Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#NameCollecting - You Know My Name

When commenting on unusual names, it's probably a good idea to state the obvious: I'm not making fun of them.  I like unusual names. Even outside the context of family history, I've always found them to be fun and interesting.

Take my name: Tad.

I'm in my forties, now, so I think I have heard every possible permutation of "tadpole" joke, and have enjoyed being on the short end of "just a tad" remarks both flattering and not. I've also run across my share of fellow Tads, so I know us to be rare, but not completely unheard of. And, obviously, we are generally seen (according to the Namipedia survey results) as "Smart, sexy, friendly, creative, strong, young, and sophisticated."

Statistically, according to the Baby Name Voyager, we peaked in the 1960s, when there were about 48 babies per million named Tad. I found it interesting that my own sister's name showed up (with the correct spelling, even!) in the name cloud of "commonly associated siblings" on that page!

So what does the name "Tad" mean, and where does it come from?  I don't know. Aside from references to Abraham Lincoln's son, whose given name was actually Thomas, we don't seem to have a reliable origin story. It could simply be that it started out life as a nickname, as with the Lincolns, and then came into more legitimate use because people liked the sound of it.

...otherwise, I might have been "Prissy".
That seems to be how I ended up with it.  According to a reliable source (thanks, Mom!), I was originally supposed to be "Priscilla Jane".  I dodged that particular name bullet by emerging with an unexpected ...ahem... extra bit. 

As the story goes, my mother and father were in the delivery room, trying to come up with a name for a little boy, and wouldn't you know the family history played a role in what they came up with?

My grandfather's name was Robert T Callin. When he joined the Army, he filled out all of his induction paperwork with what he thought was his full name: Robert Theodore Callin. He went through the war, married grandma, and enrolled in college under that name - and only found out he was wrong when my dad was born, and he told grandma Bertha that they planned to name him "Robert Theodore, Jr."

"But, Bobby," she said, "Your name isn't 'Theodore'. It's just 'T', like 'Harry S Truman.'"

So they took that information in stride, and since they planned on calling him "Teddy" anyway, they ditched the "Theodore" and just named him "Robert Ted."

Apparently, my own parents were inspired by this story, and since they didn't want a "junior", they just changed one letter - thus, a Tad was born.  I've never had any cause to complain, and obviously, I love having yet another story to tell (and re-tell).

Mom and dad were a little more prepared when my sister came along - she would have been "Andrew Patrick", which is a far better fate than I would have suffered.  (They named our poodle "Priscilla" in the 1980s, so at least it didn't go to waste.)

And when I nervously informed everyone that we had selected the name Séamus for our eldest son, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, good! We were afraid you were going to call him 'Robert Tud'!"

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