Q&A: What are pros and cons of baby names with more than one meaning?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to names with more than one meaning, and can you give me a few examples?
If words are powerful, then names should be considered even more so by virtue of a person’s daily relationship with a name—and all the shades of meaning that come along with it. Then, when you consider the links and connections that synchronicity, travel, and globalization bring, the possibilities are dizzying.
Many lands and cultures have names that share etymological roots and meanings, while others simply share similar sounds or spellings. The Japanese were shocked when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri. Suri means “red rose” in Persian, and is rumored to share roots with the Hebrew name Sarah, which means “princess.” However, it’s also slang for “pickpocket” in Japan. A popular surname in India, Suri also means “sun” in Sanskrit and is a tribal name in both Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
What’s an expectant baby-naming parent to do? Pick names that stockpile positive connotations for you and your family. For instance, Violet is the name of a flower and also a shade of purple. If you like the flower and the color, you’re set!
Say you’re a Scottish fashion designer: Paisley is the name of a town in western Scotland and also the name of a distinctive fabric pattern.
Maybe you like cooking, your friends consider you a wise thinker, and you feel a connection to Native American ceremonies. In that case, you might want to try Sage.
On the flip side, don’t choose names that harbor negative associations in any circles or cultures your child might be living and traveling in. Nova means “new” in Latin, and “chases butterflies” in Hopi, a Native American language, but “no va” also means “no go” in Spanish, which perhaps accounts for why that particular car model didn’t sell well in Spanish-speaking countries.