Posted on March 10, 2017
Every year, the first full week of March is Name Week. Each day focuses on a different aspect of names. In the past, I've written about Namesake Day, Fun Facts About Names Day, Discover What Your Name Means Day, Nametag Day, and Genealogy Day.
Today, it's middle names!
Middle names are very important. They can help us know who we are talking or reading or writing or hearing about. (For example, did you know that there are two German composers named Johann Bach who lived in the late 1600s and the early 1700s?)
It's the middle names that help us keep Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams straight, and it helps us keep George Herbert Walker Bush distinguished from George Walker Bush.
A middle name can be an important thing for a person who doesn't like his or her first name all that well. Some people like to use one name for professional purposes and another name for personal matters. Some people like to go by their first two initials, and some people go by their middle name because someone else near and dear has the same first name. Some people end up with their middle name just because their first name is too common.
Here are some examples of these sorts of situations:
Actors Christopher Ashton Kutcher and Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon use their unusual middle names as their first names - and have ever since they started acting as teenagers.
Beatle Paul McCartney was named James after his father, so his family always used his middle name to avoid confusion. Country music star Garth Brooks was in the same situation - Garth is his middle name, and he shares his first name, Troyal, with his father.
I knew someone named Maria Isabel, and she went by Isabel because all of her sisters were named Maria something-or-other, as well.
I just wrote about biologist/blogger PZ Myers. PZ is unique and memorable - more memorable than Paul Zachary.
Both Hannah Dakota Fanning and her sister, Mary Elle Fanning, go by their middle names for personal AND professional matter. I think it's nice that most of us have a choice of two or three names, plus nicknames, without having to formally change our names.
Some famous people use just one name - but it had better be pretty unique, right? So the singer Robyn Fenty chose to go by her middle name - and just her middle name - Rihanna.
My dad had a mistake on his birth certificate. His mom had meant to write Bobbie Lee, but in her excitement over her firstborn, she wrote Bobie Lee. He never bothered to change his name. Instead, he went by Bob both personally and professionally, but his legal signature was his initials (B.L.) plus his last name.
Also on this date: