Category: baby name meanings
A visitor to our forums posed this question to the Berries: Would you give your child a name, a wonderful name that you truly love, if it had a negative meaning? How meaningful is the root meaning of a name, anyway?
The name in question was Kennedy, a name that has so much going for it: illustrious relatives, a stylish surname feel, a rhythmic sound, and growing popularity.
Some websites will try to tell you that Kennedy means “royal” or “loving” but it doesn’t. It means “misshapen head.” And that is the problem.
Or it’s the problem when, in fourth grade, the teacher decides to have the class do oral reports on their names: Where they came from, what they mean. And poor “misshapen head” is forced to announce her name’s unfortunate meaning in front of the whole class.
So we’ve decided to reprise the idea with a whole raft of new pairs of twin names. As before, the idea is to choose names that are compatible yet clearly individual — no shared first initials or other overly-obvious links — yet that are joined in a more subtle way by a common meaning.
In the girl-boy pairs below, the girl’s name goes first as per Nameberry style; in single-gender pairs, the names are organized alphabetically.
For this week’s Nameberry Nine, columnist Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain talks about the myriad sources of baby name meaning and inspiration, from family to philosophy to art to politics to nature.
Beyonce is a new mom! She and Jay-Z have yet to officially confirm their daughter’s appellation but based on celeb friends’ comments and Tweets, it seems almost certain that their little girl is named Blue Ivy.
Speculators have been mining the star couple’s family histories for possibilities, just like her own mother did when she turned a family surname into the future star’s unique appellation. It appears that Ivy might be a reference to the number four – IV. Shades of Harper Seven Beckham, anyone?
As for Blue, she wouldn’t be the first, certainly not in Hollywood. She could have play dates with Alicia Silverstone’s son, Bear Blu. Ella Bleu Travolta is old enough to babysit, and so is U2 guitarist The Edge’s daughter Blue Angel. And Cher’s son Elijah Blue, who started the whole Blue-as-name thing, is over thirty.
Some will probably dismiss this one as wacky, but with Violet and Scarlett in favor, why not Blue? Others might object that blue is a synonym for feeling low. But then there are blue skies and bluebirds of happiness, too.
The thing about unusual names is this: choices that we might dismiss as outlandish and unwearable are transformed when the parents reveal their thinking. Something tells me that, should Beyonce and Jay-Z share their rationale, this name could be nothing short of perfect.
Baby names with intriguing meanings seemed to be all over the place this week, along with a few choices that were just plain pretty.
Whitsun – Can a name be edgy and cool, and yet spiritually significant, too? Thanks to Jodi for pointing to blogger Molly Piper and her family’s naming philosophy. The Pipers choose names that are actual words with meanings that resonate for them. Youngest son Whitsun’s appellation refers to Pentecost – White Sunday, fifty days after Easter. Whit makes for a smart short form.
Some parents put a lot of stock in the etymological definitions of names, while others brush that element aside as having little to do with a name’s real meaning and image in the modern world.
So, our question today is: how important a factor is the literal meaning to you when considering your name choices?
Would or did you actively seek out a name that means, say, strength or hope or love or beauty?
Would you rule out a name with a negative meaning, such as “pig” (Portia) or “crooked nose” (Cameron) or “crooked mouth” (Campbell) or “misshapen head” (Kennedy) or “bald” (Calvin), on the chance that your child will constantly be checking himself in the mirror for signs of a prophecy bestowed?
Or is this way down on your list of considerations—or maybe not even there at all?
NAMEBERRY WANTS TO KNOW!