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Post submitted and written by Tradara McLaurine.

When babies are born, parents assign them a name –sometimes two, sometimes more. The thought goes into deciding what that name could take the entire pregnancy and then some.  Our children’s names usually have very distinct and special meanings to us.  Whether they come from names in our ancestry, from our ethnic backgrounds, from favorite (real or fictional) characters, people we’ve admired, or simply because we like the sound, naming a new baby is a labor of love.  No matter if your name is common or unique, the stories behind those names are as varied as the millions of people on the planet.  

When I was born, my mom changed my name at the last minute to Tradara. Tradara combines my mother’s name (Tracey) and my father’s name (Darrin).  I love how they created my name, so my husband and I did the same thing when my daughter was born.  We combined Mark and Tradara to create Micara.  I think it’s a beautiful name, and a family tradition was carried on, which makes it even more special. 

In my book, “I Want a Nickname,” the main character, Shadaia, is frustrated that everyone mispronounces her name.  Anyone with a unique name knows how this feels!  The dread of hearing a new teacher, coach, or friend trying to decipher a distinctive name and then butchering the pronunciation sends shivers of recognition up the spine of anyone blessed with one of those formidable birth names.  Many “uniquely-named” people often seek nicknames or avoid correcting just, so the introduction process becomes less cumbersome. 

The origins of our names can make us proud of the varied cultures that we come from.   Learning the background of someone else’s name helps us connect with common threads that we all share, learn about different cultures, and appreciate the things that make us unique.

Often, our names are the first moment of pride and self-esteem. We are “known” by our names and become known as special people through this identifier.  Unique names may have their pitfalls, including pronunciation woes and a racing heart when the teacher gets to our name on the class roster, but they also have their benefits.  

For example, kids with unique names do not have to worry about adding an initial at the end of their names to distinguish them from Jack G, Jack S., or Jack W, all of whom are in the same class.  However, I’ll bet that if you ask all those Jacks about the story behind their names, there will be three different stories.

All names have special stories.  Learning these stories helps us get to know a person better as well as helps us remember their name. If you know someone with a unique name (or even more common), ask them the story behind their name.  Every story is different, and every story is unique. What’s your story?


Tradara McLaurine is a published author, business owner, and higher education professional who utilizes her experiences, skills, education, and out-of-the-box thinking to inspire others and create new opportunities. She enjoys writing children’s books and speaking about leadership. In 2017, she published Why Mommy Works and Why Daddy Works. Her third book, I Want a Nickname, released in 2022.

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