Monday, October 13, 2014

What's the Story Behind Your Name?

Sultry Kristen Stewart as Isabella in Twilight
"Words have meaning and names have power."  Unknown

Unless we choose a stage name or pseudonym, or legally change our names, we're stuck with the monikers given to us by our parents for life.  Some parents put a lot of time and consideration into this by scouring baby name books.

While some future moms and dads want a name that's pleasing to the ear, others may choose one for its strong symbolic meaning, as well, for example, Gerald: mighty with the spear.  A name chosen for a baby could be one passed from generation to generation, or perhaps taken from the Bible.  Historical heroes and heroines can be popular name choices, too.

But not everyone puts that much thought into the naming process.  A friend of mine from college said that when she was born, her father asked two nurses what their names were.  One was Karen, the other Sue.  So my friend was named Karen Sue!  That was easy.

Beautiful Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story
Lots of name choices are influenced by popular culture.  During the Depression, many little girls were named Shirley, after child movie star Shirley Temple.  I know someone who was spared that fate when her father insisted she be named Carmen!  She's ever thankful for his intervention and loves the more exotic and mysterious name chosen for her instead.

The girl name Madison was inspired by the 1984 movie Splash.  Nowadays, Isabella is one of the most popular girl names because of the books and films in the Twilight series.   I read an article not long ago about popular baby names inspired by films and found myself sneering.  "It's amazing how many parents name their kids after characters in movies," I thought condescendingly.  But then I had to scold myself.

Ever heard of West Side Story?  My mom was pregnant with me when she saw it.  My name would've been Carol, but after hearing the song "Maria," you can figure out the rest of the story.  I, along with probably hundreds of thousands of other little girls in the U.S. (of non-Hispanic origin), was named Maria, back in...well, it was a long time ago.

Although a name is a serious thing, once in a while, you hear some that sound as though they were chosen on a whim.  Several years ago, my husband overheard a conversation in the grocery store between two women.  One was quite excited because she'd found the perfect name for her soon to be born daughter.  "Formica Dinette!" She exclaimed happily to her friend.  "I saw it in the Sears Catalog!"  For the child's sake, I hope someone talked her out of that!

What's the story behind your name? Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Reprinted from 9/29/10.

4 comments:

William Kendall said...

My actual name is one that gets passed down a lot through the family lines, but in fact, I've never liked it, so I went with a penname instead. It does derive from the Roman version, Mars, of the Greek war god Ares.

Norma Beishir said...

My name was supposed to be Robin. But Dad had to drive a long distance to work when Mom was pregnant. She had morning sickness like Kate Middleton's, and he was concerned about her being alone. Her sister, Norma, stayed with her while Dad was at work, so I got stuck with the name. I asked Mom why they couldn't have just bought her a fruit basket or something.

Intangible Hearts said...

My name was supposed to be Kinga after a Queen but dad wanted me named after my mom.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I have a great-aunt named Marie, but my mom just liked Jennette (and chose to spell it oddly). I read an article recently that said people were starting to name girls Katniss!