Name Quotes #43 – Agnieszka, Shaniqua, Fire

"I love the Q. It's the most distinctive thing about me." Quote from stem cell scientist George Q. Daley.

From “I Love the Q,” a Harvard Medical School interview with stem-cell scientist George Q. Daley:

HMS: So you have five brothers and sisters?

DALEY: Yes. I was born fifth, and my middle name, Quentin, means “fifth-born.”

HMS: I was going to ask why you use the Q.

DALEY: I love the Q. It’s the most distinctive thing about me. Everybody asks, “What’s the Q stand for?”

From “Michael Caine’s Name Is Now Officially Michael Caine” by Jackson McHenry at Vulture:

Maurice Micklewhite is dead; long live Michael Caine. The legendary British actor has officially adopted the name you know and impersonate him by after getting fed up with increased airport security checks. “I changed my name when all the stuff started with ISIS and all that,” Caine told The Sun, going on to describe his experiences with security guards thusly: “He would say, ‘Hi Michael Caine,’ and suddenly I’d be giving him a passport with a different name on it. I could stand there for an hour. So I changed my name.”

From “Frond this way: Lady Gaga’s ferns” by Ben Guarino of Scienceline:

In a 2006 letter to Nature, Australian geneticist Ken Maclean highlights the pitfalls of fanciful names: “The quirky sense of humour that researchers display in choosing a gene name often loses much in translation when people facing serious illness or disability are told that they or their child have a mutation in a gene such as Sonic hedgehog, Slug or Pokemon.”

From “Translating Names” by Dariusz Galasiński

Translating names mostly goes one way. Somehow ‘we’ must translate our names into English, and ‘you’ don’t have to translate yours into Polish, Estonian, Romanian or Slovak. And that makes the translation much more political than linguistic. And if it is political, I go against!


And here is the main point of this post – it’s not linguistic, I’m afraid. Names are political. And I think it’s important to keep them. Michał, Agnieszka, Małgorzata, Paweł, Justyna…these are your names, don’t change them to Michael, Agnes, Margaret, Paul or Justine. If they care, they will learn, if they don’t — it’s their loss.

(Found via “What’s in a name? Introducing yourself in academia” by Marta Natalia Wróblewska, via Clare’s Name News.)

From “The Jody Grind” by Jody Rosen in Slate:

Could it be that we are best served by imperfect, not perfect, names? When a baby is saddled with a name, he is taught a first lesson about pitiless fate and life’s limitations–that there are aspects of the self that can never be self-determined, circumstances that must be stoically endured, and, hopefully, someday, made peace with. There are a goodly number of us who wear our names not like a precious spell but like a humbler workaday garment. Whatever you’re called–Jody or Sue or Moon Unit or Jermajesty or maybe even Anus–you can, if you’re lucky, reach that state of grace where you hardly notice your name is there at all. You wake up in the morning and slide right into it, like a well–broken-in pair of pantaloons.

From “What’s in a Name? Exhibit explores identity, prejudice” (about a pop-up art exhibition by Donna Woodley) in The Tennessean:

“The idea for this project came as I was typing names one day. I realized that the Microsoft Word program would indicate that some names were spelled incorrectly — a red wavy line would appear under them — but not others. I’d type a name like Elizabeth or Judy and there’d be no red line, which implied it was spelled correctly. Then I’d type a name like Shaniqua, LaQuisha, or other black women’s names I knew, and they would get a red line under them, like it was spelled wrong.”


“It made me wonder, does Microsoft have a diversity department?” said Woodley.

(Found via the ANS post Names exhibit in Nashville, TN explores identity and prejudice.)

From “Church won’t let me call my son ‘Jesus’” by Cate Mukei at Standard Digital Entertainment (Kenya):

The rights activist [Nderitu Njoka] said he just wanted to prove his deeply rooted Christian faith by naming his son ‘Jesus’.

‘After all, the name is common in Portugal, Spain, and Mexico which are God fearing. My call is to Christians to start naming their sons Jesus since by doing this they will be preaching gospel of Jesus Christ to the world without hypocrisy,” the letter says.

From Politics, Religion and…Baby Names by Tim Bradley:

Our oldest son Jay (who was almost two at the time) insisted on calling our baby-to-be “Baby Fire” while my wife was pregnant. It caught on and throughout my wife’s pregnancy, our families would ask, “How’s Baby Fire doing?” Although it seemed like a fitting name, we just dismissed it thinking “Fire” was too “out there” for anyone to be on board. But on the way to the hospital during the wee hours of the morning on July 4th, my wife and I decided that “Fire” as a middle name seemed appropriate. It will forever link our sons since it was Jay’s idea, and it captures the memories and emotions we felt throughout the pregnancy. There’s the July 4th fireworks tie-in as well. And let’s face it “Fire” as a middle name is only one step away from “Danger” as the coolest name ever.

From H. L. Mencken’s The American Language (1921):

The religious obsession of the New England colonists is also kept in mind by the persistence of Biblical names: Ezra, Hiram, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Elijah, Elihu, and so on. These names excite the derision of the English; an American comic character, in an English play or novel, always bears one of them.

For more quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes #42 – Tucker, Tess, Shea

tucker, life, 1952

From the cover description of the June 2, 1952, issue of LIFE:

The birthday guest all done up for a party on this week’s cover is Second-Grader Tucker Burns, 7, of New York City.

(A female Tucker born in the mid-1940s? Interesting…)

From “10 facts about Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (pdf) at The Times:

Tess didn’t start out as Tess. Hardy often changed names when he was writing, and he tried out Love, Cis and Sue, using Woodrow as a surname, narrowing the name down to Rose-Mary Troublefield or Tess Woodrow before finally settling on Tess Durbeyfield.

From “Naming a Baby (or 2) When You’re Over 40” by Joslyn McIntyre at

But I’m now far too practical for whimsical names. I want to spare my kids the time wasted spelling their name slowly over the phone and correcting its pronunciation millions of times. So out the window went some of the iconoclastic names I loved, but which seemed difficult, along with two names I adored but couldn’t figure out how to spell in a way that would make their pronunciation obvious: CARE-iss and k’r-IN.

From “Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer” by Meeri Kim in the Washington Post:

While some believed a central institution or figure had to be behind a skyrocketing trend — say, Kim Kardashian or Vogue magazine — researchers have discovered through a new Web-based experiment that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, the study suggests that populations can come to a consensus about what’s cool and what’s not in a rapid, yet utterly spontaneous way.

From “Name change proves a mysterious and outdated process” by Molly Snyder at

The process to change your name is surprisingly lengthy, pricey and arguably outdated. People fill out forms, pay a $168 filing fee (there is also a fee to obtain a new birth certificate once the name is legally granted), get assigned to a judge, schedule a hearing date with the court and take out a statement in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or the Daily Reporter three weeks in a row declaring intent of name change.

News websites are not approved for legal name change declaration, but this does not mean they couldn’t be someday, according to Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court John Barrett.

“The process is very old and it hasn’t been changed in a long time, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be,” says Barrett. “The Wisconsin legislature decides that. Someone would have to have an interest in that change and take the time to make the argument that we’re in a changing world and publications shouldn’t be limited to print.”

From “The latest trend in startup names? Regular old human names” (Dec. 2014) by Erin Griffith in Fortune:

If you work in startups, there’s a good chance you know Oscar. And Alfred. Benny, too. And don’t forget Lulu and Clara. These aren’t the prominent Silicon Valley people that techies know by first name (although those exist—think Marissa, Satya, Larry and Sergey, Zuck). Rather, Oscar, Alfred, Benny, Lulu and Clara are companies. The latest trend in startup names is regular old human names.

From “A teacher mispronouncing a student’s name can have a lasting impact” by Corey Mitchell at

For students, especially the children of immigrants or those who are English-language learners, a teacher who knows their name and can pronounce it correctly signals respect and marks a critical step in helping them adjust to school.

But for many ELLs, a mispronounced name is often the first of many slights they experience in classrooms; they’re already unlikely to see educators who are like them, teachers who speak their language, or a curriculum that reflects their culture.

“If they’re encountering teachers who are not taking the time to learn their name or don’t validate who they are, it starts to create this wall,” said Rita (‘ree-the’) Kohli, an assistant professor in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Riverside.

It can also hinder academic progress.

From the NPS biography of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848):

Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Abigail gave birth to her son two days before her prominent grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, died so the boy was named John Quincy Adams in his honor.

(Quincy, Massachusetts, was also named after Colonel John Quincy.)

And finally, from “How Many Mets Fans Name Their Babies ‘Shea’?” by Andrew Beaton in the Wall Street Journal:

You’re not a real Mets fan unless you name your kid Shea.

For more quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes #41 – Gaenor, Ransom, O’Shea

Now that Fridays are for Five-Name Friday posts, let’s bump the Name Quote posts over to Mondays, shall we?

Here’s the latest batch…

From the novel The Notorious Miss Lisle (1911) by Mrs. Baillie Reynolds:

“The notorious Miss Lisle had the most weird Christian name you ever heard of — let’s see now, what was it? Not Guinevere, nor Gwendolen — Oh, yes, I have it. Gaenor! G, a, e, n, o, r! Did you ever hear such a name as that?”

From “Do Weird Baby Names Indicate Selfishness Or Love? Yes” by Joy Pullmann of The Federalist:

Our first child has a rather weird name. Ransom is a genuine, old name, but the effects of choosing it actually made me determined not to make such an ethereal pick again. I’ve finally joined my husband on the plain-vanilla baby names bandwagon, just as everyone.s getting off it.


Our son’s name means a great deal to us because it in fact does signal our family’s ties to something greater than even each other. It’s an enduring mark of gratitude for a faith that kept me from killing a child I didn’t want. That faith and that child ransomed me from selfishness (or at least some selfishness). So it may be and is indeed likely that other people’s children, whatever their names, can and have performed similar acts of mercy even just by existing. And how would an onlooker know whether an unusual name signifies parental self-absorption or self-sacrifice?

They wouldn’t. But, all the same, our next baby will have a meaningful name that other people have heard before.

From “Why Google’s smart assistant doesn’t have a name like Siri, Alexa, or Cortana” by Jillian D’Onfro of Business Insider:

Assistant’s lack of personality was quite intentional, according to Jonathan Jarvis, a former creative director on Google’s Labs team.


“We always wanted to make it feel like you were the agent, and it was more like a superpower that you had and a tool that you used,” he tells Business Insider. “If you create this personified assistant, that feels like a different relationship.”

For that reason, Assistant likely won’t be telling you jokes or serving up sassy responses, either.

We also heard while at I/O that Google didn’t want to give its assistant a gender or make it seem too American.

From “The Difficulty of Names” by Mami Suzuki of the blog Tofugu:

My name “Mami” (pronounced mommy) is a good example of this. Mami is quite a common name in Japan and mostly means “true beauty” or “true”, but in English, it just sounds like mother. Therefore, I always feel embarrassed when I introduce myself, because I have to say, “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mami.” It’s pretty strange, isn’t it? “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mother. Say my name.” Even my teachers and my bosses have to call me Mommy!

From “Bye-bye Berlin: Wheels for name change set in motion 100 years ago” about the Ontario town of Kitchener (formerly Berlin):

Meanwhile, 100 years after it was nixed, the Berlin name is enjoying a bit of a minor renaissance in Kitchener.

Two businesses prominently featuring the name have opened in recent months: The Berlin restaurant and the Berlin Bicycle Café.

Andrea Hennige, the restaurant manager at The Berlin, says the name was chosen with an eye toward the area’s history.

“It’s a nod to the people who settled the area, who probably laid the bricks in this building,” she said in an interview.

Town residents voted to drop the name Berlin in 1916, during WWI. The name change ballot included the following options: Adanac (Canada spelled backwards), Benton, Brock, Corona, Keowana, and Kitchener. Speaking of ballots…

From “Maine”s GOP governor, veto record-holder, names new dog Veto” in The Seattle Times:

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the state’s all-time veto champion, has named his new dog Veto.

LePage, who has earned renown for exercising his veto pen on bills he didn’t like, adopted a Jack Russell terrier mix from a shelter.


LePage chose the name Veto because his pet “is the mascot of good public policy, defender of the Maine people and protector of hardworking taxpayers from bad legislation,” his spokesman Peter Steele said.

Steele joked that the governor is going to train the dog to deliver vetoes from his office to legislative leaders.

From “Why There Are So Many More Names for Baby Girls” by Chris Wilson in TIME:

“The culture is much more accepting of out-there girls’ names,” says Matthew Hahn, a professor of biology and informatics at the University of Indiana who co-authored a 2003 study comparing baby name trends to evolutionary models. “The same goes for inventing new names.” For example, some formerly male-dominated names become predominantly female names, like Lindsey and Mckenzie, but it rarely goes the other way.

“The inventiveness in girl names has always led the boys,” says Alex Bentley, a professor in comparative cultural studies at the University of Houston and a co-author of the 2003 study, though he notes that, in the past decade, the rate at which people invent new boy names has caught up with the rate for girls.

From “Ever Wonder How Ice Cube Got His Name? Here’s Your Answer” by Angela Watercutter in Wired:

“My brother, he’s about nine years older than me, he used to have all kind of women calling the house and I would try to get at them,” the man known to the IRS as O’Shea Jackson says in this Google Autocomplete interview. “He got mad at that and said he was going to slam me in the freezer one day, and turn me into an ice cube. I said, ‘You know what? That’s a badge of honor.'”

Name Quotes for the Weekend #40

Sting quote: Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a list of quotes by the musician Sting (a.k.a. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner):

Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a post about black names vs. white names at the blog Baby Making Machine:

My name is Jennifer. My siblings: Heather, Michael, Lauren, Kimberly. None of them are stereotypical names you’d hear on the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names list. They are, however, found in the most popular names of the year list. I didn’t want my daughter’s name on either. My mother’s reasoning for her decision was different than mine. She would say “do you want to get a job?” Which sounds harsh but some research shows “black-sounding” names on resumes don’t do as well next to the same resume holding a “white-sounding” names.

From a post called “Save Our Susans and Protect The Peter: The Ridiculous World of “Endangered” Names” at the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda:

If a name isn’t used much any more, no great calamity will result. Brangien and Althalos have been rarely used since the Middle Ages, but nobody has suffered as a result of Brangien deficiency, and no awful disaster has ensued from the loss of Althalos.

Furthermore, if we decided we’d like to see more of a particular name which has gone out of use, it costs no money or effort to bring it back. You simply slap the name onto your child’s birth certificate, and hey presto – you’ve got yourself a rare and beautiful specimen of an Althalos.

As long as we still know of a name’s existence from books and records, it is a potential baby name, no matter how many centuries or even millennia since it was last used.

From an article about Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) in NYC newspaper The Villager:

There is hardly an account of Greenwich Village in the ’20s in which she does not prominently figure. Yet her roots in the neighborhood preceded even her fame. The poet’s unusual middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital on 12th St. Millay’s uncle was nursed back to health there after a sailing accident, and her mother wished to show her gratitude by naming her first-born child after the place.

From an article called “Baby Names Can’t Be Stolen–but It’s Not Surprising That Some Parents Think They Can” in Slate:

This belief [in baby-name stealing] is ridiculous–after all, liking a name doesn’t give you ownership over it, and sharing a name with a friend or relative is, at worst, a mild nuisance. But the idea that names shouldn’t be stolen is not surprising. Over the past hundred years, naming has increasingly become an act of self-expression for parents, a way to assert their individuality rather than a sense of belonging in their community. With our names and selves so thoroughly intertwined, it stands to reason that parents would become increasingly protective of their children’s names.


As with so much of contemporary parenting, the drama surrounding name-stealing is ultimately more about the threat it poses to parent’s identities than their children’s. In practical terms, no child will be harmed by having the same name as a classmate or cousin. … Far more punishing than having the same name as another child is growing up in an environment where names are considered personal property and friendships end when someone “steals” one.

Jimmy Wales, in response to the Quora question: Is the name “Jimmy” unsuitable for an adult?

Interestingly, my actual name is Jimmy. Not James. I used to wonder the same thing, but decided – hey, I’m from Alabama, so people can get over themselves.

It has not seemed to hurt my career in any way, and may have helped as it (correctly, as it turns out) signals to people that I’m not stuffy.

From an article called “How baby names got so weird” in The Spectator:

Naming your child was once simple: you picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.


They’ve forgotten about ‘eccentric sheep’ syndrome.

This is the process, identified by social anthropologist Kate Fox in her book Watching the English, whereby something meant as ‘evidence of our eccentricity and originality’ ends up as ‘conformist, conservative rule-following’. Fox applied it to clothes, but the same thing is happening with names. In an attempt to make their children stand out, parents are only helping them to blend in. When everyone’s a Marni or an Autumn or a Sky, the rebellion has nothing to register against.

(Incidentally, here’s a Ptarmigan.)

From an article about Medieval Pet Names at

In England we find dogs that were named Sturdy, Whitefoot, Hardy, Jakke, Bo and Terri. Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of King Henry VIII, had a dog named Purkoy, who got its name from the French ‘pourquoi’ because it was very inquisitive.

Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles/blog posts lately? Let me know!

Name Quotes for the Weekend #39

Quote from Uzo Aduba's mother on the name Uzoamaka

From “The Eyes Have It,” an interview with Orange Is the New Black actress Uzoamaka “Uzo” Aduba, who was asked whether she ever considered changing her name:

When I started as an actor? No, and I’ll tell you why. I had already gone through that. My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

(There’s a Tchaikovsky in Brazil.)

From an article about a woman named Cinderella in the Irish Independent:

“I’d been living as Eva my whole life until I found out my name was Evangeline Cinderella. Of course this was the most amazing news as a seven year old girl and unfortunately I told everybody. I’ve paid for it ever since. People have always remembered,” she said.

From the essay “The name shame of Axl, Anakin, Arya…” by Gene Weingarten (via Name News):

To consult this list [the SSA’s Change in Popularity list] is to dip your toe into the fetid waters of cheesy celebrity worship. Consider this: One of the skyrocketing names is … “Anakin.” Yes, people are giving their baby boys a name invented specifically to sound non-human, for a character in another galaxy far, far away, one who grows up to become Darth Vader, an evil overlord who wants to enslave the universe. (There have been plenty of Darths, too.)

(Here’s more on Darth.)

From the video “Instrument: Celeste” featuring keyboardist Elizabeth Burley of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London:

I’ve got a celeste here today to show you how that works. As you’ll see it looks a little bit like an upright piano, but it’s actually a lot different. Although it’s operated by a keyboard, inside, instead of strings, it’s a set of…metal chime bars. They’re suspended over wooden resonating boxes, and when I press a key, a hammer hits the chime bar to make the sound, like on a piano the hammer would hit the string. The name celeste…it’s a French name meaning “heavenly,” and it does make a very heavenly sound, as you’ll hear.

From a blog post about electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire at Open Culture:

With her buttoned-up style, work with the UN, and name like a plucky character in a certain English wizard series, Delia Derbyshire may not seem a likely pioneer of experimental electronic music.

From the blog post “What’s in a Name?” by theology professor/social activist Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre:

Today, no one calls me Brother Mike. Nonetheless, if the first act of liberation is self naming, why do I still insist on spelling my surname the way those who had power over me taught me? I have no doubt the reader is probably wondering what’s the big deal? Just spell my name correctly. What they fail to recognize is the power of the colonizing process, and the difficulty to reclaim identity. So as I tag my name to my liberationist works I am reminded with each upper case letter how far I still need to go to claim my own liberation. The struggle, la lucha, continues, even in the letters of my name.

From the article “What Your Conference Room Names Say About Your Company Culture” by Ekaterina Walter:

At Sprinklr, our conference rooms are named after the company’s values. Honesty, Passion, Perseverance, Humility, Character, Courage, and Integrity are just some of the names you will encounter. My personal favorites are Awesomeness and 1+1=3. When I asked our founder, Ragy Thomas, why the leadership team chose to name conference rooms in this way, he said: “It would be kind of hard to be arrogant in a room named Humility, wouldn’t it? Or give up in a room named Perseverance, don’t you think?”

From the New York Times article “Jens and Vita, but Molli? Danes Favor Common Names” (2004) about Denmark’s Law on Personal Names, which was “initially designed to bring order to surnames”:

Then in the 1960’s, a furor erupted over the first name Tessa, which resembled tisse, which means to urinate in Danish. Distressed over the lack of direction in the law, the Danish government expanded the statute to grapple with first names. Now the law is as long as an average-size book.

Among the baby names rejected in Denmark: Anus, Pluto, and Monkey. Among those accepted: Leica, Benji, Jiminico, and Fee.

Want more quotes? Here’s the name quotes category.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #38

Another quote post! This installment includes a record number of ellipses. Very exciting.

From The Clintons ruined the name ‘Hillary’ for new parents by Christopher Ingraham:

It…looks like the popularity of first ladies’ names falls more sharply than the popularity of presidents’ names during their time in office. But again, it’s not clear just from these charts if that’s a true presidential spouse effect, or just a reflection of the natural long-term trajectory of those names.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about The Demise of the Baby Name Hillary.

From Keith Ng’s My last name sounds Chinese, in response to the erroneous claim by New Zealand politician Phil Twyford that Chinese people are buying up property in Auckland:

The subtext of this story is that people with Chinese-sounding names are foreigners full of cash who are buying all our houses and chasing hardworking Kiwis out of their homes. This is straight-up scapegoating, placing the blame for a complex, emotive problem at the feet of an ethnic group.


Phil Twyford, Labour, and the Herald – you are fueling racial division in this country. You are encouraging people to question whether ethnically Chinese people ought to be able to buy houses. You are saying that people with “Chinese-sounding names” are dangerous foreigners who will destroy the Kiwi way of life with real estate purchases.

From Royal Caribbean’s press release asking James Hand to name the next Royal Caribbean ship:

“The people of the United Kingdom know the name of a great ship when they see it,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand’s talent to name our next ship.”

The “name our next ship” part is an April Fools’ Day joke, but (as far as I can tell) the offer to send Hand on a free cruise is legit.

NERC’s Name Our Ship campaign ends tomorrow, btw.

From the Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. page of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park website:

Thomas Alva, Junior, was born on January 10, 1876. Since his sister Marion was nicknamed “Dot,” he was nicknamed “Dash.”


After selling the use of his name to advertise “quack” medicines and dubious inventions, his father asked Tom Junior to change his name. This he did, briefly going by the name of Thomas Willard.

The nicknames “Dot” and “Dash” are references to Morse Code.

From Why Do I Have to Call This App ‘Julie’? by Joanne McNeil (found via Nancy Friedman’s January Linkfest):

Imagine if the plug-in devices that made housework more efficient were, like Alexa, sold with women’s names and talked about with female pronouns. “Could you hand me the Amanda? She’s in the hall closet.”


I used Julie [a “virtual inbox assistant”] only once, sending an email to a friend, copying the app email, with a time and date to meet for coffee. Julie emailed back promptly confirming the appointment, and it added the meeting to my calendar. The product is an interesting idea and easy to use, but interacting with a fake woman assistant just feels too weird. So I shut “her” off. This Stepford app, designed to make my work more efficient, only reminds me of the gendered division of labor that I’m trying to escape.

From the abstract of the paper Unfortunate First Names: Effects of Name-Based Relational Devaluation and Interpersonal Neglect by Jochen E. Gebauer, Mark R. Leary and Wiebke Neberich:

Can negative first names cause interpersonal neglect? Study 1 (N = 968) compared extremely negatively named online-daters with extremely positively named online-daters. Study 2 (N = 4,070) compared less extreme groups—namely, online-daters with somewhat unattractive versus somewhat attractive first names. Study 3 (N = 6,775) compared online-daters with currently popular versus currently less popular first names, while controlling for name-popularity at birth. Across all studies, negatively named individuals were more neglected by other online-daters, as indicated by fewer first visits to their dating profiles. This form of neglect arguably mirrors a name-based life history of neglect, discrimination, prejudice, or even ostracism.

From What’s in a Necronym? by Jeannie Vanasco (found via Longreads):

I remember the day I first learned about her. I was eight. My father was in his chair, holding a small white box. As my mother explained that he had a dead daughter named Jeanne, pronounced the same as my name, “without an i,” he opened the box and looked away. Inside was a medal Jeanne had received from a church “for being a good person,” my mother said. My father said nothing. I said nothing. I stared at the medal.


Parsed from the Greek, necronym literally translates as “death name.” It usually means a name shared with a dead sibling. Until the late nineteenth century, necronyms were not uncommon among Americans and Europeans. If a child died in infancy, his or her name was often given to the next child, a natural consequence of high birth rates and high infant mortality rates.

The second Notwithstanding Griswold, born in 1764, was named for her deceased older sister.

A post about Union Banner Hunt by Andy Osterdahl of The Strangest Names In American Political History:

Union Banner Hunt was born in Randolph County on September 2, 1864, the son of Joshua Parker and Rachel Howell Hunt. His full birth name is listed as “Union Banner Basil Morton Hunt”, and the 1914 work Past and Present of Randolph County gives some interesting anecdotes as to how his unusual name came about: “At the time of his birth his brother was confined in the Confederate Prison in Andersonville, Ga., having been captured at the Battle of Chickamauga. Hence the name “Union Banner”. Basil (pronounced “Bazil”) is an old family name, and “Morton” is for the great war Governor of Indiana.” This same book mentions that Hunt was “not responsible” for his unusual name and “neither is he ashamed of it.”

That “great war Governor” was Oliver P. Morton.

From an interview with Winona Ryder by Celia Walden:

Ryder’s unconventional childhood has been exhaustively documented and occasionally used to explain the more disturbing events in her life, but the actress — christened Winona Laura Horowitz and named after the Minnesota city in which she was born — speaks fondly of the four years she spent in a commune in Elk, Northern California, from the age of seven.

Winona’s younger brother Uri, born in the 1970s, was named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Have you come across any interesting name-related quotes lately? Let me know!

Name Quotes for the Weekend #37

quote from bridesmaids

From the movie Bridesmaids, bridesmaid Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) being kicked out of first class by flight attendant Steve:

Annie: Whatever you say, Stove.
Steve: It’s Steve.
Annie: “Stove” — what kinda name is that?
Steve: That’s not a name. My name is Steve.
Annie: Are you an appliance?
Steve: No I’m a man, and my name is Steve.

From Mohammed most popular baby name in Israel in The Jerusalem Post:

The report [from the Central Bureau of Statistics] also noted that in 2012 only 36 boys were given the name Ovadia. However, following the death of spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 2013, 117 babies were given this name and in 2014, 209 newborns were named after the rabbi.

From Why old Japanese women have names in katakana at RocketNews24:

Basically, the katakana names given to baby girls born prior to the 1900s were a result of gender discrimination. The ability to read was not prevalent amongst the poor of that time period, so many families would pay a scholar to help them decide on a splendid name in meaningful kanji for their sons. However, that same measure was almost never taken for daughters. […] Only girls belonging to the most wealthy and noble families, such as the daughters of samurai, would be given names in kanji as an indication of their status.

From Today Translations’ Name Audit Services page:

But more offbeat names can pose problems. How about the Rooneys’ Kai? Kai means ‘pier’ in Estonian, ‘probably’ in Finnish, ‘ocean’ in Hawaiian and Japanese, ‘willow tree’ in the native American language of Navajo, and ‘stop it’ in Yoruba.

And Suri, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter, means ‘pickpocket’ in Japanese, ‘turned sour’ in French and ‘horse mackerels’ in Italian.

From Arabic as an accessory by Naaila Mohammed in The Islamic Monthly:

Arabic, as a spoken language and written text, is something the Western gaze is enamored by, but also terrified of. A quick Google search renders a flood of results about the popularity of Arabic in the non-Arab world. From warnings of things to keep in mind so you don’t end up with a failed Arabic tattoo to white mothers seeking out trendy Arabic baby names, there are numerous examples of how Arabic is made palatable to the white gaze. At the same time, you will find horror stories of students detained for carrying flashcards and study materials in Arabic on a plane, or of a Brooklyn father stabbed by two teenagers who overheard him speaking in Arabic while walking home with his wife and 8-year-old son.

From What Makes a Baby Name Trendy? by Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda:

I have a non-trendy classic name which is still reasonably popular, and not only has it failed to provide me with a magically charmed life where nothing ever went wrong, its impact has been minimal at best. Meanwhile, my peers with the trendy names of our generation, such as Jodi and Jason, don’t seem to have had their lives ruined by their names.

From Baby names fall from fashion like autumn leaves in The Asahi Shimbun (a Japanese newspaper):

I am a Showa-born man, and here’s my pet peeve: This year, only three girl names ending with “ko” made the top 100 list. Back when I was a schoolboy, the mimeographed list of the names of kids in my class was full of girl names ending with “ko.”

Shigehiko Toyama, a scholar of English literature, once recalled this episode: One day, he received a letter from an American person he had never met, and the envelope was addressed to “Miss Shigehiko Toyama.” He understood the reason immediately. This American had some knowledge of things Japanese, and must have presumed Toyama was a woman because his given name ends with “ko.” An episode such as this is now part of ancient history.

From The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (2003) By Elizabeth Crawford:

Lamb, Aeta Adelaide (1886-1928) Born in Demerara, where her father was a botanist; she was named Aeta after a palm he had discovered there.

Demerara was a colony in British Guiana, and aeta (or æta) palm refers to Mauritia flexuosa, a South American palm tree.

Want to see more quotes like these? Check out the name quotes category.