#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. My parents thought about Amanda, Andrea, Mikaela and Carolina, but they decided to call me Carolin. If I were a boy I would be called Johan, (so I’m happy I’m not.)

  2. My Almost Name is Charlotte. I think it’s a pretty name, so I would have been happy either way. I do love Nora though, it’s easy but still pretty unusual.

    My Boy Name would have been Benjamin. Considering my (maiden) initial was “B,” I’m glad I missed out on that!

  3. I was going to be Elizabeth. I turned myself around so nobody could tell what gender I was, but I was a twin and my parents knew my sibling was a girl that they’d name Erin. They didn’t want to call me The Other One, so they picked the least unisex name of all unisex names. When I was born they found out I was a girl and mother dearest decided I should get a girl name, and picked Elizabeth out of absolutely nowhere. She was about the write it on the birth certificate before she changed her mind.

    If I was a boy, I’d be Dylan. This is where I give shaky, half-deranged laugh that fades into awkward silence.

  4. I was going to be a Chuck, but then I was born and they found out I am a girl and I went nameless (I presume still by Chuck though) for a month until they settled on Katharine.

    1. hey, I have a friend who spells her name the same way, she always got understandibly annoyed when people spelled it KathErine instead of KathArine =)

      1. I don’t get annoyed by it because it happens far to often for it to be worth getting annoyed over. I get it spelt Catherine or Katherin a lot too.

        1. My niece’s name is Kaitlyn. My sister spells her nickname K-A-I-T-I-E. Almost EVERYBODY drops the first I and spells it K-A-T-I-E. It drives my crazy!

  5. I was going to be Margaret (after a cousin) Josephine (my mother, grandmother and several other ancestors’ middle name). The cousin went by Peggy and she told my parents “If you’re going to call her Peggy you should name her Peggy.” I guess Jo went better with that than Josephine.

    Margaret Josephine still got used during my childhood, it was my mother’s “come here I’m unhappy with you” name.

  6. My parents’ first-born was going to be Michael, but she was a girl. The second, third and fourth babies were also going to Michael, but, alas, we’re all girls. Michael never joined the family.

  7. My “almost name” would have resulted in the initials “ASS.”

    My mom looked at my dad’s briefcase (which had his initials engraved on the side) and thought, I wonder what Andrew Scott’s intials are going to be.

  8. My name was always going to be Gregory Kurt(after Peck and Vonnegut), but if I had been a girl my name was going to be Georgia Lucille( after O’Keefe and Clifton). And meaning no disrespect to those two lovely and talented women, but I am so glad I wasn’t born female.

  9. I was going to be Dorothy after my great-grandmother, but my parents changed their minds at the last minute. I actually wish I was a Dorothy because my actual name doesn’t have any family history behind it, and I’ve always thought that would’ve been nice. My dad wanted to name me Malcolm if I was a boy. Pretty sure my mom wouldn’t have gone for that even if I had been male.

  10. My parents had no other name, boy or girl, picked out for me. :( But its a joke in our family that my sister, who’se name is Elizabeth, almost got named Ursula.

  11. I don’t have an almost name. I was born two and a half months premature so my parents hadn’t even picked out a name until after I was born. haha Now I’m stuck being named after a soap opera character. :-/

  12. My almost name was Stuttz Bear Mills. My father thought it was funny because his name is Packard and we could have “car” names together. Stuttz was for if I was a boy or a girl. Thank god my mother named me Alexandria while my father was out of the room.

  13. I changed my name to my ‘almost name’ when I was 15. Never really felt like my birth name fit me, and it seemed to fit best. :)
    Was Mary for 15 years, been Meadow for 17, and very happy with my choice.

    1. one of my brothers was going to be named something else, but when he was born, my mother reverted back to one of the other names they had considered

  14. I was almost named Amelia. It isn’t a bad name, but now I know someone named Amelia and it is too weird to think of!

  15. My almost name was Leah. I knew a girl called Leah at primary school and hated her so I’m glad I escaped that! They thought I was going to be a boy though, god knows what my name would’ve been. My middle brother narrowly avoided being stuck with Barry! His life would be so, so different as a Barry.

    A girl I know has a very unfortunate younger sister who she was allowed to name.. despite being 4 at the time. Poor little Tinsel Lane. I wish I was joking! At least she was christened Matilda, but how bad a name is Tinsel Lane?

  16. I was very nearly Sarah, but then my parents realized that they knew three Sarahs and two people with daughters named Sarah, so they nixed it. I’m very grateful for my unique (and difficult to spell) name.

  17. fantastic blog with AWESOME stories of simple things that make us happier (if we manage to give em the attention they deserve….)


  18. I like my Almost Name (Lucia) better than my real name. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m not very happy with the way I turned out. Oh that entry made me depressed.

  19. My name is Shayna, and my almost names were Yaffa (the Hebrew version of Shayna), or Julia. My aunt wanted to name her child ‘Jewel’, so my parents decided on Shayna. The funny thing is, I have two friends, Shaina and Julia. So either way, I would’ve had the same as one of them.

    I was at Julia’s house when her parents told her her almost name, Nora. Her reaction: ‘NORA?! I would’ve gone through hell in 2nd grade when Dora the explorer was around!”

  20. My full name is Cassandra and I LOVE this name.

    But I could have been a Michelle. This was decided against ’cause there were so many Michelle’s that would have been my age. Oh well!

  21. My almost name is Lawrence and my parents were going to call me Larry. Luckily I turned out to be a girl, so my real name is Deborah Susan, but I go by either Deb or Debbie.

    My son’s almost names are Emily Rose and Emily Kristina. My grandmother, my aunt and my cousin all have Emily in their names. I swore if I had a girl, her name was going to be Emily. Sadly, none of the girls in my son’s generation are named Emily. When my cousin’s daughter was expecting her baby, we were thrilled when she named her new daughter Emily Irene! Our son’s name is David Joseph. My husband wanted a boy named after him, but he hates his first name – Stanley. His middle name is Joseph and my parents’ first baby was a stillborn they named David Joseph.

  22. I was almost a Sarah or a Kristen. My grandma said she was going to call me Krissy for short and my mom didn’t like that so I ended up Becky. Strangely, 3 of my best friends are named Sarah, Kristen, and Becky.

  23. My almost name was Mary Olive. MARY OLIVE!! But luckily my dad put a big fat no on that one. Once I was born my parents couldn’t agree on anything. On my birth certificate, the nurses almost had to put ‘Baby Girl’.
    On a whim my Dad just said, “How about Erin.” And my world fell into place.

  24. My almost name is Abigail. My dad wanted to name me that because it means “my father’s joy”…he was pretty excited to be becoming a dad.

    I ended up Nicole Christine, after my grandad, Charles Nichol. I like it very much.

    And when I was 23, my dad died, and now the name Abigail means more than ever.

    So this post is VERY awesome for me.

  25. My dad liked the name America Sue… then I lazed around in the womb an extra three weeks and was born on July 4th.

    Thank god for Moms, right?

  26. I wish my name was Florence.. It’s far more exciting than Hannah, even though my almost name is Ben (my Mum was set on having a Hannah)

  27. My almost names are Kelly, Collins and Hanna and I would have been Blake if I’d been a boy. When I was born, my parents thought Ashley was very different and unusual for a female, because all the Ashleys they knew were men.

  28. My nephew was born in a leap year and was due on February 29. My sister and brother-in-law had already chosen the first name Justin. My bil suggested the middle name Thyme. Justin Thyme! Get it…Just-in-time! LOL…luckily the family tradition is that the oldest son’s middle name is Ray, and they did not break that tradition!

  29. My almost name was Janet, but I got Nancy instead. I hated my name when I was growing up on account of some intense teasing from my sibling and cousins. Anyone remember “Nance had ants in her pants and danced all the way to France” said in a very whiney, and taunting tone of voice? I can’t remember what I wanted to change it to, but it wasn’t Janet either. A cool girl in my grade 2 class got to change her name so why couldn’t I?

    My eldest is named Charlie after my dad, but we waited almost 3 days before naming him. If he had been a screamer, the name wouldn’t fit. His almost name was Calum if a boy or Maren if a girl.

  30. My Almost Name would’ve been Seamus (Irish-pronounced “Shay’-mes”) if I was a boy. To this day I think it would have been pretty kickass to be a Seamus. There is a bar in town called Seamus McDaniel’s and I can’t help think of my Almost Name every time I hear it.

  31. I like telling my sons what they would have been named if they’d been daughters: “Maggie” and “Rosemary.” When they’re really at each other’s throats, they’ll hurl these “girl names” at each other. I shouldn’t laugh, but I do.

  32. uhh my name was almost Eefka. I’m not sure how you spell it, but it sounds like EEE-fka. gross. and yet i like to think it could have made me more exotic ;)

  33. My name was and has always been Daisy. My mom just had a feeling I would be a girl and just knew that that girl would be Daisy. I’ve never doubted my name for a second. I’m now seeing that I’m totally weird since everybody else has an almost name.

    My brother’s almost name is August, but they ended up going with Hugh after our Great Grandpa.

  34. My name is Michelle. Almost names were Chanelle, Rachelle, Danielle, Canelle (*shudder* For non-French speakers this means cinnamon) and Alida (after a great grandmother). I have 2 middle names: 1 for a great grandmother and 1 for an aunt. I’m happy my parents went with Michelle but kind of like Alida. They never had boy names picked out that I’m aware of.

    My brother (Marc) has a great naming story. My parents had picked out Derek, Dale or Scott – Marc was not on the table…and when my bro was born the nurse asked my dad what his name was. He proudly declared that it was Marc. Way to take charge, dad!

  35. My almost name- Gertrude and Gladiss…shudder..im sorry i but i am not fond of either. with my southern accent things would not go well. :P. i have 2 say im glad im a Grace

  36. If I were a boy, I’d be a Arne or Arno.
    But I’m a Daphne, which isn’t such a common name. My parents actually considered naming me Anne… which IS a quite common name o_O Thank god I’m Daph, I’m so happy with that one!

    1. My aunt’s name was Daphine. I’d never heard that name before (or since). When I was just a kid, I saw her name in writing for the first time and I though her name was Daphne. Since I was born in the early 60’s the first thing I thought of was the girl from Scooby Doo! Please don’t take any offense! I really do like the name!

Leave a Reply