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Popularity of the Baby Name Maida

Number of Babies Named Maida

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Posts that Mention the Name Maida

Give Your Twins Unique Names

Twin Boys SleepingLast week, Slate published a slew of articles on twinstwin birth rates (skyrocketing), twin studies (bunk), twin speak (possibly harmful), and so forth.

One of the pieces, “Dorothy Burlingham’s Twins” by David Greenberg and Maida Greenberg (son-mother, not twin-twin) included this interesting quote:

But if laypeople still frequently perceive twins as carbon copies, psychologists no longer do. How-to manuals for raising twins stress the need to treat them as individuals, starting with not giving them rhyming names and not dressing them in matching outfits. These are basic steps, but important ones, and they have not been always widely followed.

After I read the article, I consulted several books on twins. Looks like authors/experts agree that rhyming names–and themed names in general–are a bad idea for twins (and other multiples).

The writers of Having Twins–and More, for instance, say that parents of twins should stress individuality over twinship, and that matchy-matchy names are often regretted. “An individual’s name is key to his or her identity, so choose names carefully. Although twins are part of a pair…their names should be clearly their own.”

The folks at Twin Service Consulting concur, suggesting expectant parents give twins “distinctly different names.”

And yet, parents are drawn to patterns. Just look at the most popular twin names of 2010. Most of the top 50 pairings within each category have something in common, such as:

  • Same first letter, like Jayden & Jordan
  • Rhyme or near-rhyme, like Gabriella & Isabella
  • Theme (e.g., location, virtue, season) like London & Paris

Cutesy pairings may be the trend, but they won’t help during the separation-individuation process.

Ideally, each twin should have his or her own distinct identity, starting with a unique first name. So, if you’re expecting twins, choose twin names that are dissimilar, i.e., non-rhyming, with different initials.

[If you already have like-named twins, and they’re still young, think about transitioning one or both to a nickname or middle name.]


  • Noble, Elizabeth, Louis G. Keith and Leo Sorger. Having Twins–and More. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.
  • Scheinfeld, Amram. Twins and Supertwins. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1967.

Image: Twin Snore by Izzard