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Who decided the meanings of baby names?

(8 Posts)
Cattleprod Mon 20-Jun-11 16:08:28

I've been looking at baby name books recently trying to find something good for DC2. I'm a bit puzzled by the meanings though. For example, some meanings are fairly straightforward, I presume relating to the language of the day...

A few at random...
Kim - as precious as gold
Makis - a gift from God
Mander - my son
Perfecto - one who is flawless
Walid - our newborn son

All meanings that could be bestowed upon a newborn baby.
However, the majority of meanings are based on traits that could not possibly be apparent at birth...

Tsatoke - one who hunts on horseback - have you ever seen a newborn riding a horse?
Wohehiv - one who wields a dull knife - knife-waving newborns?
Gray - a grey haired man confused
Harold - the ruler of an army
Brewster - one who brews - a don't know of any newborn capable of brewing anything more than a stinky meconium poo!!

So what is the origin of the strange meanings? Were people once given names later in life as a result of their experiences? How could parents possibly know the destiny of their babies? And what about the names with unpleasant meanings - one who is cursed/destined for hardship etc?

MelinaM Mon 20-Jun-11 18:04:50

I expect it's particular to each country/ ethnicity and the language / customs of the day.

There are certainly some interesting names with bizarre meanings!!!

squeak2392 Mon 20-Jun-11 18:11:24

A lot of names stem from actual words.

In some African tribes children aren't named until they're at least a year old, so that they can be given a name that really suits them, and that's where names like 'one who rides horseback' come from - an adaptation of the words in that language that express the personality of the child.

Some meanings are just plain made up though. Names made up for sci-fi/fantasy novels can mean whatever the author wants them to.

A lot of English names come from the parents career or the area where they live: Tyler, Brewster, Taylor. Bradley, Ashley.

East Asian names are usually actual words.

Things like that. Depends on the origin.

squeak2392 Mon 20-Jun-11 18:12:01

*personality or hobbies/livelihood.

tammytoby Mon 20-Jun-11 22:09:03

Nobody makes up meanings. Most names are derived from actual Greek or Latin words (and therefore share the meanings). Or, as squeak said, derive from someone's profession (Tyler = tile layer etc)

MsChanandlerBong Mon 20-Jun-11 22:43:55

I'm pretty sure that novelty mug/keyring/fridge magnet manufacturers sometimes make up name meanings... or at the very least use a lot of creative licence.

vess Mon 20-Jun-11 23:31:35

Some baby name books definitely make up a lot of stuff!

Cattleprod Tue 21-Jun-11 07:47:12

But in countries where babies are named at birth (guessing the African tribes squeak mentions are an exception), are they just hoping the baby will become 'a great man' or 'a brave warrior' etc., or is it based on family traits, or the father's profession etc?

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