Hi Duana, this may sound completely mad but recently I have found myself in possession of, in my opinion, a ridiculous nickname and I need to shift it. My name is Imogen so the usual one I get is ‘Imo’ and my mom occasionally calls me ‘Immy’ but very, very occasionally. My dad on the other hand has always been a bit more creative. ‘Mogina’ (yes, I know) has always been his preference, with ‘Her Mojesty’ being drafted in if I’m ever being precious. Mogina though has been recently shorted to ‘Moge’ as in ‘mo-je’ and has managed to escape form the clutches of private use. I have no idea how.

‘Moge’ is now all my sisters call me as well as friends and other relatives. The other week I was in a gorgeous restaurant with my boyfriend and when the waiter came to take our orders he just turned and said “Moge, what are you having?” It’s killing me. My mother is also going berserk and lamenting that she didn’t call me something different so such horrible nicknames could be left alone.

Since you’re the expert in names is there a way I can return to more familiar, normal territory? I know Imogen is pretty boring, but being 21, I I’ll take it over ‘Moge’…. Thank you! Imogen xxx


First of all, let me congratulate you on something you have no control over – suddenly having one of the most popular names in the “trendy” files. That is, everyone these days is talking about how Imogen is one of the new great names for babies. I don’t know how many of them are actually using it, instead of just talking about it, but it’s huge on the radar in terms of wanting to be used.

But you’re 21, so all of this is very much after the fact for you, and “Moge” is where you live now.

I have to be honest with you – it doesn’t strike me as that bad (but then, Imogen doesn’t strike me as boring, either). Still, I will concede that it has nothing to do with your name. So while I actually think “Moge” is kind of cute,  here are the steps to getting your name back.

1) With your boyfriend – threaten. You know what you can hold back, I don’t. Is it letting him choose movies or forcing him to spend time with that friend of yours he hates or something more intimate? Up to you. Let him know you’re going to cut off his supply if he doesn’t start trying to change. This goes for cousins and relatives as well. “Oh, well, I guess IMOGEN doesn’t have to help with setting the table then.” They will mock you and call you Moge for a half-hour and then try somewhat harder the next time.   

2)  With strangers, or others who somehow hear your nickname – overuse your name. “Hi, it’s Imogen calling. Imogen, from your image arts class. Imogen. I have a vast imagination.” If you’re not proud of your name, nobody else will be, so make sure you make a point of announcing yourself, including on the phone when you pick up for telemarketers. (“This is she” is an annoying thing to say anyway.) People will get the point. 

3)  With your dad, who loves you, after all, and who made up a nickname because of how often he says your name, I would give him a limited number of uses per week/month – and stick to it. You can tally them on your phone or something – I bet there’s an app for that.

4) If all else fails, how about a little reverse psychology? Start calling yourself Midge or something. When people object, all “It’s MOGE” you can be like “Actually it’s Imogen, so why don’t we just agree on that?”

You don’t sound too bent out of shape but the key here is to have a sense of humour and to know that A, you’re lucky so many people love you, and B, you might need to make a whole new set of friends who don’t know your family so that your name can continue undemolished.

Ha. Let me know about this one.