Name Help: Nature Names for Twin Girls


Name Help: Unusual Nature Naems for Twin Girls

Update: They’re here! Welcome to Colibri Belle and Mariposa Lea. Thanks to all for their input; Charity really enjoyed reading everyone’s suggestions!

Charity writes:

Hello! I’m looking for help naming one of my twin girls. They are due in 3 weeks! We have decided on a name for one of the girls, Colibri. It means hummingbird in several different languages including Spanish and Italian. My boyfriend is Hispanic and I have a lot of Italian in my family history.

I also love nature names! My two other children are Cedar and Juniper.

I like the name Elowen, and that name goes great with my other children, but I’m not sure if it would go well with her sister.

So I started looking for other bird names that would go well with Colibri and I found Kotori and Canari. I also like Mariposa which is another Spanish word meaning butterfly. My boyfriend has suggested Navi several times, but it doesn’t seem to go well with Colibri either. Looking for suggestions!! Thanks so much!

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

Hi Charity –

Congratulations on your new daughters – how exciting to be expecting twins!

Sometimes parents choose relatively unusual names for a first or second child, but find themselves preferring something more conventional for future children. Often, the world simply catches up to families, with everyone discovering the great names that were once theirs alone.

And, of course, families do opt to go the other way, too, looking farther afield for truly distinctive name choices. You’re in this camp, I think. Cedar and Juniper were once slightly out-there, but now they’re broadly familiar. Juniper ranks #314 for girls. That’s not Emma, but it’s more popular than you might expect.

The names you’ve shortlisted for these babies are the opposite – they’re almost completely unknown.

Colibri was given to fewer than five children in the US in 2017; I found a handful in various records, but really only a few.

The other names you’re considering are similar in terms of frequency:

  • Canari – Again, it’s really not used as a given name. But I think this is my least favorite of your options. Canari is a valid spelling in some romance languages, but in the US? It looks like a respelling of Canary. Which seems a little flimsier, somehow, compared to Colibri. Maybe it’s that Canary strikes me as not-quite name-like? I’m not sure if that’s fair, so readers, feel free to convince me otherwise.
  • Kotori – Kotori might mean songbird in Japanese, so at first glance, it’s a good match for Colibri. But is it too matched? Both start with a strong Ko- sound, end with an ‘i’, and have the same number of syllables. If you like that closeness, then it’s a feature, not a bug. But it makes me hesitate, especially for twins, who already share so much.
  • Navi – This seems like a slightly departure from your nature name theme. Not total, of course. It’s still a word name, with strong ties to the ocean and the night sky, too. But I think you’re right to hesitate about whether it fits. (Even though I think Colibri and Navi work together better, in some ways, than the very similar Colibri and Navi.) Factor in the spellings Navy and Navy, and this easily makes the current US Top 1000 for girls – and it’s undeniably rising.
  • Elowen – Oh, how I love Elowen! It’s slightly more common- 131 girls received the name last year. And, at least in name circles, people tend to recognize and react positively to this undiscovered gem. But it’s Cornish – not a romance language. So while I think it works very well as a sister for Colibri, it’s my second favorite.
  • Mariposa – Mariposa, I think, checks all the boxes. It’s rare (given to just eight girls last year!), Spanish, and romantic. The sounds are both long, but would never be confused. Plus, it gives both girls their own symbol – a bird and a butterfly!

You mentioned you’re open to new ideas, so let’s see what else we can dream up:

Estrella – The Spanish word for star, of course. I came across it in a book earlier this month, and it’s been on my mind ever since. 282 girls were named Estrella last year, so it’s not common, but not as rare as Colibri. One additional problem: maybe explaining the pronunciation of Estrella would get old, fast?

Evening – In our age of Ava and Evelyn, Evening fits in surprisingly well – even though it’s very much a stand-out kind of name.

Jacinta – Is this too old-fashioned? In the US, I think it would be perfect. It’s the Spanish-language form of Hyacinth. Just 53 girls were named Jacinta last year; Jacinda is rarer still, with only eleven girls born last year by the name.

Lavender – Instantly familiar as a color, seldom heard as a given name – though a minor Harry Potter character answered to Lavender Brown.

Luscinia – From the scientific name for nightingales and related birds. It looks an awful lot like all of those Lou- names we all love so much. And since Lucia works just fine in English and Spanish, I suspect Luscinia would be well received, too.

Millaray As much as I love this name, it’s not right for many families. But maybe you’re the one! It means golden flower in Mapundungun, the language spoken by the Mapuche peoples. They’re native to Chile and the surrounding area; Millaray has good run in the Chilean Top 100 in recent years, though it’s almost unknown in the US.

Paloma – This name is far more common – and familiar – than Colibri, but I think it fits your general style. It means dove, of course, and was made famous as the name of Pablo Picasso’s daughter, who became a noted jewelry designer.

Pavonine – This is really out-there, I know. A few years ago, someone mentioned that pavonine is the term used to describe a peacock, just like bovine refers to cows and feline to cats. I’ve always thought it had potential as a name … though I’m less certain how it plays in Spanish. (Though isn’t the Spanish work for peacock similar to this term?)

Overall, my favorite of your suggestions – and my favorite overall – is still Mariposa. I think it hits all the marks for an unexpected nature name that pairs well with Colibri, without being too close.

But I like Elowen and Millaray, too, and lots of other names on this list. There are just so many good options!

Readers, over to you – what would you name Colibri’s twin sister?

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19 Comments

@Cristina Fonseca, great suggestions of Azucena and Quetzali! Could use nicknames Susie and Katie/Zalie, if nicknames are even wanted.

Colibrí is pretty. Would the family use the full name, or Bre?

Of Abby’s suggestions, I like Paloma. Colombe also means dove. It’s French, I think, but there is probably a Spanish/Italian version. But it sounds pretty close to Colibrí, so maybe not.

Colibrí and Quetzali start with the same sound, but have distinct initials.

Another idea is Gisela. It’s not an animal name, but it reminds me of Gazelle.

I’m kind of surprised you didn’t bring up Lupita as a possibility (it means “wolf-like”). I’m kind of surprised Lupita doesn’t get a lot of attention generally, seeing as it’s linked to a beautiful actress. Cedar, Juniper, Colibri, and Lupita? It works, I think.

But Mariposa also fits in very well.

Jacaranda is a lush, purple flowering tree.
Colibri & Jacaranda

Similarly, Jacana is a lovely bird.
Colibri & Jacana
(Both three syllables, both birds, distinctive sounds, and very rare)
Cedar, Juniper, Colibri, & Jacana
(Everyone has a shared initial!)

Best wishes!

Oh! Thought of one more!

Aracari

(She’s a bird found often in Brazil).

Colibri & Aracari

Plenty of shared sounds, but they differ enough from each other.

My favorite is Elowen. I think the sound fits with all of the sibling names and it’s already a front-running contender. I think the repeating “L”s have a pleasing sound.
I also love Mariposa. It is sometimes used as a slang term (for a gay man), but I personally wouldn’t let it stop me from using it. I don’t think it is common enough that it should deter you, but it is something I would want to know ahead of time.

Borboleta – “butterfly” in Portuguese
Songbird
Yasmim – “jasmine”
H/Ogaraiti – Tupi Guarani for the red ovenbird
Tulip or Tulipa
Tigerlily
Waterlily
Callalily
Avis

I second Orquidea. Parents will have to teach everybody that Colibri has the stress on the last syllable anyway, so it seems that ease of pronunciation is not a major concern. Other ideas:
Colibri and Citlalli (a few alternate spellings) – Aztec origin meaning star or star goddess
Colibri and Xochitl – means flower in Aztec
Colibri and Azucena – a type of flower
Colibri and Quetzalli – Aztec origin, a quetzal is a colorful bird
Colibri and Zenaida – not a nature name per se, but it is a type of dove
Colibri and Azalea
Colibri and Zinnia

I add Philomela for your consideration-Greek origin, but easily pronounced in Spanish and Italian. Colo and Philo are pretty cute nicknames.