Author Archives: Elisabeth


Names as a Striv­ing for Refine­ment: My father’s begin­nings were hum­ble. His par­ents were the rural poor of East Texas, born in the late 19th cen­tury.  His mother was the 13th of 13 chil­dren. His father was the 7th son and the grand­son of a Chero­kee tribeswoman, which in those days must have been an isolating […]


The Laugh­ing Philoso­pher I want to share an amaz­ing name story I just ran across about a women who man­aged to both iden­tify with and rebel against her father through her name. It’s an inspir­ing story. Her name was Thelma Zeno Lavine. She was a well know pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy in the D.C., MDVA […]


My real name is Ellen. I was named for my mother Susan Ellen, who was named for her mother Emily Ellen. tracer­oute My grand­dad always called me his “Lit­tle Nelle.”  “Nelle” stuck and I’ve been Nelle ever since. I like it that way. “Nelle” takes me back to my ear­li­est child­hood mem­o­ries, even though I […]


One of the most strik­ing essays in the book is by Karen Betaque  who observes that peo­ple often fail to lis­ten care­fully. Since I mis­spelled her last name, she might also have added that they also fail to look care­fully. My error is, sadly, a con­fir­ma­tion of the on-going prob­lem she faces with her name […]


I’ve actu­ally always liked my name, Glo­ria, except for a dif­fi­cult teenage year when a friend men­tioned that my name was for “old” peo­ple. She was prob­a­bly cor­rect since I couldn’t think of any­one else I ever knew who was named Glo­ria. But it still hurt and it could have been worse. My par­ents were married […]


I defi­nately think my name impacted my per­son­al­ity. I was a bit of a tomboy grow­ing up in between two  broth­ers.  A lit­tle toughy:)  Tough­ness and per­se­v­er­ence car­ried over into adult­hood.  Dur­ing the Boston Marathon, last April I had a bro­ken elbow acquired admidst a ski acci­dent.  Surgery on my elbow was pre­formed 5 days prior to […]

Helen S.

I was born Helena in Prague, Czecho­slo­va­kia in 1927.  The Czechs have diminu­tive or endear­ing names that are often used for chil­dren, but also for adults whom they  espe­cially like. My name was Helenka. The fem­i­nine diminu­tive usu­ally ends in ka.  When I came to the United States in 1939 when Ger­many invaded Czecho­slo­va­kia, I […]


My name is Tay­lor.  It has become a quite pop­u­lar name.  The pop­u­lar­ity of my name inspires me to be unique in per­son­al­ity. My par­ents gave me the name Tay­lor because at the time it was different—unique. Now there are so many Tay­lors.  I think Tay­lor suits me because it some how has unique­ness and yet a very common […]


My name is Dorinda; fairly unusual. I’ve only met a few oth­ers with my name. My mid­dle name is Dar­line.  As a small child I went by the nick­name Dee Dee.  As I grew up it sounded too child­ish and I became just Dee.  I’m not crazy about Dee — it sounds a bit harsh.  I […]


My par­ents chose my name, Mary L____ because 4 out of my 5 great grand­moth­ers’ names were Mary. My mid­dle name, which I used as a dou­ble name when I was younger, is L____, which was the maiden name of one of my great-grandmothers. Most of the time I go by Mary, but at home […]