The Trouble with Names

The Name Game

When I hear of celebrities and everyday folk trying to think of names for their children, I want to go talk to them and tell them that they should think long and hard about this decision. And I'm not just thinking about the days that teachers butcher their names on attendance sheets, older people make up an entirely different name, or in my case people call me what they want.

I also think about the decisions this kid will maybe one day make in perhaps selecting these parents' arrangements when they become elderly. You know like what nursing home, where the nursing home is and so forth. And then that kid might think of the name you gave them and how much trouble it's caused them and decidedly turn the tables on their parents.

You don't want this at any cost. I don't care how cool it sounds in theory no kid wants to be named Bear, Pilot Inspektor, Puma, Placenta or whatever other name you think sounds good at the moment you hear it. I think names help represent the spirit of the person, defines their character as well as initiate their own ideas about self-perception and identity.

And while my name seems to have caused more trouble than it should, I couldn't think of being called anything else. My name essentially is a part of who I am that I wouldn't change even though I could. I am happy with my parents' decision, but unfortunately there are more kids who I'm sure wished their parents would have made another decision.

So in honor of those kids, I decided to write a hub on the impact of how my name has shaped my identity as well as the unforeseen consequences that I have faced as a result of it. Most importantly this hub is a warning to anyone who is having a child or will have a child one day and what the name for their child will do.

Say My Name, Say My Name

I know not everyone has a unique and interesting story about how they got their name. I happen to have a very interesting story that started way back in the days of Club MTV and Aquanet. Fortunately, they didn't influence how I got my name.

My mom was pregnant with me for a while before she actually decided on my name. In the beginning, she assumed I was a boy just because her stomach was growing quite big quite fast. She didn't so much say boy as "football player" because of my activity in the womb. Had I been a boy you wouldn't be reading the hubs of Alecia, but Xavier. That's right Xavier. It doesn't have rhyme or reason except that my dad happened to like the name.

Fortunately, my parents found out I was a girl and set out to find a name that was not only unique to me but memorable. My mom said she liked the names Jamie and Ebony. Looking back, I'm very glad she didn't do that. Jamie is cute and sweet, as a kid I was more big-eyed and quiet than sweet. And Ebony brings too many other meaning for me including the magazine, the color black, and of course Rick James's "Ebony Eyes." And so with either divine insight or a swift kick from yours truly they decided on the name I have now.

They liked Alicia as a name, my mom just didn't like the spelling. Like me, she says things phonetically and it sounded more like A-Lee-See-Uh than how she thought of A-Leigh-Sha, so she swiped out the first i for an e. And not long after I was born, several members on both sides of my family decided to give me a new name in more ways than one without figuring out my given one.

My name in English means "of noble birth." In Spanish it means, "honest." And in German it means, "sweet." I didn't make this up it's all here.

Little did my parents know that my name would be reworked, rearranged, and interpolated into some of the craziest things ever. And this is just not from friends, classmates, and coworkers-some of my own family members have never mastered the full pronunciation of my name- therefore I was called everything but my name.

See That Girl, Look at the Nickname Queen

My parents, while they did love my name till this day only call me by my full name in public or polite company. Since the day I was born, they and some of my other family members have called me Boo-Boo after the purple-necktie clad sidekick of Yogi Bear. And even though I'm an adult they still call me that and I don't care. I think I'll always be called Boo or Boo-Boo and I'll always answer.

My maternal grandfather somehow settled on Nina (which isn't my middle name by the way) but it stuck and it was special because he was the only one who called me that.

The rest of my mom's side has stuck to calling me Lee-Sha which is my name minus the A. Don't ask how that came about, but I think one of my cousins couldn't pronounce my full name and it clicked. Again, I still respond to this.

My eldest aunt on my dad's side called me Lisa. For some reason, she was the only person I'd let call me that because every birthday or occasion when she'd try to address the card to me, she'd forget my real name. I didn't realize how much I loved hearing her say that until she passed a couple of years ago but there are moments when I hear her voice in my head and it brings back memories.

But outside of the family I was usually called by my given name or the name most people thought it looked like on the attendance sheet. That all changed when I got to high school. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was so tired of being called my given name that I devised a way to be called something else. So I announced at work that my new nickname was the Murphster. Thankfully only my coworkers called me that and after I graduated, I was smart enough not to take it with me but looking back it is pretty funny.

My freshman year of college, I had an awesome PE TA who didn't want to struggle with my first name so she shortened my last and called me Murph. This stuck with all my friends and they called me that or either DJ Murph because when we'd study I'd mix the tunes up. And as complicated as it sounds, I loved every moment of it.

I may have alot of nicknames, but each one has a special meaning to me. They bring back memories of childhood, fun, or just plain comedy. And while I value my real name, there's something about my nicknames that I'm okay with claiming.

Most Popular Baby Names 2011

Boys
Girls
Mason
Emma
Liam
Olivia
Jacob
Sophia
Ethan
Isabella
Noah
Ava
Source: http://www.babycenter.com/popularBabyNames.htm?year=2011

What's My Name?

Now, I still meet people who fail to pronounce my name but as long as it sounds somewhat similar to Alecia, I'm okay. I finally realized I don't have it that bad when I went to school and their were kids with more elaborate names like LaQuisha that actually had to endure more trouble with their names. Some kids even went by their middle name to make it easier on themselves, but I long ago decided against that when I saw how many people had my middle name (Michelle) or went by it.

Fortunately, nowadays there are a lot of people with unique names like Beyonce and Kanye but I'm beyond sure they had to endure alot of hardship pre-fame trying to get checked off on the attendance sheet. And while their name has garnered them a special layer of attention in pop culture, it hasn't made life entirely easier in terms of giving kids names.

Now, I know your probably thinking I made up some of the names I mentioned in the first capsule, but I didn't. These are the actual names of some children of the famous and not so famous. Bear is the name of Alicia Silverstone's son; Pilot Inspektor is the offspring of Jason Lee; Puma is the child of Erykah Badu; and finally Placenta was the name of one of my high school teacher's former students whose mom was young and thought it sounded good when she was giving birth.

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying as a criticism for giving your child a unique name. But I am not. It's just that like any major decision that affects someone else who you will hopefully share a deep and abiding bond with for the rest of your life. Everyone wants something to make their child stand out, but the truth lies within how you raise them to be good, productive, insightful and caring individuals who live life to the fullest.

It's All In the Name...Game

In the end however you decide to name your child, it's all about how you perceive this decision but like I said you have to think of how it affects the child. Now there are some people who really do love their real names and live their lives embracing how their parents named them. And then there are others who reject their given name in search of a new identity.

One of the most interesting stories I've heard about someone decidedly not going by their given name has to do with the singer P!nk. I personally am a big fan of hers. I love her take charge attitude and her seething vocals, but I always wondered why she didn't use her real name. I didn't know what it was until a few years ago and ironically enough it was Alecia, same spelling at all. She explained on Behind the Music a couple of years ago that she didn't identify with that name and wanted something that expresses her personality better, so she took the name of a character from Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink.

While I do like my nicknames and don't mind being called it, I can't see everyone in my life always calling me that forever. My nicknames to me encompass something specific in my life in relation to the people I was with at the time and as that changes I won't always be known as Boo-Boo or Nina or whatnot but everyone knows Alecia and that's fine with me.

And while there will always be a young Calvin who becomes world famous as Snoop Dogg or little Sean who grows up and calls himself Diddy but used to be Puffy or sometimes Puff Daddy, their names and nicknames are something that will always be associated with them. Does it mean they hate their given names? No. It just means that they morphed a part of their identity to create a certain public persona that people know and love.

So, if you're thinking of naming your kid soon, don't worry. You may not get it right in your mind or theirs and that's ok. A name is just that, a calling card to the world which eventually shapes your identity but it's only one part of the puzzle. The rest is up to you to put together. Thanks for reading :)!

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Comments 46 comments

Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 5 years ago

Great hub!

Sometimes you hear of people with such horrible names, and you can't help but think that they must have (had) the worst time in school (and virtually every other place outside home). But even though I've heard some nasty ones, Placenta is definitely the worst by far. In a way, I think you could call this child abuse. People just name their child after something that they think is funny, but don't realize that this child has to face the consequences of that choice for the rest of their lives.

Of course, this also goes for the positive consequences. Recently I read another hub about names that said that William (among others; correct me if I'm wrong) was a name that could positively influence the life of the bearer, in the sense of better education/jobs. Apparently, those names are trustworthy ones to people. Or maybe William is just a name that appeals more to higher educated and richer parents than average. I'm not sure if there was a correction for that (if even possible).


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thank you Robin for stopping by, but I think it is a form of child abuse knowingly giving your kid a name that will only promote issues in the child's name. I personally don't care about people's names as long as they're ok with it. But just from my experience as someone with a quasi-unique name you really have to think long and hard before calling your kid Placenta.


bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

This was quite interesting to read, especially the parts about your own childhood. My son has a rather long name and we call him Wolfy (it's properly Wolfgang). Some in the family complained he'd come to hate us for the name but he loves it. Besides, I don't know what the family has to complain about since practically the entire family called me Bunky for years, lol.

Btw, I have a good friend everyone calls "Lisa" but her name is Alesia..AND oddly enough, she looks quite a bit like you!

Good article, voting up.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Beth! I can understand what your son is going through but like I said I enjoy my nickname. It's interesting you have a friend named Alesia, I've never seen it spelled that way before but that's cool she's called Lisa :)!


Carlon Michelle profile image

Carlon Michelle 5 years ago from USA

Hi Alecia. I loved this bit of memoire. Being named Carlon Michelle, you best believe there is a story behind the name and I love the name and the story. As with you, I've been called many things outside my name, from Carla, Carolyn (which I HATE)Carlis and go figure, Carlton. I loved this hub because I so identify with it's message. Smile!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Carlon Michelle. I can only imagine what you had to go through with your name, but yeah I'm still glad my name's not placenta :)!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Hey Boo, Boo-Boo, Nina, Lee-Sha, Lisa, Murphster, Murph and Alecia, I really liked this hub. Thanks for sharing so much information about your life...it makes us your followers think we know you better....from Cogerson, Bruce, Brewster, Bru, Rogers.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Cogerson! I now know everyone has a name story and it's all the more interesting.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Hello Alecia. I enjoyed reading through your hub on such an interesting topic. A name is very important and parents should give it lots of consideration before naming a baby. Your name is a different spin on a popular name but very pretty. I believe the name Jacob, which is listed as a 2011 top name, appears to be universal and popular through the ages.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Teaches12345,

Thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I agree that a name carries alot of weight in society. I think names do go through phases of popularity. Even though my name's common, I'm usually the only Alecia or Alicia in an office/class. But if someone famous named Alicia rises to fame, it might change just like what Twilight did for Jacob. Thank you again for coming by.


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

This was a great story Alecia! very interesting about your youth.

Voted Up


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Curiad! My youth was definitely interesting!


kelleyward 4 years ago

I really enjoyed this hub! I think names are very important. We gave our boys different names but that really isn't "different" today as much as it was for me growing up! Share this!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Kelley! I agree names are essential in helping form character and personality.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Alecia,

Thanks for writing such an interesting article. I feel sorry for those children whose parents don't *think* before naming them.


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

Interest hub. Names are essential I agree. I think parent should think will they be happy if that is their name :)


justateacher profile image

justateacher 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

Wonderful hub! Like you, I have an unusual name, as do my sisters. One of my dad's first girlfriends was LaDonna - and he loved the name so much that he insisted my older sister have that name. When I came along, the tradition continued and I am LaDena, I am followed by LaDetta and LaRina. My brothers were given more traditional names of Jeff and John. When I was young, my older sister could not say LaDena, so I went by my middle name of Jaja (pronounced Jay Jay - not Jaw jaw like everyone wants to say!) I was only LaDena at school and now at work. When I was around my grandpa, I was Kickapoo because he gave me my first bath and I kicked the whole time. (When my oldest daughter was born, he called he Lil Kickapoo!) My middle name came from my grandpa's name (Jay) and the fact that my parents' names both started with "J." As a child I would often become upset when my name wasn't said right and when it wasn't spelled right. No one wanted to capitalize the "D." Now I am okay with my name, knowing it meant something special to my parents and grandpa who are no longer here.

Great hub!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

Interesting hub :) My name was picked out from a Little House On The Prarie episode! There was a little girl named Cassandra on there and my Mom thought she was the most beautiful little girl ever. So tada! That's my name :) Voted up and Shared!


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

My name is Jean, which is easy, but when I was single my maiden name was Marinowski, and all my teahcers would call me Mary. It was so annoying. It's been a long time, and now people are used to different sounding names. But they don't have to be so lazy, they can just ask how you pronounce it! Thanks for sharing.


imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 4 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

My middle name is Alesia, and I preferred this over my first name Sharon. I personally preferred the uniqueness of my middle name, for I felt my first name was just too commonplace.

I agree that thinking of names for newborns have become less daunting of a task, and the end result are names that make me cringe, and respond with disbelief.

While I don't think a meaning of a name is critical to how a person will be or become, I do think a name should be grammatically correct, created with common sense, and consideration of the future of the child. I have seen names in written form, and heard names and thought the least I could do was start a petition to force a name change!

I had an interesting conversation about this subject with someone who thought parents should only give their children names that bear a significant meaning, and that if you have a name with a meaning then you will live up to that meaning.

I simply asked this person about people who have names with significant meanings who are criminals. The conversation was over. So, again you're right, the name helps to shape your identity, but the rest is up to you.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Daisy,

I agree that I feel sorry for some of these kids because of these parents lack of insight. Thanks for commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Cebutouristspot,

Thanks for ocming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Justateacher,

That's a very cool story about your name. I can only imagine what you go through explaining your name to everyone but nonetheless, I agree that the sentimental value of what it meant to your parents and grandparents probably means the most. Thank you for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi CassyLu,

That's so sweet about your name. And Little House on the Prairie is a great show to get names from. Thank you for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Jean,

Last names are definitely as much of a struggle as first names in some regard but I completely agree that if people ask, it's easy enough to learn it. Thank you for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Imatellmuva,

I agree that your name doesn't always shape your future but it does reflect specific perceptions about your character at times.

That had to be funny talking to someone who thinks names should have an important meaning. I agree it should be something you wouldn't mind hearing but you can't take it too seriously. Thank you for coming by and commenting!


editorsupremo profile image

editorsupremo 4 years ago from London, England

Hey Alecia,excellent hub and very well written.

I totally agree wtih you on 'names help represent the spirit of the person, defines their character as well as initiate their own ideas about self-perception and identity.' I am so true to my first name, which means 'leader' and is a varian of the name Diana, which means 'divine'. Yes, you guessed it, I am a Divine Leader!

Voted up.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Editorsupremo,

Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. It's hard to come up with a name that's not only capturing the essence of a person but also fun. But I think you can definitely live up to your name.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

In my opinion the meaning of your name suits you to a T!

I'm so thankful for my name, my parents did good by me! Linda means pretty in Spanish and my middle name Sue is from my mom's name Susan. I carried on the tradition with my daughter her middle name is Lynn. Carissa didn't carry on the tradition with her daughter. It was fun while it lasted.

Ok I agree celebs need to think before they name their kids....Apple? Coco? You know what I mean!:)

Excellent hub as always...you know how to get Sunshine talking!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hey Sunshine,

I think your name is pretty good as well! And my parents did do good by name as well! I like how names are carried on in your family and I see that in some families but some southerners take it too far by naming their children by the mom's maiden name or grandmother's maiden name. That'a bit much.

And celebs, well I could write a whole hub on that! Thanks for commenting!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Looking forward to your hub on celeb baby names, I knew you would pick up on that hint!:)


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Yeah, hopefully I'll roll that out in time for Spring Fever!


onlooker 4 years ago

I'm 5th on the list, I am afraid theres nothing else I rank in personally =)Very interesting and fun read. I clearly hear you, how about the name apple? Grow up ppl! btw I graduated in sociology and major english too! XD


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hey Onlooker, that's cool we have similar majors. But names are so complex that it's never a clear cut answer. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


Ebower profile image

Ebower 4 years ago from Georgia

Some people should think twice before naming their children a name just because they like it. They should think about whether or not their child will get teased because of it. Great hub! I voted this up and interesting.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thank you so much Ebower! I agree Temple might sound good but in twenty years that kid may not feel the same way.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I never had any problem with my name: just a simple old fashioned name. I had a friend in grammar school whose first name was Dooty. We teased him unmercifully!

Great Hub. I voted it UP, will share, Pin and Tweet.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I can't imagine my name being Dooty. Thanks Mary!


rideinthesidecar2 profile image

rideinthesidecar2 4 years ago from Virginia Mountains

Enjoyed this very much. 32 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son my mother said, "Think about what you name your baby because they have to live with that name their whole life". I don't know what she thought I would name my child but his name is Luke which means giver of light and light is knowledge and I felt I would gain lots of knowledge from this child. And I have for sure!!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi rideinthesidecar2,

That is such a great story about your son's name. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hey Boo! This hub was obviously written pre- North West and Blue Ivy! :)


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 2 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Yes it was! Thank you.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

I hate it when people get my name wrong--and for me it happens frequently with regard to my last name--great hub!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

I like the history you gave about your own name and all its variations.

I wrote a hub about names and totally agree it is something every parent should think about seriously before naming their child.

Entertainers use their name to make them more memorable so it isn't strange to find people like "Pink".

Voted up, useful, and ineresting.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 2 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Audrey,

I understand completely. Thanks for coming by.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 2 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Tillsontitan,

I agree- a well-thought name goes a very long way. Thanks for commenting!

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