Unrelated names that you commonly mix up

I was wondering if anyone else has a weird link in their mind between different names. For example, in my head, Claire and Grace are the same name. I accidentally call people with one of those names the other all the time. Another for me is Rachel and Rebecca. I don't know why, but I think of them as interchangable. I was curious if that's just me or if anyone else experiences it.


July 27, 2015 2:57 PM

I don't know if I confuse names so much as decidentht certain people must be called something, regardless of their actual name. When I used to teach, there was a woman named Luisa who I called Eva for months. It was embarrassing, but my brain just rejected that Luisa was her name and insisted on Eva.

July 28, 2015 1:49 PM

I've often wondered if "Karen" and "Laura" are commonly confused, or if it's just me.  I've had people who have known me for 20 years call me "Karen" habitually (even though they know my name and will self-correct immediately); I've had people who just met me switch mid-conversation to calling me "Karen", and I've even had people respond to signed emails by calling me "Karen".  I had a classmate named Laura who could not remember my name and called me Karen for 4 years solid, even though we were both Laura and you'd think she'd be able to remember that! 

So either those two names are very confusing, or I am very unlucky. 

February 10, 2016 4:31 PM

update on this: in the past few months, two of my sisters (neither named anything like either Laura OR Karen) have reported to me that someone has called them Karen. 

August 31, 2016 7:16 PM

My sister is named Karen and at one point in my life when my mom was talking about having another baby, she thought about the name Laura. Apparently she thought Karen and Laura went together, as well!

July 27, 2015 3:34 PM

I do that, too! Wendy and Heidi is a pair that came up recently--something about the storybook namesakes and ending in a -dee sound makes them impossible to keep straight on real people (although I never confuse their respective literary characters). That's the only example that's coming to mind right now, but I'm pretty sure I've had this problem with other name pairs before.

July 27, 2015 5:03 PM

Does multilingual confusion count? I have trouble keeping the masculine L-names straight: Lajos, László, Lewis/Louis, Ludwig, Leslie, Ladislaus... Which ones are related/equivalent, which ones aren't?

My mother commented recently that she's never understood how people can use Margit and Magda for siblings, because they seem like the same name to her. I agree that it's easy to confuse all the feminine Ma- names, especially since they're almost all Biblical and used to be very common.

July 29, 2015 10:35 PM

I am called Rebecca by mistake very often, so you're not the only one! I guess I can see the link, both biblical names starting with R.

By Fly
July 31, 2015 2:55 AM

I didn't think I had this problem until I recently met a Bec, and now I have to keep correcting myself that she is NOT a Rachel.  I don't even know how I get these names mixed up, aside from the 'R' and the biblical origins (she introduced herself as Bec! Where is the 'R' here??)

July 31, 2015 7:36 AM

Yes. Shane and Steve are two names I have always confused. As luck would have it I currently work with one of each, and they each find the confusion/comparison unflattering.

Also Jessica/Jennifer, Pete/Dave, any of the -aidens (I just can't remember which is which) - I'm sure I'll think of more once I click "save" on this post. Suffice to say, I can't get my sons' and husband's names straight, and any male I have cause to yell at is called my brother's name.

July 31, 2015 10:12 AM

Jessica and Jennifer is another pair I struggle with.

I think it's so easy to mix up what are typically generic white guy names- particularly three letter ones. Rob, Tom, Jim, Ron, Steve, Pete, Dave, Mark, Craig, Chris. They're not really memorable, in my mind, and therefore completely interchangable.

July 31, 2015 6:25 PM

Agreed! I once had coworkers named Scott, Chris, and Mike, and it took me about a year to get them straight. They looked nothing alike, but I just couldn't remember which name went with which person. I didn't mention it in my other reply on this thread, because I only mixed up the names in the one context where I encountered them together -- and I've since acquired two brothers-in-law named Chris, and I don't confuse their names with anything else.

By EVie
July 31, 2015 7:19 PM

My sister-in-law has dated a string of guys with one-syllable "dude" names, and my husband can't for the life of him remember which is the one she's now engaged to. Hopefully he will figure it out before the wedding... (it's Brett). 

August 4, 2015 5:00 PM

I can never remember which kid is Josh and which kid is Nathan.  I refer to them as H@ley's brother (Josh, I think) and Z0e's brother (Nathan?) instead.

August 7, 2015 1:04 AM

I too struggle with Rachel/Rebecca and also Jessica/Melissa (I think that's the double "s" for that one).

August 18, 2015 9:42 PM

I get Guinevere and Genevieve mixed up in my head all the time. They are basically interchangeable for me. 

August 18, 2015 10:03 PM

The vast majority of names I mix up are usually because they have similar sounds or patterns about them-similar starting and ending sounds, usually.

I often get Alyssa and Alexandra mixed up, which I think is due to the Italian variant of Alexandra being Alessandra, and in my accent, I pronounce Alessandra like Alyssa with an extra syllable.

Sarah, Sierra and Savannah all get muddled up in my head constantly, as does Jasmine and Jessica, and also any name ending in bell/belle/bella.

In my math class when I was in high school, there were three girls named Rachel, and a Rebecca. The teacher, as well as every other student in the class, would ALWAYS call the Rachels Rebecca, and the Rebecca Rachel. Yet somehow, I never once got the names confused.

I had two friends named Lisa and Tina when I was a little girl, and they would often elongate the 'i' in their names when introducing themselves. This had lead me to get the two names confused to this day.

August 19, 2015 7:56 AM

Years ago I had two students named Tara and Tanya. I didn't mix them up, but I did consistently misprounce both names. I expected the pronunciations to be Tear-a (as in 'tear' a piece of paper) and Tahn-ya. Instead, however, they were Tar-a (as in the sticky substance tar) and Tan-ya (as in to get a tan). Every time I called on one of them I had to pause and tell myself, "She pronounces her name the opposite of the way I expect."

August 20, 2015 1:16 AM

I can see that being tricky, especially if they were both in the same class at the same time. If it was just Tara, you could just learn to say Tah, or if it was just Tanya, you could learn NOT to say Tah, but when there is a Tah but in the "wrong" name...

August 20, 2015 1:13 AM

I was just reminded of two unrelated celebrity names I mix-up: Whoopie Goldberg and Goldie Hawn. Obviously I know the difference between the two celebrities, but if they are identified just by name, without a face attached, I have to stop and remind myself which is which. That -ie ending combined with the Gold element apparently really trips me up (even when the Gold is not said, since just "Whoopie" mixes me up as well as full names). Bing Crosby and Bill Cosby also confused me when I was younger, but that one's a lot easier to understand.

July 29, 2018 3:43 PM

Same with the Crosby/Cosby issue--I STILL have to pause before I say either name just to make sure I've got the right one--especially with all the negative stuff going on right now with one of them.

August 20, 2015 3:30 AM

I'm a Michelle that has answered to Melissa for my entire life. I suppose I can see some similarities, but the names feel so different to me that I just don't understand how they get so universally crossed.

I am definitely guilty of the Rachel/Rebecca mixup. I worked with two women by these names and it took me months to instinctively call them by their correct name!

August 20, 2015 8:59 AM

I've heard Melissa/Michelle mix-ups before, probably because they both start with "M"* and peaked in popularity around the same time. *Same thing with Rachel and Rebecca both starting with "R" (with both being Biblical names as the other tie).

August 20, 2015 9:00 AM

Yesterday was my first day of class for the new semester. This semester something has happened that has never happened before: there are two young women with the EXACT same name taking my class. Well, to clarify, one of the women is in the other section, which I coordinate, and one is in mine, but it's the same class. Thank heavens they're not in the same section! They are both named Stephanie and have an uncommon last name, a last name that's so uncommon that I don't think I've ever met anyone with that name before (it's a common noun in English and I suspect is a transliteration of a Korean surname). I spent ten minutes in utter confusion yesterday looking at the rolls for the two classes thinking, "I know I enrolled Stephanie through the School of Medicine [which has to be done by hand as the med school here has some weird special dispensation from using the system that the rest of the university uses] and this girl's registration says she's in the School of Pharmacy. This can't be right." It then occurred to me to check the university directory and lo and behold, there are two young women with that name attending the university--out of some 35,000 students. Crazy! I am SO relieved that they are in different sections. There's no way I could handle that. I'd have to have them write Stephanie Medicine and Stephanie Pharmacy on everything! As it is, the potential for mix up exists as the School of Medicine seems to screw up all things bureaucratic here.

August 28, 2015 2:05 AM

Samantha & Amanda 

September 1, 2015 9:06 PM

I've actually thought deeply about this particular mix-up.  Both names are three syllables with the accent pattern duh-DUH-duh, and both end in the letter A.  Both were also most popular around the same time, so they have a similar age association. 

September 2, 2015 10:21 AM

I've often wondered about this myself!  My name is Barbara and I am very often called Brenda!  I definitely see the similarities, but it amazes me that it's ALWAYS Brenda that totally different people from totally different unrelated parts of my life will call me by mistake.  

September 22, 2015 3:21 PM

Interesting that Rebecca/Rachel is so common.  I would expand the field:  I'm Ruth and I frequently get called Rebecca, Rachel, and Robin, too.  

October 3, 2015 10:42 AM

I remember Ryan, Ryann, and Ryanne all went to junior high with me. They were all girls. In this case, Ryan and Ryann were pronounced identically while Ryanne was pronounced ry-ANNE. It was very surprising to see three girls with such similar yet uncommon names! I always remembered the difference, but other people didn't, of course. 

I also went to school with sisters named Tayana and Tanaya (tay-AH-nah and tan-AY-ah). I don't know how anyone kept their names straight!

October 3, 2015 11:02 PM

Ha, I'm a Valerie and I get called Victoria or Vanessa all the time.

February 8, 2016 1:06 AM

!!! I get called Veronica all the time :) 

October 5, 2015 9:19 PM

I have a lot of mix-ups based on childhood sib-sets. For example, my best friends when I was really little were Grace and Ruth, so those two names always seem the same to me, even though they're very different! The same thing happens with Amy and Lisa (cousins of mine) and Dan and Dave (twins i knew).


February 9, 2016 6:52 PM

For a long time "Nick" and "Chris," as well as "Nicholas" and "Christopher," were the same name in my mind. They bring to mind the same exact image of a generic person. 

Melissa and Marissa seem the same to me, as do Jessica and Jennifer. Interestingly, my mental image of a Jessica and a Jennifer are just about the same (tall, thin, blonde, younger woman) but my image of a Melissa and a Marissa are different (Melissa sounds taller and blonde, Marissa sounds shorter and darker-featured.)

February 13, 2016 10:38 PM

My best friend is a Barbara who gets called Deborah almost daily. We also have another friend named Deborah who many times gets called Barbara. It's so funny! I wonder why though, that people mix-up these two names so much.

February 16, 2016 12:59 AM

And both names shorten to Barbra and Debra. Maybe that is contributing?

August 31, 2016 7:17 PM

Most people in my social circle know me as 'Elizabeth'. For those who confuse my name, I am often called either 'Stephanie' or 'Melissa'. I have also been called 'Jennifer'.

By EVie
September 1, 2016 12:27 PM

Went to a wedding this weekend and in the service, the cantor twice referred to the groom, Brett, as "Jeff." After the second time he was corrected. Fortunately, the groom was pretty chill about it and later made some jokes about Jeff and all his great qualities. 

September 1, 2016 1:12 PM

That reminds me of when I went to my friend Jessika's wedding and the photographer kept calling her Jennifer. Except the wedding was held in Cuba and the photographer was Spanish-speaking and pronounced it as Yennifer. Her husband is named Jean, and the photographer caught some rather genuine smiles as he called out, "Yennifer! Yan!" That was three years ago and we somethings still joke about that.

By EVie
September 1, 2016 5:20 PM

Anything that gets genuine smiles in wedding formals is worth it :) 

September 1, 2016 11:14 PM

My eldest daughter has two friends called Brittany and Mykayla. For some reason I can never get their names right! The amount of times I have seen one of them in public and said "Hi Britt-Mykayla, sorry!" or "Hello Myk-sorry, Brittany!" is embarrassing!

I went to high school with two girls named Samantha and Joanne, exclusively called Sam and Jo. They were not related but looked alike. Since then, every time I meet a Sam or a Jo(e) of any gender I have to remind myself that their name is Sam, not Jo(e), or vice versa!

January 11, 2017 10:59 PM

I've found that a lot of people mix up all the 3+ syllable girls' names that start with V - Victoria, Vanessa, Valerie, Virginia, Veronica, Valentina... if you have one of those names, at points in your life you will be called all of them.

Additionally, there's this one girl I know who has to be the most boring girl in all the world. Her name is Sydney, but I've called her Sophie, Cindy, Stevie, Stephie, and Sylvie because she's so undistinctive. I don't usually have problems with the name Sydney but I can't get her name straight.

January 23, 2018 8:52 AM

Perhaps this is limited to me or perhaps others also confuse these two names, but Holly & Heidi:  if I have one name on my mind I even have difficulty remembering the other name:  I truly like and admire each name.   

January 21, 2018 9:56 PM

Allison and Danielle are united in my mind. I also once had a teammate named Abby but I "renamed" her Beth in my head. I would ask other friends if Beth was coming to practice and they'd look at me blankly..whoops! 

August 10, 2018 1:38 AM

I entered a short story contest once whose main character was called Scott.  I was so embarrassed when the judges noted I had substituted "Steve" for Scott at least three times. 


August 26, 2018 3:59 PM

I once wrote a story where I switched repeatedly between Irene and Imelda for one character, and had no idea I had done it until I went back and reread it quite awhile later...

August 19, 2018 1:48 PM

Catherine and Caroline to me and I have no idea why! Also Maeve/Meibh and Nieve/Niamh/Neve.

August 19, 2018 7:13 PM

I have a Mike, Mark/Marc, Matt problem, I met all three during my first week at college and while I remembered my best friends name was Marc I went the next four years struggling every time the other two came up to me. Was this Matt? Mike? Another Mark? Mike greated me by my full name every time he saw me (using my username as the example here: everyone knows me as Holly but he'd say "Hi Holloway" every time he saw me. most people I met didn't even know I had a full name) which made it escpecially awkward that I couldn't remember whether he was Mike, Matt or Mark. 

August 19, 2018 10:08 PM

I know a woman named Christine and I have to force myself to make sure I don't call her Susan every time I see her - I can't differentiate between the two names.



August 26, 2018 5:20 PM

Recently I realized I mix up Amara and Amaya--though I guess that's understandable since they are only one letter apart. I also know a Kevin who I think of as Noah--but that's less of an issue with the names and more about how I knew an actual Noah who looked just like him.