What’s In A Name?

Recently I wondered how many people wish they could change their names. The reasons I hear for wanting a different name vary a great deal. But mostly, people change their name because they don’t like it.

I, for one, have never lived up to my name. I never looked like my name. I never had

Shirley Temple

blonde, naturally curly hair, a sugar-sweet smile, nor could I act and tap dance. When I was born, my mother said she called me, Joan. Then people began to remind her that she was going to call her new baby, Shirley, and so she changed it. People always want their kids to be beautiful, clever and popular. I wonder if she thought Shirley Temple’s popularity might rub off on me? When I was about ten years old, she did want me to take tap dancing lessons. That was when the church taught that dancing was sinful, and being a very young convert, I said “no.” There went her hopes of seeing my name in lights.

I remember at the age of eight or nine, I was wishing I had a different name. I asked my mother why she didn’t name me after herself. Everyone we met said I was a carbon copy

Joan Crawford

of her. Her name was Ada. That’s when she told me about the name change. She didn’t say why she called me Joan, but I wondered if it was for Joan Crawford. From what I’ve read Joan Crawford was doing poorly in the film business then. When I was the only girl in the house, I had two brothers, my mother thought calling me “Sissy” would be a great nickname, but it didn’t stick. When my sister was born, guess what she named her? Ada! She said I had always wanted to be named after her so she did it for my sister. I really have no hard feelings about this.

A lot of babies are named after film stars. I began to think of names I’d prefer, I’ve always liked Lola or Juliette. But both of those are movie star names. It’s rather difficult to think of names that are not. I had a grandmother

Shirley Joan

named, Mae, and an aunt, who was named Etta.Why couldn’t my mother have been a little more creative and put these two names together? How does this sound to you, Maetta? I like it.!

When we named our children, we tried to think of unique names. I think maybe our oldest son, Merwin, wished his name was different, but grew to like it as he got older. Recently I heard our daughter, Janine, say she liked her name. Some parents combine both dad and mom’s names. But a person does have to be careful about the difference between interesting and weird names. For instance,” Donmary” is little extreme. Don’t you think so?

Some parents grow to dislike their choice of names because it becomes too popular. I read where a mother changed her daughter’s name from Presley to Summer.  And then there are those who name their daughters, Brooklyn or Twilight and some kids are named after fictional characters.

I’ve read that eleven percent of parents get name calling wrong the first time. A fifth of parents had their preferred name vetoed by their partner and get this, twenty-one percent admitted they would also like to change their own name. Names are being changed, today,  but it is a time consuming project and a year of paper work, so most people stay with their original name. I’m one of them, besides, it’s what you make of your name that really counts.

Signed, Maetta. (Just trying it on for size.)

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” – Proverbs 22:1


14 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

    • Hi Ann Marie: I think you’re right, Etta Mae makes even a prettier name. I wonder, were you named after two relatives? And does it fit you? It’s very pretty. Thanks for writing, I think it’s a little late to change anything now. 🙂


  1. Hi Shirl!
    Of course like many ladies my age, I’m named after Debbie Reynolds, one of my Mom’s favorite actresses. When my granddaughter Emily was little and I told her who I was named after. Her comment to me was “your Mom must have really liked to cook”. Once she saw the strange look on my face…. she explained. She thought I was named after the owner of Reynolds Wrap. She of course had no idea who Debbie Reynolds was. It got funnier as she continued. I’m gald Mommy didn’t name me Pizza!
    Till this day I never told her any different. lol Someday I might.


    • What a nice surprise to hear from you Debbie. I think your name fits. You didn’t say rather or not your mom loved to cook. I know you do! I’ve had the opportunity to sample some of it. Hmmm, good! You have so many wonderful stories to share about Emily. By the way, I now have a granddaughter named Emily, five months old. Hope you’ll write again.


  2. Love my name…named after Karen from the Mouseketters…I found out when one day I told my dad I would want to be named Cubby if I was a boy…he said that was going to be my name if a boy. So I lucked out because I would have choosen both those names. I also have nicknames…Guy…because it was a much easier way for me to talk with people…I still do that to this day. Star…for sis-star…I was an athlete…and Panda…for an athletic injury. My husband named our daughter heather from the flower fields when he served in WW2. Our son was named for both sides of my family. Really enjoyed this one Shirl…!!


    • What fun, Karen, to hear you talk of your names and how you got them. Sounds like you had a nice dad and that you enjoyed the rest of your family. Except for when we girls in school decided we’d have nicknames which didn’t stick, I never really had one. I always appreciate your comments.


  3. I just love your blogs…..you think of such interesting and fun subjects to write about! I have never thought of changing my name and I’ve never not liked it, so I guess that I am happy with the name that my parents chose for me. I do know of people who have changed their names or gone by another name because they didn’t like their given name. My mother dislikes her name; and her name is Viola, but she has always gone by “Vicki”. My Grandmother named my mother after her sister. Viola is an old name and my mother just never cared much for it. Although, she surely loved Aunt Viola! When I think of the name Shirley, Shirley Temple is not the person who comes to mind. I have seen movies with Shirley Temple in them, and she was a popular child star; but for me, the name of “Shirley” always makes me immediately think of you!!!! You are the one who is special to me…..not the child star that you may have been named after. Names are certainly an interesting subject to think about; and I can tell that you have given alot of thought to this one. I enjoy your blogs and I can’t wait to see what the next subject will be.


    • Hi Colleen: You’ve written such a wonderful reply that I’m already feeling differently about my name. It’s not so bad after all:). Guess, it truly is what you make of a name that counts. You have such a good attitude about life in general that it doesn’t surprise me that you are content with your name. I like it, too. Thanks for the encouragement, I look for it with each new post. God bless you, Colleen.


  4. I think the best name for you is Mom!! Yes, I do like my name. And I love that it was from a song that you and Dad thought was pretty. I consider it as my own special song and I love hearing Dad play it for me. I always thought I was the only one with the name until I got to college. Who would have thought that a college with only 1200 students would have six girls named Janine?! Of course, there were several different spellings. Not everyone got it right like we did. lol. I think names grow on people. And I wonder if the ones that change their names are any happier afterwards. Or do they just get tired of the new one?


    • Your right Janine. The song you refer to was a very old, WWI song, “Janine I Dream of Lilac Time.” I believe a soldier was dreaming of his girl in the spring time. Janine is my favorite girl and lilacs my favorite flower. Love you, Mom


  5. I agree! Names are so significant. My mother was going to name me Amy Sue. However, since my last name began with an “S”, my aunt warned her to never let me get anything monogrammed with that moniker! At that point, mom found my name on a cereal box, probably Wheaties 🙂 When it came to naming my daughter, my husband and I struggled as to the “perfect” name. God spoke clearly one day and our Honour Elizabeth is now eight years old, an honour to her mother and to God!


  6. What a great blog! I was named Robin because I was born during a blizzard and my mom was looking forward to spring. I do remember having a hard time agreeing with my husband on names for our boys though. The first two have middle names from family members (Howard and Alexander) but Karl happened to get my ob/gyn’s last name as his middle name and he loves it! The name is Renzi so it certainly isn’t common. Karl was also going to be named Connor until the nurse commented to me about what a popular name that was…I immediately had to come up with a new name! My mom tells a story about wanting to name my middle sister Penelope Quintata so her initials would be PQR…thank goodness she didn’t or she may have been one to change it. As it ended up, she was named Verna after my dad, David Vernon, and of us three sisters she is the most like him.


    • What a great choice of names your mother made when she called you Robin. She must think of spring each time she looks at you.:) You have several good stories to tell about naming your children. I love the one how your son’s middle name became your maiden name by accident, and he loves it. I will look forward to hearing from you again. God’s blessings are wished for you.


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