In some languages, most names carry an understood meaning. For instance, the name of the president of Taiwan is Ma Ying-jeou, which literally means Horse Brave-nine.
While some given names in English have recognizable meanings (e.g., Hope, Pearl, Colt), for most, the definitions come from non-English origins and are long forgotten.
So when we look at the list of top-ten baby names for 2014, announced yesterday by the Social Security Administration, we don’t think much about the meanings behind them. We’re more inclined to think about their sounds or the feelings they evoke or maybe people we know of with the same names.
But the meanings are meaningful, so here’s the list from the SSA . . . with a twist. Instead of showing the names themselves, I’ve lined up those meanings.
The Boys’ names are first, then the girls’.
It’s rather poetic.
(If this reverese-look-up-style list leaves you in the dark, I’ve got the actual names and their languages of origin, too. Just use your cursor to highlight the list, and they’ll magically appear.)
Rest Hebrew: Noah
Will and protection Irish, Germanic: Liam
Stoneworker French: Mason
Deceiver Hebrew: Jacob
Desire and helmet Germanic: William
Enduring Hebrew: Ethan
Who is like God? Hebrew: Michael
Defender of man Greek: Alexander
Supplanter Hebrew: James
God’s judgment Hebrew: Daniel
Universal Germanic: Emma
Olive Latin: Olivia
Wisdom Greek: Sophia
God is her oath Hebrew: Isabella
Giver of life Hebrew: Ava
Rebellious Hebrew: Mia
Rival Latin: Emily
Father’s joy Hebrew:Abigail
Child of God’s gift English: Madison
Man Germanic: Charlotte
(Doug Walker, “Two New Arrivals: Our New Blog and Top Ten Baby Names for 2014,” Social Security Matters, May 8, 2015)
[photo: “Baby N – 5 Days New,” by RebeccaVC1, used under a Creative Commons license]