Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Middle Name Game

INGRID THOFT
My standard email sign off is “IPT.”  I always include my middle initial because I don’t want to be the title of a Stephen King novel.  Recipients sometimes try to guess what the “P” stands for, and they are never successful.  Pamela?  Patricia?  Polly?  Nope.

In my family, we were all given family surnames for our middle names, which didn’t seem to be the norm among our friends.  So what does the “P” stand for?

Porter, and its origin is as unorthodox as the name itself.  My father had two middle names, one of which was Porter.  Family lore is that when his mother was being wheeled into the delivery room to give birth to him in their tiny Montana town, Dr. Porter happened to walk by.  He wasn’t my grandmother’s doctor, but she promised if it was a boy, she would name the child after him.  She wasn’t even under the influence of any narcotics!  I suppose she liked the name, and that’s how I became a Porter.

What about you, Reds?  What is your middle name?  Is it your maiden name?  Do you like it or do you wish a different middle name had been bestowed upon you?


RHYS BOWEN: My middle name is Elizabeth. I love the name and was planning to switch to it when I went to college, but chickened out at the last minute . Always regretted that!
My father's middle name was Newcombe, and I wish he'd passed that on to me. Or named me after my fabulous French great-grandmother Josephine who married at 17, had 14 children, still looked like a teenager at 40 and crossed the globe alone at 80 to join her daughter in Australia.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Rhys, one of the couples who run the farm we get our CSA from had a baby Josephine this winter! I was delighted to see the name reappear after a long time in abeyance.

My middle name is Jeanne, which I've always loved, since "Julia Jeanne" has a pleasing resonance to it. My first name is in honor of my father's mother, Jewel Spencer, and my father wanted to give me the same middle name as my mom, Jean. She demurred, until they came up with a compromise: same name, French spelling. Now the Smithie's middle name is Jean. We'll see if it turns up with a different spelling in the next generation.

As near as I can tell, middle names are primarily a way for your mother to signal something is REALLY important. As in, "Julia Jeanne, don't tell me you missed the bus again this morning!" Oddly enough, I say this to myself now, when I forget something or make a boneheaded move. "Julia Jeanne, I can't believe you forgot your shopping bags again." It's true, we do become our mothers.


JENN MCKINLAY: Julia, yes! When we were naming the Hooligans, I said to the Hub, "I have to shout it so that I know it sounds like I mean business." He thought I was crazy, so maybe it's a mom thing. I also shoved my maiden name in there so they both have four names, which driver license and passport issuers just love - not. My middle name is Adelia after my maternal grandmother. I love it since "Jennifers" populated the 80's pretty hard and this was a nice change from all of the other Jennifers who inexplicably all had Marie for a middle name. Plus, my initials were JAM - how can you beat that?



HALLIE EPHRON: I always wanted my middle name to be my first name. Elizabeth. Like, you know, Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, Hallie Elizabeth is what my parents called me when they were issuing orders. What I hated were my initials. HE or HEE. Hee hee hee.

Our daughters are Naomi Samantha and Molly Kate. LOVE the names. When Naomi went to summer camp for the first time, she told everyone her name was Samantha. "Call me Sam." And they did, for two weeks. 


I just had to include this baby.  What a great start to the week!
LUCY BURDETTE: When you have a first name like Roberta (a mouthful, right?), it's good to have an easy middle name. Hence, Ann. One syllable, plain, no mix-ups when you tell someone (except for the pesky question of whether there's an "e" at the end or not.) This name was borrowed from my mother's sister, Barbara Ann, so we always bonded over that. When our daughter was pregnant with her second child, there was a lot of jockeying over prospective names. (They chose not to know the sex until birth.) Ann was popular for a while because both grandmothers have it as middle names, so they could have pleased everyone at once! Didn't need it when Henry was born...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Of course nothing is simple. Roberta, my middle name is Ann, too. My first name is Harriet. A completely perfect name now, Harriet, and I wish I had kept it.  But when you are 8 and all the cool girls are Debbie and Linda, you do NOT want to be geeky-already without-the-baggage-of-a-terrible-name Harriet. 

So I went by Ann. Or, when I realized about Princess Anne, Anne. OR when I was cool at 16, An. Yes, like the article. It was SO sad.

My parents last name was Landman, so to make things even more terrible,  Ann Landman sounded way too much like--right. Ann Landers. Ha ha ha. Gah.  So when they gave me Hank in college, whoever did, that stuck. 

But I know a good name when I hear one, so I named my characters the names I wished for myself: Charlotte Jane (McNally) and  Jane Elizabeth (Ryland.)  (Now, thinking about that, those names don't fit me at all. I just wish they did.)


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, I am SO boring. All the DEBORAHs in my generation seemed to have been either Deborah Lynn or Deborah Ann, and I am, you guessed it, a Lynn. In my early teen days, when I hated Debbie with a passion, I wanted to be called Lynn. Fortunately, it never stuck. But I still hate Debbie, so unless you are my aunt, my cousins, or my mother-in-law (who's known me since I was a teen) please don't call me Debbie. (Or cupcakes...) Plus, I was a DD, as in Debbie Darden. Ouch. I named my daughter Katharine Claire, and, so far, at least, she's never complained about either.

Your turn, Readers!  What's your middle moniker?

169 comments:

  1. Names are so interesting!

    My middle name is Florence, after my mother’s best friend. Interestingly enough, I don’t mind my middle name, but Jean [middle name Sally after our grandmother] absolutely hates her middle name.

    When the children were born, I obsessed over names. Lauren Elizabeth likes her name, but Kristen Emilee despises her middle name . . . .

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    1. Oh those are pretty names Joan, I think you did well!

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    2. I think those are very pretty, particularly the spelling of Emilee!

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    3. Thank you, Lucy and Ingrid. :)

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  2. I'm Deborah Margaret. My mom's name was Margaret Mary. I have a niece Margaret and a sister-in-law Margaret (mostly known as Meg or Megan). These days I go by Deb. I really don't like Debbie! But family and people who have known me for a long time tend to call me Debbie. At work half the people called me Deb and half called me Deborah.

    When I was born, Deborah was not all that common. About a year later, there was an explosion of Deborahs and Debras. When I was about thirteen we lived in an apartment next door to a blended family in which each spouse had a daughter named Debbie. The walls were thin. I felt like my name reverberated in my head! There were two other Debbies in nearby apartments. I pretty much stopped replying when someone called out "Debbie" because chances were I wasn't the "Debbie" the person wanted!

    DebRo

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    1. That's a funny story DebRo, which is your nickname here and we love it!

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    2. DebRo, I'll bet you hate it, too, when people spell your name with the "ra." :-)

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  3. Marilyn, which was my mother's first name. But when she was mad at me, she didn't say Edith Marilyn - instead she'd call me Editha, which I HATED. I'm still waiting for Edith to make a comeback in baby names. ;^)

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    1. Editha? wow, she was really mad!! I think you and I can wait a long time for our names to come back E:)

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    2. You never know! Just check out Wren's classmates!

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  4. My middle name is Lucy, after St. Lucia, the patron saint of eyes. There's a congenital eye defect in my family, so when my mother was PG with me, she did a nine day novena to St. Lucia (prayers, lighting candles, etc.) for the baby to be born with good eyes. (I was.) I am not thrilled about the name, but the backstory is pretty good.

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    1. Oh come on Ramona, it's a wonderful name! I took that name as a pen name when asked by the publisher--Lucille was my grandmother's name so it's to honor her.

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    2. I love the name Lucy! It is one of my very favorites .

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    3. What a great story, Ramona!

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    4. I love Lucy, too! It's one of my very favorites. I wonder if that goes back to the C.S. Lewis Narnia books...

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    5. I wanted to name a daughter Lucy, but I couldn't get Ross to agree. I probably would have gone with Lucia, since we have a Roman or Romanized names thing going for the women of this family: Julia, Victoria, Virginia. Lucia would have been perfect!

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    6. I named my daughter Lucy after Lucy Pevensie in the Narnia books.

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  5. I think my very long morning ramble fell into the spam folder.

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  6. Never mind. I clicked on sign out and nuked the whole thing. So here goes again:

    My middle name is Marie, thus giving me, Ann Marie, both the universal middle names.
    With a maiden name like Eberwein, my mother wanted to keep it simple, pronounceable, and easy to spell except for that pesky E that shows up on the end of Ann now and then.

    My children's middle names are Frederick, Bess, Sherwood, and Stuart. My one and only granddaughter is Sarah Ann, named for me and for my grandmother, nice name I think.

    I was Ann through high school, became Ann Marie in college as there was a surfeit of Anns in my dorm and for the last several decades, everyone calls me Nurse. No kidding.

    My mother was Esther Varina rhymes with Purina. She hated it.

    My German father called me Snicklefritz, or Fritzi. He was called Fritz until WW2, when that name wasn't so popular.

    If I had a baby to name today, I would choose Rose or Malcolm. Or maybe Malcolm Rose, gender neutral doncha know

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    1. Ok Ann, from here on in, you're Snicklefritz!!

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    2. I walked into that didn't I

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    3. My German grandpa called me Snicklefritz, too, Ann!

      Aw, now I'm all misty-eyed, remembering him.

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    4. Snicklefritz is such a sweet term of endearment! I think my husband is in trouble!

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    5. Snicklefritz! My mother's family used that - her dad was of German descent.

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    6. It’s for a rambunctious child. Google says it’s Pennsylvania Dutch in origin but my father was neither Dutch nor Pennsylvanian!

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    7. My Mom called me a snicklefritz when she was laughing and I was wrong.

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  7. My middle name is Marie, which is okay I suppose but my mother would often call me Judi Ann, which I really liked. BTW, I changed the spelling of my name when I was in seventh grade and most people accepted that.
    When I was teaching I worked with small groups of kids and I often played a game with them where I would try to guess their middle names. more often than not I would be right but I'm not sure what that proves. It is fun now at the vet's or dentist or anywhere else where you see a diploma or license on the wall. I always try to guess what that middle initial stands for.

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  8. My middle name is Lincoln, which is a family name. In school, I hated it. When the kids found out about it, they used to call me Abe, and I wished my middle name was Ann or Marie or even Lee, like all the other girls. (Of course, Marie wouldn't have worked with Mary!) My confirmation name was Christine and I used that for a while. When I was very little, my (slightly older) cousins used to sing me a jump rope rhyme:

    Mary Lincoln
    I've been thinkin'
    What the devil have you been drinking?
    Was it water or was it wine?
    Oh my gosh, it's turpentine!

    To this day, they still call me Mary Lincoln. I've grown to appreciate it a little more over the years.

    My daughter's middle name is Margaret, which is a family name on both sides. (As is Mary.) When I was pregnant with my son, I really wanted the name Caleb for a boy, but his dad didn't like it, and my begging and pleading got me nowhere. One day, I said, "How about Caleb Alexander?" And my ex said yes. Either he really liked the first/middle name combination or he was sick of hearing me wheedle and whine about it!

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    1. Lincoln is a fabulous time! Very cool. But nobody wants to be in a rhyme…

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    2. I think Lincoln is very cool, and the rhyme is pretty clever. Interesting how the combination of two names made Caleb sound more appealing...

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    3. My maiden name is Lincoln, so I got the same rhyme (only with "hell" instead of "devil"). I also got called Lincoln Logs a lot. My first name is Roberta, and I think I've only known three others named Roberta in my life. My middle name is Carol, after my Dad, who hated his name and legally changed it to Carl.

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    4. I've never met any Robertas, and now I know two! I'm assuming you didn't change your middle name to "Carl"? ;)

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  9. What fun! MaryC, I love that you have your very own jump rope rhyme! And Hank, in the movie 'Father Goose' one of the schoolgirls is a Harriet, who insists on going by Harry. I also have a friend who is a Deborah, Deb or Debs allowed by family or close friends, but never ever Debbie.

    I was a six-month preemie way back when--and my parents aren't sure who actually named me--Dad always said Mom did, and Mom insisted Dad did--so I don't know who came up with 'Jean', which I purely hate for myself. I suspect it's because a cousin who came along a couple of months later had the same middle name--we hated each other on sight as children and share nothing in common to this day except for that middle name. I tolerate 'Flora Jean' from (older) family members--but please, on penalty of death, do not call me 'Flo.' ;-)

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    1. And you are so lucky to have Flora!

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    2. Thanks, Hank--I've grown into it--when I was younger it seemed more suitable for a fragile, girly-girl--which I never was. In my profession, one of my areas of expertise is the analysis of animal bones (fauna)--I used to get a lot of comments when people heard my name was 'Flora', as in I should've been the ebot person (ethnobotanist--archaeological humor :-)).

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    3. My aunt was named Flora; it's a lovely name that you don't hear that often.

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    4. Yes, I love Flora, too. So pretty.

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  10. We use family surnames as middle names.
    When we lived in Georgia, I knew women with "double barreled" first names: Mary Stuart, Ann Turner, Mary Rawlings. And many boys who used their middle names leading to confusion at graduation when "Ted" becoming "Jonathan Edward."

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    1. Some of my family in Montana have double barreled names, Margaret. Maybe it was a southern/western thing?

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  11. My middle name is Ann and my initials were DAF. As in Daffy. Yup. I added Patricia at Confirmation in honor of an aunt.

    My girls are Elizabeth Byrne (family name), Meghan Rachel, Amy Rebecca, and Eleanor Casey Sarah.

    Casey is s family name and Sarah is he name Amy told to her second grade teacher when Ellie was born!

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    1. Those are lovely names, and I didn't realize you had four girls!

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    2. Maybe in Texas, too. My mom was always "Mary Lillian" to everyone in her family.

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    3. Denise, the new Duchess of Sussex's name is almost like your daughter's. Her name is Rachel Meghan, though she goes by Meghan.

      Diana

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  12. Middle names are fun. They can honor a family member without having to call the child that name, unless the family is like our friends', who used the middle names of both their sons, for some reason.

    My parents had zilch imagination when it came to naming us. My middle name is Louise, which was my aunt/godmother's middle name. My sister is named completely after the same aunt, Barbara Louise. This always led to arguments, because she insisted that Aunt Bobbie was her godmother, not mine. (It did seem to make more sense.) I wanted the name Rose Marie for Confirmation, but the bishop apparently had no patience for little girls hogging two Confirmation names, and he changed it to Rosemary. I've ignored that unilateral action for fifty-five years, by the way.

    The first of my younger brothers was named Ralph Allen, after our dad. He got to name our second brother, and he picked Ronnie, after his little neighbor pal, and Allen, after himself. So in four kids, we only got two middle names.

    One of my aunts called me Lucy, or Karen Lucy, which I secretly wished was my actual name. Ramona, what a great story.

    Speaking of hated middle names, my oldest daughter has always hated the name Bernadette. But that was a friend's Confirmation name, and also "Song of Bernadette" was big in the theaters before my daughter was born.

    The middle daughter, who very nearly became Charlotte Trillium until I came to my senses, adores her actual name, Robin Charlotte. In all her years of school she was the only Robin in the building, and whenever they played she was always "Charlotte".
    Charlotte, or Lottie, was my great grandmother's name, a woman we always called Little Grandma because she was tiny, very petite and slender, probably close to 90 pounds. Our Robin is also petite and wiry, thanks to her extremely active lifestyle.

    The French meaning of Charlotte? Little woman.

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    1. Your brother got to name your other brother, Karen? Your parents were very trusting!

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    2. Yes, and when I was pregnant with my third child, Robin, who was two at the time, told everyone, repeatedly, we were having a "baby named Howwy' (Holly)

      Luckily, we had a girl. Who loves having the name her sister chose.

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    3. We asked our kid what we should name Youngest when I was pregnant with her. The Boy was 7 and Smithie was 8. I forgot what she suggested, but The Boy's choice has gone down in family legend: he wanted the baby to be named Rocket Girl.

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    4. That's fantastic, Julia, but a lot to live up to!

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    5. How does the almost-Rocket Girl feel about you nixing that name?

      Love this story.

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    6. I was allowed to name my youngest sister, and I picked Wendy, after Wendy from Peter Pan. It had been on TV a few weeks before she was born. She didn't like her name, and I told her she was lucky I hadn't just seen Rapunzel. (My parents actually told me to choose either Wendy or Denise.)

      DebRo

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  13. By name, I go by PK. It fits me. It's easy to sign a signature. Although I've heard ever letter combination ... AJ, PJ, KP, etc. I usually don't correct people.

    I'm a Patricia. I only use it for legal things or if I'm in trouble. It was a very popular name in the 60s I hear. My grandmother on my mom's side was a Katherine, called Katie. My mom is a Katherine, called Kit by her family and Kathi by my dad. She prefers Kathi (spelled with an I). I'm Kay. Patricia Katherine Aslakson was just too much of a mouthful. Up until I was 19, I was called Patti (shudder). (also spelled with an I) Then PK happened. Thank God.

    I once worked at a place with four of us named Patricia but we all in normal life were called by different forms: Pat, Trish, Patsy, and PK.

    I've always liked my mom's middle name: Ione. I didn't have kids so I didn't pass anything along. I'd like to think I'd have done Kit. I like that one, too. Male or female.

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    1. Four Patricias in one office?! Good thing you were all creative with your nicknames!

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  14. My first name was picked by my sisters and I have always hated it. My middle name is Jean. I initially thought I was named after my cousins husband Gene but found out that I was named after the nun who assisted in my delivery. I tried to get my family to call me Mary Jean but they never did except when Mom was mad.

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    1. Another person named by their siblings! I've never heard of that before!

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    2. Story in my family is that my sister loooooved a character on a soap opera named Patti. My parents listened to a 4-year old. :)

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  15. No middle name here. The story goes that my parents were so convinced I (their first) was going to be a boy that they didn't even choose a girl's name and, when presented with me, could only come up with a first name. Since they later named my younger sister after both grandmothers, I've often wondered about the validity of this story! And apparently nuns didn't believe that an Irish Catholic family would neglect to give a child a middle name -- I can't count the number of times that I had to assure my teachers that I hadn't left the middle initial line blank by accident.

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    1. I'm the fourth girl, and my parents had long given up on boys names!

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  16. Roberta, I relate on the simple middle name. I'm Brenda Mary. What I like the most is with an alliterative last name, I have what I think of as a nice set of initials - BMB. Can't use the first two initials with the last name though . . .

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    1. Brenda Buchanan has a nice, strong ring to it!

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  17. I was born in 1963. There were LOTS of Cathys in my age group, possibly because of the Patty Duke show. My middle name is Meleah and I have always hated it. No one knew how to pronounce or spell it; this was decades before Malia Obama. The weird part is where it came from. A friend of my mom's (whose name I never learned) read the name Cathy Meleah in a book and loved it so much she said if she ever had a daughter she would name her that. She and her husband never had children so somehow I ended up with the name.

    Then, when I was just starting high school, came Star Wars and it was enough like Leia that people finally started pronouncing it correctly. It didn't stick because by then my high school nick name was Ellery, after Ellery Queen whom I loved. I wish that one had lasted.

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    1. I think you should bring Ellery back!

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    2. Me, too, Ingrid! It returned in grad school when I was writing my thesis on Ellery Queen but disappeared again. If I ever need a pen name I definitely going to work it in.

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    3. My vet has a baby girl named Ellery.

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    4. Ann: Excellent! She's a lucky girl.

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  18. My middle name is Ruth. Was it Jenn who mentioned that her children have four names? Your children are in good company. In the British Royal family, children often have four names, Sometimes three or two names.

    Ingrid, you are in good company. Caroline Kennedy's middle name is her mother Jacqueline's maiden name. I know several American families who give the maiden name of the mother to their children as a middle name. Sometimes it is a maiden name from several generations back.

    Rhys, do you remember your French great grandmother Josephine? I thought of Empress Josephine and Jo from the Little Women.

    Jenn, I remember several people named Jennifer Marie. However, I knew one Jennifer whose middle name is Sunshine. Yes, her parents were hippies. Speaking of names, I noticed that several Mary Margaret or Mary Catherine or Mary Elizabeth or Sarah Margaret names.

    Deborah, I think of the wise judge Deborah from the Bible.

    Roberta, were you called Bobbi or Bobbie? I wondered. Ann is easy to pronounce.

    Hallie, I love your name because it is easy to pronounce. Is Hallie a nickname for Hayley or Haley? I also think of the actress Halle Berry, except her name does not have an i.

    Julia, was it hard to pronounce Julia Jeanne?

    Hank, you mentioned your name was Harriet. Did anyone misspell your name and say Henrietta instead of Harriet? My father once called someone Henrietta and later I found out that person's name was Harriet. I wonder if they sound alike?

    Diana

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    1. Diana, my sisters all have middle names that are the maiden names of my mom and two grandmothers. My parents had run out of maiden names by the time they got to me!

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    2. Jennifer Sunshine? I want that name :)

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    3. Jenn, the Jennifer Sunshine I knew was embarrassed by her middle name LOL. A relative was born Jennifer and she decided to change her name to Juniper. Jennifer is a variation of Guinevere, who was Queen Consort to King Arthur (of the Round Table).

      Diana

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    4. Jenn, you could be Juniper Sunshine. The Hooligans wouldn't be embarrassed at all!

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. Apologies. My computer was acting up and published the same comment twice! I deleted the comment because it was a repeat!

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  21. Apologies. My computer was acting up and published the same comment twice! I deleted the comment because it was a repeat!

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  22. When my mother was pregnant with me, before the days of sonograms, my parents picked a boy name and a girl name. If I had been a boy, I would have been the simple, lovely James Martin Sherrell, after both my grandfathers.

    But the girl name . . . well, as my mother told it, every name she came up with drew an "I used to have a girlfriend named that," from my father. They had already named my older sister after my mom, so they decided to name me after my dad. My middle name is Jean but my first name is an un-pronouncable mess invented by my hillbilly grandmother. My father doesn't use it either.

    My mom figured she could call her girls Jan and Jean, but my hillbilly grandmother started calling me Gigi about the time I came home from the hospital, and that was pretty much it. I didn't even learn what my real name was until I was four, never used it, and I made Gigi official as soon as I turned 21. When I got married, my maiden name became my middle name, so now my full legal name is Gigi Sherrell Norwood, although there are days when I'm tempted to renounce the Sherrell part, too.

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  23. I love Gigi, Gigi! It's unique without being bizarre. Your mom must have been thrilled to hear about all the girlfriends...;)

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  24. I love all the pretty girl names that are coming back in fashion. In my daughter's friends' circle and in Wren's school, there are Victoria, Vivian, Lillian (which I suggested for Wren, as it was my grandmother's first name and my mom's middle name), Mary (my mom's name,) Olive, and Georgia. And there's Roberta's adorable little granddaughter, Dorothy, which is my sister-in-law's name.

    Hallie, I love your daughter's names. And, Rhys, how awful if you had gone by Elizabeth!!! Elizabeth Bowen just does not have the same ring!

    So far, I haven't seen any Deborahs in the new crop of babies. Hopefully it will come back into fashion one of these days.

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    1. I love Wren's name, and I love the image of a group of little ones named Victoria, Vivian, Lillian, Olive, Mary and Georgia. Do they play bridge?

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    2. We know two Wrens. One of them is a Juniper Wren, and our just-turned-one neighbor child is also Juniper.

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    3. I loved that Deb dedicated her last book to Wren. And also that Wren was a character in another one.

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  25. My middle name is Nancy. Many think my middle name is Lee, as in Cora Lee, nope. Many years ago, I discovered that Nancy was a euphemism for a prostitute. This put a whole new take on my name.

    My daughter hates her last name, so she goes by Amy Rose. My other daughter has the family name, Deborah. She is named for my sister, Susan Deborah I reversed the name to Deborah Susan. Both are named for Deborah Wing, the founder of Sandwich MA. who started the Wing Family in America.

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    1. I didn't know that about Sandwich, Coralee!

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  26. I was named after on of my Mom's friend's daughter, Celia, because she really liked the name. She went out on a limb with Celia, considering my two older sisters are Cathy and Carol. She kept my middle name simple: Ann. When I got married, I started using my maiden name as my middle name: Warren, in honor of my Dad who is the last in his line (I am one of 5 girls, no boys). I still have a friend who calls me Celia Annie, which I like ~

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    1. My mom chose to use her maiden name once she was married, but her middle name "Ann" has lived on in the next generation, as has her maiden name.

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  27. I just had to look up what's trending now (Librarian!) and it hasn't changed much.
    This is for 2010-2015.

    Top 10 girls' middle names:

    1. Marie (82)
    2. Grace (71)
    3. Rose (53)
    4. Ann (51)
    5. Elizabeth (36)
    6. Faith (32)
    7. Mae (32)
    8. Lynn (27)
    9. Renee (19)
    10. Jane (16)

    Top 10 boys' middle names:

    1. James (95)
    2. Lee (53)
    3. Michael (52)
    4. Joseph (36)
    5. Alexander (27)
    6. David (27)
    7. William (26)
    8. Andrew (24)
    9. Matthew (22)
    10. Robert (22)

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    1. None of them last names, of course. As I said in my comment way down there at the bottom, mother's maiden name was common when I was born in the Forties.

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  28. My whole name is Sara Margaret, but I've been called Margie ever since birth (it was alliterative with my maiden name, Magrath). But through my school years, I HATED going by my middle name because teachers would always called me Sara before they knew I didn't use it. And back then, Sara was hopelessly old-fashioned. My father should have known better--he went by his middle name as well. Toward the end of his life, he gave up and let his doctors call him Charles instead of David (Dave). Sara Margaret was actually my aunt's name, although she was called Sara or Sally, and I think there was another Sara Margaret further back in the family. My aunt called her older daughter Dorothy Ellen, after her sister (my mother) and their mother.

    When it came to naming our sons, my husband wanted all of their names to be unique to the family--no naming after anyone else. However, they did end up with middle names that started with the letter "A". Not sure whether that had anything to do with my husband, Michael Austin. They are Nicholas Andrew and Zachary Adam, which we thought had a nice flow. You have to be careful with middle names--sometimes they don't sound good with first names because of a last letter/first letter clash or the number or emphasis of the syllables (or is that just me?).

    Fast forward to the next generation--our grandchildren (Zach's kids). They named our grandson (currently almost 20 months old) Henry Sellers. They tell us there are Henrys on both sides of the family, and Sellers was my father-in-law's middle name. It has no real significance other than the fact that they thought it sounded good with Henry (I think it will look good on business cards). Now they are pregnant with our granddaughter (due in November), and of course, they are thinking about names. Lately, they are talking about "celestial" names (Celeste?). Why? Zach got a fortune cookie that said something like, "Starlight, star bright, you'll get your wish tonight." He swears that was the night that Melany got pregnant, and he'd been hoping for a girl. They are referring to their daughter as "Starlight" right now, although they don't consider that a viable name. Stay tuned . . .

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    1. I like Henry Sellers; all those "e"s look good!

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  29. Oh the trauma and angst of name choosing!
    My parents decided my dad would name any girls and my mom would get any boys.
    My older sister is Katherine Anne (Anne for our maternal grandmother).
    When I was born, prematurely, my Dad was out of town on business. The nuns in the Catholic hospital wanted me named and baptized immediately to save me from Limbo. (We weren't Catholic)
    When they finally managed to get hold of my father, he said to name me after my mother.
    So, I am Martha Elizabeth. My mother went by Martha and I go by Elizabeth.
    Going by your middle name in the computer era is a very poor idea.

    Libby Dodd (Libby came after I went to camp and my nickname Liz was changed into Lizard! No more Liz!)

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    1. Did you have any brothers that your mom got to name, Libby?

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  30. I am one of a bazillion Patricia Anns. It was a popular name in the baby boom. Whenever Mom hollered Patricia Ann I knew I’d better answer. I’ve been Pat, Tricia, Trish, Tersh, Tershes, Trishtrash, and Red in my family. Miss Pat to my dear father-in-law. And Pat to everyone else. If you dare call me Patty or Patsy you will get the stinkeye. I never considered going by Ann. By itself it is totally foreign to me. Mom was named Alice Anna after her grandmothers. My mother-in-law was Fanny Lee after her grandmothers. Both hated their names. Mom stuck to Alice. MIL was called Seewee as her brother couldn’t say Fanny Lee. And she legally changed her name to Seewee. My big brother was named Paul Donald after someone’s cousin Paul. He’s always been Donald or Don. Paul is only on legal documents. The others are Annette Sue, Janice Lynn, and Brian Scott. Nette and Jan hated their middle names. Brian ignores his. Donald claims he came up with the name Annette. We all question that. Oh gosh. I left out Dad. He was Homer Bengt Erickson. Horrible name. His dad was Swedish so Bengt came from there. Don’t know about Homer. Needless to say he was Eric to all his adult friends.

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    1. Wow! You don't meet a lot of Homers these days. And Seewee?! I wonder how often she was called Seaweed?

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  31. I have no middle name. Story goes my mother wanted me to have her maiden name as my middle name. My father basically said no way are you saddling that baby with that name. My mom said "It's Rittenhouse or nothing!" So I'm just plain Pamela McClure. Pamela was the "mom is mad" name as I was Pami then Pam.

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    1. Rittenhouse is a great name! Too bad your dad prevailed on that one!

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  32. My mom babysat a little girl named Karen Leigh. She loved the middle name and named me Rachel Leigh. I liked it because it was different than all the Lee and Lea names. I call myself Raeleigh when I do something notso bright! When I married, I dropped the Leigh and kept my maiden name as my middle.

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    1. Oh...and in continuing the trend the girl that babysat me gave her daughter the middle name Leigh, too!

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    2. I wonder if that Leigh kept the tradition going...?

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  33. With a family name like Maslowski, my in-laws decided none of their three sons needed middle names. Which means their default middle name on official documents is either "none" or "NMI", for "no middle name".

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    1. I wonder how the practice of giving middle names got started? Jenn? Jenn?

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  34. My middle name is Marteal which was also my mother's middle name for my facebook name I use my maiden name for the middle so it's easy to locate and connect with old friends who grew up with

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  35. My middle name is Lu. I'm the youngest of six kids with all my siblings being named after family members so overall, their names are quite long. My mom wanted the shortest possible first/middle names for me. A-M-Y L-U - five letters; that's it! :-)


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    1. "Amy lu" sounds so cute, like it could never be yelled in frustration!

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  36. Trying to comment... Blogger keeps BLOcking me...
    Thanks, Diana! Hallie is not a nickname. And when I was growing up there were no HALLIEs but ME. Now it's become popular. Anyhow true, Debs, now I'm glad I'm not Elizabeth. **almost** like Cher, easy to find from my first name alone.

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    1. Hallie is a great name, and it seems like it's less common than Haley.

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    2. Hallie is a great name and easier to pronounce than some names.

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  37. My middle name was picked by my mother it's Marliss I don't know the origin of it or why she chose it but it's definately not a common one.

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    1. Isn't it nice having an unusual name? That would be a pretty first name, too.

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  38. My daughter is named Elizabeth Rae after my favorite childhood protagonist Elizabeth Warrington Ray from the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I picked the name out when I was in fifth grade and fortunately my husband went along with it all those many years later. My daughter hated the Rae as a kid. Mine is Beth a shorten version of my mom's middle name Elizabeth.

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    1. I love that you picked it in fifth grade, Sherry. Your taste didn't waver over time apparently!

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  39. My middle name is also Elizabeth. In honor of my dad's mom, Betty. Her given name was Betty, not Elizabeth, but since Betty is a common nickname for Elizabeth (and thankfully my parents decided "Mary Betty" didn't sound great), I'm Mary Elizabeth. I like it...so much so that it became the source of my pen name (the "Milliron" is the maiden name of the same grandmother - and that's "mill-iron," two words).

    And yes, my mother did the "Mary Elizabeth" and that's when I knew I was in trouble. And why when my dad's brother and wife insisted on calling me "Mary Elizabeth" all the time (because that's what's on my birth certificate) it always felt like I was in trouble.

    The Girl's middle name is Patricia, from The Hubby's mom. The Boy's is Boyne, which was The Hubby's paternal grandmother's maiden name (yes, the river in Ireland) and his father's middle name.

    And yes, I tried out the full name for both kids to make sure it sounded right - and it would be appropriately threatening when they were in trouble. =)

    Mary/Liz

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    1. You and Jenn! Great minds think alike!

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  40. My middle name is Kay, which I always found rather boring. But my (much) older sister's middle name is Sue, and she has always resented them recycling her middle name to my first name. Says when I came along they forgot they had her. (My mother's story is that they wanted to name her Susan, but our oldest brother insisted no matter what they named the baby he was going to call her Patty, so they finally caved and named her Patricia Sue.)

    My son's name is Samuel Emerson Beasley, which we chose because I didn't take Bob's last name, so that way Sam had both of our surnames. We were pleasantly surprised by all the positive comments we got on the name. One friend said it sounded like we were planning on him being President one day.

    My mother's name was Anna Mae and she HATED it - felt it was way too Southern. Then one day later in her life, she told me this story about how her mom and an aunt were both pregnant at the same time, and both were planning to name their babies Anna Marie. The aunt talked her mom into going with Anna Mae, then she ultimately didn't use Anna Marie, either, which ticked off my grandmother to no end and left my mother feeling cheated. I wondered if this was what started her on the path of hating her name.

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    1. Samuel Emerson Beasley is a great name! Very dignified sounding!

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  41. I am JWZ. Few people know what the W stands for. I like to treat it as Rumpelstiltskin treated his name. You’ve Got to guess it. Like Ingrid, I have a family surname for my middle name. Normally I wouldn’t reveal it, but since this is fun, here it is: Wham. Pronounced Whaam. It’s Scottish. My mother’s maiden name.

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    1. Really, James? Wham? Like...the pop group with George Michael?

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    2. I love that, James! And I'm sure the "Z" was annoying as a child (last in roll call), but I think it's pretty cool.

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    3. Yes, Julia. My grandmother spent her whole married life correcting people’s pronunciation. Whaam. ;-)

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    4. Ingrid, the Z is STILL annoying. My books are always on the bottom shelf in stores. :-(

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    5. James, was your mom Scottish? Only Scottish name I can think of at the moment is Wallace, as in William Wallace. I saw his statute at Edinburgh Castle.

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    6. Oh Jim! Wham was at least my third guess, right after walrus and watermelon!

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  42. I received my middle name "Hunter" from my father. Evidently when he was very young (6 weeks old I believe--that was 1917) his father took him out hunting and the name "Hunter" was added to his and then passed down to me. It's sad I didn't pass it down.

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    1. I went to grade school with a boy whose first name was Hunter. There was a time when it was very popular, but I can't think of many young Hunters. I like it as a middle name, too.

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  43. My middle name is Elnora after my paternal grandmother. Her sisters were Elmira, Elvida, and Elclara. I’ve never known why. I’ve only seen Elnora twice outside the family....once in a mystery novel, and I met a lovely Creole lady in Louisiana with that name. She’d never met another Elnora either.... My Texan grandparents didn’t like the name and since, like all good Southerners, I had to have a double name, I became known in the family as Mary Ellie, which I despised. There are still a few cousins that use the moniker, but they’re quickly corrected these days. Family names abound in my family, and I would have continued the tradition if I’d had children. My husband’s family tradition is that the first son is given his father’s first name as a middle name. My father in law was William, so husband is Stanley William. I have wracked my brain for years to come up with a name that works with Stanley as a middle name and Smith as a surname. Let me know if you can come up with one! I also dropped the middle name after marriage and use a double last name instead. When you go from an unusual name like Ivory to Smith....

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    1. If your paternal grandmother was southern, that might explain the "novelty" names (I've never seen Elclara before as well.) White southerners have a long history of recombining and/or feminizing names and in so doing, coming up with unique nomenclature. I suspect it's borrowed from African-American traditions, rooted in slavery, where children would be given names that combined or called back to both parents as a way of retaining their family history and connections.

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    2. I've never heard Elclara, either. What an unusual name! I didn't realize that about white southerners, Julia. Thanks for the info!

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  44. My hubby is Dutch- and it’s common there to have multiple middle names (he has 2 my Father in law has 3.) my 3 boys each got a family middle name and part of my husbands name for middle names.

    - Curtis Reinier Johannes
    - Conner Jared Cornelis
    - Caleb Charles Jonathan

    And my baby daughter got a combo of her f
    Grandma’s name KARen and janICE and her great grandma
    - Mollie Karice Ruth (Karice also means God’s grace)

    I’m betting they’ll be pretty unique at school ��

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    1. Those are all beautiful names, and I love Karice! What a great way to honor the women who came before.

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    2. Wow, I’ve three grandsons named Cooper, Connor , and Caleb

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  45. My given middle name is Ellen, which was a compromise of my mother's middle name, Ellene, and my paternal grandmother's name, Ella . My first name is my maternal grandmother's 2nd middle name. So I was born Jane Ellen Thomas, and I liked my name and my initials. JET. When I got married, I took my maiden name as my legal middle name, as a tribute to my father, to keep my connection to him, because he had passed away less than 2 years before. So I use Jane T. Scheffres or Jane Thomas Scheffres, but used to sign my office notes as "Jets"...to keep all four initials and confuse people who thought I was a sports fan. ( not). I've always been happy with "Jane Ellen", and grateful that I was not named "Gretchen". My mother told me once that my father wanted to name me that. He'd heard the name somewhere and liked it. I've only known one Gretchen, and she was a grouchy person.

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    1. Funny aside, Ingrid Willis and I have compared notes that when people forget our first name, they call us "Gretchen." We decided it has something to do with sounding Scandinavian and the hard "G" sound. But it's weird! I thought I was the only one until we conferred at Bouchercon!

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    2. Ingrid, I think of the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman. I had a friend in high school named Ingrid, though she was an African American!

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  46. The family story about the origin of my name explains my parent's marriage in a nutshell. According to my mother, I (Helen Lorraine) was named after two of her best friends and bridge partners, Helen and Laurie (Lorraine) and her intent was to call me Laurie. According to my father and his mother, I was named after my father's baby sister Helen Lorraine who died at 5 years old. She apparently went by the name Lorraine, as the inscription on her gravestone is H. Lorraine. My mother's plan to call me Laurie was sabotaged when she had to go back into the hospital right after I was born and my grandmother came to help my father take care of me and my older sisters. By the time my mother came back home, everyone was calling me Helen and she had been quietly defeated!

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    1. Oohh. I don't know about that M-I-L, Laurie! ;)

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  47. My parents made every effort to appease the mother-in-laws. My sister was Jeane (maternal M-I-L) Lamont (father's middle name). I am Lyda (paternal M-I-L) Louise (mother's middle name). Unfortunately... my father's mother was Elisabeth. Lyda was her nickname, which she disliked. To make matters worse, in order to make the distinction between the two Lydas, my grandmother was referred to as Big Lyda in all family communication. Most people misread my name and I get a lot of Lydia or Lynda. I answer to anything that begins with an "L".

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    1. I wouldn't want to be referred to as "Big" anyone, Lyda! How did your grandmother feel about that?

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    2. She finally required that her grandchildren refer to her as Nana Lyda, her sons were requested to address her as Mama. Unfortunately it was the two daughters-in-law who continued the practice, in part because she would not allow them to call her Mama or Mother. Don't you just love family dynamics?

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  48. I was one of the Sues of the late 40s/early 50s. In middle school, there were six girls (small school!) and three of us were Sue. Middle name is Dwight, so that really wasn't an option.

    Our daughters both have two middle names, which is unfortunate for them in terms of filling out forms, but it means my family name was preserved somewhere!

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    1. Preserving the family name is important. I hope someone in the next generation will pass on Porter since I don't have kids!

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  49. Suellen Jill. The story about Suellen is that I was named after Sue Ellen in Gone With The Wind but my mother wanted to confuse everybody with an unusual spelling. Haven't a clue where the Jill came from but I like it, and I might even use Jill Gray (mother's maiden name) as my pen name if I ever get published.

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    1. You'll get published, Suellen!

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    2. Suellen, Jill Gray is a great pen name!

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    3. Gosh, another Gone With the Wind baby! Melanie here - like the name, never liked the character! Could have been worse, though! My mother always used to say if she knew I'd have my bright red hair, she would have named me Scarlett! AAAgh!But with my middle name, she continued her middle name and her mother's: Elaine. Which presented some spelling difficulties for my mildly dyslectic self: Melanie Elaine. Not a bad name though, I'm used to it.

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  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  51. My middle name is Ellen... Maureen Ellen. My mom was Marjorie Ellen. Back on my maternal side they seemed to choose unusual names...my grandmother was Juanita NMI Hobbs AND her mother was Monterey Sullivan. We have NO Spanish blood on any sides of the family and I have no idea where the names came from...my grandmother went by Nita as long as I knew her. I was named after Maureen O'Hara and I have always liked my name. ��

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    1. Monterey is very unusual, and Nita reminds me of my character, Fina, so of course I like it. ;)

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    2. Perhaps someone in the family was born in Monterey?

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    3. Or the parents liked the city?

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    4. Both are good possibilities.

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  52. Kathleen Louise. The only person I've ever been called Kathleen by was the lady who was like my grandmother (all my grandparents were dead when I was born). I was named for the song "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," but there is no Irish in our family. When I was a kid, my sisters called me Kathy Lou, which I am quite sentimental about now because nobody ever calls me that these days. Kathy Lou conjures up a happy little girl in pigtails, and I like that.

    Naming my two children was hard. I don't really know why it was so hard. I had plenty of time to prepare for it, but I didn't feel at all prepared when they arrived. My daughter's name is Ashley Marie. We both liked the name Ashley, and at that point in 1983, we only knew of one other Ashley. Boy, did the floodgates open up on that name in the 80s, and every other girl seemed to be named Ashley. Marie was for the lady who was like my grandmother, and I thought it went well with Ashley. Our son Kevin was much harder. My husband and I had an awful time agreeing on a boy's name, and finally we agreed that Kevin didn't have any negative connotations for either of us. Then, his middle name, we went with Van, after my husband's father. After we got home with Kevin, I had regrets that I hadn't included my own father's name somehow, so we actually went through the courts and did a name change, giving him his final name of Kevin Van Huddleston Reel. He actually likes having the four names.

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    1. Kevin Van Huddleston Reel sounds like a movie star to me, Kathy!

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    2. You gave me a big smile, Ingrid. Thanks.

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  53. Carrie Rene. Yes, I have always used my middle name in things because it is spelled differently yet sounds the same. So it makes me unique. When I first started going online I used to go by C. Rene because I liked my middle name a lot more. I have always liked middle names more. Both of my daughters have classic names and I made sure their middle names matched their first names - Annabelle Virginia and Caroline Kay.

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    1. Your daughters' names are lovey and very classic. I can't imagine Annabelle or Caroline have messy rooms, although I imagine they did at some point!

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  54. I was named Sally after my mother's aunt, although my dad had relatives named Sarah called Sally. My middle name is Ann which is OK except for the song "Little Sally Ann Sitting in the Sand". I hate that song, rather hear "Got a Mule Her Name is Sal". My brother was named after our grandfathers, Robert and Thomas but Robert's last name was Thomas so he got double billing.

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  55. I'm late here as usual (being on the west coast does that). My middle name is my mother's maiden name, which I think of as being fairly common. My older brother's middle name is my grandmother's maiden name.

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  56. I'm Denise Marie -- the Denise was after a nun (my mother went to Catholic boarding school 8th - 10th grades). Her name was Sister Denis Anne.

    My brothers and sisters:

    Theresa Bernadette
    Kevin James
    Kelly Anne (mother's maiden name was Kelly)
    James Foster (grandfather was Foster William)
    Regina Maureen (grandmother was Regina Maria Margareta)

    We all have solid Catholic names.

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  57. My middle name is Lee (Michelle Lee), same as my mother's (she's Sharon Lee). My dad's name is Robert and his middle name is Eugene. My mother wanted to name me Rebecca Ann.

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  58. My middle name is Eileen. I thought that was a beautiful name so at some point when I was little I told my parents that I wanted to change my name. My father's reply was that I had to go to court and it would cost $1,000. Of course, since my allowance was 10 cents per week (yes, you read that correctly - 1 dime - lol) $1,000 sounded like a trillion to me. So as anticipated, I never asked that question again. Mission accomplished for a great answer by Dad.
    My parents did use my middle name though effectively. If I was called for some purpose (could be dinner, or to come in from outside, etc.) my first name Ferne was used. If I didn't come in a timely manner, then Ferne Eileen was called. I also seemed to know as a child that I should come prior to Ferne Eileen and our last name being called or I'd be in trouble. I usually was already 'front and center' after one of them called Ferne Eileen so I have no clue what kind of trouble it would have been as I don't remember them having to get to the last name. :)

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  59. Hank, the name Harriett makes me think of Harriett the Spy, and would be a great name for an author!

    I love names and the stories behind people's names, so I had a great time going through names and making lists during my pregnancies. Ingrid, I love the idea of using a family surname for a middle name! Sadly, my favorite family name (Picard) didn't really sound right with our girls' first and last names.

    My middle name is also my mom's middle name, which came from her aunt Lorraine. When I was young, I didn't care for the name and wished it was LoriAnn instead, but now I love it! It's very uncommon for my age group, and my great aunt Lorraine is such a cool lady!

    My grandmother's middle name is Evangeline and she's always hated it, though I think it's lovely.

    My girls' middle names are Joann (after my hubby's late mother) and Grace (just because we liked it and it sounded good with her first name.)

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  60. Before they named me, my parents toyed with two other names: Joy and Merrie. Either of those would have been less problematic. After a few awkward encounters in my early adult life, I learned not to introduce myself to a stranger by saying, "Hi, I'm Gay!"

    When my first book was published, I briefly toyed with using my middle name instead. Claire sounded more "literary" to me. But I stuck with Gay. Now, people who search for me on the web can enjoy an unexpected online adventure!

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