What Does Your Name Mean to You? The Importance of Names

Would Oprah have become a famous talk show host if her name had been Mabel? Would Elvis be the King of Rock and Roll if his name had been Bob? Our names are the cornerstone of our personality. From creative spellings to family tributes, our names say a lot about us, and they help us become who we are. So what about you-what does your name mean, and what does it say about you?

What's in a name?  And what does your name mean to you?  Family names, hippie names, wildly creative names-what does your name mean for your sense of identity?  Social science research has found that the names we are given at birth carry substantial psychological weight.  We learn to define ourselves by the names we are given. 

But how can a name mean so much?  Your name can lay the foundation for your personality.  For instance, one may find that a young girl endowed with a birth name that is considered to be particularly feminine may appear to develop a personality based on her sense of femininity.  This may be traced to the simple fact that her parents, by giving her such a name, may be establishing an environment where those aspects of her personality are encouraged and nurtured.  Giving a child any kind of name, whether it be popular, creative, regal-sounding, or based on family or ethnic heritage, can have substantial influence on how they form their identity.

Some individuals live their entire lives saddled with names they despise.  Can a name mean a lifetime of resent?  Maybe not, but the effect of a name should not be underestimated. Although most people eventually come to terms with their given names, the option of changing your name legally is a viable one exercised by those who simply can't live comfortable with their given moniker.  In fact, the practice of legally changing one's name has become so acceptable that many states have made the procedure much simpler than it used to be.

Since a names meaning can carry so much weight, it comes as no surprise that they are usually chosen with great care.  Expecting parents who want to find the most suitable name for their child commonly research names meanings.  With dozens of books about the meaning of names in print, names meanings are easier than ever to research.  The Internet is perhaps best place to research a names meaning. Exhaustive name databases are archived on the Internet, allowing you to research online the meaning of almost every imaginable name. 

When choosing a name for a child, make sure to consider not just what the name will mean for you.  What will the name mean for the child?  Ask yourself the following questions:

- Do I want to impart a sense of my child's ethnic heritage or family history?  Many people are named after beloved family members. But children should never be named out of a sense of duty.  Only choose a family name if you genuinely like the name and truly want to honor the family member who currently carries the name.

- Is the name currently popular?  Does it matter to you if the name may eventually go out of favor?  Never name a child simply because the name is currently popular.  Names go in and out of favor all the time.  If you truly like a name that happens to be quite popular, be aware that your child may grow up and go to school with other children who share the same moniker. 

- What kind of influence might the name have on my child's sense of self? 

Remember that their name is the first inkling most people have of their personality.  Many people attribute aspects of their personality to their name, so be aware of how your child's name may be received by your child and everyone she encounters throughout life.

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