Category: Historic Names
By Laura Booher
For me, there’s always been something fascinating about family history. Maybe it’s because my own family tells so many stories about relatives and times long past. And maybe it’s also because I love travel, and I like to imagine where my ancestors came from and what they were like. In any event, I’ve explored my genealogy on and off over the years and one thing that I found most interesting is the variety of names I discovered there.
Unfortunately, most of the first names that appear in my family tree are either repeated a thousand times, or are so unusual that I’d hesitate to give them to my child. I found it was the surnames that provided the better source of names that I would consider as a future first or middle name. So, without further ado, here are my top five family surnames that are candidates for a future child.
This past September, we paid our respects to some of Hollywood’s greatest stars and marveled at a visionary’s dreams of the stars. Let’s have a look back at some of the big names in the news – and a look into what the origins of their names can illuminate about them.
Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a Catholic saint this month. St. Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxihu. Anjezë is the Albanian form of Agnes, anticipated her spiritual calling: It’s Greek for “holy” or “pure.” St. Teresa chose her religious name after the 19th-century French nun Thérèse de Lisieux.
Some think Teresa comes from the Greek for “harvest” or “huntress.” Others think it is from the Greek Thera, the name of some volcanic islands in the Mediterranean. The story goes that the wife of St. Paulinus of Nola (354-431 AD) was born on one of those islands and so took her name from them. The origin is unclear, but Teresa is a well-traveled name – fitting for St. Teresa, who made her impact far and wide.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has made headlines by protesting the pre-game National Anthem over racial inequality. Many athletes have followed suit, which some consider a victory for Colin’s cause. Victory indeed: Colin is a French pet name for Nicholas, a Greek name that literally means “victory-people.” The Greek word for – and goddess of – “victory” is nike, which lives on in the athletic brand.
Acting legend Gene Wilder sadly passed away this month. Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder took Gene, a short for Eugene, after Eugene Gant, a character in a Thomas Wolfe novel, and Wilder after writer Thornton Wilder. Eugene is from the Greek Eugenios, “well-born” or “noble.” Jerome, meanwhile, is from the Greek Hieornymos, “holy name.” Gene Wilder came from a humble background, but as many remembrances made clear, he was a class-act as an artist and person. And his name will surely be long “worshiped” by his many fans.
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of the United States, was born on October 31, 1860, and her birthday is commemorated by the Girl Scouts as “Founder’s Day.” Juliette is a French name meaning youthful that has been steadily rising in popularity. Currently ranked at Number 226, Juliette has risen over 400 spots in the last 10 years. This spelling of Juliette may also remind you of actors Juliette Binoche and Juliette Lewis.
By Rachel Lyon
I have long been interested in the origin and function of pen names. A pseudonym can be a mask to hide behind, or a tool by which to play a sort of game. It can be a political statement, an aesthetic declaration, or an alternate identity that is grown into over time. Pseudonyms can give writers the freedom to argue a position they don’t quite believe, or the courage to say the otherwise unspeakable. And they can carry hidden homages to other names of other notable men and women.