I am pregnant with twins - a boy and a girl! The pregnancy is a wonderful, wonderful surprise as I was previously told by doctor's it would never happen for me. Believe it or not the time has flown by - my partner and I got married (LOL!) moved houses, renovated and have pretty much changed our lives around to make room for our new babies.

I have always wanted children but since I was told it would never happen for me, I never dreamed of names as it was too painful. Now that the time has come, I'm overwhelmed at the choices.

My husband and I are both from Canadian/English backgrounds but we love love love the Italian culture. We have traveled to Italy often, got married there, have taken Italian culinary classes and are even in the midst of learning the language. My question is this - our surname is not a beautiful romantic Italian name but a plain old 1 syllable English name. It's not Smith - but along those lines...Can we choose Italian first names for our babies? Or would the pairing just sound too odd? How do we go about this?

Your opinion and some name suggestions for both the boy and girl would be so helpful!

Thank You so much!


(Before you get all fussy about my title, I’m pretty sure almost all twins are surprises given that you kind of think there’s only one and then the other is Trojan Horsed in there. Hooray for all twins. Don’t get upset, it’s Friday.)

Congratulations! This is a great surprise to have, and the immediate answer to your question of ‘can we name them Italian names?’ is…it depends, but yeah. That is, on the one hand there are certain names that are going to seem pretty odd with your surname. Giuseppe Smith might raise some eyebrows. But that’s not bothering the parents who take one yoga class and think they want to call their child Savasana, you know?

Now, I come from an Irish mother who always made an amused-but-put-out face when non-Irish people (in her mind, everyone who’d lived outside the country more than five minutes) used Irish names. Now that Liam is like the #1 name, she’s sort of grudgingly smug. So the other side of this is that if you’re an Italian-Canadian or American parent thinking I’m giving away your names, well, we’re a global village at this point, and yeah, I think you’re as entitled to use Elizabetta as anyone else, but you’re also free to select other names from other lands.

So, parent of soon to be twins, of course you can. I suspect you will naturally lean more toward Matteo and less toward like, Agostino, but I encourage you towards pronounceable names. Having said that, don’t default to Marco and Anna just to protect the pronunciation brains of other people. Having said THAT, remember that some Italian names are gorgeous and then…somewhat less attractive when pronounced in the anglicized way some people will. For example, Paola and Paula are the same…but different, you know?

As for my favourites that are still fresh and totally wearable, I love Ilaria, Fillipo, Federica (but everyone will say Frederica, so be warned), Allegra, Dario, Enzo (I really, really, really love Enzo), and many others. I do think that I would usually suggest a long first name to go with a short surname, but if you’re worried about cognitive dissonance, a shorter ‘Enzo Smith’ might be easier to float by than ‘Geronimo Smith’.

Let me know how they go!

A note to name-nerd letter writers,

I love getting your letters. In order to give them the best chance of being answered in a timely fashion, could I please trouble you to include the due date in the subject line of your email? Also, please send only one email – duplicates are deleted and may result in your email not being answered. Thanks!