In Her Words… What’s in a Name? by Elisa Adams

Elisa AdamsElisa splits her time between singing and working in the big city for TCOLondon and Little White Lies, whom she also writes for. Last year she took a year out of the city to say ‘Yes’ to any task that came her way. From running the marathon, teaching a spin class (she’s not a spinning teacher) to performing in a close-harmony choir for a play in London, it was a year she’ll never forget! She knows the whole script for The First Wives Club and gets a little bit emotional when she listens to Kylie Minogue.  Elisa also blogs at The Bones of It

What’s in a Name?

Anyone who has picked up a baby name book knows that by each name is a meaning or trait which defines it. But can a name, given to us before any defined personality has developed, shape who we are?

My name is Elisa and this is how you say it. You start with and E and then you say Lisa. There is absolutely no need to add in extra letters, or remove them, change the S to a Z, E to an A or make me an Alicia, Elice, Eliza or bizarrely Alice. The only exception to this rule is if you are my friend and have made your own nickname for me. That’s it. If you’re name is Gary I wouldn’t call you Garrera. So please, I ask you, stop doing it. Not only to me but more importantly anyone with a uncommon name.


When my Mum and Dad were deciding what to call me, they chose from two sources. Like most people on a Saturday night in the late 80s, Mum could be found watching Cilla Black matchmaking singletons on Blind Date. In some sort of hormonal fuzz she thought that naming her unborn child after a contestant on a dating show was an inspired idea. Dad, on the other hand had seen the Clint Eastwood musical Paint Your Wagons and liked Eastwood’s singing style on ‘I Still See Elisa’ so much that, he says, I’m named after that. “What an auspicious start!”, I hear you cry. But there you have it, on 18 November 1988 I came along and the weird relationship to my name began.


It was at school where the most notable problem with my name started. Around 6 or 7 years old I began noticing that my name was different. People began telling me it was weird or unusual. At that young age I took it to heart. When new or substitute teachers claimed it was a typo or joked that they couldn’t pronounce it, so would call me Geoff or You! (Yes that happened) instead it hurt.

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At primary school I didn’t know how to respond to the situation. At first I fought it and would shout “IT’S ELI-SA” which garnered laughter and jeers from my classmates. Overtime though it became embarrassing to fight. So instead of arguing, I went a bit further inside myself and accepted that maybe I was wrong and didn’t fit in. I still preempt that people won’t say my name correctly but I have made no means to correct them. The longest I have gone without correcting someone is 3 years. I think it’s a fear of rejection that stops me from correcting people.

In February I took my Nanna to Claridges for Afternoon Tea. It was truly special but when I went to the reservations desk and said my name, the lady present said “We only have an Eliza Adams here”. I could clearly see how my name was spelt in front of her, with and s and not a z. Did she really think that I was saying my name wrong? Perhaps I’m thinking too much into it, but it’s these little moments have certainly contributed to me feeling like I don’t belong and lack an identity. If I had a backbone and was a bit more assertive maybe things would be better. I’d be able to progress a bit more. Yes I sing for part of my living but have gone on many a stage being called the wrong name and when months down the line I finally say “You know that’s not how you say my name, don’t you?” ultimately I’m the one that looks like an idiot.

472275_10152335253705646_770541636_oOn the other hand, it is kind of funny. In a way that only tragic things can be funny. Even my family call me by different names, not nicknames, just different versions of my name. Which is hilarious. Everyone is walking around in a state of confusion. Most of all myself, who has on more than one occasion wondered if I’m in the wrong. On the days when I chuckle to myself about it, I feel like an international woman of mystery. Perhaps if everything went a bit tits up I could just flee the country. When asked if I was Elisa Adams I could say “No, it just looks the same but actually it’s pronounced Eliza – Cheerio!”. Also, my now standard line of “I don’t mind what you call me, so long as it isn’t rude” – which is clearly a lie given topic at hand- does make people smile. So that’s a small victory.

It stands to reason that if you give a child an unusual name they will probably grow up to be different on the basis that they will constantly be told they have an unusual name. Now despite never really meeting any other “Elisas”, I don’t consider my name to be all that unusual but it has definitely shaped who I am. There has always been something that pushed me to be different and perhaps the starting point for that was my name. For all the times I’ve felt like I don’t exist, I’ve taken more chances to prove to myself that I do. Now though, I would like to bury the hatchet, for everyone with an uncommon name. Please, if you’re unsure just ask, if you’re told “That’s not my name”, please listen and remember what is correct. It just comes across as a little rude if not. Finally if you’re someone with a weird name, I salute you and let’s go for a drink!

Pass It On. Who would you like to see featured on this blog?

Sophie Monks-Kaufmann @sopharsogood – Contributing editor at LWLies, lover of cats and creator of bulimia podcast, Spill Your Guts. She is lovely, intelligent, funny and drinks her coffee with a straw – What is not to love?

Sarah Barlow @wealdhandmade – She’s like Rambo…If Rambo made leather bags for Toast, ran two businesses, was an amazing mum and drank redbush tea

Alice Annetta @aliceannetta – One of the best friends a girl could have – She’s just spent the last year travelling here, there and everywhere learning all about fashion manufacturing. Now based in Milan, she’s too far away!

Barbra Streisand – @BarbraStreisand Yes it’s most likely impossible but CAN YOU IMAGINE!?!