Help us find middle names for our twins.
November 6, 2018 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Mr. Millipede and I are expecting boy-girl twins in February. We've got first names. We've got a last name. We are having an extraordinarily difficult time with middle names, and a long series of caveats/needs/preferences for said names. Up for the challenge? Please help.

Here are the facts.

1) Superstition is going to have me playing charades to tell you their first names.

-Her first name will begin with S: two syllables, with the accent on the second syllable, which features a long 'o' vowel. She will share her first name with a well-known female existentialist philosopher, and a current American gymnast, but she is named after her father's maternal grandfather.

-His first name will begin with B: three syllables, with the accent on the first syllable. He will share his first name with the inventor of the lightning rod, and Biblical Jacob's youngest son, but he is named after his mother's paternal grandfather.

First names are non-negotiable, will not be turned into middle names instead, and I'm not asking for critiques of them.


2) Now that that's out of the way, here are some stylistic rules.

-Their last name will begin with D. Thus, neither middle name can start with A, to preclude "BAD" and "SAD" acronyms.

-His middle name cannot start with J.

-I strongly dislike 'very common middle name' style middle names--for example, Marie, or Anne (which is my own middle name), and whatever the male equivalent of these names are.

-I strongly dislike trendy names. We are willing to go a little weird for middle names, but not weird in the direction of trendy.


3) And here, at last, is the insane wish list of what we want.

-We'd like them to be thematically matched somehow, but not be male/female versions of the exact same name.

-We'd like them to have meanings we like, and not just be names that sound nice. Our initial idea was to find words in languages culturally relevant to us, with meanings of concepts we like. Concepts we like include: justice/fairness, love, truth, light, intelligence, kindness/gentleness. Languages relevant to us, aside from English (and I don't care for 'virtue' names like Faith, Prudence, Charity, etc), are Russian (which Mr. Millipede speaks fluently, so this would be the preferred source), Hebrew, and Danish. Oof. I also have some French-Belgian ancestry so maybe French? Anyway, these proved to be hard, and Hebrew wound up a no because we don't want to give them Biblical names for both their first and middle names.

-We like math/chemistry/physics/astronomy and think it would be neat to have names from one of these fields. Mr. Millipede had the idea of binary star systems; from there we thought of twin planets. These did not give us any names we liked, but maybe we didn't look hard enough.

-So, we LIKE math/chemistry/physics/astronomy and DO think it would be neat to have names from one of these fields, but I DON'T want to name them after other PEOPLE. We fell down a famous mathematician wormhole and then I realized that--they're already named after people and I don't want to name them after more people.

-I feel the "no naming them after more people" rule has a loophole when said people are characters in literature, or mythological, and maybe maybe maybe also if they've been dead for over a thousand years.

-I really do want them to match thematically somehow. This is harder than it seems.

-My first name starts with L and Mr. Millipede's first name starts with V and for awhile we were thinking it would be nice if one kid's middle name started with an L and the other started with a V. We are not tied to this, though, and it proved very difficult especially for male names. Just tossing it out there in case it helps spark ideas.

-I think that is all.

-Thank you.

-This is difficult. I'm sorry!
posted by millipede to Grab Bag (58 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Math and music are tightly linked. What about Viola and Lute or Lyre?
posted by danapiper at 10:36 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


The moons of planets in the solar system might be a place to find some names. Some of them are less appropriate (I recommend against Styx), but some of them are quite lovely.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:41 AM on November 6


Or Vega, which is a star in the constellation Lyr / Lyra / Lyrae
posted by danapiper at 10:43 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


My wife's middle name is her mother's maiden name. My maternal grandfather also had the same naming convention. It's harder to make it work for twins, but maybe it could be a door to something else?
posted by kevinbelt at 10:54 AM on November 6 [8 favorites]


Meg and Charles (Murray).
posted by DarlingBri at 10:55 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


We used family names that were at risk of being lost such as my wife's grandmother's maiden name. All three have one. Also, the justification for it was that my last name was going to live on, but my wife's was not. The first letter of the first names are named after respected and loved family members.

Thematically they would be linked. They are not really named after more people, but rather, after an entire respected family. There would theoretically be meaning. The math/chemistry/other themes I cannot help you with.

Fwiw, we had 3 kids in 30 months so coming up with names by the 3rd was difficult. We stuck to the middle name and last name convention mentioned above, but for Trey's name, we went unconventional with the first name and he loves it.
posted by AugustWest at 10:56 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Marie and Pierre, after the Curies?
posted by jordemort at 11:01 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


I should have noted this in my post! While we like the "middle name is mother's maiden name" idea in theory, in practice, my maiden name is long and Russian (but not in a nice way) and difficult and no.
posted by millipede at 11:02 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Tycho (Brahe): astronomer who laid foundations so many future discoveries
Grace (Hopper): badass lady computer science pioneer

(These are definitely named after other people but they have either really good unique names or just nice double-meanings!)
posted by ancient star at 11:10 AM on November 6 [13 favorites]


if you would take two constellations, there are Leo and Carina, which would flow nicely with the first names. Or Lyra. Actually there is also a constellation called Vela, so you could do your L/V thing if you wanted.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:11 AM on November 6 [9 favorites]


Orion for the boy -- a very solid middle name, not as trendy as it first appears.

Gaea could be a nice middle name for the girl, though it has a different vibe than Orion. And I think you would want something less than two syllables, since the S-name is such a bold name. Violet isn't a bad idea, but it's not as philosophically minded, again, as Orion. I love the idea of Artemis or even Aphrodite, though I know you are against the SAD acronym.

What about Callisto? Even Virgo, though it has a similar sound? Ooo, or Cassiopeia? Can't imagine you'll hear of too many of those.

I'm confident you'll find something you'll like, as you have been so considerate so far!

-Signed, a woman with the middle name Marie
posted by tooloudinhere at 11:13 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Lucas/Luca/Lucent and Vivian? (both meaning light)
posted by xo at 11:13 AM on November 6 [26 favorites]


Back to your binary star theory - Sirius and Mira? They're not binary to each other, but they're still thematic.
posted by librarianamy at 11:14 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


(I personally would go with Anthropology, and using Clovis and Folsom, which are iconic projectile point traditions in North America, but I understand if that does not appeal to you the way it does to me!)

In terms of surnames as middle names, you don't need to go with a recent family surname as a middle name. My father's middle name was the surname of a great great great grandfather, and other middle names have gone equally far up the various family trees, both in maternal and paternal lines.
posted by gudrun at 11:17 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Verena and Laurence.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:18 AM on November 6


Ok, and bear with me here, because it's a stretch -
Chemistry = Double Bonds
Common Double Bonds = Ethylene
Same chemical name, different structure = Ethane
S Ethyl D and B Ethan D
posted by librarianamy at 11:22 AM on November 6 [7 favorites]


Lux for both.
posted by amtho at 11:27 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Galina for the girl (will update if I can think of one for the boy)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:30 AM on November 6


I know you said you don't want to name them after more people, but offering this since Tycho was suggested upthread...

Tycho Brahe's sister/assistant/muse was Sophia, who also studied chemistry, medicine, and horticulture in addition to assisting with his astronomical pursuits. As a Danish poet later wrote, "Denmark must never forget the noble woman who, in spirit much more than flesh and blood, was Tycho Brahe's sister; the shining star in our Danish heaven is indeed a double one."
posted by somanyamys at 11:35 AM on November 6 [8 favorites]


Galen for the boy
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:38 AM on November 6


Lux for both.

or Lux & Luz.
posted by moonmilk at 11:39 AM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Elior is a Hebrew/Biblical boys' name meaning "God is light"; Zohar is Hebrew and just means "light."

Girl "light" names include Helen (and its bazillion variants), Brighid, Chiara, Lucia/Lucy, Eliora (Hebrew, feminine of Elior), Orli (Hebrew), and many (many!) more.

Dorothea and Theodore are the same name elements in different orders.

Ezra means help in Greek; Ophelia means help in Latin -- I like "secret" pairs like that. (Easy to find girl/girl Latin/Greek pairs, hard to find boy/girl pairs!)

Caroline Herschel, astronomer, was the first woman scientist to be paid for her scientific work. Her brother, William, discovered Uranus. That's a nice astronomy pair, especially since Caroline KICKED ASS. (I made a post about her.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:54 AM on November 6 [9 favorites]


Rowan and Roarke.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:59 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Caster and Pollux - constellations that are The Great Twins

Nova / Luna and Cosmo / Cosmos
posted by MadMadam at 12:02 PM on November 6 [6 favorites]


Maybe take a stroll through comet names.

Lovejoy, Halley, Hale-bop, Caesar, Donati, Wild, Borrelly are just a few
posted by MadMadam at 12:06 PM on November 6


Some helpful thoughts about this issue here.
posted by aqsakal at 12:18 PM on November 6


I know you said you don't want to name them after more people, but offering this since Tycho was suggested upthread...

Tycho Brahe's sister/assistant/muse was Sophia, who also studied chemistry, medicine, and horticulture in addition to assisting with his astronomical pursuits. As a Danish poet later wrote, "Denmark must never forget the noble woman who, in spirit much more than flesh and blood, was Tycho Brahe's sister; the shining star in our Danish heaven is indeed a double one."


A counter to somanyamys's comment above, I would personally not (middle) name the boy after a super-well-known person and then (middle) name girl after super-well-known person's not-so-well-known SISTER/MUSE. This furthers a very bad precedent where the girl/woman is always second/assistant/muse to the boy/man. This is why I said Grace. She's about as rockstar/badass as you can get without going to Ada, which is a name excluded by your criteria. YMMV, obvi.
posted by ancient star at 12:22 PM on November 6 [12 favorites]


Vesper (evening star)
Liv (life)
posted by xo at 12:25 PM on November 6


[Not to threadsit, but a gentle reminder that one of my stipulations is that we are NOT looking to name them after PEOPLE]
posted by millipede at 12:26 PM on November 6


Check out the western music modes. Might be interesting to have names inspired by the Lydian, Dorian, Ionian, Locrian, Phrygian, Aeolian and uh...Mixolydian.
posted by oxisos at 12:30 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


The trouble with binary stars is that typically only one of them has a name, and the others, generally much fainter, are named after the bright one. But double stars -- those that appear close together in constellations although they may be very far apart -- sometimes have paired names! Although Mizar and Alcor (in the Big Dipper) is the only one I can think of off hand where both stars have distinct names (and actually Mizar's a quadruple star system, and Alcor's a binary system, so they have that going for them). But that fails your "A" test!

In the Gemini constellation, we have the bright stars Castor and Pollux forming the heads of the twins (and giving them their names) ... that's a little unusual but could work! Unfortunately there aren't too many named stars in Gemini and most of them have Arabic names that start with A.

The Pleiades (seven sisters) are Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, and Alcyone; the constellation also includes their parents Atlas and Pleione.

Corvus, the crow, in the southern hemisphere and Cygnus, the swan, in the northern. Phoenix is another bird constellation in the southern sky; also Pavo (the peacock).

Cepheus and Cassiopeia were the king and queen of Ethiopa and parents of Andromeda. Cassiopeia's named stars include Schedar (heart), Caph (palm), Ruchbah (knee), Segin, and Achird. Cepheus's named stars include Alderamin (the right arm), Alfirk (the flock), Alrai (shepherd), "the Garnet Star," and unfortunately that's it -- all Arabic "al" names.

Orion's shoulders are Betelgeuse (R) and Bellatrix (L); his feet are Saiph and Rigel. Those are both nice pairs although I could see resisting "Betelgeuse"! Betelgeuse has also been called Basn (Persian); Klaria (Coptic); Bahu (Sanskrit); Shēnxiùsì (Chinese); Kaulua-koko (Hawaiian, brilliant red star).

(honestly the problem with star names is there are so many A-words!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:34 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Freyr and Freyja
posted by warriorqueen at 12:35 PM on November 6


Petrichor and Serein
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:40 PM on November 6


Thirding Castor and Pollux, Gemini Twins. Also excellent last names for stage names if they end up performers (assuming I fairly deduced the first names).
posted by greta simone at 12:49 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


oh how about Lior ("my light" in Hebrew, pronounced LEEyor) for the boy and Levana ("moon", pronounced more or less "leVONa") for the girl.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:54 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Luz/Lux/Lucy/Lys or versions thereof
posted by bluedaisy at 12:56 PM on November 6


nthing lior for the boy
vera for the girl
posted by brujita at 1:54 PM on November 6


you could delve into Greek/ Roman mythology if that interests?

For example:

S Terra D
B Pluto D

S Juno D
B Vulcan D

S Minerva D
B Saturn D

etc etc
posted by JenThePro at 2:02 PM on November 6


On your gentle theme, names that mean dove, kind, peace, gentleness, mercy, etc.: Clementine and Damian, Paloma and Calum, Olive and Colm, Irene and Milo.

Names that mean truth or justice: Elvera and Emmett , Justine and Ernest

On your light theme, various unpaired names that mean shining, star, bright, radiant, etc.: Elettra, Chara (p. "kara," from the constellation The Hunting Dogs), Bellatrix (a bright star in Orion, means "female warrior" in Latin), Kio (ancient Chinese name for Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo), Perseus (Percy?), Phoebe, Liora, Ilene, Thea, Ivar, Mira, Llwellyn, Bertha, Roshan

Other pairs:
Sylvia and Silas (Variations on Silvanus, Roman god of the forests)
Phobos (again, Phoebe?) and Deimos (Damon?) (Mythological Greek twins)
Troilus (Troy?) and Cressida (Chaucer, Shakespeare)
Daphnis and Chloe (Opera)
Leander and Hero (Greek mythology)
Tristan and Isolde (Ovid, etc.)

I'll let you decide whether the literary/mythological meanings chime with you! For example, you may want to avoid love affairs, and Deimos means "dread."
posted by tasseomance at 2:21 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, you must be so excited!

Perhaps Viola and Sebastian, the twins in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Good luck :-)
posted by J. Tiberius at 2:37 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


How do you feel about the same middle name for both twins? My (step)twins have the same middle name, and it's a gender-neutral family name that sounds really nice and harmonious with both twins' names.

Some gender-neutral or gender-both names that might sound nice with your chosen first names:
- Phelan
- Frances/Francis
- Gabriel(le)
posted by witchen at 2:41 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Bird names:
Phoebe or Lark and Jay or Hawk
Tree names: Birch and Willow, Linden and it’s Latin name Tilia. Maple or apple are nice too as a name
Herb names: basil and lavender
Forest and Meadow
Rocks and minerals: Flint and Opal or Ruby or Pearl. Quartz is a fun name. Granite, Shale, ...
posted by sciencegeek at 2:52 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Well, if you don't mind Yale as a theme (not to put any expectations on your kids), how about Lux and Veritas? You get your L and V and light and truth.
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:05 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


S. Vanna and B. Lawrence. Named for vanadium and lawrencium. Also, because of first letters, she will have a bit of dad, and he will have a bit of mom. Easy cheesy.
posted by Night_owl at 3:30 PM on November 6


Popping back in with:

S Valerie D and B Lionnel D (strength)

Best wishes to your family!
posted by tasseomance at 3:53 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Levant (rising sun) and Vespera (evening star)
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 4:17 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Leonid (meteor) might pair with Venus for the L/V initials or with Astrid (star) to rhyme.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 4:27 PM on November 6


mythology, astronomy, siblings: Selene and Helios, Greek moon goddess & sun god; Roman equivalents are Luna and Sol

Laud (praise, extol)/Lauds (morning prayers); Vesper (evening, twilight, "vesper service")/Vespers (evening prayers)

Lake, Liberty, Love, Luck, Laurel
Vale, Valor, Verity, Veritas, Victor, Victory, Vernal
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:33 PM on November 6


Russian - Lisa/Liza/Leeza (little fox) and Volvi (little wolf)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:21 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Joule and Watt?
posted by to recite so charmingly at 6:14 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


My grandtwins have an astronomy theme, Aurora (Rory) and Leo, buy the "A" is out for you guys. I liked the Carina and Leo suggestion above.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:31 PM on November 6


My brother and I both have the middle name Grey, which has been an awesome middle name. It's an old name, I like the idea of not being black and white, and it's kind of misty and soft.
posted by orsonet at 6:50 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Angle and Sphere

Also, two sets named after phenomena / concepts in turn named after people’s last names, which could well work as first/middle without sounding like someone’s name, maybe:

Lagrange and Lissajous (orbital mechanics)

Rayleigh and Doppler (optical / wave effects)
posted by miles per flower at 6:52 PM on November 6


Venus and Jupiter

Luna and Sol (Sol is a nice Hebrew name)

Luna and Vesper (night theme, and parents' initials!!)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:32 AM on November 7


We'd like them to be thematically matched somehow, but not be male/female versions of the exact same name.
I also have some French-Belgian ancestry
We like astronomy
it would be nice if one kid's middle name started with an L and the other started with a V


Valérian and Laureline.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 6:32 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]


How about the names of stars or constellations commonly seen from where you are? Then you can go outside with Cassie (Cassiopeia) and Orie (Orion) and tell them the history of their names.
On the same theme:
Rigel, Vega, North (Star)
Lyra, Cygnus, Cephus, Andromeda (maybe for the pet cat), Scorpius, Bear (Big and Little Dippers)
Hmm... S Lyra D and B Cygnus D (the Lyre, the Swan and the Eagle are seen together).
posted by free f_ cat at 12:48 AM on November 8


Aquila the Eagle ... apparently the kids have a cat and a parrot.
And congratulations!
posted by free f_ cat at 12:53 AM on November 8


I associate citrus with light, what about Clementine and Meyer? Lots of potential uncommon masculine names in the citrus family. Kinnow is my favorite but I’ve never had one so I didn’t tag that first.
posted by monkeyscouch at 6:34 PM on November 9


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