Name Help: Ezra Jordan + Ethan JamesName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Lauren writes:

Help! Our twin sons are due in July, but will probably be here sooner. After weeks (AND WEEKS) of discussion, we both came up with one favorite name.

We each started out with a list of 20-ish choices. The other person got to cross off any they really couldn’t live with or would only be okay with as a middle. And then we went back and chose our personal favorite.

The end result:


Done, right? Nope.

Now I’m having doubts.

Do the names even go together? And it is wrong to love one name so much, but find the other just kind of blah – and worry that our son will think it shows less care, because it is much more common? Plus, Jordan is a family name and James is just a name my husband thought sounded good in the middle.

And it is too much to have two names with the same initials? We didn’t plan it that way at all.

If it matters, these are almost certainly going to be our only children. (We also have a German shepherd named Oliver, which used to be my favorite name for a son.)

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

I honestly think these names are perfect for your sons.

Here’s why:

You did work together!

Maybe you each arrived at your final choice independently. But the process of evaluating was a team effort.

The names seem very compatible.

It’s only natural that the name you love seems far more special to your ear. But I’m guessing the opposite is true for your husband?

From an outsider’s perspective, Ethan and Ezra both share Hebrew roots. They’re strong, distinctive sounds. Ethan has been very popular for a much longer stretch of time. However, Ezra, too, ranks in the current US Top 100. To peers in their generation, the names are very much a matched set.

With two children, shared initials seem like coincidence.

I think I understand how you’re feeling about shared initials. They’re already twins, with a shared birthday and so much more. Repeating the same first and middle initial – identical monograms! – can be a lot.

But is it worth tweaking your two truly favorite names to arrive at something just a little different? It seems like that would violate the spirit of the process you’ve followed so far. Particularly because I imagine you’d want your husband to give up his favorite name … and vice versa.

That said, maybe you should experiment …

The way to test this isn’t necessarily to read what a bunch of people on the internet think. (Though I hope this is helpful.)

Instead, I’d try experimenting with some slight differences. Do they make the names more appealing? Less?

What if you used Ezra James and Ethan Jordan?

The rhythm of Ethan Jordan isn’t ideal, but maybe that matters less.

Or maybe there is a family middle for Ethan – possibly without a J – so both boys’ middle names carry equal significance?

And, of course, it’s possible that your husband’s second favorite name would be a better match with Ezra Jordan. Or that your second favorite goes better with Ethan James. It’s worth considering those runner-ups, if only because they can easily offer you a sense of what it might be like to not repeat initials. (Though I’m not clear if you both have definite runner-ups?)

Are you willing to move down your list to a slightly less preferred name in order to achieve a perfect pairing?

My instinct is that you’ve found your sons’ names! But a little bit of experimenting can help you know if that’s true … or if one of the other alternatives you consider is really better.

Readers, what advice can you offer Lauren and her husband? And did you take turns naming your children?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I think Ethan and Ezra are fine for twins. If it were me, I’d use a different initial for the middle names. If James is there because it sounds good, has your husband considered other names that might sound good with Ethan? Maybe something like Ethan Miles or Ethan Thomas would work as well? But if he is set on James as a middle name, it’s perfectly fine. Not many people will ever know your kids’ middle names. (My husband often doesn’t even remember our kids’ middle names when he has to include them in something).

  2. I feel like these are about as close to perfect as you can get, but I would consider tweaking middle names to either both be honor names or both not.

  3. I really like your choices and think that they go well together as siblings. Go with it!

  4. I think you got lucky, they go really well together! They are a good twin/sib set, and I like that they don’t share the same sound in any syllable (important for me as I didn’t want my children to say “Did you call *me*?” every time I said one of their names.) I would echo Abby’s advice and think about alternate options for James that might have more meaning in your family. If Jordan is from Mom’s family, maybe a name from Dad’s family?

  5. I have twins Eden and Ella that share the same first initial I was told that it can cause mix ups ups at social security if they have the same middle initial and birthdate. So I picked different initials for the middle names. Not sure if it is true but something to think about.

    1. Thanks, Carrie S! I do think that’s good advice – particularly as one middle isn’t an honor name, it seems like there’s a good opportunity to tweak one of the names.

  6. The names you chose are so perfect, and they definitely go together. As long as you don’t share your preference for a name, its fine you like one more than the other, and the name you think you like less will grow on you once your baby is here with you. Both names are in the top 50 so I really wouldn’t worry. Anybody who does not give their twins matchy names is missing out on an excellent opportunity. Perfectly paired names show great care in choosing. Only use family names when the feel right, not from a sense obligation. That being said if its equally bothersome for one to have a family name and one not too, then consider family names for Ethan or nonfamily names for Ezra. Doing so may also solve the matching initials if they truly need solving. I AM hesitant to make name suggestions because you worked so well as a couple in choosing, but I want to address the popularity thing a bit more. As alternative combinations I MIGHT consider Ethan and Levi OR Ezra and Isaac. Again you worked very well together in choosing these names, so really consider sticking with them. How does your husband feel about the names and your concerns? Make sure and talk to him about your doubts too.