Growing up down south, double names, also known as double-barreled names, were nothing new. Every 5th person was a John Taylor or a Mary Margaret. My parents both have double names and my sister does, too. Somehow, I grew up as simply "Haley", but was always envious of the double-named kids. When I went to college, I decided I would "rebrand" myself and go by my full name, "Haley-Elise." It stuck, but it was a mouthful and was quickly shortened to H.E by a dear friend and then finally settled in as HeHe. When I moved to Boston, I tried to introduce Haley-Elise and again, people up north just wouldn't stop dropping the Elise. Back to HeHe I went.
The History of Double Names
Double-barrelled names should not be confused with hyphenated surnames. I'm not sure anyone knows exactly how double-barrelled (first) names got started, but double surnames (hyphenated last names) have a slightly different meaning depending on your country of origin. In some cultures it's used (or once was, at least) to signal social class, while in other cultures it's simply the norm or an indicator of marriage or "alliance names."
Guidelines and Rules for Choosing a Double-Barrelled Baby Name
Remember that picking a name that your child will be called for the rest of their life is no small task. It's nice to pick a name that gives your child options as their identity grows and develops with them. Be mindful of the fact that aside from the two individual names, that it can be shortened or made into a nickname. Just as I transitioned from Haley to Haley-Elise to HeHe, you want to give little Jenny the chance to be Jen, Jenna, or Jenny Sue.
Another thing to keep in mind is the way the two names "interact" with one another. Can James Thomas be shortened to JT and is James Thomas easy to say/pronounce?
Finally, consider if you will hyphenate your child's name or not. The overall consensus is that without a hyphen it is hard to distinguish if the second name is a middle name or should be included.
As a Maternity Concierge, I am asked about baby names quite often—my help brainstorming names, inquiries about the "prettiest" names I've ever heard, right down to my opinions of if a name is a "lax bro" name or not. I always suggest that you pick two or three top names and practice using them. Practice roll call just like in elementary school, practice using the name in a scolding sentence of “Get these shoes out of the hallway!!!!", and practice introducing your baby to people. This will give you a good sense of names that "feel good." Most parents enjoy this activity and find it super helpful in making a decision!
Top Double-Barrelled Names for Boys in 2019:
These are the top picks for double-barrelled baby names for boys in 2019.
- Tyler-James: Can go by Ty, Jay, TJ
- John-Paul: Can go by JP, Paulie
- Joshua-Raymond: Can go by JR, Josh, Ray
- William-Lee: Can go by Will, Wiilie, Liam
- Tucker-Davis: Can go by Tuck, Dave
- Thomas-Lee: Can go by Tom, Tommy
- Beau-Alexander: Can go by B, Alex, Xander
Top Double-Barrelled Names for Girls in 2019:
These are the top picks for double-barrelled baby names for girls in 2019.
- Amelia-Rose: Can go by Emili, Lia, Rosie
- Sophia-Grace: Can go by Sophie, Gracie
- Molly-Kate: Can go by Kay, Katie, MK
- Mary-Margaret: Can go by Maggie, Marge, Meg
- Anna-Blair: Can go by Annie, Anne, AB, Bee
- Laura-Beth: Can go by Laurie, LB
- Sarah-Alexander: Can go by Alex, Lex, Alexa
When picking a baby name, think in terms of "options" for your child. Be mindful that they will use some version of this name for the entirety of their life as the number one identifying factor for themselves. What name do you think of when you picture your baby's face?
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