Saturday, July 30, 2005

What's In a Name?

There are many difficult challenges to having a baby. Among the many countless challenges is the naming of the newborn. There are a lot of things to consider when you name a child that could affect them for the rest of their lives. All parents have their reasons for the name they choose whether it’s after a relative, an inspiration or just their creativity.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my coworkers (who is Chinese) the other day. He and his wife just gave birth to a girl a couple of months ago. I remembered reading his blog and noticed that the baby has two names, an American and a Chinese name. We got on the subject of the meanings of names. He was very curious as to how Americans go about naming their children. He wanted to know if the names themselves had meaning. I told him that some names have meaning and some don’t. And sometimes a name is given to a child regardless of what it means.

For example, according to, these are the meanings of our firstborn child’s names (first & middle):

Jordan (Hebrew) to descend, to flow
Taylor (Middle English) tailor

So they have a literal meaning, but we chose those as her first and middle names because more than anything, they sounded good together, not because of what they meant.

But now take my name as an example. I will have to admit, there aren’t too many of these running around in the world. My first and middle names are Velvet and Sunshine. By looking up the meaning of these names (although a search on the didn’t have any results for Sunshine) you will find that they mean fabric and sunny, respectively. I will have to make a point to say that first of all, my parents weren’t hippies, and that they not thinking, “OH! Let’s name our first born child after a fabric and the sun.” In fact, I was named after my cousin, who was born a few years before me. My aunt was young and felt that another couple would be able to raise her child better than she could. Thus my cousin was given up for adoption and renamed. I suppose my parents named me in honor of my cousin so the name could stay in the family. So besides the literal meaning, my name has a sentimental meaning to my parents.

There are also names that don’t have a literal meaning. As most of my close friends know, my sister is very creative when it comes to making a name. She’s had a lot of practice because she has 3 beautiful little girls. They are:

Alazay Marie (the first name is a creation of my sister’s, whereas the middle name is after many women in our family including my mom, my paternal & maternal grandmothers, and my other little sister….they all share the same middle name).

Shayda Jae-Lynn (both of these names were created by my sister and have no literal translation, although the name Lynn is a very common name by itself).

Kaylonie Chantel (by joining pre-existing names some parents can create a “new” variation of a name. Both Kay & Loni are common names by themselves, however when joined, they create a new name. Chantel is a common name).

So to answer my coworker’s question, yes, all names have meaning…..just some may not be literal.

Now Kevin & I are faced with the challenge of naming our baby boy. Kevin’s suggestion for the first name was Andrew, maybe Drew for short. We both agree with this choice, as well as Jordan, who would probably not have it any other way by now. As for the middle name…..we are still working on it…..we still have 2 months to think of one. :-)


At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but notice, as I was research the origin and meaning of my name, that your article says that "Shayda" is an invented name with no literal meaning. Your sister may have heard the name somewhere and had it come back to her without true knowledge of where she had heard it, or may have re-invented an old persian name. "Shayda" is of iranian origin and means "lovesick".

At 6:45 PM, Blogger shayda said...

Yes.. it's true.. my name is Shayda and it is Persian...Ive always been told that the meaning is more along the lines of "madly in love" or "inspired by love"


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