Friday, March 6

What's in a (middle) name?

Shakespeare once said, "What's in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 1-2)  But did he ever think about what was in a middle name?  Did they even have middle names back then?  I'm not completely sure about that second question but that's for another blog.  There are so many people with the same name, John Smith, Katie Jones, and endless others.  In my grade alone there were over 10 Rachels and even a girl with the same last name as mine plus an O.  That can get very confusing.  So how did society decide to fix this name game issue?  They added in another name.  

Middle names can be very important to a person and their family.  Many people's middle names are the name of a special relative or a very close friend.  They may have passed away or they may have a special place in the history of the family.  Another common theme to choosing a middle name is choosing a prominent member from one's family religion.  Some of the most common middle names are Michael, John, and Mary from the Bible.  In the case of today's celebrities, they choose the most random name imaginable and decide that this name is the best idea for a middle name (or first name for that matter...)  A not so common theme for choosing a middle name is choosing a word from another language that means something to the mother or father.  One of my friend's middle names (who is African American) is Noire, which means "black" in French.

Another way to pick a middle name is the use the mother's maiden name, and this is exactly what my mom did.  My middle name is Jensen, my grandpa's last name, and my mom loved the idea of keeping that name in the family.  My sister has the same middle name for the same reason.  I think that is a tradition that is not kept around as much as it should be because in a typical marriage the female takes on the last name of the male.  By keeping your maiden name as your middle name it never goes away!

It can be really interesting to sit down with your family and learn why you were given your middle name.  If you are able to, even try to ask your grandparents where their middle names came from.  I have gotten into some really interesting and memorable conversations with my family when these things have come up.  Take some time today to learn more about your heritage and learn to love your middle name!!


  1. I completely agree with the "Rachel" confusion... my name also being Rachel. I once had been in a class in my sophomore year in high school and there were three other Rachel's in that class alone--not just my high school graduating class, that particular English class. I must say it was quite frustrating for both us and the teacher!

  2. This was a really interesting topic. I, along with many others, have never really put much thought or concern into why we even have middle names, let alone where they come from. Although just by mentioning it I can see trends in my own family. My brother's middle name is my grandfather's name, and my mother and I share the same middle name. Now I am kind of curious why both my mother and I have the same middle name!

    I also liked the idea of using the mother's maiden name as a middle name. So long as it flows well, it's a really neat plan.

    Good entry!

  3. My middle name, sadly doesn't really mean anything. It's sad really, it's a boys name. In case I was a boy, I would've been named after my father. Since the situation was opposite, they moved my father's name to my middle name. So it kind of sucks. I envy people who's name has beautiful meanings. Like my sister, her middle name, Giang-Tien means "beautiful maiden descended from heaven who is trapped on earth". I really love names with those types of meanings.