Hello, My Name Is Anne R. Key*

April 13, 2010

Chef Jamie Oliver and his wife, Jools, have three daughters: Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, and Petal Blossom Rainbow, noted Entertainment Weekly’s Dan Snierson in “Hit List,” going on to speculate that “they were hoping for a son to give a more straightforward name, like Endless Wedgies” (p. 27, March 19, 2010).

If you’re looking for a terrific book to induce laughter and get a conversation started, Larry Ashmead’s (2007) book, Bertha Venation and Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People, is a delight, filled with numerous examples of appellations run amok from the names that celebrities give their children (William Lear Jr.—of Learjet—named his daughter Shanda Lear, p. 18) to the probably unintentionally funny like Ridgely Horsey Biddle (p. 44). This book is an example of what is known as ludic reading—reading done just for fun—and if you’re not a reader, I especially recommend that you seek out the just-for-fun stuff to help build your speed and comprehension skills.

I like this book because I began collecting amusing names when I was woman’s editor of a newspaper in a small Georgia town. I now have a Collectory of names-related stuff started when hospitals provided me with weekly lists of birth announcements that we published in the paper. I delighted in names like Lasagna and Placenta and Yago Sangria, as well as many babies named for celebrities, living and dead (Tyrone Power and Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth). My favorite, though, was one a friend told me about: Polly Wanda Cracker. Reading Ashmead’s book, I am reminded that nothing is too strange to be true and that parental abuse can be inflicted through alphabetical arrangement.

I also like to troll the pages of the phone book in a hunt for unusual names, Tats Yada, for example. Binky Burgoyne is another I love—alliteration is often at play in great names. I used to provide my students with old phone books from which we created found poetry using names—an exercise in the rhythm, flow, and rhyme of words: Philomena Webster, Abercrombie Jones, Penelope Melendez, and Lester Lee Malones. Phone books are also an excellent source of names for fictional characters.

In my name-saving, the most unusual one I’ve come across is the Florida baby with the middle name of George and the longest first name I’ve encountered: Truewilllaughinglifebuckyboomermanifestdestiny. Whew! I’d just as soon be named Moxie Crimefighter like Penn Gilette’s daughter or Peaches Honeyblossom, Pilot Inspector, Audio Science, or Harley Quinn, like celebrity children featured in Chapter 2 of Ashmead’s book, “Apple to Zowie: Celebrities are Major Offenders.”

Braindance: Georgia resident Gary Duda (pronounced “doo-dah”) legally changed his first name to Zippidy. If you had to change your name, what name would you choose?

In France, parents cannot legally name their daughters Cherry, Vanilla, or Prune.

* Anne R. Key is my favorite name to write on a nametag at conferences and other events. I like to see how long it takes someone to realize that it must be fake.



  1. Dear Zinn~ I am jazzed for the upcoming classes at the coast! Your right….I do like the name Rebecca. What about……Rita Goodbook….See you Friday!

  2. Of course, you know I will probably steal this one for some conference somewhere. Kudos for an extremely clever offering! See you soon. W-OZ

  3. My author’s name “Dinky Monitor”

  4. I have had a change of heart with the alias author name…this is hilarious! I also came up with “Train Monitor”, “MacBabe”, “The Warden”, “Resourceful Oomph”, “CWP” (Compassion with Passion)…I will check back with the final answer next week because there are way too many.

  5. My new name is going to be “Ima Day Dreamer”. 🙂

  6. I have finally settled it…”Train Monitor”:)

  7. I really like this one as well Reed N. Spires

    Stan D.A. Deliver

  8. Mine is going to be Lulu Bell.

  9. This one came about as a result of me trying to decipher children’s writing. Two recent favorites: apljeos (apple juice) and onsupnatim (once upon a time).

    Dee Coader

  10. So, my name came clearly as I explained my day to my friend. Awoke at 4:15 went to the gym, then ran 3 ½ miles with my girlfriend. Oldest Daughter to Swim Team Practice-pu, youngest daughter to Dance Camp then to Red Cross Swim Lessons, quick home for lunch. Son to basketball camp-home to work on assignments, pu. Son to baseball practice, daughter to softball practice, quick run to the grocery store-pu son, pu daughter-dinner then more homework.

    Karen A. Load

  11. Stan Dalone

  12. I’ve decided on Melodie Myrtle for 3 reasons.
    – Alliteration is a winner.
    – I adore music and wish I had talent for it.
    – Myrtle has historical value as it was my great-grandmothers name (with whom I share my looks); as well as being part of the name of the small town Myrtle Point, where my parents & grandparents lived when my parents met and married; and finally, there is no smell as nostalgic as the smell of a crisp bed of Myrtle leaves under a magnificent Myrtle tree, where I often played as a child.

    I do not envy Karen A. Load who only has time to post at 4:13 in morning!

  13. Wanted to express what I do or say in a new or old situation; my author’s name will be:

    LaLa Giveitago

  14. Never ask your children for input on your homework: I am Farticus

  15. I’ve chosen a name that I hope to aspire to and be known as: It is…… Cara Lott

  16. My new name that I will use today is: Playful Penelope Peccaillo

  17. I am also somewhat fascinated with names and how they always seem to fit the person.
    Here’s my creative effort:
    Fam Ali Mahn
    I always have my family in mind whether at the front or the back or maybe it’s the left or the right. I love them very much and they are one of the things that definitely keep me moving forward each day! I love seeing their smiles each and every day! I am so proud of their efforts at home, work, and school and more importantly to see them enjoying themselves.

  18. My wife came up with a name for me as well. Don’t ask me why.
    Dick Tater

    • Armando that rocks!

  19. Ann Onimus

  20. Hello my name is “Rachelle” not Rachel. Correct pronunciation and spelling has been a lifelong irritation for me. My name is spelled Rachel, but pronounced Rachelle. There have been many times I just gave up and answered to Rachel especially in school. It was my Dad’s idea to spell it Rachel but he liked the french pronunciation better – Thanks Dad!

  21. Action Jackson

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