This week we celebrate something near and dear to everyone: our own names. Both gifted and inherited, our names often travel with us throughout our lives. Have you considered the meaning of the names you bear? There is a wealth of information available, and much of it is free and all of it is interesting. Take a moment to explore the resources available to learn more about where you and your name originate.
First Names and Their Meanings
Your given names, or first and middle names, are generally chosen by your parents prior to your birth. These names can be inherited from family members or good friends, or they can simply be a name that your parents loved. The Bible and other religious texts have long been a source for choosing names, from Abigail, to Lydia, to Matthew, to Zacharias. There’s also an interesting phenomenon for naming trends related to celebrities or popular fictional characters—when the Twilight films were at the height of popularity, so were the names Isabella, Jacob, and Edward. If you have the option to speak to your parents about the origin of your name, it is certainly worth the conversation. There are also a multitude of print and online resources for exploring names. For instance, Baldwin is a German name meaning brave friend. Have you ever searched for the meaning of your name? Do you consider it appropriate for your personality or character?
Middle Names: Usually More Than an Initial
Middle names have been used for hundreds of years in Western countries. These names often honor family members, close friends, or public figures, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes people are given multiple middle names, such as J. R. R., Tolkien, or George H. W. Bush. While some people are embarrassed by their middle names, there are many who decide to go by their middle names. Interestingly enough, there are some people whose middle initial doesn’t stand for a name; Harry S. Truman, for instance.
Genealogy: Following the Clues of Your Last Name
Your last name, also known as your family name or surname, holds many layers of meaning to discover. In China, they began using last names nearly 5,000 years ago. Last names are relatively new in the Western world, having been used for about 1,000 years. As you can imagine, last names made it much easier to keep track of people as society became more advanced. You can explore the meaning of a last name in a similar way to first and middle names. For instance, Cooper comes from the Middle English word couper, meaning a barrel maker. So a person with the last name Cooper may be descended from an English barrel maker.
Last names have the added benefit of allowing you to explore your genealogy. This is a very affordable and satisfying hobby, which helps you discover more about your family and its rich history. Looking through your more recent family may help you connect with your living relatives, and as you get deeper into your history you’ll learn more about the struggles and successes of your ancestors.
The first step is to record the information about your family tree that you already know. Then you can contact relatives to start filling in the blanks. After that, there are a multitude of options. Fortunately, it’s easier today than ever before to do genealogical research. The government archives have exceptional resources online to help you get started. There may come a day where you need to search obscure local records in person, but there is plenty of free information online to hold you for a long time. Once you’ve done some research, do something fun with it. Share it with your family, or write up an interesting anecdote for an organizational newsletter. Bring new life to the people who lived before you by making their stories known, and recording them for future generations.
Thank you for examining the importance of your name with us. Of course there is much more to you than your name, but it is a wealth of interesting information. We hope that you learned something you can share with those you care about, and perhaps you can help them uncover the meaning of their names as well.
At Lake Ridge Chapel, we may not be name experts, but there are other ways we can help. Visit our site to learn more about our cremation services, or contact us if you have questions. We’d love to help in any way we can.