Comments 22

The Surprising Ways Your Name Affects Your Life

© 2014 Cody C. Delistraty, as first published by The Atlantic.


  1. Incredibly insightful, particularly for someone with a name that’s a bit off the beaten path. Really a thorough, fantastically executed piece. Thanks for writing!

  2. LuLu says

    Reblogged this on lulrichmmsp125 and commented:
    I agree with this article and still wonder why do parents name their children after cars and alcohol beverages.

  3. mtiffany8523 says

    I’ve thought about changing my name for a while now. I’ve had first hand experience with it how names can affect our lives. My younger sister’s name is Britny and I’m Tiffany. We are both blonde but we’re older than the Wayans brothers movie lol. People have assumed we are dog carrying fashionable stuck up vain ditzy lazy spoiled princesses. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve had a difficult time getting ahead and am convinced I should change my name to do so.. I’ve even been asked “Where are your parents?” I’m almost 30 and was emancipated at a young age. I do look young but not that young.

  4. Humayra says

    As someone with a complicated name, this depresses me lol. Anyways, it’s very educational. Now I know if I don’t get a place in an Uni or in a job even after trying my best the reason will probably be the name. Also, this bias towards simple white names seems like white supremacy at play (I am not biased towards any race incase it comes off wrong)

  5. Interesting! I changed my first name in high school from a very common name to Akire. I’d never much liked my given name, but the real issue was that I was really tired of turning around after hearing my name, only to almost always discover I wasn’t the one being spoken to. People have a hard time remembering my name now, but they remember that it’s something interesting. The reaction I get after introducing myself is almost always, “wow, that’s beautiful!” even though it usually takes a few more tries before they get it right. I’ve also had people react in surprise to see my ethnicity when they meet me after first just hearing or reading my name. If that has affected my chances adversely, it’s nothing compared to what a lot of folks have to deal with every single day.

    My experience, really, is that it’s a point of interest for people. They want a good story to go with it. And regardless of whether or not I tell them my story, they seem to think it makes me interesting. As someone who is a bit reserved around strangers, it gives us something to talk about – an ice breaker. I do have a few people I’ve known for years who continually mispronounce it, but I just let it go. I figure that just comes with the territory.

    • Sorry I forgott to write it in english:D It meant that I’m happy to have such an easy name as Anna:)

  6. Hi Cody,
    Really enjoyed reading this!
    Interesting look at the psychology and cultural significance a name may have! Interestingly enough on the day which I first read this blog post, I was involved in an incident involving the mispronunciation of my rather unusual name (Mariko) in a coffee shop as ‘Burrito’ (yes like the Mexican food)
    Blog post on it is here, discussed what you mentioned in this post in some depth 🙂

    • Oh goodness, that’s an unfortunate mix-up. I’ll be happy to read your post.

  7. Pingback: Names, coffee and self acceptance | 10000milegirl

  8. This post is very relatable. I recently met someone from Tinder. Yes, Tinder. When we first met he didn’t bother asking how to pronounce my name. It was a dry meeting, more about probing questions, a little bit more about hi and hello’s. Then the 3rd meeting, cause I invited him to a cross country ride, that’s when he asked how to pronounce my name. It felt as if now he’s really paying attention to me. Nothing romantic or anything between us though. I’m big with names. I even cringe when a barista gets my name wrong. I try to remember names as much as I could and since he’s Slovak, name sounded totally different from what I’m used to so I get to pronounce it and say it the way it should be said.

    So, yeah, sometimes names do have an effect on your life. Even in literature. Female writers used pen names that were male sounding and had more sales or increased readers in return.

  9. Pingback: The Surprising Ways Your Name Affects Your Life | My BlogThe Philosopher's blog.

  10. Uh oh. My name is Michaela and I live in Finland, where they don’t have the sound for ‘ch’ so I always end up being called something weird. Then I have about 7678 nicknames and I can’t decide which one to use, which one I like… It’s just a name, but there is a lot about it 🙂

  11. wscottling says

    I had a friend of mine mispronounce my name for the entire two years we knew each other. We were actually quite close. But he could not wrap his tongue around my name. There are some sounds that just don’t exist in some languages. ^_^ That’s okay though, we got beyond it.

    Come to think of it, he wasn’t the only one. It happens a lot. I get used to it. I have quite a few international friends and I mangle their names too. There are some sounds that don’t exist in English either.

    It’s not necessarily a death kneel, merely a stumbling block.

  12. Is there scientific documentation to back this up? I, for one, would not feel less close to a person simply because I cannot pronounce their name without a few attempts to get it right. After all, as Shakespeare said, “Its only a name.”

    • Cody says

      yes, kindly click through the various links in the article to see the scholarly documentation.

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