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The Importance Of Names In the Ability to Earn a Livelihood - Starvation or Success?

Updated on November 25, 2012

What does it mean?

The name a child receives can mean the difference between livelihood and destitution as an adult in certain cultures.

Saddled with a foolish or faddish name, a child might not be taken seriously in life or at work among certain groups. This is not true among my Nigerian friends in that wonderful country, Many have first names such as Happy and Sunday with positive results and well paying careers. In Botswana also, people are called Precious and the like without ill effect. In fact, the effect is positive.

Recall Johnny Cash's hit single "A Boy Named Sue." In white America, a boy with a (usually) girl's name is often ridiculed, whereas, in the UK, men are named Carroll or Leslie without ill effect. Then there is the debate of Frances vs. Francis - many folks cannot remember which is the male and which the female counterpart.

An interesting though arises from the old television series Sisters, in which 4 adult sisters were bestowed names that provided masculine sounding nicknames: Alex, Teddy, Georgie, Frankie, and a half-sister Charley. The show did not actually address or demonstrate any results of these names; it was just a catchy hook.. However, when Teddy opened her own store, marketing consultants advised she call it Theodora Reed not Teddy's or the like.

(photos public domain)
(photos public domain)

Taking "Teddy" to Task

Teddy. What images does that word invoke?

  • Teddy Roosevelt - Theodora Reed (Sela Ward) did not have the moustache, the glasses, or the hat for that image.
  • Teddy Bear – from Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting tales, the stuffed bear brings forth images of “cute and cuddly.” This is not always good for business and may send the incorrect message to some that the owner of the name Teddy is a pushover.
  • Teddy – An abbreviated nightgown or lingerie. The nickname could find good application within romantic relationships. However, nicknames are often applied with the subtle undercurrent that the person being addressed with the nickname is a slightly lesser person.
  • Teddy Kennedy - Roosevelt and Kennedy could both carry this nickname well.
  • Teddy boy - In England, a tough youth subculture of 1950's - 1960's that wore Edwardian style clothing.

Thus, a nickname can bring forth preconceived notions, countered or not by the owner's personality and character.

Jo Jo Junction

Think of any reruns you have viewed on Retro TV or similar television channels of the very old series Petticoat Junction.The opening credits included three young women swimming in the country village Hooterville's water tower, all looking very much like Daisy Mae in the old 'Lil Abner comic strip.

The three girls wore frilly petticoats and were called Bille Jo, Betty Jo, and Bobbie Jo. Usually, none were taken very seriously. Betty Jo married and had a baby girl that she promptly named Kathy Jo. It must have been a very "country" thing to do, at least in a gentle jest. Many female characters on Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and Beverly Hillbillies carried "Jo" as a middle name, as many man were saddled with "Bob" in its place - Jo Bob and the like.

Country folks with Jo and Bob in their names - or "Joe-Bob" - seem to be portrayed as loveable idiots, while real people with such names are sometimes taken for lesser intelligence.

The actor Billy Bob Thornton probably doesn't have that problem - he looks kinda scary.

The Name of Abuse

Many Hubbers have contributed to the body of content on HubPages about various forms of abuse and violence. It is all helpful in understanding the problems connected with these phenomena. In fact, this is a first step toward conquering them.

Diminishing and belittling are tools used by abusers to control their targets. A nickname used to distract from an instance of abuse or to belittle the target can actually be quite hurtful in the end. For example, an abuser punches hit or her spouse in the face and the target picks up the phone to call the police. The abuser may say tearfully, "Come on honey (baby, Teddy, Lisa-poo, Richey-doodle, etc); you know I didn't mean it." The target puts down the phone and forgives the abuser; the cycle continues. And so it goes.

My Challenges

Among my paternal parent and his siblings, one sister bore the first male grandchild of my generation. My father hoped also for a boy, but did not achieve his wish. He wanted to keep trying until he had a son, but my mother refused.

I was given the nickname Patty - not Patricia, Patty - with the male name of my boy cousin as my second name (that may have been a coincidence).

I was not sent to Kindergarten and had not met many other children when I found myself in First Grade. Confused, I was in trouble on my very first day --

My teacher knew I was a girl, but the class assistant, the school nurse, etc. did not. I'd been sent to school in boy's clothing and leather shoes, with a short haircut that could have been male. I was asked if I was a boy or a girl by staff and I had to say, "I don't know." I was spoken to sternly and sent home, because this was just before school dress codes loosened up to permit girls to wear long pants or even shorts instead of skirts. The school and my parents went back and forth a few times - me yelled at by both - before I appeared at school dressed as a girl.

Next, the school officials would not believe that my name was "just" Patty, and filled out some records incorrectly. This caused paperwork errors for years that continued into college. At one time during my junior year, there were 12 different files on me, with different spellings of first and last names.

Next, employers would not believe that my name was Patty and not Patricia, so there were problems with Social Security funds and other taxes being placed into incorrect accounts, etc. This is not all straightened out even yet.

Next, in the hospital with pneumonia, my name caused record problems again and I almost received the wrong medications one day

Now, what does my name mean? Many think that American names do not mean anything, but many American names do, especially if taken from the old coutnries that settled the New World. They may not be as romantic, powerful, or meaningful as the Native American names of Red Cloud, Raven Guiding the Moon, Cloud Dancing and others, but they have meaning.

Inglish is the name English, changed by some natives of England that live in other lands. Thus, it is an Englishman in a strange land.

Patty is not originally the diminuitive for Patricia (noble birth), but for Margaret (leader of the house).

I am fortunate that I have a choice and can pick the meaning I like best. I could be

Unrecognized Noble in a Foreign Land


Leader of Displaced Peoples.

I like the latter.

Share Your Name Stories With Us

I hope many readers and Hubbers will share with us the meaning of their names, no matter what nationality they may be. We want to know your stories.


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Comments and Stories

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    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What a wonderful Hub Patty. You've got me thinking! Although I haven't yet used my name as yet on Hubpages I'm sorely tempted to take you up your challenge.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks, Good Cook! I'm glad you visited.

    • The Good Cook profile image

      The Good Cook 8 years ago

      What a very interesting take on a subject that most of us take for granted. Enjoyed reading it, thanks.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Travelespersso - Thanks for visiting! You can find all types of "graphic page dividers" if you search for that term in Google. Some you have to pay for, so read fine prints to see exactly what is free and what is not. Then use the Hubpages image capsule when you've made your selections. Best of success to you.

      Ripplemaker! - It is a delight to have you visit. I hope you write about this very soon!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Interesting Patty. I will have to mull over this one but excited to write a hub about it. :) Many thanks!

    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.


      Your article is most interesting and beautifully written. Names are so very important.

      On a separate note, I'm a "newbie" to hubpages and loving the environment. Please can you let me in on the secret of how to get that wonderful bow you've used to separate your ideas?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hi lorie6 - I will do as you say and write more, more, more! :)

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      This is a fascinating take on emotional abuse through naming, and it seems you still have to fight the stigma.

      So, Leader of Displaced Peoples, lead me to more and more hubs!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That COULD be very upsetting. Thanks for telling us. I'll always think of you as womanly, then.

    • profile image

      collegecareerlife 8 years ago

      My name is Andrea. I was very upset when I found out that it means "manly", although some resources say it means "womanly".

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the link to your blog - it looks interesting!

    • profile image

      skgrao 8 years ago

      I am joining.