Double middle names?

A reader was asking me about double middle names so I looked up all my posts on middle names and was surprised to see that I hadn’t written about them yet! Surprised because I feel like I do discuss them with some frequency in my email discussions with parents. It’s definitely time to post here and get your feedback!

My thought is that two middle names is fine. I have two brothers and three sisters, and one of my brothers and two of my sisters have two middle names, and I’ve never heard any of them complain about them. Even now, as adults, they include all their initials when they’re writing out their full names. I know my mom has told me that sometimes the second middle would get dropped (not enough room on forms, or a bureaucratic decision or misunderstanding by some official person to only include one middle), which irritated her as the mom, and she and Dad even hyphenated my youngest sister’s two middles to try to avoid that, but otherwise it hasn’t ruined anyone’s lives.

If you didn’t want the hassle (or didn’t want to saddle your child with the hassle) of two middles but you have two middle names you’d like to use, you could do what this mom did and only put one middle on the birth certificate — thus having his/her legal name be First Middle — but everywhere else in life (within the family, when you’re telling others, on the baptismal certificate, etc.) use First Middle Middle. I think this is such a great solution for certain families! And I think the idea of one’s “legal name” being different from one’s “real name” to be an interesting thing to muse on.

What do you all think about double middle names? Do you have two middle names? Do you like them? Hate them? Feel indifferent? Do you all feel like it’s an unnecessary burden for a child, or a reasonable way to work in all the names you want to use?


35 thoughts on “Double middle names?

  1. My daughter has 1 long middle name. Our younger son has two middle names. He was born during the Jubilee year and we wanted to note that. So his second middle name is Clement (for Mary and referring to Mercy). I didn’t expect it to pop up in the doctor’s records, etc. where he has two middle initials.

    But there are so many awesome Catholic and saint names for any future children we’ll probably do it again. Just because there so many we want to use.

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  2. I think if you’re debating, it’s better to add a 2nd middle than to not. We named our oldest Mary Clare (first and middle), but she always goes by both and I wish we would’ve given her another name. Both her younger sisters have 3 names!

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  3. Double middles here! One that we pick, and then a saint whose feast day is the child’s birthday. Both names are their legal names, and we haven’t had any trouble with that.

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  4. My parents used two middle names for my first brother to make sure they got all the names they wanted in, then did the same for my other brother. My sister wanted to do the same for her kids because she had a lot of names to fit in. She suggested it could be that generation’s thing in our family, so I followed suit, especially since St Therese of Lisieux’s family piled on the names (her name was Marie Francoise Therese) and each of them had Marie as their first name to honor Our Lady.

    My husband and I decided to honor Our Lady or St. Joseph in each of the kids’ names and it’s worked out well. It can be a little confusing in doctors’ offices, but I’m used to it after 9 kids! I absolutely love it and wish I had two middle names!

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  5. My Dh and I debated this just 8 months ago as we were naming our daughter. I wanted two middle names. He wanted just one middle initial. And we both didn’t want a second kiddie to get dropped or be a nuisance. We also were faced with the fact that Dh wanted a Claire Marie, and I felt strongly about honoring St. Theresa. Solution (which you featured here!): Claire Marie-Therese. It was so helpful hearing your siblings’ hyphenated names, too. There are no regrets here. We still love her name! ❤️

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  6. We ended up with 7 of 11 having double middle names…We love their names and so do they! Mary Elizabeth Rose; Victoria Veronica Mirjana; Angela Michelle Marie; Katherine RoseMary Therese; JohnPaul Joseph; Michael Patrick Gerard; & Benjamin George Xavier! The more Saints the merrier!

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  7. As it’s tradition in France to put family names in the middle, it’s quite common to have two (keep both grandmothers happy!) and when said grandmothers have double names themselves, it gets interesting!! (I’m Isabelle Chantal Anne-Marie!). For our youngest, we wanted to both please the grandmothers and ourselves, so she is Mathilde Agnès Julia Frances (I have a special devotion to st Frances of Rome). So I guess what I’m saying is, no such thing as too many middle names!!! 😂

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  8. My friend from Vietnam has a legal Vietnamese name and a Christian (baptismal) name – Maria. Her kids do as well. Since her husband is Irish-american, the kids all have Christian names that are Irish.

    I also know someone with 3 middles who dropped them all, legally. But I guess you can’t drop baptismal names 🙂

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    • “you can’t drop baptismal names” — that’s how I feel about maiden names, and how I ultimately decided to not to make my maiden name a second middle when I got married — because it’s always my maiden name and that can’t change.


      • Oh my gosh you just consoled me about not legally taking my maiden name as my middle. THANK YOU!!! I have been feeling badly about that (decade old) decision ever since my newly engaged sister said she will be dropping her Marian middle name and making her maiden name her legal middle. My mother dropped her middle name to keep her maiden name part of her signature, and I think that my fam was sad that I kept Elizabeth over my maiden name. Or that I didn’t just take it as a second middle. But! My maiden name sounds so much harsher next to my married name, like all 3 names are separated by periods, rather than what Colleen Elizabeth Lastname sounds like, so I excitedly embraced the name change with my vocation. I just wasn’t (and still am not) a four name kind of person. When I had to sign mortgage papers, it already was rough having to sign my FULL name each time. For me, I don’t think I’m quite the personality to have 4 names. I don’t even officially have a confirmation name (our class was discouraged to take one…weird).

        All that said, I think that there are some names that just BEG for another middle name.

        John Paul. Growing up with JPII as pope, I always think of John Paul as a single first name. If you’re John Paul…you’re just not going to say “Hi, my name is John.” (I’m SURE I’m wrong about this, but this is my impression of the JP name).

        The Mary __ names: Mary Clare, Mary Elizabeth, Mary Catherine…I instinctively want to know the rest of the name. And if there’s no second middle, I automatically think of Mary Clare Lastname each time I think of that gal.

        I love the intentionality of families who honor Mary or Joseph within every one of their children, like St. Therese’s parents. When that is done, the ‘extra’ Mary/Marie or Joseph is so natural and not too much.

        I think there are enough examples from all over popular culture (how many names do the little Royals George & Charlotte actually have?) as well as within our Catholic culture of multiple middle names, or names that sound like 2-in-1 (Piergiogio, Josemaria, Jean Baptiste etc. etc. etc.) that it’s not that crazy to have several middle names.

        None of our children have a second middle name, but we have left it as an option to the final moment for each one. Especially when Mom & Dad both have strong opinions about what to name their child, multiple middle names are great options!


  9. Our son is Liam Christopher (have always loved Liam and my husband is Christopher) but our daughter is Clare McKenna Constance. We were married on the feast of Saint Clare, honeymooned in County Clare in Ireland and my maiden name is McKenna, so we always knew our first girl would be “Clare McKenna”.

    While I was pregnant with Clare my grandmother, Constance, passed away. Although we initially decided against adding the Constance it was on both of our hearts the week of her birth and we are SO glad for it! She is almost 1 and is SO happy, dramatic, feisty, and full of personality that we joke she needed and extra name to contain it all! Not to mention she is a redhead 😂

    I love that her first name is short and sweet like my Liam but all 3 names flow so nicely that we use her full name almost as a nickname/petname! “Oh, Claremckennaconstance!” We tease that when she is older her introductions will sound something like, “My name is Clare but my friends call me Clare McKenna Constance.”

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  10. I’ve always thought of our John Paul Francis as having two first names, because he never goes by John, but conceivably he could drop the Paul one day. (Though if I were advising him, I might suggest he drop the Francis instead, as JFU is a little more awkward for legal documents than JPU, lol.

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  11. I thought you already wrote a post on this too! My daughter has two middle names in honor of her grandmothers but we hyphenated (as you suggested) because then she only technically has one middle initial (although some people write both initials anyway. I found the hyphen practical for some reason. xo

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  12. I have 2 middle names. my full name is Leona Mary DeLuca (and then my last name). Leona and Mary after St. Leo and our lady as well as after each of my grandmas and then DeLuca is my mom’s maiden name and my 2nd middle name.
    All 3 names are baptismal and legal.
    I have always loved all 3!! 🙂

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  13. I think it depends upon the names and the reason for them. When I see three or more middle names, I tend to think it’s pretentious (since typically only royalty have so many names), but I do like two middle names. For example, I could see more than one middle name being very fitting when the parents know this might be their only child, or they’re unsure how many kids they’ll have (e.g., because of age or fertility issues). It’s a great opportunity to use several names they love when they have the chance.

    My own Hebrew name, which I chose myself, is Chana Esther Dafna. I originally only wanted to be Chana Esther (after the mother of the Prophet Samuel and Queen Esther), but I added Dafna after I had what I believe in hindsight was the flu at age seventeen. Some people follow a custom of adding another name after surviving an accident or illness. Dafna is the Hebrew form of Daphne, which means “laurel,” and that name has a lot of symbolism for me. Laurels represent victory, the wild mountain laurel is the state flower of my birth state PA, seeing the Laurel Mountains every day during my difficult junior year of high school gave me hope, and my favorite comedian is Stan Laurel. Watching Laurel and Hardy on AMC was one of the few bright lights my junior year, and I wanted to honor them through my name. No one’s ever said anything unkind about my having a triple Hebrew name. It’s unexpected, but many people have really liked it.


  14. When I got married I added Maria in as a second middle name (I was changing my name anyway, so I decided to stick Mary in there too while I was at it), and I don’t feel like it’s cumbersome at all. Middle names are hardly used in day to day life anyway, so it’s not like it comes up much. When it does, I guess I’m glad to write it all out because I never get to. Haha
    Then we decided on two middles for our daughter because there were just so many names that we loved, and because her three names just came together and flowed (to our mind’s preference) so well: Georgiana Maria Faustina. (Said like George+Gianna) It honors Mary, St Gianna, St Maria Goretti, and St Faustina, and it was just our style.
    We’ve since decided that any future children (Lord willing) will also have double middles, in part because we want to incorporate a Marian name/Marian saint into each child’s name and that’s just too limiting for us with only two names to use and all the names we love! And personally I feel able to “do more” with a full name of three rather than two names. I’m thinking here of clever initials, or individual name meanings that go together and can mean something even better together, or just a beautiful Latin word and/or non-saint name that I love while still wanting my kid to have a Mary and a saint in there, etc. But again, that’s just my style and approach.
    A lot of Europeans seem to use double middles (like, even non-royals that I hear of, for one example, the artists of Mumford and Sons), and those of some other cultures as well (while still others may not even do one middle), and I see no reason why not if it fits your style and you have a lot of names you want to use/meaning you want to include! “Americans just don’t” could never be enough reason to dissuade me. 🙂
    Further, as a friend pointed out at one point, “then when Georgiana is an author someday, she can go by her initials+last name, which always looks cooler with 3.” Haha 😉
    So I say huzzah for multiple middles! 🙂

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  15. Love it! We did two, legal middle names for both of our boys! We have a girl on the way and I think we will do two middles for her, too. The second middle is always a family name for us. Our eldest’s 2nd middle name is my maiden name. Our 2nd son’s 2nd middle (say what???) is after my paternal grandfather. I figured that they were already named after my husband’s family automatically with their last name. I loved the idea of having more family history in there from my side. Plus, my maiden name won’t get carried on in our line, so I wanted to pay tribute to that side of the family.

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