Name "imagery"

I don’t understand this talk on nameberry about name “imagery.”

I believe certain names can set a kid up for certain behaviors. [name_f]Every[/name_f] [name_f]Brandy[/name_f] I’ve ever met is a heavy drinker. [name_f]Every[/name_f] [name_u]Marley[/name_u] and [name_u]Blaze[/name_u] I’ve ever met was a pothead. I’ve met girls named [name_u]Harmony[/name_u], [name_f]Patience[/name_f], and [name_f]Chastity[/name_f] who were anything but the embodiment of those virtues. [name_u]Lyric[/name_u] could be tone-deaf. [name_f]Poet[/name_f] could hate literature. [name_f]Mercy[/name_f] could end up having many run-ins with the law due to her violent tendencies. I feel like certain word names can kinda set the kid up for a lifetime of teasing, and possibly set the course for some of their life choices.

I don’t have an image or personality or anything of that sort for a kid named, say… [name_u]Aidan[/name_u], [name_u]Jordan[/name_u], [name_u]Walker[/name_u], [name_f]Cordelia[/name_f], or [name_f]Persephone[/name_f]. Granted, we can agree some are more popular than others… but really… I have no idea what berries are talking about with “image.” I see people write out paragraphs about the “image” you get from a name combo. [name_f]Anastasia[/name_f] [name_f]Denice[/name_f] and [name_u]Madison[/name_u] [name_f]Renee[/name_f], to me, are both just little girls whose parents have hopes and dreams for them. I don’t get any image from them. None.

The only image I get from a name is with kree8v spellyngs, then I think the child must have ignorant parents.

Please. Explain away about this name imagery thing. I’m all ears.

Ok! I like name imagery. For me, the come in two forms. The first is an actual image of a person–physical characteristics and personality traits. Let’s say I want to know what my mental image of the name [name_u]Theo[/name_u] is. I imagine my friend saying, “I have a friend I’d like to set you up with. His name is [name_u]Theo[/name_u]. Would you like to meet him?” Then I try to think what I would imagine that blind date to look like and be like based on the name. [name_f]Do[/name_f] I like the image I get? A [name_u]Theo[/name_u] to me probably has darker hair and is probably bookish. I think this comes from having read books or knowing a few people with that name. It’s also slightly vintage, so I can imagine what kind of family would name their son [name_u]Theo[/name_u].

The second type of imagery is the general “Sense” or “impression” the name gives me. I have some mild synesthesia so associating color with things that aren’t colored isn’t that weird for me. The name [name_m]Sylvan[/name_m] is a word name and brings to mind forests (naturally), dark green, soft moss, damp air, and deer. The name [name_f]Jenna[/name_f] feels high energy so I imagine bright pink and orange. Often these names are aided in their imagery by books I read. [name_f]Elaine[/name_f] is an Arthurian name, so brocade, dark colors, and cold stone seem to fit.

The more common or ubiquitous a name, the less specific my imagery becomes. [name_f]Liz[/name_f]? [name_f]Liz[/name_f] could be anyone for me.

I think we all have an image that comes to mind when we hear a name. It might be based on someone we know with that name, on the sound it carries, its origins, what we think it means about the people who selected it, the era it was likely chosen in, etc.

If I meet a girl named [name_u]Scout[/name_u], I assume her parents are literate and that she’s probably a bright little girl. I also picture a tomboy-ish, energetic girl with brown hair. Those associations are the result of my experiences with that name and in the world.

If I were to meet a girl named [name_f]Tequila[/name_f], I would assume her parent(s) were immature, uneducated, and probably partiers, if not outright alcoholics. I’d probably further assume that the poor little girl would be cursed with many of their shortcomings.

When I read resumes for our intern program, I’m positive I make subconscious judgments about people based on their names. If two resumes are largely the same but one guy is named [name_m]Andrew[/name_m] and the other is named Tajikistan, [name_m]Andrew[/name_m] is getting the interview. Because even if Tajikistan has learned as much as [name_m]Andrew[/name_m] and his grades are as good, [name_m]Andrew[/name_m] strikes me as more likely to have a background/social skills/etc more in line with what we’re looking for. The same would be true if I were looking at one resume for [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] and one for [name_f]Crystal[/name_f]. This sort of thing (and the imagery underlying it all) is likely a big factor for everyone who takes names seriously.

@Freya_1983, I recently (within the past year or so) read about a study done that describes something similar to the subconscious connotations you yourself admit to drawing about names. The study was based on a bunch of job applications turned in to actual businesses, trying to uncover more subtle forms of racism. People with names like [name_f]Shaniqua[/name_f] or [name_m]Tyrone[/name_m] were significantly less likely to get a call back than an [name_f]Amy[/name_f] or [name_m]Joseph[/name_m], even with the exact same qualifications. The study essentially proved that unusual names and names with an ethnic sound can hold people back in life.

Please do not construe that I am trying to be insulting. You are not alone in making these subconscious connections. All I am saying is that there have been quite a few scientific studies that prove the kind of subconscious connotations you describe, and I was recalling one specific one I read recently.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts :slight_smile:

No worries; I’m not offended. I realized when I posted the comment I was admitting something that we probably all like to think we don’t do. I realize I almost certainly make such subconscious judgments and, by being aware of them, am at least able to try to put them into perspective.

All my imagery is mostly to do with my synesthesia [woop] but I like to give a little character to my name that seems to ‘fit’ mostly stemming from my synesthetic experiences [eg. a dark coloured, velvety name with lots of height is more likely to become a child aristocrat with brown eyes and dark hair than a blonde beautician]

@Freya_1983, I think we all make these kind of connections. Why else would we berries go off about names like [name_f]Nevaeh[/name_f], [name_f]Braedyn[/name_f], and [name_f]Destiny[/name_f]?

I have synesthesia so that affects my naming “imagery”, but I think as far as what you’re talking about goes, I work the opposite. I tend to think more about the kind of people my children will likely be or who I hope they’ll be, based on what I know about myself and my partner, and then pick a name that fits the image. Like I would most likely have sons who (if they took after me) would be soft-spoken, more interested in nature and the arts than sports, crafty, well read, etc. So a name like [name_m]Jagger[/name_m] or [name_m]Dirk[/name_m] wouldn’t “fit” [name_f]IMO[/name_f]. That sort of thing.

Honestly, if you don’t get it, I’m not sure you ever will, no matter how simply or eloquently someone attempts to explain it to you. I don’t mean this as an insult, so I hope you don’t take it that way, but I believe it comes down to how much you’ve nurtured your imagination. I don’t believe I have synesthesia, or perhaps I do. I don’t know much about it, but from what I understand it goes beyond names and includes even numbers and letters, which don’t do anything for me; it’s names only for me. I believe it’s logical that a lot of people who do have synesthesia would be attracted to names, and want to discuss them in depth, beyond the discussion that comes when you’re wanting a name for a baby I mean. When I close my eyes and think about a name, I’m flooded with imagery. Scents and sounds and feelings that I can’t really explain to someone who doesn’t get it. It just is. It’s how my brain works.

While I also do what [name_f]Freya[/name_f] talks about up above (making assumptions and subconscious judgments about names) I think you’re asking more about imagery, yes? As in, I’d say that a particular names feels green and shimmery, like a mermaids tail, I hear laughter and splashing and see a treasure chest spilling over with emeralds beneath the sea? Where do those images come from? I’m not sure. Maybe synesthesia. I work very hard on keeping my imagination honed. I enjoy being out in nature and playing pretend, imagining that the fog up ahead is a portal to another world. I’m in my 30’s mind you, far from being a child, and it takes work to keep my imagination wild, but I prefer it this way. I can’t imagine (hah, there are limits to imagination apparently) living life where a name is a name is a name, and that’s all. Is it hopes and dreams when I “see” images from a name I’d consider for a child? Perhaps, in part. I certainly don’t want my child to be a mermaid and swim away from me, never to return, but perhaps I’d like a child to enjoy adventuring, to be full of mischief and curiosity and hey, maybe be a world class swimmer. :slight_smile: I’m not sure. Images come from the most mundane of names, ones I’d never consider for a child, so I don’t think it can be pinned on what I hope and dream for in a child.

I’m also an artist and a writer, so that may factor into it.

The imagery I speak (type?) of is… Hmmm… OK, I’ve seen a few forum threads around here where people give a few of their favorite name combos, and ask for other berries to give their input. For example, a berry posts the combos [name_f]Liliana[/name_f] [name_f]Grace[/name_f] and [name_m]Jackson[/name_m] [name_m]Magnus[/name_m]. In responses to the thread, [name_f]Liliana[/name_f] and [name_m]Jackson[/name_m] are described, from physical characteristics to personality. I’m there scratching my head.

Unless you have a name like [name_u]Harmony[/name_u], [name_f]Patience[/name_f], or [name_f]Chastity[/name_f] (every one I’ve met has been anything but that virtue), or a name like [name_f]Brandy[/name_f], [name_u]Marley[/name_u], or [name_u]Blaze[/name_u] (alcoholics or potheads, every one I’ve met), I don’t think a name has much of an effect on people. I’m really anti-word names in most cases myself, because what if [name_f]Poet[/name_f] hates literature, or [name_u]Lyric[/name_u] is tone-deaf?

The blog post the other day about “hipster cowboy names” had me terribly confused. People apparently get an image from a name, like “As comfortable on a saddle as on an [name_f]Ivy[/name_f] League campus” and “For the dude who’s decidedly NOT the shy and quiet type.” I get the “badass” imagery- names like [name_m]Breaker[/name_m], [name_u]Blaze[/name_u], [name_m]Wilder[/name_m], [name_m]Gunner[/name_m], or [name_m]Buster[/name_m] just seem like the parents are asking for their child to be trouble.

I wouldn’t judge a [name_f]Nevaeh[/name_f] or a Destynnie or a Braeydn for their name. But, I would judge the heck out of their parents, for sure! I wouldn’t have any different image in my head between a [name_u]Scout[/name_u] and a [name_f]Kylie[/name_f], a [name_m]Jackson[/name_m] or a [name_m]Theodore[/name_m].

So maybe it’s something I just don’t get and never will.

I guess my imagery that you’re describing comes from what type of parents I believe would choose those names and what their child would likely be like.

[name_f]Kylie[/name_f], for example, is a name a former cheerleader would choose for her daughter (keep in mind this is my own biased opinion, and that it’s based off of my own life experiences and friends/acquaintances). So a [name_f]Kylie[/name_f]'s mom is likely to dress her up in all pink outfits. Her parents probably enforce strict gender roles/guidelines, so [name_f]Kylie[/name_f] is in dance/cheer classes from the time she’s 2 or 3 years old. Her brother(s) are pushed towards sports; football most likely, but soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and basketball will also work.

[name_u]Scout[/name_u], on the other hand, probably has parents who read TKaM and loved it enough to name a child after it. To me, this indicates they’ve read it more than once, which means they’ve probably read other things as well. They’ll probably read a lot to [name_u]Scout[/name_u] as she grows up. They chose to name her after a character who was intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and confident, so that probably says something about what they want their daughter to be. They’re probably more likely to let her choose her own likes, dislikes, and interests; rather than forcing her into an activity, or encouraging one over the other, they might be more likely to let her do as she pleases, whether she wants to be a dancer or artist or play football with the boys.

This doesn’t mean that the child named [name_u]Scout[/name_u] is going to be more intelligent/kind/confident/well-adjusted than the child named [name_f]Kylie[/name_f]. A reader could adore the name [name_f]Kylie[/name_f], and someone who’s never picked up a book could decide [name_u]Scout[/name_u] sounds nice. Imagery is just that…imagery; it’s what we picture a kid ending up like based off of how we see those names, and how we see the names is based on our previous experiences.

I hope I explained that in a way that wasn’t too confusing.

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It’s funny you should use that comparison (I, too, used [name_u]Scout[/name_u] in this thread as an example of a name that leads to positive assumptions about a child’s parents). I know a girl who named her son [name_u]Scout[/name_u] having never read To Kill a Mockingbird (or possibly anything else).

@ fey - YES to your whole post. I feel the same way

In my case, which I don’t believe is synthesia, you may have seen a post I wrote a while ago titled “Names that fit this imagery” in there I was asking for names that bring to mind ‘meadows of wildflowers, elaborate lace, pastel colours (like faint shades of blue satin,) antique rhinestone jewellery, smock dresses, curls and silk ribbons.’ I am a huge history buff, I love the Victorian era and in particular the fashion, so I love the old postcards of children playing etc. Some names to me give of that imagery: [name_f]Emmeline[/name_f], for example. I could see her being in the Victorian era and [name_f]Clara[/name_f] as well. I don’t picture physical characteristics, but I see young ladies who could fit into another era. I guess more accurately I see a setting rather than a person? Names that bring to mind particular senses? (Sorry I am trying to figure out a way to describe it.) @[name_f]Ottilie[/name_f] is really good with finding a vision for names, '[name_f]Ceridwen[/name_f]‘s a snow day; the morning after the first snowfall when the world is quiet, soft, white and pure. The way the pale sun shines through the forest, robins chirping blissfully in the trees. She’s star shine making the snow look like thousands of teeny tiny diamonds, foxes footprints in the snow. Making snow lanterns, snow angels, skating on the pond and skiing down the hills, running through the fresh snow where none has gone before. Snowflakes and the warmth in the cold. She’s the feeling of frosty, rosy cheeks, being wrapped in wool and fur, coming inside to blazing fires and hot chocolate. Board games and tattered woolen jumpers. Candlelight, cinnamon cake, reading [name_m]Little[/name_m] Women curled up under a knitted throw, frozen toes defrosting,’ which sounds beautiful and for some people, some names just give off a feeling, a picture in your head. So I think for me, more than anything its always been “a sense” rather than a characteristic.

I prefer to hear what impression people get from a name (maybe what setting it evokes, or colour, or feeling) and not so much what physical characteristics they imagine a child with that name to have. I seriously don’t care if you think a girl named [name_f]Rosie[/name_f] will definitely have blond curls & blue eyes - but if you said a girl named [name_f]Rosie[/name_f] would have tea parties in her rubber boots, or that [name_f]Rosie[/name_f] makes you think of a calm blush pink, or that [name_f]Rosie[/name_f] is a lonely sounding name, that is more interesting to me.

@sodallas3- Cerridwen and [name_f]Clara[/name_f] are actually two of my favorite names. Those lovely ladies made my short list simply because my hubby and I are Unitarian Universalist Pagans. [name_f]Clara[/name_f] for [name_f]Clara[/name_f] [name_m]Barton[/name_m], and Cerridwen as a goddess name.

I’ve met an [name_m]Atticus[/name_m] whose parents had likely never cracked any book but the phone book, trying to order pizza. Your comment made me laugh!

I’ve also met a Braeydin (or some other awful spelling like that) whose parents are both college educated and read a lot. Weirdest thing about poor Braeydin is his siblings have traditional names.

Thanks so much for all your explanations. I’m kinda-sorta beginning to understand what people mean by imagery.

If anyone else has any comments about my OP, go on ahead :slight_smile:

I don’t believe I have synesthesia just from hearing others talk about how they experience it (and I will admit to being the teensiest bit jelly of people who do!) For me, imagery is an exercise in imagination, visualization, and/or free-association. When someone asks for imagery about a certain name, I close my eyes and let all the things I associate with that name rise to the surface. It’s like taking a name-seed and growing it, expanding it, into a little imagination vignette all about who that person is in your own mind.

For something like [name_f]Ophelia[/name_f], it’s easy - my first association is [name_m]Shakespeare[/name_m], a delicate, insubstantial girl, with one foot in reality and the other in her own imaginary world. I think of herbs because of her confrontation scene revolving around the language of flowers, so [name_f]Ophelia[/name_f] is layers of meaning, mysteries and spirals, the double-edged nature of healing and hurting. I think of water because of the drowning scene, lilies, and mermaid hair, gossamer and gauze and chiffon, mist and fog, even ghosts. All of this relates to my perception of [name_f]Ophelia[/name_f] as someone who was never fully present in her body to begin with, someone ethereal. As you can see, my impressions tend to begin in the concrete and reach outward from there into the abstract, but they all revolve around my core feeling about the name.

[name_f]Alice[/name_f] is another example - my associations are Wonderland first and foremost, but there’s also the zombie-slaying warrior from Resident Evil. So I think of [name_f]Alice[/name_f] as dainty and delicate, but with a core of steel. Imaginative, passionate, insatiably curious. [name_f]Alice[/name_f] is tea parties and bare feet, pale blue frocks with ragged hems, books, adventures, fathomless depths of imagination and magic, a cauldron from which any impossible thing could be born. All my favorite names ride that line between worlds, with at least one foot in the fantasy land.

Some names are difficult for me, because I associate them so strongly with a particular person that I can’t look past that to dream up a story about the name. Take [name_u]Ruby[/name_u] for example…my cousin’s grandmother. Gramma [name_u]Ruby[/name_u] we called her, and she had wiry iron-grey curls, a strident Southern accent, a mouth set in a hard line…not because she wasn’t loving, but because her love, like the rest of her, was fierce. When someone asks me to picture a little girl named [name_u]Ruby[/name_u], it’s like I’m trying to peer around Gramma [name_u]Ruby[/name_u]'s steel magnolia bulk, and I simply can’t see what’s behind her.

Other names, like [name_f]Kate[/name_f] or [name_f]Mary[/name_f] or [name_f]Sophia[/name_f], are used SO often that they could be anyone. In that case, I simply pick my favorite thread out of the myriad of ways that story could go, and follow it.

It’s also fun and challenging for me to see threads that are the reverse, where someone posts the imagery they’re looking for and we’re asked to come up with names or create combos to fit that imagery.

(I’m aware that I only used girls’ names in my examples; it was for consistency’s sake, not because I don’t have glorious imagery for boys’ names too!)

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When I have “imagery” about a name, it is imagining what a child with that name would be like, personality traits I guess. I don’t imagine looks, as that depends on the genetics of the parents.

For example, my top boys name is [name_m]Jethro[/name_m]. To me, it sounds like a soft, gentle name so that’s what I imagine a little [name_m]Jethro[/name_m] to be. Kind and gentle, an old soul wise beyond his years, solitary but not a loner, just someone who prefers their own company and has a small close-knit group of friends. He would have an overactive imagination and a creative streak, maybe someone who loves to read, paint or write poetry. Someone who loves to be out in nature. I also use my associations with the name. For example, [name_m]Jethro[/name_m] Gibbs on NCIS gives the image a little swagger and a lot of loyalty.

I find imagery helps you to connect with a name and then you’re more likely to love it and want to use it.