Jean-Baptiste, Marie-Therese, Rose-Falide—names made from two combined names have been common in French- and Spanish-speaking countries for centuries. Past generations tended to stick to common combinations of super-common names: Anne-Marie, Marie-Anne, Marie-Rose, Rose-Marie, Charlotte Louise. Compound names today are still likely to start with a traditional element—Marie, Rose, and Anne being the most common, in that order—but the second element can be any name the parent likes. Rose-Naika, Louise-Kerlande, Marie-Myrtha, Ruth-Samara—why not?

Compound names can be written with a hyphen, with a space, or as one word. For example, the trendy compound Jenny-Flore can also be written “Jenny Flore” or “Jennyflore.” It’s more common to see names written with a space than with a hyphen or as one word, so compound names in this book are written with a space. When you see a compound name, remember that you have more spelling options.

On the Gender of Compound Names

Traditionally, the first element of a compound name determined the name’s gender. Jean Marie was male, Marie Joseph was female. In Haiti (and the rest of the Caribbean), you can no longer assume that the rule applies.