Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to grade schooler, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national parenting and lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Monday
Jun282010

Hello, My Name Is Emma

My name is Emma. As in number six on the most popular names of the decade and number two in Canada for 2008.


Everywhere I go I hear people calling my name and I can quite get used to it. In the playground I am yelled to get off the slide, I am constantly being asked to hold someone’s hand, to hurry up and to listen. Little girls call me over to play, and tweens want my cell phone number.


Can you tell it is hard for me to get used to having the same name as the under-12 set? (and I am a bit of a narcissist) I’m just not used to sharing my name. I grew up with people calling me Emily because they had never heard of an Emma before. I was the only Emma I knew until high school.


People always used to ask me where the name came from. If I was feeling literary I said Jane Austen' if I was feeling radical I said Emma Goldman and if they were of the older generation I told them the truth.

avengers_emma-peel-edaeb[1]I was named after Emma Peel from the Avengers. Well kind of, my mother is British and had always liked the name and when she suggested it to my dad, he said: “You mean like Emma Peel of The Avengers? That Diana Rigg is very good looking.” So Emma it was.


Now that I have a popular name I feel for people whose names were at the top of the favourites list. In our parenting circle we make fun of all the Kristis, Kristas, Kristins and Kris’ out there. I don’t know why people would name their child a name on the top ten, though sometimes you don't realize it is a popular name until too late. I can tell you it is very annoying to hear your name all the time.


My husband has a very unusual  name, and while it totally suits him, he did not like growing up with a simple name that no one can pronounce or spell. He was very insistent that we named our kids “normal” names that people had heard of.


Parents are in a tough position, it used to be that the majority of the population were named one of the top ten names but now the top ten monikers are in the minority. It’s a tough balancing act between known names that aren’t too popular and obscure names that can be tough to live with.


What did you do?


Reader Comments (30)

Having a name as common as mine, i guess i was set from the start to name my children something a little off the beaten path. I did avoid anything that sounded cartoonish or bizarre, and my eldest daughter who did get an exotic name was given a fairly normal middle name in case she decides her parents were nuts and wants to switch.

My eldest girl is Sione Lillian, Sione is from Hawaii and is apparently a boys name but i've always loved it. (Its pronounced Cee-OHn) Lillian is her great-grandmothers name.

My youngest has a more traditional name with Savanah Rose, but i still cursed her with forever correcting the spelling since i left out an "N". i wasn't trying to be difficult but i couldnt remember the spelling myself.

Each of the girls fit their names i think, and it makes me glad that they won't go through school known as Lynn Number 3.



June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
My names Selah (pronounced Sea-lah), I have yet to meet another one. I love my name now, but growing up I always hated it. No one ever pronounced it right or spelt it right. It still gets pronounced and spelt wrong, but I love it. My dad got it from the Psalms, and mum actually liked it (unlike his previous suggestions of Hrothgar, and Hygelac).I think I might go for more unusal names (at least for a first name) It must be annoying to have so many people with your name.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSelah
I grew up with an unusual first and last name and had the experience of a teacher calling me stupid because they believed I had mispelt my own name.

I tend toward normalish names for children. Not in the top ten but not unusally spelt or hard to say. Unfortunately you can never predict name crazes and the day, week, or month, you give birth can see a couple hundred other people choosing the same name.
June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKayleigh
I've always loved my name and I still do. When I was a kid I would get mad if someone called me Candy. Now I don't let it get me upset, I just politely correct them. My mom wanted something unique, but not too different. Around the time I was born (1983), some people were suggesting Alisha to be my name. Of course there were the uber popular names of the year like Jessica, Jennifer and Ashley .
July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCandice
My name is Alecia, and I definitely still have to spell it out for everyone. Though I've always liked it, I always wanted a different spelling when I was a kid. Now that I am an adult, I love the spelling and thank my mom, because I thnk it is the prettiest way to spell it. When I have kids they will definitely have very unique names, and I know they will appreciate them when the they are older. I especially love the elaborate old fashoned names.
February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlecia
My name is Marisa. Not "Marisa" which rhymes with Melissa. (All you "Marissa's" should spell it with 2 "S's.") I tell people it's like "Lisa" which they can always get right. Latin people pronounce it correctly ... I'm the youngest of five children with plain ordinary names. My mother got exotic & named me after an obscure Hungarian actress from the '40's. We named our 4 with this criteria: Easily pronounced & remembered. If they could spell it correctly, that's a bonus. Also, choose names that are obviously male or female with normal spelling. Help the kid out in school, Parent, so your child isn't constantly correcting folks! As mentioned in the article -- unfortunately, we didn't check the name lists before choosing 3 of the 4 names for our kids ... sigh. Hit no. #1 or top ten for those 3.
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarisa (Mah-REE-sah)
Hi Emma,

I'm not used to sharing my name either!! When I went to school, girls' names had at least two syllables and 7 letters: Stephanie, Jennifer, Jessica, Melissa, Michelle... I think you could probably guess my age exactly now!! :) My name seemed too short and simple in comparison.

But just when I began to like being unique, Emma becomes ridiculously popular. I wonder what started it? Rachel's baby on "Friends", or the movie of Jane Austen's book (which *is* who I'm named after) with Gwyneth Paltrow?

Like some others here I prefer names that are not common, but not too unusual either.
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
I know how you feel! My mom picked the name Emily because she really liked it. (My dad thought it was an old lady name) I ended up with one of the most common names at school, Emily Johnson. I know three others. It can be so annoying! Would it have killed my parents to come up with something original?
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
Growing up with Tracy as a name, I definitely understand what it is like to have a common name! I was always known as Tracy with a y to differentiate me from Traci with an i, ie, ee and ey lol. My mother chose Trisha for my sister (not Patricia so she was always having to correct people) When our first daughter was born we had a lot of relatives to include and I ended up naming her Emma after my great grandmother who was born in 1896. I was not paying attention to name trends but now calling out for her somewhere sure has a lot of heads turning lol
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
Emmy is my name. My mum named me Emerson actually and for the first week everyone called me Emma until she put a stop to it. It was a great name until J-Lo had her kids because my older brother is named Max so people are like "Max & Emmy" just like J-Lo. The truth is J-Lo must have copied my mum and I think she spells it Emme. She named me Emerson after her favourite M*A*S*H character, CHARLES EMERSON WINCHESTER THE 3RD. weird, huh? Anyhow we're an ecentric bunch - Max's name is actually:MAXIMILLIAN ELDRITCH VON ***** (last name)....Dad got to name him.
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkathryn radom
I being Jillian, was great. It was unqiue enought that their wasn't another 'jill' at my school until grade 8. I find people prononce it wrong all the time on the phone (Joanne, Julian) but its alright. My middle name is uber unqiue, and I love it. I got it from my grandma.

My kids are going to have one unique name, and one general name. SO they can chose what they want to us.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJillian
When my daughter was born in 1978 Biblical and "Little House on the Prairie" names were all the rage. Sarah, Rebecca, Kate, Katie, Jennifer, Jessica, Emily, Molly, also Michelle, Nicole, Stephanie, Lara, Tara,basically anything ending with "a".I named my daughter Lillian Margaret- Lillian is my great-grandmother's name and my mother's middle name. Margaret was a family name on her father's side.There were never any other Lillians in her class or in her school for that matter.Her own six girls are all named uniquely.Emmaus Lee, Mackenna Moriah, Shalysh Lian, Sequoia Willow, and Ruby Lou.
March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
my name is Abby but im from the generation where my name is not popular. and NO my name is not Abigail, yes i'm sure. i got asked that A LOT. especially if i'm sure that my name is not abigail. however i hear it a lot in walmart and at the playground now and it is on the top 10. my husband's name is Ken and he hates it. our son's names are Boston and Callahan. i'm finding a few Boston's out there but personally they're all within my extended circle so i think they stole it from me cuz their boston's are younger than mine. i want kids with easy to spell names but nice and different. have 2 girl names picked out for the future and they're different as well
May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAbbaer
I LOVE the name Emma. I think you are right in regards to "Rachel's" baby on "Friends" making it so popular. I was really ticked off when they said that name, because I knew it would explode with popularity, because people are so sheep-like.

I hope it decreases in popularity so that if I ever have a daughter, I can give her that name like I have ever since I was 14.

You are lucky you were given such a beautiful name before it became so popular.
May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
I've always loved my name...Sarah. I was named after my grandmother, but my mom was different and with my being born on the first day of summer...Well, I'm just glad not to be named after a season. I do hear my name more often on television then I do with meeting other Sarah's and then there's always the debate on the correct spelling of the name. H or no H? I say H because then my name spells Haras backwards....hey what do you expect? I was an only child with a lot of time on my hands. I think we were all lucky to escape that time period without being called Punky Brewster!
May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I love the name Emma! That was what Spike named her daughter on Degrassi Junior High way back in the day. I've only met a few Emmas in my time, and even now don't meet them as children... it's not very common here. Then, neither is my name... I was the only one in a 1200pop. high school for two years until another girl transferred from across the country. Then I finally got to understand the concept of using your last initial to identify yourself - and I truly felt bad for anyone ever named Matthew or Amanda during the late 80's. At least if someone asked "which one" about Veronica, there were only two of us! I'm sorry you've had to share your name with the new generation in such abundance. I wonder if I'll ever see the day that happens to me!
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica
I've always liked my name, Karen. Its simple and easy to spell/say in most accents. Also its never been THAT popular, or that unpopular. I know a few people here and there with the same name (and spelling) but never enough for it to be a bother. More recently though, in the advent of crazy name spelling...I've noticed people asking me "with a C or a K? An E on an I?". I only ever met one other Karen that was not spelt that way and hers was Caryn. I will be sad to lose my place as the person who never had to be asked how to spell her name :P.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKB
HI MY NAME IS LAURA!
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Try naming your kid, Wilhelmina. Not a common name and I love it.
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWilhelmina
We, actually our son named his baby sister Emma almost 14 years ago. My husband wanted to call her Evelyn and when her brother was told she was joining the family he referred to her as "Baby Sister Emma" and it stuck. I always believed he thought his Dad had said Emma not Evelyn. Quickly following Emma's arrival the Spice Girls hit the scene and Baby Spice was Emma too. On the heals of that Rachel decided to use the name that Monica liked and named her baby Emma also!! Now in the eight grade Emma shares her name with Emma T., Emma F. and even a MaryEmma! On an other note try signing Emma and Anna on christmas cards. lol
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Paul
I've got an uncommon, but simple name - Robyn. The only negative thing I can say about it is that people always ask "Robyn with a Y or an I?" (Robin with an I is the boy spelling!)

When the time came to name our daughter we just narrowly dodged a Top 10 bullet: the name we chose was Kaelin (Kay-lin) though we had been considering variations of Caitlyn. Thank goodness we went a little differently because there were 2 Caitlyns in her class last year, and there are THREE on her t-ball team!
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
oh good god, that's awful. It just screams "we wanted to name you William, but you turned out to be a girl." There's a reason it's not common!
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRaylynn
my name is also Emma, but i was born about 3 years before the trend started there's a lot of people roughly my age who have the same name as me and it gets kind of weird. i like my name, but when i meet someone with a really interesting name or one that's spelled unusually, i'll say "wow! that's a cool name. i wish mine was unique like yours." you never really do get used to hearing everyone calling your name but not actually talking to you. i've been in some pretty embarassing situations because of that before! anyways i do like my name and i think the name "Emma" is pretty and i loved the book by Jane Austen when i read it but when i have kids later on i think i'll name them something more original... maybe "Kira" for a girl. it's my best friend's name and i like it. i think it's pretty. but anyways i was surprised to find an article about my name! and i felt i should let you guys know that i agree and that you never do get used to it!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
Hi, I'm Candace. Growing up, there where only two Candace's in my town, me and an older girl. I thought it was pretty cool to have such a unique name, but now, it seems that it's not as unique as I thought. I know alot of Candace's and Candice's now. But I love my name and the spelling, I use to hate it when people gave me things with my name spelled wrong and I still do, I got everything from Candance to Canadace, to Kandis!
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercandace
Hi EmmaWell my name is Faith and i have always loved it growing up. I can't recall a time I ever wanted to change it. I also have an 8 year old daughter named Emma. I only found out how popular it was untill she was in NICU and the nurse told me." Oh we have lots of Emma's you know because of the show Friends". I swear I threw up a little. That is not why we named her Emma. Anyway she has had four friends in her class with the name Emma sice J.K. The only way they could tell them apart is by using their last initial. Emma S, Emma W, ect. My daughters grade one teacher gave her the best nick name ever. Our last name initial is M so we call our Emma Em&Em. Like the candy.
May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFaith Mauro
I love the name Emma...it's my puppies name!
May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
Selah is a very cool name, if I had gone with Biblical names with my kids I really like Tirzah, it's the name of a city in the Songs of Solomon, and if you've ever watched "Ben-Hur" that was his sister's name. It's means "pleasantness".

But my hubby and I agreed to more European names. My name is Taegen (pronounced TAY-gen, not Tee-gen, which most people do)and I wanted to give my kids something different, but beautiful. My daughters names are Elowen, Rowena and Annora. My son's name is Linden, which is a little more common, but I like the spelling better than with a "y".
May 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTaegen
Good lord, who wrote this article - an illiterate four year old? I hope this "author" is not getting paid because her writing skills leave much to be desired.
May 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterm
In 1969 I named my daughter Chantal. We lived in Toronto, Cabbagetown area. NOBODY knew how to spell it, much less pronounce it. I suppose it was very popular in France and even French Canada but not in our area. I heard it in a movie called, If A Man Answers with Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin. I ended up having to spell it the way it sounded so people would get it right. A jewellery store in my neighbourhood even stole it from me, changing the name of his store after I had gone in to buy my husband a birthstone ring for his birthday. Today, I hear her name absolutely everywhere I go. I grew up with a very foreign name, Cornalia. Hated it in the 1950's/60's Toronto area and called myself Connie. I made sure my chilren would not hate their names. Guess what? She did when she was younger but loves it now.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCeecee


Perhaps you were supposed to be Ray, but because you were a girl they called you Raylynn.
May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeatrice Ducharme

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