Name Help: A Sister for Ethan, Tess, and LeviName 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!

Ellie writes:

Choosing names has always come easy for us. We named our son about ten minutes after the ultrasound tech declared, “it’s a boy.” Our daughter was down to two or three favorites, but we agreed right after she was born.

Their full names are Ethan Edward and Tessa “Tess” Marie. Edward and Marie are family names that happen to be kind-of-sort on both sides of our families. Our last name is a presidential surname that starts with C and ends with -er.

We are now expecting twins – a boy and a girl. They will complete our family.

We have a name picked out for our son: Levi Andrew. But for a daughter, we’re stuck.

I’m not sure if we have any can’t-break rules, but generally:

  • Because our last name is a popular first name, we don’t want to use anything like Madison that would lead to confusion.
  • I don’t like alliteration. Tessa was almost Clara, but I decided Clara C. sounded too cartoon-character to me.
  • We would prefer to avoid repeating initials, so no more names that begin with E, T, or L.
  • Nicknames are okay when they’re obvious, like Tess for Tessa.

Neither of us is very adventurous. We’re not going to have a kid named Blue Ivy or anything like that. But we do know a lot of kids at this point, and names like Olivia, Isabella, Evelyn, and Emma/Emily and Amelia are probably out because we know more than one, though they are all names that we like.

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

Dear Ellie –

Congrats on your twins! With your new son named, you’re halfway there … now let’s see if we can’t come up some ideas for your daughter.

The more kids you name, the tougher it can get to avoid repeating sounds. We’ve ruled out four letters of the alphabet: C for your surname, plus E, T, and L for your other children’s names. That leaves 22 letters, though, so I think we can work with that.

Alice – Spare and straightforward, but filled with a mix of storybook innocence and real-world resilience, Alice strikes me as a fitting sister name for Tess. It’s a different initial, too, and while I questioned if Ellie and Alice were too close, I think they pass the test nicely.

Georgia – Tessa reads spunky, and so does Georgia. At just two syllables, it doesn’t require a nickname, though Georgie is obvious and available.

Grace – Single-syllable names tend to feel nickname-proof. That’s not quite true, but I think Grace/Gracie falls into the same category as Tessa/Tess – it’s a logical, obvious choice, one that your daughter could use or not over the years.

June – My first thought was Jane, but maybe June feels a little more like a sister for Ethan, Tessa, and Levi? It’s a fresh choice, upbeat and optimistic. But it also feels traditional, the kind of name that we all recognize, even if we don’t hear it often.

Molly – My first suggestion was Lily, but that clashes with Levi. So I substituted Molly instead. In many ways, it’s a traditional name – short for the evergreen Mary. But it’s also casual, a natural sister for Tessa.

Nora – Clara always makes me think of Nora. Because it avoids the initials C.C., would Nora suit?

Ruby – Ruby introduces a new vowel sound into the mix, and has a different first initial, and is pretty mainstream without being too common. Could Ruby work?

Violet – Okay, Levi and Violet might be a little too close. But I like the subtle link with the shared ‘vi’ sound in the two names, so I can’t resist adding it to the list. And I do think Violet meets all of your requirements nicely.

Overall, I’m most attracted to June and Grace. I think Junie and Gracie are nicknames in the same way that Tess is for Tessa. And I like the sound of Ethan, Tess, Levi, and June (or Grace) a lot.

But I know the community will have some great suggestions … so over to you! What would you name a twin sister for Levi Andrew?

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. Grace and Ruby are perfect.

    But I’m thinking Isla, Pearl, Hazel, Heidi, Zoe, Stella or Rose.

    Or, if they like Clara, what about Sara or Zara?

  2. I’m leaving out whatever has been suggested already.

    For something less common, but still not too adventurous – Azalea, Beatrix, Zinnia.
    Somewhat more common but not excessively so – Priscilla
    More exotic – Uma, Una
    Probably not Ellie’s style, but who knows – Frida, Zelda

  3. I think Georgia, Nora, Ruby, Grace or Molly are spot on. Of those, I think Georgia and Ruby are my faves for you. I love June as well but think the others are slightly better stylistic matches.

    Another option that I love, especially with Levi: Phoebe

    Ethan, Tess, Levi and Phoebe

  4. I like Molly. Polly has the same feel. Or Allison, Annalise, Annika, Belle, Danica, Gillian or Jillian, Hope, Jocelyn, Julia, Mariah, Rosalyn, Victoria.

  5. I feel like Abby’s suggestions knocked this one out of the park, and I especially love Georgia and Nora.
    I also like Iris, Vera, or the more unusual Veda. Maybe Paloma or Ruth. And I know the nickname first thing isn’t your style, but a Betsy (Elizabeth) or Kit (Katherine) sound like a great sister for Tess.

  6. Ahhh I like their names! To me, Ethan, Tess/a, and Levi all have the exact same vibe – solid, real names that scream friendly and kind and down to earth. (I nodded my head in agreement when reading Abby’s suggestion that June might be more fitting than Jane and I think this is exactly why – both are lovely but Jane is just a *little* more prim and proper, where June is sweet and laid back.)

    If I had to name a sister for Ethan, Tess, and Levi, I’d consider:

    Anne – and I’d specifically plan to call her Annie. Annie and Tess?!?! Swoon. Ethan, Tessa, Levi, and Anne.
    Ruth – with Ruthie as an option. Tess and Ruthie. Ethan, Tessa, Levi, and Ruth.
    Pippa – ordinarily I prefer long formal names that can be shortened, but I think Philippa, Philomena, etc. would sound odd in this sibset. But I think Pippa would be smashing. Tess and Pip, Tess and Pippa, Tessa and Pippa – all great. Ethan, Tess, Levi, and Pippa.
    Hattie – I LOVE Harriet and I think it could work in this sibset, but I think Hattie might be an even better fit. Ethan, Tess, Levi, and Hattie.

    I am also in *love* with the idea of Posy and Josie or Jo. Is Josie a “real” formal name?? Honestly asking – not being snarky at all! Because I love the idea of Ethan, Tess, Levi, and Josie – I think they are perfect together. But Josephine sounds a little long for them. I think Jo would be a sweet nickname for a sister for Tess, as well. Posy also is gorgeous – but again, is it formal?

    Over all I think I’d go with Hattie as my first option, or I’d consider Josie as a name on its own, if it’s formal enough for them. But I’d be happy with any of these, and with Abby’s suggestions of June and Ruby.