Ever fallen head-over-heels in love with two different people at the same time? Two different cities? Two choices of cheesecake on the dessert menu (insert deeply troubled sigh of despair)? Sure, sometimes you have to suck it up and make a decision.
But where's the rule book that says you can only give your child one name?
Although in Britain, double-barreled names tend to be associated with social class and personal status, that's not the case globally. In America, people might think of Southern or Mid-western families when you say a hyphenated first name, somewhere more rural rather than a big, modern city.
A few years ago, hyphenating baby names was a "talked about emerging new trend", that never fully took off. But that's actually good news. If you're gonna name your little girl Billie-Jean, then you'd at least hope there aren't five others in her class at school. Be reassured that accessorizing baby's name with a sleek-and-unique hyphen is still an unusual thing to do.
And of course, it's not just for you! Giving your child this most awesome two-for-one gift provides them with options as they grow up. Maybe they'll keep the full shebang (after all, our suggestions are pretty darn catchy), or perhaps they'll decide just to keep one, a nickname of one, or even the acronym - if it's cool enough (and let's be honest; if they're cool enough).
Without any additional rambling, here's our fabulous list...
If you’re a free-spirited Frank Sinatra fan that wants to do it your way, then putting a unique twist on this classic name could be the answer.
While Frank is originally a French name, meaning “freeman” (a free man), Jay comes from the Latin “Gaius” and means “to rejoice.” What could be better than a happy chap enjoying life as freely as a bird?
Jay on its own, ranks relatively high in the US baby name charts, currently sitting in at around 300th place. Frankie was most popular at the turn-of-the-century (as a nickname for Frank) and is now the 737th most chosen name in the United States.
Naming your son Frankie-Jay gives him a ton of options throughout life. As a baby, this full, three-syllable, hyphenated trendy moniker is irresistibly cute. As a teen, he might opt for just Frankie, or Jay. An as an adult, he might prefer the simpler, straight-to-the-point Frank.
The literal meaning of Tommy is “twin” (fab if you’re having two), and is derived from the more traditional, Thomas. With German origins, the name Ray has many meanings, including “mighty protection”, “counsel” and “guards wisely”.
While Thomas has always done well in the baby name charts, and right now sits comfortably within the top 50 boy names in much of the English-speaking western world, it’s common nickname is far less popular – right down below 700th place.
The name Ray instantly evokes visions of glorious sunshine beaming through clouds (for me, anyway) and is soaring quickly up the charts, having jumped a whopping 200 places since last year, already!
Famous Tommy’s include world-renowned fashion designer, Tommy Hilfiger and Academy-award nominated movie actor, Tommy Lee Jones. There are dozens of notable Ray’s from around the globe, but perhaps the most famous among them is genius singer/songwriter, Ray Charles. He wrote the romantic hit, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” – appropriate sentiments for your little babe who will inevitably be the greatest love of your life.
Griffin is originally a Welsh name, perhaps derived from the Roman version, Rufus. A popular choice among mythology lovers, and those seeking a familiar-sounding yet uncommon first name. Its remained in around 300th place in the BabyCentre.com charts for the past few years. Nickname possibilities for Griffin include Griff, Finn/Fin or Gruff.
Reed originated from Middle-English as a nickname for someone with red hair. These days, we tend to think more of its nature connotations. If you come from a scenic countryside village, rife with these tall, grass-like plants of the wetlands, then you might want to honor your beautiful home by including “Reed” in your son’s name.
While your son might eventually choose one of the two names, rather than always use both, a potential nickname combining the two, could be a very cute “Fin-Ree.”
Turn-of-the-century American author, Henry James, was regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the English language – bringing literary realism and modernism together. So, if you’re a fan of fiction and travel stories, and love a good book – giving your son this name could compliment your passion for poetic creativity.
Although eight Kings of England have been named Henry, it is, in fact, a German name. It means “ruler of the house.” Harry is a common nickname for Henry. Prince Harry was actually born Henry. It’s an increasingly favored choice by mommas, and according to BabyCenter, it’s currently in 36th place on the charts.
James was recently crowned the “Number 1 Choice” among Americans, for their all-time favorite baby boy name. It just reentered the Top 5, two years ago, for the first time since 1980! James is a biblical name, derived from Jacob. Perhaps it’s meaning hints at why it’s always been so popular. It means, “supplanter” (one who follows)!
But by combining these two old classics, with a trendy new hyphen, you make them more unique. A super cool nickname could simply be HJ.
Oh, Danny boy! Here’s one for those with Scottish roots. If your heritage is all about kilts, whiskey, and bagpipes, then naming your son Danny could be another way to honor your ancestry. Although derived from the Hebrew name, Daniel, (meaning God is the judge), Danny has long been used as its own independent name. And if you’re a John Travolta fan looking for something that sounds automatic, systematic and hydrometric – then naming your groovy little one after everyone's favorite T-Bird could provide you with a constant reminder of those care-free high-school years when you used to dance and sing at every opportunity (You did, right?).
Although this friendly-sounding and easy-to-spell name has been popular for decades, it’s still only currently hovering around 400th place in the baby name charts, according to Nameberry. To make it even more unique, why not combine it with Mack?
Mack also has Scottish (and Irish) routes and means “son of” – quite appropriate really, seeing as he is your son! It was often put in front of the fathers first or last name. So, alternatively, you could have MacDanny? (No? Sounds a little bit too much like McDonalds?)
Zachary means “remembered by God” and even for the atheists among us, this is one meaning we’d all like to equate with our little one (no one wants to be forgotten!).
Currently at number 128 in the Nameberry charts, Zachary is often shortened to Zach, or Zac, and in recent years has been popularized among sports fan and comedy-lovers alike, with the name being shared by Canadian Ice Hockey player, Senators Centreman, Zach Smith; NBA player Zach Randolph; and that hilarious, hairy actor everybody loves, Zach Galifianakis.
Jim is derived from James, which we’ve talked about above. But the list of famous Jims and their immortal legacies is simply too cool not to mention; Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison revolutionized music in 1960’s America, while today, Jimmy Fallon is a loved-by-all, cheery (and, let’s be honest – somewhat delicious) entertainer.
Looking for a nickname for your sporty musician, Zachary-Jim? You probably don’t need to look any further than ZJ (pronounced Zee-Jay). A lesser-seen acronym that can only lead to perpetual grooviness.
Gordie comes from the very British sounding name, Gordon, believed to have originated from the town of Gordon in Berwickshire. Although initially a popular surname, Gordon began being used as a first name in the 19th century, and has since gained it’s less regal, more casual nickname of Gordie.
If you’re into cooking nothing short of perfection, then you might be a fan of every Scots favorite chef, Gordon Ramsay. And while Ramsay might make you think of the street in Australia’s Neighbours, or a field of sheep, the variation of Gordon that is Gordie might be a way to pay tribute to the fiery cook.
Paul is a Latin name, meaning little or small. Perhaps not a quality you’re especially keen to bestow upon your offspring, but it’s certainly an appropriate addition to their name when they are indeed tiny and adorable. It’s also a Biblical name, with roots significantly farther back than that. It was popular in Roman and Medieval times and soared in use in the 50s when girls started throwing their knickers at Paul McCartney of The Beatles.
However you look at this unique combination, Gordie-Paul is destined to be hot-stuff!
Whenever I hear the name Ollie or Oliver, I think of the late eccentric British actor, Oliver Reed (another delicious one), who once climbed naked into a marine fish tank in the reception area of the Ritz hotel in London, “because he hadn’t had much media coverage for a while”.
The name Oliver has French origins, and refers to the olive tree – a symbol of fruitfulness, beauty and dignity! Oliver is currently the number one name in England, Australia, and New Zealand! Yet, it’s diminutive, Ollie, doesn’t even make the charts.
Breaking Bad recently popularized the name Flynn, when Walter Junior insisted he be called by that name. His bemused father inquired, “as in Errol?” which totally passes Walt Jr. by – Errol Flynn was a devilishly handsome wartime Hollywood superstar (and, funnily enough, a hero of Oliver Reed’s). The name Flynn has Irish origins, and means “son of the red-haired one.”
Ollie-Flynn is destined to be a charismatic charmer.
Thought to have derived from the Irish Gaelic surname Mac Oda (son of Odo) the roots of the name Cody stretch as far back as the 13th century, when its original form of Odo was said to mean “wealthy.” So, that’s a good start. The more modern English version of Cody is said to mean “helpful.” What’s better than a rich person? A rich person that helps other people. Cody’s got it in one!
Bear has increased in popularity enormously in recent years, with action-seeking, death-defying television presenters like Bear Grylls tackling the wild. Kate Winslet and Alicia Silverstone both have sons named Bear. Having recently broken into the top 900 names in England, the name Bear is predicted to be on the rise. Quite literally referring to the animal, a bear denotes a cuddly but independent, strong and authoritative personality.
Perhaps one for mountain lovers, Cody-Bear inspires thoughts of a luxurious but philanthropic woodland dwelling lifestyle.
Are you partial to a fine wine? Denny is a Greek baby name meaning “Follower of Dionysius” (Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce that word – what’s important is that he was the Greek God of Wine!) If you’d like your son to be someone who raises endorphin levels, puts people at ease and is always fun to be around – then this subtle association with fermented grape juice could elevate the possibility!
Denny is derived from Dennis. More than just a menace; famous people of this name include retired American professional basketball player, Dennis Rodman; and American comedy and drama actor, Dennis Quaid.
Jake is a form of Jacob and had a surge in popularity in the mid-noughties. These days it’s dipped a bit in the baby name rankings, making it less commonly heard in the delivery room. Like James (which we talked about earlier) it means “one who follows” and seeing as your children are, in essence, following you into this beautiful big wide world, then it’s a meaning that’s always relevant.
Nickname possibilities for cheeky little Denny-Jake, include Den-Jake, Den-J, D-Jake, or DJ.
If you’re allured by the calls of the American mid-west and love nothing more than soaking in the impressive magnitude, and sheer energy of the Rocky Mountains - then naming your baby after this awesome part of the planet can be nothing but a good idea.
And if it’s not the nature-lover within you that longs to use this powerful but quirky title for your boy, then perhaps it’s your admiration for Sylvester Stallone and/or heroic/muscular men in general? Mountains and muscles – no pressure, little lad. (Don’t worry – the real meaning of the name is “rest”!). Whatever the inspiration, Rocky is just cool.
Flint is another earthy element, that could, in fact, be found deep in the Rocky Mountains. Flint is a hard, black gemstone – or more technically, it’s a sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz. It’s been around since the dawn of time and was used by Neanderthals to make tools.
Rocky-Flint is a name for adventurous survivors.
Billy came about as a nickname for William, which means “resolute protector.” There are tons of celebs named Billy, but there seems to be a particular trend among singers – with rock singer, Billy Joel, punk singer, Billy Idol and country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus.
You’re reading this, like, yeah-yeah, Billy – love it. But let’s talk about this “Rad”!!?
Okay, so I might have made it up. But, you’ve gotta admit, it’s pretty rad. (I didn’t really make it up. It’s a real baby boy name, and it actually means “advisor” -- which is even more rad!) This synonym for “cool”, “awesome” or “wicked”, is an abbreviation of “radical” – most commonly used among Californian surfers of the 1970’s.
I can’t get enough of this totally bodacious idea of hyphenating your babies name with the word “Rad.” Especially if the first part of the name begins with B. I mean, come on, a kid with a nickname “B-Rad”? How could he ever fail?
Johnny is a derivative of John, an ancient name meaning “God is gracious; Jehovah has shown favor.” So, if you’ve got a bit of a spiritual side and want to show your appreciation, giving your baby the name Johnny does just that.
Johnny Depp, Johnny Knoxville, and the late Johnny Cash all prove that this is a versatile, fun time that shines in the limelight. Opting for the two-syllable cheery version of John has its benefits. I mean, would John Depp be such a cool name?
He doesn’t need to be superman to pull off the name Clark. It’s sophisticated, it’s punchy and although using the name won’t necessarily enable your son to fly, it has connotations which could help elevate him to higher levels.
Meaning “scribe, secretary, cleric, scholar or clerk” – you’d certainly be sending your little one off to an intellectual, if somewhat nerdy (which is the “in” thing to be these days, BTW) start in life.
JC’s got all the ingredients of a well-rounded original name.
Sure, Carter sounds familiar, but it’s not one we hear every day. It’s most popular in the United States Midwest, in the states of Nebraska and Iowa. In recent years, it’s soared up the charts in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, too.
The meaning of Carter isn’t all too glamorous; “transporter of goods by cart” but this doesn’t mean your boy would be destined for a life simply pushing a trolley around Walmart. It began as a surname, a couple of centuries ago in England. In recent years, popular TV shows like Gossip Girl and the OC have raised its profile.
Quite literally meaning “ruler” or “monarch”, it might surprise you to know that King is currently the 85th most popular baby boy name on Nameberry. With Anglo-Saxon origin, this is undoubtedly a strong name with a whole host of powerful associations – from Elvis to Martin Luther King.
If you like irony but are never quite sure how to explain what it is, then naming your son Carter-King could take care of that. One thing’s for sure, his name would be great in a rags-to-riches story.
Pronounced “Jessie” – this is another one that Breaking Bad brought to the forefront of our minds when thinking about baby names. The character of Jesse Pinkman certainly wouldn’t be every mother's dream, but perhaps we grew to love the name Jesse because his likeability shone through or that Aaron Paul (the actor who played him) is pretty endearing really. It’s an English name that means “God exists.”
Another one for nature lovers, Jett is a black mineraloid of organic origin or semi-precious stone. It’s durable and can withstand pressure. People will also associate the name Jett with aeroplanes, which can only be a cool thing.
Your sweet little Jesse-Jett will no doubt be off to a flying start in life, and if you want to shorten his hyphenated moniker, then how much cuter can you get than JJ?
You might think that Otto means “Eight” and would be a great name for your eighth child… But more poetically, it’s a form of Othello (another terrific name!) which means “prosperous” or “well-off/rich.”
It’s a German name that’s following in the footsteps of Oscar. Otto has been rising steadily in popularity in recent years and saw an especially big surge in the years 2015 and 2016. Otto the Great is considered to be the founder of the Roman Empire and inspires images of an important, burly leader of the ancient world.
Knox has Scottish origins and means “round hill.” Although that might induce slightly unattractive images, the name actually evolved as a surname, referring specifically to people who lived on the top of a hill.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose Knox for their fifth child. It was the middle name of one of Pitt’s great-grandparents.
Otto-Knox doesn’t need abbreviating, for the reason that it’s short and awesome as it is. That, and if you get much shorter, you’d be going with an acronym for a nickname – OK.
Regan is of Celtic origin, at it means “regal” or “royal.” It can also mean “little ruler”, “little king” and “noble.” Generally, it’s pretty high class.
As is George. George is, perhaps surprisingly, a Greek name that has derived from “Georgos” meaning “tiller of the soil” or “farmer.” We all know dozens of famous Georges (none of them farmers, incidentally) – George Clooney, George Bush, George Harrison, George Lucas, Boy George, George Washington… But none can beat St. George – The Patron Saint of England. You know how I know none of them can beat St. George? Because St. George beat a dragon. A fire-breathing dragon. He rescued princesses and tamed and slew a giant mythical winged beast. Impossible to compete. Try as you might and hunkalicious as you are, increasingly-silver-fox-Clooney.
Regan-George is an original way to combine these two classics, for your bold little prince.
Aaron is more than just one of the first names in those enormous baby-name list books. With Hebrew origins, it means “high mountain”, “lofty”, “enlightened” or “inspired.” In Arabic, Aaron means “forest” or “strength.” All highly positive connotations that instantly elevate this unique boy name.
Aaron peaked in 1994, and today around just 1 in 220 babies born are named Aaron. Popularity in the US varies from state to state – in California, Aaron is currently number 27 on the baby name charts, whereas in Maine it’s down in 150th position.
Dax originated from a small French town of the same name. We’ll admit it’s unlikely to be popular in Australia, where “dacks” can be slang for underwear, but in the United States, Canada, the UK and other parts of the world, Dax has been a top thousand baby name, slowly climbing the charts for the last nine years – joining other names in the “ends with an x” trend.
Ivan is actually the Russian form of John, meaning “gracious gift from God”, and is surprisingly most popular among America’s Hispanic communities. Whenever we use the name “Jack”, in westernized fairy-tales, the Russian’s are using “Ivan.” Ivan has been the name of several Russian tsars, two in particular; Ivan The Great and Ivan The Terrible. Let’s hope your little one bears more resemblance to the former.
Drake is the Swedish word for “Dragon.” (Just keep him away from George!) It can also mean dweller or male duck. It didn’t appear on the American baby name charts until 1946 and even today only around 1 in 1,000 baby boys born are named Drake. The most famous Drake that springs to mind, is Toronto-born Canadian rapper, Drake (whose actual full name is Aubrey Drake Graham.)
This incredibly unique combo is bound to ensure your little one doesn’t have the same name as anybody else.
My personal favorite.
Despite its unwavering popularity over several decades in England, Harry is still relatively unheard of in North America. It’s found its way into the top 250 in recent years, but is still considered an outsider. Like Henry, it means “ruler of the home”. Harry Potter, Prince Harry and Harry Styles (One Direction) are all British-born Harrys – and while all three of the aforementioned continue to woo the ladies across the pond, the name still hasn’t quite taken hold on the west side of the Atlantic.
Jack is also more popular in England than the US. In fact, during the middle ages, it was so common, that it was simply used as a term for “man” or “boy.” Jack Black, Jack White, and Jack Nicholson are all famous bearers of this monosyllabic handsome name.
Combining the two enables you to put an original twist on two age-old classics. When you love two names this much, who says you can’t have both?
Sources: nameberry.com, babycentre.com, babble.com, sheknows.com, listchallenges.com, ranker.com, biography.com, babynames.com, babynamescience.com, babynamewizard.com, famousbirthdays.com, telegraph.co.uk