Savvy womens Magazine


What's In A Name?

Is It Just Me?

. . .Or do we all have a bone to pick with our parents for giving us the moniker they so carefully thought up at the time of our birth - or soon thereafter. . .

Over the weekend, my 13 year-old son announced I was "re-e-a-lly boring" because I'd named him Sam.  He informed me he wants to be known as Rufus from now on. OK. Rufus?

Which took me way back to my own childhood, when I recall an ongoing battle with my mother for calling me Olivia. No-one I knew or had ever heard of was called Olivia, so I informed my mother I wanted to be called Susan. Susan, to my 6-year-old way of thinking, was a good, ordinary name, and everybody knows that at the age of 6, all we really want to be is good and ordinary. And how ordinary can we be with a name like Olivia?

I also remember that sometime around then, she made me watch Gone With The Wind, so I could see my namesake - the luminous and lovely Olivia de Havilland. Well, I assure you, it had little to no effect on my 6-year-old imagination. I still hated the name.

I have to admit though that over the ensuing 40-odd years since then, I've kinda got used to Olivia, and I can kinda understand why my mother refused to change it to Susan.

So, the question is, do we grow into our name, like a pair of comfy old slippers or our favourite flanny jammies? Or do some of us continue to hate it with the same passion we had when we first cottoned-on to the power (or lack thereof) it had when our kindergarten teacher first did roll-call?

There are many who will tell you our names evoke special, magical powers. Take the Kalabarians for instance. After a visit to their website at, I discovered the following:

Although the name Olivia creates an interest in the deeper aspects of life, we emphasize that it causes a restless intensity that defies relaxation. This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the heart, lungs, bronchial area, and solar plexus.

Gosh, so that explains the pains I've been having in my chest? I've GOT THE WRONG NAME! (No, only joking - about the pains, I mean!)

What's in a name, Shakespeare said, and we're all asking that question, particularly the likes of Reginald Dwight, Archibald Leach and Frances Ethel Gumm. Would Elton John have become the staggeringly successful musician he is if he'd kept his birth name Reginald Dwight? Same for Judy Garland - would we still remember her so fondly had she remained Frances Gumm, and would woman have swooned over Cary Grant if his original name, Archibald Leach, had graced the billboards?

Who's to know? I guess on the plus-side if you dislike your name enough, you can always legally change it. But Rufus? C'mon Sam, I could have called you Susan. . .

- OM