To kick off the new year, let’s check out a new batch of name quotes!
First, the story behind Edson — the birth name of late soccer legend Pelé — from the book Why Soccer Matters (2015):
When Dondinho met my mother, Celeste, he was still performing his mandatory military service. She was in school at the time. They married when she was just fifteen; by sixteen she was pregnant with me. They gave me the name “Edson” — after Thomas Edison, because when I was born in 1940, the electric lightbulb had only recently come to their town. They were so impressed that they wanted to pay homage to its inventor. It turned out they missed a letter — but I’ve always loved the name anyway.
(“Dondinho” was the nickname of Pelé’s father, João Ramos do Nascimento.)
…and, regarding the nickname Pelé:
Growing up, I hated that damn nickname. After all, it was a garbage word that meant nothing. Plus, I was really proud of the name Edson, believing it was an honor to be named after such an important inventor.
(The nickname did come in handy, though. He “started thinking of “Pelé” almost as a separate identity” in order to cope with his sudden celebrity. “Having Pelé around helped keep Edson sane,” he said.)
Keyvar Smith-Herold of the class of 2022 at DeMatha Catholic High School smiled as he explained the inspiration for his name, noting that his father Vincent Smith works as a locksmith.
“That’s why ‘Key’ is in our names,” he said, shedding light on the origin of his first name and that of his twin sister, Keydra, and also their older brother Keyden, a 2018 DeMatha graduate.
From the book The Gender Challenge of Hebrew (2015) by Malka Muchnik:
Most Hebrew proper names, especially those used in recent decades, consist of existing words and therefore have specific meanings. This fact helps us see the ideas associated with male or female names, and serves as evidence of what is expected of them.
(The author listed several female names associated with flowers and gemstones — such as Rekefet, meaning “cyclamen,” and Bareket, meaning “agate” — then continued…)
Even more suggestive are female names denoting personal qualities, such as Yaffa (‘pretty’), Tova (‘good’), Aliza (‘joyful’), Adina (‘delicate’), Ahuva (‘beloved’), Metuka (‘sweet’) and Tmima (‘innocent’).
As opposed to them, we find male names which have the form of a future verb, and from this we can infer the expectations from them: Yakim (‘he will establish’), Yarim (‘he will raise’), Yaniv (‘he will produce’), Yariv (‘he will fight’), Yiftax (‘he will open’), Yig’al (‘he will redeem’), Yisgav (‘he will be great’) and Yizhar (‘he will shine’).
A name story from the recent Washington Post article “Playing the name game” by John Kelly:
Aleta Embrey’s older brother loves to say that her name came from the funny papers. And it did, specifically “Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur,” which still runs in The Washington Post.
“Queen Aleta of the Misty Isles is a major figure in the comic strip,” Aleta wrote. “My dad liked the name.”
It is a lovely name, much better than being named, say, “Olive Oyl.”
From Kenneth Whyte’s book Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (2017), which describes the naming of Herbert Hoover (who was born in 1874 to Quaker parents Jesse and Hulda Hoover):
Hulda had shown [her sister] Agnes a bureau drawer full of handmade clothes prepared for the baby, all of them suited for a girl, to be named Laura. Several decades later Agnes recalled that the newborn, a boy, was “round and plump and looked about very cordial at every body.”
Naming the child was a problem as Laura, obviously, would not do, and the mother had no alternative in mind. Another sister reminded Hulda of a favorite book, Pierre and His Family, a Sunday school martyrology set among the Protestant Waldenses of Piedmont. The hero of the story is a spirited boy named Hubert who is dedicated to his Bible and longs to become a pastor. Hulda’s sister remembered Hubert as Herbert, and the baby was called Herbert Clark Hoover. He shared his father’s middle name.
(Discovered via a Midwest National Parks Instagram post.)
And, finally, a line from a New York Post story about a baby born during an overseas flight in December:
Tamara ended up naming the baby Maximiliano, after one of the helpful passengers who was by her side to make sure she had a safe delivery.
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.