We all have a name, well we have to really. It’s not just the law, but it would be so unbelievably confusing if we didn’t have some sort of specific word that relates to us personally. Naturally, there is an inherent fascination with understanding our own name and where it originated. There are so many ways that a name came into being with inspiration being taken from literally every corner of the globe and even the entire universe.
There is even a word that describes the study of names: onomatics. This is linked to linguistics, historical events, sociological influences and even anthropology. The actual meaning of a word can be discovered by studying its etymology. Etymology is the study of words, and in the case of names, it is a way of explaining the literal meaning of a name. There are thousands of names and each has its own roots, origins and meaning.
There are numerous ways in which a name is originated. It could be something obvious like a flower (Daisy), or a shrub (Holly) that gives inspiration for a name. Other names have origins that are a lot less clear as they have derived from old words that have not been in common use for some time, for example Robert which is formed from ancient words that mean ‘fame’ and ‘bright’. Even places such as Skye can be used as first names, and this is currently a very popular way of naming a baby.
The well known Beckham family have done this with their eldest son who they named Brooklyn. Another very modern means of naming a baby comes from inventing a brand new name that derives from the two parents’ names or perhaps grandparents. The famous couple Katie Price and Peter Andre named their daughter Tiaamii which fuses the names of the child’s grandmothers.
Choosing a baby’s name
Discovering that you are going to be a parent is possibly one of the most exciting things can ever happen. As soon as you see that positive test, one of the first things that will inevitably be discussed will be baby names. Choosing a child’s name is such an important duty that it is no wonder that it can take quite some time and considerable deliberations before a name is agreed.
Historically there are many ways in which to choose a baby’s name. These range from taking a parent’s or other relative’s name in their honour. Some families and cultures even have strict protocols of naming a first-born son after his father, or using a mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Other cultures look to their holy books for inspiration and make a special day of naming their child. Sikhs, for example, will randomly flip open the Holy Grath and take the first letter from the verse of a hymn to use as the initial of the child’s name. Some cultures will look to more mystical or celestial cues, for example stars, constellations, planets, moons or the climate at the time of birth.
Things to consider
Bear in mind the other names that your child will have as well, that is to say any middle name and the surname. Try to select a first name that will sound lyrical when it is spoken aloud. Beware of pitfalls such as a name on paper that looks lovely, but when said, it takes on a completely different personality. For example, Iona Lawrie. This name looks pretty but when you say it, well you will see! This type of name can be the source of lots of playground teasing so you will either have to prime your child to rise above it or else save the potential trouble and choose an alternative. Likewise, think about the initials the child will have. Watch out for unfortunate combinations such as Giles Ian Thompson. His initials would spell out ‘GIT’, which is obviously best avoided! Similarly, beware of the dreaded shortening of names to nicknames that are a bit dubious. Well known pitfalls are William that could end up as ‘Willie’, or Richard that is often shortened to the innuendo laden ‘Dick’.
A trend is for parents to name all their children with the same initial. The letters ‘J’ and ‘K’ seem to be a particular favourite as initials for a first name. However, this might sound cute, create a strong family identity and the family’s names will roll nicely off the tongue, but think about what will happen when they grow into adults. Do you really want to have to deal with arguments about who has just opened whose mail for the umpteenth time? They will all have the same initials and surname on an envelope, after all!
One more thing to be mindful of is those all important and highly potent pregnancy hormones. They can be the difference between a smart name or a disastrous name. It is well known that hormones can alter even the most level headed mother’s brain function so take this into account when deciding on a name. It’s perfectly OK to have a name or two in mind before the baby is born, but sometimes it is best to just hold off making the grand announcement until you have had a day or so to look at and get to know your baby and see if the name will suit your new bundle of joy.
Making the decision
If you have trawled through your family tree, looked out of the window at the flowers, plants and the sky, or leafed through favourite fiction stories and still found no inspiration, then maybe it is time to consider bringing in some reinforcements! Using a dedicated baby naming resource like ‘What Does My Name Mean‘ is a great way to keep yourself occupied during those 9 long months.
There are quite literally thousands of names, both traditional and less well known from all different cultures across the globe here on What Does My Name Mean. Better still, they come with an explanation of what they mean and the name’s origin is included. That ought to help make even the most undecided mind up! Start your name search below, it’s totally free!
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