I have gone by a lot of different names in life. For starters, I have a first name and a middle name that each have about a million possible nicknames. I could have grown up a Kathy, Katie, Kath, Betsy, Liz, Beth, Liza, or even Libby (no thanks to that one). As a kid, though, I didn’t think any of those were good enough for me, so my parents came up with a new nickname. Many of you who know me in person will be surprised to learn that until maybe kindergarten or first grade I went by the nickname Keli (K from my first name, -eli from my middle name). It’s funny how that doesn’t even sound like me now. It even felt weird to type it.

In French class I was a Katherine and in German class a Katrin; in Russian I was Yekaterina in formal situations and Katya otherwise. I’ve also gone by Kat among friends, Katra among certain friends and on the internet, and some people also call me Kathy — that last one is my least favorite nickname possibility, but at my current job I have a colleague who thinks it is my name. In her defense, she is Russian and nicknaming is a larger cultural issue there. She is probably trying to express familiarity and friendship by calling me Kathy instead of my full first name, which is how she knows me and which probably sounds overly formal to her ears. She’s too nice and adorable for me to bother correcting her.

You know what, though? Only on the internet do I go by Kate. Weird, right? No one calls me that in person at all. I chose it for the blog mainly because I didn’t want to put my full name here for googlers to find. I don’t mind if you all know my full name, but I don’t want people who don’t already read this blog finding it by chance (or by stalking). It’s not that I am embarrassed or secretive about anything I write here, but, you know. I would prefer for googlers to find my professional website and not a blog where I write about my cute dog and my race training and how much I love John Cusack and roasted vegetables.

At any rate, in person, I am most likely to be called my full first name (most common), or my initials (which are KO and are thus the baddest-ass initials a person can probably have, right? I sign emails this way and it has become a nickname from either that or my former carreer as a champion boxer), or Kat (mostly by a select few long-time friends — no one I have met in recent years has called me this). Then of course there is the professional name issue: I prefer to go by Dr. Lastname among students, but there will always be a wayward few who insist on calling me Ms. Lastname or — worst of all possibilities — Mrs. Lastname. Sigh.

Some of you may even have first known me by my original, completely anonymous blogging alias from back in the day when I was certain I wanted no one to find my blog or be able to identify me through what I wrote at all. I’m glad I have shifted over to a mostly non-anonymous way of writing, though — I like being able to write about my town and my school and such without having to worry about revealing too much. And I am free to tell you all of my many nicknames!

So is it weird that my blog name is a nickname I have never used? And do you go by a nickname? Care to share?


  1. Posts like this are my favorite. Mostly because I love! talking about monikers, nick-names or otherwise.

    “KO” is amazing, and I verily love “Katya” too, which is altogether not surprising being that I love most things (and names) Russian.

    My name is short enough that there aren’t too many things to do with it, but I have people (like my sister) who really only call me “Kerr.” And some friends that still always call me “Kerr-bear,” and a lot of time people call me “Kerri Anne” or “K.” I love all variations of my name, really. I especially love my middle name being used as an extension of my first name, which is how my name appears 9 times out of 10 online.


    1. That is so weird. I replied to your comment here the other day and now the reply is gone — gah. Anyway, I was saying that I always think of you as KerriAnne, alloneword. I also then always think of the song “Hey, Carrie Anne” by the Hollies. I bet people sing that to you all the time.


  2. Well my last name is Woodcock so you can bet there are numerous unsavory nicknames that I have endured over the years. The fact that my parents named me Holly is just kind of silly on their part because it meant that if people weren’t using some sort of male anatomy joke they were calling me Hollywood, which frankly helped with my blog name also, so hey, whatevs!

    Holly in itself does not have a lot of great nicknames but Garrett calls me Holls, which actually was a name a lot of people called me growing up and I hated it, but now when he says it I like it better. It’s all in the delivery. 😉 But then for some reason people then call me Holls Balls, which really? I mean REALLY? And then there are those who call me Holls Of Medicine, like those dumb cough drop adds from the 80s.

    Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much to say on this topic. 😉


  3. Ooh, good post!

    My full name is Christine, but no one calls me that. At home (and by “home,” I mean New York) just about everyone calls me Chris. I never told people to call me that – they just did it on their own. Maybe it’s a Northern thing, because no one in Texas calls me Chris. Here, I introduce myself as Chrissy, people call me Chrissy, end of story. Professionally I use Christine (in work emails and for publications) because it sounds more grown up to me.

    Even though I call myself Chrissy and blog as Chrissy, I sort of hate the name. It makes me think of a ditzy cheerleader. Alas, my dad had a crush on Suzanne Somers when she was on Three’s Company and Chrissy I am.


  4. I go by Jennie with most people (originally spelled Jenny but I decided to change it to Jennie in 4th grade…something to do with there being like four other Jennifers in the class and they were all Jenny and I wanted to be different). Only people who don’t know me well ever call me Jennifer. I tried to go by Jen for a while but it never took.

    I am also called about a million variations of my last name, mostly by college friends, because there were so many Jennifers at the time that we all just went by our last names.


  5. Another Christine – Up until Grade 7/8, everyone called me Christine (and those friends still do). Then it gradually became Chris because a math teacher started it. My mother-in-law tried Chrissy, but no..not going to doesn’t suit me. My family calls me Chris and so do most of my current friends/colleagues. Undergrads call me Dr. Lastname, the grad students either go for Chris or just Lastname – I’m completely fine with this – lots of my grad school friends call me that. I know some think it’s disrespectful, but in my field it is common. There are some of my current colleagues that insist on calling me by full first name, which just is grating to me somehow, especially when they know that I prefer Chris, even when I end my emails with Chris – they reply using my full name. I don’t know why it bothers me, but just call me what I want to be called. It’s not that hard, one less syllable!


    1. Oh, I hate it when people won’t get the clue on what to call you! I often take care to sign my emails by what I want to be called in cases where I think the other person isn’t sure. But sometimes they just don’t get it or aren’t paying attention — annoying! And look, we have another Christine/Chris!


  6. I love KO too! That is awesome.

    I once got an e-mail from a student who goes to my alma mater. The student called me “Mrs. Meissner,” which infuriated me. I can’t remember if I had finished my doctorate yet, but never mind: I will NEVER, EVER be a Mrs. Ever! And “Mrs.” means “wife of,” so I will certainly not be wife of someone with my own last name. Geez o peez.

    Clearly, that student should have stuck with Ms. 🙂 Sorry to get all ranty on you! But I thought you might appreciate the story.


    1. Oh I am right there with you! Calling me “Mrs. O.” Just makes it sound like I am married — to one of my male relatives!! YIKES!


  7. With a name like jairus, most people mis-spell it to begin with (and my last name too), so I generally prefer to shorten it. j, jai, jair are the most common; the shorter the nickname the more recent. j usually ends up as jay, which I don’t like but tolerate for the sake of strange coffee/juice places that demand to know your name and pretend they know you well (I also don’t like having capitals for my name/nickname).

    KO is definitely one of the best combinations for initials, but I still have trouble thinking of you by any other name apart from your old blog! That was a pretty awesome name though.


  8. See…here’s the thing, when you don’t have a name that can be nicknamed, you make them up anyway. So…Claire lends to no natural nicknames, but I had them: Claire-bear by family, which I had to FIGHT to make them stop calling me. It finally worked. Then: Clay, a few peeps in school, and more often, CB, which are also my initials first & middle, of course.
    More often than not, my name actually got LENGTHENED. Go figure. There are people who have called me: Clarissa, Clarabelle, Clarabella, & Clarence. Two of the best names that two good old friends called me (and still do, when I see them) are Clar (like it sounds) and Bella (from Clarabella). Fun times.
    I have contributed to several of the nicknames listed above, but you will never be a Kathy. Ha.


    1. It’s true, you have a lengthenable name but not really a shortenable name. And I never call you by any nicknames except online of course! I am glad I will never be a Kathy. For some reason I just hate that one.


  9. I first started online as just K (and still use it a lot of the time as seen here). My name is Kandi and since it already pretty much is a nickname it rarely got shortened. However, my family often call me Kan. My mom’s best friend’s mother (is that too complex?) couldn’t remember my name so she often got confused and called me Cookie… my mom’s best friend still calls me that. And a few times I’ve been called Katie because people don’t understand my name or remember it perhaps?
    When I was in high school, my friends and I added the suffix “wa” to all of our names for some unknown reason so to my best friends I was Kanwa.


    1. I kind of think the Cookie one is pretty funny. Like your -wa suffix, I don’t really know how I got the -ra suffix and became Katra. Weird how those things develop.


  10. I was confused about what to call you. I was introduced to you by your full first name, but yes your twitter and web stuff had Kate. In my brain you are almost my like 2 people. Real life full name, interwebs Kate or Kateo. I also sign emails JJ – not as cool as KO. I do take “Jenniac” or “JJenniac” as my online alterego – mainly because it was one of my original and most commonly used AIM screennames. Which hails from my dad’s singing she’s a “Jenniac” instead of “Maniac” to me when I was little. Since there are so mnay Jenn’s in people’s phones a lot of my friends in college would put me in their phones as Jenniac and it really stuck!


    1. Yes! Web vs “real” identities are sometimes confusing. I always find it weird when a blogger goes by a name that doesn’t SEEM like an online alias at all but it turns out to be, like for example “Jane” online and, say, “Mary” in real life. Confusing. I think Jenniac is a great nickname!


  11. In high school, a lot of people called me Parker, because there were a TON of Katies (and Katie is my full first name, not Katherine). Sometimes people still call me that, but mostly it’s just Katie. Oh, and a few select people at work call me Parkypoo…


    1. Oh, I always assumed you had a longer first name like Katherine/Kathleen/Kaitlin, since I don’t think I know any other Katies who have it as their full name. That’s pretty cool.


  12. My real name is John – just John – though everyone calls me “Johnny”, I don’t really know why.

    I was “Geeker” for a large part of my university residence time, but that was (thankfully) rather short-lived.

    Now in Europe if it’s not “Johnny” it’s “The Canadian” which comes across as rather distant.


    1. Yeah, “The Canadian” seems like that weird thing Europeans do with foreigners (i.e. keep them foreign). But Johnny sounds kinda rock ‘n’ roll.


  13. Whenever we here in Harlotville speak of you, you are referred to as Vague. We find it hard to come at this newfangled “Kate” business, though it seems to work ok (OK! KO!) in most other domains.

    Also, whenever I see kateo, I think of Cato, of Roman consular fame.


    1. I think of Kato Kaelin, made famous by the OJ Simpson trial. Ugh! It is nice that my old alias lives on in certain (fancy) circles!


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