RE English Names

This website's Main Pages (click to go there)   Home 主页    Current Update 当前更新    Resources 学习资源    Photos 影集 

  Links 友情链接    Things We've Written 我的文集   Special Features 本站特色    Site Map 本站导航    Real World 英语写作 

I've stopped updating this website, though it's pages will remain for a while. See "current update" for details.

Visit instead: and

Things we have written (click "up" for our article index)

Sister-pages:   Home Up Poem: Reminiscence Poem: Perspectives Poems: Happiness What are Grades? How to Conquer Fear RE English Names Sexist Language Come Work Abroad! Iran-US-China Co-op? Shanghai Flood Slow Crate to China Loco-Travel in China Lessons from a Puppy Mindyburg Park I Believe in Five Trip: Ning Xia Province Trip: Israel & Turkey Finding Christmas Dawn Treader-get to? The Passion of Christ Easter for Kids All Your Mind&Strength Witchcraft's New Face Hugging Paper Towels Treasure in Clay Pots When He Calls Again How to Pray Not What I Expected 1st Century Church Church Community A Mary Christmas What is the Gospel? Live & Give Thanks Giving Thanks When Bad Times Come When Terror Hits Home Rise & Reward Worship is Weird Creativity: It is Good Authentic Identity Authentic Perseverance

(▲ Links to the pages at the same level as this page. If you can't see the label, put your mouse over a button and look at the bottom of your browser.)

Thoughts on Choosing an English Name

©Michael Krigline, MA (2007)

Chinese names mean something. Your parents probably chose your name because they liked the meaning, and liked the way it sounded. In most cases, every Chinese person can look at your name and know the meaning.

English names are different. Parents may look up a name’s “meaning” or origin, but they really choose a name to honor someone in the family (e.g., when they give their child the name of a father or grandfather), or simply because they like the way the name sounds. Many Americans know what their own name means, but almost no one knows what someone else’s name means.

There is a large list of names in America. Since people have come from many different countries, some American names originate in England, France, Africa, Ireland, India, etc. Many people also have “Hebrew” or “Greek” names because those are names used in the Bible. My name, and my son’s name, are Biblical names.

As a Chinese college student, studying English, it is a good idea to have an English name. While you are a student, you can choose any name you want. I have had students who had “cute” or even “stupid” names. When I called on that student’s name, people would laugh. For example, I had a student named Dragon, another named “Go-stop” and another named Attention. In one class, I had students who called themselves Coca-cola, Cookie, Apple, and Banana! Just thinking about these students makes me hungry! I have also had students who changed their English names every month or two. This is very inconvenient for your western friends or business contacts. 

While you can choose any name you want, I encourage you to choose a name that a western person would recognize as an English name, and then keep that name for a long time. That way you will get used to using this name, which someday will be useful when using English for international communication. Think about how comfortable a foreign professional or businessperson would be when using your name.

Just imagine…

Secretary:    Hello?

Mr. Smith:    Yes, I’m Mr. Smith, calling from America. I am interested in purchasing clothing from your company in China, and I have received a letter from one of your representatives. Can I speak to her please?

Secretary:    Certainly, we would be glad to help you. What is the agent’s name.

Mr. Smith:    Banana

Secretary:    I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

Mr. Smith:    Her name is Banana; Banana Wang

Secretary:    Oh, I’m sorry; I am not familiar with everyone’s English name. Hold on just a minute.

         (LOUDLY to the “office” or classroom) Do we have any “Bananas” here?

Colleagues:  Here’s a banana! 


Of course, this is meant to be humorous, but I have a hard time imagining a company who would hire a representative (or doctor) named “Banana.” It could just lead to too much embarrassment.

To help you find a suitable name, there is a link on my website ( or Go to the “Resources” page and look for “Links for Learners”; there you will find a list of helpful links for students. One says something about helping you find an English name (at or something like that). Follow the link, and you can choose to look up names according to their meaning, or names that start with a particular letter. Once you choose two or three names you like, come talk to me and I can tell you how common each name is.

When “Attention” decided he wanted a better name, here are some of the choices the link gave him for the idea of “being at attention.”

  ■ Gregory: Watchful/vigilant; Greek origin; a relatively common name (in America)

  ■ Kirkan: Watchful/vigilant; Armenian origin; a very rare name (in America), but Kirk is the name of a famous TV character.

  ■ Greer: Watchful/guardian; Celtic origin; a somewhat common name 

In closing, if you have an “English” name that is based on your favorite food, or based on the meaning of your real name, or is in any way “unusual” as an English name, you have the right to keep this name. I will try to call you “Banana” if you want me to. I would also be happy to simply use your Chinese name, if I can pronounce it. But as a part of your English studies, I encourage you to find an interesting and suitable English name that you can use for years to come.



Click this link to get yourself an English name (when you get to, look for "search baby names" or try this link; the last time I visited, you didn't have to register to use the site). You can change the box after "search" from "this name" to "this meaning," and type in the meaning you want your name to have. You can also "search" for a name that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet. If you have a foreign teacher or friend, show him/her your list of four or five favorite names (from the results you get at and ask for help in making a final selection.

This resource was created under my understanding of "fair use" for educational resources.  

© 2007 Michael Krigline, all rights reserved. As far as I am concerned, people are allowed to print/copy it for personal or classroom use.

 (see Website Standards and Use Policy)

Click in the boxes below to go to some of our most popular pages. If you get lost, just click "Home."

(There is a "search" box on the home page)


Site map (To search within any page, type "ctrl + f")

Current Update

& how to contact us

Resources  for students & teachers

Links for English Learners

EFL Movie Study Guides

Better Writing Study Guide

Our Students photos

Photo Index

South Carolina & USA photos

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Favorite Links

Things We've Written (articles)

Introduction to China

Life in China photos

Music Page & mp3 downloads

Archive Index

Real World Writing (my textbook)

See our Policy regarding the use of materials available at or