The Double Name


I did it. I gave my daughter a double name. And honestly, I didn’t think anything of it. My husband and I like the way her first name and middle name sound together, we live in the South where double names are more common, and basically it just wasn’t a big deal. Except that it was.

When we started telling people that her name was going to be Katherine Cobb, everyone “just loved Katherine.” “No, Katherine Cobb,” we’d reply. “Oh. Both names?” Yes…

But, what about when she learns how to write? That’s a lot of letters. And? It’s a very short period of time in the grand scheme of thing. Plus, her first name is Katherine. And Cobb has two B’s. So really we’re only adding three extra letters.

But, Katherine Cobb is such a mouthful! It’s three syllables. Three. Like Jessica, Rebecca, Zachary, Eleanor, Erica, Hilary, Jennifer, Victoria, Alexander, Amanda, etc. And that’s nothing compared to names like Elizabeth or Calliope with four syllables! The nerve of those parents!

Well, can we call her KC? No. What about Katie? No. Just Katherine? No! Look, her name is Katherine Cobb. Just use the extra syllable already!


Katherine Cobb is my third child. Cooper is my first. His name, though not common, isn’t odd either. Semmes (pronounced like “Sims”) is a family name and there are enough Semmes’ in my life that this wasn’t an odd choice. (My sister commented one time that if you call out “Semmes” at Christmas, several heads will turn.)

So to have something as basic as what I named my child constantly questioned and judged came as a surprise. At the end of the day, she’s my daughter. Barring something truly tragic, I get to choose what she is called. That’s how it works. And it’s hurtful to me to have her name under the microscope.

Look, the next time someone tells you their child’s name, and you think it’s terrible, you know what you should say? “That’s so cute! I love it!” That is one opinion you should just keep to yourself. 



  1. As someone who also grew up with a double name in the South (Jennifer Watson), I appreciate this. I spent (and still spend) lots of time saying, “yes, my first name is Jennifer and my middle name is Watson” or “no, Watson isn’t my last name.” My mom struggled when I was in elementary school with getting teachers to call me Jennifer Watson (and I was no help because I didn’t understand why she thought it was so important). Today, however, I love it. I had twin boys and one of them now has Watson as his middle name. It’s a family name that goes back many, many years which makes it even more special!

  2. I suppose I don’t understand. Is it a double name or are you calling her by her first and middle name, like Billie Sue? Except her middle name has more of a last name to it? Is that why people struggle beause it isn’t a typical middle name like Lee or Sue? Or does she have the name Katherine Cobb and a middle name?

    And maybe I’m off but isn’t that 4 syllables not 3?

    It really doesn’t matter what people name their kids. But I will say as someone who has had to spell their name their entire life it is frustrating I suppose my mom wasn’t thinking of that when she named us.

    • I have a completely different experience. I have an unusual name (in real life) and the fact that I have to spell it out for people never annoyed me. It is just another thing that is a part of me.

  3. Being a Mary Frances, it is wonderful to have a double name. Sure, people type out MF on text & emails, but they make music when they say ‘Mary Frances’. It is also terrific to be able to id strangers/telemarketers in the days before caller ID when someone would ask for ‘Mary (last name)’. I think the only difficulty is when people forget the Frances, and just put in another name like Kathryn, Anne, or Jane. I know who they mean and they are trying their best.
    Katherine Cobb is fortunate to have the gift of a beautiful name.

  4. Katherine Cobb is 4 syllables to me. My daughter met a Mark Henry at the park, and his grandma said they have a very difficult time getting people to use both names.

  5. I actually appreciate that you took a common name and added a unique spin to it. It is a lovely name and it seems very Southern to me so it is fitting for a child born in Memphis. I wouldn’t worry about what other people think about your child’s name, sure it is annoying, but at the end of the day it is your child and her name.

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