Baby names needed: Girl names for twins

A reader named Melanie has a daughter named Calla, and she is expecting twin girls in a few months. She writes:

We like the names Eliana, Isabella, Evangeline, Elia, Adeline, and many, many others, but are having a tough time with combinations. Also, name meaning is very important to us (our first daughter full name means, collectively, “beautiful pure light”). We would prefer names that are not very common, but are willing to make sacrifices if the family meaning and name meaning take precedence (family names are also important, i.e. Isabella and Evangeline are grandmother names – but they are both fairly common, so it’s a tough call). Thoughts? Suggestions?

Quite a bit to think about! Here are two ideas…

Have a Plan of Attack

A friend of mine is expecting twin girls a few months after Melanie. The method she’s using is basically this: focus on one set of names (either the firsts or the middles), make a decision, then focus on the other set of names. Right now, she’s got the middle names chosen and is pondering a handful of possible first names.

Having a system has simplified things a lot for her. This same system might not work for everyone, but I think having a system would help most people. So that would be my first suggestion — if things get overwhelming, take a step back and break the process down into steps. That way, you’re dealing with one or two unknowns at a time, not all four at once.

Use Calla as a Guide

Ideally, the twins’ first names should be on par with Calla. Names that are much longer, or shorter (or plainer, or more exotic, etc.) could be a cause of contention later on. You never want a child to feel short-changed or singled-out because of her name.

So I was slightly surprised to see names like Evangeline, Isabella and Eliana on the short list. I realize two are family names, but I think they sound a bit formal for the sisters of Calla. Names that I think come closer to the style/formality of Calla include:


What other advice would you offer to Melanie?

Update: The babies are here! Scroll down to the last comment to see what their names are…

8 thoughts on “Baby names needed: Girl names for twins

  1. Since meanings are important, I’ll focus on those…
    – Eve and Zoë both mean “life”.
    – Irene and Salome both mean “peace”
    – Isolde and Bonita both mean “beautiful”
    – Chiara and Phoebe both mean “bright”
    – Stella and Esther both mean “star”
    – Columba and Jemima both mean “dove”
    – Daphne and Laura both mean “laurel”
    – Deborah and Melissa both mean “bee”
    – Tabitha and Dorcas both mean “gazelle”
    – Selene and Luna both mean “moon”

  2. How about shortened forms of the family names, like Lina/Lena or Bella/Sable? I notice that there are Ls in all the names that Melanie mentioned.

  3. Using Calla as a jumping off point, names with simple lovely meanings.

    Dara – “pearl of wisdom”
    Ramona – “wise, protector”
    Phoebe – “bright, pure”
    Clara – “bright, clear”
    Felicity – “happy, fortunate”
    Gioia – “joy”
    Leta – “glad”
    Gemma – “precious stone”
    Ruby – “red gem stone”
    Garnet – “red gem stone”
    Sanna – “truth”
    Verena – “true”
    Lilah – “night”
    Leora – “light”
    Ione – “violet flower”
    Violet – “violet flower”

  4. Congratulations, Melanie! You’ve chosen a beautiful name for your first daughter, and I like most of the names you’re considering for the twins as well.

    Isabella is certainly lovely, but ranked at #2 in the nation, it would sound a bit odd next to the distinctive Calla.

    Evangeline and Adeline aren’t too popular at the moment (they’re at #450 and #361 right now), but they’re climbing the charts and they have similarities to more popular names (like Evelyn and Addison). Still, I would consider them in the usable category, and I really like them both.

    Eliana is ranked at #203, but with the common “-iana” ending shared by Liliana, Ariana, Gianna, Mariana, Juliana, and such, it doesn’t quite have Calla’s distinction.

    Elia is the only one on your list I don’t like. Though it’s pretty in sound, it’s somewhat flimsy, and lists it as a masculine variant of Elijah.

    I’m completely with you on the importance of using family names. My suggestion is that if Isabella and Evangeline feel more common than you want, consider using them as middles. They both make extremely rhythmically pleasing middle names. Evangeline has the exact same rhythm as Elizabeth, and it pairs well with almost any first name. Isabella works with just about any one- or two-syllable name and many three-syllable names. Since it ends in A (like many common girls’ names), you’ll have to decide how you feel about the double-A-ending combos (like Clara Isabella or Maya Isabella). Some people dislike them, but some appreciate their European sort of feel. If you don’t like the double-A-endings, but end up falling in love with an A-ending first name, you could certainly consider Isabelle as a variant.

    Here are some names with positive meanings that I think “fit” well with Calla. Most of these work well when paired with Evangeline, Isabella, or Isabelle:
    Rowena (“fame and joy”)
    Leta (“glad” — I’ll second Julie’s suggestion)
    Jane (“God is gracious”)
    Rose (a flower name; works with Calla provided the third daughter has a non-flower name)
    Rosalind/Rosaline (originally “soft horse” but also taken to mean “beautiful rose”)
    Rosamund (originally “horse protector” but also taken to mean “rose of the world”)
    Susanna (“a lily,” the symbol of purity)
    Honora (“honor”)
    Nora (either a short form of Honora “honor” or Eleanor)
    Helena (“light” or “torch”)
    Lucina (“grove,” but later associated with Lucy “light”)
    Adeline (“noble” — I’ll second your suggestion of this)
    Eve (“life” — could be used in honor of Evangeline)
    Amabel (“lovable” — could perhaps be used in honor of Isabella)
    Dorothea (“gift of God”)
    Xenia (“hospitality”)
    Allegra (“cheerful” — if you can get past the allergy medication, it’s a lovely name)
    Alethea (“truth”)
    Linnea (a flower name, though most people won’t immediately recognize it as such)
    Esme (“esteemed” — I’ll second Nancy’s suggestion)
    Mirella (“to admire”)
    Vivian (“alive, lively”)
    Belinda (possibly “beautiful and tender”)
    Olive (botanical name, symbol of peace)
    Elsa (“consecrated to God”)
    Marina (“of the sea” — I’ll second Nancy’s suggestion)
    Sylvia (“of the forest” — I’ll second Nancy’s suggestion)
    Serena (“peaceful, tranquil”)

    Good luck, and I hope this helps!

  5. My favorite names for a boy/girl twins are Kyle and Claire. for boy twins Kyle and Ryan. and twin girls Emma and Abby.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Just heard from Melanie! She went with the names Eliza and Adeline.

    The names sounded the most distinct, but they went well together. Not as unique as their older sisters name, but unique enough that I don’t expect they will encounter the frequent use of an last name initial when they hit school. :)


  7. Cute names I like the names for twins are :
    Kaleah (girl) and kaleb (boy)
    Addison and allison (addi and alli)
    Jerimiah and isiah and elijah (spirital names)
    Heavan and Naveah
    Alexis ,hannah ,leah and mady and cara ( kids from jon and kate plus eight,kate plus 8
    Avery and emery
    Nicole and nicollete
    Tess and Tessa and testiney (tess plus destiney or tess and steffany as testaney)

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