Update: They’re here! Welcome to the world, Ingrid & Greta.
I need help naming identical twins who are coming around the end of June. We do not know if they are boys or girls, but definitely they’re the same sex.
Our first daughter was stillborn. We planned to name her Marguerite, nicknamed Daisy, for a girl, and possibly Cassius (family name) for a boy. But then her name came to me in a dream right before she was born: Anna. Her name won’t really be part of the sibset in most situations, but it does matter to us.
Our two-year-old is named Elsa. We were not aware of Frozen before we chose the name, and were a little taken aback by the association, but have not yet met other Elsas so I don’t think it’s as trendy as I worried it would be. We also did not know of the Elsa-Anna connection but it has made the name particularly special to me. The two runners-up for Elsa were Nora and Lydia.
Rather than a traditional middle name all our children have my last name and then their father’s, so we’re just looking for firsts. Both names are long. Their father’s long last name starts with a B and ends with -en, so we’re looking for names that are shorter, don’t start with B, and don’t end in -n.
- Names that can travel a bit – easy to pronounce in different languages.
- Unusual but not strange in English.
- Not unisex, but strong.
- Not super-modern.
- I like German/Scandinavian names a lot, and both of our girls’ names fit in in those countries.
- Not too singsongy with Elsa. (A problem with many of my likes, with the repeating -a ending.)
On our list already …
- For girls: Greta (I especially like that it is a form of Margaret like Elsa is for Elizabeth); Ingrid (too much “grrrr” with Greta?); Thea; Clara or Clare; Flora; Lena; Marta; Margot; Astrid; Tess; and Blythe or Britta (but Bs!)
- For boys, Casper (high favorite, family ties, but what goes with it?); Leopold (too weird?); Walter; Hugo; Philip (husband doesn’t like); Alfred; Alban; Arthur; Archer (family ties); Lars (too Swedish?); Calvin (but Cal and Cas/Cap?); Pascal; Felix; Rufus; Gideon; Gilbert.
Please read on for my response, and leave your helpful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Whitney –
Congratulations on your twins!
Swistle often gives this wise advice about naming twins: choose your next two favorite names, as if you’re naming two children in two separate pregnancies. Which makes all the sense in the world, and I think it’s great advice. Except. I don’t think I could do it. I think naming twins must be a little bit different. I think I’d want a subtle link between the two names, but also be more sensitive about avoiding names that are too obviously matched.
Still, I’m going to take Swistle’s approach here, and hope that we can find links afterwards.
Let’s start with the girls.
It sounds like you’d like to avoid two more -a ending names. I hear what you’re saying about multiple, two-syllable, a-ending names sounding singsongy. But is it really a dealbreaker? Emma, Ava, and Mila; Ella, Sarah, and Laura. I can say lots of similar combinations without it feeling like overload. And you seem to be drawn to a-ending names, right? So it seems like a shame to discard them all.
Well, except for one. Let me suggest Thora, because it’s a strong name for a girl that rhymes with Flora, shares Thea’s Th, and is a strong, Scandi name. It comes from Thor, as in the comic book hero, but more importantly, the Norse god.
That leaves Ingrid, Astrid, Tess, and Margot from your original list. Ingrid and Astrid are great names with Norse roots – though I’m not sure if they’re too close for twin names. Tess is short for Theresa, and Margot is short for Margaret, so I wonder if that adds some appeal. Clare is another non-a ender. The French spelling Claire is much more popular at the moment, but both are spare, sophisticated picks for a daughter.
Let’s see if we can add a few more suggestions:
- Iris – Iris is in the current Swedish Top 100. (So is Siri. But twins named Iris and Siri? That might be too much … Or not.)
- Esme – Not Scandi – at all. Still, a great name with a different ending – though perhaps too close to Elsa.
- Maeve – Again, this one is Irish rather than Scandinavian, but I think the sound is distinctive and might appeal.
- Rose – Straightforward and easily transported into other languages.
- Pearl – The same idea as Rose.
- Sylvie – Okay, Sylvie is French – again, not Norse. But it’s a complete name that feels similar to the names on your list.
- Daphne – A name from Greek myth with ties to the natural world.
- Ivy – Short, sweet, and complete – though not especially popular in Scandinavia.
I looked at the most popular names in Sweden and Norway for inspiration, and here’s what leapt out at me: more than 30 of the Swedish girls’ Top 50 ended with a, and most of those where two syllables. The numbers are similar for Norway. So … it’s no surprise you’re drawn to all of those a-endings!
Let’s talk about combinations for a minute:
- Tess and Greta – Tess is not currently in the US Top 1000. (Though Tessa ranks just outside the Top 200.) Greta ranks around #600 – not too common – and, as you say, is short for Margaret. Tess and Greta seem like good matches.
- Iris and Thea – Iris and Thea are both stylish in the US – though not very popular – and in Norway and Sweden. Elsa, Iris, and Thea are Scandinavian, but not in a too obvious way.
- Margot and Clare – If avoiding the a-ending names feels important, I really like the idea of Margot and Clare – with the caveat that Claire is in the current US Top 100, so perhaps that’s too popular for you to consider?
- Margot and Daphne – My suggestion if you find the prospect of popular Clare/Claire problematic. I’ve always thought of Daphne as sprightly and fun. (Credit to this piece of Django Reinhardt music, probably.) Many of us think of the Scooby Doo character, which isn’t necessarily a positive. But I do feel like Daphne’s mythological roots and ties to the natural world balance out the animated character.
I’d love to hear what readers think of Ingrid and Astrid. Are they too Scandinavian with big sister Elsa? My instinct is yes – that’s the kind of combination that will have people asking you if you’re from Sweden.
Now, on to the boys. It seems like your style is even bolder when it comes to boys – many of these are not in the current US Top 1000! Though they’re all generally familiar as given names.
In this case, I’m not sure we need to add anything, especially because there’s no conflict with a-ending names.
It also sounds like Casper is the name to match, with the nickname Cas.
So what goes with Casper?
- My first choice would be Felix. They’re both complete names that don’t really require nicknames. And I think they have a similar vintage style, and Felix is nicely German and Scandinavian, too. One drawback? While Casper isn’t in the Top 1000, Felix is currently in the Top 300 and rising. Still, Elsa, Casper, and Felix are great together.
- Archer is my second choice. While I’m drawn to the sounds of Casper and Felix from a style perspective, I noted that Archer also has family ties. If Casper and Archer are both family(ish) names, that’s a compelling reason to use the two names. Cas and Arch are easy short forms, if you’re inclined to nickname. As with Felix, the only issue is popularity. Archer ranks right around #300 in the US right now, and is gaining.
- Back to style considerations: Hugo seems like a great brother for Elsa and Casper. It’s in the current US Top 500, and likely to climb, but that’s less popular than Felix and Archer – for now. It’s also easily worn in northern Europe, which is another plus.
- In the fourth spot, I’d suggest Rufus. Rufus is a favorite of mine, but I put it on this list for another reason: Rufus isn’t in the US Top 1000. Just 20 boys were given the name in 2014, which is … crazy! (In 2014, it took at least 205 births for a boy’s name to rank in the US Top 1000. Another name that isn’t on your list, but is similarly rare? Linus.
That’s not to say that other names on your list aren’t great fits, but these jumped out at me.
Readers, what would you suggest to Whitney for her twins? How do you feel about additional a-ending names if the twins are girls?
Thank you again to everyone for your comments, they were very helpful! I was sure the twins would be boys, so naturally we had two girls, whom we named Ingrid and Greta. Ingrid inexplicably already has the nickname Gigi. I now say I have a passel of Viking daughters!
Greta and Margot
Casper and Hugo // Felix and Hugo
These options are just lovely all around – you truly can’t go wrong. Just wanted to chime in as a mom of a Sylvie to say that it is a family name for my Swedish husband (Sylvi) but because we are in the US we went with the French spelling for familiarity here. We still think of our daughter’s name in terms of its Norse roots (as a variant of Solveig) – so I do think Sylvie still fits in nicely on this list!
Kat, thank you – thank is so helpful!
I actually quite like Greta and Ingrid together – I think the gr gives them a subtle tie without the matchy feel.
I also really like Casper and Leopold, with the caveat that I find Leopold a both of a mouthful, and feel like it will almost certainly be shortened to Leo. This would not other me, but if it does you, I wouldn’t use it. Lars is also great and underused. (Ooooh, Lars and Leo(pold) if you do go matched set – swoon!))
The first girl name that popped in my head upon reading your question was: Mia.
Now, I know that MIA ends in ‘a’ as Elsa does, but, as the mother of an older child, and a set of younger twins, I think that ending could be a nice unifier for the older child who can often feel a bit out of the loop. What to name Mia’s twin? Why not *start* with a ‘a’ this time: Astrid, as others have suggested–or the flower name, Aster?
ELSA, ASTRID, MIA would be my vote.
I like Casper.
Brother of Theodore? Leopold as others have mentioned? Lars? I like Felix, too.
But it Archer is a family name, I’d go for it.
Best of luck!
kelsey D says
From your list I love Thea and Greta. Elsa, Thea, and Greta.
To add in a new one: Rose. Elsa, Thea, and Rose.
The above two would be my favourites. I love the sound and look of them all together. Short and sweet.
What about Freda (or Freida) or Freya.
From your boys:
I LOVE WALTER!! I’ve been trying to get someone to use Walter for a long time now! It’s top of my boy list if we were to have another boy. I personally love Walter and Leopold. Walt and Leo.
Or Charles and Walter. Charlie and Walt. So CUTE
What about Louis (pronounced Lou-ee)?
If you go with Casper, I think Felix is a great match.
Good luck!! Exciting times ahead!!
To my ear, Casper and Felix are too much like Casper and Pollux, but I like a lot of the other combinations. I also really like Rune, which is pretty different from a lot of your suggestions, but if you happen to share my weakness for strings of two syllable names followed by a one syllable name, that might be nice. I especially like it with Casper. Might be too pagan for your husband though.
Charlotte @ to Harriet Louise says
I love their style in names.
I like Margot and Thea or Margot and Blythe- Anna, Elsa, Margot, and Blythe sound perfect together (Thea is a close second for me, and I think Ingrid works too). For boys I like Casper and Leopold or Casper and Hugo – Anna, Elsa, Casper, and Leopold/Anna, Elsa, Casper, and Hugo.
With Caspar I love August (nn Gus-Cas and Gus!), and Laurence (nn Lars) if you prefer. You could even use the Scandinavian spelling of Lorens. I also love Benedict or Rasmus if you want to get crazy 🙂
I like Ingrid and Thea as a pair-those are my two favorite Scandinavian girls names anyway. I also have soft spots for Frederika (probably too long with your surname but so cute), Sunniva (nn Sunny), and Marit rather than Margot. I think moving to three syllable girls names that end in a will help avoid that sing-song feel if you prefer but I don’t think that’s a big deal. What fun!!
Have you considered Solveig? It has a similar end sound to the -a that you like, but is a bit different. Otherwise, I think Lena, Astrid, and Freya are great options (I say this as the mother of a Freya who considered many of the same names you like!).
Elsa, Solveig, and Astrid
Elsa, Solveig, and Lena
Elsa, Astrid and Freya
Elsa, Lena and Astrid
Elsa, Freya and Solveig
For boys, I think Casper and Archer are stylish, modern, and well-matched. Going in a totally different direction, there’s something old-man charming about Leopold and Walter.
Elsa, Archer, and Casper
Elsa, Leopold, and Walter
Please do let us know what you decide!
It is so exciting to see my question up there – thanks for all of your help!
I like Thora, too, but my husband thinks it’s too pagan, I imagine the same would go for Freya.
No one likes Leopold?
I will certainly let you all know what we decide come June!
I think Leopold is great! I love the movie Kate & Leopold so it definitely doesn’t sound too weird to me. =)
Agreed – Leopold *is* great. I hesitate, though, because Leo is very popular – so if Leopold is shortened to Leo, would you feel like it was too common?
I love Leopold! Would like it best with either Casper or Walter.
Abby Jo says
I’ve just come across this post, and I NEED TO KNOW what you named these twins!!
Faith Shelley says
Ingrid and Siv, Astrid and Lauren, or Arthur and Hugo, Casper and Benjamin
Love, love, love Greta and Lena for girls, yes they both end in a like Elsa, but the rest of the sounds are totally different so its not overly noticable. Elsa, Greta, and Lena. For boys I like Casper and Gideon, Casper and Walter, or Casper and Gilbert.
I have a 14-yr-old Astrid so I’ll cast my vote for that for a girl! It’s a super name – not that I’m biased. 😉
For the second girl, I like Freya, Greta, or Margot. As for boys, Casper and Hugo are my favorites, followed by Casper and Walter (from your original list).
I like so many of the names you’ve got on your original list, I don’t think you can go wrong. Best of luck with your twins!
Also, I definitely wouldn’t use Ingrid and Astrid for the twins. One or the other paired with another girl name would be great, but together I do think they’re too much (although I know an Ingrid-Astrid sister pair who aren’t twins).
Id go for Thora and Margot! (both of which have been on my list before!) I think the “O” sounds tie them together without making them sound matchy. both are strong, not too common, and not sing songy. honestly i think they are so perfect.
and Casper and Pascal – quite matchy but they dont start with the same letter. for me that would be a plus. i think they sound lovely together.
other names that go very well with Casper to me from your list are are Archer, Felix, and Rufus.
a caveat with Casper and Felix is they are both characters, as are Elsa and Anna.
I’d also say Alban and Gideon go v well with Casper but they end in “N” so not sure if you want them.
additional suggestions just stylistically to go with Casper would be Miles, Asher/Asa, Grover (same caveat as Felix probably) and Fable (which is out there but a recognizable word).
I was planning on mentioning this too…I would avoid pairing Casper, Felix, Elsa, and Anna together unless you find the cartoon connection appealing. Unfortunately, Archer and Linus have this “problem” (not necessarily a problem) as well, though I find it more noticeable with Casper and Felix.
Interesting, Hettie – I didn’t think of that, but you’re right … not sure if it is a problem, but having realized it, I can’t un-know it!
I like Alaina’s suggestion of Freya! Elsa, Greta, and Freya sounds perfect! 🙂 Although…Elsa is the ice queen in Frozen, and now Freya is the ice queen in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. So, idk. Still think it makes a great sibset! Elsa, Tess, and Greta would be my second choice.
For boys, I kind of prefer Elsa, Hugo, and Felix.
Thyra might be a nice alternative to Thora. It’s a variant and not quite as obviously from Thor.
There’s also Alice or Rose.
I’d like to suggest Freya. I think Greta and Freya (and Elsa) sound great together. I love the suggestion of Casper and Felix. Best of luck to you!
I love so many of your names. I’d vote for Elsa, Margot, and Astrid or Elsa, Casper, and Hugo (Felix is wonderful too)
Your list of pure perfection and I can’t wait to hear what you decide 🙂