The Name Game

While eating dinner last night, my husband and I got to talking about middle names. I joked that I felt like mine was a bit like a conjunction, a three-letter word (Ann) that connects my first and last names. Then of course the Schoolhouse Rock animated short of “Conjunction Junction” popped into my head. Conjunction Junction, what’s your function? … I think a lot of parents, at least in the past, didn’t give anywhere near as much thought to their kids’ middle names as their first names. Now, I think many parents give a lot of thought into giving their kids cool, unique or at least not boring names.

Hubby goes by his middle name, so I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for him by his first name. It just sounds weird because I think of him by his middle name, not his first one. I still go by a form of my first name, one I started using in college. So if someone who knows me calls me Patricia, it’s because they typically know me from high school or before. I remember in school that the kids who went by a middle name or a nickname often had to correct teachers at the beginning of the year when they called roll for the first time.

Another odd thing about my middle name is that I rarely spell it out. When I have to on a form, I have to actually concentrate to do it because I’m so used to just using my middle initial when I sign my legal signature. Another funny name signing story: After I got married and got a new Social Security card with my new last name on it, I signed it wrong! I had to scratch it out and start over. It still looks like that. Well, in my defense, I’d been writing my signature with my maiden name for more than 22 years.

So, let’s talk names. Do you go by your first or middle name? Is it some form of your name or a nickname? Do people from different parts of your life call you different names? My older relatives still call me Pat, which I absolutely loathe and detest, but I’m thinking I’m not changing the way an 80-year-old aunt thinks of me, ya know? Do you like your middle name?



  • Jane says:

    Hello Trish,
    I go by my first name. Some relatives and friends call me Janie. An ex-coworker called me J.

    • Congrats on nabbing the Golden Rooster, Jane. Hmm, I wonder what his middle name is. Perhaps we should give him a middle name today. 🙂

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jane, congrats on having the GR come stay! I’m afraid he will answer to almost anything, so feel free to make up a name. His little sister, Junebug, told me his legal first name, but I had to promise not to tell…

  • Patty L. says:

    I go by a nickname (Patty) real name Patricia (for when I get in trouble) and Trish by some of my uncles.

  • flchen1 says:

    Fun post, Trish! I go by my first name, although I did have a brief time in first grade (by brief, I mean maybe a day 😉 ) when I’d decided I disliked my name so much I requested that my teacher use my middle name instead. That plan had to be swiftly abandoned when it became clear to my teacher that I didn’t recognize my own name–she’d been calling on me in class for several minutes while I sat staring off into space (probably wondering why that girl didn’t speak up…)

    DH used to go by his middle name when he was a boy–his mom and some of his aunts and uncles still call him by that, while others from junior high call him the full version of his first name. Finally, others call him by the nickname he uses most often now. It’s pretty clear what phase in life he met someone depending on how they address him 🙂

  • Trish, I definitely don’t think of you as Patricia! You’re a Trish to me. I’m actually overendowed with names. There’s my real one (middle name Joan – my mother’s best friend’s name). There’s my writing name Anna Campbell which I love because unlike my real name, people pronounce it right first time and there’s no need for me to go into explanations. Added to which (witch?), it’s a palindrome which is mighty cool. Then there’s my lair nickname Fo. I collected this elegant moniker because we have a ‘real’ Anna in the lair. Anna Sugden. And a faux Anna in the lair. Which ended up being shortened to Foanna. And ended up being Fo. I actually really like being Fo here!

  • Helen says:

    Hi Trish

    I go my first name Helen my middle name is Lorraine and when I asked my Mum were I got that form she said it had been her favourite girls name forever so seeing as I was her first born and a girl I got it I am sometimes called Hel by close family and a couple of friends but normally just Helen my hubby’s name is Ronald but he has always been called Ron or Ronnie 🙂

    Have Fun

    • That’s another interesting topic, where your parents got your name. I know lots of kids are named after family members, but I was named after actress Patricia Neal.

      • Wow, Trish, how interesting. I assume your parents were big fans. I have a cousin called Deanna because my aunty had a huge girl crush on Deanna Durbin who is almost forgotten these days although she was a huge star in her day.

  • Laine says:

    My first name is Elaine but my family always called me Laine. When I went to college someone started calling me El so I decided to start writing Laine on everything except official documents. And it’s stayed that way.
    My mother called my brother Monty, his third name is Montague. (Full name David Charles Montague Davies, I was Elaine Emily Barbara Davies). When he got to school he found Monty was not a good name and he’s now David.

    • Cassondra says:

      Wow, Laine, four names each! I sometimes wish I had four, though mine, with only three, is still quite long, so I guess it could be unwieldy.

      When you have to use a middle initial, which one do you pick?

    • I like Laine. I honestly can’t remember the moment I was like “I will go by Trish now,” but it was when I went to college, which I guess is when many of us start to really find ourselves.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Trish, I love this part of the name Patricia, perfect.

    Not much you can do with the name ‘Amy’, although my siblings came up with “Aim fire” which I absolutely hate, and they know it. These days they only use it to see how quickly I’ll blow up. LOL
    My middle name is Elizabeth, which I love. The only person who ever used it was my grandmother, she always called me Amy Beth which my aunt has begun doing since my grandmother passed.I love being called by that name, but no one else uses it.
    Personally I abhor nicknames. Of my 3 children only ine can shorten his name, and when other people call him ‘Brad’ as oppsed to BradLEY, I correct them. If I wanted to call him Brad, that is what I would have named him.
    The maiden name thing, after 30 years sometimes I still slip.

    • I like the name Elizabeth, too, I think because it’s pretty on its own or you can shorten it so many different ways.

      Speaking of nicknames, when I was little, my dad called me Putt Putt for some reason. He was the only one who ever did.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Trish, I have always gone by my first name. I always liked it because it was spelled differently and was an anagram of my last name. 🙂

    However, I have LOTS of nicknames in our family. My middle name is Elizabeth, which I love. I was born on my great aunt Elizabeth’s birthday, so it was doubly special. My father (and only my father) always called me Liz or Caren Lizbeth. My younger sister calls me Raisin (only fair, since I call her Boosie). My mother has always called me Caren-oodie (for some reason). Others in my immediate family like to call me Cooka (I blame my former stepfather for that one!).

    In our family, if you don’t have a few nicknames, it’s a bad sign. We tend to remoniker those we love. 😀

    • Cassondra says:

      Caren, I’m going to come to you when I have to make up nicknames for people in my books. Nobody in our family has nicknames. I’m not sure why. Though as a child, my grandfather’s nickname for me was not very nice and I hated it. So maybe I was better off.

    • Wow, you have a wealth of names!

  • Laney4 says:

    My first name is Monica. My second is Elaine. I was in my thirties when someone nicknamed me Laney. To this date, only the bloggers and two close friends call me Laney.
    In Grade 8, I didn’t like Elaine so decided to go by Monica. As soon as I did, I was nicknamed Mona – and decided right then that I’d go back to being called Elaine, LOL.

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    My name is Debra Jo. Growing up and to this day, I have been called Debbie or Deb, although I do have a friend who, whenever she sees me says, “Hey, Debra Jo!” Her name is Nancy Jo so it’s been a thing with us for years. Of course, my kids call me Mom, my grandkids, grandma. And whenever I got in trouble my mother would always use Debra Jo. I thought it was cool in high school that a guy I knew called me Half-pint because I was so short. He did so affectionately like a close friend would. And I am sure I have been called a few unmentionable names at times! Lol!

  • Cassondra says:

    Trish I love this blog.

    I find it really hard to think of you as Patricia. You’ve always been Trish to me.

    I have always really liked my name. And although now I have a tough time getting people to say and spell it correctly, (There is no “a” in the middle of my first name, and nowadays, everybody always tries to put one there.) my teachers all through grade school and high school made extra effort I guess. Other than one or two, they all knew how to say my name correctly on the first day. (I have wondered if the people from the previous grade didn’t get together with them and warn them about me. *grin*)

    My mom put a lot of thought into my name. Cassondra Cerise Murray. She found Cassondra in a newspaper and liked it. I can’t remember where she got Cerise. I was almost Sherry. That’s what they’d picked out. But I had a cousin born a month ahead of me, and she was named Sherry. They didn’t want to do that, so they found another name.

    I do like my middle name, and every now and then, the sunset will have the exact color that is cerise.

  • catslady says:

    Most people misspell my name – it’s jeanne but they always want to add an “i” lol. Teachers use to insist that was a nickname and my real name was Jean – nope. I dislike jean for some reason. People who don’t know me call me jean or those who refuse to pay attention when I remind them. My middle name is constance which I don’t care for. My grandmother’s name was Concentina but my parents Americanized it. I liked the original better.

    • Jeanne, our Jeanne in the lair has the same problem, I think. Because I did French at school, I started out pronouncing Jeanne as Zhahn which is a pretty name too. I’ve never heard Concentina. What a pretty name! I can see why you feel gypped that your folks went for Constance!

    • I really like Constance, and have since watching North & South (the American Civil War version; not the British version). There was a character named Constance on that mini-series, and I really liked it.

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Trish, I had to smile at you knowing who is talking to you by what they call you. It’s the same with me. My given name is Patricia (after my mom) and my middle name is Joan (after – according to my mom – the only member of my dad’s family who liked her when they were first married). I have five nicknames (though I dropped one in junior high and another in college) and I know immediately if the person talking to me is an extended family member, childhood friend, high school friend, college friend, online friend, real-life friend or one of my brothers by what they call me. My brothers have different names for me too. Two of them call me Patty, one calls me PJ and the other one calls me Sissy. 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    When I married, I took my maiden name as my middle name. Almost no one knows my middle name anymore. A few people call me Shan, my aunties are allowed to call me Shannie, but my brothers are tortured if they dare. When I was in high school and winning various prizes, I hated when they announced my name as Sharon and then butchered my last name. I never knew whether to be happy I won or disappointed that no one knew who really won.

  • Becke says:

    Oh my, the dreaded middle name. No, I don’t care for it. I was named after my maternal and paternal grandmothers.

    WE named our son after my husband, but he goes by his middle name. My daughter did the same thing with her two of her three boys. All have a first name of James including her husband.

    In prep school I went by Rebecca. In my hometown, I went by Becke. It seems folks like short easy names so now I stick with Becke. However, it sounds like a little kid to me.
    Never satisfied!

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    What a fun topic! My full name is Marcelyn, though I go by Marcy. I used to hate the first day of each school year because many teachers would see a name that starts with Mar and ends with Lyn and just call out ‘Marilyn.’ *sigh* I was fairly shy and dreaded having to correct teachers every year. I’ve known a few people named Marcy and Marcie, but never another Marcelyn, which was a college roommate of my mom.

    Now My hubby and his dad are both William/Bill, with different middle names. My MIL and I used to have trouble keeping them straight in a story when talking. My hubby is tall (6’10”) so he’s not “little” Bill…and his dad in comparison isn’t really “big” Bill. LOL We finally had to compromise on YOUR Bill and MY Bill. Is it any wonder that I refused to name either one of our sons William/Bill. 🙂