First Name Origins
Going 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.

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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!

A free online resource crammed with advice about choosing a first name...

Miss Smith? Not any more!!
The 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 !

The Importance of First Names!
We 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 name can 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!

First Name Meanings
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...

  • Do I know the meanings of my parents? 
  • Do I know the first name meanings of my partner?

The 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.

First Origins
The background, history and origins are infinite!

  • Traditional 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 Persian languages
  • Indian origins stem from Sanskrit the Indian language
  • Hindu origins derive from the Hinduism
  • Chinese origins stem from Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism and famous figures from the various dynasties
  • Japanese origins stem from Buddhism using Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji texts.
  • 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).

Perfect 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:

Robin HoodDescriptive from 'Robin in the hood'
Little JohnDescriptive describing a physical characteristic
Maid MarionDescriptive describing a characteristic i.e. Maid
Alan a DaleCombined with a place name
Friar TuckReflecting a status i.e. Friar
Much the Miller's sonFamily name combined with a trade or profession
Will ScarletDescriptive describing a recognisable attribute

Further information regarding origins can be accessed by clicking Surnames

What's in a Name?
"What's 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 Names. Our thanks go to for providing the Shakespearean information that we have included on

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...

  • What does my first name mean?
  • Why did my parents make that particular choice?
  • Are there any strong family connections to my first and middle name?
  • Where did it originate?
  • 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...

  • What first and middle names shall I give to my baby?

What 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 names?

Help 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!


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"Remember! A Name isn't just for a Birth Day - it's for Life!"
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