Isis Thompson plays with her mom, Priscilla Thompson, who says she is used to getting reactions about her daughter’s name.

Toddler’s name is Isis, but it doesn’t mean what you think

She’s 18 months old.

She has a flashy Minnie Mouse car, enchanting smile and a bounce to her step.

But it’s her name that grabs attention.

It’s a name associated more with terrorists than spirited toddlers.

Her name is Isis.

“I don’t think it’s a shame that I named her that or it’s something bad,” said her mom, Priscilla Thompson, of Monroe. “I had a woman approach me and say ‘I’m so sorry.’ Like it was a big tragedy. But I don’t think of it like that.”

Priscilla and her husband, Wayne, chose their daughter’s name after the Egyptian goddess.

“Her dad and I have always really been into Egyptian mythology and culture and spirituality,” said Priscilla, 26, a singer-songwriter who grew up in Kirkland.

“Isis means ‘of the throne.’ When I found out I was having a girl I was like, ‘She is going to be my little princess.’ I love her name. It means so much to us personally, what we believe in.”

In American pop culture, Isis was the alter ego of a seemingly normal schoolteacher who transforms into an Egyptian goddess with superpowers in the 1970s TV show “The Secrets of Isis.” DC Comics created a superheroine modeled after her.

These days, the name is used, over and over, in newscasts and headlines when referring to violent extremists worldwide.

“When I was pregnant it was going on a little but it wasn’t as blasted on the news as it is now,” Priscilla said. “I feel I need to preface her name now. Like, ‘Oh, I know it’s bad timing but her name is Isis.’ It’s kind of a pain but we live with it.”

Some parents of children named Isis have started campaigns urging the news media to stop using “ISIS,” which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and instead use “ISIL,” or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“ISIS is an acronym. Her name doesn’t have all capital letters,” Priscilla said.

“I’ve had someone ask if I am going to change her name.”

No, she is not.

“She already knows herself as Isis,” she said.

Ironically, she never planned to give her daughter a unique name after being the lone Priscilla in classrooms of Ashleys, Amandas and Jessicas.

“I could never find my name on anything, I could never get a tourist thing,” she said.

According to, an online site that analyzes names from 1880 to now, in the U.S. there have been 1,035,028 baby girls named Jessica. By contrast, 115,488 girls have been named Priscilla in the past 135 years (with the greatest number born in 1942) and only 8,090 American girls have been named Isis, with the most, 506, born in 2005.

Comments about Isis on the baby-name site express fondness for the name as it relates to the goddess and also blame the media for using it as a convenient acronym.

Priscilla’s mother, Alina Christ, of Snohomish, is used to the reactions to her granddaughter’s name.

“We get it all the time,” Christ said. “People need to be educated. Isis is an Egyptian goddess. We are not part of the ISIS group. That’s not why she was named that. It has nothing to do with that. Everybody’s name has a history.”

She named Priscilla after Priscilla Presley, ex-wife of Elvis.

And, yep, with a last name of Christ, she often gets “Is your middle name Jesus?” even though it is pronounced “krist.”

Priscilla said she has no regrets about naming her daughter Isis, though that’s not to say she hasn’t made some adjustments.

“I’ve noticed I call her ‘Ice’ now,” Priscilla said. “A lot of it is, when we go out in public and I say her name people stop and then they realize I am calling her name. We were at Alderwood mall a couple weeks ago and I took her to go play and she was about to jump off something and I was like, ‘Isis!’ And some guy, he was on the phone and he stopped and looked up and around and he had this look on his face.”

She’s cautious yet optimistic about the future of her daughter’s name.

“She has to go to school someday. And I can just hear it, ‘Your parents are terrorists,’ ” she said. “I hope one day she’ll be able to go to school and kids aren’t going to say anything.”

More in Life

Rose Johnson, 80, is a member of the Everett Area Newcomers Club, which meets and dines once a month at Sno-Isle Tech’s student-run Le Bistro Restaurant. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Old-timers can join the Everett Area Newcomers Club

Everett group welcomes women for friendship and fun at multiple meet-ups.

From Jasper to Banff: A Canadian adventure in an RV

Jennifer Bardsley plans to take her family on two-week roadtrip through Canada in a tent trailer.

Skippers share sea stories at Marysville speaker series

The Bellingham couple will talk about charter cruises on the historic wooden vessel they rebuilt.

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Anxiety, or chronic worry, is a growing problem

Paul Schoenfeld shares four approaches to help keep your anxiety from getting out of control.

Find many of our region’s winter birds in the Skagit Valley

If you love birding, also check out these bird-related festivals, lectures and other events.

What’s new this year for travelers in England, Ireland

The nations are improving tourism infrastructures and adding exhibits to well-known sights.

A visit to the nursery helps put you in the mood to garden

Not ready to get back into gardening? January is still a fun time to poke around a garden center.

Plant of Merit: Hybrid oriental hellebores, Lenten rose

What: Oriental hybrid hellebores, with the common name Lenten rose, are a… Continue reading

Most Read