Baby Names: Often Deeper Than First Glance (Guest Post by Matt)

The following is a guest post from one of our fans– a man, a father, and lover of language. Check out his intricate explanation of his daughters’ names, and also his solid appreciation of our page.

My wife & I … share [with you] an affinity for the roots and value of good names.

My wife and I just had twin girls last month, and naming was very important to us (and more complicated for not knowing the genders pre-birth). I’m a linguist; she’s a librarian. With the odd surname, we both wanted names that wouldn’t make people raise an eyebrow, since they’ll have to spell or pronounce the surname to everyone all the time.

We ended up with Amelia Katherine and Heather Laurea.

(Backstory: Our original path got us to Heather Laurea and Katherine Linnea, cross-matching meanings with each other as you’ll see, but we also have a niece with the first name Linnea, so we decided we’d avoid it if we found a good alternative.)

Amelia: traditionally “work” or “rival” Ugh.

My wife’s name is Amy, and the “-elia” part references the name אֱלִיָּהוּ Elijah, meaning “my god is YHWH”. Our hebraic spelling, אַמאֱלִיָּה, makes that a little more explicit than English.

Katherine: debatably from “each”, “torture”, or “pure” Meh.
Our Katherine is coming from the Hebrew also: כתר [k-th-r], meaning “crown”, plus the letter nun representing “the Messiah”. There is also a trace of Greek ‘εκατερος (hekateros) “each of the two”.

Heather: Of course, it’s a beautiful flower, but it’s also a transliteration of the Ancient Egyptian word for twins. (And the determinative glyph at the end of the name will be two girls kneeling toward each other holding flowers.)

Would be something similar to this.

Would be something similar to this.

Laurea: This combines the “crown” meaning found in our Katherine and the floral meaning found in Heather, and it just sounds and feels better than Laura, Laurel, and other related names. Although I saw that you had a great description of the name in one of your blog posts, we’re adding that the final syllable [-yah] be the same as the final syllable in Nehemiah, et al; the name of God.

Amelia Katherine – “Amy’s god is YHWH”; “crown of the Messiah” (“each of the two”)
Heather Laurea – “One of twins” (flower), (floral) “crown of God”

Anyway, this is just a fan letter of appreciation. Thanks for your etymological integrity!



With some knowledge of names and language, you can see how traditional baby names with old roots can have multiple meanings, including very deep and very personal[ized] ones. It can go beyond expectation! Research everything intensely before you select it for your child, and you can even get inventive with it. The popular can be far more exotic and poetic than you’ve imagined.

For more on Ancient Egyptian glyphs and transliteration, see An Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph Dictionary, Volume I and Volume II.


Honoring 2 Grandmothers In a Middle Name

Anonymous asked: Both of my grandmas died when Hannah was about 6 months old so I’d love to combine their names somehow for a middle name. One was Viola and one was Stefica (Croatian for Stephanie) and I just can’t figure out a combo that works. I’d prefer a combo of their actual names (Stefica or Stephanie are acceptable). My grandma’s middle name was Sandra but my Baka (Stefica) didn’t have a middle name. Sandra is acceptable to use to. Since I can’t quite figure out a combo I’m open to expanding to meanings.

I know you said you’re wanting to use their actual names, but I noticed that Viola and Stefica produce “Vivica” when sliced and spliced. What will the first name be?

One grandmother’s name means “violet”; one means “crown”. Together, the names could mean “violet crown”… but is there a name that means this?

I’m also not really sure if you want a two-part middle name, or only one name that somehow pays tribute to both (like a mash up or whatnot).

Ideas from names: Vivica, Zephyra (steals sounds from Stefica & Sandra), Sapphira or Saffira (steals sounds from Stefica & Sandra), Stephandra (Stephanie & Sandra), Anastasia (in the stylings of Sandra & Stephanie/Stefica).

Ideas from meanings– first off, we are working with “violet” (Viola), “man” (Sandra, contracted meaning), and “crown(ed)” Stephanie/Stefica. Okay, ideas from the meanings: Laurel.

Laurel flowers

It is a tribute to Viola in color and in subject matter, but it is also a tribute to Stefica because laurel was used as crown (for victory). Laurea refers specifically to “laurel crown”, but Laurel is still good symbolically because it bears the association to being crowned. Daphne is the Greek version, and Bay will have the same exact meaning and association (botanically speaking).

If you wanted something less frilly, it occured to me that Stevie would be an interesting way to take the Vi element of Viola and combine it with the name Stephanie/Stefica (which Stevie is already a nickname for).