How Do You Like Your Name, Marsheela?

Here’s a crazy coincidence: While I was putting yesterday’s post on Marsheila together, I got an email from a 52-year-old Californian named Marsheela.

Here’s what she said about her name:

My mother gave me the name Marsheela after her grandmother who was Chinook Indian. She told me the name means morning glory. I was the only Marsheela around, all thru school and adulthood, I would get mixed comments from, what a beautiful name to your mother must not have liked you. Luckily my husband loved the name! I will say it was difficult thru school not having a common name.

Thank you, Marsheela!

(Marsheela would have been born in the early ’60s — several years after the 1957 Broken Arrow episode that presented the name as Native American. Was the TV show an influence here? Hard to say, though it does seem possible. Marsheela didn’t mention what her great-grandmother’s birth name was specifically.)

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

How Do You Like Your Name, Zana?

I haven’t published a name interview in a while!

Today’s interview is with Zana (“rhymes with Donna”) who is 73 years old and comes from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What’s the story behind her name?

My name comes from my Italian grandmother’s maiden name, Zanolin. Hence I was named Zana Lynn.

What does she like/dislike about her name?

My name is unique. Others I have met with the same name pronounce it like the man’s name Zane (the first a as in the English word April). I have even had woman who spells their name as I do, tell me I mispronounce my name (ignorance abounds).

Would she recommend that her name be given to babies today?

If parents want an exotic and pretty name for their daughter, which is different and pronounce it as my Italian family does go for it.

Thank you very much, Zana!

P.S. The baby name Zana saw a big spike in usage in 1994, probably because of the short-lived Sinbad Show, which featured a young character named Zana [ZAY-na] Beckley.

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

How Do You Feel About Your Name, Ebony?

Today’s name interview is with Ebony Anne, a 15-year-old from Australia who happens to be the blogger behind Baby Name Obsessed.

How did she get her name?

My parents just liked it. My mother has never really given me a reason for it but I do know Ebony was near the bottom of her list. Anne is my mums middle name, my grandma’s middle name and my great-grandmother was named Annie.

What does she like most about her name?

It’s common but not everywhere and it’s a name that is [not] hard to pronounce or spell.

(Here’s the U.S. popularity graph for Ebony.)

What does Ebony like least about her name?

The stereotypes it has (I’ve been told online that it’s a black name or a stripper name or a lower class baby name), the way people question my colour when I say my name and the nickname Eb.

Finally, would she recommend that her name be given to babies today?

Yes, even though it is dated especially in Australia where it just fell off the top 100 but it makes a good alternative to the more common Emily.

Thanks, Ebony!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

How Do You Feel About Your Name, Roseanna?

Today’s interview is with Roseanna, a 26-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What’s the story behind her name?

In the 80’s, singer Chris de Burgh wrote a song for his daughter called “For Rosanna”. When my mom heard the song, she instantly loved the name. She chose my spelling, Roseanna, because she figured it was the most intuitive. Rose-anna.

The name Rosanna (and all sound-alike names) had become trendy in the early ’80s thanks to Toto’s 1982 song “Rosanna.” Perhaps this trendiness is what inspired Chris de Burgh to name his daughter Rosanna in 1984. His song “For Rosanna” was released on the same 1986 album as mega-hit “The Lady in Red.” (The specific spelling Roseanna, though, was most popular back in 1950 thanks to the 1949 movie Roseanna McCoy.)

What does she like most about her name?

I love that it is uncommon. I have only met a few others with my name. I like the nickname options too, though I don’t use them often. When I was younger, I was called Rosie, which I quite like these days. My family calls me Zana, which I really love.

What does she like least about her name?

I am constantly called Roseanne. And despite my moms best intentions, people usually spell it without the E, Rosanna.

Finally, would Roseanna recommend that her name be given to babies today?

Perhaps? In some ways, Roseanna seems kind of dated. I have yet to meet anyone my age, or younger, with this name; most I’ve met are a couple decades older. That said, both Rose and Anna are well loved these days.

-anna/ana names are all over the charts: Arianna, Brianna, Gianna, Adriana, Joanna, Hanna, Leanna, Liliana, Eliana, etc

Then there are names like Annabelle, Annalise, Annalee, Rosemary, Rosalie, and Roselyn that are all in the top 1000. I think Roseanna could fit in nicely. It is certainly usable and might be considered somewhat unexpected.

Thank you, Roseanna!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

How Do You Like Your Name, Caitlin?

Today’s name interview is with Caitlin, a 30-year-old from Boston who happens to be the blogger behind Republic of Names.

What’s the story behind her name?

I was born in Massachusetts in the mid-’80s, so I think it came pre-printed on the birth certificate.

(Here’s the national popularity graph for the baby name Caitlin. Highest usage was the late ’80s and early ’90s.)

What does she like most about her name?

I’m glad my parents went with this spelling.

What does she like least about her name?

The proliferation of cutesy spellings is annoying. Many of my senior colleagues have grandchildren named Kaitlyn/Caytlynne/Katelin and I sometimes feel that the name identifies me as a child, rather than as a professional.

Finally, would Caitlin recommend that her name be given to babies today?

No. It will never be spelled the way you want it to be spelled. It gets mixed up with all the Kaylas and Kaylees and Kaylins.

Thanks so much, Caitlin!

P.S. Just noticed that the baby name Caitlin saw a sizable jump (+2,253 baby girls) from 1987 to 1988. My best guess (from a whopping 3 minutes of research) is the Miami Vice character Caitlin Davies, played by Sheena Easton from 1987 to 1988. Does that sound about right, or is it something else…?

P.P.S. Recent NBN post Distinctive Baby Names, State by State is based on Caitlin’s research at Republic of Names.

How Do You Like Your Name, Matthew?

Today’s name interview is with Matthew, a 26-year-old from the U.S.

How did he get his name?

My mom saw a TV show in the 1980s called “You Again?” featuring a character named Matthew.

What does he like most about his name?

It’s easy to spell and pronounce. It usually doesn’t get messed up or misunderstood.

What does he like least about his name?

Popularity! Top 10 for years, several in each class. What a pain. I had to use my last initial in many classes. Boring. I wish my parents had picked something less common.

(He’s right — Matthew was one of the top 5 baby boy names in the U.S. from 1981 all the way until 2006.)

Also sound. Math, ew! Sounds like someone hates math. Matt sounds like mat. –at, it’s like the first thing you learn in English. Cat sat on mat. My middle name [Todd] isn’t much better, so I can’t use that. Toad, toddler, etc.

I’ve wanted to change my name for years, to something much rarer. I might still do it at some point.

Finally, would he recommend that his name be given to babies today?

I’d recommend STRONGLY against using a top-10 name.

Thanks, Matthew!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

How Do You Like Your Name, Barry?

Today’s name interview is with Barry Brake, a 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas.

What’s the story behind his name?

They were going to name me Brandon (or was it Brendan?) — one of the really trendy names of the late 60s. But a few months into it, a kid down the street was born and they named *him* Brendan, so my parents didn’t want 2 on the same block.

It appeared to everyone that the name Barry came out of the blue. It’s not a family name or anything. But when I was an adult my mom told me something she’d never told me or anyone before, except my dad: that she thought I’d be a performer with my name in lights, and she really liked the stagey sound of “Barry Brake.” Indeed I ended up with musical talent and a showoff personality, and became a performer (though my name isn’t in lights!) I have to say my name works quite well and is a memorable name for a performer to have. Nice premonition!

(He’s right about the ’60s: the baby name Barry was most popular back in 1962.)

What does he like most about his name?

It’s catchy and memorable, and easy to spell for bank tellers and other people behind desks. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours of my life would have been wasted in spelling out Kryzstoffre or something. Whew! And Barry works well with my last name, too, which I think matters a lot.

What does he like least about his name?

As a kid it’s pretty easy to make fun of. It rhymes with stuff, so you get everything from the relatively irritating “Barry Cherry” to the slightly more irritating “Barry Fairy.” Also, there were several years there when people could not help but mention Barry Manilow when they met me.

Added to that is that my last name is rather unusual, leading to my now rule that a kid should only have one unusual name, so if your last name is Sauvage you should stick to naming your kids Mike and Ann, and if your last name is Smith you can name them Thaddeus and Guinevere, but you don’t want a super-plain-jane name or a plaid-on-stripes name.

That said, mine wasn’t *too* plaid-on-stripes, and all the current research shows that people with unusual names who get made fun of as kids generally grow as a result of it. So I’m glad I had a mildly character-building name, though I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my name wasn’t Schenectady Picklebottom.

Later on in life, you get rid of the schoolyard games and move on to other concerns. Mine is that Barry seems to always be the name of the fiancé in the *beginning* of the movie: the bland guy who’s “nice” but all wrong for the girl, and who gets summarily dumped. Either that or the loser boyfriend who … also gets summarily dumped. What is it with screenwriters and the name Barry?

Finally, would Barry recommend that his name be given to babies today?

Sure. If we’d had a son, Barry was at least a consideration, probably for a middle name. It’s sturdy and solid, and not trendy. But on the other hand it *is* more a Gen-X name than you’d probably get today: with Jennifer and Amy and Scott, it just seems to belong to people my age and not to the Noahs and Calebs our kids’ age. My prediction is that for at least a couple of generations, the Barrys around you will be named for someone in the family.

Thanks so much, Barry!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]