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“Tell Me Your Name Without Telling Me Your Name”

April 27, 2021 laurawattenberg 39 Comments

“Tell Me Your Name Without Telling Me Your Name”

April 27, 2021 LauraWattenberg 39 Comments
Namerology Challenges

A social media craze is taking on names. And, my fellow name enthusiasts, I think we can do it better.

The game is called a #TellMeChallenge, or “tell me without telling me.” The goal is to convey a piece of information in a sideways manner, with a reference that makes people laugh in recognition. I’ve seen creative responses to challenges like “Tell me you’re from the Midwest without telling me you’re from the Midwest” (“We’ll just drive there, it’s only 15 hours!”) and “Tell me you’re the youngest child in your family” (image of a baby photo album with only a single photo in it).

When I saw a “tell me your name” challenge, I couldn’t click fast enough. But few of the responses did names justice. Most were essentially rebuses to sound out. For instance, I saw three different videos of men pointing to a toe, then a knee, and two of women flipping a page of paper. Others were even more literal, such as an image of some amber. It was like a game of TikTok charades, with nothing specific to the experience and power of names.

But then there was this response: “I had to change my first name over to my middle name because a terrorist organization hijacked it.” And one young woman used the opportunity to share more about her name experience. Here’s her original video, but be warned that the TikTok user name gives away the answer. You might want to read her description below first to take on the challenge:

I am NOT

I am NOT

I am NOT

My name is French/Slavic and there are 2 ways to pronounce it.
You can say NAY/NEIGH (Like a Horse)
Or NUH/NAH (Like Nu Uh)

My name is historically a unisex name – it’s 6 letters, 3 Vowels and 2 consonants. And I will never find my name on a keychain in a gas station or at Disney.

Everyone I have met with my name (2 people) have the middle name Louise.

By the standards of the challenge, her response is elaborate. Yet in reality, every name has a story like this: part personal and part universal, a link to everyone who shares the name. A story that shows off what makes names so richly individual. So, how about it? Care to tell us your name without telling us your name?


Namerology founder and "Baby Name Wizard" author Laura Wattenberg is a globally recognized name expert, known for her scientific approach to understanding name trends and culture.

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  • Mynameis April 27, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    When people yell my name the neighborhood labradors all come running, and when I introduce myself I hear “____, I’M HOME!” or a song about a gemstone.

    • Penguinmom April 28, 2021 at 4:17 pm

      Nice! Took me a second to get the gemstone one, despite being obsessed with The Beatles for most of my teenage years. I also thought of a Chuck Berry song, though that’s only if your name isn’t a nickname.

  • Penguinmom April 28, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t have brothers named Moshe and Aharon.

    • RedheadMom May 3, 2021 at 12:46 pm


      • RedheadMom May 3, 2021 at 12:46 pm

        Oh wait, Miriam!

  • SisterJudy April 28, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    When my son was small, people would say, “Hello, little boy. What’s your name?”. He would tell them, and then they would say, “Yes, hello, but what’s your name?”.

    • lucubratrix May 11, 2021 at 5:49 pm

      I’m so stumped by this one, and it seems like the best of the bunch. Can anyone help me?

      • LauraWattenberg
        LauraWattenberg May 11, 2021 at 9:32 pm

        I could, but it would be cheating. Because SisterJudy really is my sister. 🙂

        A hint: although it is an old given name with a famous bearer, many people associate it more with an organization.

        • Penguinmom May 13, 2021 at 1:15 am

          I was thinking Hebrew…

        • Robin May 19, 2021 at 9:35 pm

          I give up! Did anyone figure it out?

    • Rukhsana June 7, 2021 at 8:21 pm


  • LauraWattenberg
    LauraWattenberg April 28, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    I love all of these!!

  • MediumDino April 28, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    While growing up in Belgium, half the population would assume a similar but different name, and the other half would assume a different similar but different name. But on summer camp in the US, not even using my middle and last initials was enough to differentiate me from all the others (early 2000s). Now in the UK, while there are a few BBC scientists leading the pack, most are much younger!

  • Pleasedtomeetyou April 29, 2021 at 2:10 am

    I’m A Little Princess, the biblical version.

    • Penguinmom May 4, 2021 at 2:20 pm


    • Meagan H May 17, 2021 at 3:43 am

      Sarah 🙂

  • Guess April 29, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    Andrews, Walters and Christie

  • mollycatherine April 30, 2021 at 1:49 am

    I’m Kathleen, but 40 years younger.

    • Rukhsana June 7, 2021 at 9:04 pm


  • MeganW. April 30, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Markle, no H

  • regal af May 1, 2021 at 12:34 am

    i was married to henry viii three times

  • Not saying :) May 2, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    When meeting me when I was younger, older people would say things like “if you were a twin, they could call her Tuppence”.

  • Lucubratrix May 2, 2021 at 4:09 pm


    • Rukhsana June 7, 2021 at 9:05 pm


  • chickadee May 2, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    the five-letter adjective referring to the kidneys without the final letter

    • contactzamo May 25, 2021 at 12:17 pm


  • RedheadMom May 3, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    My name is French. I always go by my nickname, except with my grandparents’ generation, who think it’s a boy’s name. To spell my nickname properly, I say, “Just cut my name in half.”

  • lunad May 7, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    It’s a month, but not spelled that way.

    • Penguinmom May 13, 2021 at 1:16 am


  • Ryanbay May 7, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    Twelve years ago, when we announced the name we had chosen for our son, my wife’s grandmother asked incredulously, “Like the rabbit?”

    We laughed off her outdated associations.

    In the years since, he grown unusually quickly for his genes. Already taller than his parents, at every measurement a final height of six foot three and a half inches becomes more conceivable. Is it destiny?

  • Letterkenny
    Letterkenny May 9, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Often, when people hear my name, they think I’m a woman. (But I’m not)

    Sometimes, when people hear my name, they guess that I’m a Southerner. (But I’m not even from the US)

    But mostly, when people hear my name, they assume that I’m Chinese. (But I’m not… so please cut it out with the Chinese language spam and robocalls!)

    • Amanda May 10, 2021 at 2:23 am


  • Evie
    Evie May 12, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    My name is the fourth out of only five girls’ names that *actually* pass the “Supreme Court Justice” test 😉

  • 4boyzmdmom
    4boyzmdmom May 18, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    I was a Mouseketeer and starred in movies with Frankie.

  • timepiece May 20, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Whether your association with my name is a snack cake or a porn film tells me a lot about you.

    • Chris May 28, 2021 at 2:15 am


    • Rukhsana June 7, 2021 at 9:08 pm


  • Bdayz December 31, 2021 at 4:06 am

    My name has a “kreaytive” spelling, and I’ve never met anyone with this spelling (hint: it ends with an -i). My great-grandmother had the traditional spelling of my name, which is also featured in a 2020 Taylor Swift song. Some people think that my real name is Elizabeth, but it’s not. You may also associate my name with cooking or Miss America.

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