Monday, 9 May 2011

What's In A Name?

For the first time since 1954, the name Elvis is not among the top 1000 baby names in the US. According to the BBC website (see here), Jacob and Isabella were the most popular names in 2010.

Now I can see that the name Elvis would be more popular in the States, but to be in the top 1000 names for the past fifty-six years, is going some! I've no idea how popular the name was before 1954, but I'd put money on the King of Rock and Roll having a lot to do with it. I'm struggling to think of any famous British Elvi (see what I did there); unless of course, you count Fireman Sam's mate.......

                                               Elvis has left the building.....

So what's in a name? And how did we get from Ethelred to Bentley?

Being the possessor of an unusual surname, I've always been a little sensitive where names are concerned. Naming my own children, I made sure that I didn't choose anything potentially embarrassing. Of course, I could have gone down the 'Give 'Em a Stupid Name and Toughen 'Em Up' route, like a certain Johnny Cash (A Boy Named Sue), but believe me I've been there....

Dear reader, I've heard 'em all. 'Oh, higher Lower', or 'You can't get Lower than that'. I could go on, but I'm bored already! Since I've (allegedly) grown up, I realise that kids will get you whatever you are called; if not for your name, then for wearing glasses or for the clothes you wear.

Many years ago, I played rugby with a Bristolian called Jim. I'd known him quite a while when I discovered that his name was actually Richard. One day, I asked him why he called himself Jim. He looked down his nose at me (he is 6' 7"), and asked me if I knew what was short for Richard. Dick, I replied innocently (I was much younger in those days), and then the penny dropped. If you're big, and your name is Dick, then what are people gonna call you? Exactly. 

                                            Yes, of course I'll call you Jim.....      

So what exactly Frank Zappa thought he was doing when he named his son Dweezil, and his daughter Moon Unit, God alone knows! And who in their right mind would name their children Bandit Lee, or Sparrow James Midnight? Then there's Bob Geldorf and Paula Yates, who named their unfortunate sprogs, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom, and Little Pixie. Now isn't this just asking for trouble? This just goes to show that you may have been awarded a KBE, and have recieved many plaudits for your humanitarian work, but it doesn't mean that you have a scrap of common sense.

So be careful when naming your offspring. After all, a few years down the line when you're dribbling in your chair at the retirement home, you just may be relying on them to pay the bills!


  1. Martin, we may not be married but we must have a psychic bond: An "Elvis" reference in both our posts today!

  2. Martin, I had a great uncle whose first names were Wellington Aubrey. I never heard him called anything other than 'Jim'.

    I wondered how he got his names and, later discovered that his father's first names were Wellington Windust. I can't decide which is worst.

  3. I used to work with a lovely guy named Waddington,( generally called Waddy,) but one day a customer referred to him as " Wellington" we laughed! For some reason we cannot establish, my father in law ( aged 97) hates his name and always is "Clifford" ! ( he called his twin sons Peter and John..the most ordinary names he could come up with)

  4. I'm Crayon - We'll just have to settle for a psychic bond then, I think my wife is a little disappointed...

    Martin H - Wellington Aubrey sounds very grand, but I suppose Jim is just more convenient. I'd no idea that Windust was a name at all!

    Frances - Clifford seems perfectly reasonable to me, but I'm not sure that anybody actually likes their name.

  5. I don't even have a "y" in my name. How boring is that?!

    Mind you, my parents called our pet budgerigar "Budgie" so maybe I should be grateful I wasn't just called "Child" or "Being".

  6. Jane - Having a 'y' in your name would just be pretentious. Like Martyn.
    Isn't there a book called 'A Child Called It'?

  7. No doubt the royal baby won't be called 'Elvis'. I think we can guarantee that. We had to be very careful when we named our babies because of the name Hill - there are so many to avoid .. Benny Hill, Jimmy Hill, William Hill ... and any girls' names such as Daisy or Rosie that we liked sounded like somewhere to have a picnic.


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