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More parents than ever are using hyphens in their babies’ first names

A growing trend for U.K. tots is to have a hyphenated first name, as more and more parents go down the double-barrelled route.

The Office for National Statistics released its annual baby names list recently and it reveals that more than 1,200 girls born in the U.K. last year had a double-barrelled name, almost five times more than were registered in 2000. One in six girls’ names now have a hyphen and, because the list does not include names chosen by less than three families, the figure could be even higher.

Names inspired by flowers are a huge part of this trend, with Lily-May, Amelia-Rose or even the double-barrelled, double-floral Lily-Rose all popular choices.

Research carried out by The Telegraph revealed that Rose is by far the most popular name to be used with a hyphen: in 2014 245 variations of it were registered, with 225 of those being Amelia-Rose. Other variations included Destiny-Rose, Dolly-Rose and Dakota-Rose.

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Peter York, commentator on British class trends, told The Telegraph that a generation ago the use of double-barrelled first names was largely confined to upper middle-class families but that “this seems to have shifted class.”

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting network Channel Mum, suggested that the trend may be driven by the idea that hyphenated names are more aspirational.

“I think there is pressure to stand out, [and a double-barrelled name] enables people to do that without going down the route of really wacky first names,” she said. “Having a combination of two fairly standard names might be a way of people making their child more of an individual, it might also give them the option later on of which one to follow through with.”

While it’s possible that some parents may be influenced by celebrities such as Kate Moss, who named her daughter Lila-Grace, and Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, who chose Lily-Rose for their baby girl, none of the parents I spoke to said this was the case.

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“We loved both names and couldn’t decide so we double-barrelled. Maya-Grace sounded better than Grace-Maya,” said Lynne, 41, of her 5-year-old daughter’s name.

“I just saw the name in a magazine and liked it,” said 35-year-old Sally, whose 4-year-old daughter is called Lily-rose. Interestingly, of the four mums I spoke to, only Sally uses Lily-rose’s full name.

Jo-Anne, 41, decided to give both her daughters, 9-year-old Iona-Summer and 15-month-old Violet-May, a double-barrelled name. “I just felt that middle names don’t really have a purpose, well unless there is a family connection,” she explained. “So by double-barrelling a name you can decide to be an Iona or a Summer (she was originally to be Summer but didn’t look like one when she arrived).”

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While it’s less common for a boy to have a double-barrelled name, 2014 saw 328 different types of double-barrelled boys’ names being registered, which was 10 times as many as in the mid 1990s.

Heather, 25, decided to give her son Aaron-John a hyphenated name because she and her now-husband liked both names and John was after both great-grandfathers. “Stuart wanted John and I wanted Aaron so it was going to be John Aaron but I thought John was too harsh for a baby’s first name,” she said. “I thought Aaron-John rolled off the tongue so we just decided to double-barrel.”

Does your child have a double-barrelled name? Tell us why you decided to give your baby’s name a hyphen in the comments section below.

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