What’s in a Name?

Names have always fascinated me. In a few syllables a name proclaims a message to the world.

As girls, my sister and I loved to pore over my mother’s baby name book. We giggled over silly names, sighed over melodious ones, and delved into the meanings behind them. Each time I was pregnant, my husband teased me about the lists I made, but I wanted our children’s names to be right. The decision would affect them for a lifetime.

This past week I had the joy of naming a new “baby,” the heroine of a novel percolating in my head. Most of my characters come with names attached, but her name eluded me. I knew she hated her name, and that it was long and unusual. Since the story takes place during World War II, I had to remember that many names my generation laughs at were popular then. So back to the baby name books! Was she Aridatha, Calandra, or Ludovika? How would you like to go through life with that name? Then I found Philomela, which comes from an ancient Greek legend of a woman changed into a nightingale. A shiver of recognition ran up my arms. My series follows three women who are flight nurses, and I’m calling it “Wings of the Nightingale.” Philomela it is, and her friends will call her Mellie. Oh, and she has a lovely singing voice.

How about you? Do you love your name or hate it? Does it fit you or did you have to alter it to fit you? What do you look for in choosing names – the sound, the meaning, the cute nickname? Do you like a name that’s fun and trendy, one that stands out in a crowd, or one with the weight and wealth of tradition? I can’t wait to hear from you.

2 Responses to “What’s in a Name?”

  1. Veronica Leigh

    I used to hate my name as a little girl because it was so unusual. But now I love it for the same reason. When it comes to writing, I like to choose names that coincides with the heritage of the character.

  2. Katherine Hall

    Kathy is ok…I prefer Katherine but no one calls me that except Paul, sometimes. Kathy is plain. Katherine, now that is…sophisticated. I was an after thought because they were only expecting Karin. My mom thought Kathy went nicely with Karin. Karin Lynn and Katherine Lee. It does have a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I’m just glad they didn’t name me Sharon…Karin and Sharon…(no offense Sharon Sundin!) =)