Goodbye, Marylou: The New Generation of Combo Names
Sometimes, a little bit 'o name just feels so right. Back in the 1920s and '30s, morsels like Lou, Mae and Bell were so pitch-perfect that parents tried to work them in wherever they could, combining them with other familiar elements. They peppered the country with girls named Idabell, Bettylou, Maebelle, Luberta and Idamae.
By the 1950s Luberta and friends were forgotten, as parents swooned over namelets like Jo, Ann and Beth. Together, MaryJo, Bethann, Joellen, Suanne, and JoBeth summon up a generation.
Then combo names settled into a bit of a lull. The hot sounds of the '60-'80s leaned more toward French imports (Michelle, Denise, Danielle), K's (Kimberly, Kristen, Kelly), and -i endings (Lori, Kerri, Jodi).
But today combos are back, in a big way. A new collection of pairing-friendly names has met a generation of parents eager to innovate. The result is an explosion of new name mashups that Bettylou and Joellen could never have imagined. Meet the major players:
A hit name on its own, Bella is also paired with other name roots, new and classic, to create a traditionally feminine sound. (Belle combos are rising too, but parents seem wary about anything too reminiscent of the Idabell era.)
Examples: Avabella, Carabella, Elizabella, Miabella, Rosabella, Sarabella
The extreme that proves the rule: Adorabella
Past generations made good use of Lyn/Lynn as well, as a modernization of traditional names. In the 1910s Madeline turned into Madelyn, in the '40s, Rosalind became Rosalyn, and in the '60s Jacqueline produced Jaclyn. But starting in the '90s, parents started to see Lynn more as a separate element, revealing two-part combos hidden in plain site. Caitlin = Kate + Lynn. Brooklyn = Brooke + Lynn! Even Madeline isn't just Madelyn, but also Maddylynne. With that shift, Lyn declared its independence and began combining freely with all sorts of one and two-syllable names.
Examples: Amberlynn, Angelyn, Avalyn, Brycelyn, Gracelyn, Jazlyn, Jessalyn, Skylynn, Starlyn
The extreme that proves the rule: Dazzlyn
A popular full name in the 1970s, Leigh is now turning subservient -ly endings into equal partners with root names.
Examples: Adaleigh, Amberleigh, Blakeleigh, Brynleigh, Karaleigh, Lynleigh, Maeleigh, Starleigh
The extreme that proves the rule: Paisleigh
Brianna was one of the hottest names of the 1990s and 2000s. Just as it began to slow down, parents started taking more notice of the elegant old male name Aubrey for girls. Add in the hits Gabrielle/Gabriella and a smattering of girls with the given name Bree, and you have a recipe for recombination.
Examples: Bria, Brielyn, Brianne, Briella, Brielle, Brienne
The extreme that proves the rule: Brie (perhaps the only name I'll ever call "cheesy")