What’s in a Name?

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The week of March 6-12 is Celebrate Your Name Week. It has been observed in the first week of March since 1997. It was established by American onomatology hobbyist Jerry Hill, who prescribed the first full week in March as a time for everyone worldwide to embrace and celebrate their name. March 6 is also Namesake Day and according to nationaltoday.com/namesakeday, the day was designated to encourage people to research the history behind their names, what they were named after and what it means.

People either don’t like their name or they love it. I was never particularly fond of my name, but when my parents told me their other choices were Sally or Chloe, I decided Cheryl was okay. The name became common in the 1940s and lists several different meanings: “beloved,” “friend,” and “love.” My middle name, Ann, means “grace.”

It took me a long time to choose names for my own children. I named my oldest son Matthew because it means “gift from God,” which he certainly was. The Anglo Saxon meaning of my middle son’s name, Jeffrey, is “peaceful gift,” or “divine peace.” My daughter Melissa’s name means “honey bee.” I didn’t know the meaning when we named her; it just seemed to fit because she was such a precious, perfect, sweet baby girl.

What are the most popular names for this year? According to babycenter.com, the most popular so far in 2022 are Olivia and Noah. Last year, they were Olivia and Liam. The most common names however, over the last 100 years, are James and Mary. Among U.S. presidents, the most common is James (six of them), followed by John and then, William.

Some parents choose an unusual name for their children because it is a reflection of their values and they want their child to stand out. According to experts, that is driven by our current society’s focus on individuality and self expression. Celebrities seem to bestow their kids with unusual names, such as the late musician Frank Zappa, father of Moon Unit, Dweezle and Diva Muffin. Singer Ed Sheeran’s daughter is named Lyra Antarctica and actors Scarlett Johannson and Colin Jost named their baby boy Cosmos. Blue Ivy is the name of singer Beyonce’s daughter.

So, how important is your name? I think names define who we are. Many people name their children after family members or to honor someone important in their life. Many simply choose a name for their child because it is pretty or goes well with the last name.

During Celebrate Your Name Week, take some time to learn your name’s meaning and maybe even find out why your parents chose it for you. Take a look at your family tree and explore the names of your ancestors.

As said by Juliet in William Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet”: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

 

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