Name 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!
Hello! I was wondering if you could please do a post for me? My wife and I have a beautiful 3yo daughter, Piper Mae. Now my wife is pregnant with boy/girl twins. Some names we like are Flynn, Harvey, Rory, and Hudson for boys. For girls, we have Darcy, Andi, Lane, Eve, Lennon, Indie, Marlowe, Neve, Blair, and Aubree on our list.
I don’t know what our style is, but I guess you could say we have a thing for surnames as first names! And our girls’ names are not overly feminine either. Neither of us are fans of the top ten Sophie, Ava, Olivia, etc. But I also don’t want to go too boyish.
We are super keen for any suggestions! I love a lot of the names I read on your site Thank you!
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Merindah –
How exciting to be expecting twins! Congrats to you and your wife!
Ten years ago, I would have advised that your boy name and girl name should be clearly gendered. Today? I think it matters less and less with every passing year. Maybe it’s because millennials grew up with boy-Jordan and girl-Jordan and turned out just fine. Or maybe we’ve evolved as a culture.
And yet I do notice that the surname names you favor for a daughter fall on the more-often-used-for-girls side of the line. So that makes this easier. And you’ve mentioned a concern around this topic, so we’ll make sure to address it for that reason, too.
Let’s start with boys, because you’ve listed just four options – that’s a pretty short shortlist!
Piper Mae’s Little Brother
Since you wrote in before the recent storms, I’m wondering if you’ve taken Harvey off your list? If you haven’t, I will. Not necessarily because of the devastation in Texas, but because it seems quite different from every other name on your list. Flynn, Hudson, and Rory all sound modern and brisk. They seem like brothers for Piper.
Hudson ranks in the current US Top 100. While it’s far from the Top Ten, I wonder if that’s a dealbreaker for you? Rory trends unisex, though the name’s roots are clearly masculine, and it sounds like that might be a concern. So I’d put Flynn at the top of your list. It has everything – a modern sound, but plenty of history. It feels familiar, but only ranks #675.
If not Flynn, I wonder if you might like:
Grady – What surname names fall between Harvey and Hudson? I keep coming back to Grady. Grady ranked #357 last year. While it feels reasonably popular, Grady can’t be considered a shooting star, gaining in use by dozens of places a year. This one boasts a great meaning, too: noble.
Kieran – I love the sound of Piper and Kieran together. It ranks #540 in the US, so it can’t be called too popular. The spelling Ciaran is preferred in Ireland, but the K version feels more familiar in the US.
Lennon – Yes, I know. Lennon appears on your girls’ list and it is slightly more popular for girls in the US as of 2016. (649 girls were given the name, versus 446 boys.) Still, I think it’s worth considering.
Max – Longer Max names abound, but just Max ranks #118. It has the same brief-but-complete vibe as Flynn. While it claims vintage status, Max feels modern. It splits the difference between retro Harvey and modern Hudson.
Ronan – There seems to be a subtle, Irish theme linking some of your favorite boy names. Ronan ranks #315 in the US. It means little seal, which is quite sweet. And it sounds like so many stylish boy names today without feeling trendy. It makes a great brother name for Piper. One downside: it may be misheard as Roman and Rowan.
Vaughn – Vaughn rhymes with former favorite Sean, but this name is Welsh rather than Irish. It has the same short style of Flynn, but the ‘v’ of Harvey. Spelling might be a concern here – I can imagine confusion with Von and even Van. But Vaughn remains common enough as a surname that it shouldn’t prove too difficult.
Piper Mae’s Little Sister
Bree – Since you shortlisted Aubree and Blair, I wonder if just Bree might appeal? It sounds modern and invented, but Bree has Irish roots that make this name traditional and very 21st century at the same time.
Eden – Eden falls just outside of the current Top 100. It seems feminine, but tailored – the 21st century equivalent of Lauren, and a great sister name for Piper.
Hadley – Forgive me if I’ve said this a thousand times, but Hadley always strikes me as one of the best surname names for girls. Like the mega-popular H surname name Harper, Hadley claims literary ties (via the first Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, and the fictional account of their early years of marriage in The Paris Wife). But it also feels fresh and modern. A win-win.
Haven – I’m not sure if word names appeal to you; but then again, Haven sounds an awful lot like a name-name. It shares the ‘v’ of Harvey and Neve, as well as the tailored qualities of many of your favorite girl names.
Juno – Marlowe ends in ‘o’ and so do dozens of appealing names for girls. Juno belongs with the the best of that list. It starts out vintage, gentle June, but that ‘o’ ending takes the name in an upbeat and unexpected direction.
Tierney – Another Irish-inspired choice, Tierney makes me think of legendary 1940s actress Gene Tierney. That puts it somewhere between Harlow and Madison.
Now, to mix and match names for twins. I’ll rank my top five, though I think you have lots of amazing options:
- Piper, Flynn, and Blair – Flynn and Blair both claim five letters, with an ‘l’ in the second spot. That makes for a subtle connection. All three names qualify as surnames more popular in recent years than ever before.
- Piper, Vaughn, and Marlowe – I like the idea of Vaughn and Marlowe as twin names, maybe because both names are spare and simple, but the spellings are the slightest bit complex.
- Piper, Max, and Marlowe – Do you want to match the twins’ names? If so, I really like the idea of Max and Marlowe.
- Piper, Grady, and Eden – All three children would have two syllable names, each with a different ending sound. It doesn’t get more balanced that that.
- Piper, Lennon, and Hadley – I know, I know. You prefer Lennon for a girl, and I’m probably pushing it here. But Lennon and Hadley are both surnames connected to famous people, though they’re widely accepted as personal names today, too. Maybe that’s why they seem like such a match.
Okay readers, I know you’ll have some spectacular ideas for Merindah and her wife! What would you name boy-girl twins, joining big sister Piper Mae?