In Others’ Words: Words and Names

Names have power. Unknown. 2014 There were a lot of names being tossed around my house last weekend.

Not bad names — baby names. My daughter and son-in-love just found out they’re having a second daughter and, of course, it’s time to start the process of “What do think of ______”?

All sorts of names were offered and some suggestions were even added to their list of possibilities. It was fun, especially when someone found a peculiar name or an indecipherable name — think minimal vowels and an overabundance of consonants.

Being a novelist, I’m more attuned to names than most people. I’m naming the imaginary people populating my books — and then I have to remember those people’s names just as if I were going to send them a birthday card or a Christmas letter every year.

Names are powerful — given names that are often pondered over by our parents before we are born, as well as nicknames and endearments. I’ve loved some of my nicknames — and hated others. And yet, I considered nicknames important and made certain each of my kiddos had one — a special way of saying “I love you” that was all their own.

Yes, words have power — and names can be the most powerful use of words, for better or for worse.

In Your Words: What’s the meaning of your name? If you could change your name, what would you change it to? What do you think of nicknames?

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13 Comments

  1. November 14, 2014, 6:21 am   /  Reply

    I can sympathize, having to frequently name dogs. The nadir was reached when I chose to call a black lab “Labby”; but it does fit him.

    My name isn’t my original name – which does not lay easily on the Western tongue.

    As for nicknames – I do have one -“Mongo”.

    • November 14, 2014, 8:10 am   /  Reply

      Well, now I’m curious about your original name, Andrew.
      And also about “Mongo.”

      • November 14, 2014, 12:43 pm   /  Reply

        Mongo has two roots – one is from my rather simian appearance and, sometimes, perceptions. The second is from being Mongolian.

        I’ll try to find a decent transliteration for my name.

  2. November 14, 2014, 6:28 am   /  Reply

    True story–As a writer I chose to write under a pen name, because for some odd reason people have trouble pronouncing and spelling my last name–Trainum. Anyway, as I tried to think of a first name to go with my maiden name, I was talking with my mom about it. And she said…”well, if I hadn’t thought Patricia was pretty, I wouldn’t have named you that.”
    Enough said…but it ended my quest for my pen name.

    • November 14, 2014, 8:11 am   /  Reply

      I had an editor suggest I use a pen name when I was writing on a controversial topic.
      The entire event was disastrous. Won’t use a pen name again. If I write it, I claim it.

  3. November 14, 2014, 7:09 am   /  Reply

    Delores means sorrow and pain and I’ve never liked it. I was named for my dad’s 2nd cousin who I’d never met. When I finally did at age 57 I found she was a cool accomplished lady who wrote and with her husband was a world traveler, etc. That helped lots, but not liking the meaning of my name made me very careful naming our 2 sons, and the oldest one’s initials are A R T, my work of art.

    • November 14, 2014, 8:13 am   /  Reply

      I am not surprised you turned something you were not satisfied with into something good and beautiful, Dee.

  4. Susan
    November 14, 2014, 11:11 am   /  Reply

    Susan means graceful lily, which I’ve always laughed at because I am SO not graceful:) But the lily thing I can get on board with after reading all the the verses where God references lilies. And I LOVE names. I think God has a special name for each of us!

  5. Bernadette DesChamps
    November 14, 2014, 11:21 am   /  Reply

    I laughed when I first read that Bernadette means strong and brave, like a bear. At the time my life was defined by my fears. Fortunately, the Lord is teaching me to stand strong and courageous in Him on so many fronts, so I guess you could say I’m growing into it. 🙂

    I was Bernie to many in high school… Ugh. Let’s just say I have a serious lack of enthusiasm for that name. Please call me Bernadette, unless you’re under three and can only manage ‘Dette. The only nicknames I truly love are from my grands. One set call me Grammadette and the other little insists on calling me GaGa. When it comes to the grands, I don’t care what they call me…as long as they call me.

  6. Teresa R
    November 14, 2014, 8:38 pm   /  Reply

    Teresa means Harvester. My middle name is Lynn which means lake.

  7. Connie Brown
    November 14, 2014, 9:15 pm   /  Reply

    My name means constant. I think loyal when I hear it. I am there for my friends unless I just can’t. I do things for them without them asking. My name is already what would be considered a nickname. My mother said that I would be called Connie so she just named me that. I have been called a nickname by my maternal grandfather that I don’t tell anyone. It was what he called me all the time and I treasure it but no one else will call me that. I have been called CB back when that was a big thing. I still answer to it. I have been called smarty pants by a supervisor but it wasn’t meant nicely. I have no problems with a nickname for me or anyone else.

  8. November 15, 2014, 12:05 am   /  Reply

    Beth, congratulations on the baby news! I’m so excited for your entire family.

    My name Andrea Renee means “female born again,” which is true about me. 🙂 If I could change my name, I would become Faith Renee, to be named after my mom, Faith Dawn (she goes by Dawn). It would have been cool if I was named Faith, because my sis’ middle name is Dawn (after my mom), and then we would have both been named after her.

    Nicknames… growing up, that was my nemesis. Because I’m a redhead, I was called Carrot Top, which I never understood since carrot tops are green, and Rusty (because of my freckles) and Red. The only one I liked was Red because it was said in love instead of making fun of me. I didn’t take being made fun of well back then, but I see now that God used that time to help me slowly but surely gain a thicker skin. Now, when people make fun of me (particularly at volleyball when I grunt on my overhand serves) it just rolls off my back and I don’t even give the people the benefit of a response. Makes it less fun for them to tease me in a mean way. And it proves to me that I’ve grown up a lot since I was first called names that made me feel bad. I thank God for loving me through those tough times and helping me learn from them.

    What’s your favorite nickname you had growing up?

    Hugs,
    Andrea

  9. November 19, 2014, 11:52 am   /  Reply

    Well, I know from experience the power of names. When my kids got a kitten, they named it
    “shark” for some unknown reason. The kitten was pretty violent, hissing and scratching a lot. When I suggested they rename it, they called it “Cuddles” and it’s personality changed. It became loving. So weird. We have also been careful what to name our rescue horses. It is always something benign or cute because I believe that naming something comes with expectations and baggage, unconscious though it may be. There is an undercurrent. So I say be careful what attachments there are to anything a baby is named.

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