The Woman Who Didn't Know Her Own (Middle) Name

Mar 31st 2011

Gather round, friends, and I will tell you the strange but true tale of a woman who lost track of her own middle name.

It all started innocently enough. She was a young woman with a very common first/last name combo, and she was engaged to be married. She decided to take her husband's less-common surname, and to use her single-person surname as a middle name. And so on her wedding day, Ms. First Middle Single became Ms. First Single Married.

The years rolled by, with business cards, credit cards and contracts issued in the name of First S. Married. "Middle" sank quietly into the realm of memory. Then one day, our heroine realized she had never received the Social Security Card she'd applied for in her married name. She requested a duplicate, and it arrived printed with the name First Middle Married.

In the United States, the Social Security Card is king. When Ms. Married moved to a new state, the DMV ignored her old driver's license and issued her new identification with the SSA's preferred name. Once those two primary IDs said First Middle Married, her passport had to follow suit. The die was cast. She had a new official name, one which she'd never chosen.

Which full name should she use now? Which was "correct"? Was there any turning back?

A funny thing happened: she found she didn't care. Single, Middle, whatever. She didn't use any middle name much anyway, and the new version did have nicer initials.

Did I mention that this woman is me?

It's quite the irony, a professional Name Wizard not knowing (or caring about) her own name. But the lesson I took away is that for me and many others, our middle names aren't really our names. If you don't use a name and don't answer to it, it plays a very different role in your life. It doesn't shape the impression you make on others. It's something attached to you, rather than your own self. You might take it out to look at it once in a while, but it's not essential.

I suspect many of you feel differently. Your middle name is part of your identity. If it were taken away by bureaucratic chance, you'd spring into action to rescue it! For some of you with middle names of special significance, that's doubtless true. But as one who's been there, I can tell you that the reality of the middle-name switcheroo was far less significant than I would have imagined.

I spend a lot of time telling people that first names mean more and say more than we think. Middle names, though, may just mean less. 



March 31, 2011 11:47 AM

I use my middle name occasionally. When I was a child my parents, and therefore everyone they introduced me to, called me First-Middle, but I didn't like that because everyone else just had one name, so at the age of about nine or ten I asked if I could just be First, and everyone since has known me by just my first name.

The problem is, my first name on its own is more commonly used for males while I'm female, so often people writing to me etc. address me as Mr First Last. My First-Middle combination is more feminine so I often use First Middle Last (no hyphen) to hint at my femaleness on written documents and forms and things. I don't really like my middle name, but it's practical sometimes, so I can't imagine forgetting about it.

March 31, 2011 12:19 PM

I beg to differ in my case. I've always regularly gone by First, but a few in my family call me by Middle along with a couple friends. I've actually always preferred my middle name and it means more because of who it's used after and it's always been a strong part of my identity. Recently, I've decided to forgo going by First Married and try going by F. Middle Married. I'm about to graduate and start my professional career, so this will be the time to do it. After 30 years of being First, I want to create my professional identity as Middle. Confused yet? (I dropped my maiden name when I got married, so I won't be legally changing anything now - just what I go by).

March 31, 2011 12:25 PM

That's a huge irony and very interesting story. My Middle is a family name that is sentimental to me, so I would be one of those who'd spring into action :)

Reading this post, I couldn't help wondering about Harry S. Truman. They always say the "S." didn't actually stand for anything. Anyone know if that's true?

By Rose (not verified)
March 31, 2011 12:27 PM

A slightly related story comes from my grandmother. Until age 85, she believed her name to be Ursula Claudia Lastname. It wasn't until she needed to provide a copy of her birth certificate for something that she saw her name printed as Carmela Orsela Lastname. "Ursula" was the name of her older sister who had died in infancy. Although her parents gave my grandmother her own name, they called her Ursula...and we'll never know why! Imagine discovering this at age 85....

By mk (not verified)
March 31, 2011 12:45 PM

Jessica: Yes, it's true, the "S" didn't stand for anything. It was chosen to in honor of both of Harry's grandfathers.

My middle name is my grandmother's name, and I make a point of using it whenever I can. If it were deleted without my permission, I'd fight for it. I have three names and all are important to me. I cannot imagine losing any of them.

Also, I know quite a few people who go by their middle names instead of their first names.

By Amy3
March 31, 2011 12:53 PM

@Laura, what a great story, particularly for someone so into names!

I know someone who was always called by her middle name by her family. When she was going to start school her parents told her she'd have to start using her first name. She was incredibly confused. It's strange to me that they wouldn't have had her continue going by her middle and simply correct people. I knew kids in school who did this every year with each new teacher. But she's older than I am so perhaps it wasn't something her parents (or her teachers) would have been willing to do.

As for me, I kept my original middle when I married, but have come to use even its initial less and less. It's reached the point where I really don't like my name with the middle initial. I recently got a service award printed this way and I wish I'd known in advance, I would have corrected them! (I do like my middle, though, and as it's a family name, I want to keep it, even if it's invisible.)

By Kristen R. (not verified)
March 31, 2011 12:50 PM

I've been EXTREMELY CRABBY that Social Security won't let me put my ACTUAL LEGAL NAME on my children's birth certificates. My full name is First Middle Maiden Married, with Middle and Maiden both middle names. But they say they literally can't do it that way in their computers---a claim I seriously doubt, but they've said it for all five birth certificates and they refuse to be budged even though I've gone in person to City Hall each time. I would even accept First Maiden Married, since that's what I use when a form won't accept two middle names---but they say it has to be First Middle Married. Even though my S.S. card says First Middle Maiden Married.

But you know, it's not even that I'm SO BOUND to my name---it's the principle of it! It's so dumb that I can't have my name the way it IS!

By What's my middle name? (not verified)
March 31, 2011 12:52 PM

Funny. I had the exact same experience, with even a little more complication. My parents always told me I had two middle names: one was Rose, after my grandmother and my mom's middle name, the other was my mom's maiden name. Turns out, they "didn't know" you could legally give a child more than one middle name, so Rose wasn't actually on my birth certificate, even though it's what I consider my true middle name. When I married, I simply added husband's name to the end of my name. Legally I am Jennifer Mommaiden Mymaiden Husbandname. Then I had the same legal confusion written about in the blog. I honestly don't know WHAT my middle name is. I just tell people it's Rose, but then legally I use either my mom's maiden or my maiden interchangebly. I plan to give my daughter one middle name: Rose. Legally.

By worshipbits (not verified)
March 31, 2011 1:23 PM

I don't really care about whether my middle name is my birth-middle name or my single surname, but I'd be pretty upset if I got my social security card and they had picked a totally new middle name for me!

March 31, 2011 1:23 PM

I dropped my birth Middle Name when I got married. So I am First Maiden Married. I got all my ID's switched to that configuration. You can easily change your SS name, though. You can simply fill out a form that lists all the names you've gone by (aliases, if you will) in the past. They don't usually ask questions (unless, I would imagine, there was a huge discrepancy). But the DMV is a LOT harder. I know this because I added ONE letter to my first name and SSA is fine w/ it, but I almost didn't get my Driver's License updated to my married name because of it.

March 31, 2011 1:25 PM

Kristen R -
My children's birth certificates ask for my birth name, so my married name isn't on it at all. I think that blows. I feel like it's still the norm for married women to give birth, why can't I have my married name on her birth certificate?

March 31, 2011 1:50 PM

I think it's a "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" thing - if it's not important to you, super, but if it is, great!

I've not always loved my middle name - R.h.a.e - it was to weird, and what was that random H doing in there anyway? But after the age of 10ish, I realized it fit the not-so-common spelling of my first name. Now I can't imagine my first and middle names being anything but what they are.

My husband, however, is in your camp. He and his brothers have the uniqueness of having TWO middle names. When we were applying for his passport for our honeymoon, he had no eartly idea how to spell his middle name ("Jar.rod"). In fact, neither did his mother. We had to unearth his birth certificate (which is a story in itself) to determine the correct spelling.

We gave our kids two middle names to honor my hubs' side of the family. I can't imagine them without both middles. I know I put entirely too much time into finding the perfect first and middle names for both of my boys, but I am a huge name nerd after all. :)

March 31, 2011 1:58 PM

@Kristen - Why does Social Security determine your children's birth certificates? Our state maintains our "certificates of live birth" and my son's has my husband's full name on it, and he has two middle names as well. So bizzare, leave it to the federal government. Yuck!

March 31, 2011 2:06 PM

It is funny I should read this post today. The day that someone also named Megan W. applied to work in my same 10 person department.

My middle name may become WAAY more useful!

By knp-nli (not verified)
March 31, 2011 2:21 PM

I think my reaction would be different if my middle name was completely eliminated rather than substituted with my maiden name. If the substitution occurred, I'd have no/little reaction (I actually kind of regret not keeping my maiden name somehow, I hate when my brother tells me I'm not a Fulton). but if my middle name was just deleted (or subbed with a name that was completely random) I'd have an issue.

By Kimberly (nli) (not verified)
March 31, 2011 2:35 PM

I have extremely common first and last names to the point I've shared the same pair with more than one other woman at more than one job. Fortunately we've had different middle names. Other than that I couldn't care less about my middle name. I think I would care more if it had some family significance.

March 31, 2011 3:54 PM

Christiana - At least in my state, that's not quite true that the birth certificate asks for the mother's "birth" name; it asks for the mother's "maiden" name. The distinction is that if her name is legally changed outside of marriage (or divorce), that does change her "maiden" name (for instance if she was adopted, took her stepfather's last name, or if her parents or herself legally changed the first name prior to marriage). I thought I would mention this because the woman who runs the name site legally changed her middle name to one of her choosing, and there was confusion as to what should go on her daughter's birth certificate (turns out her legal name change did affect what was to be put down).

Probably why they don't want to have the mother put her married name in is because in most cases it would be the same as the father's last name, and her maiden name would give more identifiable details (which would not be the case for a name legally changed for other reasons).

By phoebesmom (not verified)
March 31, 2011 4:13 PM

I think it's because they go back and check the mother's and father's birth certificates for their children's birth certificates and passports. So you have to list the name you were born under or they can't match you. Right?

March 31, 2011 4:14 PM

According to my parents my given name was First-Anne Margaret Surname, but my birth certificate said: First Ann Surname. My baptism record said First Ann Margaret Surname and the SSA spelled my name First Anne Surname.

When I got married for the first time I became legally changed it to First Anne Married.

No one considered this an issue until my current husband and I attempted to become adoptive parents, suddenly I have "aliases" all over the place and it looked like I was trying to hide something.

(After our adoption process was complete, I ditched those troublesome middle names and became First Maiden NEWmarried.)

By alr as guest (not verified)
March 31, 2011 4:16 PM

What an appropriate topic for where I am in life right now! I literally was brainstorming middle names for our future children when I decided I needed to look something up on the Name Voyager and saw the most recent blog topic. Ha!!

Well, NE friends, I have BIG NEWS!!!

We've been matched with our future children!!! We are SO excited and can't believe how quickly we were matched. They are 3 and 4, they are in Uganda, and their names are Naomi and Henry. We are thrilled - and we think it's nothing short of divine that both the names, Naomi and Henry, were on our short list for Mabel - how sweet is that? So we will NOT be changing their first names, but we do have middle names to think of! And I'm (despite this post) taking it very seriously, since these are the only names we're "gifting" the kids - if that makes sense.

You all may remember me as mom to Ephr3m Rob3rt and Mab3l Park3r. Park3r is DH's grandmother's maiden name. Robert is DH's name and also my father's name. SO, I'd love to keep Naomi and Henry's middle names "family names." Especially since I want them to always feel as much a part of our family as our biological daughter, even though we don't share genes.

Here are our best options:


Any suggestions for combos with Naomi and Henry? We've been told that Naomi is a "spitfire" and that Henry is a "gentle soul." And they are Ugandan.

By EVie
March 31, 2011 4:26 PM

I added my maiden name as a second middle name when I got married. I had told my husband that I was happy to take his name, but when it came down to it, I couldn't totally give up my maiden name (and also didn't want to give up my original middle, especially because it gives me much cooler initials—EVR instead of ERR, which I think would be making a mistake ;) ). I have all four names on my driver's license, passport and social security card, and it's been fine so far (though I was worried about the airlines, particularly since my mother has messed it up when booking tickets for me—at first she couldn't get it into her head that my maiden name was now a middle and not a hyphenated last, and then she somehow forgot that I had also kept the original middle that SHE GAVE ME... oy... but it hasn't actually caused any trouble... yet...). Because they're all still my names, I don't really get fussed if people drop one, or if they forget and call me by my maiden name (which many people do). Professionally I use the two surnames without the original middle name, but when I render my initials, they're EVR or EVRR. I also like the flexibility of being able to hide behind my husband's very common LN when I want anonymity, but also being able to throw my unusual maiden name into the mix when I want to stand out. I'm thinking of given my kids my maiden name as a second middle as well, but I'm still on the fence about it.

By lia2 (not verified)
March 31, 2011 4:39 PM

hehe! I only have a middle initial as my legal middle name (yep! just the initial on my birth certificate, passport, SS card, etc.) because it's tradition in my mom's culture to have your father's first name as your middle name until you're married, and then you take your husband's first name - i.e. when you're born, you have First Father Single, and then when you're married you switch to First Husband Married. It was a way to keep track of ancestry in a time before computers, and I'm pretty sure it's still done there today. But my parents, being the culturally conscious people they are, recognized that it would be odd for a girl to have a male middle name in the U.S., so they just went with the initial, as a sort of representation. They did this for my brother as well, which I suppose is odd, seeing as his name would have been perfectly normal with a male middle name.

By EVie
March 31, 2011 4:41 PM

alr - Congratulations! Naomi and Henry are beautiful names, and go brilliantly with your other two. I seem to remember that you were on the fence between Parker and Kathryn for Mabel, yes? I think Naomi Kathryn would sound fantastic. Naomi Adeline is great, too. I would probably stay away from Daphne or Lori, just because of the repeated -ee endings. Elise, Adele or Laura could work fine, though I don't like them quite as much as Kathryn and Adeline. I personally don't care for nicknames as given names, so that would rule out Kate for me, and Anne etc. feel a bit like "filler" in the middle slot. Lorelei I like, but for some reason I'm just not feeling it with Naomi—it might be the visual of the repeated -i ending, even though they sound different.

For Henry, I think that Cortland is my favorite—I like the way the English surnamey style matches with Parker. Myer would be my second choice, then Leo (love Leo, but I like the match of Myer better). I'm not wild about Mark or John—again, love the names on their own, but I think I prefer something a little spicier with Henry, since it's such a traditional name itself (and because your other kids' names have a little more kick to them).

By Laurenne Newman (not verified)
March 31, 2011 4:42 PM

I happily forgot my middle name.

It never meant anything to me, so I dropped it when I married. I went from First Middle Maiden to First Married - no middle name at all. At the Social Security Administration, they brought back the paperwork for me to sign with First Maiden Married as is traditional, but I politely asked them to remove Maiden and they did. No big deal! I actually feel more unique now NOT having a middle name or middle initial.

March 31, 2011 5:03 PM

phoebesmom: I don't know if that's true or not (at least not as far as anything I've heard). Here's a little-known fact about birth certificates in the U.S.: In many of the cases where the name is changed for a reason other than marriage/partnership (or the breakup thereof) in most states you can request an amended birth certificate or an attachment added to it (depending on the state) acknowledging the name change (which reduces the hassle when applying for passports, etc. like you mentioned), which is usually true even if the name is changed as an adult. This fact is not widely known outside of those who do adoptions or the transgender community (those in the latter group obviously want to avoid dealing with their old name as much as possible).

March 31, 2011 5:23 PM

I have a strange relationship with middle names in that I feel almost like I don't have one. My parents named me First Middle then decided to call me Middle, for reasons I can only assume included a desire to make my life difficult! :) In a sense, First is like my middle name, in that it's my name that I'm not called, but I also feel a certain hostility toward it because it's this name that is Not Really My Name but I constantly get called it anyway. It's a family name, so I would sort of hate to drop it entirely--but it's Not My Name! MIDDLE is my name! I also have a difficult and annoying last name that I wouldn't mind dropping, so when I get married I think I may become Middle First Married.

March 31, 2011 5:50 PM

I don't particularly love my middle name and it has no family significance. However, it has been randomly amended to add an extra 'e'. This really annoys me! I've had the same experience that once the spelling gets changed (it was on my drivers licence) it is hard to get changed back.

I definitely care about middle names for my baby though :) I guess that comes from being a name enthusiast!

@alr - fantastic news!! Naomi and Henry match wonderfully name-wise with your two other kiddies. I agree with EVie that Naomi Adeline is fabulous. That is my pick. I am also drawn to Lorelai but don't like it with Naomi, too matchy I think. My second choice is Naomi Elise then Naomi Adele.
I think my stand-out for the boys name is Henry Cortland followed by Henry Meyer. Henry Leo is also sweet. John and Mark seem a little common for me, especially with your other childrens names.

By KMM (not verified)
March 31, 2011 5:59 PM

I'm named after two maternal great-grandmothers; my middle name is one's maiden name. I'm awfully attached to way it flows, though -- Firstname Marshall Miller -- and don't know what exactly I'll do when I get married.

March 31, 2011 6:02 PM

Totally off-topic but following on from the last post where I posted my current name list.......

@zoerhenne - Genevieve has been on my list for a long time, along with Juliet. My main concerns with it are that it's a little tame for me :) I also don't like the nn's Gen/Genny. I would go for something like Neve as a nn. I do love it though and have always liked it in combination with Cordelia - Cordelia Genevieve.

Zinnia is a bit like Juniper for me, a slightly off-beat nature name that has some spunk. I think it works well like Xanthe, but doesn't have the 'th' problem with my surname.

Just for fun, here is the rest of my list. * are names I'd probably use as middles rather than first names but I do love all of them:
Greta/Margrethe/Margaux/Marguerite (likely 'family' middle name)

Oh and yes I am very frustrated by a husband who doesn't want to discuss names yet!! While we have agreed not to name the baby til she is born a short list would be nice ;)

March 31, 2011 6:40 PM

Great post! I have two interesting personal anecdotes about this. First of all, my grandfather never knew that he had two middle names, until my father, who was a "junior" was about to get his medical degree, and wondering how to deal with the "II" + "MD" and upon digging, realized my grandfather actually had two middle names, so he really wasn't the second after all! He just dropped the "II" and added the "MD".

As for myself, my given name is Emily middlename lastname. Never any confusion, until I traveled abroad. I was an exchange student in Germany in high school, and when I got there, all my paperwork, etc. from the program had me down as Emily ROSE lastname. Rose is not anything even remotely similar to my actual middle name, and I had NO IDEA how it got there. Even after telling the program director multiple times etc. it was still wrong. So my visa ended up wrong too! To this day I wonder how it happened, and I like to joke about how I had an "alter ego" in Germany....

By izzy
March 31, 2011 6:43 PM

@alr congratulations!! Henry and Naomi both go wonderfully with Ephrem and Mabel.

As for the post, my middle name is a huge part of my identity. I have the same middle name as my mom, and her entire side of the family refers to her and I with our middle names attached to our first names. It is a common middle name (Marie) but a huge part of family tradition, I guess.

March 31, 2011 6:58 PM

It was actually Harry S Truman, without a period. 'S' literally was his middle name, rather than an initial. This was because both his grandfathers had names that began with S, so rather than choosing one grandfather's name to use, the Truman parents just decided to use 'S' so that they could honor both.

I've always wondered what it would be like going by my First-Middle, instead of just my first. I have the common first name of Sarah, and sometimes it gets frustrating having so many Sarahs always in the same place (just as there were two others with my name (Sarah/Sarrah/Sara) in my play last fall, so there are in my French class this semester.

However, though I like the sound of my first and middle name together (Sarah-Noel), I think it is a little clunky and I don't think I'd ever get used to being called that (especially as my mom always calls me Sarah Noel when I'm in trouble XD).

By Anne-Marie Williams (not verified)
March 31, 2011 7:31 PM

I grew up without a middle name and always wanted one! My brother had one and I felt it was so unfair. I gave both my daughters beautiful middle names! and tell them my story why.

By TM (not verified)
March 31, 2011 7:47 PM

Does anyone know if there's a traditional spelling of Emeline? (Emaline? Emmaline?) To my great surprise, my husband actually likes the name, as do I. The more I say it, the more I like it. Does it go okay with Julia? We're stuck on a potential middle name, but we'll figure it out. Thanks for any help you might have to offer! The name is looking promising, but I will want to use whatever spelling is traditional.

On topic, my name is First Middle Maiden Married, the Middle and Maiden being two middle names. (Actually it's my step-father's last name rather than Maiden, which is hard to explain to people, but whatever.) I have nothing but problems! After I got married I always used First Maiden Married, but since it was so hard for people I started using First Married. Sometimes I still forget which I used where after I got married.

By Amy3
March 31, 2011 8:24 PM

@alr, congratulations! I agree with EVie--Naomi Kathryn or Adeline and Henry Cortland. Remind me how old Mabel and Ephrem are? I think you're going to have a wonderfully crazy house!

By EVie
March 31, 2011 8:27 PM

TM - I think there are historical examples of both Emmeline and Emeline, but if you're going for the most traditional spelling, I would go with Emmeline. It is the spelling used by the most famous historical example, the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. It is also the spelling used in the 18th-century novel Emmeline, The Orphan of the Castle (by Charlotte Smith). A bunch of other Emmelines are listed here:

I couldn't find a similar page for the spelling Emeline. (Though a search on Wikipedia does turn up a few examples, after first asking "Did you mean Emmeline?")

Chimu - Juliet and Genevieve are two of my top three! (for the moment, anyway). I agree with you about Gen/Genny, though. A bunch of your other names are on my long list, too (Violet, Cordelia, Elodie, Clara... Allegra would be, if it weren't my cousin's name, and Nell is what I named my protagonist in the novel I'm writing)... though I think my tastes run on the tamer side of yours.

I was at the pool today and there were two little girls playing there named Lizzie and Anna (friends, not siblings). I was a bit surprised to hear a pair of such *normal* names!

By alr as guest (not verified)
March 31, 2011 8:52 PM

Thanks for the thoughts so far! Mabel is 1.5, Ephrem is 2.5, Naomi turns 3 TODAY, and Henry will be 4 soon. Yes - it will be a wonderfully crazy house. :)

I left out a big possibility for Henry's middle - my husband's middle - William. I hear you all saying John and Mark are too plain.... would you say the same about William?

Also, I have always loved the name Violet - there's no family connection there, but I just can't bring myself to take it off the list. Naomi Violet? Too many vowels in there?

Sounds like Adeline, Adele, and Kathryn might be the ones zeroed in on at this point. Any thoughts on honoring Adeline with Dell? Naomi Dell?

By A Rose, nli (not verified)
March 31, 2011 9:41 PM

This is really interesting, Laura!

Many members of my family (dad, both grandmothers, uncle, cousin, dad's cousin, possibly others) go exclusively by a middle name, so if something like this were to happen it would be devastating. I use my middle name on the internet and I love it (family connection,) so I too would be upset.

As an aside, last week I babysat two girls named An!ell@ and !n@ (unusual, hence the symbols) pronounced AHN-ee-ell-ah or AHN-yell-a and EE-na (as in Dina, Tina, etc.) respectively. I had never heard either and was wondering if any of you knew anything about either.

March 31, 2011 10:08 PM

My family doesn't "do" middle names, but when my little sister was born (she's 15 years younger) I convinced my mom to give her a middle name that we both loved. (I hated not having a middle name because when I was young, people thought it was just WEIRD). Turns out my mom never actually put a middle name on her birth certificate. I think when my sister was little though, she was told she had a middle name and what it was. To this day, I don't know if my mom, who is foreign, realized she was supposed to put it on an official document, or if she just decided to not bother with the middle name as our culture only has first and last names. My sister knows now it's not an official name, but for conformity's sake, if people get into the "what's your middle name" discussion, she just tells people that name. She also really likes her fake middle name, so she has no problem going by firstname middlename in many situations (ex: her facebook profile is first last middle, her AOL instant messenger name is firstmiddle, I think one of her email addresses has both names in it...).

I thought about creating a middle name when I got married - I asked my mom and she picked one out that she loved and I would have used it even though I wasn't crazy about it, but then my dad expressed a strong preference for my maiden name to be my middle name and it meant more to him than a new middle name meant to me. So, I don't really go by first maiden last, because my maiden name doesn't flow well, but it IS nice when I'm asked to initial a document to have three initials instead of two. It's the little things :-)

By 4boyzmd (not verified)
March 31, 2011 10:09 PM

@LibbyLibrarian: I feel your pain! My parents have also always called me my middle name, although I know why; my first name is a family name but family name middle maiden flows a lot better than middle family name maiden. (And besides, middle "matches" the first name they had already chosen for my identical twin sister, but family name does not.) I knew and loved the person I was named for, so I love my first name but like you I feel like MIDDLE is who I am, and I don't like being called FIRST.

I made the mistake of being wishy-washy when I got married and had First Middle Married put on my SS card but then I decided it made more practical sense to put middle maiden married on things like my driver's license. (And even though my maiden name is the kind that always got me teased, I hated to give it up entirely!) This has caused a few mix-ups along the way. As others have said, the DMV is not very flexible. When I moved to my current state, they were pretty worked up about the fact that my SS card had first middle married and my former driver's license had middle maiden married. They insisted on putting first middle maiden married on my new driver's license, and I decided it wasn't worth fighting about it!

By the way, I really liked having a family name for my "other" name, so I gave all four of my kids family names for their middle names. But I made sure the name I intended to call them came FIRST!

For alr, my favorites are Naomi Kate and Henry Cortland. But I also really like Elise and Adele for Naomi and Myer for Henry. Congratulations and good luck choosing those middles!

By knp
March 31, 2011 10:23 PM

alr--ooooh, I'm so excited for you! I'd like to throw out Naomi Kate. I feel like using Kate, rather than Kathryn is so much more, snappy and sassy, I guess. I don't remember you last name, but I like it. Naomi Kathryn is also nice--more distinguished. Even if you go with Kathryn, Naomi Kate is a cute nn. (My parents used both my fn and mn as my baby nn: Krissy Nicky for Kristin Nicole. The only time I've allowed anyone to call me Krissy.
I'll also give support to Adeline/Adele. I LOVE Lorelei and Daphne but can't convince myself to use it with Naomi.

For Henry: I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Henry Cortland to balance/match M@bel P@rker. I think that would make a perfectly balanced sib set: 2 fn fn ln combos (one male, one female), 2 fn ln ln combos (one male, one female).
And if you go with Naomi Kate and Henry Cortland (my immediate favorites, so I am going to fight for them) all the children would have four syllables!

(the others B mn options in my order of preference: John, Leo, Myer, Mark)

By Pip(nli) (not verified)
March 31, 2011 10:51 PM

This new post is an especially timely one in my baby naming dilemma since the middle name is the one giving me all the grief. As you may (or may not) recall, my husband and I had recently narrowed our choices down to Frey@ J0sephine and Vivi@n Pe@rl for our girl, due 6/2011. Big sister is Sylvi@ (Sylvi3) Grac3.

We chose Sylvi3's middle name to honor my dear grandmother and my husband really wants the opportunity to do the same for his grandfather, Josef. This is almost certainly our last baby. I like J0sephine and want to use it, and figured we'd finally come to a compromise in the name Vivi@n J0sephine (my preferred first, his preferred middle).

But then my friend pointed out the initials: VJ. She further elaborated, "as in va-jay-jay." Oh, crap, really? That had never even occurred to me. But I do know that kids or a certain age do all kinds of playing with names in an attempt to find a teasing avenue. Then I thought, "well, it's not a big deal. Probably lots of people have never even heard that slang," which was quickly dashed by my 68 year-old mother, who said, "Oh yeah, Oprah says that all the time." *sigh*

So, is this a serious deal-breaker? I want to overlook it, but right now it's all I see. Would you use those initials for a girl, knowing the possible teasing connotations? Freya's still a contender, but she's got her issues, too. We may just be going back to the drawing board at 27 weeks.

March 31, 2011 10:59 PM

Great topic- that's so funny. I just discovered a fabulous set of middle names and was about to post them when I discovered I am actually on topic!

I discovered on wikipedia, arriving by a roundabout route, that Clarissa Dickson Wright, the English chef and TV personality, is actually:

Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright.


By Pip(nli) (not verified)
March 31, 2011 11:04 PM

Oh, and alr:

I also vote for Naomi Kate (so spunky!) and Henry Cortland (so regal and such a great match with Mabel Parker!). I like both Henry and William very much as stand-alone names, but the combination is lacking something for me somehow. Congratulations! Four under 4 - wow! That's going to be a wild ride for a while there. :)

March 31, 2011 11:21 PM

@alr- while I like the name William, I do think it's a bit boring with Henry and your other children's names. I think Henry Cortland is going to be a winner.

@Pip - I love both your names options (and envy you for having it narrowed down, my girl is also due in June). I personally don't think the initials are a problem since it's first name - middle name. If it was first and last I'd be more concerned. I'd say she will either use all 3 initials or first and last the majority of the time. Just don't get into the habit of using VJ as a nickname. I still love Freya Josephine though!

@EVie, how wonderful that we have such overlapping taste :) What are your other top contending names?

By izzy
March 31, 2011 11:35 PM

@alr - I LOVE Henry Cortland, and the suggestion of Naomi Kate. It seems to flow really well.

@Pip - Honestly, I don't think it will be a problem, especially if you don't call her VJ. I do know a guy (from India)named Vijay, and even as immature as guys can be (sorry, guys!!), I've never heard his name be made fun of.

@Chimu - I think we have similar tastes :) I love Juliet AND Genevieve. My cousin's friend's name is Genevieve, and she has tons of nns: Eve, Evie, Jen (she goes by Jen spelled with a J. Idk why, but I seem to like it better with a J.)

By EHR (not verified)
April 1, 2011 12:07 AM

Funny to read this as my husband and I just went through a middle naming mini-crisis when our second child was born in Feb. We deliberated and deliberated on first name & especially middle after he was born, and at the 11th hour, I convinced my husband to go along with my plan to use my Maiden as baby boy's middle (also my middle married name). The moment we first announced it, I regretted it, deciding I wanted the middle to not have a surname feel (& better match the style of our daughter's first/middle). We left the hospital but at the end of that first week, ended up calling to see if they could hold the paperwork, and then decided in the second week to revert back to the other (a somewhat obscure choice with no family significance). Even knowing that the middle name often ends up as a middle initial that is itself a footnote, we still went ahead and stirred up some family drama by reneging on the maiden name. We thought about using both but decided it was a cop-out and just switched over. adding an element of farce to the whole thing, just days after making the change official, we received a beautiful personalized gift with baby's (former) full name from my employer. Luckily Red Envelope was willing to issue a new nameplate :)... After all of this, we will probably end up not sending out birth announcements due to my embarassment about the whole charade, but no regrets!! (Names = M@rgaret Blyth3 (M@ggie) and Willi@m Decl@n(W!ll)... formerly Willi@m H@wkins)

By MCCM (not verified)
April 1, 2011 12:47 AM

I would have to defend both my first and middle names to the death! My first name is my connection to family and I appreciated it more as I grew older. My middle name is my "real me."

My first name is a family tradition; I, my mother, my grandmother and my great-great grandmother all have the same first name. Thus, I and my grandmother always went by our middle names. But, my middle name is the feminine version of my dad's first name; only the last 2 letters of our names are different. Then, he and I worked together at the same company for 6 years before I was married. Talk about confusing for the other employees and email! Credit bureaus continually confused the 3 of us with each other.

Whilst single, I distinguished myself by "parting my name on the side;" first name initial, full middle name, single last name. Now that I'm married, I'm still called my by middle name by family, friends and co-workers. I do the traditional first, middle initial, married last only on official documents. It's quite helpful in identifying sales calls on the phone and junk mail.

If you call me by my first name, you obviously don't know me.

By GhostlyFigure (not verified)
April 1, 2011 12:54 AM

Makes me think of Michael J. Fox, whose middle name is Andrew. You're right, that doesn't start with a 'J.'

By Kelly S (not verified)
April 1, 2011 3:34 AM

My grandmother gave my mother and aunt first names only, claiming that she had only one name so they didn't need middle names either. This bothered them growing up, so it shocked them to discover after she passed away that she had been born with two names - Elizabeth Jane - after her great grandmother. When she was 8 or 9 she decided she hated the name Elizabeth and dropped it, going by Jane for the rest of her life.

Now that I know the story, I would love to name a future daughter Elizabeth Jane to honor her and continue the great-grandmother name-chain. I love the nn Elsie but wonder about the idea of using a nn as a full time name. It seems similar to using a middle name as your primary name, except that it's not actually on any documents anywhere. I see a lot of people suggesting nn's here and I wonder how it plays out in actual usage.

What do you think? Will it work to call her Elsie full time? If I do, will she be destined to a lifetime of cow jokes?