Yes, there’s a word for it. The ‘sib set’.
The other night at dinner, my daughter told me her new teacher’s first name is Eireen and she has has a sister called Eileen. Eireen and Eileen.
I thought this was funny in a sweet kind of way and asked my family, ‘Why do some people name their kids as a set?’
‘Ask my parents,’ said my husband. His name is Jim and his siblings are John and Judith. In his father’s family there was Jim, John, Judith, Joan and Pat. The Hunters clearly have a thing for J names. Except for Pat. Pat was a lovely lady and I wish she was still with us for many reasons, not least so I could ask her whether she felt left out , being the only P in a sea of Js?
This kind of thematic baby-naming, I’ve discovered, is known as a ‘Sib Set.’ Although it’s been practised by families such as the Hunters for generations, it’s since been celebrated by the Kardashians and perfected (thanks to endless practice) by the Duggars family of Extreme Christianville, USA.
How many of them are there now now? I can never keep up – I believe the current tally is 19 kids with J names. Perhaps it’s 20 by now. I can see the practicality of that – the saving on clothing labels would be significant. Michelle can simply order 10,000 J.Duggar tags and she’s sorted for the year.
I was talking about this ‘naming as a set philosophy’ with my friend Catrina, who said, ‘You don’t want match-matchy names, but they do need to go together. If you have two kids with full-on Gaelic names, like Sinead and Eoin, it would be weird to throw a Gianni in the mix.’
Sure, that makes sense. But the more I threw the topic out there, the more ‘Sib Sets’ surfaced.
• An American friend of my sister’s has three girls: Summer, Spring and Autumn. A fourth girl would have been ‘Season’ (Winter sounded too, you know, cold). But (somewhat inconveniently) a boy arrived and they named him ‘Billy’. Surely something else weather-related could have done the job – Storm? Heat-Wave? Blizzard?
• Jamie and Jules Oliver went for a botanical theme: Their daughters were Daisy, Poppy and Petal. I was hoping against hope they would name their son ‘Herb’ (Basil?) but they went for the slightly obscure but still in-theme ‘Buddy.’
• My parents in law were friendly with a lady called Echo, whose twin sister was Cooee. I’m serious. My parents knew them too – these ladies would be in their seventies now, so Sib Setting is clearly nothing new. The list goes on …