Name Origins ... Where
Do Our Names Come From?

baby boy sitting with rattle

Are you like me and wonder about name origins? Well, I've looked around and here are a few things I've discovered about the history of names ...

A Very Brief History

As far back as recorded history there have been names. Usually they had some meaning attached to them, not just a collection of nice sounds. They were nouns like "Conan = wolf" and adjectives like "Glennys = holy, pure."

As names began to be used again and again, each society developed a name pool from which parents chose a name for their baby. Most of the meanings and origins for these words have been forgotten.

Early Christians were encouraged to use names of saints and martyrs. Jewish names like Martha, Mary, Joseph, Jacob, James and John became popular.

When Christians were persecuted, Greco-­Roman names, such as Anthony, Catherine, Margaret, Mark, Martin, Nicholas and Paul, were entered in the Christian name pool. These early Christian names have changed the least of all names over time.

Surnames were added to further distinguish people and families from each other.

Names Today

In our Western culture, each of us has a first name that identifies who we are. Usually we have a middle name, and a surname. They distinguish us from one another, but every culture has its best-loved names so there are many people with the same name.

aa baby girl sitting by basket of roses

In North America, we have the privilege of naming our children whatever we want and this results in some rather uncommon, odd, and unique names. There are even names that some people think are bad or cruel names.

Other countries don't have the  option of using "different" names. Parents have to choose a name from a list given out by the government. If they want a "different" name, they have to lobby for it to the names committee. Quite often they can't use the name.

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