Name Help: Boy-Girl TwinsName 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!

Lisa writes:

We are due with boy-girl twins in January, but it looks like they’ll probably be here before the end of the year. Getting here has been a struggle, and we’ve avoided talking about names until now.

For our son, we know we don’t want him to inherit my husband’s name. My husband is a III, and while his family would like us to pass down the name again, he’s not on board. We’ll use James as his middle name, instead.

We’ve even debated using my husband’s full name, James Oliver – so our son has two middle names. Our last name is a common, two syllable H name, so we don’t mind a long name.

First names feel hard, though. We’ve narrowed our list to:

  1. August – but is this weird for a winter baby?
  2. Jude – except JJ bothers me
  3. Wesley – but I’m not sure about Wes

I think we could be happy with any of these.

For our daughter, we’re all over the place. No first name seems right, and we really don’t have a middle name that we want to use from my family. (There are some we could use from his, but I think my family would feel like that was too much.) The only name we both don’t dislike – so far – is Maria. But we agree it doesn’t feel like her name, if that makes sense.

Where do we even begin?

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

Dear Lisa –

First, congratulations on your children! Naming twins is a twice the challenge – and maybe a little more, too. Not only do you have to choose two names you love, there’s a sense that the names need to balance – probably more than if you were naming a brother for your older daughter, or vice versa.

Let’s start with boy names, though, because you’re almost there.


I’d describe your style as gentlemanly traditionals. They’re masculine, but they’re not swinging-through-the-saloon-doors kind of guys. They’re a little more polished and thoughtful, but still strong.

Gentlemanly traditionals – these are not the guys swinging through the saloon doors in the Wild West. (Though I suppose they could.)

So let’s not add to your list. Instead, let’s talk about your three favorites.

First, Wesley. Some names have default nicknames, like Benjamin-called-Ben. I’d put Wesley almost in this category. I’ve known people with this name who never shorten it. But it’s something of an obvious choice. If Wes bothers you, I’d strike this name off the list. It’s just too likely that it would stick.

Jude James being called JJ, on the other hand? It certainly could happen. Kids come home from school (and camp and sports practice and play rehearsal) with all sorts of daffy nicknames. JJ isn’t unimaginable. But it’s not automatic. And even if your son’s baseball team called him JJ, well … you certainly wouldn’t have to do the same.

That leaves August. Contrary to our impression, August doesn’t mean “peak summer.” It means venerable; after all, Augustus started out as a title for the Roman emperor. So it seems like fair game to name a baby August any month of the year. Do I hear the crashing waves of the ocean with this name? A little. But it also sounds like a name that belongs in front of a roaring fire, a brother for Emmett. I’d say it fits with homespun boy names – just like Jude and Wesley.

Between August and Jude, I think I’d favor Jude – if only because you don’t have to think about the question of seasons. But let’s wait until we find a name for your daughter, and then revisit the question.


I can imagine Maria as a sister for Wesley, August, or Jude – but it might not be my first thought. Let’s see if we can find something feminine, traditional, but still with some current style.

ALICE – A storybook name with a lot of strength.

ELEANOR – Classic and polished.

JULIET – A little more romantic, maybe closer to Maria than Eleanor.

NORA – Everyone loves Nora, a choice that’s both timeless and current at once.

RUBY – A gemstone name with a straightforward sound.

STELLA – The meaning – star – is gorgeous, and the sound is perfect with August or Jude.

THEA – A short, sparky name that’s on the rise.

WILLA – Willa strikes me as homespun name in the key of August.


If you agree with my conclusions so far, we’re down to two possible boy names: August James or Jude James.

Now here’s where I want to suggest something about your daughter’s middle. How about Olivia? It splits up your husband’s family name between the siblings.

If not Olivia, would you consider Elisabeth or Elise? Or something else that nods to your name? (Lisette, Lys, just Lisa?) I’ve also seen Isla suggested, since it’s an anagram of Lisa.

That leads me to:

  • August James and Willa Olivia
  • August James and Juliet Elise
  • Jude James and Ruby Olivia
  • Jude James and Alice Elisabeth
  • Jude James and Nora Elise
  • Jude James and Thea Olivia

I think that last one – Jude James and Thea Olivia – is my favorite. But I’ll be so curious to hear what readers think about this one!

What names would you suggest for Lisa’s boy-girl twins? Any tips for handling the family name issue?

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.

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What do you think?


  1. I like August and Jude for a boy. Instead of Wesley, maybe West?

    With August, I like the suggestion of Nora. Or maybe Lydia, Eleanor or Juliet?

    With Jude, maybe Zoe, Mia, Sophie, Piper, Tess, or Ivy?

    If you’re giving your son a family name, Is strongly urge you to use one for your daughter as well (maybe even your first, middle or maiden name). If not a family name, then one with some special meaning for you…even if you just like the meaning of a particular name.

  2. I’m here to suggest the name of a beloved princess: Marina.

    She’s elegant and stately but sweet and feminine.

    If you DO choose the most excellent name of August James for your son, I love how they would share a “royal” connection… which is a nice, subtle, twin link.

    Also, both August and Marina have a cool, beachy vibe… like the awesomeness of each of their names is magnified by the other.

    I’d also encourage you to use YOUR first name of middle name for your daughter’s middle name. Children who love their parents love special connections with them; you’re giving them legacy and belonging.

    Congratulations and best wishes on your double blessings!!

  3. Well, if you can’t ever quite decide between August, Jude, and Wesley:

    Girls are a bit harder since the only definitive is not Maria.

  4. Congratulations on your twins! I feel like August is perfect for a winter baby! In fact, Augustus was the name I had picked out for my son long before getting pregnant with him—and then when I had him IN August I was like nope. Just can’t. It’s just too cheesy! But it’s PERFECT in every other month. I think August James or August James Oliver is perfect. Jude is too choppy with James (but would sound fine as Jude Oliver I think).
    Since both Jude and August(us) were on my list, I wonder if you would like some of the girl names I have loved and wished for and opportunity to use? Evangeline (already mentioned here!), Violet, Margaret, Matilda, Cecilia, Felicity, Miriam, Ramona, Eloise or evening just Louise. My daughter is named Gloria, which works surprisingly well on a toddler—we call her Glo frequently and it has a fun spunky vibe that suits her. Out of Abby’s suggestions, I think Eleanor is my favorite. August and Eleanor could be nicknamed Gus and Nora if you felt so inclined, although not intuitively enough that they’re sure to be shortened like Wesley/Wes. I do agree with a previous commenter that while I love Juliet, if anyone said them in the order “Juliet and August” it is going to just bring listing months to mind.
    August James and Eleanor Maria
    August James and Evangeline Lisette
    August James Oliver and Matilda Evangeline
    August James and Felicity Maria
    August James and Marie Eleanor
    (A previous commenter mentioned Marie instead of Maria and I also wonder if it might be a little closer to what you’re looking for and I love it).

  5. Of the suggestions above, August James is my favourite. Jude James doesn’t sound right since it’s 2 1-syllable names. It’s too choppy. I LOVE August & Eleanor together. Gorgeous!! How about
    August James & Eleanor Lisa
    August James & Eleanor Liesel
    August James & Eleanor Isabelle
    August James & Lenore Elizabeth
    August James & Lenore Elise
    August James & Lenore Eloise
    August James & Leora Elizabeth
    If you use James Oliver gor baby boy’s mn, please use two middles for baby girl. Otherwise it seems lopsided.
    August James Oliver & Eleanor Liesel Ann
    I’d keep playing with Eleanor & Elizabeth variations (there are so many!) to see what strikes me the most.

  6. I think Jude works well for a girl, you could have August and Jude ( I like Wesley too, but based on your comments not liking the nn, it seems like August is the way to go)

  7. I would like to suggest Oliver James for the boy twin and a Maria variant for the girl twin. Perhaps you would like one of the following:


    My favorites for you are:
    Oliver James and Mia Elizabeth
    Oliver James and Marianne Elise
    Oliver James and Elizabeth Marie