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What does your name say about you? Do you think it reflects who you are or who you've become? Are you able to get past the popular associations that load it down?

When we were choosing names for our children, besides wanting them to be names we liked and felt comfortable with, we also had the requirement that they work both in America and in Sweden. Thus, no names starting with J since in Swedish J is pronounced with a Y sound. I dwelt lovingly over lists of names in baby name books, but the MEANINGS didn't weigh that much with our final decisions, and good thing, since they couldn't be farther off. Martin Wallace, after all, is no warrior, Welsh or otherwise, and Karin? It's a Swedish variant of Katherine, which means pure. And her middle name, Linnéa**, is a pretty pink flower.

From what my mother tells me, I wasn't named for anyone, despite the fact that my paternal grandmother's middle name is the same as my first one. She claims that they just let the old lady think that in order to keep the peace, but that actually they just liked it. There's no telling how much influence a certain major Hollywood star had. But either way I didn't start out by answering to the name that I was given. Since my father liked Lisa best and my mom liked Elizabeth, they compromised by naming me the second, but calling me the first. My middle name, Ann, seems to have been chosen solely for the fact that it goes well with Elizabeth.

That lasted until I came home from the first day of Kindergarten and declared that there were 5 Lisas in my class and that was too many; henceforth I would please to be known as Liz. I suppose I thought I couldn't pick Beth since I had a close cousin (also Elizabeth) who was nicknamed that. It wasn't long before my dad was calling me Lizard, though.

I thought Elizabeth sounded too old-fashioned and too LONG. And in addition, it wasn't UNIQUE. In fact, it's one of the most popular girl's names of all time, not having dropped out of the Top 25 in the last 150 years. What seems strange to me, though, is that I rarely run into other women named Liz. Lisa was FAR more common in my generation, it seems. Even in the nearly 10 years I've been a member of the American Women's Club here, out of nearly 300 members past and present, there has only been one other Liz and one other Elisabet (from Iceland). There have been, however, 5 Lisas and 1 Liza. I may not often run into them in real life, but Liz's are certainly well represented in the blogosphere.

So, does the meaning of my name reflect who I am? From the Greek Ελισαβετ (Elisabet), a transliteration of the Hebrew אֱלִישֶׁבַע (Elisheva), meaning "consecrated to God" or "oath of God" or "God's promise"?...hrm. I don't think so. (more about exactly what promise my name refers to)

Famous Elizabeths? Well, aside from the obvious one, there are lots of them, among them a slew of royalty and sainthood. If you add in all the gazillion short forms of Elizabeth, that's a big group of famous people, none of whom I feel particularly like, although there are some I am more partial to, including Bishop, Barrett Browning, and Bennet.

In summary my name is saintly, royal, ubiquitious, old-fashioned, literary and a lot to live up to. Does that sum me up? Well,...halfway, anyway. I'll leave it to the discerning reader to figure out WHICH half. :P

*Audrey Hepburn
**It actually means linden or lime tree.
mood: mellow
music: Joan Armatrading—Drop the Pilot


Linnéa is so pretty. It makes me think of Linneus, and I'm a fan of his work.

It's my daughter's name and he named the flower (twinflower) after himself. I guess besides loving botany, he loved himself. :-P

Hardly surprising :P

I love that name actually. My MIL is Elisabeth but the Polish version Elżbieta and the nickname for that is Ela. My cousin has that name and she goes by Liz. I guess her sisters thought she could be like Liz Taylor.

When I think of that name, I think of a witty, intelligent, beautiful women. The kind that give men a run for their money. Where would that have come from? :-)

From me, of course! hahahaha! I like the Polish version, it rolls really nicely off the tongue. :)


OK...time for a correction. Seems that in kindergarten with the aforementioned 5 Lisa's- and you didn't like the fact that your kindergarten teacher sorted you all out by calling you "Lisa Ann" which you insisted was NOT your real name! You actually announced that you would henceforth be called by your real name (Elizabeth) - the idea for that coming from your hearththrob of the class who's, older (second grade) sister was so named and so called. Being the insistent, stubborn child of first position, I allowed I would follow your orders on this point ONLY!- but it took quite a long time to change old habits (some of your Great Aunts never adjusted). Although I was familiar with the meanings of the names- somehow, that didn't figure greatly into our choice. Although I do find it funny that all 3 of my babies ended up with Biblical names!

As for Martin - he probably just has't found his warrior topic yet. And Karin is definitely PURE KARIN!!!! Love, Lizardmom

Aha! Well, I don't know that you ever told me that side of it, but it surely makes sense! :D And you are right, she IS PURE KARIN! hahha!

My parents knew I was going to be a girl when I was born and they still took days to name me. The nurses were all very confused and impatient with the process. My grandmother (Carrie Elizabeth) protested when my parents said they had considered naming me for her, so they named me Genevieve Alisa because they just liked it. My grandmother later admitted that she was just being modest and would have really liked it.

My mother worried if anyone would be able to say or spell Genevieve and if it would scar me for life, and then she remembered that her name is Drucilla and she's survived just fine. :)

I think Karin and Martin and Elizabeth are all beautiful names and well chosen.

Genevieve is so pretty and unusual. Here in Sweden you have MONTHS to decide what your child will be named. If I remember correctly you have up until 3 months after your child is born to turn in the paperwork. :)

My name is Carrie Beth. It's a fine name and I've never really minded it. However, I think it would be a lot more fun to be named Genevieve! Be glad your grandmother protested.

Both your names are diminutives! :)

That's really funny! I've always liked the name Carrie, and my grandmother was very sweet, so you share a name with a very cool lady. :)


Your daughter's name is Karin Linnéa? Wow. My aunt's name is Karin, and Linnéa is one of my favourite names. I think it's so pretty, just like the flower. One I plan to give any daughter of my own. :)

I myself am named after two songs my father liked. "Maria Therese" by Swedish singer/performer Robert Broberg. My father also wanted me to be "Maria" because of the song from West Side Story that he liked too. But mother didn't like "Maria" (the most common name there is here!) so they compromised and named me Marie Therese. Both names very common on children of the late 60's-early 70's. On "lekis" we were three or four Marie, so the teachers asked the other children what to call us to keep us apart. They gave me the name Mia. :)

I am sorry to take up so much space, but here are the lyrics to "Maria Therese". Sweet isn't it - I can see what my father was thinking. :) There are worse songs to be named after:

"Jag plockar upp en röd ros av kärlek till
dina röda läppar, å om du vill
ska jag plocka alla rosor här
för att visa att jag har dej kär

Jag ska plocka alla blommorna som sen ska ges
till den vackraste flickan som på jord kan ses,

En gullviva jag plockar av kärlek till
dina gula lockar, å om du vill
ska jag plocka ännu fler till dej
för att visa att jag älskar dej

Jag ska plocka alla blommorna som sen ska ges
till den vackraste flickan som på jord kan ses,

En blåklocka jag plockar av kärlek till
dina blåa ögon, å om du vill,
alla blåklockorna ska du få
om du lovar att det blir vi två

Jag ska plocka alla blommorna som sen ska ges
till den vackraste flickan som på jord kan ses,


I know what you mean about Maria being so common here, that really surprised me, actually, since I had always thought it was more of a Latin name. Mia is nice, and I've always like Therese/Theresa. I know a little girl named Teresa who is called Tess, which I think is adorable, AND a name that one can grow with :)

I want to hear that song, now, I like the lyrics so much!

My maternal grandmother, Augusta Caroline, died 6 months before I was born, devastating my mother, who loved her dearly. My mother wanted to call me Augusta Caroline, but my father was stuck on Cherry Jane for some reason (and I'm SO glad that didn't happen). They compromised on Carolyn Jean, which later was changed to Carolyn Augusta. Carolyn was actually a very popular name for girls in the early 1950s as well, although most of them ended up as Carols. I've always been very insistent on Carolyn, since Carol speaks to me of cheerleaders and Pep Club members, skirts with poodles on them and flipped up hair with headbands, which is SO not me.

oh my god, "cherry jane"! *grins*

I know, I know.

Cherry Jane!! Good god! That would have taken some, er, living up to. LOL!

I've always liked Carolyn as a name. I had a friend in college named Carolyn. She's a dancer and just beautiful. :)

mom says my first name came from the rather plain wife of nikita chrusjtjov, who she saw on tv together with jackie onassis when the russian couple visited new york once. mrs chrusjtjov looked so kind and wise that mom thought jackie's glamor and beauty totally paled in comparison. i don't know what to think of that really... :-)

my middle name, marielle, is a "frenchified" form of the german mariele, a name mom chose because she was the sister of a friend at work (back in post war germany) whose mother demanded that mom had to come every morning to their house to get a decent breakfast while she was pregnant with my oldest brother. the kindness of both the mother and this mariele stuck in her mind, so she gave me the name when she finally got a daughter. but my two brothers rebelled hearing i would get a german name (the story doesn't tell why) and so mom changed it to a french sounding version.

so i guess i was named after kindness and wisdom. thank god there was a little beauty in my genes already. :-)

there's a lot of beauty in your genes, missy. :) Why would your brothers care if you had a German name? That makes me laugh as I don't consider Mariele to be very German-sounding.

I have a cousin named Elizabeth Anne. It's the reverse of my sister's name Anne Elizabeth (although I don't really think my aunt would say that's what she had in mind when she chose it). My aunt was insistent that we all call her Elizabeth; not Liz, Beth, Betsy or any derivation there of. So we all dutifully called her ELizabeth. Five years later, enter her little sister who, once she started talking, couldn't say the whole thing and so she became Liz. To this day, most of my siblings and I call her Elizabeth but we're the only ones, as even her mother now calls her Liz!

My middle name is Maria. I'm the fifth child and fourth girl. My oldest sister's middle name is Marie and my second sister's first name (technically, none of us use it) is Mary. I hated that my middle name was Maria when I was a kid as I felt like it had been overused in our family by that point. Then I realized that I got the best version of it as the others don't have songs from Broadway musicals about them. ;-)

My mother's middle name is Therese!

How funny that 3 of you girls have middle names that are so similar, and having Maria songs is much better than "Lizzie Borden took an ax..." :D

My mother has a cousin Dawn that had 3 boys and always wanted a girl. They thought I was a boy until I was born and didn't really have a girl name. So, my mother decided to give me her name, Dawn. To this day we are known as "Big Dawn" and "Little Dawn" or "Big D" and "Little D"

Everyone thinks I was born in the AM, but I wasn't!

Whenever I think about it, it seems unlikely that my name could be "Joy" since that's just a word. It's like being named "Fruit" or "Transition". My parents also didn't know what to name me--they were convinced I was a boy--and they settled on Joy in honor of C.S. Lewis' wife. As a name, it carries a lot of weight and expectation, some of which I don't enjoy. As a child, my favorite name was Melissa, which seemed so light and airy and unattached to anything.

My middle name is Elizabeth, and when my sister was born my parents planned (ha!) that they'd have four girls in a row, as their friends had done, and they would give us all the same initials, so she was Jennifer Evangeline. (Holy--talk about weighty!) My brother was also supposed to be a girl--he was named as a Junior, which was simple--but his name was supposed to be Julie Anne. He married a Julie Anne. She loves that fact.

I always wanted a name that could be shortened to something, because it seemed like it would be so nice to have a nickname. And in fact, the one boyfriend that gave me a nickname gave me the best gift of all.

That was a great comment, the whole thing :) I agree that Joy, as a name, carries a lot of weight and expectation. All of those sort of Puritan names do (Constance, Faith, Charity, etc.). I always thought they were unfair to a kid...too much to live up to, for sure!

love this post

Liz, I love this post and all the comments. What beautiful names! My parents considered calling me Elizabeth, but I ended up with my grandmother's maiden name, Terrell. My middle name is Aspen, after the tree. Last name is Meek. Sometimes I love my name because it's different, but that's also why I dislike it at times. People never pronounce it correctly; it rhymes with Carole.

I love my mom's name: Clara. And my aunt's name: Claudia. If/when I have kids I want to definately stick with a family name.


Re: love this post

I've been pronouncing it correctly in my head, then :) We wanted to have at least one of the kids' names, first or middle, be a family name. Martin's middle name, Wallace, is for my maternal grandfather. We didn't succeed with Karin, but we love her name, so it doesn't matter. :) Clara and Claudia are lovely, too.

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