What’s in a Name?

Today I was catching up on reading some of the blogs that I follow.  This post by Leanne struck a chord, and so this post was born.

My name is Myfanwy.  It’s relatively unusual, and I’ve grown to love it.  It’s Welsh, and means ‘My fair one’ or ‘My little lovely one’.  I’ve always been called by my full name, except by my very closest family, and they are the only ones who are allowed to shorten it!

So, why did the above post have such significance?  Well, it brought back so many memories……

Let me just say that my name is easy to pronounce – it’s phonetic.  It’s easy to pronounce if you speak Welsh, that is!  It has three syllables with the emphasis on the second.  MerVANwee.  Easy!  So why is it that some adults (notice, I didn’t say ‘children’) find it difficult?

Here are just some of the pronunciations and spellings I’ve seen.

The father of my best friend at nursery school was the first person to mispronounce it!  He called me Mepanda for the whole of my childhood!  Each time he said it, he apologised for the mispronunciation

I’m often called Myfawny, or Myfnawy, or Myfwany.  A colleague of my DH used to call me Myfamily, the man over the road insists on saying Nethanwy.  Several times I have been called My-fan-why?  OK, I can see why that would be, and this is usually by a receptionist who hasn’t met me before.  Sometimes people just look and say ‘M…  M…  M… oh I can’t say that’ and move on to the next person.  The last time this happened was in the queue at the local election.  I was really angry by his dismissive approach so I retaliated.  (This is not normally in my nature).  I didn’t move on but stood and held his gaze.  He withered a little.  I said ‘Can you say Penelope?’  Surprised, he muttered ‘Yes’.  (My DH was beside me and I felt his hand on my elbow, hoping he could pass me down the line before I said anything else, after all, the line behind me was lengthening).  I responded with ‘That’s very clever.  Penelope has got 4 syllables.  My name only has 3 so even you should be able to manage that.’  I made him say it 3 times.  One of his female colleagues winked at me, and two ladies in the queue applauded.

I met my husband when we worked together.  Everyone in the office had a coffee mug with their name written on it – mine finished where it started.  As all the letters were capital letters it was impossible to tell which one was the first.  He spent the first three weeks trying to work out what my name was – eventually he plucked up the courage to ask.  I love my name, it’s been such fun.  When I was born it was expected that I would always be brought up in Wales.  It didn’t work out like that, and that was when the fun began.  There aren’t many of us out there – I’ve only met two others, and one lives around the corner!  How many Myfanwy’s do you know?  Please leave a comment below.

17 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I love the idea that your name gives you a real sense of who you are, and that you love it. My name is Penelope, I’m called Penny by everybody, Pen by my closest on occaision, which is fine. I do like the idea though, given my interest in textiles that Penelope was a weaver and to avoid being married off to someone else when Odysseus failed to return from war she said she would remarry when her weaving was finished and then spent the days weaving and the nights unpicking so that it was never finished. You’re right, people seldom have trouble pronouncing Penelope, though they sometimes rhyme it with antelope for fun.


    1. I’ve known a few Penelope’s, and most of them have been ‘Penny’. I’m not sure why I chose Penelope on that particular day, I could equally have decided to use Antigone or Montmorency! How lovely that you have a name that fits perfectly with your life. Lovely story (and rhyming for fun is allowed, but not when it’s downright rude, don’t you agree?)


  2. You are the only Myfanwy I know and I think it is a lovely name. I love the story about the mug. I get a bit annoyed when people I have only just met refer to me as Chelle, just because they hear my husband calling me that!


    1. I can understand your annoyance. Would they call you ‘darling’ just because your husband refers to you like that? It’s exactly the same, isn’t it.


  3. The only other Myfanwy I know of was he fan-name for Torchwood’s pteradactl XD It’s a lovely name and before today I woulda pronounced it My-Fan-wy-would never have thought of an r sound!

    My name was my own choice, I had it legally changed at age 21 as Carrie White was one of my big inspirations/idols growing up, like her i was bullied so she felt like a kindred spirit. Sadly, I didn’t have the cool telekinetic powers!



  4. I love your Name 🙂
    I live in Wales but have never met anyone (other than you) call Myfanwy and I love it 🙂
    My name is Chloe and when I was in school no one could say it or write it was always written as chole 😦
    now it’s one of the most popular names around, but i loved being the only Chloe at school 🙂

    I have two daughters and wanted them to have unusual names and Welsh names my youngest is Gwen we don’t have any trouble with that but my oldest is Sioni which is pronounced Shawn-nee everyone gets it wrong even living in Wales and if anyone shortens it to sawn i sulk!

    Great post x


  5. I love name stories. Your name story is fantastic. I’m sure it’s highly annoying, too, having people mispronounce your first name. I especially love how you met your husband.

    Thanks for the link love, too!


  6. I think your name is beautiful and very distinguishing. My eldest child is called louis which is pronounced louiee, its french and he so often gets called lewis. which drives me nuts. Then there are the modern louis’s that are spelt louie. which bugs me as the ‘s’ is a silent ‘s’. Then there are the kids named louis that are pronounced lewis. This is wrong also. lol. The best was once when we went to the doctors and poor little louis was greeted with ‘hello louise’.
    louis dosnt mind. Its me that gets annoyed!
    Fabulous blog again myfanwy x


  7. Love your post! You had me laughing out loud 🙂 Names and how we feel about them are fascinating aren’t they? Yours is lovely x


  8. I think Myfanwy is a lovely name too – and I simply love the song of the same name, especially when it’s sung by a Welsh male voice choir. You’re only the second person I’ve ever known with that name.

    I was christened Erikajayne – all one word – and I HATED it! As soon as I was old enough I separated it and changed it by deed poll to Erika Jayne. My family have never called me anything but EJ – eejay – while everyone else just calls me Erika. At school I was always known as Little Erika, because I was quite tiny, and my best friend’s name was Erica and she was much taller than me. My nickname at university and later at work was Erotika!


  9. Myfanwy (MerVANwee) is a beautiful name. I love it!
    My maiden name was Letourneau and no one could pronounce or spell it. When I got married to John, it didn’t get any better. My last name is Wysocki now.
    I feel your pain Myfanwy!


  10. I think Myfanwy is a lovely name. I do have trouble remembering how to spell it. I am then reminded how many people mis-spell my name as Shiela following the normal rule of spelling I before e…… I forgive them all now


  11. It’s a beautiful name, and I’m glad I now know how to pronounce it. Very, very nice blog…

    Have you ever heard someone [from Wales] named something sounding like Didaemia? I wouldn’t have a clue how to write it properly, but it sounded like that.. Dee-daimia?

    My name is my own, by choice … had it legally changed in 1998, which I’m thankful for now, considering I live in an English-speaking environment. My first name would have been constantly mispronounced, in English it’s also means a part of a ship…

    Online, people tend to refer to me as Reb, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Nothing much I can do about it anyway..


  12. Myfanwy, I’ve never, ever heard of this name before. It is beautiful! I must confess, though, that I wasn’t completely sure how to pronounce it. As I tried to work it out in my head before finishing the article, I got 2 out of three syllables right – My-FAN-wee is what I thought would be right. Still not sure how you get a “Mer” at the beginning, but then I’m not Welsh. 😉

    By son as a fairly simple name, and yet people often mispronounce it. He’s “Benton” but often people will say “Benson” and for years (especially when he was very young) he would correct anyone who did so. He has always gone by his full name, too. Peace, Linda


Comments are closed.