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Taylor Lautner and Taylor Lautner? What Happens When Couples Have the Exact Same Name

Though their same-name reveal gave way to jokes online, the Taylors Lautner, who didn’t return requests for comment, are hardly alone in being a name-twin couple.

Ryan Webb and Ryan Webb, spouses who are oil and gas professionals in Oklahoma City, Okla., met on their lunch breaks. The shared first name took some getting used to. “It made the holidays real weird,” Mr. Webb says. “Anytime anybody would say, ‘Hey Ryan,’ we’d both perk up like we were meerkats.” His family uses “Boy Ryan” and “Girl Ryan” to differentiate between him and his wife. (Mr. Lautner told Kelly Clarkson that he and his wife often go by “Boy Tay” and “Girl Tay.”) Ms. Webb’s family sometimes calls her Ryan Michelle, using her middle name. The Webbs have two daughters, Ella and Katy. “If we ever do have a son, he will be named Ryan,” Mr. Webb says.

Taylor Nelson-Cook and Taylor Nelson-Cook, who live in Denver, have been together since they were teenagers. In a sense, their shared name brought them together. Ms. Nelson-Cook (nee Hernandez), now 29, reached out to Mr. Nelson-Cook on blogging platform Xanga to introduce herself because they were in the same soccer league. She said her name was Taylor, too, and that she played for the Tornadoes girls team (he played on the Tornadoes boys team) and she wanted to say hi. Mrs. Nelson-Cook, who works in tech, says the decision to take her husband’s surname, which was already hyphenated, was straightforward: She wanted to share a name with her children, and Nelson-Cook couldn’t handle another hyphen.

Their neighbors call them “Gaylor” for girl Taylor and “Maylor” for male Taylor, says Mr. Nelson-Cook, 30, who is a sports performance trainer. Their friends include a married couple both named Jordan Johnson. Back in the 1920s, when the British author Evelyn Waugh married the socialite Evelyn Gardner, their friends differentiated between the two by calling them “He-Evelyn” and “She-Evelyn,” according to Martin Stannard’s two-volume biography of the author.

During the last 50 years, given names for both boys and girls have become much more varied, says Cleveland Evans, an expert in personal names for the American Name Society. “Many parents [are] on the lookout for the perfect ‘different but not too different’ name,” says Mr. Evans. “This means that parents of girls have been even more likely to pick up on a formerly masculine name for a daughter than they used to be,” giving examples such as Avery, Madison and Riley, which was the ninth most-popular girls name in the U.S. last year, when including spelling variations.

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