I wrote to you two years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, who we named Margo Naomi. My question was about spelling it Margo vs. Margot. I was so thrilled that you responded, even though we had already put the name on the birth certificate by the time I read your thoughtful response. I am pregnant again with a boy and have another specific question for you: Can we name him Marcel?

We were considering a couple other names like Rafael and August but then my husband threw out Marcel and it had been my top boy name choice the first time around so I was and am so excited that my husband likes it too. BUT, I am afraid of the matchiness with Margo and the inevitable snark from family and people who hear the names together thinking we did it on purpose. So far, my two other friends who I’ve run the name by think it’s adorable and didn’t pick up on the matchiness, but of course I picked two more supportive and name-loving friends to ask.

My husband makes the point that everyone calls Margo “Gogo” and Marcel would probably get shortened to “Cel” or “Celly” so it wouldn’t be confusing in daily life. (We are big nickname people, but I do call her Margo more often than Gogo, just because I’m usually trying to get her attention so I use her proper name. She is called Gogo at school though.)

My other concern is that we haven’t ruled out having a third child and how big of a deal is it to the third kid when they don’t have a “Mar-”name? For example, if we eventually have a Margo, a Marcel and a Rafael. Or a Margo, a Marcel and an Eleni. I think a third M name would be too confusing for me, but I know that’s a thing people do. Would we have to give #3 an “M” name to fit in?

I really appreciate and value your input!


You know I love a follow-up (which this letter writer ALSO provided). I love interesting names and great sibling combinations. These are just your basic building blocks of a great letter in this column. But when we get something new, it’s a whole new ballgame.


… your husband thinks he’s going to be called Celly???

This is the best. Could not have come up with this if I tried. Celly!

I have some not-the-best news. Because I love Marcel, and I totally buy how it works with the names you love. Margot Naomi is the kind of name that totally makes sense with a name like Marcel…

But Margo and Marcel sound really quite similar. Like a lot. Like Margo and Margaret, almost.

It’s not about starting with M all the time. You could quite easily go with Margo and Miguel, even though they have similar ‘g’ sounds, because the rhythm is different. The pronunciation comes from different places. But Margo and Marcel are so, so similar. Margo and Rafael, you’re golden, Margo and August, they’re eventually going to be characters – siblings, in fact – in a literary novel, and I mean that in the most exciting way possible.

Whereas with Margo and Marcel, you’re going to get through about three instances of people saying “oh, are they twins?” before you start gritting your teeth every time, and resolving to call them both by their middle names.

And again, this isn’t saying you couldn’t have two kids starting with the same letter and then go for a third kid. I want you to go for a third kid because your name choices are great, and we should have more Elenis in the world. You could even, in theory, have Margo and Eleni and Rafael and Marcel, and then they wouldn’t sound so much like two kids in a pod, you know? Or even Margo, Michael, and Marcellus, because there’s less like a cutesy, super-obvious twin-sie factor, you know? It’s not about the first initial, it’s the sound factor.

I don’t usually feel bad…but I feel a little bit bad about this. If your skills weren’t so strong maybe I wouldn’t point this out…but I also couldn’t lie to you, you know?

Let me know how it goes…