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Challenge: Choosing Baby Names

Four Reasons to Give Your Daughter a Double Name

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If you are expecting a baby girl, no doubt you have been combing through name books and scouring the internet for just the right name for your perfect little bundle. Abby to Zuria, you have considered meter, meaning, and monogram. You’ve written names on notepads and napkins, pictured them in swirly font across your holiday cards, and imagined yourself calling each name across a crowded playground.

Naming people is hard.

So don’t settle for just one name. Consider giving your daughter a double name. Double names are classy, yet charming. Sophisticated, yet playful. Traditional, yet uncommon. Double names are cool. And while they are a longstanding southern tradition, you certainly don’t have to be southern to choose a double name.

Here are a four reasons to give your daughter a double name.

The possibility are endless. There are the classics. The world can never have enough Mary Catherines or Elizabeth Anns. Or there’s the unique, India May or Nyah Claire. Use a family name or a maiden name (Mary Scott, Sarah Parker). Hyphenate or run two names together (Anna-Rae, Suellen). Or honor a man in your family by giving your daughter his name. My elder daughter, Mary Micheal, is named after my brother. No matter the combination or style, you really can’t go wrong with a good double name.

Double names make the trendy timeless. So you’ve been waffling between Lake and Cenna for your new baby girl. It doesn’t matter. In ten years both will be equally out of style. But the great thing about a double name is that it never sounds trendy as long as one of the two names is traditional. Mary Lake. Cenna Jane. Rule of thumb, if a name has appeared in the Bible or a Jane Austen novel, it’s likely an excellent choice for pairing with any name that is also a geographical location or a font. In twenty years your daughter will thank you.

Double names are fun. In college my friends shortened my name, Laura Catherine, to L.C. To some people I became Elsie. My daughter Catherine Carter often goes by CiCi. I’ve also known of a Martha Ellen who became Emmy (ME). When you have a double name, there’s almost always a way to turn it into a cool nickname.

Double names are powerful. There’s something about a double name that stands out. Women with double names always seem to posses a certain grace and sense of self. Maybe it’s because when you have a double name you get used to standing up for yourself. You have to correct strangers and remind acquaintances. “It’s Jo Beth. Not Jo.” “It’s Sarah Kate. Not Sarah Lee.” Maybe women with double names are used to standing out a little, to being unique. Whatever the reason, I’ve rarely met a woman with a double name who wasn’t a force to be reckoned with.

It’s true. Naming people is hard, but it’s also fun. Soon you will you will look into the sweet face of your new baby and choose what she will be called for the rest of her life. It’s a huge responsibility. But with a double name, you hedge your bets. I know you won’t regret it.


This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

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