Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting boy-girl twins in early May 2016. We are super excited about this as the road to conception was anything but easy (IVF and the whole works....) and a LONG time coming......

We are a mixed-ethnicity couple, with me being a Euro blend and my husband being Punjabi but born and raised in the U.K. The twins will take my husband's last name, which is Punjabi origin, 2-syllable, and starts with J.

We both like classic, British-y names that convey intelligence, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and kindness. Thankfully, we have a girl's name picked out: Anna Kathryn (middle name after my sister). The boy's name (first and middle) is the issue! What goes with Anna? There is the possibility that the middle name for the boy could be Howard (family name), but my husband is not sold......Only deal-breaker would be a name that starts with J as we are not into the possibility of J.J. as a nickname (personal preference).

Advice? Ideas?

Thanks a bunch!!!!!!!!!


Sorry about the earworm you’re going to have for the rest of today and into tomorrow. 

Also, I’m trying to be more of the ‘ask forgiveness, not permission’ school, but let’s have this cover both—every time I get a letter from a soon-to-be parent of multiples, I think “lucky!”, in that grade school whiny-envy way. Until I scare up some parents of triplets to be friends with, you guys can call me out—is this a jerk move since twins are so hard? Doubly so because you don’t know how hard until you have them? Just curious. 

In any event, I’m so loving this letter. Not just because of the two-times-two name requirements, but because of this phrase:

“…classic, British-y names that convey intelligence, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and kindness…”

Wow, what a wish list—and what a great way to describe Anna & Kathryn, both of which fit into that description and are amplified there because you framed them that way. See how that works?

The challenge now of course is to find a boy’s name that works as well, but also one that’s as timeless-and-current, since Anna fits in beautifully with the babies being born right now, but also stands apart—which for my money is the true meaning of ‘classic’. 

For example, my first thought for a British-y name that conveyed intelligence, thoughtfulness et al was Gilbert. I think it’s great, and ready to come back—but Gilbert Howard might be too much, or require something that’s still more fashionable in the middle (not James, because of the J? But basically James). I flirted with Geoffrey, but the ‘J’ sound of the G, whether ‘Jeffrey’ or ‘Joffrey’, might be too close to your last name.

But the floodgates are open. There is the lovely, warm and affable Frederick. Freddie and Anna are so happy and smile-y and charming together. I thought I was going to mention Prince Harry and was shocked to find that in fact, “Henry Charles Albert David” doesn’t have any Frederick in his name, it was the Fug Girls’ The Royal We creation that I was thinking of. But it’s a great name, and, especially if you’re not currently in the UK, still very fresh.

I don’t know why I’m on such a G tip, but what about Garrett? It’s easy to say and understand (which edges it ahead of GaretH), and has a lot of winking charm. It may have a bit of law firm feeling when paired with Howard…but it doesn’t feel like that’s a bad thing. Or what about Malcolm? Malcolm and Anna are so, so familiar but so distinct, very likely to be the only one either of them grows up with but never struggling to be understood. Malcolm Howard works, and Mal, if you are nickname people, is easy to use, and easy to avoid if you aren’t.

Is there a boys’ name situation in which I will not suggest Basil? There may be, but this isn’t it. Anna and Basil? Or how about Ivan? Ivan is so smart and sensitive…no?

I am battling with myself over Ambrose, because I cannot in good faith let you name twins Anna and Ambrose, and yet what sounds warmer and friendlier than Ambrose? So I lean into British-y names with the accent on the first syllable, and offer Byron and Cyrus and Clement and Rupert. Ohh, Anna and Rupert! Could you? Please? Especially since Rupert is rare enough that it doesn’t have a vintage, and therefore Rupert and Howard won’t feel like they’re from the same time period?

I feel like I’m just getting started here, so I can’t wait to hear what you choose. If you suddenly decide they each need another middle name, we’re here for you! Let me know!