back in time, before the 12th century, takes us to an era where
people were usually only referred to by their first name. The
Romans, and their society, were the exceptions. The vast
majority of people did not travel a great deal and lived in
small communities where their first name distinguished them from
each other. These were not duplicated within a village so
there was no confusion. Each new baby was blessed with something
original and unique in that society.
Increases in population, travel and different cultures
influenced this custom and second name, or Surnames,
were slowly introduced. Check
out the Name Meanings and
the Names Dictionary Sections!
practice of referring to people by their surnames has
dramatically decreased in the last fifty years in favour of the first
name. The custom of
using a person's title has also diminished, once again, for the
same reason. Society has changed. It has become
less formal. The change in usage began in America and
reflected the move to equality between classes and sexes. Our
first name is what we are, now, commonly known by. This is
only a recent phenomenon which has been adopted in a culture in
just the last Forty years !
Importance of First Names!
will respond to our name throughout our lives. People associate
us with them, it forms part of our identity. They help to distinguish us from one to another. Other
people gain immediate and sometimes totally subconscious views
of people, just from hearing what someone is called. Our first
therefore give us a distinct advantage in life, or conversely, a
disadvantage! They are, therefore, incredibly important.
And those of us who make a choice for a baby are taking on
a responsible task!
The meanings are only really
important to the person that they belong to! They are not actually
very interesting to anyone else! To give credence to
this statement ask yourself the following questions...
answer for the vast majority of people will be a resounding
"No!". Meanings are, however,
interesting when trying to decide upon baby name's. If you are
undecided perhaps the first name meaning would help you make a
final decision. Because of the relative lack of interest in meanings their importance is fairly minimal when
making your final choice. Definitions and the
meanings can be found in the section of this site
dedicated to Baby Name Meanings
and the World
of Names where lists from
all over the world can be found together with their
meanings and origins.
The background, history and
origins are infinite!
Christian first name origins stem from the Bible and are
common across many countries. The origins of such
Christian first names derive from various languages
including Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
The Romans conquered the
known Western world and first names which derived from
Celtic, Germanic or Slavic languages are also, therefore,
included in this category of origins.
Muslim origins derive from the Koran and Arabic and
Indian origins stem from Sanskrit the Indian language
Hindu origins derive from
Chinese origins stem from Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism
and famous figures from the various dynasties
origins stem from
Hiragana, Katakana and
African origins derive from African tribal religions, Islam,
Muslim or Christianity using Afrikaans, Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Yoruba, Xhosa,
Zulu and European languages
First name origins also include place origins, origins
in mythology and history, origins from colours, plants
and other types of nature. Fictional origins,
historical origins and characteristic origins relating
to virtues such as Patience and Mercy.
We then move on
to first name origins which can be classed as
Descriptive first names, Place first names, Speciality
first names, origins in Nationalities and finally
unique (or created first names).
examples of descriptive Surname origins
Most people are familiar with the legend of Robin Hood and the
names used in this story. Here's a reminder of some of them:
||Descriptive from 'Robin in the hood'
describing a physical characteristic
describing a characteristic i.e. Maid
||Combined with a place name
||Reflecting a status i.e. Friar
the Miller's son
name combined with a trade or profession
||Descriptive describing a
Further information regarding origins can be
accessed by clicking Surnames
in a Name?
in a name?" is probably the most famous
question ever asked about this whole subject. The quote comes from Romeo and
Juliet, the play by William Shakespeare, to find out more about
this quote and its meaning please click Shakespearean
Our thanks go to www.william-shakespeare.info
for providing the Shakespearean information that we have included on www.babynames.org.uk.
The Other Questions!
We come to look upon our name as
part of ourselves and are naturally curious about the meanings and the origins of first names. At one time or
another most of us have posed some the following questions about
our own first names...
does my first name mean?
Why did my
parents make that particular choice?
any strong family connections to my first and middle name?
Why was I
given such a popular one?
Why was I
given such an unusual one?
But the most important question of
all is today's one...
first name shall I give to my baby?
A first name is the very first present that we give to our baby. It's a
present that they will probably keep and hear everyday for the rest of their
lives! Making a good and considered choice can be a real minefield! Will the
first name suit the
baby? Should the names be traditional, unusual, unique, exotic, popular
or cool? Will it be suitable throughout all life phases ( "A Name isn't just for a birthday - it's for life!").
Will the name be appropriate throughout a full life cycle starting with baby - toddler - school child - teenager - young adults - parents - middle age - retirement and
ending with old age. Will the first name suit a pensioner as well as a baby? Will the schoolchild be teased
mercilessly about your choice? What will your baby think of your choice of
is at hand!
The various sections included in www. babynames.
org. uk accessed
via the Site Map will provide answers
to all of your questions regarding the choice of first names.
And our exclusive Name Evaluator
will help you avoid any of the many pitfalls!