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Middle Names Considered
February 11, 2014 8:12 PM   Subscribe


 
(Full disclosure: my own name runs ____ Michael ________.)
posted by Iridic at 8:16 PM on February 11


For women, those names just flow really well with whatever you put before it and after it. Same with the guys' names too I guess.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:18 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


For the two I know named Ann or Anna as a middle name, it was their grandmother's name.

I'm from a family with the "middle name is your chance to go WILD" philosophy. My brother and I both have super normal first names and unusual middle names.
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I always wondered this. Growing up all my friends had these generic middle names and I always wondered what was the point of it. If everyone is named "Marie" then no one really has a name.

I got my middle name because in order to get baptized as a Catholic I needed a Christian-origin name in there somewhere. I'm sure I can't be the only one with that situation.
posted by bleep at 8:23 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Well, when it comes to "Lee", specifically, it's the middle name you give your kid when you want him to become a serial killer.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:24 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Huh. I thought having Ann or Lynn as a middle name was a Jennifer thing. I had no idea they were generally popular as middle names.
posted by booksherpa at 8:25 PM on February 11


Well, when it comes to "Lee", specifically, it's the middle name you give your kid when you want him to become a serial killer.

But it's not the classic middle name.
posted by Iridic at 8:26 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Iridic: "Well, when it comes to "Lee", specifically, it's the middle name you give your kid when you want him to become a serial killer.

But it's not the classic middle name
"

Yeah, Wayne is the other one. I'd avoid both of them.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:31 PM on February 11


About the middle names of serial killers. My speculation is that we only know their middle names because the media reports notorious killers with all their known names in order to provide specificity. Like, there are a lot of Mark Chapmans in the world, but many fewer Mark David Chapmans. Given the likely difficulty of going through life with the same name as a serial killer, it seems like a kindly intended gesture to specify which person you're talking about as a heinous and horrifying criminal by using the fullest possible name.

I don't know that this is actually the reason, I just think it's likely. If anyone can comment, I'd be interested.
posted by Miko at 8:31 PM on February 11 [16 favorites]


I finally Googled it. Seems ambiguous.
posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on February 11


Hey! My middle name is Lee! I'll kill you for saying it's a serial killer name!
posted by Anne Neville at 8:43 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Miko, I was just considering that phenomenon the other day when I saw a couple suspected of murder on the local news, and the man was identified by all three names while the woman was only identified by first/last. I noted that they showed a bit of footage of some police/legal document, which showed all three names for both. Then I tried to think of other female murderers and how they tended to be identified in news coverage. I think it's more common to use all three names for men than it is for women, but that's a guess. (FYI, IIRC, the woman's middle name was Lynn.)
posted by obloquy at 8:50 PM on February 11


Oh my god you guys, iridic is really Anthony Michael Hall!

My family is chock full of Waynes as middle names. So far, no serial killers. That we know about.
posted by emjaybee at 8:50 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


My middle name is Francis. I know, I should lighten up.
posted by me3dia at 8:53 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


I think I know why "Middle Name Lees" become serial killers. It's growing up with your parents or, even worse, your peers treating it like an extension of your First Name... like "Johnly" or "Markly" or my personal curse: "Craigly". Sure, a couple of TV hosts have made "Craigers" and "Craigy" into something cute, but it could never happen with "Craigly"' trust me, after 50+ years I know. Still, my online sig is now "Craig L", as an extension of using a big swoopy L in my handwritten signature, which has long prompted people to ask "Does that stand for Laurence?" or "...Louis?" or "...Zach?" (yeah, it kinda looks like a big Z) Those are the people I can trust - or that I can easily outwit. The ones who ask "Does that stand for Leroy?" I write off immediately.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:57 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Or you could just not give them a middle name. I promise it won't hurt them any.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:58 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


My wife and I both meet spec for the names in the post, but I at least have the benefit of my middle name honoring both of my grandfathers simultaneously.
posted by LionIndex at 9:01 PM on February 11


And Harry S Truman? He always said it didn't stand for anything, but WE know it was Shirley. Surely.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:01 PM on February 11


My middle name's one of the 2-syllable iambics. (And the name of my folks' favorite waitress at their favorite burger joint when mom was expecting. They had the opportunity to go with Elizabeth in honor of my grandmother, but no: burger waitress.)
posted by mochapickle at 9:02 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


As with all baby name threads I'm here to implore parents to consider anicent roman names for their children. I need more Livias, Octavias, Calpurnias, and Penelopes in my life.
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Well, Penelope is really Greek....
posted by Chrysostom at 9:04 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


My middle name is Ann, and my mother told me why once - my first name ends with an "ly", and Mom just liked the flow of the way that sounded like "Leanne". Sound could be part of this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 PM on February 11


Hypothesis 1: This is confirmation bias.

Hypothesis 2: They are named after older female relatives. Lynn and Marie are decidedly middle aged names.

My middle name is Catherine.
posted by Sara C. at 9:09 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I am the first born girl of the first born girl of the matriarch of the family. My mother, the first born girl of her generation, got her mother's first name as her middle name. As the first born girl of the third generation, I got my mother's middle name and my grandmother's first name as my middle name.

It's tradition, and I love that the name has been handed down through generations of women, and so my first born daughter? Will have my middle name and her grandmother's middle name and her great grandmother's first name.

The name is long and doesn't end in an 'A' and really doesn't fit the rules that the website lays out and certainly isn't Ann, Marie, or Lynn--but ask me if I care.
posted by librarylis at 9:10 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Or you could just not give them a middle name. I promise it won't hurt them any.

Unless you fail to instruct them to ignore the part of their first drivers' license application, where it says "If none, write '(none)'".

That might lead to years of ridicule in high school. Or so I'm told.
posted by Gorgik at 9:10 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


My first name is Marie. I can barely keep my eyes from glazing over whenever someone meets me and excitedly tells me "That's my middle name!" which happens at least once a week. I think maybe because it's not a very common first name (at least in the U.S. among people under like 80). I can count on one hand the number of first-named Maries I've ever met. At some point my sister actually found a Marie-specific birthday card for me where the punchline was something about it being everyone's middle name. I wish I remember what it said, but it's probably only funny to people named Marie anyway.
posted by primalux at 9:11 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I plan to name my kid's middle name NULL. It's going to melt down every database in the country.
posted by mochapickle at 9:12 PM on February 11 [19 favorites]


Thank god for middle names. That way you have something obvious to go by when your first name is actually pretty awful. (I go by my first initial and my middle name, since my parents went a special kind of mid-1970s nuts with my first name, but gave me something nice and simple and monosyllabic for the middle, although it's not one of the ones listed on the linked site.)
posted by heurtebise at 9:13 PM on February 11


I was born in Cleveland and my middle name is 'Shlomo'.

<drops mike, leaves stage>
posted by benito.strauss at 9:13 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Sara C.: "Hypothesis 1: This is confirmation bias."

I can point to at least three generations of men with the middle name "Lee" in one branch of my family. At this point is it a filler name or just a tradition? I suppose it doesn't matter, at this point.
posted by barnacles at 9:15 PM on February 11


Yeah, but people tend to pass down family names. I can point to at least three generations of men in one branch of my family with the middle name William, and yet I don't think William is that common a middle name for men. It's just common in my family.

Hence why I think this leads so handily to confirmation bias.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 PM on February 11


I am suspicious of any middle name complainery about "Anne" and "Marie" that fails to note that Sts. Anne and Mary are like THE MOST POPULAR saints to be named after. Like even dudes gets middle-named Mary. "Hey, why don't we name our child Mara so we don't use too popular a name?" "No, no; I think we'll stick with naming her after THE MOTHER OF GOD if that's okay with you."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:23 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Sara C., Lee is #5 on the survey, and William is #4.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:24 PM on February 11


"All these blacksmiths named Smith, am I right? They should totally go with Finklehornswaggle! Smith is SOOOOO overdone!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:26 PM on February 11


Am I misunderstanding something? How do women lose their middle names when they get married? Last names, sure, but middle names?

BTW, two middle names ftw.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:26 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah I can think of eight variants on my middle name used as middle and or first names for the male children in my family but I assumed that was trying to keep the puesdo-aristocratic southern traditatiin alive within said branch. The fact that it's a non traditional spelling of said name is just even more fun for record keeping purposes.
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 PM on February 11


My middle name is Marie. I hate it.
posted by agregoli at 9:29 PM on February 11


(also, the other odd family tradition, two middle names for women, explained to me by a great -Aunt, " so they'd have a choice" so lots of Julia Rose Lee and Emma Rachel Daisy in the family)
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on February 11


arcticwoman- Many women go from "Sarah Marie Jones" as their legal maiden name to "Sarah Jones Smith" as their legal married name and drop their given middle name. This was overwhelmingly normative for women born between, oh, 1910 and 1970, but isn't as typical these days.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:32 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


(oh wait I'm just now remembering my Mom uncovering a relative named Donna Theresa Maria and saying "was she named mid-prayer?" )
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


No mention of Danger?
posted by Mchelly at 9:37 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


mochapickle: "I plan to name my kid's middle name NULL. It's going to melt down every database in the country."

Obligatory XKCD reference.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:37 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Chrysostom, that is excellent! I hadn't seen that.
posted by mochapickle at 9:41 PM on February 11


We have two daughters and their middle names are Moxie and Dare. We have not stopped feeling awesome about that.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:52 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Peter, Paul and Marie
posted by telstar at 10:23 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


We have two daughters and their middle names are Moxie and Dare. We have not stopped feeling awesome about that.

My niece, Danger is her middle name.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:24 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Huh, I had an unexpected (but probably predictable for my upbringing) reaction to the article, which was "wow this seems super white." These middle name conventions don't apply to any of the kids of immigrants I know, nor any of their kids. The middle name is where you put the non-assimilationist Old Country name, to keep the cultural/ethnic connection but avoid having Young-suck as the kid's first name. (Korean names really had a lot of "suk"s for a while there)

Come to think of it, all the multiracial kids I know here in Hawaii have all their ethnic backgrounds stuffed into their name, often with a Hawaiian name for good measure (even if they aren't Native Hawaiian). I think one kid I know has a trendy "___den" first name followed by three middle names -- a Japanese name, a Korean name, and a Hawaiian name -- and then his Japanese last name. O_o
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:36 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


I'm the only one in my nuclear family whose name doesn't begin with A. If my brother had been given his middle name as a first name it would have been evened out with two Js and two As. I couldn't stand how my first Hebrew name sounded, so I insisted on being called by my middle one in Hebrew school ( the same as the recently deceased prime minister).

I called myself Anastasia in my autobiographical writing, but 50 shades is forcing me to change it (snarl).
posted by brujita at 10:36 PM on February 11


"His [Ron Howard's] daughters' middle names indicate where they were conceived, Bryce in Dallas, and twins Jocelyn and Paige at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Son Reed Cross was named after Lower Cross Road, a street near their Greenwich, CT home, because 'Volvo isn't a very good middle name', according to Howard."
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


(Hence the "Rebel Alley" joke in the last season of "Arrested Development.")
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


spamandkimchi, that's a great point, and probably part of why I see this as confirmation bias.

Growing up in Catholic Cajun Louisiana, everyone either had a saint's name as a middle name or a French/Cajun middle name. Granted, Marie and Anne do double duty there. I don't think I know anyone with the middle name Lynn, but I know a ton of people with the middle name Jeanne.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 PM on February 11


I hate "Lee." It's the most generically boring syllable. Is it a first, last, or middle name? Boy or girl? Ethnicity? WHO THE HELL KNOWS? It's the most placeholder-y name of all time. But god knows everyone knows at least 5 Lee's. Counting several of my cousins and ex-boyfriends, for fuck's sake.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:53 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


My mothers' name was Mary, my middle name is Marie and my sisters' name is Moira. It was an Irish Catholic thing that ended with my generation. Thank God.
posted by cairnoflore at 11:20 PM on February 11


Yeah, Wayne is the other one. I'd avoid both of them.

Dammit.
posted by zardoz at 11:22 PM on February 11


jenfullmoon: It's the most placeholder-y name of all time. But god knows everyone knows at least 5 Lee's. Counting several of my cousins and ex-boyfriends, for fuck's sake.

So you're saying it's here a Lee, there a Lee, everywhere a Lee a Lee?
posted by the latin mouse at 11:46 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


S
posted by kagredon at 11:49 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I don't have a middle name (always wanted one, though), and I'm astounded that my first one's on there.

Do people identify with middle names, other than disliking them or feeling connected to lineage?
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:58 PM on February 11


I don't know that this is actually the reason, I just think it's likely. If anyone can comment, I'd be interested.

Cops talking to reporters.

If you asked a neighbor about the guy, they'd say "Mark Chapman? I don't fucking believe it. He was just a loser dweeb. I barely noticed him."

But if you were a reporter asking the police, they'd tell you his full name: "We have detained a person of interest. That's Mark David Chapman. That's right. Mark David Chapman."
posted by pracowity at 12:29 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My middle name is Christopher, assigned with no familial connection by my hippy parents in 1975. My dad was raised Catholic, but had it beaten out of him by nuns in Jersey City throughout the 40's, but he wanted to appease his Irish catholic mother so I suppose a saints name had to be chosen. I was informed that they picked it because Christopher was the patron saint of sailors and travelers (I come from maritime stock) and was known to be a big dude and I was a fairly hefty baby. I'm fine with my middle name, especially because I always go by first name, middle initial, last name and it gives my signature a nice hard C in the middle. I do wish I had been given a family name for the connection to my heritage, but I'm the first born and my parents were still celebrating being free of their parents. My sister's middle name is Lisa, after my funnest and funniest aunt and I always envied her having a family name like that.


Middle names are fun, I always ask people what theirs are and why.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:34 AM on February 12


I spent some time in the catholic girl dating circuit. This is where I found Lynn, Ann, the others, and famously, Catherine. I'm surprised nobody mentioned that. I always thought there was a cultural-religious reason as I'm looking through my phone book and can't find any other catholic girl middle name. Oh, Michelle and Rene.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:48 AM on February 12


Another _____ Lynn here. I really dislike my middle name. I was named after an Aunt Lena, which I think is much prettier.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:44 AM on February 12


Do people identify with middle names, other than disliking them or feeling connected to lineage?

Hearing mine gives me a nostalgic sense of having my mother yell at me.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:12 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My wife's middle name is Leigh. No serial killer (....or is she?)

We also are way outta the loop in my daughters is Mackenzie (after a equally long 1st name...poor girl) and my sons is Boyd, what my, at the time, 3 yo daughter would point at Mommys belly and say Boy-d.
posted by ShawnString at 3:24 AM on February 12


My dad and I share the same middle name, just spelled differently.

I'm Dawn, he's Don. His dad was Don too.

I don't think my mom was thinking in terms of keeping a tradition, but I like to think I was. Unfortunately, I'm not having kids, and my brother chose a different middle name for my nephew, so it's a short-lived tradition.

Plus, people occasionally called me "Katie Dawn" when I was a kid, and, Christ, could that sound any more like a porn star/country singer?

Then again, my husband and I always made a joke about how if we were going to have kids, the first would have to be named Jeffrey Sinclair. Because it sounded good and anytime we can make a random Babylon 5 joke, we will.

(At least we weren't going to name this fictional kid John Sheridan...)
posted by Katemonkey at 4:14 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


G'Kar would have had a nice ring to it.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:18 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Oh my god you guys, iridic is really Anthony Michael Hall!

Close. Jan Michael Vincent.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:22 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


That explanation for the prevalence of those middle names is pretty much the definition of a just-so story.
posted by empath at 4:46 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Interesting bit! My middle name is the standard two-syllable first stressed model (it is not in the top ten for some county in NY in 1997, though) but I have a monosyllabic first name so it works. I am named after my paternal grandfathers; my older sister is named after our maternal grandmothers. I really like that. If I had been named after my maternal grandfathers it would have been Samuel William or the other way around.
posted by mountmccabe at 4:50 AM on February 12


so as a man with the middle name Lynn, does that make me atypically typical?

well, it's one of the reasons....
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:05 AM on February 12


I am actually wrong, Samuel was another generation back. I would have been William Moses.

My grandfather's middle name is D. Just the letter. Amongst my siblings and nieces and nephews we have several of the popular names but also Gustav, named after Gustavus Adolphus.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:20 AM on February 12


When 12 o'clock comes, he says "Call me Ellie Mae."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:20 AM on February 12


All the Janets I've ever met have been Janet Lynn or Janet Gail (there was one Janet Mary). I'm Janet Lynne. My mother had a thing for putting "e" on names -- my sister's middle name is Kaye.
posted by JanetLand at 5:31 AM on February 12


I go by my middle name, which is a common name in my family and uncommon everywhere else outside of '90s WB teen dramas. For the most part my family has kept up the tradition of "boring first and last name, interesting middle name." Except for my sister, Boring Ann Boring.

For the record, one of my female friends has the middle name "Ransom," which I think is pretty tough to beat.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:33 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


My father had no middle name --- he dropped the one he was given at birth when he became a US citizen in 1943: for some reason, he found having 'Adolph' in there problematic.....

One of my mixed-race nephews (White/Filipino/Chinese/Mexican/Apache) has a Hawaiian first name and a Japanese middle name to go with his Filipino last name.

My own middle name is, yes, Ann: like my older sisters, we were all supposed to be boys, so they hadn't picked a girl's name ahead of time for me. I got my first name because it's one of those stick-an-A-on-the-end-of-it boy's names, and the Ann was because as my mother frequently said, she "wasn't feeling real damn creative that morning".
posted by easily confused at 5:33 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My father's female family names sound like a dairy herd, and my older sister already had the only decent one, Laura. On my mother's side, it was Elvira or Pessel, so I consider Lynn a win for me.
posted by gladly at 5:54 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I also go by my middle name, which throws so many people off, and everyone assumes that I chose to do it. My parents just liked the way my first and middle flowed in that order, but wanted to call me by the middle one. My mom was also called by her middle name, so there's that too.

When picking a name for a child, it's hard for me to think about a throwaway middle or no middle. There are so many names I fell in love with, and it's challenging enough to have to narrow it down to just two.
posted by bizzyb at 5:58 AM on February 12


(Hence the "Rebel Alley" joke in the last season of "Arrested Development.")

And that Rebel's kid is named Lem.
posted by phunniemee at 6:03 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Of course my middle name is Ann - I think I've only met one Leslie ever whose middle name wasn't Ann. It's probably written in law somewhere.
posted by leslies at 6:19 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I'm from a family with the "middle name is your chance to go WILD" philosophy. My brother and I both have super normal first names and unusual middle names.

My cousin was the same way. Her son has a first name like an accountant and his middle name is that of a Norse god.
posted by jonp72 at 6:27 AM on February 12


My mother is French/Spanish, and neither culture is shy about having lots of names. (Kids these days, keeping both their mother's and father's last names are staring to sound like law firms). My mum drew on her brothers' names to populate the middle field of my brother's name. Problem was, she had lots of brothers, so he became D. Jean-Michel Manrique Francis *long hyphenated last name*. If he uses both my father and mother's last names, his name uses every letter inthe alphabet, save w, which is pretty great (yeah, my mother's last name ends in x).

Ok, that's all great and all, but then I came along, and she had run out of brother's names when it came to my middle names. So she drew on the names of her first crush, and first real lover (who after their love affair, joined the Catholic priesthood, talk about being heartbroken). As far as I know, my father still has no idea where those middle names come from.
posted by bumpkin at 6:30 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I don't have a middle name. I'm led to believe this would cause bureaucratical issues in the US, where they're seen as a standard entry on forms.

I think the middle name killer thing is more of a US convention - we don't do it so much in the UK. I had a look at our most notable prisons - most of which house names that would undoubtedly be familiar to those in the UK if not overseas - and it doesn't seem to be a thing.

In fact, there was a libel case recently due to there happening to be two musicians with the same name - one ex-rock band member guilty of sex offences, and one ex-boyband member guilty of nothing but making terrible records. Google didn't discriminate between the two.
posted by mippy at 6:33 AM on February 12


I went through a phase of wanting to change my middle-Michael to Tiberius, Danger, Krakatoa, Ytterbium, 9, or something else fun.
posted by Foosnark at 6:33 AM on February 12


Also, Lee is more of a working-class name in the UK - definitely where I grew up, and it seems elsewhere. As is Wayne. If both are also true for the US, then arguably they have more recurrence amongst convicted criminals for class reasons?
posted by mippy at 6:35 AM on February 12


A tangent which addresses middle-name use, amongst actors -

It's actually a rule in Actors' Equity (and I think SAG may be the same, but will let others who know confirm) that you can't have two people in the membership logs who have exactly the same name. A lot of actors over the years have changed their names because of vanity, yeah, but others have changed their names because "there's already someone with that name in Equity" (hence, David McDonald became "David Tennant", Tom Lane became "Nathan Lane", etc.).

But a lot of actors use the dodge of "my middle name - or at least the initial - is part of my official Equity name". Anthony Michael Hall probably started using "Michael" because there already was an "Anthony Hall" listed. Same too with Michael J. Fox. Anthony Michael Hall and Michael J. Fox probably don't insist on everyone calling them that in private life, but "Michael" is part of the official "Anthony Michael Hall" brand name, so to speak.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Empress: another one is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, more commonly known as Tom Cruise.
posted by easily confused at 6:47 AM on February 12


Also, both Gordon Brown and Paul McCartney are known by their middle names. Both were christened James.

I think I posted an AskMe a while ago about middle names being used more in the US - it's relatively rare here to have someone style themselves as James G Brown or J Gordon Brown, even when there might be a number of James Browns. I often wondered why those who go for the latter don't just drop the first initial - a friend of mine is known by his middle name and is professionally styled as Dr Middlename Lastname rather than Dr Firstnamenobodyusesinitial Middlename Lastname.
posted by mippy at 6:47 AM on February 12


Fun Fact: Michael J. Fox's middle name? Andrew.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:52 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Only ONE person commenting that their middle name is their Hebrew name? I thought MF was full of Jews. My middle name (the Jewish version of Lee, I guess) is Leah, my Hebrew name. My only complaint is that my given first name (not used, I've always gone by a nickname) also ends in a so I have the most ridiculous feminine name of all time (seriously).
posted by syncope at 6:52 AM on February 12


I often wondered why those who go for the latter don't just drop the first initial - a friend of mine is known by his middle name and is professionally styled as Dr Middlename Lastname rather than Dr Firstnamenobodyusesinitial Middlename Lastname.

It could just be they thought it sounded cool. I actually went through a phase of using my middle initial for a while because I thought it sounded more "official".

Then again, I'd dropped that affectation by the time I joined Equity and my official Equity name was FullFirstname Lastname. I wonder if the people who have the Dr. Firstinitial Middlename Lastname maybe just were in that phase when they had to pick an "official form" of their name and now they have to keep it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 AM on February 12



My middle name is Jesse, as is my father's, my grandfather's, my great-great uncle's and my great-great grandfather's. They also have the same first name as well (Harris, though not a single one of them has gone by it, preferring various, mostly irrelevant nickname). I ended up with said middle name because my parents never considered the fact that I might defy their apparent expectations and be a girl. They arrived at Alison somewhat on the spot (as did an awful lot of other people in the mid-70s) and having exhausted their creativity essentially decided my father's family-derived middle name sounded slightly better than my mother's. I mostly hated my middle name growing up, which probably has something to do with "The Dukes of Hazard" being on television at the time.

Weirdly, I would have been Thomas Butler ______, had a been a boy, thus named after another branch of the family tree.
posted by thivaia at 6:57 AM on February 12


I use my first initial before my middle name in a semi-professional manner. It's mostly to help with confusion on official forms.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:57 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


another one is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, more commonly known as Tom Cruise.

Oh, yeah, there's a lot of ways to skin that particular cat. It actually got kind of annoying for me in theater because I was so used to referring to people as Firstname Lastname on all the internal communications and paperwork and such, but then when I listed them as Firstname Lastname on the program that's when they came to me and said "Actually, you need to have Firstname Equityinitial Lastname for me...." There's one poor actor I worked with repeatedly over the course of about 7 years and I think it took me 3 to remember to put the "L." in his name on programs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Plus, people occasionally called me "Katie Dawn" when I was a kid, and, Christ, could that sound any more like a porn star/country singer?

So... awww. [puts away "MeFi's Own k.d. lang" banner]

It's actually a rule in Actors' Equity (and I think SAG may be the same, but will let others who know confirm) that you can't have two people in the membership logs who have exactly the same name.

Apocryphally, when Trey Parker (co-creator of South Park) applied to the Guild, he was told he'd have to change his name for that reason. He threatened to change his screen name to "SAG Eats Babies" and they granted him an exception.
posted by psoas at 6:59 AM on February 12


I have a hideous first name and I love my middle name and my Hebrew name. I should have switched my first name to either the middle or the Hebrew decades ago, but I didn't. Now I feel like, at 43 I'm kind of stuck with it and have regretted it forever.

I feel like this is turning into an AskMe....
posted by Sophie1 at 7:03 AM on February 12


David X. Cohen, Former Futurama writer, is often asked what the X stands for. It stands for " there was another David Cohen in the writers guild and they have that unique name law."

His middle name is actually Samuel.
posted by The Whelk at 7:06 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


My grandmother chose my entire name and wanted Marie for the middle, but my father had a hissy about the Marie and picked out something else. Good thing, otherwise we'd have had THREE Shannon Maries in my 5th grade class.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:24 AM on February 12


I have a hideous first name and I love my middle name and my Hebrew name. I should have switched my first name to either the middle or the Hebrew decades ago, but I didn't. Now I feel like, at 43 I'm kind of stuck with it and have regretted it forever.

I don't know which one "Sophie" is but "Sophie" is (IMHO) one of the greatest names ever.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:27 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer - thanks so much. Sophie is just the name I've been using on the nets for all of these years, but it is none of the above. BTW, I love the name too (and am annoyed that whomever used Sophie on MeFi first was never active and wasted their name).
posted by Sophie1 at 7:30 AM on February 12


Louise!

(needs more love/is the best)
posted by likeatoaster at 7:31 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I just want to go on record and say that I agree completely with Navelgazer about that appellation. As names go, Sophie's choice.
posted by koeselitz at 7:35 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It's not exciting. My mother's middle name was Ann. Somewhat fortunate I didn't get my aunt's middle name, Gay. My daughter, however, was originally thought to be a boy and the boy name I had picked out was John Raymond, middle names of both my grandfathers. When it was discovered on the next ultrasound that my daughter was indeed a daughter, I refused to ditch Raymond, so her middle name is still Raymond, which she thinks is cool because nobody else has it.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:47 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Yep, another _______ Lynne here.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:16 AM on February 12


No mention of Danger?

I was thinking of going with Professionalism.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:16 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My middle name is LaMar which I love because people don't expect it. It's my mom's maiden name, which I think is pretty common for Southerners.

It's always made me feel unique so when I have a kid I want their middle name to be something SUPER awesome. Navelgazer, LOVE the idea of the middle name Ransom.
posted by whitetigereyes at 8:18 AM on February 12


A kid in my extended family has the middle name L. Just L. Some databases haven't accepted that so in some official records her middle name is Ell, which totally changes her initials and was regrettably unforeseen by her parents.

Mary was a much more usual middle name amongst my peer group at school than Marie, which I usually saw as a second first name with a hyphen in the French style (eg Alice-Marie).
posted by goo at 8:22 AM on February 12


Wayne


Friends of mine have a son that they wanted to name after various family members, which meant the kid ended up being named "John Wayne ______."

Everyone calls him "Duke."
posted by ambrosia at 8:25 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Huh. The middle names of myself, brother, sister, both parents, and husband are all in the top 5.
posted by Safiya at 8:32 AM on February 12


So you're saying it's here a Lee, there a Lee, everywhere a Lee a Lee?

Thanks for the fucking earworm! :)
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:34 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


The name "John Wayne ____" seems to have some misfortune attached to it: two serial killers and a guy who got his penis cut off, for starters. There are others, though.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 AM on February 12


My dad changed his middle name when he reached majority. We have an impossibly German last name. Germans are constantly coming up to me and saying, "Yo, das ist ferry German namme, vee neffer hear such German surnamme, zis so great, yes?" Then they get all gemütlich and I get all gehemmt and things go downhill fast.

So it must have been tough for dad being a Richard Emil, people left and right saying RIH-kard AY-mil instead of just Rich. He switched his middle name to John.

Our last name continues to harbor five consonants in a row and perplex cold-callers.

My maternal great-grandfather's name at birth was Laverne Victor. He went by his middle name and upon adulthood made it official. While he was at it he changed his middle name, becoming Victor Vernal, springtime champion.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:56 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


It's always made me feel unique so when I have a kid I want their middle name to be something SUPER awesome

I miss the 1800s, the century of Percy Bysshe Shelley, James Fenimore Cooper, John Greenleaf Whittier, William Makepeace Thackeray.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:16 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


> I don't have a middle name. I'm led to believe this would cause bureaucratical issues in the US, where they're seen as a standard entry on forms

Nah, I'm an American and I didn't have a middle name until I was an adult. It was never a problem.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:19 AM on February 12


Well, when it comes to "Lee", specifically, it's the middle name you give your kid when you want him to become a serial killer.

Or a famous Canadian rock musician.

Gary Lee Weinrib is one. Better known as Geddy Lee.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:30 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My middle name is on one of the suggested lists and rather uncommon, particularly for women. My mother says I'm not named after her stepfather, but it's awfully coincidental. (He died some years before I was born.) On the upside, had I not been given my not-particularly-usual name, I would have been Jolie Lee, so there's me as a serial killer.

Men in my husband's family are all John [whatever]. My father-in-law goes by John, but my husband goes by his (common) middle name. Dad's middle name is Wayne, and yes, he gets the jokes, if only because we make them. Fortunately that side of the family is all from east Texas, so it's "JOHN [WHATEVER]"; otherwise nobody would know who's being called for.
posted by immlass at 9:30 AM on February 12


spamandkimchi: The middle name is where you put the non-assimilationist Old Country name, to keep the cultural/ethnic connection but avoid having Young-suck as the kid's first name. (Korean names really had a lot of "suk"s for a while there)

Or you can do the thing that my parents did and give your hapa child two middle names that mean the same thing in different languages, which, I guess, is at least an easy-to-remember way of answering the inevitable "ooh, what does that mean?" question. "It, uh, it also means 'Grace'. Yeah, I know it's kind of redundant."

Hawaii is really kind of a world unto its own in names, as in many other things. One of the running observational jokes that my father and stepmother (who also had lived there for many years) had was that a lot of the Anglo names that seem to stay popular there often sound weirdly archaic to mainlanders, such that you meet 20-somethings named Milton or Doris and it's not weird somehow?

(uh, and my earlier comment was a phone-clumsy-finger misfire, not some meta joke about Harry Truman. In case anyone was wondering?)
posted by kagredon at 9:34 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


About F. Middlename Lastname:

My family, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers call me by my middle name, and I think of this as my name. I use the F. Middlename Lastname form in official-type correspondence to try to avoid confusion (and sometimes downright hostility) about the name I'm called by not matching the Firstname M. Lastname form that appears in official records like human resource documents and roll-books.

This has absolutely nothing to do with thinking my name sounds better with the extra initial stuck in. It doesn't. It has everything to do with "Yes, I do #*&!$#* work here!", "No, it's not a @$%#*&* alias!" and "Yes, I am a student in your $%@ class!". This has been much less of an issue for me in recent decades since I'm not a student anymore and I've worked for smaller companies where people know my name. For people that know me, I'm just Middlename or Middlename Lastanme.

(I realize the frequency of having a middle name as a given name varies in the anglophone world, but where I'm from, it's not all that common.)
posted by nangar at 10:20 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]



Only ONE person commenting that their middle name is their Hebrew name? I thought MF was full of Jews. My middle name (the Jewish version of Lee, I guess) is Leah, my Hebrew name. My only complaint is that my given first name (not used, I've always gone by a nickname) also ends in a so I have the most ridiculous feminine name of all time (seriously).


My family's Hebrew names are all the Hebrew "versions" of their American names--I guess really names that sound somewhat similar to their first names. My family also has a sort of complicated naming method going on, so basically no one has the same first or middle name as anyone else, going back generations.

To be honest, I always thought of middle names of Ann, Marie and Lynn was something white Christian people did.
posted by inertia at 10:27 AM on February 12


My mom, my wife, my sisters and my sisters-in-law all have either Ann or Marie as a middle name.

I, on the other hand, was saddled with a middle name the same as the first name of a certain TV millionaire who was stranded on a desert island during a three hour tour. Thanks mom and dad.
posted by octothorpe at 10:32 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Originally my middle name was going to be Marie. But mom was afraid of offending relatives (one of them had that as a middle name) so Marlene it was.


There are fates worse than having a common middle name, people.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:55 AM on February 12


I am interested in the theory that I will be able to name my child in such as way as to influence the probability of his becoming a Canadian musician.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:56 AM on February 12


Am Jewish, have no Hebrew name at all and middle name Ann as previously mentioned - you can't assume all Jews go by the same naming traditions!
posted by leslies at 11:02 AM on February 12


Have just remembered a devout-yet-liberal Catholic friend uses his Confirmation name as a second middle name. And he was one of those kids who went with a wacked-out badass Confirmation ("Thaddeus").

He is listed in my phone contacts with his entire full name because it just sounds so gloriously baroque that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:05 AM on February 12


All the middle names for me and my siblings are family names, and lo and behold there's a Marie in there. I think that's a lot of it (as others have suggested). People want to give their kids a family name, but it sounds too old-fashioned for a first name so they make it a middle. Therefore, middle names should reflect the commonest first names from a generation or two previous.
posted by Scientist at 11:27 AM on February 12


Also, just to mix things up even more apparently, no one else in my family is named Marie, though there is one Mary on my mom's side, and maybe one distant Maria on my father's side. The most common female name I can think of in my family is Guadalupe. I'm also not white (though my mom is, and I think she's the one who chose my name originally, though she is definitely not Catholic), and a lot of people I meet who tell me their middle names are Marie tend to be Latin or Asian these days.
posted by primalux at 11:40 AM on February 12


Oh and one of the most obnoxious things I've ever had to endure due to my name was a francophone woman repeatedly trying to tell me I wasn't saying my name correctly and trying to get me to repeat her pronunciation over and over. Ha. I used to work at a job with a lot of foreign-tourist contact. I also basically have only worked jobs where I have to wear a name tag, so that could be another reason I hear about people having the middle name Marie so often.
posted by primalux at 11:46 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My full Hebrew name is Yehudit Sharon ( My mother put her foot down and said there were already too many Judiths in the family, so I got named for the Donovan song). Yehudit sounded awful to me.

In the new issue of Lilith, there's an article by a Russian woman named Viktoria who was given the Hebrew name Vered when she went on a Birthright tour. She wished she'd been able to pick a name for herself, claiming that Vered is considered as dowdy as Ethel in Israel.
posted by brujita at 12:02 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Oh, I love the name Yehudit!!! My Hebrew name is Tikvah, and that's sort of considered a "Bertha" type name in Israel as well, so when I lived there, I went as Tiki, which is fun.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:10 PM on February 12


By the way, I think my sister easily has the worst Hebrew name, having been saddled with Shmuela.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:14 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I never quite understood the point of conservative middle naming. It seems like the perfect place to let your freak flag fly, or at least to show a little flavor. My first name might as well have been randomly selected from a spinwheel of popular 80s names, but my middle name is an oldtimey anglicized shtetl name from a great-great-uncle.
posted by threeants at 12:26 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


No mention of Jo? I grew up with and around an awful lot of female middle-name-Jos. My mom even wanted to give my little sister Samantha (yes, named after the witch) the middle name Jo, but as soon as everyone realized people would immediately start calling her "Sammy-Jo" (because they did the second the name was suggested), that idea got dropped.

Mom also claims that I was almost a middle-name-Lee, because had I been a boy she was considering naming me Brock Lee. The name I have now is troublesome enough (no one believes it's my real name, it makes older people sing to me, younger people feel compelled to tell me about their same-named horse), I don't know if I could have handled being "broccoli."
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:33 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Ha, my mom's Hebrew name is Yehudit! She hates it, probably mostly because my dad found it fun to shout "Yeeehuuuudit!"
posted by inertia at 12:38 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


The greatest translator of Maimonides is named Schlomo Pines, which makes for a pretty odd-sounding combo. A friend of mine saw him give a lecture once; the guy who introduced him tried to be politic and make it sound better, pronouncing the last name like the trees. When the fellow for up to the lectern, however, he said: "It's okay. My name is PENIS. Go ahead, you can say it. It won't bother me."
posted by koeselitz at 1:35 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: PENIS. Go ahead, you can say it.
posted by kagredon at 1:58 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


... I think my sister easily has the worst Hebrew name, having been saddled with Shmuela.

On the face of it, yes, she does. But if Disney ever decides to do an animated fairy tale set in the Pale of Settlement, the fairy godmother figure will definitely be named 'Shmuela'. That'd be pretty great.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:59 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


mostly because my dad found it fun to shout "Yeeehuuuudit!"

She can be thankful he didn't know about "Who's Yehoodi?".
posted by benito.strauss at 2:02 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I have a cousin whose middle name is Anne and so she went the whole hog and named one of her daughters "Anne Marie." Another cousin gave her daughter the middle name "Ann" because it's her middle name and was her mom's. Those are not the only legacy-Anns I've met. Their parents wanted to name them after some female relative or another, but for whatever reason, didn't use the relative's first name, but chose the relative's middle name - Ann. To me that's a little odd (why not choose the first name or a variant?) but whatever.

My own middle name is my maternal grandmother's first name, and is uncommon and, in the US, extremely old-fashioned. I think it was the height of glamor when my great-grandma picked it out. How fashions change.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:09 PM on February 12


But if Disney ever decides to do an animated fairy tale set in the Pale of Settlement, the fairy godmother figure will definitely be named 'Shmuela'. That'd be pretty great.

While I agree, it would be pretty great, you know the fairy godmother's name will be Gittel. It just has to be.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:25 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Ha, that's my Aunt Gittie (who went off to Israel). Maybe there'd be three: Gittel, Yentl, and Shmuela. I'm open to changes on "Yentl", but you get the rhythm.

(All this talk of Shlomo's and Gittel's in an article about Ann's and Marie's makes me feel a little like the first Rosenberg family admitted to the local country club.)
posted by benito.strauss at 3:13 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Ruchel is the third. (and tell me about it - nu? Did you hear about the Feinbergs?)
posted by Sophie1 at 3:17 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


My own middle name is my maternal grandmother's first name, and is uncommon and, in the US, extremely old-fashioned. I think it was the height of glamor when my great-grandma picked it out. How fashions change.

Traditionally, girls' names rise and fall faster than boys' names. A century ago there were a lot of Ediths and Ethels to go with the Johns and Williams.

I first became aware of the dynamics looking at a list of most common baby names for the previous year when I was in university. My name was still in the top ten, but I counted eight Cindys or Cynthias among my own cohort (born in the late sixties), and the name was gone from the top 100 less than twenty years later.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:20 PM on February 12


This discussion is so fun. My first name is Jennifer, and my mom had originally intended on giving me the middle name of Lee. Because it was her maiden name. But after my birth she was so out of it than when asked for the birth certificate she blurted out "Ann". Which is her middle name. So I got stuck with a very common first and middle name, and my brother got Lee as his middle later on. But at least I dodged the serial killer name I suppose. Thanks Mom.
posted by weathergal at 3:27 PM on February 12


My middle name is Meta. No relation to MetaFilter.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:27 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


> Hawaii is really kind of a world unto its own in names, as in many other things. One of the running observational jokes that my father and stepmother (who also had lived there for many years) had was that a lot of the Anglo names that seem to stay popular there often sound weirdly archaic to mainlanders, such that you meet 20-somethings named Milton or Doris and it's not weird somehow?

Jamaica is the same way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:41 PM on February 12


Miko: "About the middle names of serial killers. My speculation is that we only know their middle names because the media reports notorious killers with all their known names in order to provide specificity.... it seems like a kindly intended gesture to specify which person you're talking about as a heinous and horrifying criminal by using the fullest possible name."

I'd really be on the lookout for John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt.

I'd be especially worried hanging out with me, because his name is my name too.

Why do you think they're always shouting?
posted by symbioid at 4:51 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My middle name is my Grandfathers and Great-grandfather's first name. What I really like is that my great-grandfather had the middle name "Rucker", which I think is a damn interesting name. If I ever had a son, I think I'd like that to be his middle name.
posted by symbioid at 4:59 PM on February 12


The popularity of "John" and "James" must be what inspired Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose.
posted by foobaz at 5:08 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


My middle name (and that of my father, and grandfather) is the original surname of my great-grandmother, who was a apparently a very accomplished and formidable woman. She was such a matriarch that her sons (and theirs) got the middle name "Ottman".
Her name is still a part of our family today.
posted by librosegretti at 5:11 PM on February 12


Genealogically speaking, middle names are like little golden clues. Sometimes, when a woman's parentage is mysterious, her middle name will turn out to be her mother's maiden name which is such a help.

My middle name is Elizabeth, after Beth March. My first name is also one of the March sisters. The snobby one. At least I'm not Margy Jo.

My older son was given a family surname for his middle name, and after my husband adopted him he took my maiden name as a second middle name. When my second son was born we decided to give him 2 middle names, too. The first is William, after Trespassers Will, from Winnie the Pooh. The second is my great-grandmother's maiden name, as he was born on her birthday.
posted by Biblio at 6:28 PM on February 12


Yet another Lynn here which doesn't really go with my fairly ethnic first name. According to my mom it was picked because she couldn't think of anything else. Frankly I think her middle name (Elaine) would have worked fine (except she hates it). I went slightly unusual with Lyra for kidlet -- it was pulled from the Patricia Wrede series (and not the Philip Pullman series as some have asked).
posted by bluesapphires at 7:42 PM on February 12


No mention of Jo? I grew up with and around an awful lot of female middle-name-Jos.

I'm a Joanne, does that work for you? I'm part of a little matrilineal middle name chain, which I have always rather cherished... Grandma's middle name is Jo Anne (though the Jo is a bit of a switch-hitter, as she's generally gone by Bettie Jo,) Mom's is Joanne, and mine's actually technically JoAnne. Neither my mom nor I have first names that work well with the ______-Jo construction, though.

If I had a daughter, I'd absolutely continue the chain.
posted by polymath at 8:32 PM on February 12


Had I been named for the distaff side, it could have been Ethel or Blanche *shudders*

Fortunately, my folks decided to lose the consonant on the end of my dad's first name, and stick on a vowel. Wasn't common in those days, but reasonably common name now.
Unfortunately, some people put the stress on the first part, some on the second. Some want to make the initial sound as an, some as on, and I will hurt you if you say it au, because the second letter is an n, dammit. And that's an a at the end, not a y.

No middle name, had to pick that out during confirmation. I wanted Phillipa, but, oh no, that wasn't the name of a saint that anybody had heard about, plus it was weird. So I had to go with Michelle. They thought it was for a saint. I knew it was all about the Beatles song.

Just don't call me Late for Dinner.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:36 PM on February 12


Ha, my mom's Hebrew name is Yehudit! She hates it, probably mostly because my dad found it fun to shout "Yeeehuuuudit!"

I've known a few girls and women named Yodit, but they're all Ethopian or Eritrean (and not Jewish). It blows my mind that Yehudit is a Hebrew name, I've never heard it in that context.

Are Yodit and Yehudit different spellings/pronunciations/traditions of the same name?
posted by rue72 at 1:30 AM on February 13


The popularity of "John" and "James" must be what inspired Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose.

If you're ever trying to come up with a fake old-timey important guy name, the middle initial J is what sells it.

Questions from Tourists:
"Who are all those busts in front of the Merchandise Mart?"
"Those are the original founders of Chicago industry. There on the end is Hiram J. Mart, for whom the Merchandise Mart is named."

Questions from Children:
"Who invented shoes?"
"Arthur J. Sneaker."

It's very versatile.
posted by phunniemee at 5:43 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Technically, I have three middle names:
The one on my birth certificate (Christina)
The one on my baptism certificate (Teresa)
My confirmation name (Zita)

I only use Christina now, though all those initials spawned my first AOL username: mctza

Before I got married, I wrote out as many variations of what my new name could be, and decided on First Middle Marriedname, because it looked the best. :)
posted by luckynerd at 10:39 AM on February 13


My family is full of Anns, Elizabeths, Marys, and Maries as middles names (both sides, for the saints name issue).

My dad and I share the same middle name, just spelled differently.

I'm Dawn, he's Don. His dad was Don too.


In my neighborhood, these are not pronounced the same!

Also, I have a friend (late 30s) with the middle name Bilbo.
posted by Pax at 11:07 AM on February 13


Could be worse. I don't have the reference at my fingertips, but there is a medieval court record which includes a phrase very similar to, "the aforementioned William, William, William, William, William, and Michael."

Fun Fact: Many medieval (Western, Christian) daughters were christened with male names. It was believed that their name specified their guardian saint, and who would you rather have looking after your child's safety - the Archangel who defeated Satan in hand-to-hand combat, or some girl who got stabbed for refusing to give it up to a centurian?

So, Michael Welbrigge she was christened, but everyone knew her as Mary (the default female name equivalent to William; see also C/Katherine and Henry).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:15 PM on February 13


Rue42 - very likely, Beta Yisrael - Ethiopian Jews are an incredibly old culture in Ethiopia/Eritrea.

The top ten Ethiopian girls names these days are: Sara (Abraham's wife), Betty, Hiwot, Beza, Eden (Garden of), Meron (a very significant mountain in Israel), Rediet, Ruth (wife of Jacob), Winta, Selam (also Salaam/Shalom)

Boys names are Daniel (God is my Judge), Biruk (baruch/barak - blessed), Dawit (David/Dovid - Jewish king), Solomon (Son of David), Henok, Samuel (God has heard), Abel (son of Adam and Eve/Chava), Amanuel (Emanuel - God is with us), Yared (Jared - he who descended), Tewodros.

Many of the biblical names, have been around for so many centuries in Ethiopia/Eritrea, that they are used now by non-Beta Israel families.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:59 AM on February 14


I had a look at the middle name survey results, and, what do you know - my middle name is in the top 60! (I'm sure it doesn't crack the top 500 for first names.) I had no idea there were so many of us.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:11 PM on February 21


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