President Joe Biden's middle name is Robinette, and here's why

The new commander-in-chief has a highly unusual middle name that some became aware of for the first time on Inauguration Day.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper

Joe Biden, flanked by incoming US First Lady Jill Biden, takes the oath of office during the swearing-in ceremony of the 46th US president.  

Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Even though Joe Biden was vice president for eight years, it turns out some people didn't know the new president's middle name until he was sworn in on Wednesday. His full name is Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., and it's fair to say his middle name isn't a common one. It's his paternal grandmother's maiden name -- she was Mary Elizabeth Robinette before marrying Joseph Harry Biden. The president's father was their first child, Joseph Robinette Biden Sr, who died in 2002 at age 86.

It's far from the most unusual presidential middle name. President Warren Harding's middle name was Gamaliel, though he's best known as Warren G. Harding. President Harry Truman's middle name was simply the letter S, and President Theodore Roosevelt didn't have a middle name at all.

"Huge day for Robinette visibility," tweeted Twitter user Ashley Feinberg. "Shout out to all the Robinettes out there who've been living in the shadows. Your time has come, solidarity with the Robinettes."

One tweet referenced the enormous dove pin singer Lady Gaga wore to the inauguration, playing off the robin part of the name. "Robinette is what Lady Gaga was wearing," wrote one Twitter user. And another simply riffed "Batman and Robinette."

But Biden's not alone. Some social media users pointed out that actor Richard Brooks played assistant district attorney Paul Robinette on the TV show Law & Order. Author Mary Robinette Kowal has the name, too. "Why thank you!" she tweeted as her name trended.

Inauguration Day of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in pictures

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