We’ll leave it up to the jury to decide whether “Kris Duggan” counts as a common name. In its ancestral Ireland, that may be the case, but K. Duggan isn’t among the world’s most common first-last name combinations.
That’s okay. Fellow Kris Duggans are in good company, and plenty of it. They don’t need a surfeit of hangers-on.
Likelier than not, we’ve welcomed readers with names more common than Kris Duggan. Perhaps you’re among them. According to a 2014 study by Ancestry.com, the 10 most common name combinations in the United States featured just a handful of surnames. In order of popularity, they were:
- James Smith
- Michael Smith
- Robert Smith
- Maria Garcia
- David Smith
- Maria Rodriguez
- Mary Smith
- Maria Hernandez
- Maria Martinez
- James Johnson
It’s no surprise that “Smith” and “Rodriguez” are among the most common last names in the United States, nor that “James” and “Maria” are among the most common first.
In other parts of the world, and in other times, the mix varies. Variations on “Mohammed” almost certainly comprise the most common male first name on the planet; “Fatima” is a very common female name.
So, whether your name is James Smith or Maria Martinez or Fatima Hassan, you know better than any Kris Duggan what it’s like to exist in a very large cohort of identically named individuals.
It follows that you know how to stand out from that crowd — if that’s your preference. You’ve probably tried out one or two of these strategies:
- Make a Subtle Change to the Name’s Spelling or Pronunciation: Change a letter, change the meaning. That’s the hope, anyway. Whether it works out that way is anyone’s guess. But going from “John” to “Johnny” is a start.
- Go By a Less Common Middle Name: Your middle name most likely isn’t as common as your first. Adopt it as your “given” name and see how things feel. This is an especially potent tactic for those with “family” middle names borrowed from obscure, long-dead relatives with obscure, long-dead names.
- Adopt a Nickname: It works for athletes and media personalities. Why wouldn’t it work for you, whoever you happen to be? Just make sure it’s a nickname that’s utterable in polite company.
- Use Your Middle Initial (Or Two, If You’re So Fortunate): “Mary H. Johnson” is better than “Mary Johnson,” and “Mary H. T. Johnson” is better than both.
- Add a Suffix: Are you a “junior”? A “the third?” Insufferable as it may appear at first, you know what you must do to distinguish yourself once and for all.
What’s In a Name, Anyway?
These strategies could distinguish you from all the other Maria Garcias or James Johnsons in the world. But you don’t need them to distinguish your identity from theirs.
To put it another way, you must never forget that you’re a unique individual, quite unlike anyone else who’s ever lived or ever will. Your name is just that — a name. It’s what you do that matters most.
Do you have a plain vanilla name? Or is your moniker more memorable than your neighbor’s?