The Top Double Names for When You Can't Choose Just One
If you live in the south, double names, also known as double-barrelled names, are nothing new and you’re probably used to hearing names like John Taylor or Mary Margaret. But if you live in another part of the country, or world, this may be a new concept for you. A double name, or double-barreled first name, is often seen in Southern naming traditions, and is when you choose two names for your little, often joined by a hyphen. It is a great option for giving your child a name completely unique to them.
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." It is very common to use double names in Jamaican culture.
If you choose to give your child a double-barrelled first name, a hyphen is a good practice but not a requirement. The hyphen indicates which name goes in which place as opposed to a first and middle name. However, in the history of double-barrelled first names, hyphens are not used in everyday practice.
Guidelines and Rules for Choosing Double-Barrelled Baby Names
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 children 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. 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?
Maternity Concierge, HeHe (Haley-Else) Stewart, explains “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 Girls
Double-Barrelled names for girls are currently pretty trendy. It’s a great way to spice up short one-syllable names for little girls. You can have your little girl stand out with the perfect full name, whether you choose to hyphenate or not. If you’re having trouble deciding between two names, or want to acknowledge two important family members, you can easily create unique baby girl names by creating your own double-barrel option. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are the current top double-barrelled names for girls.
- Ada-Lucy: Can go by Lu, Lucy
- Amelia-Rose: Can go by Emili, Lia, Rosie
- Amy-Leigh: Can go by Amy, Lea, Leigh
- Anna-Blair: Can go by Annie, Anne, AB, Bee
- Anna-Maria: Can go by Ann, Marie
- Autumn-Rose: A lovely name inspired by nature, can go by Rosie.
- Ava-Grace: Two popular one-syllable names, can go by either name or paired together.
- Beth-Anne: Can go by Beth, Annie, Ann
- Cora-Lee: When paired together this sounds more like a pretty two-syllable name rather than two one-syllable names.
- Casey-Lee: Pairing two one-syllable names together help to create a full name, can easily go by either name or paired together.
- Daisy-Jade: Can go by DJ, Daisy, or Jade.
- Elizabeth-Ann: Can go by Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Annie
- Ella-Rose: Can go by Ellie or Rosie
- Ellie-Mae: Can go by Elle, Ellie, or May
- Gracie-Mae: Can go by Grace or May
- Heaven-Leigh: Pronounced like Heavenly, this is a nice play on names.
- Isla-Rose: Pairing two one-syllable names together makes a pretty full name.
- Kellie-Anne: Can go by Kelly, Ann
- Kirra-Belle: A unique spelling for Kirra, can go by KB or Bell
- Laura-Beth: Can go by Laurie, LB
- Lily-Ann: Two names that just flow nicely together, this sounds best when paired together as a two-syllable name
- Lily-Sue: Can go by Lily or Susie
- Lizzy-Kate: Two more casual names that provide a less formal feeling than Elizabeth or Katherine.
- Lola-May: Can go by either name or pair together as a two-syllable name
- Mary-Jane: Can go by MJ, Mary-J, Janey
- Mary-Lou: These two names sound as if they are meant to always be paired together for a cute little girl.
- Mary-Margaret: Can go by Maggie, Marge, Meg
- Molly-Kate: Can go by Kay, Katie, MK
- Olive-Ann: Pairing two one-syllable names together makes a lovely fuller name.
- Peggy-Sue: Can go by Peg, Susie
- Rose-Lily: Paying homage to two beautiful flowers, Rose-Lily is a lovely name for a little girl.
- Sarah-Alexander: Can go by Alex, Lex, Alexa
- Sarah-Jane: Can go by SJ, Sarah, Janey
- Sienna-Rose: Adding Rose to Sienna balances this out to a lovely four-syllable name that flows off the tongue.
- Sophia-Grace: Can go by Sophie, Gracie
Top Double-Barrelled Names for Boys
Double-barrelled names are less common for boys but still make unique name choices. This naming tradition is often recognized as a southern tradition, paying homage to family members. Many male double-barrelled names take inspiration from the Bible and make a great name for a new baby. As you start your naming journey, here is a list of the top double-barreled boy names to get you started.
- Aaron-Jay: Can go by AJ, Jay
- Andrew-James: Can go by AJ, Drew, Jay, Jim
- Beau-Alexander: Can go by B, Alex, Xander
- Benjamin-Grey: Pairing a larger first name with a smaller second name helps create balance.
- Billy-Jo: Makes you think of Souther Living, Billy-Jo is a great name for an outdoorsy little boy.
- Cody-Lee: Cody means helper, paired with Lee this has a nice cadence for a little boy.
- Corey-James: Can go by CJ, Corey, Jay, Jimmy
- Ethan-Lee: A simple, but perfect name for a little boy.
- James-Dean: Can go by Jimmy, JD, Dean
- Jaiden-Lee: Lee is used often as a second name because of its simplicity, which can go by JL.
- Jayden-Lee: Can go by Jay, JL
- Jean-Philippe: A lovey french name, most likely to be shortened to JP.
- Jesse-James: Can go by JJ, Jim, Jessie
- Jesse-Lee: Can go by JL, Jess, Jessie
- John-Paul: This has biblical undertones, a little boy named John-Paul can go easily by JP or Paulie.
- John-Peter: Another name with biblical undertones, nicknames can include Johnny, JP, Pete
- Joshua-Lee: Can go by Josh, JL
- Joshua-Raymond: Can go by JR, Josh, Ray
- Logan-James: Can go by LJ, Jim, Jimmy
- Michael-John: Many double-barrel names beginning with John are inspired by religious figures, John Michael can be Johnny, Mike, MJ.
- Michael-Kai: Can go by Kai, MK, Mike
- Oliver-James: Can go by OJ, Ollie, Jim
- Reggie-Lee: Can go by Reg or RL.
- Thomas-Lee: Can go by Tom, Tommy
- Tucker-Davis: Can go by Tuck, Dave
- Tyler-James: Can go by Ty, Jay, TJ
- William-Lee: Can go by Will, Willie, Liam
Top Unisex Double-Barrelled Names
A current trend these days is to utilize gender-neutral names that everyone will love. A family name can easily be paired together with a second name to make the perfect combination for any little one. If you’re not sure what the gender will be or want to keep in unisex, here is a list to get you started.
- Bailey-Ray: Great for either boy or girl, can go by Bay
- Billie-Jo: Can go by Bill, Billy, Jo
- Haley-Joel: Can go by Joe or Jo
- Charlie-Wren: Can go by Char, Charlie, CW
- Jamie-Lee: Can go by JL, Jamie or Lee
- Jessie-Blair: Can go by Jess or JB
- Jo-Cooper: Can go by JC, Coop, Cooper
- Kendall-Dallas: Pairing two double-syllable names can be a mouthful, but creates a beautiful full name for either a girl or a boy.
- Marley-Blake: Can go by MB
- Marley-Jay: Can go by MJ, Jay
- Quincey-Lee: Another two-syllable name paired with one syllable provides a nice flow.
- Riley-James: Can go by RJ
- Skyler-Reese: Two unique names paired together, can go by SK or Sky
Looking for more baby names and inspiration? Check out our Baby Name Center.
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