Celebrate Your Name Week: Jennifer

March 6-12 is Celebrate Your Name Week. I told you about how Muppet got his name and how Adaline got her name and why I spell it wrong.

You can read about my birth story and how/why my mom named me here.

Hi, my name is Jenn (“Hi Jenn”). Of course my given name is Jennifer. I went by Jenny from birth until high school. Since my close family called me Jenny I suddenly became uncomfortable with anyone that I wasn’t close with calling me Jenny. In the 10th grade I switched over to Jenn, with two n’s. Please don’t forget the second n. An easy way to remember is “Two n’s means more of Jenn!” (and come on, who doesn’t want that?!). I never go by Jennifer, but often introduce myself as such since apparently people can’t hear and want to call me “Jean” or “Jan” (and believe me, I speak clearly). I’m certain to let people know to call me Jenn as I don’t like being called Jennifer. I think my middle name is pretty sweet so you’ll have to go here to read about it.

If you didn’t know it already Jennifer was/is a really popular name. There are a lot of us named Jennifer in the 25-40 year old age range. There certainly wasn’t anything exciting about growing up with the name Jennifer in the 80s, but at least you could be sure to find my name on a mug, key chain, or notepad. This is riveting information here, people. And it gets more exciting, let’s talk about the meaning of my name.

Ok, so loosely translated Jennifer basically means “hey white girl!”. Oh, yes. The meaning of the name differs slightly from one website to another but the two meanings that I found the most were “fair” and “white wave”. Fair and white are just nice ways of saying pale and pasty 😉

After reading my Celebrate Your Name Week posts on Facebook my good friend, Kelly, let me know that her first and middle names combined mean “Warrior of Light”. Um, well, that’s awesome. My name meaning stinks 😦 I already knew about “fair” and “white wave” so I figured I do a little more research to see if I could find a meaning I liked better 😉

*Fair lady
*White wave, White skin, White shoulders
(Now we’re getting very descriptive about the paleness!)
*One who is fair and beautiful
(Why, thank you 🙂 )
*Fair and Smooth, White Waves White; fair; smooth
(Jennifer…Now available in “smooth” too!)
*White, Fair and Smooth, Soft
(…and soft!)
*White, fair, blessed, holy, smooth
(Blessed and holy are nice!)
*Pure and yielding, whitewave
(Pure and yielding aren’t bad 😉 )
*Fair spirit
(Ooo, spirit)
*White Shadow, White Wave
(Shadow is cool!)
*Fair Phantom or White Wave
(Fair Phantom is sweet!)
*The White Fay, White Ghost, White Phantom, or White Fairy
(Now we’re talking…I sound awesome!)

While these meanings don’t differ that much (and certainly keep with the “white” theme) I definitely like the references to spirit, shadow, ghost, phantom, and fairy! It sounds so mysterious and a little creepy and also fantastical and dreamy. Me likey. Sure, it’s still not as hardcore as being a warrior of light, but at least it’s a little more interesting than “Hey, you need some sun!”. I’ve actually always liked the meaning “White Wave” as I thought it sounded like a Native American name.

A little more about the name Jennifer:
Jennifer is of Welsh origin from Gwenhwyfar, which also can mean “white waves” (source). The name Jennifer is a Cornish variation of Welsh GUINEVERE. There were close to 800,000 Jennifers born in the seventies, making Jennifer the top name of the decade (source).
Jenny was in existence at least as early as 1602 when William Shakespeare punned it with ‘genitive’ in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Jennifer developed in Cornwall, an area of England with strong Celtic connections, including many claims to Arthurian legend, as a separate development from Gwenhwyvar. The name only became fashionable in the rest of England and the world in the last hundred years, perhaps following the increased popular, artistic and literary interest in the Arthurian legend during the Victorian period when the British Empire was at its height (source).
The name (Jennifer) has been in use since the 18th century. Before 1906 the name was fairly uncommon, but it became popular after George Bernard Shaw used it for the main female character in The Doctor’s Dilemma. It gained even more popularity in the 1970s. Though its popularity is often attributed to the novel and film Love Story, Jennifer was already the number 3 name given to baby girls in the United States in 1969, the year before the book and movie were released (source).
According to the Social Security Administration Jennifer was one of the Top 10 baby names for 25 years straight (1966-1991) and was the #1 baby name for 15 years straight from 1970-1985 (source You will have to search “Jennifer” or a specific year as this is not a direct link.).

Jennifer is starting to decline in popularity and recently fell out of the Top 100 baby names for girls. So while the senior set will be crawling with Jennifers 30 years from now, it’s unlikely that my daughter will have many friends by that name.

Thanks for reading!
A Shadowy Wave of Phantom Paleness (otherwise know as Jenn)

What does your name mean?
Tell me in the comment section!

Other “Celebrate Your Name Week” Posts:
+How Muppet got his name
+How Adaline got her name
+The meaning of Adaline’s name and why I spell it wrong


Posted on March 12, 2011, in Jenn and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I, too, went by the JeNN through high school. I detested being called Jenny – although now that I’m an aunt, my niece is the only one who is allowed to call me Aunt Jenny. My husband’s family – for the longest time – called me Jenna – which wasn’t so bad….but really? You couldn’t catch a breath to add the “fer” to the end? Three syllables and you couldn’t get the last one in?

    And as far as the meaning? I liked smooth, white and soft…….sounds like a loaf of Wonder Bread to me. Yep – fits me perfectly…..Jennifer = a loaf of Wonder Bread…..

    Thanks dad……


  2. you’re so funny! 🙂

    my mom was reading the book “Heidi” when she was pregnant w/me…

    i’m pretty sure it means ‘noble’ and interestingly enough that is also one of the meanings of our 1st born (Owen)!

    thanks for paying me a visit on my SITS day!


    • I love the movie “Heidi” with Shirley Temple. I actually have a home movie of myself and (forcing) my sister re-enacting the movie. I was Heidi, naturally, and I made my sister play everyone else!
      I actually went to school with quite a few Heidi’s!
      Noble is also what “Adaline” means too 🙂


  3. Yup. I know lots women named Jen, Jenn, Jenny, Jennifer……


    not so much.


  4. Yep I know how you feel – I am a Jessica – I loved always having to refer to myself as Jessica D. so that you could tell me apart from Jessica S., Jessica N. and Jessica L. who were also in class with me! Oh and my sister’s name – Jennifer. My parent were so creative!

    Love your blog, I’m a new follower!



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