Meaning of Names

There is a lot more to one's name than you may think.

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Brianna Linco

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Personalities can define who a person is and names can even communicate a deeper meaning. Although some parents just choose a name because of the way it rolls off their tongue or because it was a family member’s name, a name can give a profound impact to a person’s true being. A name can be just a name, or it can be a whole new idea of a person’s background.

Although some students know their true meaning, the Internet gives the exact definition of each name. According to BabyCenter Population, the top five boy or girl names in America in 2012 are still popular to this day. Another website, Behind the Name, shows, “The etymology and history of first names” showing the history of either royalty or symbolism of the top five male and female names.

Hitting the top of the chart for male names is Liam, an Irish form of the name William. Number two is the name Noah, which means rest. The biggest recognition of the name is from the Old Testament, where Noah is the man who built the Ark that allowed him, his family and animals to survive a flood, creating peace and rest for the species. The third most popular name is Mason, which means stoneworker. The fourth most popular name is Ethan, which means solid, or enduring. Ethan is common in America due to the fame of the revolutionary Ethan Allen. The last of the top five is Jackson, which means “Son of Jack” who was a famous bearer of the hereditary name of American president Andrew Jackson.

Antioch Community High School junior Gregory Horton believes he knows enough of the meaning of his own name.

“My name quite literally means vigilant and I suppose it represents me. I do like my name because it is not common, but it is not too weird, and I wouldn’t change mine because it is mine,” Horton said.

Hitting the top of the chart for female names is Emma, which means whole or universal. Emma was introduced to England by Emma of Normandy who was the wife to both King Ethelred II and later King Canute. Not only is Emma the number one female name in America, but it is also number one in Belgium, Finland, France and Norway. Second off the chart is the name Olivia. This name was first used in this specific spelling by Shakespeare from a character in his comedy “Twelfth Night,” Olivia rose in popularity in America from a character on the 1970s television series “The Waltons.” Olivia is also number one in America’s neighboring country, Canada. Third most popular name is Ava, which is a version of the name Eve. Sophia, which means wisdom in Greek, takes the fourth most popular name in America. Sophia was named after an old saint who died of grief after her three daughters who were killed based off of their beliefs. Sophia is common among continental European royalty during the Middle Ages, and it was popularized in Britain by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century. Last to take the charts is Isabella, a name carried by many medieval royals.

ACHS sophomore Jenna Bork said, ”[My name means] small bird and I believe this to be true because I wander but I always find my way home.”

According to Behind the Name, the name Jenna was popularized in the 1980s by the character Jenna Wade on the television series “Dallas.” Jenna is currently number 227 on the charts on Behind the Name.

Another ACHS student, freshman Heather McNaughton, said, “Heather is a small pink and purple bell-shaped flower, so I would say it means grace and daintiness. My family is Irish and Scottish so they chose my name. I believe a person defines their name not the other way around.”

Based off of Behind the Name, the name Heather is a small shrub with pink or white flowers that commonly grow in rocky areas, and is currently number 836 on the charts of Behind the Name.

Picking a name for baby can be a very long and difficult process. Electing the child’s name can be very thought-provoking. The name has to fit the child and needs to have meaning because it will stick to the child for the rest of their life. Not only is the specific meaning to the name important, but the meaning of the family history involved can be as well. It can also be a difficult process because both the parents do not have to agree. So who wins?

“My husband and I decided together,” said English teacher Mary Easton. “We did have a few names that we vetoed, but there was not a ton of controversy. We had a list in mind going into delivery and then we waited until seeing the baby to give them their names. My son’s name is Clay Jason and my daughter’s name is Conley Anna. Clay is just a name we both liked and Jason is my husband’s name. Conley is actually the name of a ski brand. The brand name is spelled ‘Connelly.’ My husband was skiing one day, saw the brand, and asked if I liked it. I did, though I didn’t want to spell it the same way as the name brand. Anna is my middle name. I don’t think Clay has much meaning other than the literal meaning of clay. Conley means strong willed or wise. Since I am pregnant currently, we will probably reveal the names on our list since we won’t know the sex of the baby. People always want to know something.”

Looking into Easton’s kids’ names, Clay originally referred to a person who lived near or worked with clay. It is popularly ranked at 722 in America. Conley does mean strong willed or wise.

Choosing a name is such an honor, but who knew it took so much effort just because of the meaning. No matter the length or the popularity of a name, everyone’s name has a specific meaning that can represent their personality. Although some students would like to change their name, there used to be a reason as to why we all have the names we do. Maybe if the community knew more about their name it could change the way they look at themselves, and turn themselves into something they were always meant to be.

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