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Me(a)g(h)ans divided

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, October 27, 2005

In 1984, the name Megan was the 11th most popular name for newborn baby girls in the United States, according Social Security Administration records. In fact, the name continued to be a favorite with parents for many years, finishing in the top 15 through 1999.

These statistics, coupled with the fact that Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame have a long Irish Catholic tradition, help explain why everyone and her roommate are named Megan. Or Meghan. Or Meaghan. Or Meaghann.

Indeed, the name is inescapable. Growing up, I was always one of several Me(a)g(h)ans in my elementary school class. I was taught to sign my name Megan O. so teachers could distinguish me from Meghan S. and Meagan K., a habit I have yet to completely wean myself of.

I am one of three Megans in my close group of friends at Saint Mary’s. Introductions to new acquaintances always result in laughter and go something like this:

“Megan? Nice to meet you. Kiki? Hi Kiki. Megan? Hi. Nice to meet you. Alice? Hi Alice. Megan? Another Megan? Well, I guess that makes it easy on me.”

Sitting on a patio bench at Corby’s one evening, a friend and I were approached by two guys hoping to use the Megan stat as a pickup line.

“Let us guess yours names,” they initiated. “Katie and Megan?”

They were 50 percent correct.

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked across campus, heard my named called and turned around to respond only to find it was the girl in front or behind me who was being addressed.

Not all Me(a)g(h)ans are alike, however. We tend to be very loyal to our particular version of the name. When a Me(a)g(h)an meets another Me(a)g(h)an the question is inevitably asked – “How do you spell it?”

A match results in an immediate warming of the heart and an enthusiastic “Yes! That’s how I spell it!” A discrepancy evokes little more than a flat “Oh.”

Every Me(a)g(h)an believes her spelling of the name is the most authentic, the ‘real’ way to write it. I once had a Meaghan aggressively try to convince me that her version was more Irish than mine.

Such devotion prompted one Notre Dame Megan to create her own facebook group, The Megans, which has an impressive membership of 119 women, including myself. A reactionary group, The mid-h-Meghans, also sprung up but has only six devotees.

The truth is “Megan,” which means “strong” or “great,'” is the simplest and purist form of the name. There is no need for superfluous vowels or consonants. You don’t hear a heafty “h” or an extra “n” in there, do you?

So let’s get it right, OK?

And don’t even get me started on the spelling of O’Neil.