Double-Barrelled Names

Why have one name when two is far more interesting!

Double-barrelled names are apparently becoming all the rage. In a recent article from the Huffington Post it would seem that if you want to be keeping up with celebrities, your new baby girl has a hyphen. Boys usually have just the one christian name but those with two are on the increase.

I’ve always had an interest in names since I heard that ‘Phillipa Phillips’ was taking part in the radio quiz for schools Top of the Form centuries ago. I found it hard to imagine who would think of putting those two names together! It does roll off the tongue though I suppose.

Teacher’s view

I seem to look at these things with a teacher’s eye and think of school registers and exam papers, neither of which have a very big space for the name. Of course the little one also needs to be able to spell their names long before exams loom. I have had experience of parents adding both their surnames together so you get  double-barrelled names at the end. If you also add two christian names to that it make for a huge space being needed!


In trying to get my head round this increasing trend, my thoughts have been around the surnames. The tradition of taking on your husband’s name when you marry is not for everyone and many women are choosing to keep their maiden names. Also, many couples are choosing not to get married so that does present a decision about the surname for their children. Putting them together does solve that problem but we know how important your christian name is in giving you an identity – does the same apply to the surname? I know of friends who have remarried and changed the children’s surname to their new husband so it is very important to some people. If it is part of your identity, can it cause confusion if you are one who has double-barrelled names?


Whatever the answer, I put my teacher hat back on my head and think about that daily register and the possibility of calling ‘Daisy-Mae Smith Jones’.

However, it isn’t a problem for one of our successful athletes Katarina Johnson-Thompson. They manage to get her name on her vest when she represents the country and the commentators are able to pronounce it when following her events in the decathlon.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

What do you think? If you are a married woman, did you take your husband’s name? What name stands out for you?

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  • travelwithmrst

    I did take my husband’s name, but on Facebook and LinkedIn use my maiden name as a middle name, so contacts I had prior to marriage recognize me!

  • We always tease my wife for being posh as she has three Christian names, she is Wendy Donna-Louise, she is neither posh or pretencious, but why let the truth get in the way of a good wind up 😉

  • I think being able to pronounce a name easily is the key, there’s no point in creating a lifetime of frustration when people say ‘pardon?’ This is someone who is forever correcting people who think my name is pronounced with a hard G as is Scottish gamekeeper type person!

    • You, gamekeeper Gilly? I have a real problem with people calling me Julie rather than Julia. I’m not that keen on my name but like it to be used properly.

  • Helen Bullock

    Not married. But engaged. No way am I taking his name either! I worked hard to build up my reputation as a Bullock and a Bullock I will stay! That said I have a baby and I objected to the double barrel surname! I love my name but I wanted to use his surname for baby and really I don’t see Grace Bullock or Bullock Grace working! Both names are just too odd together! whoever heard of a graceful bullock?

    • You could start a trend with those graceful bullocks Hellie! It does depend on the names in question I think although some people don’t seem to consider what they sound like together.

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