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Should You Rhyme Your Baby's Names?


Question: I'm currently expecting, and the baby's surname will be Greene. My husband recently suggested the name Serena, which I really like--except for the fact that I think Serena Greene rhymes (my husband is convinced that it doesn't)!

Our difference of opinion has lead me to wonder: Where should parents draw the line when it comes to bestowing rhymey baby names on their children? How much rhyme is too much rhyme? And does Serena Greene work as a "normal" name, or is it just too sing-songy to ever be taken seriously?

- Tamer Namer

Answer: Matching sounds in a name is a lot like matching colors or patterns in an outfit. A bag that picks up the plaid of your coat collar might look terrific. Head-to-toe plaid, though, is a 911 call to the fashion police. Similarly, the repeated "ol" element makes Oliver Rollins a smooth composition, while the full-body rhyme of Oliver Tolliver is best left to Mother Goose.

Drawing the line isn't always easy. In general, the sing-songy aspect kicks in hardest when the rhythm and sound both match, and when the rhyme includes all of the stressed syllables in the name. Even that kind of match doesn't necessarily rule a name out, though. Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal's rhyming name was a slam dunk.

Serena Greene is a strong rhyme, based on stressed syllables. To my ear, though, it stays comfortably on the right side of the sing-songy divide. (Compare to Serena Fina for an example that takes the rhyme too far.) So if you and your husband both love the name; Serena, I'd say you have yourselves a baby name.

Also don't forget to check out the last baby name trends with our current top 100 boys names and top 100 girls names lists!

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