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Subject: Re: Middle Names
Author: Cleveland Kent Evans   (Authenticated as clevelandkentevans)
Date: June 26, 2011 at 6:39:02 AM
Reply to: Middle Names by Irangemi
In English speaking countries the custom of middle names developed gradually between 1750 (when almost no one had one) and 1900 (by which time the great majority of children were given one.)

Although the majority of people in the USA don't use their middle names much in everyday life, there are a substantial minority who do. In the Southern USA, there are quite a few people, especially women, who are called by both the first and middle name together in everyday conversation. I myself have cousins who when they were younger were almost always referred to as Betty Jean and Dottie Sue.

There are also many people who use the name which is in the middle position officially on the birth certificate as their main "calling name" in everyday life. One of the reasons this happens is because in quite a few American families it is the custom for sons to be given the same first name as their fathers but to have a different middle name, which they are then called by. My niece's husband, for example, is "Thomas Brian" on his birth certificate, after his father, Thomas, but he is always called "Brian" in everyday conversation.

The percentage of Americans who use their middle names in this way is probably less now than it was in earlier generations. It seems to have been especially common for people born in the late 19th century to "go by" their middle names. Among my own grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles, born during that time period, I had relatives named Mary Frances, Flora Victoria, Grover Cleveland, Alexandria Tennant, Robert Byron, Clarence Kent, and William Harry who were always called Frances, Victoria, Cleve, Tennant (or Tennie), Byron, Kent, and Harry in everyday life. Though this isn't as common today, it still remains an option that most people in English speaking countries are aware of as a possibility if they decide they don't like their first name.

This message was edited by the author on June 26, 2011 at 6:41:28 AM

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