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Two part first names for babies

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Parents struggle to narrow down their baby name lists to just one. For the lucky, one shining name stands out from the rest, but sometimes one name simply will not do. What to do when you can't bear to see a favorite go unnoticed in the middle-name slot? Choose two first names! 

Giving two first names holds a prominent place in Catholic naming traditions. You've probably met at least one Mary Catherine or John Paul in your life. As you decide if this trend is right for your family, consider some of the following guidelines.

How to choose a two-part first name

  • Choose at least one short name. Arguments exist either way as to which position the shorter name should hold, but a short name must be included. We prefer putting the shorter name first. A longer second name is less likely to be dropped because it holds more weight. However, a one-syllable second name isn't much extra to say, so sometimes you will find it the better way to go.
  • Consider the middle name problem. Do you want the second first name to replace the middle name, or will your child have four (or more) names total? In cases of hyphenated last names, a two-part first name might be too much.
  • Choose familiar names. Two-part names with obscure spellings or pronunciations might confuse people and make things difficult for your child. Two-part names work best with instantly recognizable, one-spelling names. Going by two first names sets the child apart enough without further complicating matters.
  • Consider hyphenating. While we generally eschew unnecessary punctuation, with two-part first names, it minimizes the inclination others will have to drop the second name.
  • Pay attention to initials. Initials like T.J. and C.C. make adorable nicknames. Initials like P.P. and F.U. do not.
  • Don't get too attached. Just as we would recommend against naming your son James if you abhor the nickname Jim, accept that your child may decide to drop his second name later in life. 

If you need a little help getting started, here are a few two-part first-name combinations we adore.

Two-part first names for boys

Two-part first names for girls

More baby name ideas

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Baby names with many variant spellings
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