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What does your name say about who you are?
Jessica Simpson recently named her daughter Maxwell Drew -- names traditionally given to boys.
May 2nd, 2012
12:04 PM ET

What does your name say about who you are?

Editor's note: What does your name say about you? Tell us on iReport how you think people see you based on your name and upload a photo of yourself. The best responses could be featured on CNN.com.

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) - Francine Rosemarie Davis comes from a family filled with traditional names. Her grandparents, Richard and Evelyn, named her mother Jill, who later named her children James and Francine. Her father? Charles.

But for years, she got strange looks from kids and adults when she was introduced. She went to school with girls named Star, Diamond and Magnificent – “perfectly acceptable names for black children,” in a way Francine or even Emily and Sarah weren’t, said Davis, who is black. When Davis moved to suburban Cleveland school, the comments kept coming.

“‘That’s an old lady’s name!’” she remembers her peers and their parents saying. “‘The only people left with that name are older ladies.’"

Perceptions about her based on her name followed her into adulthood, too - she’s  30, but people often assume she's older, and maybe white, she said.

“Now that we’re older and looking to get a career, you’ll send out a resume and when you walk through the door you’ll get a strange look because you’re not the person they expected to see,” said Davis, who works as a chemical engineer.

Researchers say our names have long affected how people perceive us, but trends and traditions around names - and what they say about our gender, age, race and ethnicity - are changing.

Jessica Simpson announced yesterday the birth of her new little one, Maxwell Drew – a 9 pound 13 ounce girl. She’s not the first to grab headlines with a nontraditional name: Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes have a daughter, Suri, Jay Z and Beyonce have their Blue Ivy bundle of joy and there’s no forgetting Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter, Apple. Celeb chef Jamie Oliver has four little ones: Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow and Buddy Bear Maurice.

During the last half-century, parents from all racial and ethnic backgrounds have turned to less popular or traditional names and more believe it’s important to find distinctive names for their children, said Hannah Emery, a sociology doctoral student at University of California Berkeley, who spent years researching naming practices.

“The parents I spoke to didn't want an ‘Apple,’ but they didn't want an Isabella or Jacob, either,” she said, referencing the most popular names for girls and boys in 2010. “In the few cases where parents I spoke to had inadvertently chosen a Top 10 name and found out about it after the fact, they were almost apologetic, as if they thought they had somehow done a disservice to their child by choosing a common name.”

iReport: What's in a name? More than you might think

Different race and ethnicity groups have different traditions, too. African-American parents are more likely to choose unique or invented names, Emery said, while Asian immigrant parents are likely to choose names already popular among white American parents.

In the last 40 years, parents stretched the boundaries of how names are tied to gender, especially by naming more little girls with what used to be the domain of boys, like little Maxwell Drew. (CNN's Marquee blog reports that Maxwell is said to be father Eric Johnson’s middle name, and his grandmother’s maiden name. Drew is said to be maternal grandma Tina Simpson’s maiden name.)

Despite the naming shifts, people still make assumptions about others based on them, Emery said.

“People can make educated guesses about your gender, possibly your race or religion, maybe the era in which you were born and in some cases those educated guesses can lead to judgments being made about you, sight-unseen,” Emery said.

Davis said her traditional name only allowed for her personality to shine.

“A lot of people want to live with their name remembered, but who is the person behind the name?” Davis said. “I’d rather have people know me personally than remember me for what my name is.”

Tell us in the comments or on iReport: What does your name say about who you are and how has it affected how people perceive you?

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Filed under: Family • Gender • History • Race • Who we are
soundoff (563 Responses)
  1. Vladdy

    Vlad, as in Vlad The Impaler. Oh boy do I love my name. :D

    May 27, 2013 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. last

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    February 14, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. LeCresha

    What does my name say about me?

    December 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CrashDancer

    My name is Michaela, which is a fairly common name – I've met lots of other people with it – but people still have a hard time with it. Michael-a, Michelle, Michella... Then, if I tell someone my name, they will misspell it almost all of the time, going for a more popular spelling like Mikayla or Makayla. At my eighth grade graduation, I won the American Legion award, but the guy giving it out said my first name as Michelle and mispronounced my last name very badly as well. I sat there clapping dumbly for a few seconds before I realized that he meant me. It has now become a joke around some of my friends to call me by my butchered graduation name. As for another name, my grandmother's name is Vincanette. Pronounced like Vincent minus the t plus ette. She was named after her father. I dont know why they made the middle vowel an a, which according to the phonetic rules of most languages would make the c hard like a k. But its an a, and its pronounced like a soft c. She goes by the name Vinny, which creates some confusion sometimes.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniela

    Braelyn for a girl is my new favorite

    May 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Coconutt

    At my company.. worked with someone whose first name was Kyle (rhymes with smile) and another whose first name was Ellingtion (pronounced ELL-ing-ton). Both were women!!

    May 15, 2012 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Melissa

    My parents named me Melissa because they didnt want to name me a name that children could make nicknames out of to bully me with. Well I was never bullied because of my name but they failed majorly because I count 14 different nicknames my friends call me lol mel, m, meli, meliss, missy, melmel, lissa, liss, misty (long story), meme plus more. I named my child Wyatt because I like old fashion names because they arent as common and they wont get you odd looks like some of these celebs childrens names would. I also gave him two middle names Duane and James after my husband and my fathers. Thank god I was not a boy, my parents would of named me Elvis >_<

    May 15, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Christina Gonzales

    My parents named me because of two things:1) the song 'Kristina' and 'CHRIST'ina. But whenever I say my name to teachers, they get a weird look on their faces because they expect a Mexican instead of a little white kid :/

    May 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marianne

    I don't mind my first name now because my married name is a common one. My maiden name was difficult to pronounce and spell so I was always having to spell both names for teachers. Anyway, my observation of naming trends is that parents are naming their kids after pets or objects (Trigger, Colt, Apple), and naming their pets like they were the family's butler.(Bentley, James,etc.)

    May 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Socrates

    Worst two REAL first names ever, "Tulula Does the Hula From Hawaii" and "Number 16 Bus Shelter." Tulula's family lost custody when a NZ court cited her name as an act of child abuse. Number 16 Bus Shelter, a boy, is still out there somewhere in NZ. There are now prohibited names and rules for naming including no punctuation.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Socrates

      Update – Tulula was actually made a ward of the state until her parents changed her name. To make matters worse, this discovery was made when, at the age of nine, she was the focus of her parents' custody battle. It appears her name has since been legally changed (that was 2008) and she finally lives a life of privacy and normalcy.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Stephanie

    people always said I looked more like a Samantha or a Briana growing up, until two latter cousins took both those names. From then on, people said I looked like a Jackie, in fact in high school a lot of people knew me only as Jackie and were confused why the announcer at graduation called me by my real name. Apparently people can get normal names confused too so my kinds will all have older less common names, nothing trendy so it can't be confused for the other fad name out there

    May 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ivanatmms

    Ivan as in Ivan The Terrible and I've spent my life living up to that name proudly!

    May 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    my name is Bob but most people call me Bob the Boob. i dont know why!? it hurts...

    May 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Edith

    Named for my maternal grandmother, my name was a source of embarrassment for me as a child. Children can be so cruel and I heard it all...remember "All in the Family"? I was called Dingbat daily. As a grown woman, I can't begin to fill the shoes of my beautiful grandmother

    May 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ahmed

    I wanted to name my son "Adam" but on a compromise through getting my way with naming his twin sister "Sarah", my husband got his way with calling our son "Ahmed". Our twins are 12 years old now. Sarah has never had an issue with her name but "Ahmed" gets teased with "Akkhad" or "Ahmad the terrorist" and all sorts of nasty namecalling that has come out of post-9/11. 9/11 happend in 2001 but even back in 1999 when our twins were born I knew that a neutral name with no connotation to religious, ethnic, or race is extremely important. Yes, my son gets teased and it's not fair but how will it stop if it's not only the kids but the adults too that make fun of Muslim names. I should NOT have compromised with names with my husband, and just defiantly single-handedly named my son "Adam" so that he would not be in the hurtful position he is now with the name his father called him. Yes, you could tell me "shame on you" all you want but I'm a mother and I know better!

    May 9, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. Adrdree Joy

    I am from France , my first name is Andrée, most people think that I have a boy name. I always have to explain that even if the pronounciation of the name is the same, the writing of the name is different. Boy spelling is " André," girl spelling is " Andrée." I have learned to live with it.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Shelly

    My first name is Shelly. Believe me, people tend to be dismissive of people with certain names, despite being highly educated. There was a point in time while working on my PhD when I very nearly changed my name just to get a bit more respect. Apparently, the name Shelly makes people think of a little innocent girl instead of a mature, educated woman. I've seen the same thing happen to colleagues named Tiffany too.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      That can be easily overcome though. If you come across professional and know what you are talking about...it doesn't matter what your name is!

      May 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Phil

    My name is a bit embarrasing...Brock Ollie. But my sisters is worse...Culla Flower.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Steve Ivarave

    My middle name is“ Aondowase”which means “God's help” and I use to enjoy tremendous help from God!

    May 6, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  20. Travis

    My first name is Travis, but my whole life people have called me Trevor. I correct them a million times and it doesn't seem to matter. I've long felt no one really listens to me or values my opinion in anyway.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  21. ImpishLisa

    My Grandmother's name was Verna. Her mother's name was Sylvia,her father's name Ensley. I named my daughter after my grandmother's mom, because she wanted someone to use the name .. Oddly enough the man i married, his mom was firstborn american italian and named Salvatrice, and went by Sylvia. So it was fated, or something.

    May 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Fernanda

    The shock in my University when I came to the US and even that I have a very traditional old first name, my nickname at home that also is a love word, was "Negrita"because I was the only in the family with brown hair, all were blod and redhair.
    There was a silence at the Dean for International Students office, I did not have an idea it was considered "racist' in the US.
    O f course my family pet name was never used while I am in the US, but still it is used by my family in my country of birth.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  23. AGrey

    I have three boys.
    John Wayne, Dwayn Lee, and Leslie Percival.

    I moved closer to the penitentiary to visit them every week.

    May 5, 2012 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
  24. Hemlock

    No one ever lets me make them a drink. Don't know why.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Pronunciation

    Name is Melody and I love it. Problem is that people are lazy and do not bother to read or pronounce and just can me Melanie. So irritating.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGrey

      Are you "new age" or "spiritual"?

      May 5, 2012 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  26. Zee

    My first name is very unusual (it's an old Arabic name), and my last name last name is uncommon (an old Ashkenazic surname). The combination of the two makes me the only person in the internet universe with this name, hence the omission in this post. the name gives others the impression that I am from overseas, and I've been asked "so, how long have you been in America?" and "DO you SPEAK English?" and "Where are you from?", and comments such as "You don't have an accent at all!" Nevermind that the only time I've ever set foot out of the USA was once, on a summer trip to the Canadian rockies.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Momw2kids

    I admit I wanted my kids to have names that were less common, but I chose the less common names as their middle names. The only one I have actually gotten comments about was the name my blond haired, hazel eyed daughter has- Janae (rhymes with Danae) – apparently this is a African American name. I saw the name and simply loved it. I never realized certain names were only for certain races, I grew up simply knowing a name is what someone's parent gives them at birth, that's all. *shrugs* Your name my be old fashioned, or unique but it's your name. I admit you shouldn't name a boy Sue or a girl Benjamin, and I would hope no more Apple's or Suri's are born to this world, but that is simply my opinion. Thank goodness we do have the right to change our name once we reach adulthood, if we can't get used to it at least.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  28. Dee

    I am a Denise. I have NEVER liked my name, even as a small child. My mother used to tease me when I was small and getting into mischief, she would call me Dennis the Menace. Ticked me off supremely! Then I got stuck with Helen as a middle name. Now my friends call me Dee, which I like better.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  29. Mark

    I went to school with a girl whose last name was Wrapper...her parents names her Candy. I guess that is better than a girl I knew in the third grade, her last name was PACKARAT, yup, PACK A RAT.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  30. Mark

    I use to work with a guy named Sherrill...I asked him how many fights did he have growing up...A LOT, he said.

    May 4, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  31. Michele

    I'm a one 'L' Michele in a two 'L' Michelle world.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • RICK

      Michele with one l

      May 4, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  32. Jo Beck

    I was "blessed" with the name Josephine when I was born. All through grade school I was taunted with the name, Josephine the Plumber. As soon as I could, I started calling myself Jo. Now that I'm in my sixties, I'm still asked if Jo is short for something or if I was born a man (Joe?). The only people who will just except my name, no questions asked, are non-native born Americans.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      Jo – I ADORE the name Josephine – I so much wanted to name one of my two daughters Josephine and call her Josie for short, but alas, there were two people involved in the naming of the children, and one did not agree with me.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Kate Mhic Suibhne

    Our eldest son is named Padraig (Paw-drig) which is the Gaelic version of Patrick. He worked in the United States for a few months & everyone in his office used to call him "Paul-Rick" Our daughter's name is Deirdre (Dare-dre) which is also a Gaelic name & she hates when people call her Deedre, Deedree.

    May 4, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • mishmash

      My name is that of Arminius, a Germanic Tribal Chief who fought the Romans on the Rhein River in 850 AD. This name stands for courage, endurance and being fearless. He won the battle and defeated the Romans who had to withraw to the South. What a guy, I wish I could have a beer with him now and talk about old days. I agree that a name says it all. Take Bush for instance, This menas beating around the Bush or burning Bush and so on. Not a really good name to have. Same with Mitt or Obama ! what in the world did the parents of these guys think when they named them???Nothing, that is right.

      May 4, 2012 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  34. Max Payne

    I heard of a guy named Press Majors. He was described to me as generally a big, tall and built dude. A truly unique but normal name I would default to is Phineas after the construction worker Phineas Gage. My college professor was so enamored by that name he loved saying it.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  35. Max Payne

    My name says it all.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • mishmash

      It depends, Payne in the butt is not the same as Payne in the head? Why don't you change it? Your life will be much better with Anwar, Al Sadre or Al Quida, or Ching Chang Chung. Try it you like it.

      May 4, 2012 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
      • Hmph

        You forgot Payne to the Max!

        May 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Carly

    I was born in the late 70's and was the only Carly I knew growing up. In fact, I usually had to spell it and got a lot of "Huh? Harley?" type questions despite Carly Simon being pretty famous. So I disliked having an unusual name, and now I dislike having a ton of 10 year-olds running around with the same name :-P

    May 4, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  37. John's Boy

    My mom has the most unusual name I have ever come across – - – It's Edna Verneal, but she goes by Verneal only!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • The_Mick

      I have a late cousin named "Verna" but we called her "Vernie".

      May 4, 2012 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
    • RICK

      Yes......I dated a girl in HS with the Edna name, but we used to call her Big Eddie

      May 4, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  38. Kim

    I usually hate being a guy named Kim. As a youngster it was OK because I went to school with two other guys named Kim but I later discovered is was just a really bad fad in Utah in the early '60s. As a teenager I recieved samples of feminine products in the mail much to the amusement of my brothers. The older I have gotten and the more my circle of aquaintances has grown across the country, the more odd it is to be a guy named Kim. I usually get Tim? or Ken? It seems to be getting worse with age. People my age sometimes had at least heard of a guy name Kim somewhere. Now when I give my name at the fast food counter or the restaurant those young people look at me with the most incredible look. Really? A guy named Kim?

    May 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  39. marlo

    my parents named me after marlo thomas. as a mexican american female, it is difficult to live life with a name ending in "o" when mexican girls' names traditionally end in "a". people do selective reading and assume my name is mario. they are always surprised when i'm a girl. when i went to college, people were surprised i wasnt black. i am now an expectant mother and will name my baby "mary." short, simple, easy to spell. and yes, common.

    May 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Faye

    I've grown to love my name now, but I hated it as a child. I wished my parents would have named me something normal, because I had a lot of friends who were all named Caitlin or Megan or Amanda and as a ten year old those names turned the world into a very exclusive club to which I was not invited. My name was also too short to be made into an appropriate nickname, which was another Very Big Deal to a ten year old. Then there's the part where it rhymes with "Hey!" so whenever anyone shouts "Hey you!" I have to resist the urge to turn around and answer.

    I've only ever met one other person with the name "Faye," and now that I'm older I sort of appreciate the uniqueness of it. My name doesn't sound like the name of any great author or scientist – it sounds like absolutely nothing I've ever heard before. It's like having a blank slate. But the name is an older one, and so it at least has a history: it means 'fairy.' The irony there, that I never picked up on when I was small, was that even as a little kid who hated her name, I always loved fairy tales and fantasy novels.

    May 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bethany

      My mom's middle name is Fay. But yes, without an 'e' at the end. She got it because my grandmother, bless her heart, had given my two aunts the middle names Kay and Mae, and she wanted the third one to rhyme.

      May 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Taila

    I used to hate my name when I was little! Now I've learned to love it. It still gets annoying having to correct people when the first meet me though..."Taylor?"--"No, Taila.."-"Kayla?"--"TAY-LUH" *facepalm* Oh and if they try to read it? I get Twy-la, Tal-ya, Ta-lee-a,Tie-la..one time this lady called me Talina..I'm still not sure where she got the N.

    May 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Momw2kids

      The lady who called you Talina, may have just misheard your pronunciation and assumed you said the name Talina. Although truthfully I had seen your name in print before I ever met our neighbor Talina.

      Anymore I have learned to listen when someone says their name, as in this day and age anything can go for a name.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
      • Delhi

        Hi, Dan! I agree that your name (or persona) is very imtpaornt. I don't know that the name per se says it all, but the reputation that you build with that name is all imtpaornt. Your reputation influences how people perceive you (what they think you do, who they think you serve, and why you're different, as you said). Thank you for your comment!Dieter

        August 5, 2012 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  42. Teddie

    My mother named me Teddie (I'm female). Whenever I am introduced people have a hard time getting that. They will say Peggy? Debbie? Terrie? Nope, and then for the gazillionth time I'll have to explain it's Teddie, like the bear. Oh, and my middle name is Jodell. I would bet there aren't many others in the world with my name.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Douglas

    Best name ever was that of a college friend: Brooks Culpepper III.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Veronica

    My granddaughter's name is Vyktorya, of course spelled with Y's instead of I's. She will spend her life correcting people on the spelling. She's only two and we haven't been able to settle on a nickname.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      My name is Veronica and spell cannot either spell my name or even remembered my name...but its worst with your granny.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vycktorya

      Call her Tory for short.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  45. asenathe

    I was named Chinwe (Chinwendu), but when I got to high-school I thought I should switch it up by going with my English/Middle name – Olive. People find it weird that I am named Olive, and that my parents first names are John & Grace considering the fact that we are Nigerians. Lately, I have been switching between Olive and Chinwe and realized that people find Chinwe more fascinating. Sad thing is that I hope to name my sons, Aslan, Legolas, Leonidas and Liam....sad, sad. Good luck to them adapting to life.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  46. rmr797

    My grandson has the most unusual name ever. I thought my daughter and son-in-law were joking when they told me. People are more than amazed.... and then they say "hey I like it!" He's 5 now and everyone in school loves him and he can certainly hold his own. I hope he does ok with it in the future. Then again, he can always use his middle name.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Is his name rmr797???

      May 4, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  47. DBZ

    I'm naming my kid goku

    May 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dbgt

      What about Gohan?

      May 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Svetlana22

    I've always hated my name. Until recently I would introduce myself as "Lana" because the American pronunciation of "Svetlana" was odd to my ears.
    And if I was the type of person that was inclined to carry a key chain with my name on it I know I'd be out of luck....sigh.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephie O

      Svetlana, I like that name. It must be Macedonian.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGrey

      Most of the Svetlana's I know go by Lana or Svet...I never understood what was wrong with Svetlana though.

      May 5, 2012 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  49. oliviadunn

    My name is Stewart, and Im a female. I go by my middle name to cut back on confusion and weird looks. Im not going to pull out my license to prove to you that Stewart is my name, and dont get upset when I dont laugh after you call me Stewy, not the first time Ive heard it.
    But its a family name and Im learning to love it, i plan on using it to my advantage in the professional world, but in college now, theres mixed feelings towards it

    May 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  50. James Romer

    I gavemy daughter name Valkyrie Freyja Jerrie Romero. Wonder how that will turn out.

    May 3, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • s. Lutz

      Hope you are joking..........poor kid

      May 4, 2012 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
  51. Elizabeth

    When I was a teen, I decided I would name my first-born daughter Julia, after Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter on Designing Women). More and more Julias influenced me to love the name. So when I had my daughter 5 years ago, I was set. However, it disappoints me now that I didn't realize how common it had become. At dance, there are two Julias. At the doctor, I have to say the last name to be sure they mean us. She doesn't mind it, though, and gets excited when someone has the same name. I guess it's fine because it gives her that feeling of "fitting in." My son, however, is named for his grandfather Dennis and we call him Denny. It's not a common young person's name but I love it and he doesn't seem to mind when he is mistaken for Danny. He laughs and then spells it for the person. It isn't outlandish or anything, but it does give the idea of an older person on paper.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  52. Jupman

    No Lie on this one guys.

    A friend of mine told me he cousins or inlaws named their kids (boy)Turtle(cool but odd) and (girl)Sailor Moon...no their not hippys

    May 3, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Harkon

      Wanna bet they're not hippies. :P

      May 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Clare

    My name is a family name, I've spent most of my life correcting the spelling of it. I can count the number of people I've met with my name, even including the other spellings of it, on 2 hands. When I was a kid I hated it, because I was the only one in my town with my first name. (small town), 40+ years later, it doesn't really bother me. How many other people can say they were named after an order of nuns?

    May 3, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Socrates

      Makes me think of the movie Breakfast Club. Sorry.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  54. RICK

    On the other hand, I suppose having a transgender name is interesting.......Terry comes to mind.......is it a guy or a girl ?

    May 3, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  55. RICK

    Well lets see, the birth certificate says Richard, my mom called me Ricky and my friends call me Rick.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Hi, Dick. :)

      May 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • RICK

        Ouch...I thought that was going to happen

        May 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • RICK

      It's a good name I suppose, the name Dick really wasn't around for my generation, tho I used to meet men with that name from my grandfathers generation. I was named Richard/Ricky because mom was a I love Lucy fan......Ricky ricardo

      May 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tabitha

      Brother?
      This is the same with my brother.
      Dick is completley out of the question.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Terry shults

    My mother was considered odd, naming me "Terrance" in the hope that I would be a child prodigy pianist like one of that name insured by the company she worked for. And I became a reasonably good amateur pianist. But over the years it has made more sense, It reflects her Irish heritage as my last name reflects my German heritage and I am surprised how many people have the same name as I do..

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  57. gung hoe

    In my family,I dont know if this unusual but my dads initials was HLB as is my sister and brother and mine but i have a sister and hers is BLB.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  58. Shannon

    My parents thought they were being so creative when they named me. My dad wanted to name me "Shenan," the Cherokee word for "star." (Dad is Cherokee.) It was changed to Shannon, so I wouldn't have to spell it for people all the time (thanks for the save, Mom). They still thought they were being creative, because my name is a boy's name in Australia, where I was born. A girl named Shannon? NEATO! Heh.

    Then we moved to the US, and it turns out oodles of mid-70s parents named their daughters Shannon. So not only did I wind up with a common name, I'm stuck spending every St. Patrick's Day having to explain that I'm not at actually Irish. Well, I used to explain it – now I just use the fake name "Valerie" on that day.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Hopefully you just mean fake name to you! Personally I love my name and the only problems I have is that people like to think I am saying Mallory instead of Valerie!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
      • Shannon

        Ha! Yes, my fake name – someone told me I looked more like a Valerie than a Shannon, and I've been using it as a pseudonym ever since.

        May 3, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  59. samsart

    My given name is definitely female, but the spelling is male. My daughter's given name is as well: a female name, but with the male spelling. My granddaughters' given name is male, actually a place name, of importance to the family. I have no problem with this , and have spent my life informing folks that indeed,there is a male spelling to my name, and I list a few people who are relatively well known with whom I share a name. My daughter was put in the boys gym class in junior high, until they realized she was a girl, but that was more a clerical error than anything to do with her given name. I use my initials,which form a male name, as my given name with close friends and family. My mother had a very feminine first name, and her middle name was Maxine. She went by Max frequently , and she was born in 1918. I think that people make the name they were given either a help or a hindrance- unless they are saddled with something such as Apple, BooBooBear, etc. Then it's obvious their parents were not thinking too far into the future as to how that 'special' name would play out in school or the playground, or later on, the workforce.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  60. kb

    My name is Kyndal. K-Y-N-D-A-L When I moved to Washington DC from the 'burbs of DFW, everyone assumed that I was African American. I wasn't even allowed in the building on the fisrt day of a new job because they were not looking for a white girl (whom none of them had met) to show up in Southeast DC. When I was young, I hated my name and always wanted to use my very traditional middle name (I never did though). Now I meet many people who's nieces, granddaughters, etc. are named Kyndal (and spelled the same way!) I guess my once unique name is not unique anymore. This article reminds me of the research in Freakonomics, an interesting read if you havent read it.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  61. Marlina

    Wow so many names for so many poeple. My name isn't as common as it may sound. I have only met two "Marlina's" and neither of them are spelled like mine. I was named to ryhme after my twin sister Martina who was named after my Aunt Tina. My name doesnt even have an offical meaning! I guess I will just have to make one up! I am one of the lucky ones out of my twelve siblings, eight of them being girls. Lenora and Sheryl are the two oldest girls and I just couln't imagine having a name like that. Sorry sisters! I have a sister named Elizabeth too. Sorry for her also. She knows because she has gone by E.J. for as long i can remember. And yes, I am black.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  62. Andy

    Interesting research and article! I grew up in India with name Anand, pronounced "ah – n uh n dh". So, due to obvious butchering, I preferred to be called Andy as some of my friends were already calling me by that name. American and western friends seem to be more acceptable to it (knowing that I am not Andrew) than Indians – wierd! Now Andy has grown up on me to the extent that called upon by Anand, even with right pronounciation, sounds unfamiliar. Anyone shares similar experience?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryande

      i def have a similar story... i get a lot of Brandy and BREE-AND (my name is pronouced Bree IND)... so i've taken to going by Bry (pronounced Bree)... and people even still have a hard time with that sometimes, calling me 'BREYE' (like the first half of Brian). I only know of one other girl in the country who spells her name like me, and she lives across the country. So my parents were right when they said it was unique. I've met a bunch of Brees and Bries, even a few Breeannes, but at the end of the day, i like my name the way it is. my parents considered changing the spelling when school kids were having a hard time with it, but i am glad they didnt. i think it fits my personality because i am unique as well. not that there's anything wrong with names like Jessica, Jamie or Katelyn, i just don't think i could imagine having such a normal name, after 29 years of Bryande. ... It's almost become a test, not just of my patience, but of others too, as i pronounce it to them. a lot of people just hear it once, then the next time they call me Brandy. all of my close friends call me Bryande... all the people who are too hasty or assumptive to understand the right pronunciation, or really think about it, they can all call me Bry ;)

      May 3, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  63. Moon

    I have a very traditional name: angela. But its always been shortened to angie. Most of the time if someone calls me angela i dont respond because it doesnt register to me that thats my name. Ive never really thought about liking or disliking my name. Its my name. Tho when i was younger & watched pippi longstocking for the first time i did try to make my younger sisters call me pippi.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Kerri

      My husband's name is Anthony, but he was called Tony all during his childhood. He has told he of stories of elementary days when the teacher would call the Anthony and he had no idea they were talking to him. Now as an adult he prefers Anthony.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  64. bob

    I named my kid Chewbacca

    May 3, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  65. Conan

    My name is Conan and yes I was named after conan the barbarian

    May 3, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah J

      My late husband insisted insisted he choose our son's name, Connor, after Highlander (even though I remember it differently....) so you're not alone!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  66. Melody

    Growing up I always wanted to be a Lauren or Paige, such sophisticated names. Over the years I have grown very fond of my name, I have only met 2 other people name Melody, the only thing that is bothersome is people wanting to spell my name Melodie? or they call me Melanie, other than that I love my name.

    I have a niece who is named Mason, she's 12 and so far we have yet to meet another Mason that's a girl.

    We both have names that are common yet uncommon...weird sometimes.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      I have always liked my name, because hardly anyone else has it. I know how you feel Melody, about being called Melanie. People are always calling me Melody. I usually resort to my nick name Mel, which I like too.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Melody P

      Well Melody, you took the words right out of my mouth! Growing up with my name (I'm 45) and realizing there was NOBODY else with it anywhere was a little strange. I wanted to be named Kimberly or Stephanie or something that seemed normal and sweet, but my mother kept telling me it was good to have an unusual name. Sigh....she was right as usual, as I've come to embrace it over the years, and it fits me because I'm a singer lol How's that for fate? enjoy your name Melody!!!
      Sincerely,
      Melody

      May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Fabio

      Personal name allows you to certae a personal brand. A lot of the photographers with the best brands use personal names: Jasmine Star, Jessica Claire, Becker etc. We used orange turtle because it allows both of us to be the brand and I think its pretty memorable.Tough decision though, there are a lot of arguments on both sides but most photographers end up going with their own name.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Asko

      Thank you Nagesh Belludi for reminding me how imrnptaot it is to remember names. I have gotten myself in the habit of forgetting peoples names.It is very imrnptaot to remember peoples names. So today is a good day to start refresh button in my brain is on and I will leave it on! Again, thank you Nagesh!

      September 16, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  67. miriamspia

    I have only read a few of the comments before writing this. Personally, it is good to notice that people do not all handle naming the same way. I was named meaningfully, but not obsessively. I like the name I was given at birth. I liked the surname of the first 2 men that I married. Not to drag up dirt, but just to point out that in reality, if I marry I feel I need to like my husband's surname. I tried marrying once when I disliked the surname. However, since I really like the name I was given at birth I continued to use it, even when I married a name who's surname I liked. Some might say that I am overly attached to my name. Others would just agree that I'm lucky because I actually like mine. My son was named intentionally and meaningfully as well, but not using all the same criteria.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Tomas

      The only reason peploe think that Idina Menzel was the best was because she was the original, and that's how peploe know the show/role. All of them are good, otherwise they wouldn't be on Broadway.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Laura

    I have a very old fashioned, traditional name. And that is fine with me, because that is the kind of person I am anyway. And I actually like the old names. Especially Bible names. Some of them are very obscure and could be good choices for the "new" generation. People do tend to make judgments based on your name. And parents should consider that a girls name like "blossom" or "petal" is one that will make their child sound like a flake. I like having a serious name, in that most people do tend to take me seriously. Not a bad thing for a woman. Besides, it is kind of fun when they realize that I do possess a hidden and quirky sense of the absurd.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  69. OvernOut

    Years ago, we got a yellow Lab puppy right when the movie "Splash" was showing. We named the pup "Madison" because the doggie was a water dog like the mermaid in the movie, and was a blonde like Darryl Hannah. We thought it was a silly name, since Tom Hanks picked it from the "Madison Avenue" street sign. Silly us. We got so much flak from all the grandmas of all the little girls named "Madison".

    Fared no better with current dog, who did a belly-flop on my favorite flowers in the garden when we first brought her home. That pup was "Lili" after the flowers she sprawled on–all the grandmas of the "Lilys" out there doubled back on us. We can't win.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      My yellow lab is named Madison, Maddie for short. Great name for a yellow lab... and children, I guess ;)

      May 3, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  70. Another name

    I have an old-fashioned, long and frequently misspelled first name but use it anyway, because my middle name is an old family name and even less acceptable, no doubt opening me to lots of teasing. It's Payne. I can hear it now, starting with, "Gee, you're a Payne in the fanny," etc. But the entire name, first, middle and last, said together, sounds as if it comes from Boston or New York's Upper 400. (Too bad I have towork for a living!) lol

    May 3, 2012 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  71. Mikey

    When the fourth Indiana Jones movie came out, I seem to remember reading about this girl who was from Indiana . . . I never forgot her name.

    Indiana Elizabeth Jones. Imagine telling your teacher your name is Indiana on the first day of school. (People always forgot what Sean Connery said at the end of the 3rd movie . . . "We named the DOG Indiana!")

    No joke! Her friends all thought it was cool because of the movie. And I did, too.

    But her brother kind of came up short . . .

    The parents named him Dow. And yes, the family name is Jones.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  72. Mikey

    My uncle was named Branch. And my brother was named after him.

    But in school his friends nicknamed him Twig.

    Why?

    They said he was too little to be a Branch . . .

    May 3, 2012 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
  73. elizabeth

    The girls in my family were named for the great queens of the empires – not too awful to have them as namesakes. My brother was named by family custom – his middle name is Griffen – as is the first son in every generation for a long, long, long time. My grandmother made me promise, when I was pregnant with my (only) child that I would NOT name the baby for her if it was female; she disliked her name (Edna Henrietta) and didn't want anyone else to suffer it!

    May 3, 2012 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  74. natasha

    My dads family way back is from Russia so they named me Natasha and called me tosha, when I was little everyone would say do you know where Boris is, like on the bowinkle cartoons. When I get telephone calls, are call service for my telephone or so on, they come right out say your black right thinking I'm black because of my name, when people meet me for the first time they say oh I thought you would be black because of your name. But come on people Natasha is a old fashion name in Russia for children I grew up in Alaska with a lot of Natasha's. Not all Tosha's are black some of us have blonde hair green eyes.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  75. R.R.R

    I always thought i had a pretty common name (Rebecca) and as a kid i was always called Becky, which as i got in to adulthood i hated. And if i was in trouble i would hear Rebecca Rene :)
    Now that im in my 30s and there seems to be so many different ways to spell Rebecca. Adding 'k' or 'h'. It annoys me to have to spell my name for people when it used to be so common.
    Although i do feel kinda lucky that my dad decided on my name because my mom was seriously wanting to name me Trudy Josephine! No offense to any Trudys out there.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  76. Julian

    Umm, Maxwell is actually a very traditional name. In fact it is old-fashioned. Apple ... not so much.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Julian

      Oh, nevermind - Maxwell is a girl. Yep, a bit odd. But of course Max for a girl is pretty common as a short for Maxine.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  77. Darrell Rutz

    In Viet-Nam, my nick-name was Mouse! Because I was the youngest,and the smallest in my combat infrantry company! I was 19,and from Texas.1968-69.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  78. xGen

    "During the last half-century, parents from all racial and ethnic backgrounds have turned to less popular or traditional names and more believe it’s important to find distinctive names for their children,"

    This cracked me up. I'm all for unique names, but give them names fit for a human being. Some of these names are more akin to something you'd name a pet, see on a restaurant menu, read on the back of a cereal box, or thought up on a head full of acid.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  79. Tom in San Diego

    There is nothing wrong about this young ladies name...Did it ever occur to you, if she becomes a physician her initials will just be a redundant M.D. M.D.

    I imagine she might get in some sort of trouble if she goes to work in Washington as an attorney...hence M.D. J.D. or if she marries a guy who works for the police department. No, M.D. is not part of the P.D. but is considering joining the Justice Department as legal analyst. M.D. at J.D. but doesnt belong to the Bar as a J.D. She is Special Agent M.D. and no she doesnt work in the Morgue...Shes an Agent not a Doctor we dont think, but she is working on her J.D., her MBA and her Phd. but so far not her M.D. Bye the way, have you guys seen M.D.?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom in San Diego

      No, but wow, I have seen her Mom!

      May 3, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  80. Ellen

    My name is not unusual but not very common. I grew up in TX and never knew another Ellen. Then I moved to New England and actually knew several people with the same name. I now live in OH and I am the only one.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah J

      I never really thought of my son's name, Connor, as common or uncommon but, when he was five and started t-ball, they put FIVE Connor's on the same team (great planning there). Since then, I don't think we have seen another Connor.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  81. pacman357

    My parents named me in the hopes that someone would come out with a Pac-Man game in which Pac-Man was allowed to shoot the ghosts with a .357.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  82. mabel floyd

    i was named for my father's mom. mabel is not a papular name in this time period. when i was growing up i got, "mabel, mabel get off the table that money's for the beer." when a ty show choose the name mabel , saying the name stood for "mother's always bring extra love"-people was very upset as they did not like the name.
    when i was a child and even into the 20's i hated my name. now i do like it. it reminds me that i was named for a wonderful grandmother and today i loath judgmental people and the fact they hate my name lets me appreciate it even more.
    "

    May 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  83. alumette

    Maxwell like Maxwell Smart or the coffee commercial ? Drew I can see.....maybe she will call her that. She could call her Max.....still.....she could have done better picking a name for that "poor" little girl. Max could be short for Maxine so Max could be cool. Who cares...really ? we don't know these people.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Suzuki

    Do these parents think they're naming the family pet? This is a kid–a human being that they are giving these absurd names to.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max Payne

      They don't care. The sad part they think not caring is some highly regarded virtue signifying strong character. All it proofs is ignorance and lack of foresight and consideration. But to be fair having a really messed up name leaves a bad first, second maybe third impression until the person's merits whether good or bad begin to leave a lasting impression. Now I must go off and stop the next shipment of Valkyr.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  85. alumette

    To give a child a "dysfunctional" name is selfish and unfair to the child. These people want to be different. I think money sucked their brains. Poor kids having to deal with such stupid names. It is only the beginning of difficult relationships with their parents. Money does not fix everything and in their cases, it complicates their lives.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Frances

    I was named after my immigrant grandmother from Italy, as a kid I hated my name but now Im ok with it (perhaps I grew into it. I have a daughter who was born in the 5th month weighing 1lb 10 oz and she was a surviver and now has a family of her own, I named her Melody(a song) Grace( by the grace of God did she survive ). I think a name should have meaning but in the end its not about what you are called but what you answer to.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Terrible name

    Try being an Alfred....who names their kid that. You know who? My parents. I go by Al, but it isn't much better...I got picked on as a kid and it affected my self esteem. I stll hate my name...but the funny thing is about a month ago some oen mistakenly thought Al sounded like Rocco and it stuck...Only took 40 years to get a name that I could live with!!! LOL

    May 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
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