Why Muddy?


Yes, it’s true! My name is Muddy…and it’s not a typo.

It’s pronounced “Muddy”, as in Muddy Waters, the great American blues musician, or as in the soggy mud pit our backyard sinks into during the rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s definitely not pronounced “Moody.” People call me that a lot, as if they think “Moody” is less objectionable than “Muddy.” As an adult woman with a healthy amount of hormones and emotions, I can tell you it never feels good to be referred to as “Moody!”

I love the name Muddy! It’s simple: five letters and two syllables. It’s common in the English language, although not traditionally as a way to refer to someone. (Unless you’re covered head-to-toe in mud, which typically, I am not.) I never had to go by “Muddy K.” in school and most people remember my name the next time I see them.

The most difficult part of my name is the explanation.

If you happen to be a Lisa or a Jane, your introductions might go something like this:

YOU: Hi! My name is Lisa!

NEW FRIEND: Hi Lisa! Nice to meet you!

 I, however, get this:

ME: Hi! My name is Muddy!


ME: It’s Muddy.

NPF: I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that. Maddie?

ME: No, Muddy. It’s spelled M-U-D-D-Y.

NPF: Ohh…Moody!

ME: No…Muddy, as in Muddy Waters, the great American blues musician.

NPF: Huh?

 We then segue into Part 2 of the Name Conversation:

 NPF: Your parents must have really disliked you.

 My parents are many things, but they are not famous actors or rock stars. I was born long before the Apples and Rumers and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince came along. Naming a child “Muddy” on purpose wasn’t an option.

On the contrary, I’m sure they are a bit horrified that the beautiful name they so carefully chose for their first-born child has been displaced by Muddy.

I don’t mind explaining how I got the nickname Muddy, but there are times I wish people could just hear my name and roll with it, like they do in To Kill a Mockingbird. Jean Louise Finch is called Scout. Do you know when Harper Lee explains why Scout is her nickname? Never. Not once. It just is. People accept it and move on.

Perhaps I need to accept that I’m not a character in a Harper Lee novel, and that the name Muddy demands an explanation. After all, I’m the first one to interrogate another person when I hear they have an unusual name. However, I view that person as a potential kindred spirit. For example, I’m sure when Blue Ivy gets older, she and I will have a lot to talk about.

This is how I got my nickname:

Muddy is short for Maria-Elena, the Spanish equivalent of the Southern style of having two separate names strung together as one, like Sally Sue or Betty Lou. (I added the hyphen because I don’t live in the South, so people are not as willing to accept that it’s meant to be pronounced together. It has not worked as well as I had hoped!) It’s a long name—ten whole letters!—and difficult to pronounce if Spanish is not your native language. With the Spanish pronunciation, it doesn’t sound so much like Ma-ree-a-E-lay-na as it does Ma-dee-a-lay-nah. With the ‘D’ sound in there, it converts to the much shorter, much easier to pronounce Muddy.

If you’re ever bored, hop on iTunes and search for Maria Elena. You can listen to it pronounced repeatedly in a song format. Certain elderly men familiar with the song enjoy serenading me with it when they hear my full name. The next time that happens, I’ll let you know so you can catch the live version. It’s lots of fun!

So…now you know. There’s no need to be embarrassed, or to call me “Moody” to try and soften the blow. My name is Muddy, and I love it!

18 thoughts on “Why Muddy?

  1. Amanda Socci says:

    Love, love, love the explanation of your name, Muddy! I love that you can talk about this experience without flinching. ou’ve embraced the comedic replies from strangers and written about it in a way that is truly charming.

  2. Muddy says:

    Thanks Amanda! The best part is, maybe now I won’t have to explain it anymore. I can just direct people to this page! : )

  3. Hello, MY name is strange, nice to meet U! :-D

    Well, OK, it’s not strange to ME, but I know all about explaining one’s name to others too shocked to pronounce it right. :-D

    In High School, just for the hell of it, and give everyone a choice, I went around, for a while, telling everyone my name was Lirik FFeizarudnuk. :-D

  4. Muddy says:

    Kiril, that had me laughing out loud! My sister’s name is pretty tame by comparison (Luisa) but she has trouble sometimes, and has been known to tell the kind folks at Starbucks that her name is “Lisa” just to avoid the hassle.

    I think we of the difficult-to-pronounce names will have to unite!

  5. Linda Hatton says:

    What an interesting story! I love your name, too! And I had been wondering how you got it. Glad I know now.

    (My daughter’s name is Piper, which is becoming a little more “common.” However, when she was little I recall one person thinking I said her name was “Paper.” Hmmm… that might have been a good fit since she is a writer.)

  6. Muddy says:

    Loved hearing about Piper being called Paper! It does seem fitting considering how much you love paper! : )

  7. Dana says:

    My name is simple, yet everyone wants to pronounce it wrong! I grew up saying “No maam or sir, it’s pronounced Day-na not Donna!”

  8. Muddy says:

    LOL! I am surprised people could mess up Dana! Welcome to the club!

  9. [...] time, as she transitions from being a MOM to a MOM PLUS and defines that for herself as she blogs. Why Muddy? Maria Elena, this one’s for you. Play it, Ry [...]

  10. Lynn Daue says:

    I love it! I was wondering “why Muddy” as well … and now I know!

  11. Sara v says:

    Muddy that is very interesting. I never would have guessed that:-) My husband is Cuban, so I know all about the Maria-Elena pronunciation. What I can’t seem to get people to do, even friends who have known me for years, is spell my name, right—no “h” simply “Sara” my parents both have really long hard-to-spell-names so they gave my sister and I simple names and intentionally left off the “h” to make it easy… ah well the best laid plans and all that:-) A very long winded way of saying, “I empathize”. Or to paraphrase Kermit the frog, “it’s not easy being unusual”. Though it is fun!

  12. Muddy says:

    If I ever get the chance to visit a Spanish-speaking country, like Spain, Mexico, or South America in general, I’m going to introduce myself as Maria-Elena. I’m fairly certain I’ll have a much better chance of having my name pronounced not only correctly, but even better than I can say it! It’s funny how leaving off the “h” in Sara can cause so many problems. I guess you just can’t predict what people will find “easy.” I’m sure this struggle with our names makes us better people, right? : )

  13. Mim says:

    Oh how I connect. My parents slowly got used to the idea that I’d legally changed my name to my childhood apodo (nickname.) It evolved from a mispronunciation of my given name (so carefully chosen)which got shortened and, again, mispronounced. People often think my given name must be Miriam, or that Mim is short for something (so I offer Mimosa.) Like you, my name is easy to remember. Funny thing is that my son has a friend named Mim. She has to go by a longer version when writing to him or he thinks she is me. We kid about big Mim and little Mim or Other Mim. FUN! Thanks for your explanation.

    • Muddy says:

      Hi Mim! I love your name, and I love that you made it your name legally! Everyone calls me Muddy, but it does get confusing when they see my given name on a check or on the caller ID…they have no idea who I am. I can appreciate the ease you’ve added to your life by simply being Mim across the board. Fantastic!

      It is funny when you run across someone with your same unusual name, isn’t it? I like “Other Mim”…cute!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page
    layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what
    youve got to say. But maybe you could a
    little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  15. [...] Kinzer important as a blogger and why would I highlight her over other bloggers? For starters, her name is a big draw. I knew I wanted to incorporate her in this month’s mud theme in some way. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>