hyphenated first names -- yay or nay?

What are the pros and cons to hyphenating a first name? I have a friend in a pickle. I promised not to use the actual names of her child, but I will pick a hypothetical example so it makes more sense. She named her son “[name]John[/name] [name]Charles[/name] [name]Bowman[/name]”. They were torn between naming him [name]John[/name] or [name]Luke[/name], they couldn’t decide…she now regrets picking [name]John[/name]. He is 2 months old now and she can’t shake the feeling that his name should be [name]Luke[/name]. But the name [name]John[/name] is part of his identity now, so she doesn’t want to get rid of it completely. Here is what she is considering:

  • Changing his name to [name]John[/name] [name]Luke[/name] [name]Bowman[/name], and dropping the mn [name]Charles[/name] (she is not a fan of two middles, her other children only have 1 mn, as well). They would call him [name]Luke[/name].

  • Changing his name to [name]Luke[/name] [name]John[/name] [name]Bowman[/name], call him [name]Luke[/name]

  • Changing his name to [name]John[/name]-[name]Luke[/name] [name]Charles[/name] [name]Bowman[/name]. They might call him [name]John[/name]-[name]Luke[/name], but he would likely go by [name]Luke[/name] most of the time. The nice part about this option is she is not taking away any part of his name, but at the same time it might complicate things unneccessarily.

Keep in mind [name]John[/name]-[name]Luke[/name] is just an example, so I am not looking for opinions on the name itself or flow or anything. I am just asking what the pros and cons would be to having a hyphenated first name, and perhaps just going by half of the name most of the time. Does it make life difficult? What do you think would be the best option in her situation?


In Belgium, a lot of kids have hyphenated names and I don’t see any problems in it. A friend of mine is called [name]Jean[/name]-[name]Fran[/name]”ois (he’s part French) and we call him [name]Jean[/name] all the time.

As for the case of your friend, from all the options, I really prefer the last one. It’s the most wonderful combination of the three and honestly, I really can’t think of any cons of a hyphenated name.

Normally (and this is mainly from personal experience), I have found that when you hyphenate a first name (which I do like, especially for girls), the child is generally called by the first name that is hyphenated.
For example, I knew a litle girl, and out of respect, we’ll call her [name]Lindsay[/name]-[name]Cate[/name] (a name VERY close to her actual name).
She was almost always called ‘[name]Lindsay[/name]’ by the people closest to her instead of [name]Lindsay[/name]-[name]Cate[/name]. Her full name was close to [name]Lindsay[/name]-[name]Cate[/name] [name]Anabella[/name] ____ . So she did have a substantial middle name as well.

If you want the baby called by a certain name, yet want to hyphenate that name, I strongly suggest you place the most desired name FIRST. Also, with boys, I think it is more effective not to hyphenate the first names. He can certainly have two, plus a middle, but the hyphen seems feminine to me (unless he’s not American).


To me, a hyphenated first name on a boy sounds sort of clumsy and pretentious (again, unless he’s not American). I think the first two options are preferable.

Good luck for your friend!

I agree with the pp. I wouldnt hyphenate a boys fn. [name]Ive[/name] only seen it on girls in the US. I would either go with [name]John[/name] [name]Luke[/name] “[name]Luke[/name]” or [name]Luke[/name] [name]John[/name].

I actually like hyphenated names for boys much better than for girls.
For girls I would rather AnnaCate better than [name]Anna[/name]-[name]Cate[/name]
[name]John[/name]-[name]Luke[/name] or [name]Luke[/name]-[name]John[/name] looks much better than JohnLuke or LukeJohn. And if you keep them seperated [name]John[/name] [name]Luke[/name] or [name]Luke[/name] [name]John[/name] the names just look like a first name and a middle.
If your friend likes [name]Luke[/name] better than it shouldn’t be hard to transition [name]John[/name] to [name]John[/name]-[name]Luke[/name] and then to [name]Luke[/name]. He is definitely young enough.

I’m really not a fan of hyphenated names, especially on boys. In your friend’s situation I would suggest having his name legally changed to [name]Luke[/name], and keeping [name]John[/name] if she feels it’s important, although I prefer [name]Luke[/name] [name]Charles[/name] to [name]Luke[/name] [name]John[/name]. It he’s only 2 months old it’s not a problem in my opinion.

My cousin’s name is [name]Erin[/name]-[name]Marie[/name] she does not have a middle name at all, but her first name is hyphenated and she only goes by [name]Erin[/name] and to me I only say her whole name just to get on her nerves :stuck_out_tongue: