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a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger


Long roadtrips are times when I often ponder word games, puzzles, and curiosities. A recent drive to Kansas City and back (14 hours each way) gave me time to marvel about something concerning commonplace names.

What surprised me was how many of the 26 letters of the alphabet lend themselves to simultaneously beginning and ending names. If not common names, than at least familiar names. I'm talking about first (or "Christian") names.

Sure, letters like Q, X, Z, and J are not helpful here. But other letters which I first thought would be problematic proved to be quite easy. For example, K gives us the very common name KIRK. O is used with both OTTO and OTHELLO. Even C is pretty easy (CEDRIC).

Even more surprising is how difficult the letter S is to satisfy. Before looking down at my list of names, take a moment to try to think of a first name that begins and ends with the nineteenth letter of the alphabet. My answer below came from a friend over lunch after I admitted I couldn't think of one myself.

Here's my list; if you can fill in any blanks, let me know (I tried to go with as long a name as I could):

BARB (I've never actually met anyone named BELZEEBUB)
KIRK (I've seen KENDRICK as a first name as well)
Yes, I resorted to so abbreviated names, but I still think the list is pretty impressive.

-- Eric

[25 April 2006]

 Rock & Roll1
 Aye, Qs!
 This & That
 It's All Abou...1
 Non-Crashing ...
 Box Office Cu...
 All In A Row
 Chemical Symb...1
 Over 636 Pali...2
 Omino Font
 Front Hook: S1
 History of Bo...1
 Front Hook: R
 Well, Moviego...6
 Front Hook: Q
 Front Hook: P
 Front Hook: O
 Front Hook: N1
 Front Hook: M
 Front Hook: L
 Front Hook: K
 Front Hook: J1
 Front Hook: I2
 Front Hook: H4
 Front Hook: G3
 Front Hook: F
 Front Hook: E
 Front Hook: D
 Front Hook: C
 Front Hook: B1
 Front Hook: A
 Multiple Solu...1
 And The Nomin...
 I want a cut ...2
 Scrabble Play...
 The answer is...2
 Pangrams and ...
 Pangrams and ...
 Secret Weapon...
 Colorful Citi...2
 Song, Song, S...2
 Favorite Numb...3
 Periodic Tabl...1
 Body Of Music...
 Filmed In Tec...3
 Cryptic Femal...1
 Colorful Film...1
 Elemental Bod...5
 Ambigrams Rev...1
 Calculated Wo...2
 Teacher Torto...2
 True Story
 Sending My Re...
 Word Dice3
 That Does It!3
 Lexomino Puzz...
 Morse Code Pa...4
 Bringing Ingo...7
 Dot, Dot, Das...2
 Repeated lett...3
 Palindromic P...6
 Palindromic P...
 Sick Pun4
 Typesetting 2...2
 What is a "wo...
 Hollywood Nam...
 Front Hooks
 Half Price
 Through The 7...
 Bourne To Run4
 V for Very Di...
 Scrabble: Ash...
 Scrabble, red...1
 A=1, B=2, C=32
 4 Sides To Ev...4
 Periodic Tabl...2
 String of Mov...3
 Where's Winsl...4
 Standardized ...2
 Unintended Am...1
 Web Too Dah T...1
 Too clever by...4
 Another wordy...
 Beyond BOOKKE...5
 Not Positive ...11
 Scrabble Tabl...2
 Another Pan-v...1
 Not So Frugal
 Not So Funny ...1
 Memory of GAM...5
 Musical Wordp...
 Chemical Abbr...1
 Movie Rebuses7
 Television Sh...1
 Even More Het...
 More Heterogr...3
 Those crazy H...2
 Alli says, "A...
 A Puzzling St...3
 Synonymous Co...1
 Rubik Font3
 Under A Spell
 State The Rea...2
 7x7 Scrabble ...
 7x7 Scrabble ...
 Scrabble Squa...4
 Tube Maps2
 GAMES Magazin...
 Superbowl: ST...
 Letter Shifti...1
 Projects of L...
 Slices of PI,...
 Slices of PI,...
 QWERTY vs. Dv...2
 Word Chemistr...
 Pangrammic Cr...1
 Comments for ...
 Alphabet Soup4
 Book List
 Scrabble Tile...
 Letter Shifti...
 Pangrammic Cr...
 Word Searchin...1

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Comments about this article:
For F you could use "Frederick" For J " Josephene" and I am sure I have heard I and U somewhere but cannot remember

Posted by: Geek Man UNLEASHED

No, FREDERICK does not *end* with an "F", nor does JOSEPHINE *end* with a "J".

Posted by: Eric Harshbarger

S = Spartacus. Tho I don't actually know anyone name Spartacus.

Posted by: Carolyn

Would Billy Bob count for B? probably not since it's actually two words.

Posted by: Mike

Nah... I'm really looking for single word names. Good try though [grin].

Posted by: Eric

Okay. What I'm about to suggest is not a normal name. Hardly even legitimate.
Backstory: My son's name is Matthew. When anyone asked him his name (as a toddler) he would reply "Zaz-oo". This has been abbreviated to Zaz, and has become his permanent nickname.
So: Does Zaz count?

Posted by: Carolyn

You can count it for *your* personal list... but it's a bit too much of a stretch for my weblog [grin]. I'd hate to think people might start making up names just to get a mention...

Posted by: Eric Harshbarger

how about "Iggi" (that's african), or "Imani"?
DAVID should be there...


Posted by: Claudia Camarena

"Imani" I like (and have added). "Desmond" beats "David" because the former is longer in length.

Posted by: Eric


Posted by: BEX


Posted by: Andrew

Nice list.
I don't know what alphabet you're using, but in mine the twenty-first letter is U, not S.

Saturninus and Sempronius - characters in Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare;
Socrates and Sophocles - famous classical Greeks
(not sure if those four names have ever been used as first names in modern times)

Uhuru - as in Kenyan politician Uhuru Kenyatta

Posted by: Ben

Many are palindromes too ... Hannah, Viv, and Anna, Ava, Aviva, Elle, Izzi, Otto, Pip.

I haven't got any name for you missing letters though.

Posted by: Bo

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