What’s In A Name?

This is a post was inspired by a thread on a friend’s Facebook timeline. My friend has decided to return to her given name rather than the shortened version of it that she has been using for a number of years. It caused quite a stir, not one person criticised her decision but many gave their own reasons for the name they use as opposed to the one their parents chose. It’s a subject I’m quite passionate about and I’d love to know how you feel about your name.


My given name is Dianne. As a child, I was never referred to as Di. The only ‘shortening’ of my name that was allowed was the one my younger brother used ‘Dan’ but only until he was old enough to pronounce the full version.

My name has caused me trouble all my life. You see, my dad decided if I was to be Dianne, I had to have two  ‘n’s.  So I spent my school days and working life saying, “it’s Dianne with two n’s”

When I married and changed my last name, further problems arose. I now had to say, “it’s Dianne with two n’s and Horsfield without the e” You have no idea how often people became flustered.

Then I changed jobs and I decided I wanted to claim my own identity and became Di. I still have the Horsfield without the e conversation far more often than I like but what can one do? My name is not Diane Horsefield. It just isn’t me. Now, my husband, dad (who I absolutely promise has never once spelt my name right!) my maternal aunt and my friend from school, call me Dianne.

Then I got to thinking about my family’s names. My kids have names we thought couldn’t be shortened. One can’t and isn’t, the other three get a variety of version of the name we gave them. It’s their choice, and I am guilty of shortening their names too.
But then there’s my husband.

His name is Malcolm. He’s called Gavin. (An argument between his parents meant he was registered as Malcolm but only his dad called him it and he stopped fighting his corner within three weeks) But officially his name is Malcolm.
As a newly wed, I went to register us both at the local GP surgery. I gave the receptionist our names, dates of birth, previous doctor’s name and so on and went to take my seat to wait for my appointment with the nurse.

I’d been sat there a few minutes trying to decide whether I had time to pick up one of the dog-eared magazines, when I suddenly realised I had made a mistake. I went back to the receptionist and whispered, “I gave you the wrong name for my husband.” The woman’s hearing must have failed as she asked me to repeat myself. I tried again, a little louder but hoping to keep it as private as possible. Again, the receptionist pled deafness. I’m sure I saw a smirk cross her mouth. I’ve never been known for my patient streak. I now spoke loudly enough for the entire over crowded waiting room to hear that I was very sorry but my husband name is not Gavin, it’s Malcolm!

The sniggers, giggles and open guffaws from the reception area and waiting patients caused me to flush. I was also rather cross (Have I mentioned I’m not very patient?) I explained, in what I considered to be a reasonable tone, pitch and level given the situation, that I was not bloody responsible for his sodding name and advised those who thought I might have had some sort of memory lapse or having a torrid affair with some random bloke, to take it up with my husband’s damn parents!

At that point the nurse called my name and I stomped off down the corridor vowing I would never again do anything that involved me giving his name. If anybody needed his name and details he could damn well do it himself on his bloody day off.  I had almost calmed down to a more acceptable level when the nurse handed me some paperwork to sign. Guess what? The stupid people had spelt BOTH my names incorrectly!

So for my sanity please I’m Di, Dan, Danni, Dianni, but never Diane Horsefield!


9 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. I have a surname that it’s tricky for English speaking people to pronounce, so I’ve mostly given up on that, and trying to spell it is nearly impossible (Núñez. I ended up with 2 letters missing in my surname and being Nez in my last airplane e-ticket). At least Olga is normally OK (even if spellchecker sometimes tries to make it Alga). Patience, patience…

  2. Thank you for liking my article. Giselle Marks is a pen name, it took me six months to come up with one I can live with. I understand the problems of name choosing seriously. I fought with my ex over our children’s names to the point that some went past the legal limit to be registered. All my children have four names in case they wanted to have something to change the one we chose to. But amazingly out of Vojtech, Milena, Serafina, Claudia and Blazej, only Milena goes as Milly for the ease of her work contacts.

    • Hi Giselle. I see you regularly on FB (we have a few friends I common) but I didn’t realise you had a blog or that Giselle is a pen-name. I’m really looking forward to reading your blog posts. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to read mine 🙂

  3. Yes, I have had this problem for years to there is actually an ‘ H ‘ in my first name and a hyphen so, for legal reason my name is actually Brehnda-May. Also my husband’s name has different variations he is Jonathan but he often has to say it’s Jonathan without the ‘ H ‘ meaning the ‘ H ‘ at the start, but this becomes confused thus folks think there is no ‘ H ‘ at all and he then becomes Jonatan. all very confusing sometimes i wish that my mum had just called me May but even a simple name like May has to be spelled out these day, ie Mae, Mai, from now on just call me Jim…I like that ha ha

    • Thanks Jim! My grandma’s name was May. As she got older – in her late 80, she was amazed when suddenly people started spelling her name wrongly. It had never occurred to her May could have different spellings!

  4. I don’t have a pen name since I’d forget to use it properly, but there was a time in the past, way back when I first started school at age 5, that my name was an issue. I’m called Nancy after my mother’s sister who was always referred to as Nan, though her official name was Agnes. When I was born and she was told I was being named for her but she said I should be Nancy, or wee Nan. So Nancy was my name. My first teacher back at age 5 had a problem with me. After a few days she asked my mother to visit the school. That just DID NOT happen back in 1957! The teacher thought I was very deaf (ironically I am now, but I wasn’t then) because I wouldn’t answer her. When my name was called out for registration I ignored her. My mother said, “Oh, that’s because she doesn’t know her name.” I guess the teacher (probably an old bat) then thought I was thick as well as deaf! Have you guessed my big secret? 🙂

  5. Oh yes – as far as names go I’m like the business person with the string of credit cards, different ones for different occasions. Recently I’ve gone back to my given name of Ailsa which I avoided for years because it had bad associations with my mother who only used it when I was in trouble, which was most of the time.
    Over here in France I’m always known as Elise (they couldn’t pronounce Ailsa to save their lives, as most English can’t either). I’ve also been Otter, Ottie, Raven, Cam and Bear.
    Just don’t call me Elsa. I will explode. Someone did once try out Elsie, followed by a smirk and “like Elsie Tanner”…they might be out of hospital by now, I don’t know, like you, Di, patience isn’t my strong suit.

    • I didn’t mention I answer to mam, mum, mummy. Nanna (never Grandma and note the two N’s in nanna!) Aunt, aunty, fats, piggy, and oh my god not her! On top of these I have a pen name! (No I’m not telling you… At least not yet)
      I’m so pleased it’s not just me!
      Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

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