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Christine and Sam are expecting their second child next year. If it’s a boy – no problems, they have easily agreed on a choice of two, and selected the middle name. If it’s a girl, things aren’t so straightforward.

Christine would adore either Isobel, Evie, Charlotte, or Emerson. However, Sam absolutely loves the name Matilda. On the face of it, this seems fine, because Christine also likes the name Matilda. And Sam really wanted to name their eldest child Avery, but Christine’s choice of Amelia won the day, so Christine wants him to have his turn at choosing a baby name.

Amelia and Matilda seem no drama as sisters, but they always call Amelia “Millie”, and this is the source of Christine’s dilemma. She worries that the sisters will end up being called Millie and Tilly, and this will make them the butt of jokes. She’s tried to convince herself that they could call Matilda “Tilda“, but she doesn’t really love the idea.

Christine wants to know how Amelia and Matilda sound as sisters, and if people will snigger as they call them Millie and Tilly.

Christine wants to stress that Sam also likes all her choices for a girl: he just has his heart set on a little Matilda. The middle name will either be Audrey or Carter, which are both family names.


Christine, I get why you’re torn over the name Matilda, as there is a widespread belief that it is stupid and tasteless for your childrens’ names to rhyme. There is even a sterotyped sibset of 1970s siblings named Sharon, Karen and Darren, as a warning to us how we will be mocked if we dare to give our children names that rhyme (today I guess it’s Jayden, Kayden and Hayden).

Except – Amelia and Matilda don’t rhyme. It’s just the nicknames, or the potential nicknames they could be given.

I can imagine that someone might decide to call a Matilda “Tilly” as a tease to match her with her sister called Millie. It sounds annoying, but not really devastating. I would hope that these people would be an irritating minority, rather than the rule.

Or would you want to call Matilda by the nickname Tilly yourself …. except that you already have a Millie? Would you feel able to boldly call them Millie and Tilly, and stare down anyone who giggled?

Even in this case, I don’t think it will be as big a problem as you probably imagine. I went to high school with a girl named Penelope (always known as Penny), and she had an older sister named Jennifer (usually called Jen or Jenny). It did register with me that their nicknames rhymed, but I never commented on it, and certainly never did a finger-pointing laugh over it.

Why not? Well, for a start I was fifteen, not five! And Jenny was already a young adult at university, so it’s not as if I saw them together a lot, or even heard their names said together very often. It might have been different if I’d seen them both in primary school wearing matching uniforms and identical ponytails.

Even the closest sisters will have separate interests and friendship groups. And they will eventually grow up and have their own homes and careers (perhaps live in different cities or even different countries), and their names will barely be an issue. Besides, either one of them might decide they don’t want to be called by a nickname, or prefer a different nickname, such as Amy or Tilda.

I tend to trust your instinct that this time it’s Sam’s turn to have his favourite name, especially as it’s a name which you like as well and makes a nice match with Amelia. It may not be a completely issue-free choice, but I don’t think there are enough problems with it for it to be vetoed.

If I met someone with daughters named Millie and Tilly, I might be slightly amused, but I would think it was very cute. However, I do have to say no to having a son named William later and calling him Billy! You can have too much of a good thing.

Readers, what do you think of Amelia and Matilda as sisters? And are the nicknames Millie and Tilly something to worry about?

(Picture shows a scene from the Disney film Cinderella II: Dreams Come True)