How important are name meanings to you?

I remember on another website I asked a question about the name [name]Kennedy[/name]. Somebody said they didn’t like it because it meant “misshapen head.”
But do meanings really matter that much? A few of my favorite names have meanings that have to do with God (such as [name]Eliza[/name], “pledged to God” and [name]Christopher[/name], “[name]Christ[/name] bearer”), but I don’t associate myself with any religion/religious beliefs. Would that be weird to use those names, even though I completely disagree with the meanings?
Are meanings even that important? I’d just like to hear everyone’s opinion on this matter. Thanks :slight_smile:

I know for many people the meanings of names aren’t important at all. In fact, I don’t think that the majority of people even know what their names mean (outside of communities like this one!:slight_smile: ).

For me, however, my mom really took the meanings of names seriously, and I grew up knowing the meanings of my names. It has really helped shape my identity and given me a sense of self. I am doing the same for my children.

That said, I think that it entirely depends on your view of the name meanings, and the meanings could be different for you than what the “traditional” meanings are. If you are naming a child after someone special, for instance, the meaning of the name is personal and holds traits of the person honored. [name]Even[/name] if you do not agree with the “traditional” meaning of a name, you can let your children know why the names were important enough to you to give it to them.

They matter to me a moderate amount. Like you, I’m not religious, but I like a few classic names that also happen to be biblical. Where I start not to like a biblical name so much is when it seems far more biblical than general usage, not it’s meaning. This is to say, I’m ok with a common name like [name]Daniel[/name], but pulling names out from deep in the bible comes off to me like an endorsement of the book or an undeniable reference to some part of it that might seem like it’s a statement of some importance to me. I don’t hate the names (depends on what it sounds like) but I’m unlikely to choose a name that “means” overtly that religion is significant to me, even names like [name]Noah[/name] and [name]Elijah[/name] which have become popular.

That also includes (for me) pretty names like [name]Grace[/name], [name]Faith[/name], and [name]Evangeline[/name], although [name]Angela[/name] is ok (ish), as well as [name]Kirsten[/name], which is a form of [name]Christine[/name]. I am not sure how I arrived at this - it is some associations I have with the names, and still not their meanings. The weight of the words has something to do with the vibe I get. An arbitrary assessment on the religiousness of some names vs. others that seem more accessible and not “owned” by their meanings that would otherwise deter me.

In other subtopics, a meaning can put me off, like they say [name]Claudia[/name] means “lame,” which is not a very nice meaning, but I love [name]Claudia[/name], and the meaning wouldn’t really affect me if it was my favorite name. It might be enough of a turn-off to me to settle with a name that is nice and also has a good meaning if I had some trouble deciding. A good meaning doesn’t help me like a name I don’t like better, either. I also don’t like meanings with physical attributes, it’s sort of arbitrary, but I am tall, fair, and blonde, so I am unlikely to choose a name for a biological child of mine that means little or dark, whereas I don’t really have a problem with a name that means lame or deformed head.

I don’t know, deformed head is kind of harsh. I already like the name [name]Claudia[/name], so it’s sort of easier for me to say that the meaning wouldn’t bother me, but I’m not sure I would go with [name]Kennedy[/name], so I’m glad it’s not really one that I would have on the list. I’m 90% confident that the meaning wouldn’t bother me if I loved the name.

I love name meanings. It would be difficult to get really excited about a name if I didn’t love its meaning. I love names that have to do with animals, plants, geological features, outer space, and God the most. My son’s name means rock and my daughter’s name means bay laurel.

It’s a bit of both for me.

I wouldn’t let the meaning of a name (re. religious meaning) bother me if a name has lots of significant historical (or familial) usage. Sometimes names have meanings for you beyond their literal meaning.

However, there are some really beautiful names where the meanings put me off a bit from using them personally:

[name]Cecilia[/name] (blind)
[name]Claudia[/name] (lame)
[name]Isla[/name] (essentially “big-bottomed”)
[name]Portia[/name] (pig)

In our generally secular world, I think many less-obviously religious names have lost that connotation, and I wouldn’t find it at all unusual if someone other than a regular church-goer named their child [name]Eliza[/name] or [name]Christopher[/name] (which are both lovely). In fact, I know more than one [name]Gabriella[/name] who was born to completely unreligious parents, and that association is much more obvious.

Name meanings to me are a really a bonus. If I like the sound of the name, it having a bad meaning would not deter me, so long as the meaning was not obvious to me (for example, I dislike the name [name]Dolores[/name], which means suffering - although I don’t like the sound anyway. As I speak Spanish, the connection to dolor would be too obvious to me to name my daughter that.)

Name meanings (i.e. etymological definitions) are one thing, but the significance of a name can be quite another thing. For example, [name]Karen[/name] mentioned how much she likes the name [name]Claudia[/name], but she didn’t care for its meaning of “lame.”

But the significance of [name]Claudia[/name] is that it is a feminine name derived from the gens name of one of the most powerful patrician families of ancient republican [name]Rome[/name] – the Claudii being second only to the Cornelii in terms of having produced the most magistrates to govern the [name]Roman[/name] Republic. Therefore, the girl’s name of [name]Claudia[/name] (and [name]Cornelia[/name], too) signifies power, authority, and hereditary nobility.

On the other hand, the name [name]Adolf[/name] has a proud meaning of “noble wolf” – but this poor name has been forever tainted by having been the name of one of the most recognizable monsters of history. So the significance of this name is now unpleasant for many people today.

The significance (the expressed or implied meaning) of a name can either redeem a name with an otherwise undesirable etymological definition, or forever ruin a name with a desirable etymological definition.

So to answer your question… I find the expressed or implied meaning of names to be more important than their literal (and, in many cases, disused) etymological definitions.

– [name]Nephele[/name]

As always, [name]Nephele[/name] makes a brilliant point!

[name]Just[/name] to respond to the names [name]Christopher[/name] and [name]Eliza[/name] … I would not know what either of those names meant off the top of my head. But that being said, even without knowing the meaning of [name]Christopher[/name], I see it as a very [name]Christian[/name] name. It’s obvious (at least to me) that it has something to do with [name]Christ[/name]. Thus, I would find it a little strange if a Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, etc chose that name for his/her child. On the other hand, I would not easily or automatically think that [name]Eliza[/name] had a religious or [name]Christian[/name] meaning. So I guess my point is that some names do make their meanings a little bit more obvious up front, and that is true of [name]Christopher[/name]. In the case of these names, I would want to be sure I liked the meaning if I chose it.

I think that if I absolutely loved a name, or it was the only name that me and SO agreed on, then I would use it no matter what the meaning of the name is. However, if I was on the fence with a name, and I found out the meaning of the name was something that I didn’t care for, didn’t agree with, etc., then it would affect my decision on whether or not I used the name.

I guess I’m on the fence with this topic.
They way a name sounds or looks is more important to me than it’s meaning. Now, there are times when I am totally enraptured by the meaning of a name that I fall in love with it for it’s meaning only. Of course give me a little while and the names intrigue will wear off. When left with a mediocre sound and visual appeal I lose interest.

I don’t think name meaning are impoatant at all unless you specifically go out and look for a name with that meaning because it’s specail to you or something. Also, you can’t rely on what one thing says because I’ve looked in different places and my name apparently means, intelligent, woodland & helmet. Andd I’m not bothered by the helmet part. Like take [name]Marie[/name], it’s a really lovely name but it means bitter, so what??

I don’t think name meaning are impoatant at all unless you specifically go out and look for a name with that meaning because it’s specail to you or something. Also, you can’t rely on what one thing says because I’ve looked in different places and my name apparently means, intelligent, woodland & helmet. Andd I’m not bothered by the helmet part. Like take [name]Marie[/name], it’s a really lovely name but it means bitter, so what??

I think it depends. I really prefere to have a name that has a meaning, but a meaning to me specifically ya know? But at the same time if i really like a name the meaning doesnt mean anything because the name has a meaning specifically exclusive to me. I like to honor people with the names i like, and plan to use for my children. Like [name]Marie[/name] means “sea of bitterness” what a horrible meaning, but it is my mn and my aunts. But there are people who refuse to use names that dont have a pretty or specific meaning, me personally? it doesnt really matter as long as it means something to me or DH