The Importance of Names

Posted: September 2, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay
Tags: , , , , , ,

What's in a name?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare

What’s in your name can vary depending on where you were born, your family’s faith, and who you looked like when you were born, to name just a few traditions from around the world. It’s common for religious families to name children after saints, prophets, and virtues that they want the child to embrace — including the Puritan extreme “Fear-God.” In India, many children are named using based on their birth star. In Africa, some children are named based on the day, the time, or how they looked when they were born. A German child’s name is required by law to reflect the sex of the child and not endanger the child’s well-being. And in the United States, children have been named based on pop culture, including nine poor kids named Darth born in 1977.

My first name, “Matthew,” was almost “Andrew,” but my mom took a look at me after I was born and didn’t think I had an Andrew’s face. Matthew had been running second on the list. My middle name, Gerard, is the name of the patron saint of pregnant women, a name that I picked up I was born three months early in 1969, weighing a whopping 2 pounds 6 ounces, and things were a little touch and go for a while.

Then there are nicknames, the names we gave each other, and sometimes that we wish would go away. As twins, my brother and I suffered through being “Ping” and “Pong” by a-holes for years. College is a great time for nicknames. I remember “Snuff,” short for Snuffleupagus, because he always appeared out of nowhere. A friend of mine earned the name “Pinto” because if you touched him, he exploded. I picked up the name Weasel because I’m a cute, slimy, waterlogged mammal. A person’s nickname carries history and meaning, and using it is an act of affection.

I think a name should reflect qualities that you hope for in a baby. My Confirmation name was David, which was my best friend’s name at the time. It’s a good reason for a name but I don’t think it’s a great one. What happens when you have an argument with your friend, or you drop out of touch? If I could do it again, I would choose Paul. I always liked St. Paul’s story, or at least, what I took away from it: anyone can be good, and goodness is something within everybody. Especially the outsiders.

“Bob Marley isn’t my name. I don’t even know my name yet.” Bob Marley

This post brought to you by the prompt “Name That… You!” from The Daily Prompt at

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