Dear Duana,

We're expecting two boys any day now and before these twinadoes land, we need some serious help with names. Burt and Ernie just won't do. My husband and I are far apart (think Wolf and Fox vs. Elliot and Ewan) and feel that we're both compromising too much. His top picks are: Nigel, Gabriel, Fox, Heath and Milo. Mine are: Ari, Leo, Max, Malcolm and Elliot. Does Max and Milo sound too cute and canine? Little Foxy - seriously?! Our last name is Scottish/Irish and starts with a 'M'. Any suggestions would be so appreciated!


Okay, you’re not as far apart as you think. Like, at all, actually. If one of you wanted Cody and the other wanted Cressidus, then okay,  but these are not a world away.   How different are Max and Fox, really? Elliot, while a lovely name and all, is not that far out there, either. So stop thinking of them as polar opposites and start noticing how close they are.

Because of twins, and because you’ve clearly delineated your choices and his, let’s see what we can do with combining these lists.

Gabriel and Elliot seems obvious to me. They both have ‘e’ and ‘l’ sounds but they don’t match, they are of the same style, and they seem like an effortless pair without being forever twined together as “the twins”.  They’ll call each other E and G when they’re bro-teens, but isn’t that kind of fantastic? I’m not sugarcoating this because they’re the names you already have; I legitimately like the combination.

I also like Nigel and Malcolm together. Very British Boarding School, upper-crusty brothers, both with a fair air of antiquity about them – but that’s fine. It would be bad if it was Malcolm and Leo, where the styles and popularities differ wildly – but those two seem similar – or is that too much SomethingShire for you?

If so, I’ll point out that all of your one-syllables are right in the same wheelhouse.  OK, Leo and Milo sound like a pair of cats but Heath and Leo sound appropriately trendy and companionable, two dudes who will ultimately take art class in different semesters and everyone will try to decide which one is more talented and which one the more brooding and beautiful. Likewise, Ari and Milo are both preternaturally talented in the theatrical arts but also economics, and will quite efficiently do each others’ homework for years – not because they’re cheating, just because it makes more sense that way.

You’re already there. Honestly. If you think these names don’t match, take a look at some daycare class lists (non-creepily) or go look at the personalized toothbrushes.  You’re much closer than you think. If you need a couple of names to throw into the mix that are like yours but not, Eli(jah), Noah, Dexter, and Beckett could all hit where you live in any combination. But I kind of feel like you got this.