Hi Duana!

So I had an ex-boyfriend who had sisters named Annabelle and Daniella. Annie and Dani. Ooooof I always thought. That wasn’t thought through. 

And now - having married a different bloke- I’m about to do the same thing again and can’t stop thinking about it. I named my son Daniel. The name we want for our daughter? Marianne.   

Am I an asshole? Enforcing cutesy sibling nicknames on my children? For judging my ex-boyfriend’s parents?  

Love your column. Refresh it religiously. Despite naming my son Dan, I love the inspiration. 



So I got really, really into Westworld a few weeks ago. Here’s the thing, if you haven’t watched it yet – you have to get really into it. You can’t be a casual viewer, because it will confuse you and play tricks and if you skip a night, you’ll hold your head and wonder how you managed to become an idiot who can’t seem to understand what’s happening on the screen, before retreating to reruns of Last Week Tonight so you can feel smart again. 

But there’s this line that was super well-used throughout the season that I really enjoyed; whenever the hosts (robot characters, you gotta just go along with me here) were presented with anything that was outside their theme park reality (like I said above, ride it out):

“It doesn’t look like anything to me.” 

They literally couldn’t see what was in front of them, so it didn’t trouble them at all. Until it did, but that’s not the point here. The point is, when I read ‘Daniel and Marianne’, it didn’t look like anything to me. 

Yes, they have the same sounds in them, but so do many, many names that people choose for siblings, whether it’s double letters in names like Quinn and Anna, or similar endings like Mason and Simon. It’s not super original, maybe, but it doesn’t rise to, like, ‘Huey, Dewey, and Louie’ levels of discomfort for me. 

I would even go so far as to say I don’t see it right away for Annabelle and Daniella – that is, I’d be more likely to react to the very similar ending sounds than I would to “Annie and Dani”, partly because I’m not a nickname person and partly because I’ve known a lot of Danielle/as, and only one ventured anywhere near the “Dan/Dani” nickname. 

So I would humbly suggest that this is not a worry that you have to concern yourself with, and that most of the time, unless you expressly want to call them Danny and Anni, you’re not going to think of this at all in their daily lives.  

This is a level of name stringency that I don’t feel is necessary – similar to someone saying “Oh no you can’t name them Margaret and Dorothy! Then they’ll be Peggy and Polly!” Which… yes, it’s extreme, but I have seen this kind of name-on-name aggression on the message boards… but it’s not actually going to happen in real life, for a myriad of reasons. 

So go in peace, knowing that I absolutely endorse these names but would also delight in knowing that you sent a slightly sheepish message to your ex, announcing your new arrival and wondering if he would get an inflated sense of importance as a result. 

Let us know!