January 27, 2010

Say My Name


A friend reminded me earlier this week that people like to hear and see their names. It's a sign of caring and authenticity, she said. I can agree with that. It feels so wonderfully personal to hear people say your name. It's an affirmation of your identity. To be perfectly honest, I do not like to be called by my last name, which is something that almost all my friends do. I know it's part of the informal style of my generation, but I am not a dude nor am I am in the military.

I love to be called Emily or "Em" or "Emi," any of the small number of derivations will suffice. Somewhere in college (where I encountered and friended A LOT of Emilys), people started calling me "Bowen," "Bow," "Bowie," "Bowdoggy." One of my college crushes always called me this last one which made my heart sink because it meant he just liked me as a pal. Nicknames are fun but there comes a point where it's too much. And I would bet more than half of people don't actually enjoy their nicknames, but put up with them to appease their family and friends.

All of this digression is meant to say that I love my name and I want people to use it. When you write a note, you should say the name of the person in the greeting so that they know you mean these words for them and only them.

Names originate in the neatest places too: a favorite poet (I was named after Emily Dickinson, my mother's favorite), a grandparent or other relative, a character in the novel, or even the name of the person who delivered you. Using your name pays respect to its history and to the people who gave it to you.

So, friends, I am curious about your names: what's their origin? Is there anything special in their meaning that you feel connects to your personality? I would love to hear about the history of your name!

Image found here.


  1. 1) I love the picture you used for this post. One of my favorite movies of all time.

    2) I didn't know you were named for Emily Dickinson! That is perfect!

    3) You already know the history of my name, but I need to answer your question. Ingrid is Scandinavian, in honor of my 75% Swedish heritage. Maintaining that history was important to my parents--if I had been a boy, I would have been Anders, Lars or Karl. My middle name, Kestrel, is a tiny falcon. My dad is obsessed with birds! My sister Anna's middle name is Petrel (see a pattern here?). Mom and Dad had to think long and hard for bird names that were suitable for babies as well. I used to be embarrassed because my name was so "out there" but now I love it. I feel like it defines me.

  2. My name is also Emily but alas the origin of my first name is not so poetic. My parents just loved the name Emily and apparently in 1985 it wasn't a as popular as it is now. My sisters and I all have the same middle name: Kerrick. It is my mother's maiden name, and I love that we get to carry her former name and legacy forever. I use my full name or at least first/middle initial/last wherever I can because, like Ingrid, I feel like it defines me!

    When I was little, my day-care provider called me "Emster" and I remember HATING it more than anything. Now though, I generally love nicknames for the intimacy, familiarity, and fondness that is usually associated with them.

  3. i don't have much to say about janis - my parents just liked it (they admit to liking the way that janis joplin spelled it, but i was not NAMED AFTER her). things get more interesting with my middle name: RoseAnne. Rose comes from my mom's mother whose name is rosella (but inexplicably she goes by sally?). the Anne comes from my dad's mom. my whole childhood i always spelled it "Roseanne" - UNTIL I was flipping through my baby book and saw that my mom used to write it "RoseAnne". I showed her the evidence and she claims she forgot that they had wanted to captilize the A. in any case, i embraced the capital a fully + now write it like that alllll the time!

    ps. i love gilbert blythe so so much. as in, i have been known to watch the movies and just fast forward to the parts with g.

  4. That picture is hilarious....

    My dad likes to joke that I was named after WHO SHOT JR... you know, Kristen from Dallas. LOL

  5. I'm named for my great-grandmother Gretchen. My mom knew that she wanted to name her first child after this amazing woman, who lived to the age of 103, and I am blessed to have her name to carry on. While I admit that there were times when I was growing up that I wanted a name that would let me blend in, now I really enjoy being the only, or usually one of the few, Gretchen's that people know. (In fact, if someone knows more than one person with the name Gretchen, I usually get to hear about that person which is interesting.)

  6. there's nothing interesting about the history of my name--my parents just liked it--but a funny thing about my name is that people tend to call me by my first and last together. Perhaps it's the symmetry of it, perhaps it's just how it rolls off the tongue, but ever since i was in junior high i've been known as 'anne sage' to most people, not just as 'anne'!


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