Baby Naming Issue: Are Madilyn and Madisyn Too Similar to Use as Sister Names for Madalee?

Dear Swistle,
We just found out a few months ago that we are expecting another baby. We already have a boy name picked out from the first pregnancy that we decided to use in the instance that baby number 2 is a boy. We named our first born “Madalee” but are now having trouble picking another girl name for our possible future daughter. We LOVE the names “Madilyn” and “Madisyn” but I fear that it may be too close “Madalee”.

We call our first born “Maddie” so I figured if we call baby number 2 by their whole name it wouldn’t be too big of a mix up. I’ve searched for other names but I can’t bring myself to commit to another name because I love Madilyn and Madisyn so much. What is your opinion?



My opinion is that yes, Madilyn and Madisyn are too close to Madalee. I also think there could be disputes over the nickname Maddie, even if you decide to assign the nickname to only one of them.

This would still be too similar for me, but one option is to use Adelyn or Addisyn: even dropping the M helps, and then they’d both have the option of using their nicknames. The nicknames would rhyme, but they wouldn’t be the same. But again: still too similar for me, and I think I’d get mixed up and say Madisyn and Adalee by mistake.

If I were you I would look further afield. It’s common for parents to love groups of very similar names: it makes sense that if parents love the name Ellery they might also love Ellison and Ella and Everly. But I think in general that using one name from a group of very similar names rules out the others in that group: parents who use the name Evan have probably ruled out the names Ivan, Evanie, and Devan from future consideration.

Here are some names that strike me as similar to Madalee/Madilyn/Madisyn while allowing for more distinctive sounds:

Avelyn; Madalee and Avelyn
Averie; Madalee and Averie
Braelyn; Madalee and Braelyn
Briella; Madalee and Briella
Brinley; Madalee and Brinley (not sure about the repeated endings)
Ellery; Madalee and Ellery (tongue gets a little tangled)
Ellisyn; Madalee and Ellisyn
Emelyn; Madalee and Emelyn
Emersyn; Madalee and Emersyn
Gracyn; Madalee and Gracyn
Harlowe; Madalee and Harlowe
Keelyn; Madalee and Keelyn
Kinsley; Madalee and Kinsley (not sure about the repeated endings)
Shelby; Madalee and Shelby

I went back and forth on rhyming and semi-rhyming endings. Some seemed to work, especially if the names had a different number of syllables and if the rhyming included only the -ie/-ee/-y sound and not the full -ley/-lee sound. Others seemed too sing-song.

32 thoughts on “Baby Naming Issue: Are Madilyn and Madisyn Too Similar to Use as Sister Names for Madalee?

  1. Shannon

    I agree with Swistle–Madilyn and Madisyn are definitely too close to Madalee in all respects to be usable as sister names–but I’m stuck on your comment at the end that you don’t love any other names nearly as much. If you really, REALLY want to use one of them, I think you might be able to justify Madisyn as an unapologetically INTENTIONAL matching name, or you could go with Madilyn and call her Lynnie (giving you Maddie and Lynnie). But I think that in all cases where they’re introduced as sisters, it will confuse people to know one is called Maddie and one has a could-be-nicknamed-Maddie name. They will think they’ve missed something: “Yes, Maddie and I have met–what’s your other daughter’s name?”

    A few other suggestions (if what you like is the rhythm of Madalee/Madilyn/Madisyn, plus a jazzy spelling):

    – Aaralyn
    – Averly (friends of mine used this because they couldn’t decide between Everly and Avery, and they call her “Ave”)
    – Breelyn
    – Briony
    – Ysabel (the Spanish spelling is a fun riff on the more U.S.-used Isabel)

  2. Kate

    Too similar, sorry. And it doesn’t pass the “Would you want this for your name?” test. I know sisters named Amanda and Amy. They’ve always hated having similar names, especially since Amy can be a nickname for Amanda. Even as adults, people still comment on it– and not in a good way. Madalee/Maddie and Madilyn/Madisyn give the same Amanda and Amy vibe.

    If you’re stopping at two, could you feminize the boy name you like?

  3. Jamie

    definitely too close. I think it would be too difficult to come up with a nickname to match Maddie from your current favorites. I really like some of Swistle’s suggestions, especially Briella and Emersyn.
    Only a few suggestions from me:
    Madalee and little sister:

    Makenna or Mackenzie

  4. Colleen

    I agree with Swistle and everyone else. The names are too close to use for siblings. It’s a bummer that you can’t seem to find other names that you like as much, but I’m sure there is something out there for you:


    Good luck!

  5. Elizabeth

    Unfortunately, I really think they are too close as well. I strongly suspect that the day would come when both you and your daughters would regret having names so similar.

    I also strongly suspect that you COULD grow to love whatever other name you choose as much as you currently love Madisyn/Madilyn. Don’t give up hope!!

    Do you like Addison/Adisyn at all?

  6. Squirrel Bait

    Absolutely too close. I can’t even begin to imagine how confusing this would be for all involved, from family friends to the doctor’s office. “You’re calling about Maddie’s vaccinations? But Madilyn is all caught up on her shots. What? Oh. Wait, Maddie and Madilyn are two different people?!” It sounds like a total logistical nightmare.

    Even people who know your family well will likely have to think hard to make sure they are using the right name to refer to the right sister. If that were a problem people had with my name, I would eventually really come to resent it (and maybe to resent my sister and/or parents a little bit too). Everybody wants to be appreciated as an individual, and for many people that starts with having their own distinctive name.

    Is it possible that you love the “Mad-” prefix so much because it reminds you of your dear darling daughter? Maybe it would help to recognize that and set it aside while you look for other contenders. In all likelihood you will eventually come to have similar warm fuzzy feelings for a different name once you have attached it to adorable Baby #2.

  7. Kay

    Too close! I know traditionally there are families where all the daughters received some variant of Mary or Maria, but in the cases I’ve come across, they always got a second name that was very distinct, and used that most of the time (eg, Maria Luz and Maria Mercedes, or Marie-Celeste and Marie-Louise).

    Madalee, Madilyn, and Madisyn are so similar it’ll cause a lot of headaches and possibly some resentment from the girls themselves.

    Are there any other names at all that you like? What about your husband? Or is there someone in your family you’d like to honor by naming your next daughter after?

    Good luck, and please update us!

    1. TheFirstA

      Yes, I’ve also known families where all the girls got a Mary name. But in the cases I’ve come across, they were also given distinct middles and they all actually used their middles as the call name. Mary Katherine called Kay, Mary Claire called Claire, etc.

      I’ll also point out that in the families I’ve known, the use of the Mary names was for very specific religious purposes & this doesn’t seem to be the case with the OP. Re-using a first name for religious/cultural reasons and having distinct call names planned in advance seems very different to me than simply re-using a name because the parents like it/can’t think of anything else.

  8. beep

    I agree that the names are sadly too similar. If you like using nicknames, one way to choose a name would be to pick the nickname that matches Maddie and work backward. For example:







  9. Kay

    Oh, by the way, I’ll add that I know a pair of twins who have very similar names (imagine something like: Kara and Karlie) and people constantly. mix. them. up. One of them is particularly sensitive about it, which just makes it worse and more awkward. It’s bad enough that it’s commented on when neither is around– friends ask each other for strategies of how to avoid making the mistake. The sounds are so similar that sometimes it’s just inevitable.

  10. Shaeby

    I hate to pile on, but I do think that they are too similar. A second child’s name can reframe your baby naming style. If I encountered the name Madalee on its own, I would think it’s a unique name with a pretty sound and a sweet, more familiar nickname. If I encountered a Madalee and a Madelyn, I would think that your style was that you loved matchy names and Madalee loses much of its uniqueness when paired with such a matchy sibling name.

    If your style is more the former, I like Swistle’s suggestions of Ellisyn (nn Ellie), Harlowe (nn Harley), and Briella (nn Bree or Ella). If your style is more the latter, I might look for names that look similar to Madalee but don’t necessarily repeat sounds, especially in the first syllable. I just came across the really different name Mazeline (nn Maisie) the other day…

  11. TheFirstA

    I agree that both names under consideration are too similar to Madalee for you to use. In fact, since Madalee is not a name I am familiar with, it strikes me as more of a variation of Madisyn/Madilyn-making them all actually seem like the same name with a twist. Like I could see Madalee being a nickname for one of the others. I would encourage you to consider these names off the table and look for something a bit further afield. There are literally thousands of names out there you could use, I’m sure eventually the right one will come up.

    For me personally, I think even something like Addison would be too close to use comfortably. Though it is certainly preferable to Madisyn/Madilyn. However, I think with a slight twist that offers a different nickname, you could do something like Addison. For example, Adabelle would give you Belle/Bella/Ella as nickname options, lessening the possible confusion of having a Maddy & Addy together. Or Adaline could offer Lina/Linnie as nicknames.

    I will suggest (or 2nd) Adeline, Aubree/Aubrey, Jaelyn, Gracyn, Emmerson, Emalyn, Avery, Katelyn, Kenzie, Bellamy.

  12. Maree

    I’m sorry that the names you love don’t work well – I have a name I dreamt about using that I couldn’t and it stings. I know sisters with names similar to Shanaya and Shakayla – I’m actually not sure of the names or which is which because they look alike and we aren’t close – just friends of friends. I don’t ever use their names at all which is so rude.

    I also think if you are a nn family you will regret that one girl misses out.

    What about an Ellie or Evie name? They are cute with Maddie?

    1. Maree

      I forgot to say that my other worry was that using one of these names might make your oldest’ name less special. (And I said it like that because I can’t remember which Maddie name is hers).

      Just had a thought what about Mae (Maesy? Maesie? Not good at alternate spellings!) Maelyn

  13. Susan

    Way too close, in my opinion. It would be as if my parents named my sister “Susanne” (I’m Susan), and said, “She’ll go by Susie, you can either go by Susan or Sue.”

  14. beep

    I forgot to say, I am a doctor and have adult patients who are twins with the same last names and first names that differ by one letter. These aren’t the names, but think Arvin and Alvin. They have had some potentially medically consequential issues related to record mixups, which thankfully we noticed in time. You aren’t talking about anything so similar for your girls, and of course they’d have different birthdates, but someone earlier mentioned mixups at the doctor’s office and I don’t think this is a trivial issue if you have two “Maddie” names at the same office.

    P.S. I have to say though that the twins in question love their matching names. They are very close emotionally and highly identified with their special relationship.

    1. Kay

      It’s interesting that the twins you know love their matching names! The ones I know with similar but slightly less matching names than your example are very close emotionally, too, but as I commented above, one of them gets prickly when others confuse their names. I’ve never asked them directly about whether they like their similar names. From their reactions I tend to think they find the constant confusion irritating. They also have two other siblings whose names begin with the same letter and have the same rhythm– in practice, the whole family is a minefield for those who tend to stumble over syllables and pronunciation.

  15. Laura

    Way too close. While you may love the names as a parent in charge of naming, I think you should try to put yourself in the shoes of the child and ask if you would want to be given the name Madilyn or Madisyn if your big sister was Madalee. It would be a huge no for me… as a Laura, it would be like having a sister named Laurel or Lauren. I would not be amused.

    I think this is a case where you need to just set the names aside… for example, pretend like you had already used all 3 names and now you have to name a fourth girl. What names rise to the top once you’re trying to find your favourite name of all the girl names that don’t start with Mad- ?

    A few suggestions:
    Makayla (or Michaela / Mikayla)

  16. Alli B

    I am firmly in the camp of “If you love it, use it.” So what if it isn’t other people’s style. In other countries it is common naming practice to have very similar sibling names, and it wasn’t too long ago that was the case here in the States too. Each family has their own naming traditions- all of our kids have Old Testament names for example. You will regret not picking a name you LOVE simply because other people will disapprove. Other people interact with you then go about their lives. You live with it in your daily life.

    1. Reagan

      I agree that other people’s opinions aren’t that important. But I do think parents have a responsibility to take into consideration the feelings of their children. It is unlikely that either child will like having a sister with nearly the same name. I am extremely close to my older sister but I would have felt my parents just wanted a clone of her if they gave me practically the same name. And I am sure my sister would have hated it too.

      I am aware of other cultures that name siblings nearly the same thing. There were 5 boys in a family on the same street as us growing up. The oldest was named and called John and the 4 younger brothers were all named John Middle name and called by their middle name. It caused lots of problems and not one of them choice to do the same thing when they had their own children,

  17. Sargjo

    I’m trying to pick up on other elements of Madalee that might lead to a linked but distinct name that doesn’t repeat the Mad-


  18. Shannon

    I commented above, but I thought of something else that–in addition to the confusion it would cause to use Madilyn or Madisyn for your second child–might be a good reason to go back to the drawing board. As many others have pointed out, following a Madalee with a Madilyn (for example) makes resentment almost inevitable, and you might get it from both sisters. Madilyn will likely resent that the name she was given is essentially a hand-me-down–a “revised draft,” so to speak, of the first name you chose as parents. Madalee, meanwhile, might very well resent the implication that HER name needed tweaking.

    Better by far, I think, to go with something completely new, to give both girls (if you have another girl) a bit of breathing room!

  19. Sal

    One of the girls on Teen Mom named her twin daughters Aleeah and Aliannah. When they were babies, she ended up calling them Aleeah and Allie, and apparently, now that they’re older still, Aleeah goes by Gracie (the diminutive of her middle name) to distinguish her from Allie. Learn from this real world naming situation.

  20. Reagan

    Think about what you like about Madalee, and Madisyn/Madilyn.

    IF the Mad or Ma beginning sounds are what you in what about:


    If it is – ad sound:


    If it is the lyn/syn ending:


  21. Jean

    I agree with everyone above that it’s just too similar. I wonder if you would consider Magnolia (nn Maggie) or Marlowe? Otherwise I like the idea of going with a name that you can nickname “Evie,” as Maddie and Evie sound like a cute sibling set. As an exercise, pretend you already have a son as well, and this is a third child (even if you are, in real life, intending to stop at 2). Try to focus on names that work well in a sibling set with Madalee and your chosen boy name.
    Good luck! I look forward to an update :)

  22. Kim C

    Any other “Maddie” name will definitely be too similar and cause endless confusion.

    Really like the suggestion of Emerson/Emersyn.

    Madalee and Emersyn nicknamed Maddie and Emmie would be nice together.

    What about Carolyn nn Carrie, Rebekah nn Beckie or Eveline nn Evie?

    Saw the name Amabel/Amabelle nn Amie recently too. Madalee and Amabel.

    Good luck!

  23. Jessemy

    Pretty similar. I happen to think Alison/Allison is totally underused and it sounds similar to your chosen names. Or for a more on-trend vintage vibe, Alice. Good luck!

  24. liz

    I’m piling on. You need to go in a different direction.

    What about Evelyn/Evaline
    Annabelle/Anabel or with the m spelling Amabelle?

    Madalee and Evaline
    Madalee and Rosilyn
    Madalee and Amabelle (I think I like this one best!)

  25. JenniferB

    I think the suggestion somewhere above of Emmalyn seems like a great fit. You get the lyn/syn ending with something that sounds like a good match and is also distinct from her sister’s name. Emmie and Maddie.

  26. Stephanie

    Agree with the other commenters, but I do have a suggestion:

    Use Madilyn or Madisyn as a middle name and give her a first name more in line with Madalee’s middle name. So they would match, but backwards. We don’t have Madalee’s middle name here, but for example:

    Madalee Grace and Joy Madisyn
    Madalee Rose and Pearl Madilyn
    Madalee Clara and Emma Madisyn

    As a middle name, I think you could use one of those since you love them so much. But i would pick something different for the first name and daily use.


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