

  • universally recognised, if possible
  • an established name which isn’t too common, or too faddish
  • easy to pronounce
  • has a positive meaning and name history
  • possess some character, such as being strong even though feminine

Connie and Sean already have a son named Christian, and they like that his name is well known, established, but not too common. However, they aren’t fussed if the twins’ names don’t “match” with Christian.

Some twin combinations Constance is considering:

  • Ursula and Wilhelmina (nn Ursi and Willa)
  • Alexandra and Raphaelle
  • Olivia and Winter
  • Olive and Winter
  • Posie and Martha
  • Isis and Olive
  • Frances and Sophia
  • Bridget and Anabel
  • Delphi and Sophia
  • Theodora and Aurora (nn Teddy and Rory)
  • Noa and Isa
  • Violet and Mabel

Connie finds middle names a lot easier, and she likes them to be a little more flamboyant than the first name eg Winter Raphaelle, Martha Primrose. The surname ends an EE sound eg Raleigh, so Connie doesn’t want a name that ends with that sound.

Connie feels as if she is going around in circles, while Sean has had enough of it all and has simply given up.

* * * * * * * * * *

I don’t blame you both for feeling overwhelmed – naming even one child is a challenge, and having to do two at once is exponentially harder. I wonder if being a name nerd is making you feel even more pressured than usual, as if you must come up with twin names that are perfect in every way. I think that’s how I might feel in your position, at least.

I admire both the name Sean likes best, and the one you like best, and there’s a part of me that would like to be able to say, Well why not have twin girls called Martha and Winter? They are both lovely names, and would be given with love. And yet …. that might be being too idealistic.

People have a horrible tendency to judge twins against each other, especially female twins. The tiniest differences will be remarked on, so that a twin 2 inches smaller than her sister can be called the “short twin”, or one preferring to read while her sister loves sports will be called the “nerdy twin”.

I’m labouring this point because I notice that in several of your twin pairings, one twin has a name which is noticeably more clunky, or less popular, or less feminine, or less “cute” than the other. Part of me isn’t bothered by it, and would like to live in a world where one twin having a clunkier name, or one twin being shorter or more freckled or thinner or sportier, just doesn’t matter. Both are equally good, both are equally precious and loved.

Then there’s the part of me of that worries how the world will judge things. I know it’s not possible to ensure your children’s’ names are equal in every way (and if they are too even, then they seem “matchy”), but I think it’s worth keeping in mind.

Ursula and Wilhelmina (nn Ursi and Willa)
I really love this – these names are both quite substantial, but also elegant and sophisticated. I just wish there was a better nickname for Ursula: Willa is quite fashionable as a name in its own right, while Ursi seems more obviously “just a nickname”.

Alexandra and Raphaelle
Very pretty combination, although Raphaelle is a bit more exotic than popular Alexandra. I wonder if giving if it a little twist, such as Alessandra or Alexandria, might even things up a bit?

Olivia and Winter
I think this is a real crowd-pleaser: I can imagine very few people disliking this set of twin names. Because Olivia is a name from Shakespeare, and The Winter’s Tale is one of his plays, it even seems quite literary. Olivia is a very popular name, which does break one of your “rules”, but perhaps that won’t seem as important as you thought.

Olive and Winter
I can see you’ve gone for a less popular form of Olivia, and I do like these as twin names, but somehow I keep thinking Olivia seems like a more natural fit.

Posie and Martha
This is absolutely charming, although Martha seems a much sturdier choice than pretty Posie, and Posie also seems more nicknamey. To me it works though; they seem to balance each other without being too much of a clash. Posie does end with an EE sound like your surname – would a formal name like Josephine help?

Isis and Olive
To me it seems unfair for one twin to be named after a goddess, and the other after a tree.

Frances and Sophia
I love the way these two names sound together, with one beginning and the other ending with a S. Sophia is obviously a lot more popular than Frances though.

Bridget and Annabel
These are both very attractive vaguely Celtic names, although Bridget probably does fall under the “clunkier name than the other twin” category. I’m not sure it matters though.

Delphi and Sophia
I love the shared PH sound in the middle and the Greek origin of these names: both very meaningful as well. There’s quite a difference in popularity of course.

Theodora and Aurora (nn Teddy and Rory)
Love the tomboy nicknames for these elaborate formal names, but Theodora and Aurora do actually rhyme with each other. Not that it’s as noticeable as Fay and May, or Sallie and Hallie.

Noa and Isa
These seem very different from the other names you’ve chosen, so neat and simple, and even unisex. However, to me Noa seems like a name, while Isa is “just a nickname”.

Violet and Mabel
I like this pairing of retro names very much, they seem perfectly matched without being matchy. And they are pretty without being fluffy – they’ve got some sass to them.

I can why you keep going round in circles, because you like a wide variety of names, from rare to the Top 5, from frilly and feminine to sturdy and clunky, from long and elaborate to short and snappy. It’s one of the perils of name nerdism.

I wonder if it would help if you focused on those names and styles you like best, and concentrated on those. You did say that Winter was your favourite name, so what about if you tried to find a match for it, rather than thinking of all the possible name combinations?

What about:

  • Winter and Annabel
  • Winter and Sophia
  • Winter and Elodie
  • Winter and Scarlett (both surnames, a white/red combo)
  • Winter and Clementine (clementines are a winter fruit)
  • Winter and Posie (an allusion to winter and spring)
  • Winter and Violet (another winter/spring combination)
  • Winter and Lark (another winter/spring combination)
  • Winter and Aurora (an allusion to darkness and dawn)
  • Winter and Eden (another beginning/end combo, both unisex names)

I know poor Sean has become exhausted by it all and retreated, but once he’s had a good rest I hope you can persuade him to start talking names again. It’s a big task to name two babies all on your own, and I think you need his input and feedback. He might find it less overwhelming to discuss something specific, like, What name sounds nicest with Winter?, rather than What possible combinations could we think up for the twins?

Both you and Sean have got fantastic taste in names, even if your tastes don’t always synchronise, and I know you are going to pick beautiful names for your girls.

Readers, what do you think would be good names for the twin girls?

UPDATE: The twins names are Martha Primrose “Posie” and Winter Raphaelle!

POLL RESULT: The public’s choice for the twins’ names was Mabel and Violet.