Combo Names: When 1 plus 1 equals 1
Reminiscent of fifties doo-wop songs and southern cotillions, combo names are finding their way back to baby name lists after a decades-long absence.
Contemporary Combo Names
The top ranking combo names in the U.S. have something in common. These names have origins besides being a simple combination of two names. For example:
- Annabelle, which hit the top 100 in 2012, is Anna + Belle and a variation on Annabel.
- Another variation of Annabel is Annabella, Anna + Bella, which was just outside the top 300 last year.
- Rosemary, which ranked at #603 last year, is Rose + Mary, which equals an herb.
These names are all wonderful, but soon U.S. parents could embrace more inventive combo names or revive established examples that have become obscure in recent decades. There was a place for them on the U.S. top 1000 Social Security list not too long ago.
Combo Names: Looking Back
Combo names went through typical fashion cycles, but were never very common in the U.S. The highest ranking combo name for the late ninettenth century was Louella (or Lou–Ella*). Louella peaked at #238 in 1881.
The decade with the most combo names in the top 1000 was the 1920s. Here are 1920-30s-era compound names:
In the mid-twentieth century combo names saw a resurgence. The highest ranking combo name ever was Maryann at #135 in 1943. Here are mid-twentieth century era (1940s-50s-60s) combo names:
Combo Names: Looking Ahead
The next wave of combo names could be arriving in the near future
Combo names are a U.K. trend that could well migrate across the pond, as suggested by these combo names hitting the U.S. top 1000 for the first time in recent years:
- Annalee in 2012 at #920
- Emmalynn in 2012 at #910
(Emmalyn in 2010 at #746; by 2012 it rose to #505)
- Gracelynn in 2010 at #844; by 2012 it rose to #615
(Gracelyn in 2004 at #919; by 2012 it rose to #507)
Whenever combo names start coming back in fashion, the names are a little different from those of bygone eras. There are many names that could join Annalee, Emmalynn and Gracelynn in the next wave of combo names.
Fresh Combo Name Possibilities
Here are some combo name ideas that combine traditional, vintage, and modern names:
What About Combo Names for Boys?
If you are wondering how boy combo names fare in the U.S., historically, they have been far less popular than girl combo names.
For boy traditional combos beyond Johnpaul, there’s Jamesfrancis, Johnpeter and Johnphillip.
With contemporary names, some possibilities are: Aidanpaul, Aidansean, Evanscott, Henryowen, and Peterowen.
These names present some practical questions, such as: hyphen or no hyphen?
But they are also endearingly kitschy and might be a great way to honor both grandparents and still give your kid their own unique first name.
How many combo names can you create? Would you use an established one?
Angela Mastrodonato created http://upswingbabynames/to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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on July 22nd, 2013 at 3:35 am
I used to LOVE the name Ellamae! Then I realised that it had the word Llama in it.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 4:26 am
We have a bird in Australia called Rosella. I wish that name would catch on for people too.
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on July 22nd, 2013 at 6:02 am
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on July 22nd, 2013 at 6:21 am
I always have a hard time picking between between Ellarose and Ellarae….not a huge fan of hyphens, though.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 6:34 am
Mariesoleil is rather striking but long enough I suspect some people would just give up rather than even TRY to pronounce it. Marie-Soleil might survive better?
I’m incredibly fond of Rosemary, Annabel, and Lillian/Lilyanne.
Less traditional ones I like:
Lilibeth – more a nickname of Elizabeth than a true smush, but I’ve also seen Lilybeth
Belphoebe – Chaucer smush! Belle + phoebe “beautiful moon” I love this one but it does look weird.
And I am ashamed to admit how much Rosered, Rosequartz, and Briar-Rose appeal.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 7:58 am
My fave right now would be Annabeth, I fell in love with her while reading Percy Jackson
on July 22nd, 2013 at 11:46 am
My favorite, although I didn’t see it here, is Marianne (like Pride and Prejudice). And Bettyjane because that is my grandma so I am biased. Generally not a big fan of combo names, though.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 12:31 pm
I like Rosemary since I know a little one.
I also like Marianne although it’s from Sense and Sensibility not P & P.
I also love Mariatheresa or Maria-Theresa or Maria Theresa.
I like Anne Marie. I also like Anneliese since I know two.
I generally prefer these names as two words with or without a hyphen.
I like French boys names Jean-Paul or Jean-Louie.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 1:29 pm
@stripedsocks: While I usually prefer no hyphens, I agree that with longer names like Marie-Soleil, the hyphen helps with pronunciation.
I wanted to included Briar-Rose on the list and changed my mind at the last minute.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 3:37 pm
I’m loving River-Rose right now, unconventional, but down to earth and very ethereal IMHO!
on July 22nd, 2013 at 6:55 pm
I grew up near a Catholic family who named all their girls Mary-_______. There was a Mary-Louise, Mary-Josepha (she went by Mary-Jo), Mary-Grace, and Mary-Rose. I think there were a couple others whose names I forgot!
I like the more traditional name smooshes such as Annabel and Rosemary. I also like the vintage nicknamey ones like Betty-Lou and Maggie-May. Although I’d probably name a daughter Elizabeth Louise and just call her Betty-Lou.
on July 22nd, 2013 at 8:46 pm
I like adamarie and ellajane, though I prefer them to be separate with a space or hyphen. I don’t think I’d give a double name formally, but like Emily above said, something like Elizabeth Louise = Betty lou.
I imagine Alice could be a popular part of smoosh names to come.
on July 23rd, 2013 at 1:26 am
Briar-Rose! I’m a fairy tale freak, so this name would just earn me eye rolls…I’ve decided on Rosalind Briar instead, nn Lindy. Then I can honor Beauty and the Beast (Lindy means beautiful and was the Belle character in the retelling Beastly) and Sleeping Beauty, (the only thing I liked about her, honestly, were her names)
But what about Maybelle? She was a character in a book- Homecoming, by Cynthia Voigt. I really like Annasophia, though.
on July 23rd, 2013 at 8:26 am
Annasophie and Ellamae are beautiful, although I also prefer the names with a space in between. I know a little girl named ClaireBella, which I always thought sounded beautiful.
on July 23rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm
I have a little soft spot for Clarabelle because I grew up on Thomas the Tank Engine. Those trains (and their carriages) were seriously well-named!! 😛
on July 23rd, 2013 at 12:57 pm
@Haili73: Rosalind Briar is gorgeous and nn Lindy is super cute.
on July 23rd, 2013 at 2:46 pm
I actually quite like Ellarose.
on July 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 pm
@stripedsocks I absolutely love the name Rosered
on August 17th, 2013 at 5:02 pm
A very southern thing to do :). My cousin’s name is AnnLouise, which I’ve always thought was beautiful. What about?
Roseclaire or Clararose
on August 20th, 2013 at 4:13 am
I’m not usually a huge fan of portmanteau names, but there is a teenaged blogger called Willabelle Ong, and I thought her name was really adorable, besides being a little out of the ordinary.
on August 20th, 2013 at 8:19 am
Too funny! I have an Annabelle Jane and a Rosemary Grace.
on September 2nd, 2013 at 7:27 pm
Forgot to include Marilyn, which is pretty much a smooshing of “Mary” and “Lynn” 🙂
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on October 16th, 2013 at 1:00 pm
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on October 17th, 2013 at 7:39 pm
I know a MaryElizabeth. One word, capital E. Catholic family! She goes by “Mares.”
on November 20th, 2013 at 1:53 pm
I like Rosanna, Emmalouise, Annamarie, and Annajane. I came up with most of those myself. lol Although I prefer to hyphen them, so it’d be Emma-Louise, Anna-Marie, and Anna-Jane.
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on December 2nd, 2013 at 6:28 am
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on December 17th, 2013 at 6:33 am
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on June 10th, 2017 at 5:31 am
On my dad’s side I have a niece named Molly Kate, on my mom’s side I have a cousin named Emma Kate, a cousin named Sophie Kate or Sophie-Kate (not sure about the hyphen) and an aunt named Anne Mychelle. Even though these are written as two words, they’re all just the first name.
One combo name I really like is Sophie-Rae. Originally I thought of it for a character I created.
on June 10th, 2017 at 5:31 am
Also, in the house of Night book series, there’s a character named Stevie Rae
on July 9th, 2018 at 10:21 am
I love double names or smooshed names! I currently have a Pepperlyn and am in love with Laidyanne
on March 29th, 2020 at 1:20 pm
My good friend’s middle name in Maella, I think it is very pretty
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