The Importance of a Name - How Your Name Affects Your Life

Names Do Matter

Research shows that a person's name matters a lot more than you might think. If you hope your son will be a financial success or your that your daughter will excel at science and math, then read on to learn how their names can influence their lives.

Naming baby used to be easy when it was common practice to name him after Dad James or Granddad John or name her after Grandmother Elizabeth or the Great Aunt Katherine. Now, expectant parents under pressure to find the perfect baby name may look for more unique names, unusual spellings or names that reflect their hobbies, politics, ideals or creativity. Parents may follow trends, name their children after celebrities or just plain make up a name without realizing that they may be affecting the whole future of their child by their choice.

So how do names affect the child as he or she enters school makes his/her way through life? Some interesting research on the subject shows that names do matter!

What's in a Name?
What's in a Name? | Source

Help Steer Your Child Towards Financial Success

Research by Lee McPheters, at the W.P. Carey School of business at Arizona State University came up with some surprising facts. It seems that six common names are prevalent among Phoenix’s highest-paid CEO’s.What are these magic names? Robert, John, Steve, Richard, Donald and William.These six names make up only 15% of births during the period studied, but make up 35% of the CEO’s.

It’s interesting to note that the name James is not on the popular list of six, even though it is consistently the most popular name for male babies.

Now, I’m very happy that my parents inadvertently named my brother Robert and, without benefit of Dr. McPheters research, my grandson was named Stephen. But it weighs on my conscience that not one of my three sons has one of the top six names.Oh, what have I done!


Want to Give Your Child a Unique Name? Consider This:

In other research on baby names, Dr. Robert Needlman found that boys with unusual first names seemed to have more emotional problems than boys with traditional names. The question is, were the boys’ problems a result of having strange names or the result of have parents who would saddle their kids with strange names? The research does not show that girls are affected in the same way.

While a child with an unusual name or unusual spelling of a common name will stand out in an internet search, studies have shown that people with easy to pronounce names are more likely to advance in their careers.

A Boy Named Sue is No Joke!

To add to the guilt, David Figlio of Northwestern University has shown that a name chosen for a child can have long lasting effects. In particular, boys who are given androgynous names, or names that might also be a girl’s name (Tracey, Kelly, Leslie, Dale, Chris, etc.), might display behavioral problems when classmates realized that the name could be either a boy’s or girl’s name and teasing began. Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s studies on the effects of names found that men with androgynous names might be thought of as more fun, but less masculine while women with androgynous names were considered to be less feminine.

So the well-known song sung by Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue” is not really a joke. The poor guy went all his life with a chip on his shoulder, picking a fight with anyone who dared look at him cross-wise or smile at his name. At the end of the song, he declares, “If I have a son…. I’ll name him Bill or George, anything but SUE!”


Want Your Daughter To Be a Scientist?

In the U.K., the Apr. 2007 edition of The Observer by Anushka Asthana, education correspondent reported on an interesting study of girls names. It seems that girls with very feminine names (feminine names determined by linguistics studies) were less likely to study higher levels of maths and sciences than girls with names that are considered to be less feminine. It has been shown to be so strong that when parents named twin daughters, one with a very feminine name like Isabella and the other with a less feminine name like Alex, Alex was twice as likely as her twin to take math and science at a higher level. David Figlio, professor of economics at the University of Florida and the author of the report says that names are often typecast. Girls with very feminine names like Elizabeth, Anna, Isabella, or Emma are treated differently. These girls are not any less capable, but might be made to feel pressure to avoid “hard” subjects. When they do take on science or math, they perform just as well.


Successful Female Lawyers More Likely To Have Masculine Names

Bentley Coffey, and economist at Clemson University, studied female success in the legal profession and found that women lawyers with traditionally male names were more likely to be successful lawyers. And, they were three times more likely to become judges than women lawyers with feminine names. A follow up study also showed that women with male sounding names were likely to make more money than their counterparts with female sounding names.

Interesting Links to Name Facts

Top Three Boys and Girls Names in the 1st Decade of the 2000s:
Boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua
Girls: Emily, Madison, Emma
From the Social Security Administration List of Top 200 Names: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/names2000s.html

Popular Names by State: http://ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/state/index.html

Popular Names by Decade: See where your name ranked in popularity the year you were born by clicking this link: http://ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/index.html


Are You a Shopaholic? Blame Your Name!

Last names are not exempt from examination, either. Kurt A. Carlson, of Georgetown McDonough School of Business, and Jacqueline M. Conard, Belmont University Massey Graduate School of Business studied the effects on adults of alphabetic placement by last name. They found that people whose last names began with the latter part of the alphabet (R through Z) responded differently to sales people than those whose names began with the first part of the alphabet.

People with last names with letters towards the end of the alphabet are quicker to buy. Called “the last name effect," it seems to be caused by years of being at the end of the line and being seated in the back of the room and being called last to go to lunch. As adults, those R-Zs have learned to jump at opportunities quickly or they might miss out.

Not Getting the Recognition You Deserve? Maybe It's Your Name.

Another examination of success in the academic world found that academicians whose last names began with letters in the first part of the alphabet received tenure faster and received more awards. Why? Because when papers are published, the co-authors are listed alphabetically and the writer whose name showed up first in the authorship credits was the most recognized. So Professor Brown is more likely to be recognized than Professor White.

It would be interesting to know if people whose last names began with the last letters of the alphabet were more patient than others as a result of those years of being the last in line, the back of the room and the last to be called upon. Maybe this also contributed to their self esteem?

The Letters of the Alphabet and Your Self-Esteem.


Do you have a special affinity for certain letters of the alphabet? It’s no coincidence if you do. In a study of people’s reactions to letters of the alphabet, it was discovered that people with high self-esteem liked the letters that appeared in their names. They especially liked the first letter of their first names. Those with low self-esteem preferred other letters.


Love Your Name or Hate Your Name

As for me, I love my name because it was unique during the decade I was born. In fact, my name was number 191 in popularity at that time. I never met another Stephanie until I was an adult. So I was never the CEO of a company or a scientist, but my name fit me...or did I fit my name? Hmmm....

So how do you feel about your name? Do you love it or hate it, wish it were more unique or more like everyone else's? Do you like the first letter of your first name? Are you a CEO with the name of Robert or Roberta? Are you a mathematician named Alex? Did the kids tease you because your name is very unusual? Do you love your name because it's different or hate it because no one spells it correctly?


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This article Copyright ©2011 by Stephanie Henkel



More by this Author


What are your thoughts on the importance of names? 118 comments

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

FlourishAnyway -Having just attended a graduation ceremony where graduates were called up alphabetically, I can attest to the fact that the grads with names beginning with "Z" were shortchanged. Not only did they miss out on some of the applause, but there were people who were gathering their things and getting ready to leave! It is nice to be somewhere in the middle in these cases.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Growing up I was always in the middle of the pack, as my last name began with an "N," however when I married it began with a "B." As a shy kid I felt like I was safer in the classroom that way, like I could hide in the crowd. When they say us alphabetically I usually was somewhere in the middle, not way up front, and I did not have to go first giving presentations, etc. However, as an adult who totally got over all that stuff, being at the head of the line had its advantages. For example, in graduation ceremonies, people are not tired of clapping by the time they get to your name!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

PegCole - It does seem to cause confusion when kids go by their middle names. Our oldest son also went by his middle name until he graduated from high school. I think it caused quite a bit of confusion for him, and must have been quite an adjustment when he switched to using his first name. Baby names are definitely influenced by favorite famous people, movie stars and TV characters.


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PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

So very interesting, Stephanie. This explains a lot. I went by my middle name until after grade school. That caused more than a few issues when school ultimately made me use my real first name. Perhaps I would have done better in math had I stuck with "Joe". Lately, I'm seeing lots of movie inspired names for babies, like Bella and Jacob. Must be a sign of the times.


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Remintasari - It is so interesting to hear of other cultures' views on naming a child. Thank you for sharing!


rumintasari profile image

rumintasari 4 years ago from Sleman

very interesting and thorough article. in my society view, name is a pray, so yes, it's very important to choose a good name.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Ignugen17 - Glad you enjoyed reading my article on the importance of a name. Thanks for your comment!


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 4 years ago

Interesting topic. I enjoyed reading it. :-)


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Abbyfitz - I have said the same thing about some unusual names or spellings. The thing to remember is that some trendy names, like Bentley, are gaining popularity. In 75 years or so, you may find quite a few grandmothers with that name!


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

KDeus - It's great that your parents gave you a name that you love! Glad you enjoyed the read. Thanks for commenting.


Abbyfitz profile image

Abbyfitz 4 years ago from Florida

Very good hub. Weird or weirdly spelled baby names are a pet peeve of mine. Also very trendy. Can anyone imagine an 80 year old grandma heather or Bentley?


KDeus profile image

KDeus 4 years ago from Florida

Great article! I have a fairly unusual first name but I love it and it fits me well. Enjoyed the read!


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Moronkee - It sounds like your parents chose your name well! Thanks for giving your perspective on the importance of a name!


moronkee profile image

moronkee 4 years ago

I have always believed that there is a spirit behind every name.

I love the name my parents gave me. It means I have someone to comfort and my middle name means GOD is worthy of praise.

THANKS


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Caleb - My sources are cited within the text of the article. Of course, even trusted researchers don't always agree on everything. :) Thanks for stopping in to read and comment.


Caleb 4 years ago

Where did you get this information?


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Woody Marx - Haha...that is a puzzle! But maybe in German, Wolfgang has a more musical ring? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I often wonder how Mozart's parents came up with 'Wolfgang'. 'Hey honey, what shall we name the little bundle?...I was thinking Wolfgang...it sorts of falls trippingly off the tongue...what do you think...?'


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Dina - Research has shown the personality of a person can be affected by his/her name. It does make us wonder if our lives would have been different if our parents had chosen a different name for us. Thanks for coming back to expand on your comment!


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

ratnaveera - When people choose names for their babies, they have so many different reasons for choosing the names that they do. It is definitely worth considering how the name will affect the child later in life. Thanks so much for your comment!


Dina 4 years ago

Hi Stephanie.... Well, the saying means that depending on the meaning of your name "in Arabic all names have a certain meaning", the personality of the person might get affected. It is usually said when people are searching for names for their children, we usually say "be very careful about the meaning of the name you are choosing because everyone has a share of their name " :):) Just thought I would explain it a bit...


ratnaveera profile image

ratnaveera 4 years ago from Cumbum

Great Hub! I agree with every point in this informative article. To get success in our life we should have nice name. I think we should be very careful when we select name for our children. Thank you Stephanie Henkel for this wonderful Hub!


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Better Yourself - I is amazing to realize the different ways your name affect your life. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment1


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting hub! It's amazing to learn how something so simple as a name can have such a big impact on a person's development and personality, and how they are even treated. Thanks for sharing!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Dina - That's an interesting saying...not sure I understand it, but names definitely do affect our lives. Thanks for your comment.


Dina 4 years ago

We have an old saying in Arabic "Everyone gets a share of his/her name"... I always laughed at this and thought it more like a myth... Now I am re-thinking about it :):)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Sandus - I'm so glad that you found some new information about the importance of a name. Thanks for your comment!


sandus profile image

sandus 4 years ago from kottayam

this is a new lesson to me, anyway interesting topic.. go on dear friend..


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Doodlehead - It does seem that names have quite an effect on success in business, though I do think that some people are so determined that they could overcome any name. Kids' teasing, however, is pretty hard to control and can be devastating to a child. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment!


Doodlehead profile image

Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

Wow. This had to be said. I have (subconsciously of course) thought men's names WERE relevant to their success. You are right about kids teasing, for sure.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Viewfinders - I'm so glad you liked my hub on the importance of a name. Thanks so much for your comment and for the share!


viewfinders profile image

viewfinders 4 years ago from God's own country(kerala)

it's a great hub,thanks for sharing with us,voted up and sharing


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Diana Korsak - Diana is a lovely name, and brings to mind beautiful Greek goddesses. However, your very beautiful outlook on life is sure to help bring about your luck and good fortune. :) Thanks so much for your comment!


Diana Korsak profile image

Diana Korsak 4 years ago from Minsk

:) I've always believed in a connection between name and the way of life and even destiny. I'm so glad my mom called me Diana, I feel proud of it and do really think that the magic of my name hepls me in my life. I've met a wonderful man, I'm lucky in everything, and I do really feel myself like a true "Diana" : )


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

DMVmimay - Some parents are truly creative when naming their children! Carrying a part of each of your parents' names with you is rather unique. Thanks for sharing your story!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

GiblinGirl - Names are so interesting! One thing I didn't research is the popularity of names regionally. I think that certain names might not be in the top 10 nationally, but could be very popular in certain regions or among certain ethnic backgrounds. Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!


GiblinGirl profile image

GiblinGirl 4 years ago from New Jersey

Fascinating hub. I love reading about things like this. I especially found it interesting that your last name affects your shopping habits - although I can see how always being at the end of the alphabet would make you want to be first in line at something. I don't hate my name but I don't know that I absolutely love it either. Ironically, growing up I knew a lot of people with the same name as me and always thought it must have been in like the top ten names around the time I was born, but it was never even in the top 40. Oh well :)


shelaZ 4 years ago from United Kingdom

hi stephanie - you write beautifully. this article is amazing.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Milli Thornton - Your grandson certainly has an unusual name and sounds like a delightful little boy! I think that creative people do appreciate having names that are unique and creative.

As you pointed out, it can be a nuisance to have to always correct misspellings of your name, but I do like the spelling of Milli! Thanks for adding your comments here, Milli!


Milli Thornton 4 years ago

My four-year-old grandson's name is Atreyu, named for one of the boy heroes in The NeverEnding Story. He is a well-adjusted, happy and confident little boy. I hope he will remain so when he starts school.

I'm proud of my name, Milli, because I was named for my godmother - though I'm not sure if the unusual spelling came from her or not. It's been a nuisance at times to have two names that people misspell - Milli is either Millie, Milly or Mili and Thornton becomes Thorton, but it doesn't bother me as much now that I'm getting older.

I'm a writer and a creative person, so I like having a slightly unusual and quite uncommon name. I have known very few other Millis in my lifetime, no matter which way it's spelled.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Daisydayz - Chantele is an unusual and very pretty name - I don't blame you for loving it! Thanks for stopping by to read my article on the importance of a name. I do believe that liking your own name is very important!


daisydayz profile image

daisydayz 4 years ago from Cardiff

Well I have a pretty unusual name - Chantele and where I come from in the little town of Neath in South Wales there were no other Chantele's anywhere! I never even heard of another Chantele until i was 15. I love my name and always rather unusual names now, its so much more interesting to have an interesting name, its a conversation starter. Although the way my mother spelt it with 1 'L' means I often have to correct people but there is a funny family story to go with it so I dont mind.

If I have children they will get unusual names.

My surname was 'Cross' so CC meant I was always near tops of lists, but also that teachers always remembered me! Especially if I got into trouble! lol!

My sister is Briony and only now are we starting to hear that name more.

Great Hub, Voted up


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Georgie Lowery -It sounds like you've come to like your name, too, and Georgianna is a lovely name! I do think that people who like the first letters of their names have higher self esteem, it's like liking yourself. Glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments, Georgianna!


Georgie Lowery profile image

Georgie Lowery 4 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

My first name is Georgianna. I used to hate it, I wanted to be Sue or Ann or something with less letters that was easier to pronounce. I absolutely love the letter G, so I must have high self esteem?

This is a great hub and I'm glad it popped up on my feed for me to read. :)


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

dwachira - I'm glad you found my article on how your name affects your life to be informative. Thank you for your comments!


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dwachira 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Very interesting and yet informative. I have bookmarked for further reading. Thanks for sharing.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Tetsuo01001 - Thanks for commenting on my article about how your name affects your life. Having a name that you like is probably a positive influence in your life.


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tetsuo01001 4 years ago from gibbstown

my name is joseph and my middle name is henry which i realized not that long ago has a cool feature josephh and my dad is named joseph to but he doesn't have a middle name so i thought that is kinda cool


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

RTalloni,

Your examples of professional names are pretty funny! I love the chiropractor named Pops as well as some of the others. Thanks for visiting my hub and for sharing!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Interesting read, for sure!

I think about this topic once in a while, and continue to be amazed at the ways names work out in peoples lives.

One day, I might tell the unusual story of how I got my name, but, yes, I'm good with it.

It's very funny to study some professional names--a dentist named Cap, a dentist named Jack Daniels, a Chiropractor named Bones, an anesthetist named Bogus, a Chriopractor named Pops, an attorney named Cheatham, attorneys Smith & Lesson, etc. :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Carmen H - It's been fascinating when people confirm the truth of some of the studies I've mentioned with personal experiences, like your affinity for names beginning with the letter "C". Thanks for stopping by with your comments!

Purple Perl - Giving a child two names, one to reflect heritage and one to link to religion or adopted culture, seems like a good idea. Working for many years with foreign students, I've known many who adopted an American name in addition to their original names so that their new teachers and classmates could more easily pronounce and spell their names. Seeing some of the studies about how teachers react to students' names, I believe it was probably a wise idea. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment on my hub!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Kimberly - It seems that in certain cultures names take on even more importance as a way to identify and place people. As a kid, I was often asked about the origins of my last name- perhaps it was an attempt to find common ground. So many people where I grew up had immigrant grandparents, so finding that our grandparents came from the same country usually meant that we shared familiar customs or ethnic foods. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on my hub!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

HikeGuy - I also read the study that said teachers tended to give kids with odd or unpopular names lower grades. If parents only knew! It did bring to mind some acquaintances from the '60s who made up some very unusual names. Their children are grown now, so it would be interesting to learn if these studies proved true with them. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments!


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

Fascinating and well-researched! I have several baby name books and refer to them when I name fictional characters -- various ones include country of origin, popularity at different eras, meanings of names. Years ago I read about a study that found teachers gave lower grades to students with unpopular names, such as Hortense. As a Californian, I've often wondered how all the kids with the hippie names turn out -- kids can be really cruel, and I suspect many people with odd names change them as soon as possible. Chilling that the gender issue of names still has such a strong effect on expectations about a person. I voted this up -- great read!


kimberly Crocker profile image

kimberly Crocker 5 years ago from Southern New Hampshire

Great piece on names! I recently went to a wedding of two very Irish families. I went with my boyfriend, and a few of his family members asked what my last name was. When they didn't recognize it as Irish, they asked the origin.

Although most where not too concerned with my family's heritage, just that my boyfriend was with a nice girl, others did seem a bit turned off to the fact I was a "mutt" . I am not easily offended, but I did find it an interesting display of human interaction.

My name is unique in my family in that I am not named after another family member, not even my middle name has been used on either side, as are the names of my cousins, parents, aunts, uncles and sisters. I do love it though, I feel like a Kimberly !


Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 5 years ago from Bangalore,India

Stephanie, a very interesting hub indeed!

Names do matter but I was not aware of the points mentioned above. Being an Indian Christian,we are christened with a Christan name coupled with an Indian name,such as Samuel Sunder.


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago

It is a pleasure to read this hub, Stephanie. I can see that a huge amount of research and effort has been poured into it considering all the concrete facts and statistics. Base on the comments above, it seems that this hub too has gotten many to analyse their names and how they feel about them. And for me, I have always love to find out more about my name and anything connected to it and this article did make me consider my name from some different perspectives; and I guess I now know what it means that I have always love names that start with the letter 'C'. Another great hub!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

When parents name their children with their wishes and prayers, it is a lot for children to live up to. I wonder if others try to help the child to live up to the dreams that the name implies? Your name sounds very romantic. Thank you for giving us some insight into Javanese names.


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Bbudoyono 5 years ago

In Javanese community in Indonesia names are prayer of parents. Take the name of the former leader - Suharto - for example. 'Su' means good and 'harto' means wealth. His parents wish was granted. Suharto became very prosperous and powerful.

Besides, Javanese people sometimes have only one name, just Suharto, and no family name.

My name is Bambang Udoyono, it means a knight from a beautiful place.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Jeff,

Thank you for the encouragement! I think I may try writing a short story sometime soon. I'm sure I would learn a lot.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Peanutritious - I agree, sometimes people are very much influenced by their names and by the reactions of others' to their names.

Haha... I have also wanted to rename some people I've met! I do know of two women whose husbands called them by names other than their given names. I always wondered how that made them feel... Thanks for stopping by to comment, Tara!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Melbel - Your similarity to Melanie is interesting, but it sounds like you identify with Scarlett's personality. "Gone with the Wind" must have had an influence on your life.

Thanks for writing and sharing your comments.


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

What a fascinating hub! I often think that people 'become' their name. Occasionally though, I want to call people a different name as they look like they should be called something else!!! I hated being called 'Tara' when I was a child as I felt singled out. I was the only Tara in my school. I wanted a 'normal' name that blended in with everyone else's. Now though, I love having an unusual name. I'm more confident now and I'm proud of having my own mind and opinions. I would hate to have a common name! I suppose that now I feel and look like a Tara!


Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 5 years ago from St. Louis

You should try your hand at a short story. What have you to lose? If nothing else, it may give you a greater appreciation of good ficiton writing.


melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

My name is Melanie and I am named for the character in Gone With the Wind. This character, in particular, is very feeble and has health problems. Likewise, I suffer from VERY similar health problems, which is interesting -- maybe not related, but interesting nonetheless. I would have preferred to have been called Scarlett, though, as I have her fiery personality. :P

Very awesome hub! Rated up!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Jeff May,

Thanks for stopping by again to expand upon use of names in fiction and real life. Names are so much more important than we think! Now, I'm reading your book, Finding Your Fiction, and I'm almost convinced to try my hand at a short story. Thanks for the inspiration!


Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 5 years ago from St. Louis

Hi Stephanie, Yes, names might suggest tone, character, and motive. (My wife and I are both teachers as well and have dealt with many names.) And names are associated with characters in literature and film. For example, naming your son Damien might elicit visions of the antichrist. What if you name someone Cleo, as in Cleopatra, or Caesar? Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has a suggestive unpleasant sound. In my novel Where the River Splits David Brooks' last name is an obvious metaphor, but seems to work well. Sometimes the name can be too obvious, ending up sounding like a Batman character, which works okay for comic books and children's stories. Peter Penguin, Peter Rabbit, and so on. This is off the top of my head, but you get the idea. Thanks for a great hub and any interest in my work.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Steph! I love my name, too, for some of the same reasons. I was named after my father, Stephen, though I think my parents were sorry they did that when their second child was a boy and I already had the name. Stephanies are still unique, aren't they? I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub! Thanks for your comments.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

As a fellow "Stephanie" I have to say that I have always loved my name. My mother got the idea for the name when she was a girl at gymnastics camp and this other girl had her name embroidered across all of her leotards: Stephanie. I think its pretty, without being overly feminine and even today, there are not very many Stephanies out there. Very interesting hub - just loved it!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Jeff,

I read a lot of fiction and always wondered how writers came up with the character names. It does seem that choosing a name would be important to shaping the characters. Do you think that certain names personify certain characteristics or bring to mind good or evil? Your book sounds quite interesting.


Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 5 years ago from St. Louis

Great hub. In writing fiction, assigning characters a name can sometimes be challenging. (I cover this in my ebook, Finding Your Fiction.) I've always believed that names played a significant role in shaping character. My last name may or may not have affected mine.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Kim, It would be interesting to check out the Social Security Administration's statistics (websites mentioned in the article above) to see which decade your name became popular. I'm sure the popularity of Kim Navak had something to do with it. Thanks for for your comment!


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kimh039 5 years ago

I like Kim and Kimberly. Although I was named after Kim Novak, a "movie star", I hardly knew any Kim's growing up. Now Kim's abound. The world is now fully populated with Kim's. My maiden name began with a hard C sound. I had heard years ago that the hard C sound is the funniest sound in the alphabet. So, I had a very funny name. Not so funny since I changed my last name. Thanks for the interesting hub, Stephanie:)


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Vinaya

I'm glad to see that you don't try too hard! :) I seldom even try ...


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Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

What's in a name after all? Do you remember this statement by Shakespeare. I try to be serious but I cannot. LOL


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Ahh, Discipline and politeness - your name's meaning has much to live up to, Vinaya! Does such a serious name make you a more serious person? Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub!


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Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

Very ingesting hub. I have been named Vinaya after a great book of Buddhism. Literal meaning of my name is basket of discipline. Vinaya also means politeness, but I have been often told I'm very rude.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Annette- Well, that seems like a sensible compromise, although Annette is such a pretty name. We do all like to have people read our names correctly, though, don't we? Thanks for stopping in to comment!


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craftdrawer 5 years ago

Never thought about last names that way interesting point. My name is Annette but some how (mostly men) seem to read it as "Anita" when I get business calls. So I tell them just call me "Ann"


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Tonya - Since your name begins with a letter in the last half of the alphabet, I wonder if you love to shop and are quick to make buying decisions?


Tonya 5 years ago

How does the name Tonya affect me? tonyamichelleb@yahoo.com


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Simone, I was surprised as some of the research, too, and found it quite fascinating that a name can influence behavior. Thanks for your comment! It's always nice to hear from you!


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Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, this is positively fascinating!! I had heard about the CEO names, but didn't know that other studies had found interesting findings indicating some association between names and behavior. What a cool subject.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Rose,

Wow, really? Lemonjello and Orangejello? Were they twins? Glad you found the hub interesing. Thanks for sharing that tidbit about the Jello siblings!


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Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan

This is really interesting! I always wonder how people always seem to fit their names. Worst names I've heard: Lemonjello and Orangejello. Seriously.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Zabbella, I did see Isabella on the list of very feminine names as well as on the Social Security Administration's list of most popular names! I know what you mean about names going in and out of vogue. My name was practically unheard of when I was growing up, but grew in popularity when I got older. While I seldom meet anyone my own age with the name Stephanie, I often meet young women in their 20's with that name. Thanks for stopping by to comment!


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Zabbella 5 years ago from NJ-USA

Love the Hub. Hey, I have a very feminine name...Isabel...I always thought I had an old lady's name growing up. Now that I have gotten "older" it fits and NOW it has grown in popularity. There are a lot of little girls (ages 4 and under)named Isabella. go figure, now I'm a... "mature" lady with a young name!!!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Western History, I believe that your name carries a lot of weight as it can influence how other people view you and, eventually, how you see yourself. Thank you for stopping by to read my hub and to leave your comments. I appreciate your feedback!


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WesternHistory 5 years ago from California

Excellent hub. At first you would think "hats in a name" but you make many good points and comparisons. I would be inclined to believe that a name does play a large role in how people perceive others.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Lailak, I did do a lot of research for this hub. It was hard deciding what to include because there are so many fascinating studies on names, how they affect us and what they mean. I'm so glad that you enjoyed my article. Thank you for your kind comments!


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LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I am very astounded by this hub! You have put an incredible amount of research into it and apparently it rocks! I really love your hub :)


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Stayingalivemoma,

The meanings of names are so important in many cultures. It sounds like you've given your son a terrific name to live up to. Thanks for stopping by to comment and vote!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Estelle,

Your parents must have known you would be a shining star! How nice that you found out the meaning of your name and that it changed your whole attitude about it. Most parents have a reason for giving their children the names that they do, even if the names are non-traditional. I'll bet your preschoolers come back with some interesting stories. Thanks so much for sharing your story!


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stayingalivemoma 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

I could not agree with you more. Read about how I named my son, Lakota. Names are important! That's why I named him that. It is Cherokee for "friend" or "ally". voted up & awesome.


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ehasert 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

I love my name now, but as a child, Estelle was not a fun name. They called me Esmell, which is not flattering! Then in 9th grade I had a Latin class (yes, we took that language back then!) and found my name in a dictionary that said, "star, heavenly body" for my definition. From that moment on, I have loved my name. It is fun to find out what kids names mean. I work with preschoolers & ask them what their name means. They usually don't know, but I say, "ask your mom or dad what it means"! It can change your life to know what your name means.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

I agree that some names that are fine for children do not sound so professional for an adult in a serious profession. Conversely, some names are so adult sounding that children need to grow into them. It can be a dilemma - just one of many that parents face when trying to choose the perfect name for their children.


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MoiraCrochets 5 years ago from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

I can relate to this topic well. I've been blessed by my father with a name that fits me so well: MOIRA. So did my other sibling: DONNA, WILEM, and MAITE. However my other sister, did not have the same privilege because our dad was not around when she was born. So my grandma named her MILKI MAE. Its cute when she was a child, but now she's studying to be a chemical engineer. I don't think ENGR. MILKI MAE sounds so professional. Parents should think of how the name would sound in various phases in their children's lives.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

I quite like Roberto also, though my brother is stuck with Robert and, through his childhood, "Robbie." Now his wife refers to him by the more dignified "Rob" which seems to fit him well. Unfortunately for him, his sisters won't give up the old nicknames even though he is collecting social security now. Nicknames seem to be just as important as names, don't they? Thanks for your comments, Roberto!


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diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Good, topical article. I was surprised to see Robert was on a preferred list, I have always disliked it, mainly because of the dimunitive, "Bob," or "Bobby." It's best in Spanish, Roberto, quite like that...Voted accordingly. Roberto (Bob!)


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

For women in fields that have been traditionally dominated by men, I think that androgynous names are a definite advantage. It's probably interesting to see who decides you are male and who thinks you are female just from seeing your name. I'm sure that would be an interesting study in itself. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments!


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Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

I have an androgynous name and it has been very useful in my business life. Nobody knew for certain whether they were dealing with a man or a woman. Interesting hub.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Your parents did come up with some unusual names for their daughters! You sound like an unusual family, too, and it's wonderful to hear of all your successes. Thanks for stopping by to leave your comments!


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justateacher 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

My parents loved unusual names - they felt that theirs were ordinary (they were Jerry and Joy) - my sisters and I all have unusual names and my brothers very ordinary names - we are LaDonna, LaDena, LaDetta, LaRina, Jeff, John, Jay, Julie (okay - hers is ordinary!), and Jimmy....all of us girls have done fairly well - three of us are business owners, one is a physical therapist, and one is a teacher - the boys are military and airplane factory workers...don't know what that says, but that's the way it is...


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for sharing that! At least you have an excuse - my last name falls into the beginning of the alphabet, but I still like to jump on a good deal when I see one! Thanks for your comment and your vote!


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Texasgirlfw, I love the name Alexandra and agree that it is a strong name. I wonder if she is, or will become, strong in math and/or science as some of the researches suggest? Thanks for stopping in to comment!


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Rswilliams8 5 years ago from Provo, UT

thank you so much for sharing. I especially loved the part about the shopoholic. I literally have that problem of buying too fast and my last name is williams! made me laugh. I voted up.


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texasgirlfw 5 years ago

I named my daughter Alexandra because it is very strong and she can pick from a few nick names.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Kallini,

I used to miss my maiden name when I first married (before it was common for women to keep their birth names). It seemed then that I gave up a piece of my identity. Now I've had my married name for so many years that I can't imagine changing it for any reason!

Light, enlightenment, how appropriate for a writer! Thanks for your comments and for sharing.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Gail,

Well, you certainly do live up to the meaning of your name, joy! How lovely to grow up and be told from the beginning that you brought great joy to your mother. I'm sure that helped to shape your joyous personality.

I remember learning to spell my name at the age of 3 or so. I would swing on my swing and sing the letters of my name over and over. I think that I liked it because it was all mine, like a special song in my head. Isn't it funny the things you remember about your childhood? Thanks for stopping by my hub to spread a little more of your special joy!


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kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I am very passionate about names and I don't often meet people who are interested in their names or meanings. I do believe that the name has an impact on the personality, personality development and the destiny. Not in a fatalistic kind of way, but it is like a guiding star, an influence on the subconscious.

There is such thing as "the suggestive command" - but for "the suggestion" to work - the name bearer must understand the meaning of it, otherwise what works is the nearest phonetic combination.

Dennis - dental

I have read about it. I did not like my first name when I was a child, but then I got used to it and accepted. But my married (now the relic from the divorce or still marriage?) name I hated. I don't want to change it back. Maybe if I marry again - I'll change.

I wanted a special name for my son, it did not happen - my ex was too conservative. I do like variety and uniqueness. After all, my name means Light, doubly so, Light Light - as in Enlightenment.

Do I live up to it? Who knows.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Robin - I have read that certain names are more prevalent among people with less or more education. I've also read that names can cause teachers to form opinions of their students even before meeting them. Of course, it is a big deal naming a child, and seems even more important when you start investigating the consequences of a name. The book Freakonomics sounds like something I should read. Thanks for your comment and suggestion.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

VENZKHVAM - Although I don't go into astrology and numerology, I know that they are important considerations for many when choosing names. Names are so important in so many different ways, it's no wonder that expectant parents spend so much time choosing the perfect name!

Moonlake - What you said about others in the community naming their children the same name as your son was interesting. That's the way that popular names become popular - as people emulate the name choices of others they admire! Thanks for your comments and for sharing your story.


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Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Great hub about names! I have always loved my name (Gail) because my mother told me it meant "joy" and that she'd wanted me so much that my birth brought her great joy. She'd had an extremely difficult labor with my sister then suffered 2 miscarriages before she had me. As luck would have it, I popped out after just 2 hard labor pains and Mom felt that I was God's reward for her having tried so hard to have another child.

When I was growing up she'd tell me that as baby she'd put my playpen in the front yard and I'd wave, smile and say "Hi Yah!" to everyone who passed by which according to her made everyone smile back at me.

As I got older she'd say, "You're such a joy to be around that I wish I had 10 children like you."

Now that I'm an old woman I consciously try to spread joy wherever I go and it makes me smile to think that's the very meaning of my name.

Voted this hub up across the board. It was very interesting and thought-provoking.


Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco

Very interesting, Stephanie. I had never thought about the letter your name starts with and how that would affect you other than standing in line in school! I do remember reading that boys did better in the business world with common names while girls did better with more unusual names. Perhaps this is because women still need to stick out more in the workplace to be noticed for their work. The book Freakonomics talks a lot about names and education level of parents; how some names are more frequent in more educated families than others. It's so interesting to me as we have three girls and naming them was a big deal.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

At the time we named our son his name was different. We then moved from California to a very small town. With no one that we knew of in the town with his name. My father-in-law had a fit said kids would make fun of him. Then I started to notice other little boys born after we arrived ending up with our son's name. People we knew had named their sons the same as ours.

Enjoyed your hub.

Now his name is one of the more common names around.

When I was growning up there was always someone in my class with my name. I hated it I always had to be number 2. So I started using my middle name.

Now I hardly ever run into anyone with my name.


VENZKHVAM profile image

VENZKHVAM 5 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

Stephanie,

since this astrology and numerology is very common in India i happen to experience this and i had spend considerable amount of midnight oil to research on this and with the help of the scientific approach, to change more than 100 names and believe me friend 95% percent of people experienced big changes in their financial and professional front.

I believe there is a great value for that.

Just imagine why Jesus is having this much power because in 1 second there are 100 million people saying his name and the power is increased and that is been distributed back to his believers.

I take the privilege to vote this up and interesting and promise you that I will wright a hub on the topic I told later.


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Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

I do suppose that a unique first name would be important for someone with a very common last name. The names you chose seem just right! Thanks for your comments, Mary!


marellen 5 years ago

My Mom named me Mary Ellen but I have always gone by Mary. My grandmother was Ellen and they called her Ellie. I like that better than Mary. My kids last name is Smith. Try and find a unique name for them. Not so different. Nathan and Megan. I think those names suit them very well

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