Emotional Name Baggage

I have four names, and have always loved it. My second middle name is my mom's last name (she didn't change her name when my parents got married). I really value this connection with her side of the family. I'm recently married and also kept my last name, in part because I felt like I already have all the names I can manage! 

Meanwhile, my husband has the more typical three names, but goes by his middle name. This has caused a lot of headaches and misunderstandings over the years. 

We are bringing all these experiences to the baby naming table! I think everyone should have four names, like me, and he thinks middle names should stay in the middle. 

Curious about what other name-related emotional baggage people are bringing into their baby naming (or general name collecting)! 


November 10, 2017 8:48 PM

My baggage is regarding the marry-merry-Mary merger. As you can see, my name has an R after an A, which makes it subject to this variation. I'm not merged but my husband is, and I can't stand that he cannot say my name properly (i.e., when my name is said CARE-in). I absolutely refuse to give any child of mine a name that gets affected by this merger.

November 13, 2017 4:30 PM

My mom is militant about these distinctions! I'll tell her she's not alone. I remember her getting so frustrated with my dad for not differentiating between my brother's friend Aaron and my friend Erin. 

November 11, 2017 4:52 PM

Mine is purely related to popularity. As a name-enthusiast teenager, I was not at all pleased to see my name so over-represented in the end of year baby announcements in the paper. And then there was the 10 person choir I was in with 4 Emilys and an Amelie once...

I would add that it's nice for middle names to have significance. Mine is just a name that sounded good, also pretty date-stamped now, and I think I could handle not liking my middle name better if at least it meant something...

November 13, 2017 4:29 PM

I'm another Emily, as it happens. It doesn't bother me as much as it should, given my interest in names and namings. I actually find comfort in the fact that I grew up with one of the most common names of our generation and am not at all traumatized...takes the pressure off to find that one perfect unique name! 

And I totally agree about the middle name. There should be a story! 

November 14, 2017 4:39 AM

I actually really like Emily as a name and think it suits me really well, but I hated the popularity. Living in another country where it isn't common has helped a lot, but is perhaps a bit drastic purely for name reasons. ;-)

November 12, 2017 7:33 AM

I have a LOT of name baggage, wow. My first and middle names are Is0b3l M4lin. 

First off, having a variant spelling of a common name is a nightmare even in a country where multiple spellings of the name are accepted. I live in France, where Isabelle is the only spelling of the name, and Isobel is pronounced differently anyway (Iz-AH-bel vs Iz-OH-bel). I've been told it's made up, asked if it's a typo, and told (in a rude tone) that with a name like that (in combination with my English surname), I had to be English.

So, if and when I have children, I'm not giving them any first names with multiple spellings or any "foreign" names. It's too much hassle. 

As for my middle name, it was bestowed in honour of my parents' time in Sweden before I was born. It's the Scandinavian form of Magdalena, and I have no issues with it - apart from the small fact that "malin" in French is a (masculine!) adjective with many meanings, most of them linked to cunning. I don't blame my parents, who didn't know of this adjective or that I would live most of my life in France when they gave me the name, but it's still not ideal.

So, hopefully no names that turn out to be random words in a foreign language. 

There's also the fact that while Isobel was just a name my parents liked, they gave my little brother an honour name, which always irked me a little. Honour names, in my opinion, are all or nothing when it comes to siblings. 

November 13, 2017 5:33 AM

It's a strange thing about honour names. None of my siblings has an honour first name, but one sister has an honour middle (my grandmother's maiden name, which happens to be a common female name). She dislikes her middle name anyway, honour notwithstanding!

I think Isobel is beautiful, but I have to admit, when I see some of the alternate spellings of names becoming popular now, I wonder how these kids are going to fare when they go on exchange programs abroad and decide to teach English overseas, etc. ...

August 6, 2018 4:43 PM

Totally understand your frustration! I have a common name spelled one way, when there are at least 10 different ways to spell it. I have hated having to spell out my name my entire life - people still spell it wrong even when I've told them how to. I go by a nickname partly to avoid the headache. I am in the middle of trying to figure out a name for my first baby and the one thing I do know is that I refuse to saddle him with the same burden I had.

October 9, 2018 10:49 PM

My name is Avery, and I’ve always disliked it. It’s extremely common. I’ve met 7 other Avery’s (that blows my mind) an Averi, and an Averie. It’s also too unisex for my taste. 3 of the Avery’s ive met are male. In ’Charlotte’s Web’, Fern’s brother is named Avery. My cousin’s friend has a male cousin named Avery. Avery just is so common that it feels worn out. To try to help fix both issue, I go by my first & middle name, Avery Grace. No one calls me Avery-Grace. People have literally told me “With purple eyes like yours, you have enough wrong with you. You don’t need two names, stop being special.” People call me Satan because my eyes are violet. I want to change my name, but my dad wouldn’t even allow my grandfather to call me Grace.