Jimmy Akin vs. James Akin

by Jimmy Akin

in Miscellaneous

I’m not getting this question as much of late, but I think I’ll go ahead and answer it here anyway. The question is: Is Jimmy Akin the same as James Akin, and if so, why the name change?

The answer to the first part of the question is yes, as long as you are referring to the James Akin who is the director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers. I am the same person as myself. (In fact, it would be metaphysically impossible for me to not be me.)

The answer to the second part of the question is as follows:

  • Jimmy Akin is my legal birth name. It is what is on my birth certificate. (Ah’m from Texas, y’see, an’ it’s a Southern thang.)
  • As a young man, struggling to prove my adulthood, I decided to start going by "James" because it sounds "more grown-up."
  • In the last few years, I decided that I didn’t need to prove how grown up I am anymore and started thinking about changing it back.
  • The clincher was: I’m a junior. In other words, my dad’s name is also Jimmy Akin. I know it didn’t please my father when I changed my name to James. I’m sure it couldn’t come off as anything but a kind of rejection when I change the name he gave me–his own name–but I was immature and anxious to prove my adulthood to the world, and I did it anyway.
  • So, on the principle of "Honor thy father," I decided to change my name back to Jimmy.
  • I researched how one does that in California, got the forms, filled them out, took out the relevant ad in a local "newspaper" (really a xeroxed bundle of papers with a staple) that exists to do nothing but print legal notices, went to court, and got the situation fixed.
  • Afterward, I took a copy of the court order, framed it, and sent it to my dad for Christmas. (I also sent him a DVD player.)
  • Finally, I announced the change on "Catholic Answers Live" and explained it.
  • And then I explained it again . . . and again . . . and again . . . and again . . . and again . . .  ad nauseum.

The question is starting to taper off now, but I decided to explain it here so there’d an explanation on the web that I can point people to (and thus have less repetitive explaining to do).

It took people a while to get used to the change. That’s only to be expected. I was pleased, though, when shortly after I made the change one woman on the Catholic Answers Cruise pointed out: "The name Jimmy suits you better than James because you’re such a smart aaaa-aleck.""

So now you know! And please, don’t call me "James." That’s not my name. :-)

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Carol Marie Siedenburg October 18, 2004 at 7:30 pm

I legally changed my name back to my baptismal name May 11, 2003, which was mothers day and my birthday, 10 yrs (and approx 10 days) after my mother passed away. I started by only introducing myself to new “church” friends from out of town by my full name (also my mothers name), but as time goes on, I’ve been bringing it into the circle of my local friends. I used almost the same exact reasons as you for my change, hence my message to you.
How much grief did you go through from people who simply couldn’t respect your desire to show respect for your father? How did you deal with it. This change for me comes on the heels of my recent return to the Church (ok, I’d been back for several years, but I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into it, to the consternation of my husband and several previously close friends).
Since this my growing love for God has been difficult for my husband, I don’t want to have him feel scandalized, even though I know there is no actual reason for this to be “a scandal”.
Do you have any words of advice, having been through at least something similar. I don’t know anyone else who changed their name as an adult (I’m 45, no young kid, and this is not, as you know, a “midlife crisis thing”.
Carol Marie Siedenburg
previously known as “Carrie” the nickname my family used for me to differentiate me from my mom. When I was 30 she asked when I was going to use my “real” name. She hadn’t realized I’d changed it legally at 18 to avoid the confusion of having 2 names. I’ll always remember the look in her eyes when I told her it was my “real” name.

puzzleannie October 22, 2004 at 8:29 am

is it just Jimmy? or Jimmy Bob, Jimmy Dwayne, Jimmy Middle Initial, or other? I am new to TExas but Jimmy by itself makes me suspicious if you are really Texan (maybe you are from North Texas, that might explain it)

paednoch October 25, 2004 at 10:03 am

Jimmy um.. I just read this whole name change thing today and I am quite upset. I like james better. i mention you by name to people at “coffe and rolls” after mass each sunday and Now I have to go back to each and everyone of them and explain the situation. This whole name change thing has caused me alot of problems. Is there any way you could just change your name back to james Akin????

POV January 12, 2005 at 1:25 pm

Uh, huh. Ok. If I used “Jimmy” in the past it was because I didn’t want to seem too “chummy” by using the diminutive without being invited to do so. Since you explained the situation and now it is as clear as mud, I will use “Jimmy” instead, Jimmy. :-) P.

magpie February 26, 2005 at 9:49 am

yep Jimmy is a diminutive of James but I know diminituves are the thang in the South. Keep it up Jacobus (James in Latin)

Lindsey March 18, 2005 at 9:13 am

How hard is this for people to understand and accept, anyway? I mean, Jimmy is a common nickname for James, so it doesn’t seem confusing at all to me that you’ve gone by both names. I do see the need, now, for you to clarify that Jimmy is your given name and you wish to be called that. I just fail to see how anyone could have a problem with that!
Interesting story, Jimmy!
My dad named his son (half-brother) Charlie. Not Charles, but Charlie. (We’re Texan, too) :) My other half-brother is named after my dad but is called by a nickname.

Monica March 18, 2005 at 6:12 pm

Ahhhhhh, that explains it. I was puzzling over the name change, having missed all other explanations. I once knew 2 brothers named Eugene. One went by Steve and the other went by Bomba so as not to get confused. They too were Texans.

Shibboleth April 15, 2005 at 7:00 pm

As a Lutheran I have to say that Jimmy is – real and present but does not replace James but is in, with, and under James.

MichaelFilo May 11, 2005 at 1:14 pm

So, in this excelent copy of “Suprised by Truth” are you THE James in here. I thought of you, adn then found out that it wasn’t your name, and upon looking here, it is your name. So, I can only wonder.
God bless,

Lucio Mas May 18, 2005 at 6:50 am

What I need to know is if you are the same James Akin who operates or used to operate the “Nazareth” site [http://www.cin.org/users/james/]?

Jimmy Akin May 18, 2005 at 8:13 am

I am.

Fr. S. May 18, 2005 at 8:37 am

… and Jimmy, if that’s what you were named at Baptism, then that’s what God calls ya’ and the rest of us better follow suit….

Jimmy Akin May 18, 2005 at 9:00 am

The Man With No Name?
I wasn’t named at baptism. I was originally baptized as an adult in a Protestant church that doesn’t associate naming with baptism.

Thalia May 29, 2005 at 9:34 pm

Hi. I just had a son May 6th and he is named James Lynn (III) after my husband who is a junior. We have been calling him baby James to distinguish between the two James and we have not been able to come up with a good nickname. We already have a Jimmy in our family. I found it interesting that you were named Jimmy and not James. Since you thought James sounded more grown up as you were older, I wonder if you think James is too strong of a name for our little fellow? Thanks.

Jimmy Akin May 29, 2005 at 11:02 pm

No, though if you’re looking for a nickname for someone who’s a III then you might consider the nickname “Trip.”
Not many folks get to use that one. Kinda a shame to waste it whenever you’ve got a III on hand.

Thalia May 31, 2005 at 8:19 pm

Thanks for the suggestion of “Trip” for a nickname for our little boy. Maybe it will grow on me. We also recieved suggestions Jack and Jake from one of your readers. I enjoy the stories on your site. It is nice to see someone post to their blog so often.

hippo354 June 4, 2005 at 12:00 pm

How about ‘Max’ as in ‘James to the max’?? I have a friend who had a child who was to inherit the III and that’s what they call him.

Farmy Levins July 14, 2005 at 10:15 am

You’re a fool. I wish mild, embarrasing harm to you.

Bill Schpar September 8, 2005 at 2:25 pm

Fulton Sheen once did a TV show where he contrasted the philosophy of Jefferson, who advocated the dignity of man against a St Just who believed the opposite. Who is St Just ?
He pronounced it as a french name like San just.

cw October 4, 2005 at 6:02 am

My grandfather’s name was Vaclav Anton which is Czech for Wencenslaus Anthony which stops there are far as translations go. I always heard him called Jim and thought it was a form of his Czech name. Nope! He got the nickname Jim in grade school when his class was taking a tour of the capital in Austin. He got separated from the group and when they found him later someone said he was wandering around like Jim Ferguson, the governor at the time. The name Jim stuck and his first born son was called Jimmy. It’s a great name that suited him well. Be proud to be a Jimmy!

James Ten Eyck February 3, 2006 at 7:01 pm

Hey! My birthday is May 11th as well.
On topic, though..
My real name is James. Only a few have called me Jimmy. I dont’ really care whether I’m called James, Jimmy, J.D., or whatever.
God Bless Jimmy Akin. Keep up the great work, brother.

paul f November 1, 2006 at 9:00 am

I like the name “Jimmy Akin” better because if said in a certain way, it sounds like a how a Jamaican person might say “Jamaican”.
It makes for a lot of fun:
“The guy on the radio earlier was Jamaican, mon.”
“I was reading a blog by this Jamaican fellow.”
“I just bought a new Jamaican book.”
Trust me. It’s fun.

You Know Who You Are August 2, 2007 at 5:38 pm

I find this amusing, I have many brothers and sisters and only two of us are called by our given names. Why? Who knows, my parents were not even sure of where all the nicknames came from. For most of my life I was called by everyone else’s name and then finally just called “you know who you are”!!! (yes, I did know, but no one else seemed too sure.)

James Akin August 9, 2007 at 10:24 am

I’m from connecticut and my name is James Akin so I’m kind of interested to know if there could be any relation between us considering not many people have the last name Akin spelled the way we do.

Jimmy Akin August 9, 2007 at 11:03 am

Send me an e-mail and we can try to figure it out!

That's Me September 4, 2007 at 11:48 pm

I stopped using my given first name when I was 14 because there were five or six other boys in my class with the same name and we ran out of variants. For more than 50 years I’ve been known by, and signed documents with, my middle name. This has been acceptable to the the Social Security Administration, and as a Notary Public in the State of Callifornia.
A couple of years ago, my home was burglarized and among other things taken were my birth certificate and passport. When my first name pops up on bills or on the tongue of bill collectors and telemarketers, it is obvious that something shady is going on.
In most states, a person may call him/herself anything as long as there is no illegal intent.

Mike September 13, 2007 at 6:58 am

You are awesome I listen to the tape with you and James White my hat go’s off to you!You did an excellent Job.I take alot of courses with catholic home study service it’s Good have you heard of it? hear is the web site.http://www.amm.org/chss.htm

Michael J. Houser November 3, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Adveniat Regnum Tuum!
I had noticed the change in the last few years, but had not realized the full story, which is very interesting.
My question is: whom you would consider your patron saint to be? One of the various St. James? Or perhaps the saint whose name you took at Confirmation? Of course, if your parents aren’t Catholic, and you weren’t even baptized as a Catholic, you might not associate any particular saint with your given name. Am I correct?

Guest November 6, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Wow this is an everlasting question, isn’t it? I just discovered it today this very minute… Well I guessed James and Jimmy are the same.. but that was just a guess… Wow such a story… and I actually found this on Google now that I really wanted to dig this bugging name issue lol.. Great..

surveillance monitor January 25, 2008 at 2:00 pm
Jimmy Metzger III March 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Hi Jimmy,
I’m a Jimmy III and I absolutely love the name. I’m very proud to have my dad’s and Grandpa Jimmy’s name, though it gets confusing with three Jimmys in the family! LOL

Frederick Pogorzelski June 17, 2008 at 9:26 am

My website has over 7000 visits per month and growing. I am always trying to improve the content. I would like Jimmy Akin to assist me with this. Please contact me Jimmy.
Your Brother in Christ, Fred Pogorzelski
Telephone 1-205-382-6282

Paul Baylis December 7, 2008 at 12:44 am

“Jimmy vs James”….I thought I was going to read a debate between Jimmy Aikin and James White :-)

Anonymous January 14, 2009 at 8:19 pm

James is the name, Jimmy is the nickname. I understand you have affection for your father’s name – perhaps you both could be James and Jimmy.

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