A compound name is one name that includes at least two names. There are a few common types of compound names:
- Double-barrel, or when two names are connected by a hyphen. Example: Lily Rose -> Lily–Rose.
- Double name, or when someone goes by two names separated by a space. This can either be a result of having two first names or using both a first and middle together. Example: Billy Bob.
- Combination, or as I sometimes like to call it, the “stream of consciousness.” Example: Mary + Elizabeth = Maryelizabeth.
Unfortunately, in the U.S. there’s no official data distinguishing between different compound types. There’s no way to tell whether there’s a dash, space, extra capital, apostrophe, or any other marks you can imagine because the SSA doesn’t acknowledge them! Officially, Mary–Anne exists as Maryanne, and will find herself in a list with women who actually are named Maryanne...which is why I’m not writing a list of double-barrel names right now. The United Kingdom does recognize hyphenated names, and indeed, they’re much more popular there than here. If you’re interested in reading more on the British double-barrel phenomenon, check out two posts about that country’s hyphenated girls’ and boys’ names by a fantastic name blog called Onomastica!
Here are some of the most interesting compound names for girls from the U.S., all found scattered through the Social Security Administration‘s baby name data. There are so many fascinating and distinctive compound names (mostly related to pop culture) that I will publish the boys’ names in a separate post.
- Avemaria: Literally meaning “Hail Mary,” this is a prayer that has been transformed into several famous pieces of music. According to the Social Security Administration, 5 girls were named Avemaria in 2016.
- Barbaraann: Barbara Ann is a song immortalized by the Beach Boys, though the original version was recorded under the title “Barbara-Ann.” Barbara was an extremely popular name between the 30s and 50s; indeed, the name Barbaraann precedes the song, and appears in the birth data as early as 1934. Her last appearance was in 1996 with 5 girls.
- Billiejean: Although perpetually rare, this name received a mild boost twice; first in 1973, after tennis player Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match; and secondly, after the 1983 Michael Jackson song.
- Briarrose: In the 1959 Disney movie Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora was renamed Briar Rose when she went to live with the fairies. 18 girls were named Briarrose in 2016.
- Caramia: The most famous version of the song “Cara Mia” was recorded by Jay and the Americans in 1965. The name first appeared in 1966 with 6 girls, peaked in 2006 with 20 girls, and last appeared in 2015 with 8 girls. “Cara Mia” means “my dear” or “my beloved” in Italian.
- Chakakhan: Chaka Khan is a funk musician from the 70s and 80s. The name itself only charted in 1975 and 1976.
- Cindylou: From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the character Cindy Lou Who. This combo appeared in the late 50s (around the time the book was written).
- Dannielynn: After the daughter of Anna Nicole Smith (1967-2007), who was born in 2006. 5 girls were named Dannielynn in 2016.
- Dellareese: Della Reese (1931-2017) was a singer in the 50s – that’s when her name debuted – and later, an actress. Interestingly, the resulting compound name Dellareese is very close to her birth name, Delloreese.
- Harleyquinn: After the DC comics villain. 20 girls were named Harleyquinn in 2016.
- Heavenlyjoy: 11 girls received this religious name in 2016.
- Jeannedarc: Appeared in the early 1920s after the canonization of St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), or Jeanne d’Arc in French.
- Lauraashley: While the names Laura and Ashley were both pretty trendy in the mid-to-late 80s, Laura Ashley was a fashion designer who died in 1985. The name appeared in 1987.
- Marajade: Fairly obscure Star Wars reference. Mara Jade was a character in the extended universe before Disney bought the rights and made Force Awakens. According to the SSA, 6 girls were named Marajade in 2016.
- Maryjane: “Mary Jane” can refer to a few things – 1) a street name for marijuana, 2) a shoe style, or 3) a type of penny candy. A shocking 216 girls were named Maryjane (or some variation thereof) in 2016! It’s even been in the top 1000 within the last decade.
- Marysue: A “Mary Sue” is a type of Original Character in fan fiction stories who exhibits self-inserted qualities of the fan fiction writer. 5 girls received this compound name in 2016, which is the first year since the early 1970s that it’s appeared in the data!
- Ninasimone: Nina Simone (1933-2003) was a famous African-American musician. This combo appears in the data twice, in 2000 and 2015. Two documentaries about her came out in ’15, which may explain the name’s appearance in the data that year.
- Normajean: From the Elton John song “Candle in the Wind,” which is about Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962); her birth name was Norma Jeane. 7 girls were named Normajean in 2016, which is impressive considering that only 86 girls were named Norma.
- Peggysue: From two Buddy Holly songs, “Peggy Sue” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.” The latter is also the name of a cute 1980s movie. Any uses of the double-barrel name probably come from the first Peggy Sue song, which came out in 1957. Nancy (of Nancy’s Baby Names) has written more extensively on the name Peggysue.
- Ravensymone: After the actress and commentator on The View, Raven-Symoné. Ravensimone also appears in the data. Her name first appeared in SSA data in 1990, while she was on The Cosby Show.
- Pennylane: From the Beatles song “Penny Lane.” Though the song came out in the 1960s, the name didn’t appear in SSA data until 2008! 5 girls received this name in 2016.
What do you think of these compound names? Do you have a favorite, perhaps one that isn’t listed here? What’s your favorite type of compound? Let me know, and stay tuned for the boys’ names!
4 thoughts on “The Most Interesting Compound Girls’ Names in the U.S.”
Thanks for the shout-out, Elizabeth!
I didn’t know that spaces and punctuation marks weren’t recognised in the US data. Interesting!
Avemaria is actually really pretty, and I love Nina Simone and her super-cool name!
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A couple more from the charts…
*Tiffaniamber: appeared in the ’90s when actress Tiffani-Amber Thiessen was popular
*Zoejane: appeared in the early ’00s following the Staind song “Zoe Jane”
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Thanks Nancy! I did wonder about Tiffaniamber…
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