What’s in a Name

Names have been in existence as long as humanity.  The evolution of names have been shaped by both religious and cultural influences. In ancient times people were generally given one name (called a “given name”).  This name often related to a circumstance surrounding a child’s birth (Moses, meaning “drawn from the water”) or a trait that parents hoped a child would possess (such as Deborah – Hebrew meaning “honey bee”).  I especially like the spiritual connation of my name which is “New Era of Leadership.”

Also a name could be connected to a promise or an aspiration (Isaac meaning “laughter”) or an object (Esther meaning “star” or Amber meaning “like a jewel”). 

Later on in history, we see some utilization of second and third names.  These names were usually given to demonstrate a person’s identification with a particular family and/or clan such as Gaius Julius Ceasar or Simon bar-Jonah.  This practice was carried over into modern times through various tribal societies.    

While a child is still  often named for a characteristic or place, in many cases names are now selected for the way in which they commemorate someone or something, or simply on the basis of their own asthetic qualities.  20th and 21st century times have brought about hyphened names and names that just sound good.

So what’s in a name?  Names are a celebration not only of our humanity but also a reminder of our individuality, that we are all unique.  Names are wonderful gifts, given second only to the gift of life itself-lasting testimonies to the beauty of personhood.  Best of all, unlike our ancestors long ago, you have the opportunity to make these choices for your child(ren).  Enjoy your quest.


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