Marlie-Mae, Gracie-Mae, Harper May: Why everyone's naming their babies "Mae" right now.


Marlie-Mae, Gracie-Mae, Mila-Mae, Harper May… you may have noticed the trend. 

Aussie celebs are giving their baby girls hyphenated names with a sweet, old-fashioned sound. The Bachelor’s Matty J and Laura Byrne went for Marlie-Mae, Bachelor In Paradise’s Simone Ormesher and partner Matt Thorne chose Gracie-Mae, while Married at First Sight’s Davina Rankin and boyfriend Jaxon Manuel decided on Mila-Mae.

And now, Karl Stefanovic and Jasmine Yarbrough have named their first child, Harper May.


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Harper May May your life be filled with as much love as I feel. My children. My family. My wife. My life. ????

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So where did this all come from?

Although these names might sound American – think Elly May Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies – this is actually a huge British trend that seems to be just taking off in Australia.


In 2015, The Telegraph revealed there had been an “explosion” in hyphenated names, especially for girls, in the UK. In fact, one in six baby girls was being given a hyphenated name. Hyphenated names ending in Rose were the most popular, but Mae was close behind. 

Side note… these are the baby names we’re falling out of love with. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

A look at the UK’s top 1000 girls’ names from 2017 shows Amelia-Rose, Isla-Rose, Ella-Rose and Lily-Rose all in the top 300, while Lily-Mae, Gracie-Mae and Ellie-Mae all make the top 500. 

The trend is even bigger among young mums. For babies born to women under 25, both Amelia-Rose and Ava-Rose make the top 100 names.

What’s the appeal? Peter York, a commentator on British class trends, told The Telegraph that hyphenated names sounded “mock-posh” to him. 

“Anything with involving a dash I think people think of as being sort of posh,” he explained. 

UK names expert Dr Jane Pilcher has a different theory. She thinks that parents are trying to make their children uniquely identifiable without giving them “really wacky” first names.

“Having a combination of two fairly standard names might be a way of people making their child more of an individual,” she told The Telegraph.


This theory has the ring of truth to it. A lot of parents love old-fashioned names, but there are only a limited number of really good ones to choose from (no, we’re not quite ready to revive Gladys just yet). So if there are dozens of Avas and Lilys around, at least your daughter can be Ava-Rose or Lily-Mae.

Zoe Marshall and Sean Szeps chat about everything they thought about before they named their kids. And there’s a lot more to it than you might think. Post continues after podcast. 

But why Mae? Why is Mae more popular in hyphenated names than, say, Grace, Beth, June or even May?

Mae is an alternative spelling of May that was popular in the US in the early 20th century but never really common in the UK or in Australia, so it’s got that vintage American appeal.

It makes people think of the smart, sexy Mae West (real name Mary Jane West), just like Audrey makes them think of Audrey Hepburn and Harlow makes them think of Jean Harlow. Plus, in Australia, Kate Ritchie named her baby girl Mae in 2014, and everybody loves Kate Ritchie.

Want to get in on the trend? Just find a cute, preferably old-fashioned name that you love, and add a hyphen and a Mae (or any other one-syllable vintage name) to it. For more inspiration, here are some recent examples given to Australian babies:

  • Acacia-Rose
  • Charlotte-Mae 
  • Edith-Rose
  • Ellie-Faye
  • Hazel-Grace
  • Hilda-Jean
  • Ivy-May
  • Lilly-Beth
  • Maggie-Rose
  • Poppy-Mae

What do you think about the Mae name trend? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Feature image: Instagram/@karlstefanovic_ @ladyandacat @davvyxx

This post was originally published on November 13, 2019, and was updated on May 5, 2020.