#438 Your Almost Name

It’s what your parents were going to call you but didn’t.

Flipping through baby books, chatting at bedtime, you better believe your folks had alternate identities in mind before you borned out. They thought about nicknames, shortforms, and tributes. They thought about spelling, rhyming, and meanings. Basically, they thought and hoped and wished all kinds of things for you even before you made it here.

Sometimes when you find out your Almost Name it feels odd and uncomfortable — like putting on an itchy shirt, clenching your fist after waking up, or walking out of a movie and realizing your foot’s asleep. Maybe you let your mind wander and daydream about a new life where your Almost Name takes top billing and your nicknames, identity, and major life choices are all dramatically affected. You wonder how your life could be different — would you be more confident? Less passionate? More artsy? Less annoying?

Nothing’s the same when you’re Nancy.

Everything changes when you’re Chuck.

Now, my Almost Name is Paul.

Yes, it was a close call and my parents switched over to Neil at the last minute. I’m pretty sure Neil Diamond or Neil Armstrong got the name bouncing around their brains like a ping pong ball. But somehow Paul got tossed in the can before I showed up and my entire Paul Life got tossed with it.

And maybe that’s one reason Almost Names are so great: they remind us how lucky we are to get something else. I mean, it’s fun letting Almost Names add frames and borders to our lives … because it helps us feel a little more sure of ourselves and a lot more


Photos from: here, here, and here

242 thoughts on “#438 Your Almost Name

  1. i was initially going to be cassandra…
    but then my siblings couldnt pronouce it – they were 5 & 3…

    then it was going to be rachael..
    until the day before i was born, i friend named their daughter born the day before me rachael & we have the same last name.

    Then i was born & was nameless for 3 days until they came up with a new one..

    Then i got simone :)

    Me & rachael also went to pre school, primary school & high school together!.

  2. my dad didnt want to know if i was to be a boy or girl…so they came up with both. were i a boy, my name would be Andrew John. But im a girl, so my name is Anna Caroline.

  3. my parents were going to name me a mash up of there hometowns: Gredora :(

    then, after their favorite basketball player: Alajuwan (sp?)

    if I was a boy: Terrence…

  4. My parents were thiiiiiis close to calling me Harriet instead of Kate.

    If I were a dude it would’ve been either Sam or Gavin.

  5. I was going to be Samuel. Until my dad remembered a kid named Samuel from second grade he never really like. So now it’s Stephen. My Sister’s name is Stephanie….

    1. My mom’s advice to me about having/naming kids was to have them before I had too many years of teaching under my belt — apparently the more students I have, the higher the risk of having “favorite” names ruined by less than perfect kiddos ;)

  6. I was Madeleine for a few days, until my parents realised I am so not a Madeleine.

    Were I a boy, I’d be Liam.

  7. My grandmother was born in Manitoba, Canada in 1898. Her parents were going to call her Lula. The midwife scolded my great-grandmother, “Lula is such a common name! How about Kathleen?” Thank heavens for midwives.

    Signed, Kathleen’s granddaughter Kathleen

    1. My grandma and mom are both Kathleen and it’s my and my daughter’s middle name! (They came from Saskatchewan) :)

      1. My Nana’s name was Kathleen, my mom was named Kay (they were ‘big Kay’ and ‘little Kay’) I named my daughter Katie in honour of these wonderful women ;)

  8. My almost name: Dixie Bell. I kid you not. Can you even imagine? A tall blonde girl from Texas named Dixie Bell — the stereotyping would have begun before I could even get out the second part of my oh-so-Southern (and mildly politically incorrect?) double name.

    Thank goodness they settled on Allie!

    1. Lol. You can’t even make up Dixie Bell! That’s so southern it makes me queasy. Btw, I grew up with a Suelee-Beth (only went by Suelee) and a Clarabelle (only went by CB).

      My name was Ella..bleh…I’m so not an Ella; I’m way too feisty. Anywho, I was renamed days later by my new mommy as Monique!

      1. *rubs sleep from eyes*

        *wipes drool from mouth*

        *stumbles over to bathroom and brushes teeth*

        *brews coffee*

        *turns on Internet*

        *reads Trent’s post*

        *quitely fumes*

        *takes deep breath*

        *counts backwards from ten*

        *writes comment*

        Hey Trent,

        No one likes a jerk.

        The Internets

        *heads back to sleep*

    1. It’s much easier than you think to just ignore a post that doesn’t resonate with you. I’ve done it; give it a try next time.

      1. But then who would take on the job of pointing out to these people that they’re wrong?

        The internets couldn’t function without people telling other people that their opinions aren’t correct! ;)

  9. I was almost Crystal–thank God I wasn’t. But if I had been a boy I might have been Corwin, and I would have loved that. I like it so much I use Corwyn as a screenname for some things.

  10. My siblings liked asking what they would have been named if they were the opposite gender.

    My name would’ve been Carrie……..lame

    1. LOL. You’re silly. I don’t think my parents had a boy name picked out for me. I think they were picking out girl names for everyone since I’m the only girl out of 6.

      My daughter would have been Cody if she was a boy. Glad she wasn’t. I’m not too fond of that name now.

      1. If my daughter had been a boy, I have NO IDEA what his name would have been, because my husband and I just could not agree on boy names. But we were happily agreed on the girl name, so it A-L-L worked out.

          1. thx. actually, my real name is “gullible” but if you say it out loud really slowly, it sounds like “geektween”

        1. You’ve been a girl all this time?

          I also have to way I assume you all look in my heads as well :) I’m one of those people.

          1. I do that. I like to picture what people look like….. they never look like what I thought they did.
            It happens a lot here at work. I work at a bank and I hardly see people from other branches, they are just a voice over the phone but I have in my mind what they look like. Then I finally meet them and its NOTHING like I had imagined.
            (yeah…I have an image of what everyone looks like on here too)

            1. I’ll also look at someone and think they don’t look like their name. NO, you don’t LOOK like a Cindy, I think you look like a Sarah.

  11. Thank goodnees I didn’t get my Almost Name! My parents were going to name me Sarah at first… then they realized that my initials would have been “STD”, and they discarded that option!

    1. ha ha! That reminds me of the scene in “The Simpsons” when Homer and Marge are trying to name Bart. Every suggestion Marge makes, Homer shoots down because it rhymes with something embarrassing (eg. “Scary Larry” and “Screwy Louie”) until she suggests Bart.
      Homer: “Art, Cart, Dart, E-art… I guess it’s OK.”

    2. There’s a high school near where I live that was initially called Aurora Secondary School. Then it was changed to Aurora High School for obvious reasons.

  12. LOL! I hated this when I was little because my sisters would tease me with my almost name, Christy Elizabeth. This post made me smile in remembering the name, so I guess I don’t hate it now :).

  13. Haha, doesn’t make much of a difference in my case. My almost name is Shelby. My name’s Michelle, people call me Shelby, anyway =P

    1. Also, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been Michael had I been a boy, ’cause my mom named me and my sister after our uncles Dan and Mike and just called us the feminine versions of the names

      That being said, I’m very happy with my name, it looks and sounds pretty =)

  14. my almost names are Taylor and Peggy Sue. I would rather have been Taylor. and I thank my parents every single day for not naming me Peggy Sue(after my grandmothers).

  15. I like androgynous names. I’m female, but I always have a laugh when I get junk mail addressed to me as Mr.

    Oh junk mail… you so silly and ineffective!

    1. My sister’s name is Terri and she has the same thing happen to her! That or they spell it “Terry” :)

    2. I’m a girl with an androgynous name! Jordan. I always throw away the junk mail immediately if it calls me Mr. haha
      My almost name was Chelsea Mercedez. I wonder if I’d be a lot cooler… :P

  16. My parents used the same (boy) Almost Name for each of my siblings and me. My little brother got it.

  17. if I’d been a boy I would have been Christopher. But my girl almost name was Penelope. I like that name. But boy, I would have been a different person being a “Penny”…

    The decision at the last minute was to name me for my grandmother, who’d been trying to help my dad’s first wife get back together with him; he and second wife (Mom) did not appreciate it, therefore, the peace offering of naming after. Apparently it worked, but sheesh, looking back, I think they should have stuck to their guns and kept Penelope.

    1. Haha, I’m an Arlene, too!! I was almost an Elizabeth, but am glad my parents switched-I know 9 other Elizabeths, Beths, Lizzies, etc. People tell me all the time that Arlene is a “grandma name” but I love it since it’s so unique.

  18. I’ve always been Olivia. . . My mom was dead-set on it. If I was a boy, though, I’d be Will.

    If my little brother (Will) had been a girl, he’d be Hannah. I’m glad he isn’t. I haven’t been able to stand the name since a Hannah bullied me in elementary school. Funny how you remember things like that. . .

  19. My almost name was going to be Hugh – my parents were sure I would be a boy.

    Then my first sister Diana was going to be Hugh.
    Then my second sister Claire was going to be Hugh.
    Then my third and final sister was definitely going to be James (maybe they thought Hugh was unlucky at this stage) because she was definitely going to be a boy, but she was a girl, and she became Jennifer.

    No boys!

  20. My almost name was AnaCarolina. My parents wanted to choose a big name so they tought they coud keep AnaCarolina together instead of Ana+Carolina. (yeah, i know…being a grown up is complicated lol)

    Then they decided i would be Adriana cause it’s still a long name (which i hate – plus ,i don’t have a “second name”!!). In case you didn’t notice, it starts with an A. Do you know what that means when you’re in shcool? First one at every single list. *Yikes*

    * your dream’s name is also an awesome thing isn’t it?* :)

  21. My mom wanted to call me Erika after my grandma. I actually like it more than what they decided to call me. It would have also been easier to pronounce for my fiance.

    But I like that my initials are IF and if I scramble the letters in my name I get “lies”.

  22. My parents tossed around a lot of names before I was born, my mother wanted Elizabeth but my father had a nightmare that I would be like Lizzie Borden.
    My father on the other hand wanted to name me Crystal Claire. My last name was Poole. So I would be a Crystal Claire Poole.
    My brother would have been Seth Poole but my parents worried about him having a lisp and it sounding like Cess Poole.

    1. I knew some “Poole’s” growing up, and I had no idea how challenging it was for their parents to find them appropriate names!

      1. I’m Karla Poole. I didn’t realise the connotation until we started carpooling for work. I then became “Kar-Pool”.

      2. I have some friends with the last name “Haas”– how’s THAT for challenging?

        Jack Haas
        Hollan Haas

        And the tackier, MORE obvious non-names like “Smart Haas” or “Dum Haas”…so difficult!

        Fortunately, they named their first son Evan, which is so fitting–they’re having another boy– I hope they do so well the second time around!

    2. Haha! I’m glad you received sensible names! Those almost names seem like they’d be people Bart would prank call on The Simpsons who’d turn out to be real people lol

  23. My parents picked my name by putting Rebekah and Rachel in a hat. Thankfully they did pull out Rebekah. Oddly enough though, many people have called me Rachel. My 8th grade English teacher always called me Rachel. This one girl in high school called me Rachel. Even one guy here at work called me Rachel for his first 6 months here. I’ve learned to answer to it.

    If my oldest brother would have had his way, I would have been Marie Maran.

    My daughter wants to name this baby Octopus if its a boy.

    1. I’ve even gotten in the habit of spelling my name. Everyone wants to spell it Rebecca. So when I go somewhere where someone is taking down my name, I always spell it out… R E B E K A H. And they sometimes repsond with R E B E K K A?? Or something like that. Its crazy.

      1. I really like your spelling, but I agree it can be tough to to have a name with an “uncommon” spelling.

        My sister wanted me to name my daughter “Cate” like Cate Blanchett, but I didn’t want her to go through life as “Kate with a C”, or [shudder] “Cat”. Plus I like how it looks better with the K. It’s stronger. Maybe you feel that way about your “K”.

        1. I love the spelling of my name. I’ve only known 2 other Rebekah’s that spell it like I do. Its not a very common name with or without the spelling.
          I couldn’t imagine my name with another spelling. When I sign my name…. it goes… tall letter, little letter, tall letter, little letter, tall letter, little letter, tall letter.

  24. My parents named me after a well known Scottish beer. While pregnant with me they were at the cinema watching the comedy classic “Zulu” and the advert for McEwan’s Export came on. My mother said a strange feeling came over her and she “just knew”. I’m thankful as my nearly names were Abernethy (the Scottish village) and Ford Marina (the family car of the vintage). My brother’s name is Kes but we all know his full name is actually “Kestrel”, named in honour of the popular lager of the period.

  25. My parents almost called me Anastasia. Thankfuly my father changed his mind last minute. He desided he wants my name to sound good both in latvian and in russian language.
    I’m so happy about his decision, I would be totally different person if i were Anastasia.

    1. My almost name is Anastasia too! My dad wanted a Russian name, and my mom wanted to call me “Annie”. For whatever reason, they changed their minds. Had I been a boy, I would have been Theo.

      I wouldn’t have minded being called “Annie” though…my name can be spelled so many different ways and it rarely gets pronounced correctly.

  26. After months of debate my parents named me Michael Lloyd (love the middle name, not so fond of Michael). I can’t help but think my father had this planned all along, seeing as he played soccer in college. Oh yea, my initials? M.L.S (the abbreviation for Major League Soccer)…

  27. You would have had some alliteration if your name had been Paul. Also, your initials would have been PP.

    Hehe. :)

    I don’t have a girl Almost Name :( If the hospital hadn’t required my parents to name me before we all left, I might be answering to “Hey You”. Or David.

  28. My name is Ariana now, but my parents almost called me Arianne. I guess I would still use the same nickname, Ari, but some days I wonder if I would’ve preferred the other…

  29. I was almost Christopher. But my Dad thought it was too girly and people would confuse Chris with Christine or somethin. I’m fine with Scott.

    This is my first post. I am helplessly addicted to this website and have been reading it every day for 3 weeks now. I’m bout to go out and buy the book today.


  30. I was almost Phoebe Jo, named after two great-grandmothers (Phoebe and Josephine). If I had been twins, it would have been Ada and Allegra. If I was a boy, I would have been Eli. But no, I was an only girl, so I got stuck with Allegra.

  31. If my brothers were girls they would have been named Sunny Dawn and Misty Blue. Luckily my parents were out of this stage by the time my sister and I were born. I would have gotten Misty Blue… pretty sure my life would be a little different than it is now if I would have gotten that name. Probably would be making a lot more money than I do now though…

  32. I was going to be Erin (or Blair, if I was a boy). My sister was going to be Reagen (or Blair if she was a boy) until the Exorcist came out while my mom was 9 months pregnant. She became Megan instead. My brother did get named Blair. His initials are BS and he loves it.

  33. I was moments away from being named Berengaria.


    I am very glad I am Alexandra instead.

  34. My almost name was Jonathan McLaughlin, and they were going to call me Mac … weird, and interesting, and totally different :)

  35. My almost name is Sultana, after my great-grandma. I actually prefer it over my real name and use it as my online handle.

    1. But a sultana is a raisin :|
      It’s wonderful being named after grandparents (or great grandparents) though and that’s where I got my middle names from.

      1. SAME, my sister’s middle name was after my grandmother, and mine was after my great-grandmother, though they’re the same name, so my sister and I share the middle name Marie XD

      2. A sultana is also the wife of the sultan, an Arabian king of sorts, so a sultana is also a queen.

  36. My almost girl name was Malorie, and if I was a boy I would have been called Wesley. I’m glad I was a girl named Hillary.

  37. My mother wanted to call me Dolores. Not bad. Then she wanted to call me Daisy. That would make me Daisy Dean. Just stick a straw of hay in my mouth and put me in cut-off jean shorts.

  38. My parents were reallly sure that I was going to be a boy, they were going to name me Christopher…worst part is that my name would have been Christopher Robin –> Winnie the Pooh’s best friend lol

  39. My youngest daughter’s almost name was Cole. When she came out a girl, and was introduced to my 3 year old son, he was less interested in meeting his new baby sister than getting a burning question answered, “But where’s Cole?”. Awesome.

  40. I didn’t read all the comments because I am pretty sure I’d still win. I was going to be named ‘Trapper John’ if I was a boy. 1984. I am not a man, thank God. Jennifer was the most common name then, but I am thankful that its my name, and that ‘TJ” never came to fruition.

  41. If I was a boy, I would have been Matthew.

    My parents got so tired of answering the question of what my name would be that they started telling people if I was a boy I would be Conshohocken Wissahickon Dickinson and if I was a girl I’d be Neshaminy Souix Dickinson. (All town names around here from Native Americans) My very concerned big brother finally said to them “don’t you think that’s an awful mean thing to do to a baby?!”

    I’m very thankful to have ended up with my wonderful and unique name :)

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