Social Question

rojo's avatar

Would you have turned out differently if your parents had given you a different name?

Asked by rojo (24176points) February 9th, 2016

Idle speculation on my part but if your folks had named you Butch or Jim Bob instead of William or James or perhaps Barbarella or Athena instead of Sally or Liz would it have made a difference?

Would you have viewed yourself differently? In school would others have treated you differently or would you have done things that you did not do; perhaps been more athletic or more studious?

How much does your given name influence what you become as an adult? Does your name alter the perceptions or expectations that you have for yourself or that others have of you?

Had you been given the choice (say at 15 or 18) what would you have named yourself? Would you have stayed with the one your parents gave you? Would renaming yourself re-invent yourself?

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26 Answers

kritiper's avatar

No, but it would’ve been nice to have a name that didn’t rhyme with a bodily discharged fluid.

rojo's avatar

try being named after a place for disposal of bodily fluids and solids

ibstubro's avatar

I would have named myself Brian, given the choice as a teen. I would have taken my first name as my surname.

And yes, I think everything about us is integral to our being/identity.
The fact that you were one of 4 kids in your kindergarten class named “Justin” has to have some influence on you. Or if you were the sole “Snowflake”.

It’s inevitable, I just as well be the one.

rojo's avatar

^^^ “I still hate that name!”

Soubresaut's avatar

My name has many spelling variations, and when I was growing up I was very sensitive to my name being spelled the “correct” way—I think it’s made me a better proofreader, because I am always looking for a character out of place (That is to say, a better proofreader than I would otherwise have been. I don’t know that such attention to detail is “innate” for me, and if I don’t focus I easily overlook things.) So that might’ve been different.

It’s also several syllables, so it lends itself to many nicknames. When I was younger and my friendships were looser, hardly anyone said the full name. But I tend to remain distant from people, and my full name doesn’t sound too formal, so as I’ve grown up there’s become a sharp divide between those who use my full name, and those who shorten it… which maybe doesn’t change the way I grew up, but it does at least emphasize the familiarity (or lack thereof) I have with people.

ucme's avatar

Nah, it’s just a name.
Although, initially I was not meant to be named after my dad, at least he didn’t want that, but my mam did & considering she went through the pregnancy & labour, she won.
So I guess it would have been slightly different, if only that it would have stopped us both answering whenever she called “Alan”

Seek's avatar

My name is Alyson.

Even the autocorrect on own phone refuses to spell it right on the first try.

It’s fucking annoying.

Also, if you call me “Allie,” I’ll punch you in the dick.

My middle name is so generic it might as well not exist.

I had the opportunity to name myself in the SCA, a medieval history enthusiast club, and choose a thinly veiled science fiction reference that is totally a legit Early Medieval Irish name.

(I am Uasal, and I will bring water to Arrakis)

ibstubro's avatar

You hate what name, @rojo? Snowflake?

marinelife's avatar

Perhaps. I never felt like my name fit me (both of my parents chose other names for me and compromised on the name they named me) so I changed it, choosing my own name, when I was in my 40s.

Cruiser's avatar

I have what I consider an unusual name….Most people I meet tell me they have never met a “Cruiser” before. I am also a Jr. and a 4th. My name carried a lot of family significance as my dad had a name sake Real Estate company that he inherited from his dad that his dad started in 1914 so it was pretty much a given that I would be the Heir apparent. My dad never pressured me to get into Real Estate quite the opposite, but subconsciously I know that direction I could pursue was always there. After college I stumbled into a career path that ultimately got me to where I am today. I came close…real close to taking over the family biz as I ran my first 2 companies from the front office of my dad’s Real Estate business and even got a Brokers license I kept active for 13 years for the sole purpose that if my dad ever passed away I could keep the business going. So had I not had my dad’s name I know I would not be where I am today. My brother who is a glass blower is evidence of how differently my sibs careers are than mine.

Pretty excellent question @rojo +6

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I think naming is very important. It is a mark we all carry for our whole lives.

I have a good name. My whole name comes off the tongue well. I have both my grandfathers’ names.

When I was having children, I took naming them very seriously. I used family names for all three. My son’s name is solid, and each daughter has a classic family name. I have never heard any complaints from any of them. The youngest, a girl, likes her name very much.

cazzie's avatar

I never liked my name. It is Carol. Then I became the dreaded ‘Carol in accounting ’. I swear that joke is based on me and I want royalties damn it. But I’ve always had a ‘pinned up librarian ‘look with a cute figure in a pencil skirt and high heels. That isn’t a Carol. I would have named myself Gwynn. (Short for Gwyndolyn)
Where I live now, people can’t even pronounce my name correctly unless they’ve had years of speaking English and many have not. The babies I work with hardly try. For some it comes out, ‘Kaowoe’. Can’t have an R in the middle of a name here. Doesn’t work.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@marinelife I, too, got rid of the name that had been pinned on me at birth. I had an ugly, “old lady” name that got me hit in the schoolyard and mocked throughout my teenage years. I literally cringed with discomfort whenever anyone called me by that name; that wasn’t a pleasant way to live. When I was legally an adult, I marched down to Probate Court and officially changed to the name I’d been using for many years. I’m still Lori, and I love that as much as ever.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

My first name was very unusual for it’s time. There are a few more people named that now, but when I was a kid, I was the only one and it made me feel different. I tried my middle name for awhile, but that was also uncommon and I got tired of explaining if I was named after this one famous person (yes). Finally, about third grade, I began insisting that people just call me “Dave”, and that suited me just fine. I enjoyed anonymity for the first time and liked being one of the pack. Later, in the last years of high school and college, I was able to handle being called by my middle name again. I didn’t want to be just “Dave” anymore. Later, while abroad, it was easier—and beneficial—to be called by my first name, the name as it stands on my passport. Now, I go by either one—when someone calls me by one or the other, I can tell what part of my past they know me from, or if I know them through family.

JLeslie's avatar

I doubt it. Maybe, possibly, a name that’s very unusual hurts you in a resume pile, but I have gotten 90% of my jobs through contacts and actually walking in to a place and talking to someone. That all has to do with already being an adult. As a kid, if you have a name that is teased maybe that can hurt self esteem? My name was extremely popular and “normal” in my age group.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I like my name. I don’t think I would view myself any differently with a different name. In Australia, everyone shortens your name. It’s just par for the course. I would prefer people use my full name. I’m so used to people shortening it, I now do it myself a lot of the time! Even my husband rarely uses my full name (he’s an Aussie – he can’t help himself).

When I was younger, my father always insisted people use my full name rather than the shortened version. He’d already ensured I didn’t develop a broad accent so people at school thought I sounded snobbish. If someone phoned me and shortened my name, he corrected them. This made me feel like even more of a snob (which I wasn’t). Back then, I wanted to fit in, so I hated him doing that. Now, I get where he was coming from.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t think so, but then again, who knows? Had I been named Athena or something maybe I would have been a super model. haha
My real name is Laurie, so I do have it mis-spelled a lot, the ‘Lori” version. I was also highly traumatized as a child when my 100 monogrammed shiny red pencils with gold embossing all read Louie. :-(

kritiper's avatar

My father was named “Billy Joe” when he was born. Changed it in high school to William Joseph. Who in their right mind names their kid that???

Adagio's avatar

I’ve never met another person in my age bracket who shares the same first name. Although it is not an unknown name, being biblical in origin. So, I’ve never been to school with another * . Your question is interesting because it makes me wonder whether having a name that no one else ever shared made me “unique” in some sort of way, although I had never considered that thought before. I’ve always really liked my name and feel happy my parents chose it.

Seek's avatar

Having grown up with Patrick “Pat” Cox, Harry Butts, and April May June, I think we all got off pretty easy.

gondwanalon's avatar

I never liked my name. Why “Lon”? My Mom forgot why she named me Lon. Why not Jon, or Don, or Ron or Ion? My older Sister called me Lonnie and Lonnieboy. Next thing I knew I was unofficially anointed as “Lonnieboy”. I hated it but I could do nothing to stop it. Now that I’m old I kind of like Lonnieboy. My Sister stopped calling me Lonnieboy when she found out that I like it.

I always liked the name Leo. I wish that I was mane that. Leo is a bold and strong name. Lon sounds weak and lazy.

I’m an introvert. Did my name have anything to do with that? Wish I could go back and start over as Leo. Perhaps I’d quickly become an extrovert go busting into the world like old John Wayne!

filmfann's avatar

My name is Jack, but my nickname, which was given to me at birth by my Mother, is Archie.
I think if I didn’t have that nickname I would have been much more serious. A silly name became like a label.

msh's avatar

I was always aware of our given family names. They are all unique and have stories attached to their creation. They all are colorful in the gazillion names of their eras. It gave me fits when people shortened my Mom’s or my Sister’s names. (they were similar) I reasoned that if they were wishing to be called by the shorter, and incorrect form, they would’ve called themselves as such from the introduction onward. I was more put out than both of them ever were. They both let it go. Not me. Perhaps birth-order and the baggage each place represented had something to do with it. Each individual’s identity meant something. Who knows?
It ended up for the better in the long run. At over 1,600+ names (plus any orphlings who wandered in) to remember and visualize when at work, my being a stickler for the person’s preferred name went to excellent use.
If you want to find out something humorous from teachers- ask them why they chose certain names for their own kids, and not others. A name that you didn’t associate with some kid, from some year, due to some hassle or another- it all doesn’t leave too many names left free of association.

Mimishu1995's avatar

The only sure thing would happen is that I wouldn’t be mistaken for a locally popular singer by Google.

ragingloli's avatar

Probably not.

rojo's avatar

In 1760 there was a man named Joseph who had a firstborn son in 1794 and named him Joseph but Joseph died young so the man named his second son, born in 1796, Joseph as well.
That Joseph had two sons. His first born son he named Henry; born 1826, and his last born he named Joseph (1837).
We do not know what happened to Joseph but
Henry had several children that included two sons firstborn named Joseph in 1852 and Henry born 1857.
Joseph named his first son, born 1876 Henry Joseph (took care of that naming problem quickly)
Henry Joseph named his first born (1904) Henry Joseph as well.
This Henry Joseph named his first born (1930) Henry Joseph. This was my father.
He named his son David John thus breaking the chain. It is my understanding that this happened because my mother said she would never saddle her son with such a moniker. not that this was, in my opinion, much better

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