One of the most common requests I get is for help combining two or more names into a single baby name. There are two ways to do this: You can either work backward (by fitting existing baby names to the starting names) or forward (by using pieces of the starting names to create brand new names).
The first method appeals to traditionalists who want the resulting "combined" baby name to be something established, not new. Here's what to do:
1. Decide on your starting names
Often, the starting names are the first names of the parents. Other pairs of starting names I've seen are the middle names of the parents, the first names of the grandmothers, and the first names of the grandfathers.
(I've also helped people combine more than two names at a time. This gives you more letters to work with, but can be restrictive if you want all starting names represented in the resulting baby name.)
2. Break up the starting names
You could focus on first letters, on unusual letters, on syllables, on unique letter combinations...it's up to you. If you're working with Layton and Diane, for instance, here are some of the "chunks" you might come up with:
Layton - L, lay, ton, yt, on, ay
Diane - D, di, ane, ian, ia, an
2. Find a searchable source of baby names
Websites are much more useful than books for this activity. Pick one with a large number of names and a powerful search tool.
4. Search for names
Use the search tool to find names containing the syllables, letter clusters, and/or other "chunks" you came up with in step 2.
5. Scan the search results
Let's say you've done a search based on the "yt" of Layton. Now you scan those results, looking for names that have something in common with Diane, and you'll likely spot names like Dayton and Judyth (both of which have the "D" of Diane).
Now you try the "ian" of Diane. You eyeball the results for names that resemble Layton...and you'll see names like Lucian and Lillian (both of which start with the "L" of Layton).
The best search tools will allow you to look for names that contain multiple letters (or letter clusters). This will help keep your "scanning" time to a bare minimum. For instance, a search for names containing D, N and Y will give you: Dabney, Rodney, Sydney, Dwayne, Dylan, Gwendolyn, Lindsey, Wendy, Hayden, Yolanda, Lynda, Raymond and Lyndon.
If you need any help combining names--or if you come up with any useful tips--please let us know in the baby name forum!