The power of names and how I got mine

How you were named is always an interesting story

My name is Debbie and I can almost guarantee that if your name is also Debbie,  that you are roughly my age.

How do I know this?

Well Debbie was a very popular name in the late 50s, early 60s. In my small town alone there are approximately 8 other Debbies and we are all of a similar age, give or take a year or two.

I went to school with at least 6 other Debbies and I can only blame Debbie Reynolds for this.  I’d like to blame Debbie Harry as well but I know for a fact that I was named after Debbie Reynolds.

Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds

Why I was named Debbie

When I turned 40, my father rang to tell me how I got my name. I’d heard bits of the story over the years but Dad decided I was old enough 🙂 now to hear it all.

The short version is that my father was away at sea in the Navy when I was due to arrive into the world and he was watching the movie Tammy, featuring Debbie Reynolds, on board one night.  He was so taken with the beauty of Debbie Reynolds that when he next wrote to my mother he decided that my name would be Deborah (Debbie) if I was born a girl.

In my father’s words from his book Naval Gazing 1957-1978: Once again we had Christmas in Hong Kong and this time I was given the good news that I was the father of a beautiful baby girl, who had been born in Murwillumbah in mid-December 1960.  I had just come back from seeing the movie ‘Tammy’ starring Debbie Reynolds and when asked what my choice of name for the baby was, I immediately said Debbie.

Obviously I was a girl and so I was named Deborah which was soon shortened to Debbie and shortened again to Deb, but only for very special friends. This is something I’m quite strict with – only really good friends can call me Deb. My daughters and other friends have called me Debs for quite some time now, so when I started blogging it seemed like a good idea to call my blog Deb’s World.

It’s interesting to note that my father was informed of my arrival by a telegram as he was still at sea and he didn’t get to meet me until I was over 4 months old. He didn’t get to actually ‘speak’ to mum during all this time and all their correspondence was by letter.  Haven’t times changed?

One nickname I had when I was younger was Spud – let me explain. Deb is a brand of instant potato and spud is another name for potato, so it seemed only logical for some friends to call me Spud! Get it?

I like my name despite it being so popular at the time but seemingly it’s quite dated now.  As I get older I actually like Deborah more than I did when I was younger.  It has a certain elegant ring to it.

I’d love to hear how you got your name!

Debbie xx

UPDATE 2 September 2018: Sadly my father passed away in January 2018 and for this first Father’s Day without him, I thought I’d update and share this story of how he gave me my name.

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34 Replies to “The power of names and how I got mine”

  1. Unlike you, Debbie, I didn’t write about my first name but my last name. Deborah is a beautiful name. Spud, I guess, is fun but I’m not a big fan of nicknames. Good luck with your new blog.


    1. Thanks Evelyne for your comment and good wishes. I really enjoyed your story on this challenge. We all have a story to shar, don’t we?
      I don’t like nicknames much either and was glad when spud didn’t gain much popularity from my friends. I look forward to reading more of your work.


  2. I know this is a huge generalisation but all the Debbie’s I know are terrific women, and have been great pals! Never met a Debbie I didn’t get on with. Glad that you enjoy your name.


  3. You’re so right! .. we are dated by our names 🙂
    I went to school with 2 Debbie’s (that I remember) in the 60s which makes us about the same age.

    I wasn’t sure about my name … I always assumed I was named for my Dutch mother “Johanna”, but she was known by only 1 name *Jopie*. In fact it is the only name on her grave.
    After my mom passed away, I learned that my maternal great-grandmother’s name was also *Johanna* so I feel rather privileged to carry this name ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a lovely story Joanne, thanks for sharing it. You are privileged indeed. I was so pleased my father told me the story of my naming on my 40th birthday – how lucky are we??


      1. Very lucky indeed.
        For most of my life I’ve hated my name, but a few year’s ago I tried that exercise of creating an alternative identity (don’t ask – it made sense at the time).
        I couldn’t come up with an alias that felt ‘right’. So *Joanne* it is and always will be 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. In our Sikh culture, when a baby is born, the parents go to the gurdwara temple and the priest does a prayer before opening the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book, at a random page. The first letter of the word on that page is given then for the parents to choose a name.
    My parents had decided what they wanted to call their child. A name ready for boy or girl. But the rest of the family were adamant they couldn’t choose their own name. They had to go to the temple.
    So off went my Pops and aunt to do the necessary.
    As luck, and fate, would have it, R was the letter!
    He immediately announced to bless the name Ratinder (my full name) and Ritu for short!
    It’s a good thing my aunt was there or no one would have believed my Pops, that the right letter came out!
    So I was destined to be Ritu!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thinking of you and your family on a tough Father’s Day hon xx Beautiful story though – names are an everlasting gift from your parents aren’t they? And they definitely shape who we are – I cringe if people call me Emma because in my head Emma is a completely different person. I’m an Emmalene (after the Hot Chocolate song) or Em – nothing in between 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a lovely post for Fathers Day, Debbie. I have a similar experience to you in that I could guarantee if you meet a Jennifer, she would mos probably be my age. So many of my friends were also named Jennifer. I was named after Jennifer Jones, the movie star, who was very popular on the 1950s.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a really interesting post, I think its lovely when how you were named has a story behind it! Enjoyed reading about yours and the little bit of nostalgia to the past too! I was named after Anna Karenina (not sure if that’s good or bad) but I am romantic soul and love historical stuff so guess it fits! My nickname is ‘Butterfly’ which my mum started calling me when I was hospitalised with Leukaemia because of my lifelong obsession with them… it fits in many ways too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lorna, that’s so sweet of you to say. My dad actually wrote his diary out and my sister had it published for us all. It was a great read of his time in the Navy with snippets of family life thrown in. All the grandchildren received a copy of his book at his funeral and they treasure this memento of his wonderful life.


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