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Baby Name Meanings

By Michael Barrows

Speaking as a Michael (a Hebrew name, meaning "Who is like God"), I'm really proud of my name. And I think that I - mostly - live up to the title! Of course, my mother would probably disagree; I think the phrase "little devil" would probably pass her lips if she was describing me during many stages of my childhood.

But then, my mother has her own issues; apparently her name (Kathleen) is a Celtic name meaning "Little Darling". Hmmm, that isn't the way I used to think about her during those regular occasions when she was punishing me for my "not like God" behaviour"!

And that's the fun of baby name meanings - parents make naming decisions based on many, many different reasons, including family traditions, religion, culture, uniqueness and "it just sounds really nice." But - in the Western world - we rarely do any real research into the history or real meaning of baby names. So when the poor/lucky child finally finds out the meaning of his/her "really nice sounding" name, the results can be interesting, ironic, unfortunate or just sometimes hilarious.

You can have a lot of fun thinking up family/friends names, finding out the meanings and trying to make a connection between the two. For example, my eldest brother Clive is apparently "a cliff dweller", which is coincidental, since he lives at the top of a very long steep hill! Or why not play the game with celebrities - consider the following:

Badu (as in r n'b singer Erykah Badu): African name meaning "Tenth born child"

Winona (as in actress Winona Ryder): Sioux name meaning "Firstborn daughter"

Aaliyah (the late r n'b singer): Arabic name meaning "High, exalted"

Hilary (as in actresses Duff/Swank): Latin name meaning "Cheerful"

Some cultures have very interesting traditions when it comes to baby name meanings. For example, Hindu names usually have connections with very positive things such as truth, beauty, happiness, blessings, etc, or one of the Hindu gods. In the Sikh culture, girls traditionally have the middle or surname "Kaur", meaning "Princess", whilst the boys have the middle or surname "Singh", meaning "Lion".

An African friend of mine once mentioned that many Africans are given a second name corresponding to the day of the week on which they were born. I think is a really nice tradition, but in my case, my middle name would be "Sondo" (born on Sunday)!! Hmmmm

Whatever type of name you have chosen, or are thinking about for your "bundle of joy", its worth doing a little research into the meaning. And it's never been easier, with the wealth of Internet resources and books available.

Your search may yield some surprises; for example, the lovely-sounding name "Malory" is French and means "Bad luck". You could get round this by spelling it "Mallory", but this means "Without good fortune" in Old German!

Alternatively, you may end up a little confused by different meanings of the same name; for example "Leah" is a beautiful girl's name, but what does it mean? Well"

"In Hebrew it means "Cow" or "Weary one" - uugghhh!

"In Greek it means "Glad tidings"

"In Assyrian, it means "Mistress, ruler"

And a final warning: if you are planning to go for a funky, unusual-sounding name, be sure to avoid "Bacia," - its Ugandan meaning is "Family deaths ruined the home!"

About The Author
Michael Barrows' website has great advice for choosing baby names and lots of great baby resources.


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