What’s Your Name Again?

My name is Marian. What’s yours?

A familiar greeting . . .

Names have always fascinated me. I’ve even written about names and naming in previous posts:  What’s in a Name? and The Name Game.

But what about name changing? Celebrities, like actors, musicians and other entertainers have changed their names as a way disguise their ancestry, make a statement or achieve a unique identity.

In mid-century, British-sounding names in the entertainment industry were thought to be more appealing to the public than Slavic, German or Jewish-sounding names. Thus . . .

Robert Allen Zimmerman →  Bob Dylan

Issur Danielovtich Demsky → Kirk Douglas

Helen Lydia Mironoff →  Helen Mirren

Entertainer Whoopi Goldberg apparently began life as Caryn Elaine Johnson.

Dancer Fred Astaire was once Frederick Austerlitz.

Actor Ben Kingsley’s birth certificate reads “Krishna Pandit Bhanji.”

Lady Gaga’s Italian heritage is revealed in her birth name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and Jennifer Anniston’s Greek ancestry in Jennifer Anastassakis.

Vanilla Ice probably signed his grade school papers as Robert Van Winkle.

The suave designer Ralph Lauren was once Ralph Lifshitz!

My maiden name was Longenecker, which was changed to Beaman when I married. As a teacher, I would tell students how to spell my name using the 3-little-words approach: Be-a-man. Very rarely was my last name misspelled.

However, my first name (Marian) apparently is tricky to spell. It is often misspelled and in a number of puzzling variations. People with PhDs (not you of course!) and book authors (again, not you!) are the most frequent offenders. Yes, I’ve kept track of them – ha!

Names_variation of Marian_Envelop_8x5_300





Marrian (on a name card at a dinner by a computer that stuttered)




No wonder John Wayne is no longer MariOn Morrison!


Can you add any other interesting name changes to the ones above? Maybe you have some examples of strange naming or spelling from your own family . . .

P.S. Even if you mangle the spelling of my name, we’ll still be friends. That’s a promise!  😉

What is a Name_Marian

Coming next: Purple Passages with the Bard of Avon


49 thoughts on “What’s Your Name Again?

  1. I see your spelling as the correct one . I have friends who spell it Marian and Marion. I always give more credit to the Marian – but then, I grew up as a Catholic!
    And what about name changing in marriage? I have had 2 surnames in my life – my maiden name (what an awful term!), my first married name, and my second married name. It would have been so much easier if I had kept my birth name – but you didn’t do that in the 1960s!


  2. I’ve had to spell out my name all my life to strangers and have gotten used to people calling me Melanie. My spelling came from a book my mother read by Christmas Carol Kauffman in which she loved the main character, named Melodie Ann and spelled like that. So I always blame my spelling on an early Mennonite novelist!

    A brother-in-law for almost 40 years still usually calls me Melanie (and he doesn’t go online, so this is safe. Mostly.). But I don’t really mind. Your spelling is very normal to me especially for a woman. But it is always interesting to see what people come up with! I love Cliff’s cute drawing. He’s a keeper.

    Then there all the ways to murder the spelling of Mennonite … I should blog on that sometime; working in a Mennonite office all my life I have seen it all. 🙂


    1. I associate all Melanie’s and Melodie’s with women in their forties. You have a youthful name. Though I’ve read Christmas Carol Kauffman’s books, I don’t remember a Melodie, though it’s not only youthful-sounding but musical too.

      “Alternate spellings of the word Mennonite” – Yes, you could blog about that. I once heard that it was pronounced “Many-nite” with the explanation given that Mennonites went out many nights to church. Sounds ludicrous, but that’s what I remember hearing.


  3. Thank you for the amusing post, Marian (I checked to make certain I spelled your name correctly.) I didn’t think your first name was one that would often be misspelled, except by typo. My name is often misspelled. People who know me still often insist on adding an extra “l” to the end, and people who don’t know how it’s spelled often write “Meryl” or I get other variations, Meril, Merill, Maril, etc. I used to have to spell my birth name, too, but most people–English speakers anyway– spell “Smith” correctly. 🙂


    1. Yes, when I first met you online, I had to consciously use just one “L.” Since one set of children live off Merrill Road here in Jacksonville, I’m used to the 2-“L” version.

      I’m guessing your birth name has more than one syllable. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a sister-in-law, Marion. I used to spell her name, Marian. She finally corrected me. Folks don’t misspell my name, but they sometimes call me the wrong name. Waneita is the name I’m often called! I prefer my own name, Anita. Thanks for sharing, Marian.


    1. I can certainly understand the substituting “a” for “o” in the name, but what is still puzzling is the other variations, especially the ones that sound like Miriam. Hearing problems maybe?

      You have a pretty name, Anita. I always appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nothing is sweeter than the sound of your name, but seeing it spelled correctly. is equally sweet. Usually folks get my name George+tte. Acquaintances who don’t know me that well will call me any ole name that begins with G like Ginger, Gretchen or goodness…Gertrude which has more letters of my real name just not enough or in the right place. I was named after my grandfather. As a youngster I asked my mother why did you name me this? One time she came back with “Well you could take on a nickname like Gigi.” No, I didn’t like that either, but I didn’t mind so much the nickname George as in George Fain in Nancy Drew…I liked that.
    I like your name and can identify with it. My mother had a cousin in CA named Marian so your name from the outset has never been one I had to double check. Cute illustration from Mr. Beaman. Besides hearing your name or seeing it written correctly, I would say seeing a lovely illustration of your likeness must be very sweet, too.


    1. The origin of your name and its many variations makes for an entertaining story, Georgette. It’s interesting that you identified favorably with a strong character in a Nancy Drew novel. I will pass your compliment on to my husband.

      “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha Ha! Thanks Marian – ‘Susan’ can get mangled a bit. Suzan, Sussan, Susann, Susanne.
    My younger sister was christened Debora Jane but was always called Jane, until in her 30’s my mother took her to see someone from The School of Truth. She was not a happy young woman at that stage. He advised her to be called by her given name Debora. So a switcheroo, too difficult for me so she is called Sis.
    Now, some years ago I was staying with Sis in Cape Town. Some of their friends came by and Sis introduced me as her sister Susan. He said hello Sue, nice to meet you. My name is Susan I said. He doubled over and told us of when he was introduced to my Sis some years before, he said hello Debby, nice to meet you. She said, my name is Debora.
    So, what’s in a name indeed? I’m called different names, Sues, Suze, Susie, which is very fine. (not mad on Sue, I don’t know why). I always introduce myself as Susan.
    Marian is a lovely name … lovely sketch too!


    1. Lots of sibilants in those “S” names – amusing story. I can understand the confusion with your name. While I was teaching, four of the women faculty were named Susan with one Suzanne, with ZanPride as part of her jewelry business name since her retirement. You’ll always be “Susan” to me. And your stories, always enjoyable.


  7. The meaning of one’s name is always of interest to me. What does yours mean?
    Only recently have I been asked if my name begins with a “c” or a “k”. Growing up I never knew anyone spelled Carolyn with a ‘K’. Now I do. Also the variations of the spelling, Carolyn vs Caroline. Someone told me Caroline is the southern version, somehow my mother never knew that. Not sure that is accurate. However, I do like the English meaning; “Joy, Song of happiness.”


      1. I’ll pass along the compliment, Carolyn (lovely name). Right now he’s en-route to Jacksonville from Portland, OR. “Home sweet home” will sound good to him. Thanks for your comment above too.

        My name is derived from the Hebrew Miriam when it’s not considered a combination of Mary + Ann. Then it’s a different story altogether. There’s also Maid Marian, Robin Hood’s love and Marian Anderson of Metropolitan Opera fame.

        Carolyn – “Joy, song of happiness” fits you perfectly: a joyful woman with musical talents.


  8. Names can be funny and there are so many ways to spell some names. Mine sometimes becomes Darling. My daughter´s name is Marcelle but is often spelled Marcel. My granddaughter´s name is Aleasha. Now there is a name with many spelling variations. I always ask for the spelling of even the most common name. You just never know.


    1. That “Darling” children’s book author is a phrase that came to mind as I read your comment. You’re smart to ask for name spellings. A name is such a precious possession. As Georgette pointed out, nothing is sweeter than the sound of one’s name, especially in a happy context – and, of course, spelled correctly too.


  9. Marian — Great post! My trick for remembering the the A in your name (as opposed to an O) is thinking, “She’s top grade!”

    Most often used as a boy’s name among Highland clans, the spelling of my name — LAURIE — is Scottish (derived from the Laurel branch used in Olympian crowns, it means “Victory”). In the book “Little Women,” one of the main characters, Laurie, is a male.

    My name has most often been misspelled as Lori. But I’ve seen it as Lorrie and Laurey, too.


    1. Your trick for remembering my name gave my heart a joy ping – thank you. Mnemonic devices help me too. With apologies to any reader named Laura, I think Laurie sounds more whimsical. And the fact that it is used as both a male and female name shows perhaps a holistic view of naming – like Shawn or Leslie.

      The association of your name with victory fits your personality and the themes of many of your blog posts. Carry on, Laurie.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Love this post, Marian. Before I married and took my husband’s name, my last name was Zabski. Even though it’s very easy to pronounce, most people decided they had to a syllable or two. There was Zabiski, Zabinski, and Zaburski. I don’t remember the others.

    In Polish Zabski means “frog,” and during my highschool years some friends called me Froggie.

    I’ve kept the Z as my middle initial, just because it’s the best letter in the alphabet and Zabski is a cool name.


  11. I love that your middle name is “Z” with all the fanciful, delightful implications of the letter including zany and zigzag. I agree – Z is the best letter of the alphabet because when you get there, you’re done. Just like what will happen to your manuscript when “in the fullness of time” it is published. Thanks for stopping in today, Joan.


  12. I tell anyone who will listen that they can call me anything they want as long as it’s not late for dinner. I have a hard time remembering names. If I call someone by another name, that – unfortunately – is the name that is stuck in my head.

    I love the many varieties of your name and your post, Marian. 😉


  13. Thank you, Judy. In my teaching days, I tried to get the right name attached to the right student the first time. If I ever got the name wrong (even once!) it was hard to erase the error from my memory. As you well know, remembering the right name helps develop rapport with students.

    About my name here – it’s all true. 😉


  14. Oh, Marian, GMTA–Great Minds Think Alike!–and this isn’t the first time you and I have written on the same topics at the same time. When my mother named me Marylin–pronounced the same as the regular Marilyn–she reversed the y and the i because her name is Mary. I grew up with everyone spelling my name wrong, and most of the time I didn’t even correct it.
    Even now, if I answer the phone and a voice says, “Hello, Mary-lin, this is…” I know it’s probably someone selling something and doesn’t actually know me because they mispronounce my name.


    1. From the beginning, I spoke your name in my head as Marilyn, but I have always been aware of the unique spelling of your name – It’s a teacher thing I guess.

      Long ago, my husband Cliff noticed that some mailing labels came through with his name spelled “Chris.” The mailings began to proliferate. That’s how he knew his name had been sold to various businesses for promotional purposes. Thanks for stopping in today, M-A-R-Y-L-I-N. This writing-topic doppelganger will likely happen again – It’s probably just a question of how and when – ha!


  15. When I was younger Cherry wasn’t hardly heard of apart from Cherry Gillespie who was a dancer with Pan’s People (from top of the pops) so nobody believed me when I told them my name. Here’s my list of what people chose to call me ;
    And a few more besides . My husbands pet hate was Cheryl . Sorry all the Cheryl’s out there.
    I just start answering to everything even when I d say ‘Cherry in fruit ‘ I still be called one of the list . Oh well Marrianna I sign out .


  16. Marian, I can always count on you to make me chuckle but also to get me thinking! 🙂 People often call me Kathryn or spell my name with C vs K. Also when I married Wayne and became a Pooler, I figured that would be hard to botch up BUT it often morphs into Poler, Poole, Puller…And my maiden name was Pease which usually ended up saying “like the vegetable with an e on the end.” Turns out there’s a lot in a name! Thanks for another delightful post and conversation.


  17. Thinking and laughing is a good balance, Kathy.

    You sparked another memory: When I was still a Mennonite and still a Longenecker, someone asked what my last name was. My enunciating it brought forth gales of laughter, I suppose because I certainly didn’t look like a woman who was into much kissing and fooling around.

    Seeing you here is such an encouragement. I am so proud of your accomplishments and so honored to have you as friend and mentor.


  18. Hello – I came here via Marilyn Warner and I am glad I did. My young sister is named Marianne and always had trouble with the way people spelt it. I had no such trouble with Judith although I think I was well into my 20s before I came across another Judith. The biggest problem we all encountered (3 sisters growing up in London) was our surname. Rita – yes miss, but what is your last name, your family name etc etc. I changed my surname when I got married – I have never wanted to change my first name and have never been Judy, Jude or any other dimunitive.


    1. Welcome, Judith, from New Zealand, I believe. Your name has a noble origin, appearing in the Bible and also in Shakespeare – well, actually in not his writing, but as the name of one of his twins, Judith and Hamnet.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting too. Do visit again soon.


  19. I wasn’t able to comment right away, but now I can read all these other comments, so I can read the sparkling things you say to every reader. No wonder your blog readership has grown. We know we can depend on MARION, oops. 🙂


    1. I can’t imagine anyone misspelling your name as Shirley Temple was woven into the fabric of pop culture when you were born. There’s even a beverage named after her. You probably know that the last name of “Anne of Green Gables” is Shirley. Story-telling and the theatre are absolutely built into your name. I always tab you Shirley in my notes as SHS, my shorthand for a kind mentor.


  20. I was named for my grandmother Mary but the French form, Marie was used instead. For some reason lots of people call me Maria by mistake, which is the Spanish or Italian form or Mary. I happens so much I don’t even bother to correct them. The odd thing is, when I’m in France, the French don’t seem to understand my pronounciation of my name no matter how hard I try to pronounce it in the French way. In Starbucks during my recent visit it was written on my cup as Mary, Maryanne, Marian and only when I actually spelled it out did they get it right.


  21. What an interesting post. It was interesting to see the many real names of celebrities here. Yes, names can be a handful for many. I know my maiden name was never pronounced correctly by teachers and it bothered me. We can’t choose our names initially, so some revamp themselves with new names. I suppose it’s no different than authors using pen names. And speaking of other names, haven’t I also seen you on social media as Marta?


    1. You are one sharp cookie, Debby. Yes, on Twitter my hashtag uses Marta instead of Marian. When we were first dating we saw Sound of Music 3 times. After one of those times Cliff decided to call me Marta and I called him Friedrich – the pet name came to mind when I signed up for Twitter years ago. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Ah, yes. Such a shame when people cannot get your name right. My own brother spells both my christian name and my married surname wrong and as he’s nearing seventy two, I have little hope of reforming him.

    On the positive side, or maybe not, people have been getting the name Marian wrong for centuries. General Joseph Holt of the 1798 Irish rebellion had a daughter who in various documents was called Mary Ann, Marriane, etc. It makes tracing her really difficult, however, I finally caught up with her marriage and several baptisms in Christ Church, Delgany, Wicklow. I wonder how your interested descendants will cope with the variations on your name. 🙂


      1. Actually Marian, some members of that Holt family appeared in Pennsylvania. An Elizabeth Holt, born 1860 in Ireland, died 1913 in Pennsylvania. Her parents were John Douglas Holt and Catherine Tankard. I have been trying to find more about their lives in that state. Elizabeth married George McClatchey. I’m not sure if that’s the correct spelling. She was already a widow when she died. I spent fourteen years doing my family history and believe I have links to this family.


        1. Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I was surrounded by names from my Swiss/German ancestry but also many British names. Just a few miles from where I was born is Donegal Presbyterian Church with many names of, you guessed it, Irish origin. Buchanan is one name that comes to mind from the Donegal cemetery.

          Fourteen years working on your family ancestry – gee, I’m impressed!


  23. I can completely relate with this. My last name is Burkinshaw and when I went to conferences it would have at least one letter off. However the funniest was when I went around as Kathleen Buckinshoe for the day 🙂


  24. Marian, I stumbled on your blog today while searching the meaning of my name. This search was prompted by a request in my advent booklet received from my church to search the meaning of your name .
    I have always gone by my middle name. I often received mail addressed to “Dear Mister” I finanly got all of my official documents with Marian as it was too confusing to explain. My identy is still SUE. I,too, have spent years spelling my name. My mother found my name in a novel she was reading. At age 76 , I now have a better appreciation and love of my name. I am glad I found you today.


    1. Oh, Sue, welcome to my blog – and we even share a first name. How about that! Thank you for reading and sharing here about the interesting way you found this blog: an advent booklet!

      I wonder if your mother found the name in the tale of Robin Hood with his Maid Marian – or somewhere else. Hmmmm


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