A Freakonomics Radio Bleg: What’s Your Name?

Want to be part of an episode of Freakonomics Radio? We’re working on a podcast about names and we want to hear from readers and listeners about their own names — common ones, unusual ones, everything in between. So we’ve set up a voicemail line at 646-829-4478. Give us a call and tell us your full name, and then tell us a little bit about your first name – how you got it and what it means. Thanks!

Addendum: Thank you for all your emails and messages! Our line is now closed. Our names podcast will be out on 4/8/2013. 

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Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



  1. Ron "Judah Soledad" Friedman says:

    I created an alter ego name, Judah Soledad, about 10 yrs ago when I wrote some pieces for a friend’s website. I didn’t want any opinion pieces to harm future employment opportunities. Judah for “Jew” as it means in the Hebrew (I am proud of my cultural/religious heritage) and Soledad because it means isolated or solitary in Spanish, a language I very much love and a personality trait I possess, though I am also gregarious and very much a schmoozer.

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  2. reuben says:

    first name is Reuben. Not too strange but the fact that I’m black and the name is a hand-me-down from my father and grandfather.. who was named by his Jewish mother, around the turn of the century… now that’s different. Just how did that happen? I’m also the 3rd.

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  3. Seminymous Coward says:

    Well, my name is Seminymous Coward. My parents were sort of weird. I feel like living with this last name excuses some quirks, though.

    I called, but I doubt either my actual name or the reason for my first name is sufficiently weird to make it in.

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  4. Johnnie Sue Thayer says:

    My maiden name was Henry, so for a long time I was Johnnie Sue Henry and I received a lot of teasing about it – the one with three first names. And before you ask, yes, I’m a girl. And no, my parents didn’t want a boy. And yes, I got a letter from the draft board. And had to send a copy of my birth certificate. And it was weird because there was even a box marked “I am not male”. So I wonder how many of those they sent out. Anyway, I’m named after my paternal Grandmother – she was Johnnie Eva Henry. I’m not sure where she got it from, but she was from Tennessee and it’s more common down there that you have “interchangeable” names. After all, one of my close friends in kindergarten down there was a girl named Michael . . .

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  5. matt says:

    Ever since reading “Freakonomics” I have really thought about this topic, and for the most part, I agree.

    My one issue has always been what is “unique” or “unusual?” Is a name that is quite common in other countries/cultures really that unique just because it’s not common here in the USA?

    We decided to go with (what I felt was) an unusual name for our daughter because I’ve liked it ever since I heard it 20 years ago. According to the government website, there were 354 other girls with her name the year of her birth. (#808 on the most popular names list) whereas her twin brother has 8,416 other boys with his name born that year.

    I’m just no longer sure what “unusual” means in this context. Although there weren’t a LOT of girls with my pre-K daughters name, is it still considered unusual if the First Lady (aka President’s wife) of a smaller country has that same name or if a former contestant in Ms. Universe has that name?

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  6. Nick Fortescue says:

    I recommend every programmer reads this blog post if they are writing computer programs which handle names http://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/ it might be worth contacting the author, he probably has some good stories.

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  7. Erendira Flora Calderon says:

    My first name is Aztec meaning princess of Mexico, the one who smiles. My pops found it on a story. It’s unusual, unique, and I’ve never met anyone with my name in my 24 years on this earth. It’s a strong Latino name that is taken for granted since no one can pronounce it, but it gives me personality and life that most do not always get out of a name.

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  8. Russell Fisher says:

    Russell was my Father’s Mother’s maiden name. His own father died of the Spanish Influenza in 1920 when my dad was 5 yrs old, and he was raised by his mother and her father (a widower).

    It means “Red Haired”. My hair is blonde, but my beard is red (now leaning toward grey)

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  9. Dusty Cullen Wells says:

    My mom named me after a boy she had a crush on in high school (not my father) and my dad got my middle name out of a Louie L’Amour novel.

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  10. miriam says:

    I don’t feel like calling– or listening to a podcast for that matter. I am thinking that the other commenters feel the same– or perhaps they just didn’t read directions. No matter.
    My name is from my great-aunt Miriam. In hebrew supposedly it means “bitter” or “contentious”. Funny story– my little brother’s name is Simon which is my great-aunt’s brother’s name too (my grandfather, IOW).

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  11. BOUJEMAA says:

    Hi !!
    my name is Boujemaa
    it means : the father of friday
    I live in Morocco,
    And this name is not very used

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  12. Jingjing Wang says:

    First Name is Jingjing, which means respectfulness in Chinese. Last name is Wang, which is the fourth popular family name in China.

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  13. Steve Cebalt says:

    My name is Steve. On my birth certificate: Steven. But I am Steve. I hate “Steven,” because it sounds presumptious, stuffy, formal — and none of those traits describe me. I would argue that if I had gone through life using the name “Steven” in everday discource, I would actually be a different person, because I’d be signaling to people that I am formal, serious, self-important. I am none of those things. I am casual, friendly, approachable. I’d be less approachable as “Steven” than as plain old “Steve.” That letter “N” makes a world of difference. Same is true of my son Charles. We call him Charlie. He’d be a different person if his friends, teachers and parents referred to him as Charles. “Prince Charlie”? No. Prince Charles is right — or King Charles someday. King Charlie?

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  14. anonymous says:

    My name is ‘Sally’. I’ve never met another one, though I found to my surprise it is in the top 1000 girls names in the U.S.! Never liked it because when a girl’s name is mentioned in pop songs, ‘Sally’ is always a (sometimes comical) slut. No one loves or yearns for a ‘Sally’. And it also sounds like the name of a Kansas farmwife of the 1900’s, growing sunflowers alongside the chicken coop (which isn’t a bad thing but really old fashioned!) My first and (maiden) last name? Only four of us in the whole U.S.!

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  15. Dimitrios Alexiadis says:

    My name is Dimitrios Alexiadis. My first name is my grandfathers first name, and my middle name, Nickolaos is my fathers first name and my grandfather’s middle name. The name Dimitrios in my context arises from the Greek Orthodox Church in northern Greece. He was an Orthodox military saint who became a martyr for the cause.

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  16. Juan Felipe Garcia Rodriguez says:

    My name has been a drag my entire life – from hearing it mangled by non-Spanish speakers to tickets and bench warrants mysteriously appearing on my DMV records every few years… yet, I still love it/feel attached to it. I’ve never made a move to change it despite all the baggage. My name means too much to my parents and I’ve already done enough to break their hearts for one lifetime.

    Can’t wait to hear the show!

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  17. Cosmo says:

    My father & grandfather are both named Cosmo. Apparently is a rather common name on Italy. In fact, thanks to my mother, I was the first male in the lineage without that name going back to motherland..I guess fatherland in this case.

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  18. Taed Wynnell says:

    Both my first and last names are invented by myself.

    I was born Edward, but always went by Ted. In grad school, I felt that it didn’t quite speak to me, so I changed it to Taed, with the “ae” like in “aesthetic”.

    When I married, my wife and I combined and changed our last names from “Wynn” and “Nelson” to a merged “Wynnell”.

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  19. Nancy Man says:

    I was named for my maternal grandmother, which always struck me as odd — even as a young kid — since my mom and her mom rarely spoke.

    I guess I got the name more out of respect than anything else.

    But the fact that I was named after someone my mom didn’t seem to like very much made me sort of fascinated with people’s names and the stories behind them.

    As an adult, I started a blog (Nancy’s Baby Names) to have a place to talk about names. That was 7 years ago and I still haven’t run out of things to say, amazingly.

    So…common name, common story, but it inspired me to follow a rather unique career path.

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  20. Risa says:

    I wrote a blog post about my name. And since I left off a bunch of stuff on the voicemail–like what my name means in Spanish–I thought you might like to read it. http://www.zerotosixtyinoneyear.com/2012/05/name-game.html

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  21. Dariyn Stedman says:

    My name isn’t too common. Although I’ve heard “Darian” or “Darien” pronounced like my name, I have yet to meet someone with it spelled like mine. The name seems to be pretty common for black males, but I am a white female. Even though it is a bit of a strange name to have, I am rarely teased about my name. To my surprise, it gets lots of compliments. People with common names are typically more successful. So far, I have been just as successful despite my uncommon name.

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  22. Woody Crobar says:

    My name is Woody Crobar (both of those are the full name, not short for anything).

    As the story goes my mother was looking for a unique name and saw it in magazine article.

    My last name is a more interesting story. According to census data the name “Crobar” is virtually unheard of. In fact, my family is the only family in existence that appears to have this name (there are three families in North America that have this name, and we’re all related to each other). I don’t know the history of the name “Crobar” but I suspect that it was a rather boring “Americanization” of the name Krauberg or a related German name from when my family first arrived in America.

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  23. Jo says:

    My name is Jwaan Adib, my mum is Iraqi and my dad is Kurdish/German. ‘Jwaan’ means beautiful in Kurdish language. I was born in England and so my parents had to find a suitable name that could be appropriate for the Brits, so I guess Jwaan was then made into Joanne, which is the spelling on my passport. It gets awkward introducing myself to new people because I’m never sure whether to go for Jwaan, Joanne or Jo. Depends on the audience I guess!

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  24. Pey-Lih Littler says:

    Since I am emailing and not calling your voicemail line, my name is pronounced “Pay-Lee” It’s not Pee Wee, not Payless, not Pele the soccer player. It’s very simple: Pay-Lee. People often ask me, “What does your name mean?” When I was young and cheeky, I used to tell people that my name translated to “beautiful white clouds in the mountains hovering above the forest waiting to break rain on your newly washed car.” I think the part about the car ruined the flow of the picture. Anyways, here’s the real meaning. The chinese character “Pey” stands for respect, to admire and “Lih” (the second half of my FIRST name) is derived from the jasmine flower. It is common for asian girls to have this second character in their name. Littler (pronounced Lit-Ler) is British. This is my married name. Pey-Lih was the name my grandmother gave me when I was born.

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  25. Adam C. Austin says:

    My oldest child we named Corbin Ronal. Originally we wanted to name him Jude, but we changed our minds at the last minute when we saw Corbin Berstien’s name pop up in the credits for the TV show Psych, and liked the name so much that we had to make the change.

    Ronal on the other hand is a family name by way of my father who was named James Ronal. His father was named Ronald James and so when it came time to name my father his parents told the nurse at the hospital that his name would be “James Ronald”, but my fathers parents were poor, uneducated people with big cournty drawls living in rural Arkansas, and so when they told the nurse (who was slightly more educated and also living in rural Arkansas) that my father would be named “James Ronald” the “d” got lost in the drawl and the nurse understood it as James “Ronal.” No one caught it at the time and so my dad’s middle name was forever “Ronal.”

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  26. Libby Cecchi says:

    No, my name is not as unusual as a lot of them posted here, but I’m writing to you today because I truly like my name. My parents named me Libby but my paternal grandmother recommended they use “Elizabeth” on my birth certificate (interesting fact: Elizabeth is the name with the most number of diminutives). I always liked that I was the only Libby around and secretly enjoyed when people used to sing me the “Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s” song from the commercials, even though I rolled my eyes. The only problems I have with the name are when I travel, so I switch to the more universally known Elizabeth.

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  27. DELROY SOUDEN says:


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