After reading through endless books and websites and hearing dozens of recommendations from friends and family, you’ve finally narrowed down your long (long!) list to a few baby names you like. The problem? You just can’t decide. It can be agonizing to try to choose the perfect baby name, particularly if you end up with two names that both have significant meanings for you.
You can always opt to use one name as the middle name — and maybe even flip a coin or pull out of a hat to decide which name gets second billing.
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But if that doesn’t work for you, we’ve got a recommendation: Try a combination name. By mixing together your two favorite names, you to keep what you love about both names without having to get rid of one; plus, you end up with a name that’s totally unique (just like your baby!).
There are a few different techniques you can use to combine two names to make one for a baby, and each method has its perks. Try them out and see what you come up with — it just might be the perfect name.
Baby name-combining technique No. 1: Create a hyphenated name
One of the simplest ways of combining baby names is to link them with a hyphen. This allows both names to retain their individual meaning while creating a new moniker that will be unique to your child.
How to use this: This technique is great if both parents have separate ideas of what the child’s name should be. List the names in whatever order sounds most natural; Robyn and Ava can become Robyn-Ava, while John and David become John-David. The key to successfully combining two names this way? Use short names, folks. Browse our lists of one-syllable names and two-syllable names for inspiration.
Baby name-combining technique No. 2: Portmanteau names
Looking for a unique baby name? Take two and make a new one. Start with a couple of names you like, and consider how you can piece them together to form a special new combo name.
How to use this: Techniques can include dropping portions of each name, interweaving the names, or rearranging them. For instance, Audrey and Melissa could become Aulissa or Melrey. Samantha and Isabella could become Anthabella or even Samisa. You just have to be committed to creativity.
Baby name-combining technique No. 3: Using prefixes with your names
One big ongoing trend for combining names is to take a relatively simple or common name and add a prefix to it. This gives the name a more personalized feel.
How to use this: First, choose the name you want to start with. Then, try it with a few prefixes — such as De-, Ke-, La-, Le- or Ra-. For instance, Anne could become Deanne or Jon could become Dejon. Be sure to keep the name that you start with short though. Longer names could get too long. (“Ralexander” is maybe a mouthful).
Baby name-combining technique No. 4: Combining parent names (or the names of other loved ones)
Want to imbue your child’s name with a sense of family history? Combine two names that have special meaning — whether it’s the parents’ names, grandparents’ names, or other special people. This concept is similar to technique No. 2.
How to use this: Use Mom’s and Dad’s first or last names to create an all-new name. You can also use a combo of grandparent names or godparent names, and feel free to mix and match syllables. For instance, Serena and Paul could become Saul or Aulena. Daniel and Jessica could become Danica or Jessielle… the possibilities are endless.
Baby name-combining technique No. 5: Compounding baby names
Rather than using a hyphen or pulling small bits from each name, you can always just put the two names together.
How to use this: Again, keep this short and simple: Cassandrabelle maybe isn’t going to work. Some options: Marybeth, Joanne, Jonpaul, and Annaleigh.
Baby name-combining technique No. 6: Use technology
A ton of baby name combination generators are just a quick Google search away. Even TikTok has baby name content these days! Or you can simply pose the question on your social media and let the collective hive mind help you decide.
A version of this article was originally published in September 2011.
Looking for more baby name inspiration? Check out our favorite celebrity baby names:
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