Why your name is so important to you

Kylie in Berlin in July 2008
Kylie in Berlin in July 2008 | Source

My name is....


A name is usually given to us when we are born, it is an identifier something that distinguishes one person from another. Without names where would we be? Second daughter married to second son and our children, first daughter of second son and second daughter?..................no that would never do, much too confusing.

So, on our birth our parents give us a name. In the western world we think of our first name, often as a Christian name whilst for others it is just a first name followed by a family name or surname. In western culture there are a number of factors which impact on our choice of name. You could be named by your parents after them or after a favourite relative. Sometimes it is a name given out of respect for someone in a position of superiority or simply just someone famous- I wonder how many little girls have been called Kylie after Kylie Minogue?

Top Baby girl names in 2011


There are trends in names, whilst I was at school there were lots of Susan’s and Julie’s- still are in fact, but we’re all over 50 now! The most popular names in the United Kingdom in 2011 were…(information from www.babycentre.co.uk)

· Lily

· Emily

· Isabella

· Sophia

· Isabelle

· Sophie

· Olivia

· Ava

· Chloe

· Isla

Top baby boy names in 2011


For boys there is often a trend to continue the male family name with names such as William and its derivatives of Bill or Billy. The most popular boy’s names in the United Kingdom in 2011were…..(information from www.babycentre.co.uk)

· Oliver

· Jack

· Harry

· Charlie

· James

· Joshua

· Alfie

· Thomas

· Jacob

· Ethan

Too much choice!


If you have free choice, choosing names as a parent is a nightmare that does not get better the more children you have. In a weak moment my beautiful “Charles Edward” was named Daniel Jack by his father- I refused to have the names reversed as requested, I was not calling my baby after a bottle of bourbon!

As a child grows up they have the opportunity to change their names, Elizabeth is now Liz and Victoria now Vic, but some opt for a complete name change as they hate their names so much. British citizens can change their names by deed poll. This is a quick and efficient way to change your first name, surname or both, and you don’t even have to give a reason, although obviously if you do it with an aim to commit fraud, then you would be acting illegally. You only need to be 16 years old to change your name and if you are a foreign national you may still be able to change your name using the British deed poll—so there’s plenty of opportunity for changing your name! My mum thinks she can change my name, even though I am significantly over the age of 16 years. She and dad could not think of a middle name for me so I didn’t get one- I avoid solicitors when I am out with mum in case she suggests Tracy or Patricia

Men and the Family name


The surname or family name is really fraught with obstacles. It usually passes through the father’s line and depending on where you come from can have particular significance. African surnames may be a “tribal” name whilst English based surnames may indicate the original profession of a family member. Is your name Baker- perhaps your ancestor was the Village Baker, or maybe Cheeseman as the village cheese maker?

In some families the fathers surname is a focus of pride and the continuance of the family name assumes a significant level of importance- male heirs to the name are expected by the family and are triumphed when they arrive. Some people in the western world have a double barrelled surname-, often separated by a hyphen; examples of this include the late Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother, whose maiden name was Bowes-Lyon. In many cases it is simply because at some point in time one person did not wish to have their hereditary name extinguished. In modern society same sex relationships where there are official partnerships often have double barrelled names to avoid each of the partners assuming the others name.

The marriage effect


Name’s can have greater significance in our increasingly mobile society. A family formed by husband, wife and children from both previous marriages may have different surnames with the absent parents not supporting the change of name seeing it as a loss of identity. Until a child is 16 years old permission has to be given by all persons with parental responsibility to change the Childs name. At 16 years old the young person is able to choose to change their own name if they wish.

Women often do change their names, usually on marriage and usually initially willingly. It may be that after time passes they wonder why they did change their name and why their children have adopted their father’s name. The question has to be asked, does a woman loses her identity when she changes her name? Possibly not, it might be the action of the marriage that causes the loss as she assumes her role in peoples mind s as …….’s wife. There’s the standard joke of the spurned wife standing outside the divorce court “all I got from the divorce settlement was his name, and he can have that back!”

Culture makes a difference

In some cultures names take on a special significance and may indicate caste , class or social standing. The Hindu caste system forbids marriage outside of the caste. I was told by students that even today in modern Britain some parents will not let their children marry out of caste , let alone religion, although this is dying out as parents recognise that it is the qualities of the individual that count rather than their family name.

African slave names


When the African slaves first arrived in America they were given an American first name as few people could be bothered to learn the unfamiliar tones of an African name. Names chosen were usually a formal name, such as Robert of Elizabeth which could be shortened to Bob or Lizzy. Other sources of inspiration were from the classics, such as Caesar, from the Bible, with the name Moses being very popular and from the location where they lived such as Lincoln. There are records that surnames when they were used were in fact the surname of the slave owner who had power to do with them what he would.

Some educationalists would argue that until you are happy with your own name you cannot be a happy and contented person- how much that is true I am not sure, but maybe just thinking about what you are and what you could be named will be a very thought provoking exercise.

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Comments 15 comments

jamka 12 months ago

thank your for your post. When I don't known why my name is most important in my life and future decisions. And even I realize which is make own style. Overall your post was the best one ever a had seen,


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 3 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

I guess it is easier in the UK- perhaps that is why so many are given a birth name and use another- my husbands friend was given Brian but all except his late parents called him by his preferred name, Tom


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Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Interesting subject. What happens when a name given at birth seems completely unfitting to the adult? You explained how some people deal with that in England, but how about here in the U.S. where a court order is often required to change one's name, and that can be expensive. For a woman to change her last name to her new husband's name when she marries is pretty easy here in the states, but any other changes can be pretty tricky. Great hub and food for thought!


KUZI 4 years ago

wow this so cool now i know why my name is important


elizabeth and mary onu and kuzi 4 years ago

oh my gosh (omg) this is the best thing ever in my life it helps me why all this time my name has been so very important imy life please can we have more like this and i will post again


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

Jools 999 Thanks for your visit from one "common as muck" Julie to another Julie!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Case1Worker, when I was studying my family tree, I learned that my family were a pretty unimaginative bunch, my granda, gr-granda, gr-gr and gr-gr-gr all have the same first name - what a pain it was making sure I was writing down the right info about the right person but I was delighted to find a Phoebe or 2 in my family (before 'Friends' made it popular again). I know some Kylies and Codys from Neighbours. I am a Julie, common as muck!


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

create squidoo- thanks for your comment- you are right a gift from your parents- either wanted or unwanted!


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CreateSquidoo 4 years ago

True, Our names is very important. It is a gift from our parents.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

isabel Melville- thank you for your visit- it seems what comes around goes around, name wise- I expect there will be a large no of Catherine's after the royal wedding!


Isabel Melville profile image

Isabel Melville 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I see the more old-fashioned version of my name is back in the hit parade, yet when I was at school there were loads of Isobels, and no-one ever spelt my name right, having the Spanish Isabel instead. It's nice to see the old names come back. My great grand-mother was a Sophia, and my mother was the last of a long line of Isabellas. I have a grand-daughter Isabella too, and a Holly though I see it's not on the list.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

jacqui2011- thanks for your visit: I was talking to an guy yesterday from Zimbabwe and he was saying that back home it was all name, name, name, what tribe you were from indicated your standing in life whereas in the UK no one worried- he was valued for who he was not where he came from.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

A great hub and very interesting. I had to laugh when you asked how many children in the 90's were called Kylie after Kylie Minogue. One of my friends called her daughter after her! I was named after my Dad - Jack. A couple of my friends actually took their own surname and that of their husbands after they got married and made it into a double-barreled name. Some of the names that celebrities give their children are awful - I feel sorry for them having to go through school with some of the names. Voted up and interesting.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM Author

Anne Petit- thanks for your comment- you are right, it is sometimes all we have and can't be stolen

Billie Pagliolio- Hi Billie, thanks for your comment- yes a name is really a minefield for some people. All the points and examples you raise are so valuable, what is really a simple thing is actually not.


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Anne Pettit 4 years ago from North Carolina

A great hub! Sometimes a name may be all a person has. It's very important.

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