The power behind a name

A few days ago, my eldest son asked me the meaning of his name, his brother overheard us and wanted to know his as well. This launched a long conversation about names and their meanings as they wanted to know the meaning of every family member’s name 🙄.

It also got me thinking about names and how significant they are. A lot of people think that a name is just a name but I disagree. A name is much more than just a name. It’s an identity and some people see it as a foretelling of the bearer’s destiny. Every time you answer to that name, it’s an affirmation of whatever the name means. You’re agreeing to it, owning the meaning by answering to that name.

the power of names

Power of Names

According to the Oxford dictionary, a name is a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to. I believe a given name can have an enduring influence on an individual’s personality and upbringing.

In Africa and some other parts of the world, most names reveal a lot of information about a child. It could relate to emotions, events surrounding the birth, culture, order of birth, day of birth, faith, time of the day or season and ancestry. Names are chosen with care based on the belief that they will, to an extent, determine some of the baby’s outcomes later in life.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

A large proportion of people believe that a name is a name it’s just what it is! They argue that it’s just a way of differentiating someone from other members of a group and nothing more. It’s just a means of identifying an individual.

This brings me to the popular quote from Romeo and Juliet 👆🏽. Here, Juliet was lamenting the fact that the only thing stopping her from being with her beloved was just a name. If Romeo had a different surname then nobody would stop their love, hence her famous speech;

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Deep, right? Back to my message, do you think that saying a name is just a name and nothing more is just the ramblings of a teenage girl in love or do you agree with Juliet?

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

W.C. Fields

I agree with W.C Field’s quote that a name is not just what they call you, but what you answer to. I believe a name is very important both from a cultural point of few as well as spiritual.

In the bible, for instance, most of the characters were named according to circumstances surrounding their birth and sometimes according to a promise or an inspiration from God. A good example is Jabez, which means “sorrowful.” His mother named him Jabez because of the sad circumstance surrounding his birth. Unfortunately, the meaning followed him up until he prayed about it. We also have instances where God changed people’s names because their given names were tampering with their destinies. Abram – Abraham, Saul-Paul, Jacob – Isreal are popular examples.

the power of names

Names and work environment

There is a general belief that people with simpler names are preferred and tend to rise quicker than people with more complex names 😏. I think this could be because of the ease of pronunciation and how easily it is to remember some names. A boss will recommend a name that easily comes to mind than one that he struggles to remember if caught between two people of similar competence.

Research has shown that people find people with familiar, easy-to-pronounce names to be likeable and trustworthy 👧🏽- it’s not me it’s based on research 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Changing a name

Whether we believe names determine our destinies or not, a name can be changed if for one reason or the other the bearer doesn’t want it. We should reject the feeling that we are destined to live with the names given to us by others. If there’s a perception that a given name is causing an unwanted or unpleasant label, you can break through that label. Whether it is just because of jests from peers or we feel it’s a negative declaration on us, we can rise above it, we can choose to name and rename ourselves.

“Every name is real. That’s the nature of names.”

― Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl

Parents are advised to name their children with great thoughts and care bearing in mind that it is their identity and may sometimes determine their outcome in life. Check name meanings, there are so many online sources for that now. Avoid names that are too difficult to pronounce or remember. Also, avoid names that will make children the butt of jokes in future.

Nicknames and business names

A lot of people are given nicknames and some of these nicknames actually stick. It’s easy to overlook the meaning of these nicknames or pet names under the assumption that they’re just for fun! I think people should reject being called nicknames with negative meanings as you are accepting to be whatever the name means.

Names could influence how we are perceived or how we behave as sometimes we unconsciously take the persona of our moniker.

This also applies to business names. I strongly advise going for names with positive meanings. Apart from the power a name carries, people actually gravitate towards businesses with strong, positive names. You don’t have to chose business names because they’re trendy or funky or funny (except you’re into comedy🤡.) Little wonder Zenith Bank is still on top🤔.


Whether you’re choosing a name based on a child’s personality, religion or experience surrounding their birth. You could even choose a name because of a personality you admire, to avoid cultural biases or just because you like the sound of it. Whatever the reason behind a name, make sure it has a positive meaning.

Aunty Lulu

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