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Meanings of Names: Ever hear of Homophony?

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homo

 By K. M. Sheard, of NookofNames

There’s an old method of naming first recorded in use in the Old Testament.

It’s called homophony, and basically is the principal of choosing a name because it sounds like something which the bestower wants to commemorate. Or, putting it another way, the choice of name was inspired by something, which, in most cases is entirely unrelated to the name.

It works in all languages; amongst the biblical Hebrews, for instance, there was a period when names which had become long-established were chosen because of their resemblance to a word or words which suggested themselves during pregnancy or labor.

This is partly why the meaning of so many biblical names have gotten so muddled. It’s common in the OT for the mother to make some explanation as to why she’s naming a newborn such-and-such, and this explanation was often interpreted in the past as being the meaning of the name, when, in many cases, it’s actually homophony going on.

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gaelic6

When it comes to Celtic baby names, it’s easy enough to research the history of Irish and Scottish names, and also to check out the most popular names of the year.  But what names are parents in those countries using for their kids right now?  How many of the names have brogues and burrs and how many would as easily be found on announcements in the US and UK.?  Are there any fabulous first/middle combos that we’d be surprised to see on our local birth cerificates?

I’ve been scouring some Irish and Scottish newspaper birth announcements and picked out some of the most striking discoveries—including some of the most noteworthy sibsets.  All these babies were born during the last couple of months.

Irish Girls

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irishxx

The new most popular Irish baby names were just announced, with the Top 10 dominated by — non-Irish names.

The new Top 10 for girls contains not a single Irish choice:

  1. Emily
  2. Sophie
  3. Emma
  4. Grace
  5. Lily
  6. Sarah
  7. Lucy
  8. Ava
  9. Chloe
  10. Katie

The new boys’ list includes three Irish baby names, compared with just one Irish choice — Aiden — on the U.S. popular names list.  The new Irish Top 10 for boys are:

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saoirse

Irish names have been making the trans-Atlantic crossing for centuries, beginning with easily assimilated ones like Patrick and Kathleen, Kevin and Brian and Ryan. But recently, thanks to a few high-profile celebs in both the entertainment and literary worlds, we’ve been introduced to some intriguingly authentic Irish names we hadn’t met up with before. Here, to commemorate  St. Paddy’s Day, are some of the best.

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infljadenxxx

Which people over time have had the greatest influence on baby names in the U.S.? We’ve collected the top dozen individuals who’ve inspired millions of namesakes, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes it was an actual name that went viral; in other cases these people set off a wider-ranging trend. Here, the greatest baby name influencers of all time:

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