I only met a Gately once.... May 27, 2023 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Ever since reading this FPP, I've been thinking about people I've met with unusual names. How about you?

I'm not talking about the unique names some celebrities give their offspring. I mean people I've actually met out in the wild. I'd never met, or heard of, the name "Taryn" before until I met a friend's neice and now I know three. Here are some that really stood out to me:

Aurelia: coworker
Aleta: coworker
Areta: lifelong friend
Gately: a little girl I met while working as a teaching assistant in a nursery school.
Werner: a little boy I met as above.
Kendall: classmate
Kenyon: friend of a friend
Maybelline: my mom's Avon representative (oh, the irony)

I swear I had a couple other names while I was mulling the idea of making a post, but of course I can't remember them now. Share the more unusual names you've met!
posted by annieb to MetaFilter-Related at 7:31 AM (101 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Just yesterday I encountered this post somewhere on social media, can't say I've met Crescent Dragonwagon, but it's absolutely one of the most unique first and last names I've encountered.
posted by jeremias at 7:57 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

I met an Atlantis this week at work, which I thought was pretty and unusual, without being something you would have to spell/repeat excessively everytime you introduce yourself. Hard needle to thread sometimes.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:52 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]

They are perhaps only unusual in the aggregate, but I will always think fondly of the time I was in a meeting with three people, respectively surnamed Orange, Almond and Cream.
posted by tavegyl at 9:04 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]

My name isn't unusual but it is unusual for people who are almost forty which I believe is a very common trans experience -- every other adult I've met with my name is also trans but I take my kid to a playground and it's swarming with six year olds named the same thing I am.
posted by an octopus IRL at 9:18 AM on May 27 [13 favorites]

In high school I knew a guy named Kelby.
posted by bendy at 9:32 AM on May 27

I went to Jr High with a Peacolian and high school with a Spann. I have an uncle named Challen. on the other side, my great-uncle’s given name was Lax (and his brother and father—my great grandfather—were both named Jarvey). One of my great -aunt’s best friends was a woman named Mercedes Whitecloud, which struck me, as a child, as the greatest name I’d ever heard .
posted by thivaia at 10:19 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]

My best friend in elementary school was a guy named Langdon. He's an oncologist now.
posted by Rash at 10:24 AM on May 27

my entire family only has very normal (almost 100% anglo) traditional spelling, names. boring! at least mine is not particularly common, although that just means people always spell and pronounce it like the more common variant which it IS NOT.
posted by supermedusa at 10:29 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

When I was a senior in high school, I did a prospective students' weekend at a women's college in Virginia.

Some of the young women I met had family names, typically they were named after the mother's or grandmother's maiden name.

The ones I remember most clearly were Tierney and Toy.
posted by champers at 11:16 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]

I mean I think that demo, socio, and geographic position might significantly color this sort of list.
posted by chasles at 11:27 AM on May 27 [22 favorites]

Not to mention first language.
posted by y2karl at 12:51 PM on May 27 [15 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 1:11 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

I live in Utah.
posted by armeowda at 1:30 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]

Van Heflin is the bestest, like Van Halen chasing vampyres
posted by clavdivs at 1:42 PM on May 27

My father's name was Werner, and it was a fairly popular first name in both Austria and Germany until the 1970s. I had class mates called Werner. And of course Werner Herzog. It has gone out of fashion now.
Werner is also a fairly common last name, Oskar Werner was a famous Austrian acto.
posted by 15L06 at 2:19 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]

Names plus nicknames? At one point I had three TAs in a class I taught: Paloma, Gato, and Perro (Pigeon, her name, Cat and Dog, their nicknames).
Paloma and Gato were also dating.
posted by signal at 2:45 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

My father's first name was Walter but he was born a Wladyslaw -- which is so obvious in retrospect now but it took Ellis Island Records to clue in well duh, never thought about it me. When asked his country of origin, he identified as Austrian. Because that's what he was when born. We had little inkling until my brothers went back to Chicago to visit my aunt, uncle and grandparents and discovered that neither newspapers nor mealtime conversations usually came in English. Now I know he was born near Krakow, just outside of Katowice.
posted by y2karl at 2:47 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]

never not a good time to link to EXPLOITS OF A MOM
posted by lalochezia at 3:00 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]

A person named Xanth Unbehaun was suggested by LinkedIn. I thought maybe ChatGPT was having a go at me, but it turns out it may be a legitimate person.

But what a name!
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 3:02 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

A former boss was named Logie. That's the first and last time I've seen that name.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:09 PM on May 27

I met a guy named Forest who worked removing trees. Another limited name in that I've not met many of was Branch who was a coffee shop barista. I'm not sure if this can be researched or based on facts, but I would guess the South would be the places to visit for finding the one off names.
posted by brent at 4:33 PM on May 27

I did a lot of work for a guy whose given name was Rock. He was about the right age to have been named after Mr. Hudson and I can't believe I'm making that connection right now for the first time.
posted by Mitheral at 6:10 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Met a guy once in the '90s named Gust of Wind. I thought I might have heard him wrong, and asked him if his name was Gustav. It wasn't.

Once met a girl named Genesee. I didn't know at the time that it was a place name as well as a beer, so I probably unfairly judged her parents.

Briefly dated a woman named Camulla.

A friend of mine went by "Newton" for many years, a nickname whose provenance is someone else's stoner non sequitur, but when I found out his real name was Dwayne, I literally laughed in his face and said, "Your name is Dwayne Newton??" Somehow we're still friends.

I used to know a guy named Paris. Not an especially strange name; I've met more than one Paris in my life. But this one's middle and last name sort of rhyme with his first name, which is a little more unusual.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:23 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]

A recurring woman's name in my (maternal) family is Azalea, like the flowering plant but pronounced Aza-Lee. I've always loved this name but I've no kids, so.
posted by workerant at 7:07 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

A person in my department at work, but in another office, is named Bliss Man.

I’m sure he, as many of the other unique named people upthread, is so tired of explaining how they got their name. But man, Bliss Man is awesome (but perhaps too much to live up to?).
posted by mephisjo at 7:28 PM on May 27

In the branch of my family that comes from a wee little island in a fjord in rural Denmark, it was tradition (as I believe it was in much of rural Denmark) to name any newborns after the most recently deceased family member. So if uncle Josef just died, you'd name you kid Josef or Josefine.

Well, shortly before one my great aunts was born, uncle or grandpa Mads died. And well, that meant my great aunt had to be named after him: Madsgine. Which, in Danish, is basically a homophone of maskine, which means machine. That sounds at least as ridiculous and hilarious in Danish, if not more so (it is not a language where there is a tradition for naming kids things like factory or whatever). It is especially funny in light of the fact that she was a fairly petite woman - hardly a boxer type.
posted by Dysk at 7:42 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]

I had a great uncle named G.W. That was his actual legal name, just the initials. We have no idea why.

When went off to join the army as a young man, the enrollment people refused to accept his given legal name and demanded he come up with a proper name immediately. He thought a moment, then wrote down the first name that came to mind. And that's how my great uncle became George Washington while in uniform, but at home he was always our beloved Dub.
posted by mochapickle at 7:54 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]

I knew a Sunshine Rainbow, and brothers named Link and Chick Pea.
posted by kinsey at 8:11 PM on May 27

My mother had cousins named Twila Delilah and Fabiola Thumbelina. One of my grandmas was named Armadie and I was named after another one.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:46 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]

It is funny seeing names that seem so normal, listed as unusual. Definitely depends on where in the world you are!

The most unusual name I've encountered is a fridge repair guy called Handulay Kundanyumtitum. But I suppose it's not unusual elsewhere 🙂 It's really fun to say though!
posted by Zumbador at 11:40 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]

Oh I must add that I apparently have a cousin called du Toit du Toit. Due to the Afrikaans habit of naming children by their mother's maiden name.
posted by Zumbador at 11:42 PM on May 27

I had a friend a while back whose legal name was BJ No periods and no spaces, just BJ. When he was asked why, if he was in a mood, he would answer, "Because my dad said I was one load that should have been swallowed." If someone pressed him on what BJ was short for, he would look them in the eye and say, "Michael." His close friends actually called him "Cutter" which was short for Honeycutt or BJ Honeycutt.

When I was 16, I was drinking Jack Daniels with a friend on a Saturday night. We were pure amateurs. He got sick. We were hanging out in a small park and the cops came by. They asked him his name. He looked up from puking and said Bobby Nada. His real name was close to James Smith. For 40+ years the 5 of us at the park that night have called him Bobby Nada. It has almost become one word, BobbyNada. I was at a party and drunkenly and mistakenly introduced his wife to someone as Suzy Nada rather than Suzy Smith. When I call their home land line, she answers, "Nada residence"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:39 AM on May 28 [4 favorites]

My best friend in elementary school was a guy named Langdon.

That's.....an old name in my mother's side of the family, and is common in the family to the point that I kinda want to compare notes over memail or something.

My paternal grandfather was named Revilo Oliver [Lastname] - "Revilo" being "Oliver" spelled backwards. He hated it, and went by his initials ("ROW", pronounced like "Ow" with an "r" in front); I didn't even learn his real name until I was ten.

My kindergarten BFF was named "Krishna". The family were not hippies, nor were they Hindi - they just liked unusual names. Krishna was going to be "Dulcinea", but then her mother read an article about sled dogs and saw that name on one of the dogs and thought "Yes!" Her brother's name was "Theoden", and yes, it's after the Lord Of The Rings character.

I went to college for theater, and that was a font of Unusually Named People. There was a dude kicking around campus named Sabre Schnitzer which everyone agreed sounded cool as hell. Another girl somewhere was named "Electra", and for some reason all the guys were desperate to meet her because they'd all decided that was sexy.

Sometime in the 90s I knew someone who lived in a sort of commune here in New York (a group who'd all teamed up to buy this one house in Bay Ridge and all lived there). One of her housemates was a guy whose full name was Cantad Hoopachu Svensgard, Whenever questioned about his name, he would simply say that his parents were both hippies. When pressed for further detail he would shrug and say "each of m parents blames the other one, so I dunno."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]

I have friends with the last name Behr who just named their kid Theodore. Yes, they know. Yes, they're fine with it. The whole family is adorable so I think it'll be fine.
posted by mochapickle at 7:41 AM on May 28 [6 favorites]

A nice lady from Croatia, whose name I only heard but never saw written. So I'll try to write it here phonetically:
Snee-ejj-eh-nah. I like saying it, sounds like a magic charm.
A family whose elderly ladies were all named for gemstones: Opal, Beryl, Ruby, Pearl, all sisters. Their cousins? April, May, and June.
posted by winesong at 8:18 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Decades ago, when QFC was an old school superstore with a big parking lot across from the Broadway Market on Republican, there was one time a clerk bagging groceries in my line to the register with a name tag reading To. The people ahead of me said " 'To' -- that's an unusual name." She shrugged, rolled her eyes and said "My last name is Morrow." You can guess what I thought about her mom and dad at the time. Now I am a bit more generous and think they must have been young and first time parents to be so stupid, clueless and senselessly cruel.
posted by y2karl at 9:35 AM on May 28

My paternal grandfather's name was Deodatus (gift of God) Alexander (+last name) and several of his ancestors were named that as well, including one who served in the Revolutionary war--they all went by Date. My dad and brother and nephew all kept the Alexander middle name. I don't have kids or I would have named one Deodatus (if a boy) to carry on the tradition. As it was, I lobbied long and hard to have my nephew named Deodatus, but my sister-in-law vetoed it (I don't really blame her).
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:59 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]

I met a little girl named Abcde, pronounced ‘Ab-si-dee.’
posted by dianeF at 10:44 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Yes, they know. Yes, they're fine with it

I want to favorite this a million times!!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:58 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]

My full name is Shannon Ellery Hubbell, which isn't exactly strange but sort of unique, and a bank teller once told me that my name sounds like it belongs to a novelist.
posted by brundlefly at 12:49 PM on May 28 [7 favorites]

Garhald Hoose.

posted by clavdivs at 12:59 PM on May 28

My grandmother and her sisters: Tootie, Weedy and Libby. I tried to convince my wife we should name our first son Werner but I was (and repeatedly am) laughed out of the room. I still think it's a bad-ass name - and I have met a couple Werner's and they are serious serious serious people to a tedious, sententious man. There's a big slice of German names that are - to me - both incomprehensible and fascinating and that I have an initial hard time taking seriously: Uwe, Hanno (and Hannelor), Gudrun, Jost (pronounced Yost). Ulf. Lutz and Joern and Georg and Goetz.
I had no idea, before moving here, that there was such a wild span of names among the Germans I thought the wildest would be Franz or maybe Gerhard. Uwe (and there's the 'famous' German writer Uwe Johnson (pronounced Yon-son) really threw me for a loop, like I really wasn't sure if they weren't pulling my leg.

And as a kid my best friend was named Darroch - which I was told was old English for oak tree (I think.) He was a stocky kid, appropriately enough.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:08 PM on May 28

Somehow I’ve known two people named Drusilla.
posted by jzb at 1:57 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

I was working with someone with a typical name, I think Bob, but when he handed me his business card his name was Frisbee. Before I could ask he explained that his given name was Frisbee, technically he was Frisbee the Third since it was a family name, and IT wouldn’t let him change his email to the name he preferred. He then added, also unprompted, that’s his son was named Mike.
posted by lepus at 1:59 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Gately: a little girl I met while working as a teaching assistant in a nursery school.
Her parents must be huge fans of Infinite Jest.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:26 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

I've run across some great names because I work with the public, but I don't want to write the really unusual ones here in case they run across them and feel mocked. The frustration!
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:14 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

The corpse in the library - i totally get that, i worked at an international school for a very long time and some of the names were quite unique and unusual. I would love to share some but alas ...
posted by 15L06 at 3:38 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

My daughter's name is Aletheia (thus my username--Aletheia's dad. She was a baby when I joined MetaFilter). Anyway, Aletheia is pretty rare and most of the time when you meet one they have a parent who is really into either philosophy or theology. It's Greek for "truth." We've met three others over the years: 1) a teenage girl at the church we attended when Aletheia was born, 2) a cashier at a Kroger in Durham, NC, 3) a preschooler waiting to be seen at the emergency room in a hospital in Las Cruces, NM. Our Aletheia was having a frightening allergic reaction to a medication and the after-hours pediatric clinic had sent us straight to the ER. At one point the door opened and a nurse called "Aletheia" and two families stood up. Surprised both groups. We started talking to the parents of the other Aletheia about how they chose the name. "She's named after her grandmother!" they said. "It's Greek for 'faith'." I was going to just let that go uncorrected, because what do I care if a random family doesn't know what their kid's name means? But my wife blurted out "Oh, it's actually 'truth'." Things got a little awkward.

Pistis is Greek for "faith" (at least in the Koiné Greek of the Roman Empire era, which is what I studied). Terrible name for a child. Can't imagine dealing with baby Pistis. Would be a great name for a puppy, though.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:01 PM on May 28 [8 favorites]

Her parents must be huge fans of Infinite Jest.

Or Boyzone.
posted by tinkletown at 4:19 PM on May 28

At least it’s not Gaightleigh…
posted by mochapickle at 4:24 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

In the NSW Legislative Council, the upper house of the State Parliament, the chair and presiding MLC is President Benjamin Franklin. (Which gives you a response to the well-known trivia question).
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:56 PM on May 28

When I live in Montana, I new a guy named Montana, who went by Monty. His father was also named Montana, and went by Tanna. The Monty & Tannas alternated like 5 generations back, before the family had arrived in Montana.
posted by Grandysaur at 6:02 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

I see a lot of weird names in my job, but sadly I can't mention them because those people may Google themselves and it will stand out. I will note that the most memorable was The Most Cowgirl Name I Ever Saw--I'll say the last name was Gunn and the rest was very Western--and that amused me since I come from cowboy territory. I also saw--and this was years before trans-ness became a huge public thing so I can't say if that was a factor--a name that was something like NeutralGenderName TraditionallyMaleName Alias (actual word) TraditionallyFemaleName Lastname. I have always wondered what the heck was going on with this one.

I do slightly know a guy named Montana, I'm told his brothers are also named after states...rumored-ly states that they got conceived in :P
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:36 PM on May 28

Marie (pronounced MARR Eee) - woman I met in Vanuatu
Brightly - man I met in Vanuatu
Nixon (first name) - Vanuatu
Johnson (first name) - Vanuatu
Seven - guy I know in Toronto
Skye Brain - woman I knew in university
Wren - woman I know in Toronto
Marika (maybe not that uncommon but she's named after a Toronto postal code: M4R 1KA, where her parents lived when they adopted her)
Gee - Dutch dude I met while travelling
Pair - Dude I met in university
Lin-d-lou - woman I met in Toronto
King - friend's kid
Bertram - male friend from Saskatchewan
Yukon - Toronto friend, named after where he was conceived
posted by dobbs at 6:58 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

I will note that the most memorable was The Most Cowgirl Name I Ever Saw--I'll say the last name was Gunn and the rest was very Western

I wonder if I know her. Is her nickname Shooter?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:03 PM on May 28

Wren is one of the rarer bird names traditionally more often given to women. Bushtit, on the other hand, is a bird name given to no one as yet to the best of my knowledge.
posted by y2karl at 8:06 PM on May 28 [6 favorites]

Ahem, From Bklyn, Gudrun is a name in my family (though, yes, my aunt did get a draft notice in World War II in the U.S. because they did not know it was a girl's name.) I have some info. on the name in my profile.

Maylin is a traditional boy's name in my father's family. I was always mystified by the spelling. I finally found out the origin only recently from a cousin - turns out it is for Thomas Maylin, a teacher involved in the anti-slavery movement in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were living at that time. No idea why he was so important to my ancestor that the name still survives in my family to this day.

My uncle went to school with someone named Bluebell Duck.

In my time, I have had female friends and acquaintances with the nicknames of Cookie, Avalon, Nigel, Bambi (shortened from being called bambina/bambino), Castle, and Ducky. All are strong and interesting women who own their nicknames.
posted by gudrun at 8:30 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

There's a big slice of German names that are - to me - both incomprehensible and fascinating

My late friend had a German uncle named Heiko. She thought she had won the Weirdest German Named Relative stakes until she met another friend of mine, whose father was named Detlev.

I'm hesitant to mention many beautifully uniquely-named people I've known, since their names are so readily identifiable. But one that I admired was a Filipina American woman named Fe, (pronounced Fé) which I thought was cool since it's the chemical abbreviation for iron.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:37 PM on May 28

You all know a Tiara now, hello. People kept making the same joke about the Malaysian actress (Tiara Jacquelina) that shared my name (even the Prime Minister at the time made the same joke), then I actually met the woman through a mutual friend's event. She didn't believe me at first, then when I showed her my ID she assumed I was named after her. -_- HELLO JACQUELINE EU YOU CHANGED YOUR NAMED AFTER I WAS BORN YOU NAMED YOURSELF AFTER ME CLEARLY

My sister is named after a river in India. She named her daughter after a song that was named after a river in Cornwall. I meanwhile was named after Tarita Teriipaia, Marlon Brando's wife and star of Mutiny on the Bounty - how "Tarita" became "Tiara" is still a mystery. Probably because of the song "Tahiti Tiere", even though none of my family is any flavour Polynesian.

Having lived in 3 different countries (and with cultural ties to many more), my bar for "unique" names is pretty high. I also don't like the argument of "oh your children will be bullied for having an unusual name!!", even when it's deployed against "white" names like Kaedyn or Kayyleigghh or whatever the stereotype is. Kids will be bullied for any reason, even with a """normal""" name. And what's "normal" anyway - White Christian? "Siti" is a very common name in Malaysia but would probably elicit jokes of "Siri" or "shitty" in the Western world, so should a Malay family steer clear? If someone wants to have a number as a name - why not? Why focus on assimilation rather than integration?
posted by creatrixtiara at 9:53 PM on May 28 [10 favorites]

There's a big slice of German names that are - to me - both incomprehensible and fascinating and that I have an initial hard time taking seriously: [...] Gudrun

Scandinavian, not German!

(And perfectly normal in Scandinavia)
posted by Dysk at 11:30 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

My immediate family all have full names (first, last) that point exclusively to ourselves. Whoops. At least there’s nothing too embarrassing that’s hit Google so far.

I have one of those extended families where a bunch of people have the same traditional/common first name and so they go by more distinctive middle names. My grandfather played along as a child, but he got sick of the other kids making fun. So in adulthood he was just Dave.
posted by eirias at 5:10 AM on May 29

A nice lady from Croatia, whose name I only heard but never saw written. So I'll try to write it here phonetically:

Snježana! It means snowy, snow-related.

I recently made a lawyer cry with my family naming tradition. We all have the same first name and we actually go by it (or nicknames for it but they start with the same letter). She was trying to chart various legal relations and started off using initials...
posted by I claim sanctuary at 5:44 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]

I don't know on a Shooter nickname, I never met the person..
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:16 AM on May 29

My mother and maternal grandmother were both named Berma. Probably, we think but don’t know for sure, after La Berma in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. As far as I can tell, they were the only Americans with that name.
posted by slkinsey at 11:47 AM on May 29

One of my grandmothers was named Jantje (which literally translates to 'little John') and the other was called Pieterke ('little Peter'). Both were born at the end of the 19th century, and at that time in the rural areas in the Netherlands where they lived this type of name was fairly common.
posted by rjs at 12:31 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]

The names in themselves are not unusual

Louis Anthony
Anthony Louis

John Jacob
Jacob John

Verghese George
George Verghese
(this gets into interesting territory since Verghese is the Malayalee version of George)

and then you have

Koshy Koshy

- the naming convention amongst Syrian Christian Malayalee families of Kerala state in India follows a simple rule for the first born male

His first name is always the grandfather's first name and his last name is his father's name, who, if he was a first born would have gotten the grandfather's name as his last name and his own grandfather's name as his first name (which would have been his own father's last name and now his son's first name)

so, I knew a few first born sons of first born sons - listed with their father's names above - and the chain goes on infinitely as long as sons keep being born to sons
posted by infini at 2:29 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]

...I first stumbled upon Gudrun in Women in Love by DH Lawrence. It was another forty years before I actually met one.
We had a bank-loan officer whose family name was "Assman" and it was not funny at all, ok? ("Ass" in German means "Ace") I, thankfully was warned ahead of time and given a chance to get my yucks out.
I know a Heiko! Nice guy, professor at some University.
And then there was Daniel who went to work for the famous architect Daniel XXXXXX, and when they were introduced famous architect heard his name and promptly (humourlessly) re-named him 'Chris' and he remained Chris for the year he worked in that office.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:54 PM on May 29

I had a great aunt named Elba. I am able to say that Napoleon was not involved. One source consulted said it was the diminutive of Elberta. Atreble was I ere I saw Elberta.
posted by y2karl at 3:05 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]

I knew an Antares (hippie parents) who went by Tara. Another hippie kid named Silver. I have seen retail employees with the following name tags: Chevette; Quovadis; Trellis. My husband’s high school girlfriend was named Yvette, but it was pronounced “why vet.” (This makes me cringe.) Went to college with a guy named Ptolemy. Read an article about teenage mothers, one of whom named her son Stylzz. Worked with someone I didn’t like whose daughter was named Olive.

Judgy side note: I hate it when named are spelled phonetically. The exemplar of this is “Exzavier,” with “Shevaunne” running a close second.
posted by scratch at 3:22 PM on May 29

A few others:

From my family lineage, though of course I never met them: we have a Brightwen (male, from England in the 1800s)on my mothers side; and a Lumpkin, from my paternal side.

And my other half has a step daughter named "Caryn" but it's pronounced "Corrinne" and it drives me nuts. Lovely girl, but seeing her name then hearing it sends me up the wall.

I love unusual names, I gotta say.
posted by annieb at 5:11 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]

I knew a Holly Christmas as a kid, and in the air force, I met a fellow airman with the surname Navy (so being Airman navy, his uniform had air force on one side, and navy on the other. Hey, it made us laugh)
posted by lemniskate at 6:24 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]

My mom went to a college in Texas that was apparently populated entirely by porn stars. Peaches Yielding, Straighton Hardt III, and, I shit you not, Rocky Minge. I swear I'm not making any of these up.
To be fair, she knew Rocky Minge was funny at the time, but not how much funnier it was going to get when she moved to the UK.
posted by BlueNorther at 2:09 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]

It does drive me nuts when the spelling of a name versus the actual pronunciation aren't even close to resembling each other and are completely anti-intuitive.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:52 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]

It does drive me nuts when the spelling of a name versus the actual pronunciation aren't even close to resembling each other and are completely anti-intuitive.

You mean like this right
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:02 AM on May 30

Detlev is a totally normal German name! As is Uwe. Olive is a totally normal, popular English name - there are two in my son’s class of 25 kids. Marie pronounced “Marr-ee” is an Irish thing.

The “spelling of a name versus the actual pronunciation aren't even close to resembling each other and are completely anti-intuitive” is something people often say about Irish names, which are spelled entirely phonetically ^in Gaelic^. Which is an entirely different language to English, different phonemes, different pronunciations. If you are complaining about somebody whose name is “Andrew, pronounced Banana”, ok. If you mean Siobhan or Aoife, please stop embarrassing yourself.

This whole “foreign names are so weird, let’s point and laugh” thing has echoes of laughing at the contents of the Korean kid’s lunchbox. Honestly quite surprised to see it here.
posted by tinkletown at 6:13 AM on May 30 [15 favorites]

Just yesterday I encountered this post somewhere on social media, can't say I've met Crescent Dragonwagon, but it's absolutely one of the most unique first and last names I've encountered.

That one's a self-inflicted name. (Birth name: Ellen Zolotow--I think she wanted to get herself out of the shadow of her mother, Charlotte Zolotow, who was well known in the publishing world.)

As for personally known interesting names:

My father sold his truck to a guy named Raynor Schein.

Years ago I read an article about unusual names in my hometown, and the clear winner was a girl named Jekyll Ann Hyde. She said that her father was really into puns; if she were a boy, she would have been named either Raw or Nauga, and for her, he was torn between Jekyll Ann and Formalde, but couldn't spell Formalde. I remember thinking of her as a very good sport.

In college I knew two plain white guys named Jemaleddin (Je-MAL-uh-din) and Bekele (Buh-kay-la). (Apparently they both had hippie parents--completely different families--who were into unusual names.) Jemaleddin usually went by "Jemal." Bekele, at that time, went by "Bob." He was a beautiful guy (one of those incredibly nice people who honestly didn't seem to know how gorgeous he was) and could have carried Bekele, in my opinion, but people get to pick what they want to be called.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:51 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]

I once knew a flight attendant named Aerial Ball. Spelled just like that.
posted by routergirl at 9:24 AM on May 30

If you are complaining about somebody whose name is “Andrew, pronounced Banana”, ok.

In all honesty, the name I was thinking of (but will not say for reasons of Google) was like that. It wasn't a case of "if I know how to pronounce it, fine" like Aoife being "eefah" or something like that (which makes sense when I read it in a book at some point), it was literally like, no letters in that name corresponded with the sounds one was supposed to be making while saying it. Like privately I wrote out "name sounds like Banana but is spelled Andrew" and then I had to remember both names when hearing her said aloud vs. seeing it written down, and I was frequently rather confused when going back and forth. I have no clue on the language of the name, though.

I apologize for being offensive.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:23 PM on May 30

Met 2 siblings this week. Hendrix and Cobain.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:43 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

can't say I've met Crescent Dragonwagon

I have!

I enjoy learning about names that may be unusual where I am from but are run-of-the-mill in other places, like especially whatever the regional equivalents are of Smith/Jones (i.e. very common last names) in the US. I also love names that are either very long or very short.

I went to a hippie college so I knew a Ptolemy (just one name, I believe she gave it to herself, she did not have the sense of humor about it you'd hope) and a Dakota Sunseri (sp?) which I always thought was a great name. I had a great great grandmother named Lovey. I was just walking in a local cemetery (often a great source for old timey names since some of the gravestones are pretty old) and came across a Zebulon.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:56 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]

All names are slightly modified for privacy if they're real or I think they might be real, but I'm keeping the vibes alive.

I had a coworker whose name was Jason Bowser and he wrote a JSON browser.

I worked for an unconventional internet provider a looong time ago, and got to see all kinds of names on account pages. We had one weird plan for very rural areas (like we're talking places that didn't have addresses so much as they had coordinates). It could be paid direct from a bank account, didn't require a credit check, and could be paid month-to-month. The folks on this plan had to buy equipment upfront from us so we already had their money, basically. It was NOT cheap, but not a bad solution for a camp you only use for one month a year or something.

Occasionally I'd run into people on this plan who had names that seemed like they... may not have been genuine. No idea why someone might do this, but I saw two people from Friends (coincidence?), a "Scuba Diver", and a "Florian Dugglewoof" (which, on searching, is a character from the book series Redwall). My favourite of all time was "Dixie Cupsy" because it was fun to say out loud but I suspect that one might have been real!
posted by one of these days at 6:14 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]

Also, weirdly enough, there are two Kendalls in my family. One married my mom's sister, now divorced. His daughter (my cousin) has recently adopted a child... and the child's name is also Kendall. My cousin is not always on good terms with her father so I think she's actually a bit irritated/amused by the coincidence. (To be clear, that kid is the centre of my cousin's entire world and she's a wonderful parent, this was absolutely NEVER brought up in front of the child, haha.)
posted by one of these days at 6:26 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

Like privately I wrote out "name sounds like Banana but is spelled Andrew" and then I had to remember both names when hearing her said aloud vs. seeing it written down, and I was frequently rather confused when going back and forth.

People assume this of my name, but that's because I generally go by the second word of my name (we don't really do "middle names" as the entire given name is important, but it's a close analogue), which sorta rhymes with the first word of my name. So people end up mashing them together, adding on a bit of "this must be an Exotic Name because the holder is Brown", and then go on and on about how they can't pronounce my name. You're trying to pronounce two different words at the same time!! Of course it won't work!!
posted by creatrixtiara at 11:10 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

We had a family friend universally known as Woof. Legal name Nigel.
posted by Klipspringer at 3:19 AM on May 31

My name is Sumana. I very very rarely meet another Sumana. Just a few weeks ago someone told me the name is popular in Sri Lanka (my parents are South Indian; I have never been to Sri Lanka).
posted by brainwane at 1:01 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]

In looking for a name for my sister, my parents asked a friend to come up with a list of unusual names. They chose Undine.
posted by brookeb at 10:00 PM on May 31

I knew a guy named, Holiday. When asked why, his mother said, everyone loves a holiday.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:11 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]

I knew a dog named "C'mere" once.
I don't need to elaborate on his fate.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:58 AM on June 1

In my wife's family's language, her first name is a lamentation that translates as 'O! Death, why?'. The diminutive (which she typically goes by) translates as, simply, 'Death'. People from her culture double-take when they meet her ... 'why are you called that!?'. Her gmail address is simply her first name with no adornments or numbers, and she isn't an early adopter by any means.
posted by einekleine at 9:40 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]

One of the parental figures of a close family friend has the mononym "Pyra." He often renders it "Py Ra" on forms and documents because the US is really not set up at all for mononymic (mononymal? mononymed?) people. We wound up living in the apartment under him for several years and I rode several Critical Masses with him. Great guy. Haven't seen him since her wedding.

Don't think I've met another "Pyra," mononym or no.
posted by majick at 10:41 AM on June 1

In the late 1980s I knew a waitress at the Cafe 50s named Coy. I understand it's not that unusual a name, but she's the only I've ever met.
posted by Rash at 4:53 PM on June 1

I had a distant relative called Fairy.
posted by tangerine at 6:22 PM on June 1

So many of my good ones are confidential from working with teenagers for years! One I feel ok revealing was that one girl (who is now an adult and maybe also a MeFite, who knows) told me her name meant cauliflower in Bengali and she was afraid to ask her parents why they picked that one.

Also: I had an ancestor named Fannie Van Tassel, and it's a real injustice that none of her descendents became burlesque or drag performers and got her name the attention it deserves.
posted by centrifugal at 9:49 PM on June 1 [5 favorites]

Metafilter needs to catch up.
All Nurses
posted by Ideefixe at 2:34 PM on June 2

I was just driving to pick my kids up and saw a sign along the road for a candidate for WA governor whose name is Semi Bird. I felt bad laughing but truly, the first thought that popped into my head is "wow, they're asking us to vote for candidates who aren't even all human now? What's next!"
posted by potrzebie at 4:44 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

What’s next, you ask?

I give you Rusty Grills of the Tennessee General Assembly.
posted by mochapickle at 5:40 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

My name is Schyler, which is only unusual in spelling now but I don't know any Schylers over the age of 40. I have two siblings (Tawnee and Severin) and I've never met anyone with those names...
posted by schyler523 at 11:10 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

An old friend of mine had twin boys who she named Malachi and Jarvis. When they came of age, they chose Jack and Ted.
posted by y2karl at 4:47 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Well, not necessarily Jack nor Ted but rather two common boy's names definitely not Malachi nor Jarvis.
posted by y2karl at 3:20 AM on June 7

I had a penpal called Alaune, which she told me was French for 'the front page of a book.' I thought it was a great name, and I still think it's great.

I have a cousin named after a region/country (and it's not India or China like some other Southerners her age). For over 30 years I thought it was NOT the country (think Astria instead of Austria, pronounced) but nope, it's the same as the country, just pronounced differently.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:06 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]

posted by brundlefly at 1:41 PM on June 11

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