• February 2008
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Name Meanings

I like to look at name meanings a lot, especially when I do research for other people.  If there is something that means a lot to them, or a family member they want to honor, I will look up the meaning and see what names have the same meaning.  I think it’s really neat when people use names that mean something special to them.  And it obviously means something in the Bible, since every time a child was named it included its meaning.

Of course, I don’t think the meaning of a name makes a difference in who the baby becomes.  My name means warrior, lively, or aggressive, depending on where you look.  While I can get aggressive at times ;), I don’t consider myself a warrior.  But some parents can take the demeaner of their baby, or the fact that the baby fought hard to survive, and choose a name for them that way. 

Personally, I wouldn’t pick a name that means something awful, but in general, meanings aren’t the most critical thing to me when choosing a name.  Like Rachel… it means lamb.  That’s sweet, but it’s not the reason why we chose the name.  However, even though I think the name Mary, or varients of it (like Marianne), is beautiful, it means bitter!  That makes it lower on my list than other names.

What do the names in your family mean?  Do you look at a name’s meaning when considering it for your child?  Are there names that are special to you because of their meaning?


6 Responses

  1. This is actually the first thing I consider when deciding if I like a name or not. It’s such a fascination to me that I actually find it really weird when people don’t know what their own names mean — how could they not want to know that? I’ve spent way too many hours looking up name meanings — for future children, for everyone in my family, for friend and enemies alike. What really fascinates me is the development of last names. Have you ever met some mean ogre with a last name like Killjoy and felt it more than fitting. Or someone like my very conservative, non-drinking brother-in-law and just chuckled because his last name is Brewer? Wonder who his distant relatives were? I I know, I need a life! 🙂
    While the meaning is super important to me, there are some names with great meanings that I just couldn’t go along with for various reasons. For instance, Matthew means “a gift from God,” which is a great meaning, but the name is just too common for my liking and I’ve known too many Matthews that I don’t like (isn’t that funny how some of us still think of the 2nd grade bully or our jerk of a bus driver or whoever and therefore automatically throw out names because of them?) But I do love the name Corban, the meaning “gift devoted to God” was appropriate for our situation and it isn’t common (another factor for me). Her first middle name is Lily simply because I like it and her second one is Marie, chosen by her birthmother. In fact if the birthmother had kept her, her full name would have been Melanie Marie meaning “black and bitter.” Add that to the reasons why it’s a good thing she came home with us!

    Like you Kelli, I’m not really sure my name matches my personality, Erin means “peace” or “Ireland.” I’m not known far and wide as being a peace maker nor am I a lush green island. But I like it nonetheless! And combined with my middle name Lee, I’m a “peaceful valley.”

    And Rachel is a cute name, I love lambs. But the Biblical Rachel had a jerk of a dad — poor Leah means “cow” — guess he thought of his children as livestock.

    And, once again, I’ve written a book and I’ll end now.

  2. Maybe I’ll go into all my kids names later – but the most interesting story name was for Adrienne. We really liked the name, but the meanings we found were “born by the sea” or the “dark one.” We live in Utah – no sea here – but we thought she would have been born by the sea if I could have everything I want. 🙂 And, I decided that if she had been born a really light blond baby (like her brother) than I couldn’t have named her that. But, as it turned out, she had a darker complexion and really dark hair, so it fit her. (my husband would tease about “the dark side” but I don’t think that’s funny.)
    On another note, I was disappointed as a child when I found out my name only meant “Christian.” I mean, that’s nice and all, but I had wanted some great quality or characteristic to say my name meant.
    Oh, and PS, my son’s name is Matthew Isaac which, put together, means “a gift from God, who laugheth” (more or less) and I love that. He had the greatest belly laugh as a baby. 🙂
    My other 2 also have biblical names with meanings that I really like.
    Meanings are definitely important. Although, I think I choose the name first, then check out the meaning to make sure it’s something nice. 🙂

  3. I enjoy finding out the meaning of names, but didn’t really look at that when we were picking the names for our boys (seriously — Nelson’s name means “son of Neil”!!). I *think* we’re going with Grant for a first name this time around, and it means “grand” or “large”. He can be grand all he wants, but I hope he’s not large — at least when he arrives! We might go with a meaning name for the middle name, though. So we’ll see . . .

  4. My name means “appearance of God” and I always liked that, even my the name “Tiffany” itself has become trite, over-used, and fantastically dated. I used to feel bad becuse it seemed so modern that there weren’t any Biblical figures or literary characters or historical personages who had the name (except for Tiffany Case from “Diamonds are Forever” but I wasn’t really looking up to Bond girls at age 7 — or even age 007 — thankfully.) Then I read a name book that had the historical form of the name listed: Theopania, from medieval Greek, and was given to girls born in early January born around the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the baptism of Jesus. Suddenly, I felt much more affection for it because it turned out that is did have a history and a wonderful religious connection, even if I wouldn’t be seeing any Sunday School feltboard characters with my name.

    All of that to say that I think I’m with you, Kelli, in that I wouldn’t choose a name with an awful meaning, but that might make it a little lower on my list. My husband and I both lean more towards what the name means to us — a family members or literary character or place we love and so on — than its actual etymology. But a nice meaning is a wonderful added bonus!

    And Erin, I read your post a few weeks ago about how Corban got her name and I can’t get it out of my head. It’s just such a wonderful story and one that I am sure she will be proud to tell herself when she is older.

    Also, I am so right there with you with the humorous last name thing. The Brewer thing is hilarious! I’ve always wondered how people could end up with the last name Pope when the Pope isn’t supposed to have any progeny. (I know it just means “Father,” but that takes all of the humor out of the question.)

  5. I am definitely a bit concerned about the meaning of a name. When we chose Asher’s name, we liked the meaning of “joy” or “happy”. I’m thankful it seems to fit his personality. :), but the name describes how we felt to be having a little boy.

    With Ainsley’s name, we gave in a bit. Her name means “a person from Ansley, England”. We’ve never been there or heard of the town prior to choosing her name. What’s funny is that Peyton proposed Paisley as a name he liked, but I told him I didn’t like it because it didn’t really mean anything. It means “a person from Paisley”.

  6. Thanks Tiffany — it means a lot to hear you say that (or write that, whatever). You wouldn’t believe the number of people who I meet face to face and feel the need to tell me that her name is weird or it’s a boy name or whatever other stupid thing they feel like saying. So, again, thanks for that — I hope she likes it in the future too! 🙂

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