Name Help: Leo's twinName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Most Saturdays one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

E. writes:

Our twins are due in a few weeks, and we have a problem and hope you can help.

Before we got pregnant, we talked about names. He liked Leo for a boy. He has a grandpa Leonard. That’s not exactly why we like the name, but it makes me like it more.

I have always, always, forever, always wanted to have a daughter named Lily. My dolls were all Lily, I made up a Halloween costume around being Princess Lily when I was little, and tried to name our family’s cat Lily.

For a few weeks, I thought our twins were both girls. We were looking for another name to go with Lily.

But we just found out that they’re girl-boy. I don’t like Leo and Lily together. They’re just too close.

We’ve decided to drop Lily. There just aren’t any boy names that we agree on besides Leo. And we do have a list of names that we like besides Lily. But we can’t choose.

Here’s our list:

  • Emma – he loves, I’m just meh
  • Ruby – I really like, he says okay
  • Rose – what he wanted for Lily’s twin sister, but now that’s not happening, he says no to Rose
  • Ella – still think this sounds too much like Leo
  • Nora – maybe my new favorite
  • Clara, Claire – another new favorite, but not sure which one I like more

The middle name will be Kathryn, for my gran. No long names because our last name is long enough already!


Please read on for my reply, and leave your own thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Hi E. –

First, congratulations!

Second, oh how I do dislike it that you’ve had to let your favorite name go! But I suspect it’s the right decision. After all, Leo is a pretty sweet way to honor a grandpa Leonard, and if it just happens to be the name that you both love? Then it’s a keeper.

But here’s what leaps out at me immediately.

Looking at Rose, Claire, and Kathryn, I wonder if you would like Kate. Then both children are sort-of-not-really named after grandparents. I wonder if you would use Lily as a middle name? Leo ___ and Kate Lily?

I do think you should agree to drop Ruby and Emma, since you’re not equally enthusiastic about them. Ella does seem awfully close to Leo. Rose seems like a great substitute for Lily, but again, if he’s not on board, let’s move on.

That leaves Nora and Clara or Claire. I think all three choices would be great.

I’ll also suggest:

Hazel – I know it doesn’t sound much like the other names on your list, but stay with me for a minute. Hazel and Leo are both vintage names with modern sounds. Like Lily and Rose, it’s a nature name. And it’s not too long, so it will work with a more complicated last name.

Cora – I feel like Cora combines the best parts of Nora and Clara.

Gemma – It’s just slightly different than Emma, but maybe it’s different enough that it will appeal to you both?

Sophie – Sophie sounds like a nickname for Sophia, but it’s not – it’s the French form of the name. I like Sophie and Leo together quite a bit; another option might be Sylvie.

I could go on, but I’m not sure I should – after all, you have a really great list started already, and it’s a question of narrowing things down.

My favorite from your list is probably Nora. I think Nora and Leo are perfectly matched.

From my suggestions, I’m secretly cheering for Kate Lily! I love the idea that both names come from grandparents, but are updated to make them all their own.

Readers, what would you suggest to E. for her daughter’s name?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I think Leo and Lily are cute together, but I also like coordinating twin names! Another flower name that might work is Iris. Ivy is cute with Leo too. I also like the suggestion of Wren, though I am probably biased because it is my daughter’s middle name. What about Larkin?
    I also wanted to suggest Alice and Violet.

  2. I know you said no long names, so maybe these won’t work…

    Rosalie– it has a Rose/Lily combo feeling and maybe your husband would be on board with a variation of Rose?

    Eleanor– you could then use the nicknames Ella and/or Nora

    Coralie–a smoosh of sounds from Claire/Nora/Lily

  3. Ella and Leo don’t sound too close to me. However, the L’s in Lily and Leo would feel to me as though they were picked to match if I were to hear them together for the first time.

    Here are some other ideas…
    Aubrey/Aubrie (similar sounds to Ruby?)

  4. I don’t see what’s so bad about Leo & Lily. If you like the name, keep it! Aside from starting with the same letter, they are different. Leo has a long e sound and Lily has a short i sound. Plenty of people I know have kids whose names start with the same letter. I think you will regret not using a name you love because of some imagined complication.

  5. Nora is my favorite from your list. I like it with Kathryn and with Leo. Nora and Leo have similar popularity track records too, so that seems like a nice fit.

    If you want a little bit of shared sound, would you like Orla? Or does that get too tongue twistery?

  6. I like Clara from your list best, over Claire (which you can always use as a nickname if you decide it fits better.) Clara makes me think of Willa, which you might like because it’s got similar sounds to Lily. And I think Sadie has the same spunkiness that Ruby does. I do think the Leo and Kate Titanic reference is too much for me, but probably wouldn’t be for the twins’ generation and therefore fine.

  7. I actually don’t think Leo and Lily are too alike!
    My fav from your list is Nora. My fav suggested is Cora. I love the idea of matching the short 3 letters of Leo. How about Ivy, Mia, Zoe or Eva? Or, if not I like Daisy, Elsie or Greta.

    Ivy Kathryn, Ivy and Leo. So cute and close to Lily.