Is it pretentious to change one's name?

I don’t mean due to adoption, marriage, or divorce–or, at least, not the accepted changes at that time. I mean changing to something completely different.

As I posted in another thread, my maiden name was often mispronounced, and required constant spelling, despite only being four freaking letters long. I changed my name when I got married, and shed the clunker of a name. I’m now divorced, and the marriage has since been annulled. I did not, however, change my last name back to my maiden name. I didn’t think about doing so at the time, largely because changing it initially was enough of a pain of the ass, and because the last name was just sort of. . .better.

I’m now in the process of filling out the paperwork for a name change. It’s going to be a pain in the ass, because I’ll have to do it as a court motion; this is the case whether I go back to my maiden name or choose something utterly different.

I want to choose something different. I thought about using my mom’s maiden name, but that’s an even worse trade than my maiden name; my mom is French-Canadian, and no one ever pronounces that name correctly, either. However, both of my grandmothers had decent maiden names; I’m thinking of using one of them. I’m also thinking of changing/adding a middle name; I sort of hate my first name, and often use an unrelated nickname. It’d be nice for it to have a tie to my actual name.

The only thing giving me pause is the pretentiousness factor, especially as I’ll likely have to explain it to friends and other relatives. Right now, the majority of those are using my maiden name; I’d have to correct them. I’d possibly have to explain it to employers, or to colleges if I go back for my master’s. So, exactly how much eyerolling do name changes cause?

I don’t think it’s pretentious unless you picked a particularly snooty name. If you were Joe Smith and now you’re D’artagnan Hercules Moneyworthy, then yes, you’ll get eyes rolled.

I have two friends, brother and sister, who changed their last name because it was their step-father’s last name and their mother had long since divorced him. The sister didn’t have a problem with it, the brother-well most men don’t change their last names completely, so for those whom he sort of knew, there was explaining to be done.

I honestly don’t see a problem with it. You’re not doing it to hide from the law or creditors, or to cover up some misdeed, so why not choose something you enjoy. If anyone asks, simply tell them you were starting over post divorce.

I legally changed my first name over 35 years ago and yes, if family eye-rolling is anything to go by, I suppose it was pretentious. I have to admit now, all these years later, that I sort of wish I hadn’t.

That said, most everyone I know now never knew me by my given name and my family has long since made peace with my chosen one. More or less.

Causing eyerolling and pretentious are not the same thing.

My parents tease me because I changed my name. Did I change it to something pretentious? Not really (my first name is not entirely obviously phonetic).

If it’ll make you happier, go for it. Why would going for a simpler name be pretentious?

Yeah, I dropped a letter or two off my first name for about 30 years. My brother was surprised last night when he realized that my gmail account actually used my whole name; he was surprised I hadn’t legally changed it. I still sign it the shortened way, but nobody notices and the social security office said it doesn’t matter, so I have it both ways.

The only time a name change ever struck me as pretentious was when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol because he got pissed at his record company and refused to continue having them issue records in his name. As soon as his contract with Warner Brothers expired, he went back to Prince.

Yeah, I always thought Chad Ochocinco was pretentious

If done for the right reasons, it’s not pretentious.

You can probably draw the line at whether you’re making the name more outlandish or lss outlandish.

I pronounced it “Prince.” Some people pronounced it “Lovesymbol,” but I was never aware of a reason to consider that anything but the spelling had changed. In any case, it clearly wasn’t unpronounceable.

The pretentious part was of those who pretended it was a big deal, that it was unpronounceable, and went on calling him various constructions of “the artist formerly known as…” years past the time when that was maybe a little bit funny, and even after the reversion.

No. It’s not pretentious. The most personal thing you have, other than your body, is your name. If you don’t like it, why should you be forced to “wear” it?

I can see how it can be inconvenient for family and friends who are accostomed to calling you one thing and now have to convert over to the new name. I have an aunt who goes by one name outside of the family (I believe it is her middle name), but everyone in the family calls her by her “old” name. I imagine she initially made a fuss about us not “switching”, but I’ve always known her as Auntie Old Name, so Auntie New Name would just seem weird to me.

Sometimes I wish I could change my name. My name isn’t bad, but it doesn’t completely suit me, IMHO. However, I wouldn’t change it unless I was moving to another place, where I would be meeting new people. Also, I wouldn’t try to make my family members switch. I’d just let them know that I was going by another name and they can choose to use it or not, no big deal.

I’m reminded of that short story by Alice Walker called “Everyday Use”. That would be an example of a pretentious name-change, but also one that I can sympathize with.

I might roll my eyes if someone changed their last name to “Rayvynsbloodde” or something contrived like that. Even though it’s none of my business, of course.

Otherwise, no, I probably wouldn’t think it was pretentious.

It happens a lot. Immigrants do it. Many people alter the spelling of their name, or adopt a nickname or variation. Many professionals change their name for various reasons. I don’t think people care that much unless the name sounds intentionally made up for effect.

That’s not pretentious, that’s marketing. Ochocinco turned his name changing stunt into millions of dollars in endorsements, etc.

If you’re not a celebrity, changing your name for reasons other than marriage, witness protection, or fleeing a stalker is pretentious.

I haven’t legally changed my name, but everyone I know (apart from my family) calls me by the first name I’ve chosen, not the one I was given. My grandfather changed the spelling of his surname when he arrived in this country from Ireland, for reasons which are… not absolutely clear. It just misses out one letter. Interestingly (to me!) I have always spelled my surname the old way in my signature, just because that was how it flowed, not on purpose - even years before I knew the spelling had been changed.

And you’ll have to keep on correcting them until either you or they die - I have relatives who, for over 20 years, will not do me the courtesy of calling me by my legal name. They insist on calling me by a name I have never owned that they say I “should” have changed my name to. Some people will not accommodate you on this and fail to understand how rude their behavior is.

So don’t let their conduct sway you - you won’t make them happy regardless of what they do, so make yourself happy.

Colleges won’t care.

Employers - depends. Some will, some won’t, although officially NONE will admit it can color their view of you. But then, there are employers who won’t like you because race, gender, age, ethnicity, skin color, etc. regardless of whether it’s legal or not. So do what makes you happy and deal with it.

MOST people, if you tell them “I’m divorced and didn’t want my ex’s name anymore” will be satisfied.

When he was in his twenties, my dad changed his last name (which was obviously Jewish) to protect himself from anti-Semites. (This did not occur in the United States, by the way.)

I’m not sure how to call it, but “pretentious” doesn’t come to mind.

This. It’s whether or not the name is pretentious that determines if changing your name is pretentious, not just the change itself. I recall reading a news story years ago about some loon who had his name legally changed to “Lord Lightning Thunderbolt”; now that’s pretentious.

May I ask your surname? You can pm me if you want to preserve your anonymity.

Was your grandfather fully literate? Family names are funny, mine lost a letter then regained it in the '50s when my dad did a bit of research. In an old early 1800’s graveyard I’ve seen the name spelled 3 maybe even 4 different ways even though I’m fairly sure all the people buried therein are from the same extended family.

I legally changed my name, but later changed it back. My father is a questionably moral business person in California, and our family name is unusual. I did not like being tied to my father’s greed as a “Jr.”

I changed my name to “Chris Bradford.” I chose the last name from an old TV show about a happy American family, “Eight is Enough.” A shrink would tell you I wanted to associate myself with a family that had real values and pulled together. The shrink would be correct.

I used “Chris” because it is my real first name. I had been warned that changing the first name is difficult to get used to when it is called. I did not want someone calling me, and not respond.

After a couple years, (and my father getting the message that it was a direct insult to him) I began using my middle name and dropped the “Jr.” I would advise anyone to avoid naming a child with “Jr.” The problems with credit and business should be enough, but growing up in the shadow of someone else, not so good. Do not create a cloud give a child freedom to grow into themselves.