Name blending

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Name blending or meshing is the practice of combining two existing names to form a new name.[1] An example is the combination of the surnames Dresser and McLoughlin to form the new surname of game designer Clay Dreslough. It is most commonly performed upon marriage. According to Western tradition, the wife normally adopts the husband's surname upon marriage. Name blending is an alternative practice that attempts to assign equal cultural value to each partner's surname. In November 2012 it was reported that 800 couples in the United Kingdom had opted to blend their surnames thus far that year, primarily among "younger couples in their twenties or early thirties", with this being a leading reason for the issuance of Deed Polls to change names.[1]

Since the late 1990s, it has also become common for celebrity couples to be given blended names in the media, usually made by combining elements of the given name of the people involved.[2]

Name blending can also occur unintentionally when a double name created in one generation becomes combined and condensed in later generations.[3]


Many reasons are given for name-blending.

  • Couples may choose to adopt a blended name to enter into marriage "with a completely new start without any history being tied to their surname". Name blending confers the same surname upon both spouses. This allows the family to conform to the expectation that the family (and any children) will all share the same name, and avoid confusion that can arise when spouses retain differing surnames.[4][1]
  • Name blending avoids the patriarchal practice of having the wife take the husband's name. In doing so, it is considered by many to be an extension of the feminist movement. [5]
  • Name blending avoids hyphenation and the complications associated with having a double-barreled surname or other form of combined name that may be too long for use in some circumstances (for example, many computer databases limit last names to 16 characters).[6]
  • Name blending often creates a unique surname. With over 1 billion internet users, having a unique last name can make it easier for people to find an individual using search engines. It also increases the chance that the name will be available as a username in e-mail systems and online communities.[7]
  • Name blending also provides an alternative for same-sex marriages, where there are not longstanding traditions regarding the taking of one participants surname by the other.[6]

In the case of celebrity couples, where the names are chosen by the media (or arise from the public) rather than reflecting a choice by the couple, it has been suggested that the assignment of a nickname makes fans feel closer to the couple.[2] The popularity of celebrity supercouple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez from 2002 to 2004 resulted in their being known by the portmanteau "Bennifer" (for Ben and Jennifer) to the media, as well as to fans using the name combination.[8][9] The term Bennifer itself became popular, and started the trend of other celebrity couples being referred to by the combination of each other's first names, as with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ("Brangelina"),[9][10] and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian ("Kimye").[2] Robert Thompson, director of the Centre for the Study of Popular Television, said "as silly as it sounds, this new tendency to make up single names for two people, like 'Bennifer' (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) and 'TomKat' (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), is an insightful idea'. 'Brangelina' has more cultural equity than their two star parts".[10]

Notable people with blended surnames[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Emma Barnett, "Couples fuse surnames in new trend: ‘I now pronounce you Mr and Mrs Puffin’", The Telegraph (November 9, 2012).
  2. ^ a b c Erin Clements, "Kimye, Brangelina, Bennifer: The Evolution Of Celebrity Couple Nicknames", Huffington Post (April 18, 2012).
  3. ^ Adrian Room, An Alphabetical Guide to the Language of Name Studies (1996), p. 45.
  4. ^ Eviatar Zerubavel, Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community (2012), p. 84: "Claiming our multiple roots and thereby acknowledging our genealogical complexity also imply claiming our multiple identities and thereby recognizing our existential complexity, as exemplified when we decide to give children surnames that would provide a bilateral account of their origins. Such practices may include compounding the parents' surnames (as when Ruderman and Wilgoren are compounded into Rudoren, Villar and Raigosa into Villaraigosa, and Dell and Osborne into Delborne), although they usually involve combining them through hyphenation. In both cases, however, the very notion of privileging one line of descent over the others is rejected, and the memory of more than just one ancestral past is formally preserved".
  5. ^ Katie Roiphe, The Maiden Name Debate: What's changed since the 1970s?, (March 16, 2004).
  6. ^ a b Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, "Children of the Hyphens, the Next Generation", The New York Times (November 23, 2011).
  7. ^ Kevin Kelly. "GoogleUnique Names". ct2.
  8. ^ Waters, Darren (2007-03-09). "Designer hopes for love in games". BBC NEWS. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
  9. ^ a b "Top Celebrity Supercouples of All Time". Comcast/Comcast Interactive Media. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
  10. ^ a b "The Brangelina fever". Melbourne: The Age. 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
  11. ^ Fahy, Collette (January 5, 2014). "Spy Kids actress Alexa Vega ties the knot with Nickelodeon star Carlos Pena 18 months after her divorce from Sean Covel. After that, they changed their surname to PenaVega". Daily Mail.