How popular is the baby name Dennis in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Dennis and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Dennis.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dennis

Number of Babies Named Dennis

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Dennis

The Trio in Rio – Leila, Liina, Lily

Next Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, 30-year-old identical (and alliterative) triplets Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik of Estonia are expected to run the women’s marathon. This will make the “Trio in Rio,” as they call themselves, the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics.

In comparison, about 200 sets of twins have competed in the Olympics over the years. Here are some of the Olympic twins with similarly alliterative names:

  • Åke & Arne (Sweden) [not technically alliterative; see JJ’s comment]
  • Catarina & Christina (Sweden)
  • Darius & Donatas (Lithuania)
  • Darrin & Dan (USA)
  • Dennis & Duane (USA)
  • Dionísio & Domingos (Portugal)
  • Jean-Jacques & Jean-Marc (France)
  • Jodie & Julie (Canada)
  • Jules & Julian (Belgium)
  • Katalin & Krisztina (Hungary)
  • Katrine & Kristine (Norway)
  • Lívia & Lucia (Slovakia)
  • Madeline & Margaret (Puerto Rico)
  • Marianne & Mildred (Netherlands)
  • Sandy & Sonia (Zimbabwe)
  • Malcolm “Mal” & Melville “Mel” (Jamaica)
  • Mark & Michael (Canada)
  • Maureen & Melanie (Netherlands)
  • McJoe & McWilliams (Puerto Rico)
  • Mikuláš & Miloslav (Slovakia)
  • Pascal & Patrick (France)
  • Paula & Peta (Bermuda)
  • Paulo Miguel & Pedro Miguel (Portugal)
  • Pavol & Peter (Slovakia)
  • Randolph & Robert (USA)
  • Rhoda & Rhona (Canada)
  • Ricardo & Rodrigo (Chile)
  • Sharon & Shirley (Canada)
  • Stanley & Sydney (Great Britain)
  • Tami & Toni (USA)
  • Terry & Tom (USA)
  • Valeriy & Volodymyr (Ukraine)
  • Valj & Vita (Ukraine)
  • Veronika & Viktoriya (Belarus)
  • Vida & Vidette (South Africa)
  • Zlatko & Zoran (Yugoslavia)

You can see a full list of Olympic twins in the OlympStats post Twins at the Olympics.

Have you been tuning in to the Olympics? If so, have you spotted any interesting names so far?

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA

How to Pronounce French Names – Anaïs, Étienne, Guillaume, Hélène

how to pronounce French names like anais, etienne, helene, guillaume

At first glance, Guillaume always looks like gobbledygook to me. It’s the French form of William — that much I know — but it takes a few seconds for me to remember that it’s pronounced ghee-ohm, not not gwill-awm or gwee-awm.

And it’s not just Guillaume that trips me up. I find many other French names (Étienne, Edwige, Anaïs, etc.) equally tricky to pronounce.

So for those of us who struggle with French names, here are some simplified rules of French pronunciation, plus names to illustrate each rule.

This list is far from comprehensive, and my pronunciations are just approximations, but hopefully my fellow non-French speakers out there will find it helpful nonetheless.

Rules of French Pronunciation + French Names

The vowel combination “AU” is pronounced like a long o.

  • Paul, in French, is pronounced pohl.
  • Margaux, a French form of Margaret, is pronounced mar-goh.

The letter combination “CH” is typically pronounced sh.

  • Charles, in French, is pronounced shahrl.

The six consonants “D,” “P,” “S,” “T,” “X” and “Z,” when at the end of a word, are typically silent.

  • Arnaud, the French form of Arnold, is pronounced ar-noh.
  • Denis, the French form of Dennis, is pronounced de-nee (remember the Blondie song?).
  • Lucas, in French, is pronounced loo-kah.
  • Louis, in French, is pronounced loo-ee (think Louis Vuitton).

They’re not always silent, though. Here are some exceptions:

  • Alois, the French form of Aloysius, is pronounced ah-loh-ees.
  • Anaïs, a French form of Anna, is pronounced ah-nah-ees.
  • David, in French, is pronounced dah-veed.

The pronunciation of “Ë” (E with a trema) is like the e in the English word “bet.”

  • Gaël and Gaëlle are pronounced gah-el or gai-el.
  • Joël and Joëlle are pronounced zhoh-el.
  • Maël and Maëlle are pronounced mah-el or mai-el.
  • Noël and Noëlle are pronounced noh-el.

The pronunciation of “É” (E with an acute accent) is somewhere between the ee in “see” and the e in “bet.”

  • Noé, the French masculine form of Noah, is pronounced noh-ee.
  • Salomé, in French, is pronounced sah-loh-mee.

The consonant “G” is soft (zh) when followed by “E” or “I” but hard (gh) otherwise.

  • Georges, the French form of George, is pronounced zhorzh.
  • Guy, in French, is pronounced ghee.

The consonant “H” is silent.

  • Hélène, the French form of Helen, is pronounced eh-lehn.

The vowel “I,” and the forms Ï, and Î, are all pronounced ee.

  • Loïc, a French form of Louis, is pronounced loh-eek.

The consonant “J” is pronounced zh.

  • Jacques, the French form of Jacob, is pronounced zhahk.

The letter combination “LL” is typically pronounced like an l.

  • Achille, the French form of Achilles, is pronounced ah-sheel.
  • Lucille, the French form of Lucilla, is pronounced loo-seel.

But in some cases “LL” is pronounced like a y.

  • Guillaume, the French form of William, is pronounced ghee-yohm or ghee-ohm.

The vowel combination “OI” is pronounced wah.

  • Antoine, the French form of Antony, is pronounced an-twahn.
  • Grégoire, the French form of Gregory, is pronounced gre-gwahr.

The vowel combination “OU” is pronounced oo.

  • Lilou is pronounced lee-loo.

The consonant “R,” when at the end of a word, is typically pronounced.

  • Clair, the French masculine form of Claire, is pronounced kler.
  • Edgar, in French, is pronounced ed-gahr.

When the “R” is preceded by an “E,” though, it is not pronounced.

  • Gauthier, the French form of Walter, is pronounced goh-tee-yay or goh-tyay (remember Gotye?).
  • Olivier, the French form of Oliver, is pronounced oh-lee-vee-yay or oh-lee-vyay (think Laurence Olivier).

The letter combination “TH” is typically pronounced like a t (which makes sense, since “H” is silent).

  • Thibault, the French form of Theobald, is pronounced tee-boh.

The letter combination “TI” is sometimes pronounced like an s or sy.

  • Laëtitia is pronounced lay-tee-sya.

The consonant “W” is pronounced like a v.

  • Edwige, the French form of Hedwig, is pronounced ed-veezh.

And finally, just a few more French names that I tend to have trouble with.

  • Anatole is pronounced ah-nah-tohl.
  • Étienne, the French form of Stephen, is pronounced eh-tyen.
  • Geoffroy, the French form of Geoffrey, is pronounced zho-fwah.
  • Ghislain and Ghislaine are pronounced either ghee-len or zheez-len.
  • Ignace, the French form of Ignatius, is pronounced ee-nyas.


Those aren’t too hard, right?

That’s what I tell myself…and then I come across Guillaume in the wild and my mind goes blank all over again. :)

If you know French and would like to add to the above (either another rule of pronunciation or a more precise pronunciation for a particular name) please leave a comment.

If you’re not a French speaker, here’s my question: Which French name gives you the most trouble?

Sources: Beginning French Pronunciation, French e, è, é, ê, ë – what’s the difference?, Google Translate

P.S. Interested in seeing how popular the French names above are in the U.S.? Here are some popularity graphs: Alois, Achille, Anaïs, Anatole, Antoine, Arnaud, Clair, Denis, Edwige, Étienne, Gaël, Gaëlle, Georges, Grégoire, Guillaume, Guy, Hélène, Ignace, Jacques, Laëtitia, Lilou, Loïc, Lucille, Maël, Maëlle, Margaux, Noé, Olivier, Salomé, Thibault.

Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1867

providence baby names 1867The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.

I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:

  • 1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
  • 1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
  • 254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.

And now, on to the names…

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

Girl Names

Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.

  1. Mary, 138 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 46
  3. Ellen, 37
  4. Margaret, 34
  5. Sarah, 31
  6. Annie, 19
  7. Elizabeth, 16
  8. Alice, 15
  9. Florence, 14
  10. Ann, Emma & Ida, 12 each (3-way tie)
  11. Minnie, 11
  12. Harriet & Julia, 9 each (2-way tie)
  13. Anna, Caroline, Carrie, Jennie, Joanna & Louisa, 8 each (6-way tie)
  14. Cora & Eliza, 7 each (2-way tie)
  15. Agnes, Clara, Edith, Rosanna & Theresa, 6 each (5-way tie)
  16. Bertha, Grace, Hannah, Hattie, Jane, Lillian, Maria, Martha, Nellie & Susan, 5 each (10-way tie)
  17. Eleanor, Fannie, Gertrude, Helen, Isabella, Lucy & Rosa, 4 each (7-way tie)
  18. Anne, Bridget, Ella, Emily, Esther, Eva, Lizzie, Mabel, Matilda & Ruth, 3 each (10-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amelia, Charlotte, Dora, Eleanora, Elvira, Henrietta, Jessie, Josephine, Kate, Louise, Lydia, Maggie & Rosella, 2 each (14-way tie)
  20. Abby, Addie, Adelaide, Adelia, Almina, Almira, Amanda, Amey, Amy, Anastasia, Angelie, Annis, Antoinette, Augusta, Aurelia, Bethiah, Cecelia, Celia, Clarissa, Clementina, Corielynn, Cornelia, Drusilla, Effie, Emeline, Estella, Ethelin, Fanny, Florentina, Frances, Gelie, Genevieve, Georgiana, Georgianna, Helena, Honora, Irene, Isabel, Issie, Juliann, Julietta, Katie, Laura, Leah, Leonora, Lillie, Lillis, Lily, Lottie, Luella, Margaretta, Margery, Margret, Marietta, Maude, May, Millie, Myra, Nelly, Phebe, Robie, Rosalthe, Rose, Selina, Sophia, Susanna, Susannah, Vienna, Viola, Vira, Virginia & Winifred, 1 each (72-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. John, 87 baby boys
  2. William, 75
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 50
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 40
  7. Joseph, 30
  8. Walter, 21
  9. Edward, 16
  10. Francis & Michael, 14 each (2-way tie)
  11. Patrick, 13
  12. Arthur & Robert, 12 each (2-way tie)
  13. Frank, Frederick & Henry, 11 each (3-way tie)
  14. Albert, 9
  15. Daniel & Peter, 8 each (2-way tie)
  16. David, Eugene, Howard & Samuel, 6 each (4-way tie)
  17. Alexander, Louis & Stephen, 5 each (3-way tie)
  18. Harry, Herbert, Hugh & Martin, 4 each (4-way tie)
  19. Carl, Edgar, Everett, Jeremiah & Willie, 3 each (5-way tie)
  20. Abraham, Alfred, Clarence, Cornelius, Dennis, Ernest, Ezra, Franklin, Freddie, Jacob, Jesse, Lewis, Luke, Nicholas, Philip, Sylvester, Theodore, Timothy, 2 each (18-way tie)
  21. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Amos, Andrew, Appleton, Archibald, Ashel, August, Benjamin, Benno, Bernard, Bertram, Burt, Byron, Clifford, Davis, Dexter, Dunlap, Edmund, Edwin, Elmer*, Embert, Forrest, Freddy, Gustav, Herman, Isaac, Jeffrey, Jerome, Josiah, Lucian, Malcolm, Matthew, Maurice, Milton, Nathan, Nehemiah, Nelson, Oren, Oscar, Otto, Owen, Paul, Ralph, Reginald, Richard, Sanford, Seth, Shirley, Sullivan, Terence, Theobald, Victor, Wanton, Warren, Weston, Wheelan, Wilford, 1 each (59-way tie)

*Elmer, who had the middle initial “E.,” was likely named after Civil War casualty Elmer E. Ellsworth.

Twins & Triplets

Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g) Triplets
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah

I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).


Popular Boy Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

How has the ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names changed over time (if at all) among the most popular baby names in the U.S.?

This question popped into my head recently, so I thought I’d take a look at the data. We’ll do boy names today and girl names tomorrow.

First, let’s set some parameters. For these posts, “Biblical” names are personal names (belonging to either humans or archangels) mentioned in the Bible, plus all derivatives of these names, plus any other name with a specifically Biblical origin (e.g., Jordan, Sharon, Genesis). The “most popular” names are the top 20, and “over time” is the span of a century.

For boy names, the ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names has basically flipped over the last 100 years. Here’s a visual — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and a borderline name (which I counted as non-Biblical) is in the orange cell:

Popular boy names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular boy names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Adam, Alexander, Andrew, Austin (via Augustus), Benjamin, Daniel, David, Elijah, Ethan, Jack (via John), Jackson (via John), Jacob, James, Jason, John, Jonathan, Joseph, Joshua, Justin (via Justus), Lucas, Mark, Matthew, Michael, Nathan, Nicholas, Noah, Paul, Stephen, Steven, Thomas, Timothy, Zachary
  • Non-Biblical names: Aiden, Albert, Anthony, Arthur, Billy, Brandon, Brian, Charles, Christopher, Dennis, Donald, Dylan, Edward, Eric, Frank, Gary, George, Harold, Harry, Henry, Jayden, Jeffrey, Kenneth, Kevin, Larry, Liam, Logan, Louis, Mason, Raymond, Richard, Robert, Ronald, Ryan, Scott, Tyler, Walter, William
  • Borderline name: Jerry (can be based on the Biblical name Jeremy/Jeremiah or on the non-Biblical names Jerome, Gerald, Gerard)
    • It felt strange putting an overtly Christian name like Christopher in the non-Biblical category, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, so…that’s where it goes.

      Here are the year-by-year tallies:

      Year Top 20 names
      given to…
      # Biblical # Non-Biblical
      1914 40% of baby boys 5 (25%) 15 (75%)
      1924 43% of baby boys 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
      1934 43% of baby boys 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
      1944 47% of baby boys 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
      1954 46% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1964 42% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1974 38% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1984 36% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      1994 27% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      2004 19% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      2014 14% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)

      But there’s a huge difference between sample sizes of 40% and 14%, so let’s also take a look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 42% of male births.

      By my count, last year’s top 100 boy names were half Biblical, half non-Biblical:

      Biblical names (49) Non-Biblical names (51)
      Noah, Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, James, Daniel, Elijah, Benjamin, Matthew, Jackson (via John), David, Lucas, Joseph, Andrew, Samuel, Gabriel, Joshua, John, Luke, Isaac, Caleb, Nathan, Jack (via John), Jonathan, Levi, Jaxon (via John), Julian (via Julius), Isaiah, Eli, Aaron, Thomas, Jordan, Jeremiah, Nicholas, Evan, Josiah, Austin (via Augustus), Jace (via Jason), Jason, Jose, Ian, Adam, Zachary, Jaxson (via John), Asher, Nathaniel, Justin (via Justus), Juan Liam, Mason, William, Logan, Aiden, Jayden, Anthony, Carter, Dylan, Christopher, Oliver, Henry, Sebastian, Owen, Ryan, Wyatt, Hunter, Christian, Landon, Charles, Connor, Cameron, Adrian, Gavin, Robert, Brayden, Grayson, Colton, Angel, Dominic, Kevin, Brandon, Tyler, Parker, Ayden, Chase, Hudson, Nolan, Easton, Blake, Cooper, Lincoln, Xavier, Bentley, Kayden, Carson, Brody, Ryder, Leo, Luis, Camden

      (Christian, Angel, Xavier, Dominic…all technically non-Biblical, despite having strong ties to Christianity.)

      50%-50% isn’t quite as extreme as 70%-30%, but it’s still noticeably more Biblical than 1914’s 25%-75%.

      Do any of these results surprise you?

Baby Named after Notre Dame Coach

Francis William “Frank” Leahy, who played football at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, went on to coach the Notre Dame football team himself for 11 seasons (1941-43, 1946-53).

“While at Notre Dame, Leahy had six undefeated seasons, five national championship teams and an unbeaten string of 39 games in the late 1940s.”

Leahy retired for health reasons in 1954.

A week after he retired, Arnold and Mildred Penza of Kenosha, Wisconsin — parents of Don Penza, captain of Leahy’s 1953 Notre Dame team — welcomed their 10th child.

The baby boy was named Frank Leahy Penza, after Coach Leahy.

(The names of all 10 Penza kids, from oldest to youngest, were Donald, John, George, Dennis, Thomas, Joan, James, Mary Lynn, Diane, and Frank.)


Name Quotes for the Weekend #16

paloma picasso quote: "proud that name means peace"

From “A Fashionable Life: Paloma Picasso” in Harper’s Bazaar:

She produces two major [jewelry] collections a year [for Tiffany’s New York]. This year, to celebrate her 30th anniversary, she has already launched three new collections: Marrakesh (including the openwork bracelets), Hammered Circles, and Paloma’s Dove, which features, most appropriately, a dove pendant.

Having been named by her father in honor of the dove he drew that became the symbol of the World Peace Conference in 1949, Paloma went through a process for designing the latter that wasn’t easy. She did about 200 drawings. “I didn’t want it to look like a Pablo Picasso dove,” she explains. “One looked like a Braque, and I thought, ‘No! Can’t have that!'” She did finally settle on a perfect version. “One looked like an angel. I’ve always been proud that my name stands for peace, and I thought, The angel of peace; that’s my combination,” she says. “A dove that will protect you.”

From an ESPN article about NFL kicker Ryan Succop:

One of the very last entries under Ryan Succop’s biography in the Kansas City Chiefs’ media guide, under the section marked “Personal,” is the pronunciation of his last name.

“Full name: Ryan Barrow Succop (pronounced SUCK-UP)”

It’s a name that could lend itself to snickers, punchy headlines or flat-out ridicule, assuming he ever missed a kick. But the truth is that Succop is banging the football through the uprights with record-setting dependability.

From a review of the French film What’s in a Name? by Inkoo Kang of The Village Voice:

The premise of parents attacking each other for their taste in baby names sounds yawningly self-indulgent, even downright stupid. Yet the French chamber dramedy What’s in a Name is frequently delightful, full of ribald humor and compelling, intelligent debate. (One joke about fetal alcohol syndrome is a standout, while another comparing coming out as gay to confessing to dog murder somehow avoids offensiveness.)

Last sentence of Inkoo Kang’s twitter bio: “What you really need/want to know: it’s pronounced in-goo.”

From an NPR article about McSweeney’s:

[The new anthology] begins with McSweeney’s’ mock letters section, easily its goofiest offering. Typical to the section is a letter from one Tom O’Donnell:

Dear McSweeney’s,

I have a common name. According to some estimates, nearly 40 percent of men are named “Tom O’Donnell.” … In the time it took me to write this sentence, chances are you named at least one of your children “Tom O’Donnell.”

This would all be fine if it were still Bible times, but today it’s a problem. Why? Because it’s basically impossible to Google myself.

Tom O’Donnell hopes, in his increasingly demented letter, that McSweeney’s will hold a contest, or a poll, or perhaps a tournament to find him a new name.

I’ve narrowed down my list of potential replacements to the following … :

Vladislav Fukuyama-Gomez: I love names that combine several different ethnicities, because they’re used in movies to tell you it’s the future.

Dennis Pulley: I can think of no better way to honor my great-grandfather’s memory than by taking the name of the man he killed.

QUIZNOS Presents Todd DeMoss: Sure, it’s a mouthful — but so is the delicious Chipotle Prime Rib sandwich, only available at QUIZNOS.

From an essay on Dennis, the “most menacing baby name,” in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Normally, I’m not big on the idea that a baby’s name has any bearing whatsoever on his/her personality later in life — though I have noticed that anybody named Jack or Willie seems to have been born cool.

But the evidence suggests that Dennis is dangerous.

Dennis is charismatic, but he’s a rebel. He’s never a meek conformist who goes along to get along. He is often a big jerk, but not always. He can be a weirdo, a cynic, a lacerating wit, an obsessive nut job. But chances are, he’ll be what we say in polite company, “a strong personality.” Dennis can’t be characterized as any one thing, and that’s exactly the point. He’s doesn’t just march to a different drummer. He is the different drummer.

From a blog post by Celeste of The Reluctant Mom’s Blog:

I have always disliked my name – Celeste – I still really dislike it.

The main reason that it is probably a less than ideal name for me is that I have a lisp. Do you know how hard it is to say Celeste when you have a lisp?

It comes out “Tha-leth-t” and pretty much as spit on the listeners top lip. My spit on their lip.

This would usually require people to say “sorry, what was your name again?”

I would get more nervous and my lisp would be more pronounced. To make matters all the more tragic, I could not pronounce “r” or “s” until I was in Sub B/Grade 2.

Eventually I would be too defeated to repeat my name, just started going “yes, close enough…” and then let them call me Nancy or what ever.


On one occasion the person misheard me and called me “Chester” – so far that has been my favourite incorrect name.

I didn’t correct them – I wanted to be their ‘Chester.”

From “Racism And Meritocracy” by Eric Ries at Techcrunch:

I previously described on my blog one simple change I made to the hiring process at my last company. I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates — even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. If you’re screening resumes, or evaluating applicants to a startup school, I challenge you to adopt this procedure immediately, and report on the results.

From a Telegraph article about skier Bode Miller:

The legal saga of America’s most successful downhill male skier, two glamorous blondes and a bicoastal custody battle over a baby boy with two names has taken a fresh turn in a New York courtroom.

Bode Miller, the Olympic gold medallist, arrived for the hearing holding his nine-month-old son. But there he was required to hand the boy back — for now at least — to his ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna, a former Marine.


It was little wonder that the infant seemed confused as he was passed between parents who cannot even agree on his name: Ms McKenna calls him Samuel and Mr Miller prefers Nathaniel.

From a Metro interview with Benedict Cumberbatch:

What’s the story behind your fantastic name? There’s a sort of debate about that. Cumberbatch could be Welsh for a small valley dweller. The ‘cum’ in Cumberbatch is hill. I need to look into it. Benedict means blessed. My parents liked the sound of the name and felt slightly blessed because they’d been trying for a child for a very long time. I’m not Catholic, so it’s not that. They liked the idea of Benedict and Ben, the fact that it can be contracted. I think Toby was their second choice.

From a post about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad at Having a Word:

Nyad sounds like naiad – naiads in Greek mythology were water nymphs or spirits. That’s cute, I thought. Then I noticed that naiad is an anagram of her first name – Diana. *Cue dramatic chords* So, could this just be coincidence or is something else in play?

There is a notion – called nominative determinism – that a person’s name can somehow influence the type of work or activities they do, and maybe even their character.

The idea is an ancient one but the term nominative determinism was coined in the 1990s in the Feedback column of the popular science magazine New Scientist (one of the examples cited was an article on incontinence that had been published in the British Journal of Urology by J W Splatt & D Weedon.)

Related to nominative determinism: The Name Letter Effect.

For previous quote posts, check out the name quotes category.