A selection of quotes about names from various books…
From the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie:
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
From the book Anne of Green Gables (1908) by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a conversation about names between characters Anne Shirley and Marilla Cuthbert:
“Well, don’t cry any more. We’re not going to turn you out-of-doors to-night. You’ll have to stay here until we investigate this affair. What’s your name?”
The child hesitated for a moment.
“Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly.
“Call you Cordelia? Is that your name?”
“No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name.”
“I don’t know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn’t your name, what is?”
“Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but, oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can’t matter much to you what you call me if I’m only going to be here a little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name.”
“Unromantic fiddlesticks!” said the unsympathetic Marilla. “Anne is a real good plain sensible name. You’ve no need to be ashamed of it.”
“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordelia–at least, I always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.”
“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.
“Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an E I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”
From Anthony S. Kline’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 9:
When the pains grew, and her burden pushed its own way into the world, and a girl was born, the mother ordered it to be reared, deceitfully, as a boy, without the father realising. She had all that she needed, and no one but the nurse knew of the fraud. The father made good his vows, and gave it the name of the grandfather: he was Iphis. The mother was delighted with the name, since it was appropriate for either gender, and no one was cheated by it.
From the 2008 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (which is narrated by character Katniss Everdeen):
The girl with the arrows, Glimmer I hear someone call her — ugh, the names the people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous — anyway, Glimmer scales the tree until the branches begin to crack under her feet and then has the good sense to stop.
From the book The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) by Oliver Goldsmith:
Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who during her pregnancy had been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the girl was, by her directions, called Sophia; so that we had two romantic names in the family; but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it.
From the novel I Shall Wear Midnight (2010) by Terry Pratchett:
[T]he coach door opened again and one dainty good touched the flint. It was her: Angelica or Letitia or something else out of the garden; in fact Tiffany knew full well it was Letitia, but surely she could be excused just a tiny touch of nasty in the privacy of her own head? Letitia! What a name. Halfway between a salad and a sneeze.
From the novel The Notorious Miss Lisle (1911) by Mrs. Baillie Reynolds:
“The notorious Miss Lisle had the most weird Christian name you ever heard of — let’s see now, what was it? Not Guinevere, nor Gwendolen — Oh, yes, I have it. Gaenor! G, a, e, n, o, r! Did you ever hear such a name as that?”
[Latest update: Sept. 2023]