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. Another writer pointed out Leo is a cat, why not use the other Kathryn sobriquet of Kat? Kathryn Lily, Kat.

  2. Leo and Rose, saving Lily for a future daughter. You’ve always wanted a Lily and it would be a nice way to connect the 3rd sibling to the twins. An L like Leo and a flower like Rose.

    My second suggestions would be Milly, Isla, Elsa, Tilly or Ivy.

  3. Before even clicking through to read your story, I thought of Stella… Does that make it different enough from Leo? I do also agree with other posters that Lilly and Leo sounds nice together and I think calling for either of them across the house or playground you’ll be able to hear the difference.

  4. Does anyone else see Leo & Nora and read Leonora?

    I love Abby’s suggestion of Kate Lily – and never thought of the Titanic reference and don’t think that will be a big deal for the children, perhaps occasionally from a parent but probably no more than a slightly amused and fleeting thought.

    Also like the suggestion of Willa.

  5. I have a Leo and a Lucie. They aren’t twins but we’re born back to back! If you love Lily then I think you should go for it!

  6. I love Claire and Nora from your list, and Gemma, Alice, Violet, Mia, Poppy and June from the suggestions so far. Other names that come to mind are: Stella, Tilda, Molly, Diane, Edith, Georgia, Beth, Milly, Iris, Eve, Adele, Tess, Coral, Faith, Hannah, Frida, Jade, Amy, Cara, Flora, Scarlet, Jasmine, Ida, Daphne, Tara, Della, Joyce and Fern.

  7. I think Kate Lily would be a brilliant solution – you get to honor grandma and use the name you’ve always loved! If not, Leo and Nora or Leo and Cora get my vote.