Essays About Names: Top 5 Examples Plus Prompts

Your name is an important part of your identity; if you are writing essays about names, you can start by reading our top essay examples and prompts.

What is a name? Our names are words or groups of words by which we humans, other living organisms, places, things, and ideas are referred to. Everything has a name, from ourselves to our pets to the neighborhoods, cities, and countries we live in. It identifies us, separates us from others, and forms a crucial piece of our identity. 

Our names are often regarded as the outermost layer of who we are, as it is how we are known and introduce ourselves. But, at the same time, our names can form the core of our being. Each of us is given a name for different reasons, and if we find those reasons to be significant, we may plan our lives in a way that lives up to our beliefs about our names. Writing an essay but need some help? Check out our guide packed full of transition words for essays.

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5 Essay Examples

1. Embracing the Mystery: The Story of My Name Series by María Schindler

“So in a way, my middle name represents safety, survival and chosen family. Now, as an adult with a chosen family of my own, I understand the importance of finding familial bonds in others who make you feel safe, who feel like home when the world is hostile. I also like that Mikkol resides between my first and last names, that act as buffers, returning the favor of protection that Mikkol provided for my mom.”

Schindler writes about the story behind her middle name, Mikkol. She was named after her mother’s best friend since middle school; Mikkol was always there for her mother when she needed it, and when things got chaotic at home, Schindler’s mother would go to Mikkol’s house for safety and comfort. Perhaps Schindler’s mother recalled these feelings when naming her daughter. Schindler is proud of her name and what it means, giving her safety and protection. 

2. What’s Your Name, Girl? by Thelma Austin

“All in all the story was able to capture many views on how the idea of names goes deeper than just the words. Our experience with interaction counts on us to remember our names and in the story it showed a dark side of human engagement where feelings aren’t mutually shared. The  author’s job was seen to be very encouraging because it contained the abilities to allow the reader to develop a position and find supporting evidence to back up claims.”

In her essay, Austin analyzes the significance of names in Maya Angelou’s short story, “What’s Your Name, Girl?” In particular, the story emphasizes how names can contribute to our personality. The story, taking place in the segregated South, sees black women’s names being changed by their white employers. Just as their rights are being taken away, so are their names. 

3. What’s in a Name? Reflections on Who We are and What We are Called by Haleema Shah

“Others may choose to make a statement by retaining the name they have grown comfortable with. After rejecting the institution of marriage for most of her life and throughout her career as a leader of the second-wave feminist movement, Gloria Steinem wed David Bale in 2000. Steinem kept her last name though, while Beyoncé, an icon of the current wave of emancipated femininity, fused her name with her husband’s, becoming a Knowles-Carter in 2008.”

Shah reflects on the importance of our names to our identities and gives several examples of celebrities who exemplify this idea, such as basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who changed his name to reflect his African heritage and culture. She also discusses activist Gloria Steinem and singer Beyoncé, whose status as feminist icons is reflected in their married names; Steinem kept her maiden name while Beyoncé fused her last name, Knowles, with that of her husband’s, becoming a Knowles-Carter. 

4. The Importance of Names by Chris Giovagnoni

“When Yudea gave birth to her daughter, “she couldn’t buy milk or vitamins to boost her daughter’s health, so her daughter got sick easily.” After enrolling in the CSP, this changed. She received nutritious food, vitamins, milk and a lot of information that supported her as a pregnant mother. She also was able to go to regular pregnancy checkups at the doctor without having to think twice about what she and her husband would have to pay. So when she gave birth to her second child, a healthy son, Yudea showed her thankfulness to God by naming her son Cisipi.”

Giovagnoni discusses the meaning and importance of names from a more religious perspective, explaining the religious reasoning behind his name, which means “Christ-bearer.” Names can tell us a lot about who we should be if that is something we desire. He also recalls a story about a mother named Yudea, who enrolled in the Compassion Survival Program and got access to food, clean water, and medical care. Her life changed dramatically for the better, so when she gave birth, she named her son Cisipi, which means “grateful to God.”

5. How I Changed My Name by Ellen Kittle

“My name has never felt like something I can shed easily, putting on a new one; not like going off to college and deciding to tell all your new friends your name is Liz rather than Beth.  Were it not for this cosmic wallop to the head, I would still be on the fence. I do know now that for me it’s the right thing; for Cam and I to share the same name.”

Kittle recalls the struggle she and her husband Cam had with cancer and the internal struggle she experienced simultaneously with changing her last name. She had always been proud of her name; she felt it was entirely hers- not her father’s or his family’s. However, after all, they had gone through, Kittle eventually decided to change her last name out of love for her husband. 

5 Writing Prompts On Essays About Names

1. The Importance of Names

Essays About Names: The importance of names
Discuss why it is essential to be thoughtful in naming and the role a name plays in our identities

Our names are important, but why exactly is this the case? Discuss why it is essential to be thoughtful in naming and the role a name plays in our identities. You can also describe what someone’s name can tell you about them. Delve into your own opinions on the importance of names to create a compelling essay for your readers.

2. The Story Behind Your Name

Everyone’s name has a meaning and backstory. Explore the reasons behind the name you were given, and explain what your name means to you. Describe how your parents decided on your name and its significance. Perhaps you are named after a loved relative, or maybe your name represents a certain personality trait. Whatever your name is, describe why it is special to you.

3. The Impact of a Name

A name has many implications; someone’s name may affect how others perceive them. For example, some names might evoke strength, power, and dominance, while others may give others a more laid-back impression. In your essay, consider the impact a name may have on how others see you- base your writings on research. You can also connect this to the importance of a name, as the impact/s you write about should be considered when giving someone a name. 

4. If You Could Change Your Name

For a fun, engaging essay, think of a name you would like to give yourself if given a chance to change it. Explain why you chose it and what significance, if any, it has to you. If you really can’t think of any name, you can write about your name and explain why you would not change it. However, go beyond simply explaining its importance and history: what makes it better than others? Discuss this fun question for an exciting essay.

5. How to Name a Child

Essays About Names: How to name a child?
Research common naming conventions, for example, naming after religious figures or relatives, and discuss each in detail

When deciding on a name for their child, parents consider many factors. Research common naming conventions, for example, naming after religious figures or relatives, and discuss each in detail. Be sure to give examples of names under each category, and explain these examples in context. If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics.

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  • Martin is an avid writer specializing in editing and proofreading. He also enjoys literary analysis and writing about food and travel.