Sex & Health

People who dislike their given names celebrate National Joe Day

The name’s Jackson. Tonsillitis Jackson.

On Aug. 26, 1955, The Toledo Blade ran a story on poor Tonsillitis Jackson, an average Joe whose parents named him after the red-with-white-pus-spotted throat condition his mom suffered from when she gave birth.

But here’s where sh*t gets weird: Tonsillitis became Tonsillitis’ destiny. Twenty-two years later, his application to serve in the Navy nearly fell through because he had tonsillitis the day of his medical examination. Who knows what happened to his poor brother Appendicitis — I kid you not.

Poor chap.

So in a week, after Kanye West threatened to call his and Kim Kardashian’s baby North West, spare a thought for Tonsillitis and Appendicitis, because today marks National Joe Day, when people who hate their names can go by “Joe.”

Take a long, hard look at your name as you scribble it down on another bloody Scantron sheet. Research shows your name can define your life.

Step forward, Dinkey Bent, a boy studied by Boston psychiatrist William Murphy. Poor Dinkey got his nickname because his penis was bent. A keen masturbator, Dinkey was traumatized for life because his name reminded him of his hooked anatomical quirk every day.

Speaking of penises, empathize with Brooklyn Beckham, named after the city in which his famous soccer dad first successfully stuck his in Posh Spice.

Being known in the world as something you hate — or are disgusted by — is rough. Liz McInerney, a proud Irish lass, buddy on the field hockey team and magazine, newspaper and online journalism graduate student, hates how English the name “Elizabeth” sounds. Liz’s brother consoles her by calling her Elizabeth as often as possible. McInerney says her mum should have known better.

Another friend, Syracuse University alumnus Mike Gennaro, is an equal asshole to his friend Elise, whose real name is Patricia. He calls her Patty Cake.

Boys given traditionally “girly” names like Shannon, Lesley and Laryngitis (OK, just kidding on that last one) are likely to have more disciplinary problems growing up, said David Figlio of Northwestern University in Illinois in an interview with LiveScience. Boys’ bad behaviors skyrocketed in classrooms in which they shared a first name with a girl, Figlio’s research found.

Figlio also discovered that girls with masculine names are more likely to study math and sciences, whereas girls given more girly names, such as Lilly, prefer the humanities.

But gender stereotyping isn’t always accurate. Melanie Kendall, a morning reporter for FOX 31, hated her name growing up.

“I told the Santa Claus at the mall my name was Dorothy and I lived in Oz,” she said.

Names can be empowering, too.

Research found that more dentists are named Dennis than can be explained by chance. Hooray for mouth hygiene. In San Diego State University research, Jean Twenge found a strong link between liking your first name and high self-esteem.

It makes sense. Growing up, I loved my name, even if some boys in the schoolyard called me “I-own-a-penis Hollow-head.”

Today, I still get a little bit happy when I see Iona College in the news. I can only hope McInerney’s friend Luke Skywalker Ryan — his older brother was given the liberty to choose his middle name — feels the same way about “Star Wars.”

Names also have power over who we find attractive, according to the creator of Neimology Science, Sharon Lynn Wyeth, on her website. Vowel sounds in a name apparently alter communication style, which is why a Rebecca will never marry a Joe.

Even if your name is boss, celebrate National Joe Day by tipping your cap to those who hate their names and therefore have terrible lives. Here’s looking at you, Tonsillitis.

Iona Holloway is a senior magazine journalism and psychology major. What girl wouldn’t love a boyfriend named Harden Thicke? Check out, email her at and follow her on Twitter at @ionaholloway.


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