Determining the etymology and history of one’s name is not as hard as you might think. Of course, you can go to the library, and look it up in the books there, or in any baby books that you may have around you, too. Or, you may keep it simple, save some gas from having to drive, and go onto the Internet.
Literally signing onto the World Wide Web, and typing the words “name meaning” into the Google Search Bar yields close to one million four hundred thousand hits in just a few seconds’ time. The first ten sites that pop up on the search provide quite a bit of information, and lead to even more sites themselves.
For example: Out of curiosity, I clicked on http://www.behindthename.com/ as my first choice. Why? I don’t really know. Perhaps because it was one of the top sites, maybe it was the name of the site; I can’t really be sure. From there I decided to research the names Margaret and Mary (two of my five names).
I clicked onto the site, and then onto M. From there, I scrolled to Margaret. When I read that Margaret was “derived from the Latin Margarita” I had to laugh. Margaritas happen to be one of my favorite drinks! As I read on though, the Latin had evidently come from Greek, and that definition had meant “pearl.” A pearl I am not! I learned that Saint Margaret was the saint for expectant mothers, and that there have been a number of famous Margarets, including several queens, and famous writers, too.
As I scrolled and then clicked on Mary, I thought back to my religious upbringing, and the Virgin Mary, as well as Mary Magdalene. The definition I found tells me that Mary is the English form of Maria. OK. Evidently, Maria is transposable with Mariam because of the spelling. And, according to the website, Mary is thought to mean one of several things, but it can’t be confirmed for sure. Each of the possibilities made me laugh. The possibilities were: rebelliousness, wished for child and sea of bitterness. I have been all three of those things, so I really don’t know what to say!
When I went to http://name-meanings.com/ , I again chose to type in my two names. This time, I simply typed Margaret into the search bar, and a little box came up. Underneath the name were the words “A Pearl” and directly below that were two statements that told me it was a female name of Latin origin. After I typed in Mary, the word “Bitter” appeared below it, and again two more statements telling me that it was a female name, this time of Hebrew origin.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to find out about some of the surnames within my family tree from many eons ago. They are of different nationalities, and have intrigued me, so I thought I would go to http://www.searchforancestors.com/surnames/origin to see how that would work out. I had hoped it would be simple, and I could just look under the common names, but it didn’t turn out that way. So, I typed in the names into the search bar, and sure enough, there were multiple entries for each of my family names! This site also gives you information on the meaning of your surnames, too, which I found interesting.
Upon going to http://www.google.com/search?q=name+meanings&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGLJ, I discovered, to my chagrin, that one of my surnames meant, get this, “with curly hair.” OY. That would explain both of my sisters’ heads of hair, especially Susan!
Honestly, researching the meaning of your name is really not that hard anymore. With just a little bit of thought, and pre-planning, you can usually find your answer fairly quickly. There are times, however, that you won’t find the answer. I did run into that problem, too, today with one of my surnames. It is German, and when a set of four brothers immigrated to the United States, back in the late 1600s, different people spelled it differently when writing it down for them, because the brothers themselves didn’t know how to read or write. This is something to take into consideration.
Will you get frustrated? Maybe. Is it fun? Certainly, especially when you find out funny meanings to last names, like I did today. Try it, and see how it goes. You never know, you may find family you never knew you had!