Sunday, 7 December 2014

Naming Baby (Him)

After looking at some of the more unusual origins of female names last time, I thought it best to redress the balance by looking at male names. As I stated last time I often roll my eyes, even cringe when hearing some of the names given to the children by parents in the 21st century. Of course this will have been true of every generation.

Normally associated with place names, there are other proper nouns of interest to me. Over the years my research has uncovered details of the origins of personal names. Many have fallen out of use but may well return in the future. There has always been those who use a relevant surname as a christian name - ironically some of the earliest surnames are adaptations of christian names - but it those which began as words which interest me. Some will have been insults, others whimsical, and even a few complimentary.

After female names last time I now turn to the male names and offer a list of examples in alphabetical order.

ALFRED is a true English name and comes from a term meaning 'elf counsel'.

BARRY may mean 'fair-haried' but, if this is the pet form of BARRINGTON, then it refers to 'a troublesome tribe or individual'.

CAMPBELL and CAMERON seem to be increasingly popular choices for male infants. They also happen to be the surnames of two influential British politicans, although this could be coincidental. The former is a term meaning 'twisted mouth', the latter 'one with a crooked nose'.

DARCY is clearly a name from classic English literature. One wonders whether Jane Austen was aware the surname is of French derivation and refers to 'someone from Arcy'.

EDGAR has never been the most popular of names but has hardly ever fallen out of favour completely even with a dated meaning of 'prosperity from the spear'. Should anyone followers of Dickens be considering naming their yuletide child after one of his most famous characters, EBENEZER means 'the helping stone'.

FRASER is also endured over the years. It means 'from a growing strawberry'. And if you think FABIO is a good idea for a modern international name, remember it does mean 'bean farmer'. Also, should you decide to call him after a favourite pet, FANG has the unusual origin of 'pleasant-smelling'.

GILES refers to 'a wearer of goat skin' and GRAHAM 'one from a gravel clearing'.

HAMLET might seem a good idea to devotees of the bard, until we realise it means 'home'. And if you think HARDING sounds like a good surname to turn into a given name, just remember it means 'son of the hard one'.

IRVIN or IRVINE or even IRVING all mean 'water of green' or, should you be a fan of Gershwin you might want to call him IRA which means 'alert' (and to quote a t-shirt from yesteryear remember "Be alert, England needs lerts").

JACOB is a timeless biblical name gaining in popularity despite a meaning of 'following after'. If you were raised on Disney's Aladdin you might not want to call him Jafar as it means 'small stream'. And whether you spell it JADEN, JAYDEN, JAIDEN, JADYN, or any other 'creative' spelling, this is a name I had personally found quite pointless even before I discovered it had been invented during the 1930s and has no etymological value whatsoever.

KAI seems to be astoundingly popular at present. It is said to mean 'from the sea', (although as anyone from Birmingham will tell you it is something which operates a lock).

LEE means 'a clearing', although if you want to be really clever and name the poor thing LEGOLAS after the Tolkein character, be aware it means 'leaf'.

MARK might seem a decent dependable name - it comes from Mars and thus means 'warlike'. And MELVIN might not be a good idea either, it comes from 'bad settlement'.

NIGEL is surely a dependable name, although 'coming from clouds' might not support that image. NARCISSUS might seem clever - it's from Greek mythology, surely nothing can be wrong here - but does mean 'numb or sleepy'.

ORVILLE was a real person's name until some irritating green duck puppet became known by this name - not a particularly appropriate name for green waterfowl as it means 'a golden village'. And forget the Greek mythological figure ODYSSEUS, has a name meaning 'to hate' so perhaps not a good choice.

PAUL might not want to hear his name means 'tiny,' when he grows up.

QUENTIN and QUINCY share of an origin of 'fifth'.

RALF or RALPH have an origin of 'wise as a wolf' (depends upon one's point of view, I suppose).

STANLEY began as a place name meaning 'the stony clearing'. And forget thinking naming him SHERLOCK will give him a good start in the intellectual stakes, it means 'blonde'.

TODD uses an old word for 'fox'. While TARZAN might evoke thoughts of strength and speed, Edgar Rice Burroughs knew what he was doing when he gave his hero a name meaning 'white-skinned one'.

UTHER may seem a good idea, Uther Pendragon was the father of King Arthur, yet consider its meaning of 'terrible or abhorrent'.

VAUGHAN or VAUGHN will not only prove a challenge when it comes to writing his name when the poor blighter starts school, he also may object to a name meaning 'the small one'.

WILBUR comes from 'wild pig'. And while WILLIAM is, quite literally, a 'strong' name, WILL-I-AM refers, rather ungrammatically, to something hidden from just about everyone until after death.

XAVIER was about the only English(ish) name I could find, this name means 'new home'.

YVES was the best I could find and the French equivalent of YORK, both meaning 'yew tree'.

ZEB, short for ZEBEDIAH, was the best I could find. However the meaning of 'God lends' does not explain what is being loaned or at what cost.

I did ask a very few couples whether the father or mother had influenced the name and discovered the mother is by far the more influential in naming the child. Personally I listened to every suggestion and vetoed every single one, then offered my own ideas which were accepted quite quickly.

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